November 27, 1934: Homicide Suspected in Mysterious Stranger's Death


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

November 27, 1934: A mysterious stranger, whose only identification was the initials L.C.B. on his hatband and his gold watch, was found dead in an isolated wooded property in Washington Township with a large patch of cotton taped over his mouth and a .32 caliber Smith and Weston revolver clutched in his hand.

He was meticulously and expensively dressed in a camel’s hair overcoat, blue serge suit, slip over sweater, silk socks, Scotch grain oxfords and a dark green felt hat. Bottles of chloroform and ether and a wallet containing $45 were found in his pocket.

The Berks County Coroner issued a certificate of death due to suicide but police and Boyertown physicians had several reasons to believe that he was murdered. The body was lying in a mine hold in a comfortable position, resting on a black raincoat which had been carefully spread out. His feet were crossed and his left hand was in his coat pocket. The thumb of his right hand was resting on the trigger of the revolver and the weapon was pointing directly toward his head, but it could not have been shot from the position because he had a bullet wound in his right temple and the slug had taken a downward course.

His hat rested on his chest. The initials were visible but the manufacturer’s marks had been burned away, as had all identification marks on his clothing and there was no evidence that the burning had been done at the scene. There was a small overnight bag that contained medical supplies beside the body. The large patch of cotton over his mouth had been tightly taped with strips applied vertically and horizontally to hold it in place.

Authorities also believe that if he had so carefully taped the chloroform to his mouth himself, he would not have been physically able to fire the fatal shot to his temple and then place himself in the position in which he had been found. They believe that he was dead before the shot was fired because there were no visible signs of bleeding anywhere on his head. Had he been alive when shot, there would have been hemorrhaging. The Boyertown police force is following a number of leads to determine who L.C.B. is.

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