While the Victim Slumbered
the Murderer Fired the Shot
That Caused Her Instant Death.
JEALOUSY OF LONG STANDING
LEADS TO THE CRIME.
The Story of the Blasted Happiness
and Blighted Hopes of a Couple
Who After a Score of Years of Wedded Life
Passed Into Eternity as the Victims of an
Unbridled Passion - Funeral Monday.
[From Saturday's News.]
The home of Madison Copus, a farmer living about half a mile south of Lucas, was the scene of a double tragedy this morning about 10:30 o'clock.
As the result of family troubles and jealousies which, it appears, have been brewing for some time, Madison Copus, deliberately murdered his wife, as she lay sleeping on a lounge in the sitting room at her home, and then, having committed this horrible deed, shot himself through the head and, though living this afternoon, his physicians state that he cannot recover and that it is likely a matter of but a few hours before death will result.
Copus, aged about 45 years has been living on a farm of 10 acres, a half mile south of Lucas. He was formerly a drayman in Lucas and was well known. He is a grandson of James Copus, one of the victims of the celebrated Copus massacre, which occurred in Mifflin township, Ashland county, in 1812. The family of Madison Copus consisted of his wife,
a son, Charles Copus, aged about 20 years, and one daughter, Miss Minnie Copus, aged about 18 years, who was at home at the time and was the only witness to the terrible affair. Owing to the terrible condition of mental and physical excitement into which she was thrown by the awful scenes of this morning and the loss of both her parents, it was difficult to obtain from her all the particulars of the tragedy.
It appears that for some time Copus had been having trouble with his wife and that he had suspected her of beng untrue to him and likely accused her of it at times. About five days ago he purchased a 38 caliber revolver and it is now thought that he likely had in mind his terrible deed that long ago. That the deed was premeditated seems evident from the circumstances of the murder.
According to information received here, Copus entered the sitting room of his home and found his wife lying asleep on the lounge. It appears that, thereupon, Copus drew the revolver from his pocket and shot his wife in the head, the bullet entering through the right temple. Death is supposed to have been instaneous, as there are no evidences of a struggle. Their daughter, Miss Minnie, who was at work in the kitchen, heard the shot fired, rushed into the sitting room to see what was the matter and was horrified there to behold her mother lying dead on the lounge and her father with the revolver to his head. Even as she looked, he fired and the bullet, entering his brain, he fell unconscious to the floor.
Screaming, the young woman rushed from the house and ran to the home of Mrs. James Lewis, who resides about 40 rods from the Copus home. As well as she could, under her terrible excitement, Miss Copus told of the horrible tragedy which had just been enacted. Other neighbors had been informed and medical aid was sent for. Drs. Yoder and Spencer, of Lucas, and Dr. Mecklem, of this city, who was at Lucas at the time, responded to the call and hastened to the Copus home. An examination showed that there was no life in Mrs. Copus' body, but Copus was still breathing; though fatally wounded. The bullet entered his skull above and back of the right ear. The statement is made that Copus has been regarded as a temperate man, but it seems evident that he has had considerable trouble on his mind for some time. Whether or not Mr. and Mrs. Copus had had any trouble this morning, further than such as had been common with them of late, was not learned, but it seems that Miss Copus had not heard any sound of words. Shortly before noon Coroner Baughman was notified of the tragedy and left at once for Lucas.
Mr. Copus and family have lived on the little place near Lucas for some years, having moved there from near Mifflin, their former home. Mrs. Copus' maiden name was Jane McQuillen. Miss Minnie Copus has been living in this city for some time until recently and, it is stated, lived for awhile at the home of a Mrs. Stephens, on South Diamond street. While the young woman was ill, her mother came here and took care of her, and after Miss Copus became well she and her mother returned to Lucas.
This unfortunate affair has created a great deal of excitement at Lucas and is much regretted by every one. The coroner is engaged this afternoon in viewing the bodies and the scene of the tragedy, preparatory to the inquest. The revolver which Copus used was found lying on the floor, in the sitting room in the northeast part of the house. Two of the chambers were empty.
[From Sunday's News.]
When two members of the News staff reached Lucas Saturday afternoon at 4 o'clock after a hard drive over the worst possible roads they found the village still much excited over the awful tragedy of the murder of Mrs. Madison Copus by her husband and the latter's suicide. The fact that the murderer was also fatally wounded seemed to eliminate in a measure some of the more intense interest which usually attaches to such cases.
The Copus home stands on the very top of one of the highest hills in the county. The farm, which occupies ten acres, lies south and west of Lucas. After an exhausting climb to the house a person feels amply rewarded by the beautiful view he gets of the surrounding country. At the foot of the smaller bunch of hills far below him is spread out the picturesque little village with the Pennsylvania railroad circling through the valley. It was beautiful in the setting sun and worthy the brush of an artist, but attention was directed to a more serious matter, the scene of the double traggedy.
A few steps away is the Copus house, a frame
story and a half structure with a kitchen at the back part, three rooms on the ground floor and two above. It is planted about with small fruits, and, although the buildings are old and the paint long since worn off, it must be an ideal home in summer.
When the representatives of the News approached the house most of the people who had been there out of curiosity had gone. A half-dozen farmers' wives were engaged in preparing supper and one or two men were there. Coroner Baughman and Constable William Winters, of Mansfield, had completed the work of taking the testimony of witnesses and had taken their departure.
DETAILS OF THE CRIME
Although it was more than five hours after the tragedy all the horror of it was still there. Mrs. Copus lay upon the sofa just as she was when shot. As stated Saturday Mrs. Copus was asleep when shot. She was dressed in ordinary house attire, with a wealth of blond hair piled high upon her head. She was a woman who would easily pass for 30, although her age is given as more
than 45 years. She had evidently been a handsome woman in her youth. Mr. and Mrs. Copus had been in easy circumstances in the early years of their married life. Mr. Copus at one time owned a large farm on the Blackfork, but he and his wife had trouble. The husband was insanely jealous and charged his wife with infidelity and this, the people who were their neighbors state was apparently with some grounds. This jealousy on the part of the husband increased as the years passed until life at the Copus home became very much strained. Fights were of frequent occurrence. Mrs. Copus, it is stated, packed up her belongings on at least two occasions and left for Mansfield. After residing here a short time with friends she would return and the differences would again be adjusted. When she left home the last time she remained in this city ten days. She had been back at home exactly a week when the tragedy occurred. The daughter, who was the only person present at the house Saturday morning, states that there was no trouble between the two and also that there had not been since the return of her mother. The girl was outside the house hanging up clothes when she heard a shot fired. She ran to the sitting room door and at once saw that her father had shot her mother. He had placed the pistol to the right side of his own head when she looked in. The girl immediately threw up her hands and ran screaming to the nearest neighbors. As she turned away she heard the second shot which fatally injured her father. Clark Lewis and William Matthews accompanied the girl to the house and found the mother dead and the father lying unconscious on the floor a short distance away with the revolver near at hand. Strange to say both persons had been shot in nearly the same place, just over the right ear. The first bullet had gone clear through the woman's head and had fallen upon the pillow beside her. Copus was bleeding, both from the wound and his mouth. The injured man was placed in bed and physicians called, but they all pronounced his injuries fatal.
MURDERER DIES AT 6 P.M.
The weapon used was a 38 calibre, which was purchased in Mansfield a week ago. The murderer lingered until a few minutes past 6 o'clock last evening, when he expired without having regained consciousness. Those who were at the house and saw the terrible wound marveled over the fact that he lived seven hours after being shot.
Just prior to the shooting a resident of Lucas named Lew Chandler had been at the house and purchased a load of hay. It seems that Copus had bought coal of Chandler and the two were to have met in Lucas Saturday night and adjusted their accounts.
Copus was not what would be termed a drinking man, although he was in the habit of indulging occasionally. It is stated that Saturday morning he purchased a bottle of whisky. He was at the railroad depot at an early hour and told an acquaintance that he had had a very bad dream the night before and he knew something awful was going to happen. It is supposed that brooding over his troubles had weakened his mind somewhat and this, together with whisky, led him to do the deed. The officers found a number of empty bottles in the house labeled "pure rye whisky." In one of Copus' pockets was found a handful of cartridges for the revolver.
How the Copus family lived seems to be something of a mystery to the neighbors. He was formerly a drayman and worked steadily, but within a year or two he has worked but little. The boy, who is 20 years of age, is a confirmed cigarette fiend. He has but little education and the people of Lucas says he does not work. The girl, Minnie, it is said, is pretty well acqainted in Mansfield, having worked here for a time. The mother's maiden name was Jane McQuillen and her people live near Perrysville and are well to do.
"I AM TIRED OF LIFE."
Inside of Copus' vest was found an old letter, on the envelope of which was scribbled:
"Harry Baker, Mansfield, Ohio. I am tired of life."
Harry Baker is the name of a young man who has been staying at the Copus home at intervals. The neighbors don't seem to think it is exactly the proper thing for young Baker to be in that vicinity.
The funeral of Mr. and Mrs. Copus will probably take place Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock.
(Note: This article was found in a scrapbook. Across the top in pencil, was written "Mar 11, 1899". It is believed the article had appeared in one of Mansfield's newspapers of that time period. Ashland County, Ohio, Marriage Records, Volume 4, page 438: Madison Copus and Sarah J. McQuillen, married 15 June 1876. Another place within the same document has the wife listed as Mary S. McQuillan. G.W. Hill's History of Ashland County, Ohio, 1880, page 177, states Madison was the son of Wesley Copus. An 1899 diary states: "March 11, 1899 - Today about 11 AM Madison Copus died at his home near Lucas. Shot his wife, killing her instantly, then shot himself." "March 13, 1899 - This afternoon at Lucas the fueral of M. Copus and wife was held in Congregational Church. Interment in Odd Fellows Cemetery, buried in one grave. The victims of homicide and suicide." It is said that they are buried in the Potter's Field area, nor do they have a tombstone.)