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The following is a newspaper article from the Vermillion, South Dakota newspaper, mid-September 1927



Letters and Clippings Tell Story of Panama Tragedy - Victims Apparently Recovering


Mr. and Mrs. Frank Clemens have received letters and newspaper clippings from the Canal Zone which tell in more detail of the assault which came near costing the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Clemens. The latest letter received here is dated September 10, and at that time Cecil was able to sit up in bed and was apparently recovering in good shape, although he lost his right eye. Mrs. Clemens was still unconscious at that time. The parents were assured however that they would be notified by cablegram or radiogram of any change for the worse, and as no such message has been received they are confident that everything is all right. They are hoping to receive more letters today, which will bring their information more nearly down to date.

The governor of the Canal Zone has authorized the offer of $500 reward for information that will lead to the apprehension of the fiend who perpetrated the assault. So far there is no clue, and no apparent motive has been found. It was hoped that when Mrs. Clemens regained consciousness she might be able to give some information that would help the police in their search.

Two letters received by Mr. and Mrs. Clemens were from former University students who are now located in the Canal Zone. Elllis D. Stillwell, whose home is in Alexandria, and who formerly attended school here, is superintendent of the Gatun locks. Ralph Z. Kirkpatrick, who attended school here for two years, is chief of surveys and is stationed at Balboa Heights.

Story of the Tragedy

The account of the tragedy which came near costing the lives of Cecil Clemens and his wife, is reproduced below as printed in a Canal Zone daily under date of September 5:

According to police reports, Mr. Clemens and his wife retired at about ten o'clock last night and at approximately 2:45 o'clock in the morning Mr. Clemens was awakened by a blow over the right temple, apparently administered with a blunt instrument in the hands of an unknown prowler. He is believed to have cried out and received another blow across the cheek which rendered him unconscious. The prowler then turned his attention to Mrs. Clemens, who had apparently awakened by this time. She received a blow near the left temple, apparently with the same weapon with which her husband was struck. She did not however lose consciousness right away and was able to scream for help. In the meantime the would-be assassin fled, spurned on perhaps, by the movements of the aroused neighbors.

After having been awakened by the scream issuing from the Clemens apartment, and hearing the continued moans of the injured, neighbors hastened to investigate, and on entering the bedroom, were confronted with the gruesome spectacle presented by Mr. and Mrs. Clemens lying in bed with their heads and faces covered with blood and both unconscious.

Mr. Clemens had two deep wounds, one over this right brow, about one and a half inches long, and another on the side of his face, while Mrs. Clemens had a deep cut over the left eyebrow. Each was bleeding profusely.

The police was immediately notified and medical assistance summoned from the Colon hospital, Dr. A.W. White rendering first aid until the ambulance arrived and removed the wounded people to the Colon hospital.

The occupants of the apartments above the Clemens' report hearing footsteps, as of someone running away from the Clemens' apartment at the time of the incident, the runner apparently making towards Lighthouse Road.

A piece of brass pipe with which it is believed the blows were struck was found on the front steps smeared over with fresh blood.

What the motive behind the assault was, is unknown, but neighbors are inclined to believe that it was the work of a burglar who was caught in the act before he could get away with any of his intended loot, as nothing seems to have been taken away, jewels and cash being found undisturbed on the dresser table and sideboard, where they evidently laid throughout the night.

As the Clemens' are understood to have always left their doors unlocked, the intruder apparently had not to resort to force to gain entrance and presumably his presence in the room awakened Mr. Clemens, who, neighbors believe, challenged him, thus precipitating the murderous assault.

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