Sad Death of Young Man
Body of Clarence Headlee Found in Basement of His Store at Vandergrift, Pa.
Doubt As to How Fatal Wound Was Inflicted - May Have Been Attacked by a Burglar.
The announcement Monday of the death of Clarence Headlee, a popular young business man of Vandergrift, Pa., caused deep sorrow among many friends in Waynesburg, where his parents, Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Headlee, have resided for several years. Clarence Headlee was well liked by all of his acquaintances.
The cause of his death is not fully solved and perhaps never will be. He had been located in Vandergrift, Pa., for a year and a half as manager of a store for the American Woolen Mills company, and had been successful. On Saturday night he closed his store about 11 p.m., and he and his wife who had called there for him, walked home together. After they arrived home and while sitting on the porch he remarked to his wife that he was going back to his store again to get some cigars. She advised him not to return to the store again that night, but he kissed his wife several times and then started off down the street, leaving his coat at the house. He did not return and Mrs. Headlee retired, believing that he had been detained by some one or had gone to Pittsburgh to see his brothers, Harry and Floyd Headlee. On Sunday she made inquiry for him, but learned nothing and then decided that he had come to Waynesburg to spend Sunday with his parents.
Monday morning, a justice of the peace whose office is located across the street from the store of which Mr. Headlee had charge, decided that an examination should be made of the store. With another man he went to the front door of the store and finding it locked then went to the side of the building where there was a good sized window in the cellar beneath the store. This window had no glass or sash in it and the justice entered the basement through the opening. He had not proceeded far until he found Mr. Headlee's hat lying upon the floor, then he called to his companion to enter.
Together they walked toward the front of the basement where they found the young man's body lying upon a large store-box dead. He was lying upon his back, his left hand resting on his left breast and his right hand hanging a little over the right side of the box. Upon the floor at the right hand side of the box lay a revolver of 32 calibre. The cylinder contained places for six shells, but one place was vacant and one shell had been fired, the hammer resting upon the exploded shell.
A bullet wound was discovered directly over Mr. Headlee's heart, which was surrounded by powder marks. The bullet had penetrated his heart, causing instant death. There were no other bullet wounds upon his body.
A deputy coroner was summoned and after viewing the body is was removed to an undertaker's morgue, the first supposition being that he had taken his own life.
It was about noon when the word of his death reached Harry and Floyd Headlee, in Pittsburgh, and nearly 4 p.m. before they were able to arrive at Vandergrift on a train of the Allegheny Valley railroad. They at once began to make preparations for the funeral and did not have sufficient time to investigate their brother's death as they would have done had the circumstances permitted. The parents were absent from Waynesburg at the time, on Mr. Headlee's farm near Brock, this county, and they were summoned here as quickly as a message could reach them.
Clarence Headlee was born in Perry township, May 24, 1890, and was past twenty-five years of age. The family removed here about ten years ago and he was in the public schools and later accepted a position in the five and ten cent store in the Sayers building. Five years ago he accepted a position in the store in Pittsburgh, and later was a salesman in McCreery's store, New York city. He retuend to Pittsburgh and became manager of a merchant tailoring store and last year located at Vandergrift.
He was united in marriage October 28, 1914 to Miss Frances Folan, daughter of Thomas J. Folan, of Pittsburgh. Beside his wife he is survived by his parents, one sister, Mrs. Forney John, of Kirby, and two brothers, Harry Headlee, of Wilkinsburg, and Floyd Headlee, of Pittsburgh.
Deceased had been a member of the Methodist church for a number of years and was an upright and highly respected young man. He was cheerful in disposition and made many friends. No reason can be assinged why he should think of taking his own life. A few weeks ago he and his wife visited his parents here, and his sister, Mrs. Forney John, at Kirby. It was a family gathering and proved a very pleasant event, all of their children being at the home of Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Headlee. Clarence remained several days longer than he had intended because of the pleasure of the visit.
For a year he had been afflicted with boils, but this ailment was improving. For several days before his death he had said to his wife he was not feeling well, but he was able to attend to his business. He was not known to have any enemies.
Many believe that when he returned to his store, on Saturday night, he encountered a burglar, by whom he was shot. Neither of his brothers have knowledge that he ever owned a revolver and they say he was timid about entering a dark room at night. They cannot believe that he entered his store in the dark, on Saturday night, and walked to the rear of it then descended the cellar stairway and groped through the basement to the box where his body was found. The store-room and basement were long. Nothing of value was kept in the basement, which was not kept closed from outsiders, but it was his custom to lock the door at the top of the stairway leading into the basement.
The fact that several loaded cartridges were found on the cellar floor and inside the box on which he was lying is also mysterious. The knuckles of his right hand were swollen and discolored as though bruised by having struck someone, and there were indications of a bruise upon his mouth.
The remains were brought to Waynesburg at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and taken to the home of his parents on Second Avenue, where the funeral was held at ten o'clock Wednesday morning. Owing to the absence of Rev. Dr. Bash, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church, the services were conducted by Rev. Dr. L. S. Wilkinson, of Pittsburgh, formerly pastor here. Interment in Oakmont Cemetery.
Waynesburg Republican, August 12, 1915 (Greene County, PA)
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