Mail Tribune 100

April 13, 1917


The man friends of W. E. Hemphill of Medford, who was found dead Friday night in the Lane county jail at Eugene, in which city he was arrested yesterday on the charge of arson, were shocked not only over his death, but at the cause of his arrest. Doubt was expressed Friday as to whether he committed suicide or death was due to a natural cause.

It was learned Friday that following his arrest and after fourteen hours of grueling questioning by officials, Hemphill had made a confession that he set fire to the Strickfadden house in Ashland on March 17. He implicated others in this confession.

Hemphill, who was about 45 years old and until recently was a moving picture operator at the Page theater, is survived by a wife and four children, who reside at 1012 East Main street. He is also well known in Ashland, the family having moved from that city to Medford about two years ago. Hemphill was a member of the Modern Woodmen and Elks lodges of Medford and of the Odd Fellows lodge of Ashland.

The widow and children were prostrated with grief Friday. The oldest child is Miss Agnes Hemphill, who is employed as stenographer at the Mason Ehrman Co. wholesale grocery house. Two other daughters are students in the high school.

The funeral services will be held from the family home on East Main at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon and will be strictly private. The body will arrive in Medford late Friday night, having been shipped from Eugene on Friday afternoon immediately following the inquest.

Others implicated in the burning of the Strickfadden house, according to County Prosecutor Roberts and other officials, are Mrs. Nan McFadden and her sister, Mrs. L. Dryfoos, who are under arrest in Seattle, and a Mrs. M. M. Garwood, who is supposed to be under arrest in Eugene. Sheriff Jennings and Deputy Sheriff Anderson left Medford Thursday to bring the prisoners back to this county from Eugene and Seattle.

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