From the March 15, 1917 Bossier Banner we read of a case of murder and robbery.
“Mr. E. E. Wart, serving temporarily as night toll collector for the Bossier Parish at the new Shreveport-Bossier traffic bridge has been missing ever since an early hour Sunday morning and there is every reason to suspect foul play in connection with his sudden disappearance. It is thought that he was murdered and robbed and his body thrown into the river. The room provided for the collector of tolls for Bossier Parish is not at the east end of the bridge as might be supposed, but about halfway the length of the bridge, and it was here while Mr. Wart was on duty that he is supposed to have lost his life. If he was murdered and robbed, and all evidence seems to point unrefutably [sic] in that direction , it is believed to have been the deed of at least two white men, and perhaps as many as three.”
“Near the center of the box-like room was found a pool of blood on the floor and near this spot lay the glasses that were worn by Mr. Wart. A long smear of blood led from the door of the room out to the left and over the railing of the bridge at a point perhaps twenty feet from this room. Leading away from the scene of the tragedy and in the direction of Bossier City were bloody footprints. In view of these evidences, it is thought that the two men who committed the double crime approached from the east end of the bridge, that one of them paid the toll for two, and that the other struck him in the back of the head with some heavy death dealing object just as he had turned to walk back into the room. He was then perhaps robbed and his body dragged to one side and thrown into the river. The two men then evidently returned to the room to search for more loot and while there stepped into the pool of blood. This would account for the bloody tracks leading off in the direction of Bossier City. That a chest in the room containing about $115 was not broken open and robbed would seem to indicate that the criminals were frightened away by hearing what they thought to be the approach of some one from the Shreveport end of the bridge. This is the theory advanced by a friend well familiar with all physical evidences of the crime to be seen on the bridge Sunday morning.”
“Sheriff Edwards us being assisted in his efforts to apprehend the guilty persons by Sheriff Reuben of Caddo Parish and detectives of that city. A joint reward of $1000 for the arrest and conviction of the criminals has been offered by the authorities of Bossier Parish and the City of Shreveport. Some arrests have been made, more on general suspicion than otherwise but as yet there is no real clue to the identity of the criminals.”
Mr. Wart was in the forty-sixth year of his age. He was born in Columbia County, Ark., where his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. Wart, resided for four years, but was reared and spent nearly the whole of his life in Bossier Parish. His home for many years was in Haughton where he clerked in the stores of Mr. J. W. Elston and Mr. Joel Hodges. He was an unobtrusive and retiring man, reliable and honorable, and, so far as is known, had no enemies.”
“The river has been repeatedly dragged at a poin just below the bridge, but the corpse has not been found. It is thought that the current has perhaps carried it far down stream.”
An examination of several issues of the Banner following this one indicated no discovery of either Mr. Wart’s body or of the criminals who committed the crime.
Did you know that the Bossier Banner is online at www.loc.gov in the “Chronicling America” Collection?
Of course, you can always visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center for other issues of the Banner and much more.
Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or