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Dutchess County’s Forgotten Slain: The Germond Family Homicide

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February 17, 2018

It was the day after Thanksgiving 1930, when the Borden Company of Dutchess County New York, sent one of its workers out to check on a local dairy farmer who supplied them with milk, after not receiving their typical shipments.[1] The employee, a man by the name of Millard Coons, arrived at the dairy farm around nine in the morning, to find the farm and it’s animals unattended.[2] What he found next would shock the entire state of New York. All four members of the Germond family were found stabbed to death on their New York dairy farm, with investigators putting the time of death on the eve of Thanksgiving.[3] Husted Germond and his young son, Raymond, were found first, stabbed to death in the family’s wagon shed, the bodies laying in a pool of their own blood. Mabel and Bernice Germond, Husted’s wife and daughter were found next in the family’s kitchen. Both of them were also viciously stabbed to death, with 17 year-old Bernice’s body being found under the kitchen table as if she had tried to crawl away.[4]

GermondScene

(Image of neighbors and reporters at the scene of the murder. Provided by the Dutchess County Historical Society.)

 

Not long after Coons had found the bodies, the once quiet dairy farm was crawling with investigators looking for any sign of the perpetrator’s identity. The Dutchess County Sheriffs, and New York State Police both went to work attempting to compile any evidence from a crime scene that while gruesome, shed little light on whoever could have done something so heinous to a family who reportedly had no enemies.[5] Though one extremely valuable piece of evidence was found at the scene, a butcher knife that did not belong to the family, and had been used to slaughter them. Investigators were unable to find any trace of fingerprints on the knife, and though they were able to track down who sold the knife, the individual was not able to recall who he had sold it to.[6]

This was not the only important piece of evidence found however, as the empty wallet of Husted Germond was found abandoned, one mile from the crime scene.[7] It was also discovered that Mr. Germond had cashed a $150 check the same day of the murder, leading investigators to believe that the family’s murder was linked to robbery.[8] This still did not bring law enforcement any closer to solving the Germond Murders, and did not explain why the killings had been so vicious if it was simply a robbery. From there, investigators chased several leads, trying to find an illusive “mysterious stranger”, who had been reportedly seen walking around the Germond’s property.[9] After chasing several leads and finding nothing, the then Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to have the New York State Attorney General take over the investigation.[10] This decision was seen as political grandstanding by the local county officials, and the investigation of the Attorney General went nowhere, as petty politics seemed to trump a murder investigation.

It was not until 1933, long after the Germond family had been put to rest, that a suspect was finally charged for the murder.[11] It would just so happen that the individual charged with the murders lived right next to the Germond residence, and had a history of assault. The suspect was a man by the name of Arthur Curry, who had gone over to the Germond farm the day of the murder in order to pick up some money that Mr. Germond owed him.[12] He came back supposedly empty handed at 6:30pm.[13] To investigators, it seemed suspicious that a man with a history of losing his temper and getting violent, would come to the Germond farm looking for money on the day of the murder, and having Mr. Germond’s wallet found empty a mile from the crime scene. It seems perfectly reasonable that Curry was examined as a possible suspect of the murders, though there was not nearly enough evidence to push for an indictment. The evidence proved so sparse in fact, that the court dropped the charges, sighting little non-circumstantial evidence.[14]

No other serious suspects were found, and eventually the nation, New York, and the people of Dutchess County forgot about the gruesome killings. Though, in November of 1961, an article was published in the Poughkeepsie Journal, detailing how a local man and friend of Mr. Germond, thought that the homicides might have had something to do with the illegal stills located throughout the county.[15] Millard Coons had told the Poughkeepsie Journal, he and a group of acquaintances had heard Mr. Germond complaining of the stills in the area and the group had suggested that he go to the Internal Revenue Service about the issue. Mr. Coons told the journal that Mr. Germond said that he might, and that the conversation the group had over the issue could have easily gotten out.[16] Then a few nights later, Mr. Coons reported that he and a friend were working in his barn when a stranger entered.[17]

“It was getting dusk and I was in the barn with a friend when a stranger appeared. He seemed taken back when he saw the two of us and when I asked him what he wanted, he mumbled something about wanting to look at some new cows. Then he left in a hurry.”[18]

Coons told the journal, then adding “Maybe I was supposed to have gotten it”. It is also strange that a man who was heavily suspected of being connected to the stills in the area then left the county shortly after the murders, according to Mr. Coons the man left for Connecticut. Stranger still, was that in 1960, a Connecticut woman accused her former lover of frequently speaking of the Germond murders. The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department investigated, but claimed it was simply “a women’s scorn”, as the man she was accusing had left her for someone else.[19] In the article, Mr. Coons points out that it is rather odd that a woman from another state would accuse someone of a murder that happened thirty years ago, but the Sheriff’s office pursued it no further.[20]

Regardless of any speculation over the true motive, and suspect of this vicious killing, the Germond case remains unsolved, and now largely forgotten by the people of the Hudson River Valley. One of the reasons for this mystery still persisting may be due to the state of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department during the 1930s. The current Dutchess County Sheriff has said before that in the past major crime scenes were often treated as a “potluck”.[21] At the time there was no special team to collect evidence in a situation like the Germond murders, unlike in the departments current state.[22] There is even photographic evidence of curious neighbors parking their cars on the Germond property shortly after the murder, possibly destroying vital evidence. Whatever the case may be, it is certain that the Germond murders remain unsolved, and that it we may never know who slaughtered an entire family on the eve of Thanksgiving 1930.

– Shane Murphy, Marist ’18

Bibliography

https://www.newspapers.com/image/114092031/

Endnotes

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[4] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[5] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[8] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[11] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[14] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Brant, Abbott. “Sheriff’s office celebrates 300 years of history, changes.” The Poughkeepsie Journal. April 26, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2018.

[22] Ibid.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/www.newspapers.com , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Brant, Abbott. “Sheriff’s office celebrates 300 years of history, changes.” The Poughkeepsie Journal. April 26, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

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