Merced Sun Star
Wednesday, March 29, 1939
Murder Theory Is Studied By Henderson
Merced Grand Jury May Investigate Mysterious Blaze
The possibility Mrs. Edna Eberheardt was murdered was disclosed today as
District Attorney Allen Henderson and Undersheriff Merrill M. Morse began an
investigation on the case. The 22 year-old Livingston woman was burned to
death in a cafe fire in Stevinson early Tuesday.
Henderson said the case may be investigated by the grand jury. He will
present the circumstances of the fire and death to the jury today, he said.
Witnesses Are Called
Henderson said he had issued subpenas for various witnesses, several of them
believed to be male companions of the singer, to appear before the grand jury
The district attorney refused to disclose how many witnesses had been
summoned or their names.
Morse declared the woman may have been murdered and the building fired to
make it appear an accident. She was lying within a few feet of the door before
the fire, he said. She had either fainted when she discovered the blaze, Morse
pointed out. Otherwise she could have escaped easily.
Fire Cause Unknown
The building was completely destroyed by the fire and Mrs. Eberheardt's body
burned beyond recognition. No cause for the fire was apparent. Morse said the
oil stove in the cafe showed no signs of having exploded. The stove had seemed
the only possible place of origin.
Morse stated the young waitress might have been killed in an argument with a
suitor. Another possibility was a degenerate entered the cafe when he saw her
asleep on a couch. Morse said.
Merced Sun Star
Thursday, March 30, 1939
Fire Mystery Still Unsolved After Inquiry
Grand Jury Quizzes Witnesses In Probe Of Possible Murder
The cause of the death of a 22 year-old Livingston woman remained as much of
a mystery today as it was Tuesday morning when her body was taken from the
ruins of a Stevinson cafe where she was employed as a waitress. A grand jury
investigation Wednesday was able to shed no light on the tragedy.
The woman was Mrs. Edna Irene Eberhardt Myers. She had been using the name
Eberhardt which caused confusion in identifying her.
Rites Are Held
Meanwhile funeral services were held today in the Ivers and Alcorn chapel in
Merced. The Rev. Willing Smith conducted the rites, and burial was in Winton
District Attorney Allen A. Henderson called a quartet of witnesses at the
hearing yesterday. He disclosed they were Deputy Coroner A. C. Stevens Jr., of
Hilmar, Cecil Newsome, Stevinson resident who was one of the first to reach
the blazing building, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Vandenberg of Stevinson,
acquaintances of the dead woman.
At the conclusion of the hearing Henderson said, the enquiry had been
continued indefinitely He said however, his office was still investigating the
blaze. At first Merced county officials believed the case to be an accident
but later a possible torch murder theory was injected into it.
Body In Building
He charred body was found in the ruins of the building after an early morning
fire of unknown origin. At first officials thought the body was near a door,
but a recheck of the floor plans of the Prairie Schooner cafe indicated the
body was in the center of the building.
It was pointed out by officials apparently no attempt to escape had been made
Surviving her are her husband, William Robert Myers of Stockton, a daughter,
Helen Jane; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Lauer, all of Livingston; three
brothers, Emmett Palmer, Livingston, Eugene Palmer, San Francisco, and Earl
Palmer, Texas; and a sister, Elizabeth Lauer, Livingston.
Transcribed by: Alma