Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mystery Monday - Is the Blind Collie Dog Guilty?

One of my jobs while in Goshen and Elkhart Indiana was to search microfilms for obituaries.  I found this obituary of Louis K. Hawks (son of Dwight and Estella Burns Hawks) whose cause of death was somewhat suspicious.

Since I have always been a cat person, in our household if anything ever went wrong, my husband always blamed the cat.  Consequently I laughed out loud (sorry library patrons) when I read Louis’ obit that included one of the theories for the cause of his death was that the blind collie dog was the culprit!

Louis K. Hawks Found Dead: Overcome by Gas
Body Discovered in Bed by Wife Saturday Evening
Coroner Gives Verdict of Accidental Death After Making Investigation

Louis K. Hawks, 34 years old, son of Dwight H. Hawks, well known Goshen druggist, was found dead in bed at his home, 306 Wilkinson street, by his wife, shortly after six o’clock Saturday evening. Death had been caused by asphyxiation and was accidental, according to the verdict announcement by Coroner Eugene Holdeman, of Elkhart, after the inquest Saturday evening. Gas escaping from a detached hose connection for a small heater in the bedroom had filled the house and overcome Mr. Hawks while he was asleep, it is believed.

Mr. Hawks was employed as a salesman for the Standard Chemical Co. for the past several months, and assisted his father at the Hawks Drug Store on Saturday evenings.  Prior to his employment as a salesman, he had been employed regularly at the drug store.  Because he had expected to work late Saturday night, Mr. Hawks had gone to bed at one o’clock in the afternoon.  When his wife, who is employed at the Elkhart County Trust Co., returned home a few minutes after six o’clock, she discovered the house full of gas and immediately went to her husband’s bedroom. She found that he was dead, and it was afterwards learned when an examination was made that he had been dead for several hours.

Several theories as to the accident have been advanced, but the coroner’s verdict merely stated that he had met his death accidentally from asphyxiation. It is possible that the gas hose may have been disconnected when the pressure was low and the escaping gas was not noticed and it was also suggested that the hose, which ran past the door to the bedroom may have been disconnected by a blind collie dog which was kept in the Hawks home, as he entered or left the room.  The dog was in the house when Mrs. Hawks arrived, and apparently was little affected by the gas.  The door leading to the bedroom, and also another door leading to the bathroom were both partially open, and the entire house was filled with gas.

Mr. Hawks is survived only by his wife and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dwight H. Hawks. He was born in Goshen, and had been a resident of this city all his life.

Episcopal funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon at two o’clock at the home of Mr. Hawks’ parents, 218 North Third Street and the body will then be placed in a receiving vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Mr. Hawks was a member of St. James Episcopal Church of Goshen. He was also a member of the local company of state militia and plans are being made to have the company attend the funeral in a body.

Rev. Roland of Chicago will assist Rev. Weeks in the funeral services. 


  1. Hmmmmm, suspicious indeed. Sad that he was only 34. Let's blame the blind collie dog. No one will ever suspect! Great story, and lucky you, very detailed obit too :)

  2. This obit made the trip worthwhile. What a great story even though it was very sad to see his young age.