It was Halloween morning, 1911 in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, just sixty miles from Monmouth. Bert Jordan was in his upstairs bedroom when he heard his mother shout from her bedroom below. It was about 5:20 in the morning. When Bert found his mother she was lying across her bed with the bed clothes thrown over her. Mrs. Jordan had been struck twice; once behind her right ear resulting in a fractured skull; once over her right eye causing a deep gash and later loss of sight in that eye. Bert told his siblings (a brother and two sisters between the ages of 15 & 10) to wait while he ran to get his father who had left for work a few minutes earlier.
The Jordan’s house was immediately adjacent to railroad tracks and there had been a number of break-ins reported along the tracks in the weeks before. The family had lived in the house for two months. A wrench was found outside the kitchen door but it was unclear whether there was blood or rust on it.
Belle Jordan was the wife of J. B. “Zill” Jordan and was about 40 years old when the attack occurred. She was tall, had dark hair and was described being “a fine appearing woman.” Since she was found lying crossways on the bed it seems she was probably standing when she was attacked. The description of the injuries suggest her back was too her attacker when she was initially struck. The first blow did not knock her out but she was dazed and fell onto the bed. The attacker turned her over and as he brought the weapon down for the next blow she yelled for her husband. Bert told investigators he yelled down through the register if she was alright and heard no response. The sound of Bert’s voice likely saved his mother’s life. The attacker threw the bedclothes over Mrs. Jordan, either to cover her eyes or because he thought she was dead. Nothing was disturbed inside the house and nothing was missing.
So did Bert Jordan deny the Midwest Axe Man another victim or was this just a robbery gone badly? The timeline suggests the intruder was watching the house. Zill left the house around 5:10 a.m. to walk to work, which was only a block away from the house, so it would not have taken long (no more than five minutes I imagine) for Zill to have gotten to work. He did not lock the kitchen door. At 5:30 a. m. Bert showed up at his father’s workplace and told him what had happened. Bert likely ran and so it would have taken less time to reach his father. Assuming Bert left within five minutes of discovering his mother and it taking no more than two minutes for Bert to run a block that means the attack ended around 5:23 a. m., leaving the intruder a mere ten minutes to enter the house, assault Mrs. Jordan and flee to parts unknown. What, if any similarities are there here? Aside from the blitz-style, blunt force attack used, the covering of the victim with bedclothes is all I have. The proximity to the railroad tracks is not as important as the railroad that used those tracks but that’s another post for another time. For now have a happy and safe Halloween and make sure your axes are locked away in a safe place.