The Murdered Family:
Mystery of the Wolf Family Murders
Also available as an eBook
When seven members of a North Dakota farm family and their hired boy are brutally murdered in April of 1920 during an intense statewide election campaign, eager investigators encouraged by nervous politicians get a signed confession from a man who argues immediately that he was forced to sign it.
Exactly three weeks after Jacob Wolf, an immigrant German from Russia, is found murdered along with his wife, Beata, five of their six daughters and the hired boy, one of the prime suspects in the case, also German Russian, signs a confession to all eight murders and is immediately sentenced to life in prison.
From the very beginning, though, he denies his guilt and says that his confession was obtained "under duress, intimidation and fear." He argues that he had been beaten by the officers who interrogated him, that he had been forced to stare at pictures of the victims, and that the investigating officers had told him that an angry mob outside the jailhouse was waiting to lynch him if he was released. He claims that he was told then that the safest place for him until this thing died down was in the state penitentiary where he could file a
change of plea in order to receive a jury trial.
In November of that year his lawyers file a motion in district court in Bismarck asking that his plea of guilty be withdrawn and in lieu thereof a plea of not guilty be entered, and for a trial upon the merits. Their motion is strengthened when some new evidence is discovered on the Wolf family farm only days
before the motion is filed.
More than 95 years later, people in the area still recall the words
the convicted man was supposed to have said:
“My eyes have seen, but my hands are clean.”