Spokane Daily Chronicle – February 28, 1941

Death of Gust Piper Probed at Orofino

      OROFINO, Idaho, Feb 28. (Special) – Officials today were investigating the possibility of foul play in the death of Gust Piper, 73, who was found shot through the head Thursday morning at his home near Dent. He died in a hospital here at 8:40 p.m. Thursday.

     Piper was scheduled to take the stand next week as a witness in a criminal action in district court against Jasper Safely, North Fork, accused of stealing a calf from the Martin Zimmerman place.

     Zimmerman found Piper in the latter’s cabin after continued barking of a dog brought him to the site. Piper lived on Zimmerman’s land.

     Although officer strongly believed Piper’s death was suicide, they were continuing the investigation.

     Piper had no known relatives. Born in Germany, he came to the United States when 9 years old. He came to Ahsahka in 1903.

Lewiston Morning Tribune – March 2, 1941

Jury Returns Murder Verdict

      Foul Play Suspected in Gust Piper Death Near Orofino Feb. 27

     Orofino, March 1. – A Clearwater county coroner’s jury, after deliberating 45 minutes this afternoon, brought in a verdict of murder in the fatal shooting of Gus Piper, 85, who was found shot through the head in his cabin on the Martin Zimmerman ranch, two miles up Elk creek from the Dent CCC camp last Thursday. Piper died at 8:40 p.m. the same day at the Burns hospital, here.

     The jury’s verdict read:

      “Gust Piper was shot through the head by a gun and by a bullet at his home up the North fork on Feb. 27, 1941, and died at the Burns hospital in Orofino, Clearwater county, Idaho, on Feb. 27. Said injury was inflicted by a person or persons unknown.”

     Those testifying were Zimmerman, who found Piper’s body Clarence W. Grim, only other man to see Piper before the sheriff arrived; Dr. W. F. Robertson, attending physician; Ira T. Sayler, close friend of the deceased, and Sheriff Leo Ratliff.

     Burn on Right Hip.

     Zimmerman said he discovered Piper at 6:25 a.m. and that he apparently had been shot about 25 minutes before. He also said that a 38 pistol was found about six or seven feet from the body. Zimmerman asserted that, according to bloody handprints on the floor, Piper had dragged himself or been dragged in a circle on the floor and that he was several feet from a puddle of blood in the center of which a flashlight was found.

     Dr. Robertson said that “a burn about the size of a hand was found on the right hip caused either by water or steam and that Piper never regained consciousness.”

     Saler said Piper had been in failing health four or five years but that he was still able to walk to the mailbox more than a mile from the cabin.

     Sheriff Ratliff said that with State Traffic Officer Pete Hensen and Prosecuting Attorney Sam Swayne, he returned to the cabin Friday and found a hole in the wall two feet from the floor about the size of a bullet and that lead particles were found on the edges of the hole. The sheriff said that a bullet was found on a box in the room covered by a tanned hide.

     Ratliff asserted that a note found in the room read “my hip and knee are not getting any better, I am getting tired of it all.”

     Swayne said that Piper was scheduled to be called as the star witness in the grand larceny case of Jasper (Red) Safely, which will come to trial in the March term of district court to convene Monday. Safely allegedly butchered a calf belonging to Martin Zimmerman and appropriated the meat last Aug. 29.

     Members of the jury were Dr. R. J. Kinney, Ed A. Grant, John White, Ken Kounl, J. S. Nelson, Jess Woods, Joe Molloy, Dan Delaney, Don Blevins and V. G. Worden.

     Funeral services for Piper will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Blake Chapel, the Rev. George Cooper officiating. Burial will be at Southwick.

Lewiston Morning Tribune – March 3, 1941


      Orofino, Idaho, March 3. (Special) – Gus Piper, 73, was shot fatally Thursday at his cabin near Dent “by a person or persons unknown,” was the verdict Saturday afternoon of a 10-man coroner’s jury.

     Funeral services for Piper were held this morning. Burial was at Southwick. Born in Germany, he was brought to the United States when 6 months old. When 9 years old he left home and had not contacted relatives since then. He took up a homestead at Ahsahka in 1903.

     The coroner’s jury discredited a suicide note found near the dying Piper in his cabin. A revolver was found near by, but there were said to be no powder burns on the body.

     Piper was to have been a witness this spring at the trial of Jasper Safely, who is charged with grand larceny in connection with the theft of a calf.

      (Note: First name is listed as both Gus and Gust in these articles. Also, there is no reference in the Idaho archived of a Jasper Safely or Jasper Safley being convicted of any crimes, in Idaho.)

Transcribed by Jo Frederiksen

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