Hartlage - Pearl - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Hartlage - Pearl


Source: Tri-County News, Waveland, Montgomery County, Indiana May 16, 1957
State Police and other officials moved into the Waveland neighborhood, Thursday morning, close on the heels of a revelation at Cincinnati by Clifford Watson that he had murdered his mother, Mrs. Pearl Hargitay, in Nov 1954 and buried her body for a second time under the Burford house south of the Shades State Park. The murder presumable occurred in or near Evansville where Mrs. Hargitay was living at the time. In May of 1955, Watson moved to Waveland and, according to reports, moved his mother's body from where he had first buried in to the place near Waveland. According to Waveland Marshall Robert Fullenwider, Cincinnati police said Watson had confessed the murder to them under questioning. The woman's body was found where he said it was buried and was moved to the Proffitt & Brown Funeral Home, Crawfordsville where an autopsy will be performed.  - typed by kbz

Source: Tri-County News, (Waveland, Montgomery County, Indiana  May 23, 1957
The community of Waveland became a focal point of interest last week by a large number of people when the body of Mrs. Pearl Hartlage was recovered from a shallow grave beneath a farmhouse near Shades state Park. Police were directed to the scene by Augustus Clifford Watson, 41, who was living in Cincinnati, Ohio, when officers learned of his whereabouts. Watson had been sought for questioning following the disappearance of Mrs. Hartlage, Watson's mother from their home in Evansville in 1954. Absolute identification of the slain woman was reported to have been made this week. - typed by kbz

Source: Lexington (Kentucky)  Herald May 17, 1957 p 31--

Crawfordsville, Ind May 16 (AP) -- Three bundles of human bones were dug out today under a farm house where a Cincinnati repairman told police he had buried his mother's dismembered body in 1955.  The shallow grave under a closet floor was found a few hours after District Detective Thompson Buchanan said Augustus Clifford Watson, 41, confessed in Cincinnati that he shot and cut up his mother in Evansville, Ind.  Watson was quoted as saying his mother was shot in the head accidentally in a struggle after she hit him on the head with a beer bottle Oct 15, 1954 in an argument over business profits.

The Watson statement said he cut up the body of his mother, Mrs. Pearl Hartlage, 57, and hid the parts for nine months in a metal-lined box in an oil shed at the filling station-restaurant they operated at Evansville.  He was quoted as saying he hauled the remains later to the farm house southwest of Crawfordsville after he had moved there.  Buchanan said Watson was arrested at his apartment behind a "fix it" shop in the Rhineland section of downtown Cincinnati only an hour after a tip came from a detective magazine reader.  Mickey Cosman, 23 who live sin the same Cincinnati neighborhood, walked up to a patrolman early today with a copy of Inside Detective, opened it to an article entitled, "What Became of Pearl Hartlage?" and pointed at a picture of Watson.  "This guy lives on your beat," said Cosmah.  

Police said Watson was "flabbergasted" when police knocked at his door, and his confession came within a few hours.  Lt. Chalres Martin of the CIncinnati homicide  squad said a tape recording made of Watson's statement was transcribe din writing, but Watson refused to sign it until he could talk with a lawyer.  However, Martin said he agreed to return to Evansville without extradition proceedings.  Chief Deputy Sheriff Clarence Demoret led the digging under a closet and unearthed three bundles of bones wrapped in bedding from a grave about 3 1/2 feet deep.  Demoret said one bundle contained a skull and arm bones, another of the torso and a third assorted leg bones.  

State Police Sgt. Charles Davis said an autopsy this afternoon revealed a bullet in the skull.  Coroner Fred Blix brought the remains to a Crawfordsville mortuary for an autopsy and examination by state police.  When Evansville police questioned him about his mother, he told them he thought she had married a wealthy Indianapolis real estate man and that they had gone on a trip to the West Coast.  The Watsons packed their belongings and left Evansville the next day.

The Watsons moved from the farmhouse in the Waveland area where the bones were found after neighbors became suspicious.  Cincinnati police said Watson led them to a trailer house in suburban Hamlet and turned over a .38 caliber revolver, which he said had been used in the 1954 shooting.

Watson said he and his wife and children, Peter, 8, Juanita, 7 and Janice 2, had planned to move today to the Hamlet trailer so he could start building a house there.  Evansville detectives started out for Crawfordsville and Cincinnati to bring Watson back on a fraudulent check charge.  For lack of evidence about Mrs. Hartlage's disappearance, no homicide charge had been filed in Evansville.  

James B. McKinney, a Crawfordsville milk deliveryman an dhis family have been living in the farm house near Waveland. Mrs. McKinney sent her six children, 1 1/2 to 9 years old to stay with a neighbor while officers ripped up the closet floor and unearthed the bundles of bones.  -- typed by kbz
Source: Boston American (Boston, Mass) May 16, 1957 p 15 (only differences from the article above)

Cincinnati AP -- A man known here as Augustus Clifford Watson, 41, told police today that he killed his mother, Mrs. Pearl Hartlage in Evansville, Indiana on Oct 15, 1954.  He said the body is buried beneath the flooring of a cupboard of a farmhouse near Crawfordsville, Ind about 140 miles north of Evansville and 40 miles northwest of Indianapolis.... Watson told police hre that he shot his mother during a quarrel over receipts of an oil station-restaurant business they operated in Evansville. He claimed the shooting was accidental.

He told Detective Thompson Buchanan that his wife, Mary and three children, Peter, 8, Juanita 7 and Janice 2, knew nothing of the slaying.... he had had several glasses of beer before the slaing and took some bottles of the brew to his mother's home.  She quarreled about not "getting enough out of the gasoline station part of the business," he said, and added. "She hit me on the head with a beer bottle and I pulled out the gun."  Watson said his mother seized the pistol and during the struggle it fired, the bullet hitting her in the head... tried to fit her body into a box, "Because I knew no one would believe the shooting was accidental."  Watson said he cut up the body, put the pieces into the box and kept it in the oil shed of the gasoline station until July 1955.  Watson said he then retned a farm house near Crawfordsville, moved his family there and took the boy with him.  A short time later he was quoted as saying his wife and children went away for a visit and he buried his mother's remains under the floor boards of a cupboard. Several weeks later he moved here. - typed by kbz

Source: Evansville Courier Nov 30, 1957 p 1
Trial of Augustus Clifford Watson, 41, charged with first degree murder in the death of his mother, Mrs. Pearl Hartlage, will open Monday in Circuit Court before Special Judge Addison Beavers.  A special venire of 100 prospective jurors has been drawn.  Fifty of these are to report Monday along with the 24 regulars and the other 50 will report on Tuesday   Watson, former filling station operator here, is accused of shooting his mother in October 1954, dismembering her body and burying it under a farm house near Crawfordsville.  Mrs. Hartlage's disappearance was reported to police in July 1955.  Watson was arrested last May in Cincinnati, where he had fled with his family.  He confessed to the killing but said it was accidental.  His mother's remains were recovered after his arrest.  Watson has pleaded innocent, claiming insanity - typed by kbz.

Source: Evansville Courier June 4, 1957 p 17
... in addition to investigating death of Mrs. Daniel and Jones, the grand jury will study the death in October 1954 of Mrs. Pearl Hartlage, who formerly lived at 3506 Mt. Vernon Ave.  Mrs. Hartlage's son, Clifford A. Watson is being held in connection with her death.  He has told police he accidentally shot his mother and then, frightened, dismembered and buried her body.  Yesterday, Attorney John Clouse, who with Lorin Kiely, is representing Watson, challenged the 9 persons called for grand jury duty.  He claimed that the law provides for six grand jurors, and that calling more affected his client's case by allowing the judge to select those to be seated and excusing others.
Jury commissioners for many years have drawn 12 names for grand jury duty in order to provide alternates if some of the first six drawn cannot serve.  Judge Reeves immediately overruled that challenge.  Watson was in court yesterday with his attorneys to hear the instructions given to the grand jury.  So were two men held in the other two homicides. - typed by kbz
Source: Evansville Courier May 21, 1957 p 1

Investigation in to the slayin gof Mrs. Pearl Harlage continued yesterday as three Evansville detectives returned to Crawfordsville, and Prosecutor Paul Wever announced he would seek the death penalty for the woman's 41-year-old son,  accused to murdering her.  Detective Sgt. Walter Downs in Indianapolis said last night the woman's body was definitely identified by Indiana State Police technicians at Stout Field.  He declined to name the method used to obtain identification.

Downs, who went to Crawfordsville with Sgts. Bob Cook and Glenn Ruckman, said the officers also believe they have located the saw used to dismember her body.  He said the meat saw was obtained from Dale Bullerdick of Waveland, ind who told them he found it in an outbuilding at the farm where Mrs. Hartlage's remains were buried.  Downs said the saw will also be taken to Stout Field today in an attempt to match it with saw marks on the bones dug up last week following the arrest of Clifford A. Watson in Cincinnati. Downs also said officials in Crawfordsville and Waveland have voiced the theory that bones, believed to be those of a dog found in the grave may have been in the ground before Watson dug the grave for his mother's remains.  During questioning here, Watson had denied killing a dog or any animal at the time of  his mother's death.  Some officials had wondered if Mrs. Hartlage might have owned a small dog which her son killed to make the disappearance complete.  

Watson began what will probably be a long series of court appearances here yesterday.  His arraignment on a fraudulent check charge was delayed until Thursday.  He was represented by attorneys Lorin Kiely and John D. Clouse.  

Watson is accused of giving a worthless check for $207.02 to John E. Green, 814 E. Virginia Street on July 1, 1955.  The check was payment for gasoline and petroleum products for his service station on Mt. Vernon Rd. Following the court hearing yesterday; Deputy Prosecutor Howard Sandusky said he expects to ask on Thursday that hte grand jury be called to investigate Mrs. Hartlage's death -- typed by kbz
Source: Evansville Courier Nov 26, 1957 p 4

24 more prospective jurors were drawn yesterday for the first-degree murder trial of Clifford A. Watson.  Watson is to be tried Dec 2 on a charge of slaying of his mother, Mrs. Pearl Hartlage, and burial of her dismembered body in 1954.
On November 20 a special venire of 100 prospective jurors was drawn.  Persons selected yesterday as prospective jurors are:
Louis Pedley Bush (1613 E. Walnut St);  Mark Siegel (6300 Neburgh Rd);  Eleanor Hollander (210 N Barker Ave); Normal L Wade (2805 Hartmetz Ave); Harvey T. Pierce (1214 S. Parker Dr); Ruby Davis (4113 Wolcott St); Francis Hahn (4512 Pennington Ave); Bernard J. Craddock (72 0 SE 1st St); Wilber E. Sechrest (Mt. Pleasant road); Doris Taylor (Haubstadt); Donald L. Brannon (2905 Madison Ave); Florence Craves (Rt 9); Ray R. Kersting (3915 Washington Ave); Ann Deig (4207 Kratzville Rd); Claude Wertz (842 Bayard Park Dr); Routh Robuck, (833 New Green River Rd); William E. Allen (3420 Lake Dr); Mary L. Toon (4916 Stringtown Rd); Jack D. Lindenschmidt (3904 Evergreen Ave); Jean J. Coudret, 1302 Ruston Ave) and Norma Link (991 Meadow Rd).
Prospect jurors for the December term Grand Jury were also drawn yesterday. (addresses are listed as well)
Kenneth R. Buchanan  - Mary Dunaway - George Schuessler -- Charles E. Leucht -- Bettye J. Dausman -- Fred E. Humphrey -- Jack Solomon -- WIlliam L. Hancock -- Jane Ann Wallis -- Kenneth M. Silverman -- Mary L. Koch -- Dorris E. Darr

Source: Evansville Courier Dec 12, 1957 p 50

A fraudulent check charge against Augustus Clifford Watson, 41, was dismissed yesterday in Circuit Court because Watson is now serving a life prison term for the 1954 murder of his other, 56-year-old- Mrs. Pearl Hartlage.  Watson had been charged with giving a $207.02 rubber check to a gasoline supplier at the serving station he operated at Mt. Vernon Ave and Hogue Road.  


Under Picture Evansville Courier May 17, 1957 p 7
Mrs. Clifford A. Watson, whose husband was jailed in Cincinnati Thursday after admitting he killed his mother and hid her body, claims her three children (from left - Peter, 8, Janice 2 and Juanita 7) will be left without support because of the arrest.  She angrily charged that "nosey people and reporters" have "ruined her life," by breaking the case of the disappearance of Watson's mother, Mrs. Pearl Hartlage from Evansville (AP Wire photo).

Above -- arrest of Clifford Watson (Evansville Courier newspaper, May 17, 1957 p 1)
Clifford A. Watson, a 42-year-old former Evansville resident is expected to be returned here late today to face a charge of murdering his mother in 1954.  A 2 1/2 year search by police ended yesterday when Watson admitted to Cincinnati police that he shot his mother, Mrs. Pearl Hartlage, 58, dismembered her body and buried it in a shed behind the service station he operated here.  Also arrested wa shis 25-year-old wife, Mary, who is being held for questioning by Evansville officers.  The couple's three children, aged 8,7 and 2 were placed in the Allen House, a temporary children's shelter in  Cincinnati.  Mrs. Watson angrily defender her husband after her arrest.  She blamed her "trouble" on "nosey people and photographers," and cursed photographers as they took her picture at the police station.

Watson said the slaying took place in a restaurant his mother operated next door to the service station.  He said he left the body in the restaurant until the morning after the shooting.  At tha ttime, he said, he purchased lumber to make a box for it.  After making the box, he said, it didn't fit, so he took a meat saw and a meat cleaver from the restaurant to cut off the arms, legs and head.  He told police he removed his mother's clothes and burned them, put the body in a trunk, placed the trunk in the box and nailed the lid shut.  Ten months later, he said, he took the body with him when he fled Evansville.  He buried it beneath his home near Crawfordsville.

He told Cincinnati officials he fled to Cincinnati with his wife and three children from their rural residence near C'ville. Watson told police one night in "mid-October 1954," he closed the station and went into the West side business district for some beer.  He said he drank several while in town and then returned home with some for his mother who "liked beer, too."  When he returned, he said he and Mrs. Hartlage quarreled about profits from the station and she hit him over the head with a beer bottle. Then, he said he whipped out the pistol to threatn his mother, "like a guy will do," and when she grabged for it, the weapon discharged.  Fearing that police wouldn't believe the shooting was an accidnet, Watson said he decided to bury the body. Watson, being held in CIncinnati on fraudulent check and illegal property removal charges, will be charged with murder when he is returned here, Detective Chief George Hansch said last night.  He will be returned by Detective Sgts. Walter Downs, Glenn Ruckman and Bob Cook.

The three officers went to Crawfordsville yesterday and will be in CIncinnati this morning.  Downs told The Courier last night that the mutilated body had been recovered.  He said it was identifiable only as a "human body."  Chief Hansch said he learned from the coroner in Crawfordsville that small bones were found with Mrs. Hartlage's remains, believed to be those of a small dog, which had apparently been buried with her.

Following an autopsy at Crawfordsville yesterday afternoon State Police officials said a bullet had been found in the skull of the dismembered body.  Police there also said that bits of flesh remained on some of the bones.  Clarence Demoret, chief deputy sheriff of Montgomery County said the bones were wrapped in bedding and were in three bundles in the three and one-half foot grave.  He said the arm bones were in a shallow bundle, just above a bundle in a chenille bedspread, which contained parts of the torso.  Deepest in the grave, Demoret said, was a pillowcase containing an assortment of leg bones.

The inquiry into Mrs. Hartlage's whereabouts began in June 1955 when an acquaintance of hers from Indianapolis came here for a visit and found no trace of the woman.

Mrs. Hartlage had lived at 3506 Mt. Vernon Ave, behind the service station operated by her son.  She also operated a restaurant in the front of her residence.  Both buildings are located at the intersection of Middle Mt. Vernon and Hogue Rds.  The Indianapolis friend talked to the police.  SO did several neighbors who hadn't seen Mrs. Hartlage since the previous fall.  The police questioned Watson and he became frightened.  The slaying suspect told police he thought she had married a wealthy Indianapolis real estate man and moved to Califronia with him.  

The day after he was questioned Watson and his family packed their belongings and left Evansville .. so hastily no one realized they were leaving.  The flight was discovered the next day by an Ohio Oil Co. driver who found the keys to the service station iin the office and gas pumps unlocked.  The driver, Ed Green also was holding two worthless checks for more than $400 worth of gasoline.  He filed charges against Watson.  An addition charge was filed by a firm which accused Watson of taking a mortgaged $200 water cooler on which only $10 had been paid.

He rented a house at Waveland, near Crawfordsville Watson said.  He sent his wife and children to live with relatives who resided nearby.  While they were gone, he said he removed the flooring under a cupboard and buried the body "about 3' deep" and replaced the floor.  Watson said his family rejoined him at the farm home briefly, but they fled to Cincinnati when his picture appeared in an Indianapolis newspaper as a result of the statewide search for him and his missing mother.  After renting some rooms, Watson said he sent his wife back to Montgomery County for some clothing.  The woman was picked up by police there July 22, 1955 but refused to talk about her husband or his mother.  Mrs. Watson was arrested by Montgomery County Sheriff Merle Ramey who found her with her three youngsters in the family auto.  Although she wouldn't talk, her son, Peter, described a trip the family had taken to Indianapolis, then to Crawfordsville and finally to Cincinnati, "Daddy is waiting for us there," he told the sheriff.  Since there were no charges, the woman was released.  The car was found abandoned soon afterward at Rushville, Ind and the search for the Watsons was stepped up.  Police records show that Watson, meanwhile, had sold his mother's home in Indianapolis, apparently forging her name in the trasaction.  He had also sold her car without transferring the title to his name.  When arrested yesterday morning at 1400 Elm St in the "Rheinland" section of Cincinnati, Watson was "dumbfounded and unable to speak," according to police.  He answered the knock himself and admitted his identity, they said and later unfolded the story of his mother's killing while at police headquarters. Although he refused to sign a statement before consulting a lawyer, Lt. Chalres Martin, head of the homicide squad in the Ohio city said that Watson's confession was tape recorded. ... in his statement to the Ohioi officers, Watson didn't say where his wife and children were at the time of the slaying but insisted they didn't know anything about the shooting or the mutiliation and burial of the corpse.  Police there said Watson lived in Cincinnati since 1955, and had been operating a radio and television repair service at the Elm Street residence.  ... Mrs. Watson was not at home when a reporter first called yesterday. Peter, 9 the oldest child told the reporter, "Mama said not to let anybody in."  We don't want anything Peter siad, Yes, we've eaten -- eggs..." Mrs. Watson came into the apartment from the back way. She slammed the door after saying she didn't want to talk.  Later, at the request of Policewoman Helen Siler, she opened the door a bit.  "No, I never suspected anything... just leave me along - we'll get along. .. later in the day police took her to headquarters for questioning. ONly things in the apartment living room were a baby bed, double bed, old sewing machine and couple of chairs.  Cincin police found a .38 calibre pistol believed to have been the murder weapon after being directed to it by Watson.  .. Watson serve d7 years of a 1=10 sentence in the Indiana State Reformatory at Pendelton - released in 1946.  Sentenced for burglary they said - married next year.  Evansville Capt Birk Harl said Watson has an extensive record including jail terms for "several offenses."

Source: Same as above --  side bar
Clifford Watson, 41 ex-Evansville service station operator, broke into tears intermittently Thursday as he bared grisly details of his fatal shooting of his mother in Evansville in October 1954.  Calm most of the time, Watson sobbed occasionally as he told a reporter about incidents leading up to the slaying of Mrs. Pearl Hartlage, 56, and how he later dismembered and buried her body.  Watson, who eluded a police dragnet in July 1955 in Crawfordsville, Ind and then mysteriously disappeared said he had been living in CIncinnati since then. Here's the story Watson narrated when asked what happend on the day he killed his mother.  "I closed up the station and went down to the care and had a few drinks. Then I took four bottles back to my  mother's restaurant - two for myself and two for her. She liked beer.  Then we started arguing about the money from the service station.  She owned half of it and thought she ought to be getting more money from it.  We started quarreling about it and she hit me on the head with a half-filled bottle of beer.  So I pulled the gun out of my pocket.  I carried a gun because of the receipts form the station.  I pointed it at her - trying to scare her.  She said, "I'm not scared of that ___ thing."  She grabbed my arm and in the struggle the gun went off.  

Watson sobbed and interrupted his oral confession by saying, "I didn't intend to kill her but I knew nobody would ever believe me because of my record (once served time for burglary."  The bullet hit her on the head.  She fell to the floor.  I ewas excited.  I tried her pulse and I put a mirror in front of her mouth but it did not fog up so I knew she was dead.  The first thing I thought about was my family and I wondered who was going to take care of them.  So I went home and went to bed.  The next morning I came back and she was stiff.  Watson said the killing occurred in the kitchen of his mother's restaurant, located in the rear of the service station which he operated.  Then I went down to a lumber company off Franklin gSt and purchased some lumber. I took it home and built a box about 2 x 2 x 5.  I took the box to the restaurant but she wouldn't fit into it.  So I went down in the basement and found an old trunk with a lot of junk in it. Dumped it out and brought the trunk upstairs.  "She wouldn't fit in it either, so I took a meat cleaver and a meat saw and cut off her head, arms and legs.  I put them in a trunk and then put the trunk inside the pine box and nailed the box shut tightly.  I dragged it out the back door and down and around to the shed on the side of the restaurant and left it there.  Watson was asked how he felt about his arrest and he sobbed, "I'm glad it's off my chest."  When asked why he didn't report the shooting to police, he replied, "Because of my record."  Watson was then asked how he felt as a fugitive.  He answered, "I thought I'd be caught someday but I hoped to stall it off until the children were big enough to help out."  Watson said the pine box remained in the shed from Oct 1954 until July 1955 nine months later.  Then on July 4, 1955, two Evansville detectives went to the service station and inquired of Watason as to the whereabouts of his mother.  

The ex-E'ville resident said he packe dhis family and left with the box.  Took the box to a farmhouse near Crawfordsville.  Shortly after arriving there, Watson related he sent his wife & children away and carefully removed some boards from a bedroom closet and proceeded to dig a hole several feet deep in the ground under the house. Then Watson continued, he opened the box and also opened the trunk and dumped out the putrid flesh and bones.  He said the stench was "awful."   After completing the crude burial, Watson said he restored the floor boards.  The dismembered body remained under the house until yesterday when it was exhumed by Crawfordsville police, who found it exactly where Watson said it would be. - typed by kbz

Sorry about the poor picture - found in above article but didn't come out well ... figured it would be better than nothing - again, sorry !

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