James J. Murphy
Jim Murphy Found Dead in Cabin on Homsestead Ranch
The badly decomposed remains of Jim Murphy, age about 71 years, was found in his cabin on a homestead on the Cheyenne River, where he had lived almost a hermit's life for the past eight years.
The discovery was made by a son of Chris Christensen on Friday, Sept. 17, when he went to Murphy's place to find whether he had returned from a trip to Nebraska.
The investigation came about through bread being sent to the Christensen home from the Beaver Creek store for Murphy.
The store had a standing order to send bread by the mailman every Friday to the Christensen home, where Murphy went for water. When a loaf arrived on Friday, Sept. 10, and was not called for, the Christensen family thought little of it, as they knew that Murphy had gone to Greeley, Neb., to visit relatives and thought he had not returned. The next week, four loaves were sent out, and Mr. Christensen told the mailman that it was a mistake, as Murphy hadn't returned home, as he hadn't come for water.
But the mailman insisted that Murphy, accompanied by a young man who was not known by any one at the Beaver Creek store, had stopped there on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and bought a few groceries.
The Murphy homestead shack was about a half mile from the Christensen ranch, so the Christensen boy went over to investigate and discovered the man's body lying on the bed.
Coroner George Earl Peet, County Attorney William G. Watt and Sheriff D.A. Shoopman were notified and went to Murphy's home, where they found his body in a badly decomposed condition. They were able to establish that he had not been shot or injured on the head, and his watch and some money were about it, it was clear that he had not been robbed.
A verdict of death from natural causes was rendered.
It appears that the deceased had returned to his home on the evening of the 7th, likely after dark, as the Christensens did not see him, and some bread which had been purchased at the store on his way home was by the side of the bed, with one or two slices missing. Murphy had undressed and gone to bed and evidently died that night.
Although he had considerable money in banks in both Newcastle , Wyo., and Greeley, Neb., he lived the life of extreme poverty, and last winter during the severe weather froze his feet so badly that he lost the toes on both feet, but refused to let Mr. Christensen bring him to Lusk for medical attention.
He has some relatives at Greeley, Neb., but none of them came for the funeral, so graveside services were conducted Monday by Rev. Hal T. Clark, pastor for the Baptist Church, and burial was made in the Lusk cemetery.