April 17, 1914: Half-decomposed corpse found floating in block of ice

On this day in St. Louis Bay in 1914, the “half-decomposed” corpse of Peter Morgan, age 52, was found frozen in a block of ice floating in the water. Morgan lived with his widowed sister and his niece at 1112 Fisher Avenue in Superior. He had lived in Superior for 15 years and worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was last seen on December 20, 1913—pay day. While Coroner Z. A. Downs insisted that the corpse’s condition made it impossible for him to determine a cause of death, the police thought that he had gone on a bender, spent his entire month’s pay, and then committed suicide out of remorse. But his sister believed he was murdered. Morgan was described as a man “not given to drink” who “seldom associated with women.” His affairs were in good shape, as was his health; he had no apparent reason to commit suicide. It was thought highly unlikely that he fell into the bay by accident. His sister’s theory was that Morgan, a generous man, “exhibited the money carelessly while in the company [of] strangers and that they enticed him to a lonely spot near the lake shore and, in the half careens, strangled him to death, rifled his pockets and threw the body into the lake.” Only 35 cents was found in Morgan’s pockets, along with a gold watch. Morgan’s former neighbors Albert Johnson and William Strong—after hearing about the body being found—went to the coroner’s office and identified Morgan by his “dark blue suit of heavy clothes, a corduroy vest and heavy tan shoes.” They said Morgan was well-liked by everyone he associated with and scoffed at the idea he had killed himself. The newspapers reported no further information on Morgan’s death beyond that story. Read more notorious tales of days gone by here.

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