In the Wooden Showcase

SA N BERNARDINO, March 26. — Missing since Saturday afternoon, Dickey Jensen, 6 years old, and Dean Meecham, 4 years old, had not been found tonight and early tomorrow morning it is estimated that 500 searchers will take up a systematic search for the two children. Police officers tonight advanced the theory the boys had been kidnaped.

Fear that they had been drowned in Warm creek was dispelled after the banks of that stream were thoroughly searched today.

Late tonight officers learned that the two children had been seen at 5:30 Saturday evening a mile from the city. Once of them was crying. A woman came out of a tent pitched in the brush and was talking to them.

Dickey is the son of James Jensen, who is in a hospital suffering from injuries received in a crossing collision between an automobile and an interturban car.

Dean is the son of Wells Meecham. Officers at Victorville were requested to search a gypsy camp near that town. The gypsies left here Saturday night.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Mar 27, 1923

Great Posse Organized in San Bernardino to Seek Two Youths Who Have Been Missing Since Saturday

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Early Reports of Kidnaping Not Confirmed, Officials Decide to Examine Every Foot of Country Near City

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SAN BERNARDINO, March 29 (By International News Service). — Launching the greatest search ever conducted in Southern California, more than 10,000 men assembled at the city hall here and started a systematic hunt for little Dicky Jensen, 6, and his younger playmate, Dean Meecham, 4, missing San Bernardino boys, who have been lost since last Saturday.

Responding to a general call broadcast throughout the city and surrounding country by Mayor S.W. McNabb of San Bernardino, farmers left their fields, businessmen their desks, bankers their offices and troops of Boy Scouts in uniform turned out to join in the hunt for the youngsters.

Before starting on the hunt today, the posse was addressed by Mayor McNabb, who exhorted to extend their greatest efforts in what is regarded as the critical period in the hunt for the boys.

Sheriff W.A. Shay and officers under his command then issued the necessary orders to the big group of men of which they had charge and the search was started.

Every foot of the country near here is to be gone over thoroughly. Every vacant house was to be inspected and every brush pile and old well were to be investigated.

—–

The Jensen and Meecham boys were last seen playing near their homes Saturday. Early reports caused the officers to believe that gypsies had kidnaped the boys and a caravan of these nomads was pursued and searched without result.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Mar 29, 1923

*****

 

SAN BERNARDINO, March 31 — While San Bernardino sorrowed the police redoubled their search tonight for trace of the abductor of Dean Meecham, 4, and Dickey Jensen, 6 years old, whose bodies were found trapped in a wooden show case in a vacant store earlier today.

Undertakers reported to the police tonight that Dean had been drowned before his body had been placed in the curious death vault. His lungs were found filled with water and his garters were found to be rusted.

It was impossible to tell whether Dean had been drowned from the condition of his clothes, as they had been nearly torn from him by his frantic playmate placed alive in the crypt with the dead body. Dean had been dead for some time when discovered by searchers and Dickey, whose pulse still beat feebly, died two hours after being found and he was rushed to a hospital.

Says Boys Were Drugged.

Authorities expressed the belief that Dickey had been given a powerful drug before being placed in the case in a comatose condition, and that he did not revive for some hours later. Evidence indicated that the drug had caused him to have several spasms.

While preparations are going forward for the funerals, which will be held immediately after the inquest on Monday, the parents of both lads are close to prostration from grief and exhaustion after the week of frantic search.

In trying to locate the perpetrator of the crime, police became alarmed at the extent of the search, in which more than five hundred school children on vacation and one thousand armed citizens took part.

Believe Dean Cries Out.

Previously, they believe, he had the boys hiding somewhere in the out skirts of town. They believe he then drugged both boys hoping they would stay under the influence of the narcotic until he could escape. They believe that while he was taking them, probably by machine to some place where he could conceal them, Dean did not remain under the influence of the drug and perhaps began to cry.

Becoming alarmed, they think the kidnaper plunged his body into a creek stifling him until he stopped. It is then thought he stuffed the bodies into the peculiar show case in the store building, which was being remodelled and therefore deserted.

The strange death trap consists of a rack about four feet high, tapering down like steps of solid wood. In the abandoned store it was shoved toward a blank wall. The space where the boys were concealed was like the underside of a stair case.

Escapes During Night.

Under cover of darkness Saturday night, they believe the slayer escaped hurriedly, confident that his terrible crime would not be discovered before the following Monday at least. It was not discovered until a week later.

The possibility that the boys were playing about the store and unwillingly trapped themselves, was abandoned with the discovery of water in Dean’s lungs.

Police despatched an appeal throughout the country asking that any possible suspects be held for a thorough check will be made to dis- [today?] was made to southern California by the officers.

It is probable that all the play mates of the two boys will be questioned by police regarding any strangers who may have been friendly shortly before the abduction. A thorough check will be made to discover anyone who left the neighborhood suddenly after the crime.

Present plans are to have a public funeral, which will be attended by the majority of the one thousand citizens who took part in the unsuccessful hunt the past week.

Disappear Week Ago.

The boys disappeared while they were playing in a park on March 24. For a week searchers, numbering finally nearly one thousand persons, combed the will mountain country and desert back of San Bernardino as well as the city itself, in the hope of finding trace of the missing youngsters. The parents of neither are wealthy, so extortion was obviously not the motive. It was then thought for several days that gypsy bands, seen near here on the day they disappeared, might have kidnapped them, but a search of all the gypsy camps in southern California proved without result. Rescuers stumbled by chance on the trap early this morning.

The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) Apr 1, 1923

SAN BERNARDINO, April 2. — The coroner’s jury, composed of 13 members, holding an inquest today over the bodies of Dean Meechan and Dickey Jensen who met their death in a ______ showcase, returned their verdict this afternoon after long deliberation.

In the case of Dickey Jensen, who was found barely breathing when removed from the case, but who died two hours late, the jury was unanimous in declaring death to be accidental, due to starvation.

In the case of Dean Meechan, four of the jury refused to sign the majority verdict tothe same effect.

They wrote out an opinion basing their refusal on the testimony of two embalmers, who were positive that water was found in dean’s lungs, and that the body gave other evidences of drowning.

Dr. W.D. Lenker, county autopsy surgeon, testified that in his opinion both deaths were due to starvation, and that Dean was not drowned.

The district attorney and county officers were present. They indicated that the case will not be dropped despite the fact that no tangible clues as to whether Dean Meecham met with foul play are in their hands.

The funeral of both boys were held this afternoon immediately following the inquest.

Modesto Evening News (Modesto, California) Apr 2, 1923

SAN BERNARDINO, April 3. — The case of Dean Meecham and Dickey Jensen, the lads who were trapped in a showcase and for whom a widespread search was conducted for a week, was considered closed today.

Police accepted the verdict of the coroner’s jury in the case of both boys, giving the cause of the tragedy as “accidental death due to starvation.”

Modesto Evening News (Modesto, California) Apr 3, 1923

SAN BERNARDINO, April 17. — (United Press.) — Less than three weeks after little Dickey Jensen’s starved body was found entombed in a wooden showcase with his playmate, Dean Meacham, his grave was made the scene of a fight between his father, James Jensen, and his uncle, Willis Humphries.

A complaint brought by Jensen, on file here today, declares Jensen went to the grave to place a [wreath there,?] ____ the two men quarrled over the recent separation of the Jensen’s which took place two weeks after the boy’s tragic death. Humphries charged Jensen with having insulted his sister, Jensen’s wife, and is alleged to have attacked Dickey’s father and beaten him into insensibility. Humphries was arrested but released later on his own recognizance.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Apr 17, 1923

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