Editor's note: Longtime Pilot & Today columnist Jean Wren, who compiled The Way it Was, died last week. Her contributions will be sorely missed. Beginning this week, the Pilot & Today is reprinting a selection of Jean's previous columns.
Feb. 4, 1921
One of the most heinous crimes ever committed in Routt County was brought to light Friday morning about daylight when Frank Madra found his wife, Kathryn, buried in a manure pile on their ranch in what is known as Eckman Park, about 14 miles from Oak Creek in the Twentymile territory.
A pump man at the Moffat mine, Mudra came to the United States from Austria with his family about 10 years ago. He now lives at Oak Creek to be near his work. Sons William and Joe live with him so they can attend the Oak Creek school. Mrs. Mudra made her home with her younger children, Anna, 14, and Mary, 7.
Just over the hill from the Mudra ranch there is the homestead of a German-Slovak named Karfanta where there was only a 14-year-old boy, Otto Charles Karfanta, left to feed the cattle while his family lives in Oak Creek. The Mudras are Czecho-Slovak. Because of the feeling resulting from the Great War, the two families remained strangers, the Mudra and Karfanta children forbidden to associate with each other. The murder was the result of this order, Mrs. Mudra having objected to a friendship between her daughter, Anna, and the Karfanta boy.
It has been determined that Mrs. Mudra had been shot twice in the back while lying asleep in bed. After the murder, Anna had hitched up a team and had taken her younger sister to town, warning her to tell no one of her mother's death. She then had taken her brother William home to the ranch where he assisted her in dragging the body 150 feet to the barnyard, where they buried it in a pile of manure. The Karfanta boy was invited to come live with them, which he did, believing their story that Mrs. Mudra had gone to Oak Creek to remain for some time. Discovery of the crime was the result of Mr. Mudra making a trip to the ranch last Thursday.
As a severe storm came on, Mr. Mudra was unable to return to Oak Creek until late Friday when news of the murder was sent to authorities.
Anna, the self-confessed murderess, does not appear of average intelligence and has attended school but little. She is now being held at the Sheridan Hotel under guard.
Friends and neighbors
After the considerable snow of last night, there was considerable wind this morning, almost the first experienced in Steamboat this winter. It is reported that some of the country roads are quite badly drifted.
Irving G. Arnold, who was a member of the first draft squad which went to the war from Routt County, left Tuesday for Denver to be examined by a government board on account of a disability resulting from having been gassed in France.
Hazel, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Elkins of near Milner, is at the home of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Luekens of Steamboat, having been brought here on account of a broken leg suffered while coasting last week.
The Misses Swett and Perry are now at Carmel-by-the-Sea, where they have opened up a winter camp which will be conducted on the same lines as their Rocky Mountain Dancing Camp on Strawberry Ridge. It is also proving very successful. Last week the ladies, with their students, motored to San Francisco to see the famous Pavlova dance. At the close of their season on the coast, all of the camp will take a 120-mile walking trip down the coast.
Miss Carrie Stevens is still confined to the house from the effects of an unpleasant experience two weeks ago when she was caught in a blizzard while skiing. Her underwear and stockings above her shoe tops were frozen to the flesh and she has been suffering severely from the frosting of her limbs.
Hollis Merrill, one of the best of the amateur ski jumpers, made 110 feet on the new course on Howelsen Hill last Saturday. He was the winner of the class A contest, with Clarence Patterson second.
Cecil Rorex, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tex Rorex of Oak Creek, was painfully injured Saturday afternoon when the sled he was coasting on ran into another sled on the hill, throwing him against the rear of the sled. He received a deep gash in his upper lip that required eight stitches.