Merced Sun Star, Merced, CA., Tuesday, July 12, 1927

ARGUMENT OVER HYDRANT HANDLE FATAL TO PAIR

Aged Man and Barber Victims of Knife, Revolver Duel
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F.M. Derby, 55, and S.S. Terrell, 80, Battle to Death.

A petty dispute, presumably over the loss of a water hydrant handle, resulted in a double killing in a Merced residence district last night.
The dead:
F.M. Derby, 55, a barber
S.S. Terrell, 80, retired.
A heated argument in front of the duplex-house at 937-3 Nineteenth which they occupied jointly ended in tragedy when, according to the reconstruction of the affray, Derby slashed Terrell with a small pocket knife and then in turn fell victim to a revolver in Terrell's hands, Derby dropped with a bullet in his abdomen and died a few moments later. Terrell died on the way to the hospital. The knife was found under Derby's body.

From Petaluma
Terrell moved here from Petaluma in October, 1926, with Mrs. Terrell, who is crippled. Derby with Mrs. Derby and a daughter, Miss Myrna Derby, has occupied the house since November, 1925. Neighbors for nearly 10 months, minor disputes between them were frequent, neighbors declare.

Yesterday morning they were arguing over the disappearance of the water faucet handle. The argument smoldered all day and burst out again between the two men in front of the house yesterday evening.

Daughter Collapses
Dr. E.R. Fountain, who was called almost immediately gave medical attention to Myrna Derby who suffered a nervous collapse after the happening. He performed an autopsy this afternoon to determine the cause of death. Last night he declared that Terrell was wounded twice; in the chest and thigh.
(unreadable) inquest is to be held at 7:30 o'clock tonight at the Welch & Griffin parlors. Coroner C.E. Welch said today. City Marshall Waine E. Westfall investigated the case last night.

A deep stab wound in the right breast penetrating to the heart caused Terrell's death, Dr. Fountain said after performing an autopsy today. Derby died when the bullet pierced his abdomen and severed the spinal cord. It was found in the opposite side of his body from that of its entry, near the right thigh.

Dr. Fountain marveled that Terrell lived long enough to kill Derby and then reach the hospital, for the knife blade severed a portion of his heart.
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Merced Express, Merced, CA., July 15, 1927

DOUBLE MURDER ENDS QUARREL

Knife and Revolver Used in Fight in Which Two Men Are Killed.

Francis M. Derby, aged 63, was instantly killed and Samuel S. Terrell, aged 79, was fatally wounded in a fight between the two men which occurred on the sidewalk in front of the Langley apartment house at 937 Nineteenth street, where they both lived, at about 7:30 o'clock Monday evening.

According to the testimony given at the Coroner's inquest Derby and Terrell, who with their families occupied adjoining apartments, became involved in a quarrel over the loss of a water hydrant handle and during the encounter Derby stabbed Terrell with a small pocket knife. Terrell then ran into his apartment, where he procured a 41-calibre revolver, and returning to the sidewalk he fired two shots, one of which took effect in Derby's abdomen, passed through his body and severed the spinal cord, causing instant death. Terrell then attempted to return to the house, but he collapsed when he reached the steps, and he died as he was being taken to the hospital, death resulting from a knife wound in the heart.

Derby was a native of Ohio and had been a resident of California for about four years. He was a barber by trade and for a time conducted a shop in Fresno. He came to Merced less than a year ago and had been employed in various local barber shops. He leaves a wife and a family of grown children. Funeral services, at which Rev. J.S. Stubblefield of the Central Presbyterian Church officiated, were held in the Welch & Griffin chapel this morning at 9 o'clock, and the remains were taken to Fresno for interment in the I.O.O.F. cemetery, he having been a member of Illinois Lodge of the Odd Fellows.

Terrell also was a native of Ohio and had resided in California for more than thirty years. He was a retired miner and merchant, and he came to Merced from Petaluma last October in the hope that a change would be of benefit to his wife, who is an invalid. She is the only relative in this State. Rev. Robert L. McHatton of the First Christian Church will officiate at the funeral services, which will be held in the funeral chapel tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. Interment will be in Evergreen cemetery.
 

Transcribed by: Alma Stone