Murder in a Small Town

              The town of Malone was originally a train depot founded in the mid-1860’s. It soon developed a general store, stockyards, and a post office. Like many rural areas, it was quiet and peaceful. Who would have thought that an event would take place there would forever mar that peaceful landscape?

                Edward Crampton was born in nearby Elvira, Iowa, in 1893, one of seven children. In 1911, he married Lillian Henry. They had two children. Unfortunately, Lillian would pass away a few years later.

                 Crampton remarried, this time to Dona Thomas, and had two more children. He worked at the Clinton Corn Syrup Refining Company in Clinton, Iowa, where he was known for being a hard worker.  

                But Edward Crampton was not necessarily good to his wife. He did not treat her well, and it can be assumed that he at least physically abused her for a lengthy period. He didn’t care for his brother-in-law, Robert Vale, either. In 1928, the two had an argument that ended with Crampton striking Vale, leaving a large gash on Vale’s face.

                 After a brutal beating in 1929, Dona finally had enough of Crampton’s abuse and fled to her sister Susie’s home. Dona mustered her courage and filed a petition for divorce from Crampton.

                Crampton himself became surly and unfriendly with everyone around the small community, with the exception of Thomas Mulholland, an older man who ran the local general store. By many accounts, Mulholland was Crampton’s only friend there.

                On the morning of August 7, 1929, Crampton drove to his brother’s house in Low Moor to borrow a shotgun. Edward said that he was going to shoot a dog. He then went and purchased several shotgun shells and drove back to Malone.

                He went home, readied himself, and walked out into the street with his gun. Dona, who had been doing housework, saw her husband and ran out of her in-laws home, pleading with him to put the shotgun down and stop what he was doing. Crampton ignored her and kept walking toward the general store.

                As he approached, Robert Vale came out of the front door of the building. Crampton quickly put the shotgun to his shoulder and fired. The shot missed, so he quickly racked another round into the chamber and fired again. This time, the buckshot found its mark and Vale dropped to the ground.

                Looking over, Crampton saw his friend, Thomas Mullholland, sitting just inside the screen door. Racking the pump-action shotgun again, he took aim and fired again, hitting the old man square in the face. Even with such a grievous wound, Mullholland rose slowly to his feet. Crampton coldly fired once more, ending his life. No one knew why he killed his only friend.

                Through the entire event, Crampton never said a word, carrying out his foul deeds coldly and seemingly without hesitation or remorse. Silently, he walked back to his home. Once inside, he put the shotgun on a table, pointing it at himself. With the help of a stick, Crampton pulled trigger one last time, ending his life. He was only thirty-six years old.

                Vale was only wounded and was rushed to a Clinton hospital, where doctors thought that he would survive his wounds. But things took a turn for the worse, and his condition quickly deteriorated. Vale succumbed a few days later.

                Malone is still there, just off U.S. 30, marked by a yawning hippo. But even though it may have reduced in size, the events of that August in 1929 still stain the memory of the quiet town.



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