So far, I've found only one newspaper account of their tragic death. It doesn't mention their names or the doctor's name (I later found out he was a Dr. DeGriffenreid), but it does mention the surname of the killer: a man named Briggs. Apparently, Mr. Briggs was a very disturbed soul who had recently been let out of an insane asylum. My ancestors allowed him to spend the night in one of their outbuildings. When Briggs entered the home during the night, uninvited, the grandson quickly hid underneath their bed. Then, Briggs killed Thomas, Mary and the doctor with an axe handle. The young boy was, of course, too frightened to come out from under the bed, and the bodies weren't found until the next morning by a man who worked for the Noes.
Briggs was captured, hiding in the loft of a barn, and led authorities to where he had hidden the murder weapon: an axe handle that had been drying near the fire.
According to information I've found online, and email conversations with another descendant who has actually held the murder weapon, the murder of the Noes is common knowledge among Noe decendants in Lamar County (known as Jones County at the time of the murders), Alabama, as well as among many others living in the area.
Here is a picture of the double headstone in the Pine Springs Cemetary (near Sulligent, Lamar County, Alabama) bearing the same date of death for both Thomas R. and Mary Noe:
|Picture found at www.findagrave.com, submitted by Beverly Knight|
Here is a copy of a newspaper article about the murders that appeared in the December 18, 1867, edition of the West Alabamian. Unfortunately, some crucial journalistic details (like NAMES) are missing from this account, but this is the sad story of my ancestors:
Horrible Tragedy by a Lunatic
A man named Briggs was confined in the jail at this place on Sunday last for the killing of two men and a woman, with an axe, in Jones County, Ala. -- For years past, Briggs has been deranged, but this, we understand, is the first act of violence he has committed, or attempted to commit. At one time, he belonged to the Alabama Methodist Conference, and was regarded as an able and efficient minister until he lost his mind.