THE ST. JOHNS HERALD August 12, 1899
THE ST. JOHNS HERALD August 12, 1899
GIRL SHOT BY HUMAN FIEND
Under the head of Springerville news is given a full account of the murder of Bertha Wahl, the most estimable daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Wahl of Springerville. The cause of the brutal murder is not known, but whatever the cause the crime is the same. Any being laying claim to the manic MAN who has no more of the element of humanity in his make up than to commit such a dastardly act, ought to be shoved out of existence in a manner as speedy and effectual that he would not be allowed to breathe the free air of the universe to taint it with the vileness of his execrable breath. But justice is seemingly slow, and we shall have to wait her course. Mr. Sam J. Saffell, who captured the fleeing murderer about four miles from the scene of the crime, brought him to St. Johns and lodged him in the County Jail. Mr. Saffell gives it as his opinion that the crime was premeditated and there is no reason to believe the story of Matas who says it was accidental.
Almost an hour before the killing took place, Matas was engaged in shoeing a horse near the house. He remarked to the man helping him, that he was feeling bad and wanted to do something bad. As soon as the horse was shod he went to a house where the boys always stay and got his 25-35 Winchester, one of the boys, who was shaving asked: "What are you going to do with the gun?" He replied: "I am going to try a shot." The one shaving said: "Wait a minute and I will go with you," but he did not wait and before the man finished shaving he heard the shot, but thought Matas was only practicing, though he soon learned that he had killed Miss Wahl.
After leaving the Boy's cabin he went to a window of the Wahl house and pointed the gun at the little girl. The little girl said, "Don't point the gun at me." Matas then lowered the gun and walked into the house and into Miss Wahl's room. She was standing before a glass putting on her hat preparatory to going out with Miss Baca who was in the room at the time. Miss Wahl turned her head to see who was at the door and Matas had his gun to his face ready to fire and before she could speak he fired. The ball struck in her side, just above heart, passing through her body and lodging in the wall. She fell dead without speaking. The cowardly murderer then turned and fled. The family was so grief stricken that they hardly knew what to do, but word was sent to Springerville as quick as possible and the capture was soon made.
When Mr. Saffell found Matas he was lying hid among some rocks. He hesitated on being told to come forth till Mr. Saffell said: "Come out of there quick and leave that gun there or I'll kill you." Then Matas came staggering out with his hands up saying: "Me shoot that gal." Mr. Saffell said: "Yes you killed her too." Matas did not seem moved by that for it was to be expected. Miss Wahl was one of the most popular young ladies in Springerville. She could read and write English, German and Spanish. She was the idol of her parents who are grief stricken and heart broken. They have the deepest sympathy of the people of St. Johns and Apache County at large. The HERALD wishes to extend condolence to the aggrieved family and relatives. A grief like this is the hardest to reconcile. When a grief like this comes to any one, then they cam understand the full meaning of the words of the old Hymn which says: "Oh to have no hope, no Savior, how dark this world must be.
THE ST. JOHNS HERALD SPRINGERVILLE NEWS August 12, 1899
A sad shooting affair took place last Wednesday morning between the hours of 9 and 10 o'clock, at the residence of Jno. C. Wahl, 1/2 mile west of town. One Eujenio Matas a Mexican who was employed by the Wahl family as a helper in and around the house, entered the room of Miss Bertha Wahl, daughter of Jno. C. Wahl, and shot and killed the young lady. The murderer then ran down to the river and up toward the Udall Mill; a runner came into town with the sad news. It was not but a few moments until the good people of Springerville were in their saddles and on his trail and he was captured at 11 o'clock by Sam J. Saffell and Billie Michaux about 3 miles up the river. Justice Long being absent, Justice Jarvis of Eagarville was called and a jury was summoned to hold an inquest over the young lady's body, which returned a verdict of willful murder by one Eujenio Matas. Miss Wahl was 11 years of age, the cause of the shooting is not known. The distracted family have the sympathy of the entire community.
THE ST. JOHNS HERALD IN THE DISTRICT COURT October 7, 1899
The Territory of Arizona vs. Eujenio Matas.
Matas was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to be hanged on Dec. 1, 1899. Regular session Oct. 2, 1899.
From the files of Jack A. Becker.