Image 2, Reprint from Local News Paper
DIES IN STORM
Body of Father Betrand J. Walton Found In Autrieth Pasture By Searching Party Saturday Afternoon. Missing Since May 10, 1946.
Priest Had Apparently Become Lost And Exhausted In Heavy Sleet Storm. Pastor At Saint Ann Since May 10, 1946.
The frozen body of Rev. Bertrand J. Walton, 36, pastor of Saint Ann’s Church at Warsaw and Saint Bartholomew’s, Winsor, was found Saturday afternoon on John Autrieth farm six mile north of Warsaw on U.S. Highway 65. Rev. Walton has been missing since December 31.
Discovery of the body ended a two day search by officers. The body was found by Magistrate Joe Berry near a large hedge tree about 200 yards north of where the Catholic priest’s 1947 Ford Coach and trailer had been abandoned in the Autrieth pasture.
In the searching party were Trooper Glenn Means, Deputy Benny Jenkins, Deputy Sherman Place, Marshal Roy Burton, Judge Lem Bird and Mr. Autrieth.
Lost In Storm
Mr. Autrieth, 79, related that a stranger driving a car and trailer drove into his yard about 5:00 pm Wednesday afternoon during a sleet and rain storm. “I asked where he was going” Autrieth said, “and I understood him to reply that he wanted to turn around”.
Autrieth opened a large board gate through which Father Walton drove the car and then continued through another gate that was opened into a pasture where the car stalled in the brush.
Autrieth told officers that the man got out of the car and was attempting to move the fallen branches from in front of the car.
“I invited him into the house but he replied that he would stay in the car awhile”, Mr. Autrieth said.
“I went to to finish my chores and returned to the car but the man wasn’t to be seen. I took my flashlight and looked around for him but could find no trace in the storm. A few minutes before I heard a car stop and honk on the highway and I though perhaps he had decided to leave the car and catch a ride back to town.
Autrieth said that he searched the pasture the following morning but due to the snow could nind nothing. As all telephone wires were down, he was unable to notify officers at Warsaw until Friday afternoon when he drove here in his car.
Magistrate Berry and Deputy Place search the Autrieth pasture Friday afternoon but the snow hindered their efforts.
The body was examined Saturday afternoon by Dr. Lee Hurt, Prosecuting Attorney F. M. Brady and Sheriff Harrison Eaton. Magistrate Berry, acting coroner, gave a verdict “death due to coronary thrombosis and exposure”. It was known that Father Walton had been in frail health following a nervous breakdown three years ago.
On the afternoon of the tragedy Father Walton had driven from Windsor with Woodrow McCoy, appliance dealer, to Warsaw where they installed a gas furnace in the church. They worked at the church until about 4:30 when Father Walton left in the car.
It was though possible that Father Walton had mistaken the Autrieth driveway for the road one mile north, leading to the Ben Hessefort farm where he was to pick up a butchered hog presented him by the Hessefort family.
Cap Is Found
Investigation by Trooper Means indicated that Father Walton apparently became lost and exhausted in the pasture. Scratches on his face and hands were no doubt from walking through briar patches. Both knees were skinned.
A badly torn raincoat was found fifteen feet from the body. His cap was found about 100 feet north.
The body was removed to the Reser Funeral Home and then taken to Kansas at 4:30 a. m. Sunday morning.
Father Walton had been pastor of Saint Ann’s since May 10, 1946. He also served the Windsor church where he made his home. He was ordained in 1936 in Albany, N. Y. and formerly was assistant pastor of Saint Agnes Church in Springfield and Saint Peter’s Church in Joplin.
Mass for Father Walton was held at Saint Ann’s Sunday morning with Father Ilmsberger, pastor of Saint Louis Church, Kansas City, Readying the service.
Father Walton is survived by three brothers, Rev Robert E. Walton, pastor of Saint Stephen’s Church, Kansas City, Rev. J. Willis Walton, Kansas City, and Edward J. Walton, South Amboy, N. J. A fourth brother, Rev. James M. Walton died of a heart ailment in Kansas City last year.
Services were held at Saint Stephen’s in Kansas City at 10:00 a. m. Wednesday. Burial was in Saint Mary’s Cemetery there.