A Body in The Snake
R.C. Goodwin was a well-known sheep buyer in his native Idaho, but when his nearly nude body turned up in the Snake River in September, 1916, nobody in the Malheur County Sheriff's Department recognized him.
At first, authorities believed the victim had drowned -- until the Malheur
County Coroner found a bullet wound behind the man's left ear.
Fortunately, the victim's only item of clothing -- his underwear-- had a laundry number inside. Malheur County Sheriff Ben J. Brown immediately ordered his men to check laundries in Boise, since the Idaho state capital was the only large community within 100 miles that had laundries which marked clothing with identification numbers.
It wasn't long before Deputies located the Boise laundry which claimed the identification number. It showed the number registered to R.C. Goodwin. The laundry proprietor was able to provide investigators with Goodwin's residency, the Manitou Hotel. Brown's chief Deputy Sheriff Lee Noe recalled meeting Goodwin in Ontario, Ore., a year earlier when Goodwin came down to buy sheep.
Brown figured the killer took all of Goodwin's clothing and pieces of identification after murdering the sheepman. But the motive escaped him. Was it robbery? Goodwin may have had a lot of money on him, especially if he was seriously looking for sheep to buy. Or could it have been revenge? Although Goodwin was well-respected in Boise, maybe he made some enemies in Idaho, or along the way to Oregon. Or maybe Goodwin was part of a love triangle, the victim of a jealous suitor trying to get even with Goodwin for stealing his woman.
In any case, Brown and Noe went to Boise in search of leads. Their first stop was the Manitou Hotel, which Goodwin had called home for several years. The hotel manager told the Sheriff that Goodwin was a 42-year-old bachelor, but was engaged to a local woman. They planned to get married after he returned from Oregon, the manager said.
The two lawmen interviewed Goodwin's fiancee. She provided them with names of her former boyfriends who might have been jealous of Goodwin. But neither Brown nor Noe were able to link any of the men to the murder.
Sheriff Brown and Noe returned to Ontario, hoping to find someone who might have seen Goodwin a few days prior his death. Several persons reported seeing him in town. They determined that Goodwin arrived in Ontario Aug. 26, the same day he left Boise. One automobile dealer said Goodwin rented a car from him, to go out to a few ranches to look at sheep. But he said Goodwin returned the car Aug. 31, paid the bill and walked away.
The question now was whether Goodwin had headed back to Boise or whether he decided to stick around to look for more sheep to buy. They got their answer from a young female acquaintance who said Goodwin told her over lunch on Aug. 31 that he intended to check out one sheep ranch in the Steens Mountains before returning home.
The two lawmen headed for Steens Mountain, hoping to pick up some leads from sheepherders whom Goodwin had visited. One rancher said Goodwin bought some sheep from him on Sept. 1. He said another man, whom he did not recognize, had driven Goodwin to the ranch. Further checking with other sheepherders turned up the same story. But one recognized the car as a Paige sedan.
Brown and Noe began checking garages when they returned to Ontario, hoping against all hope that one garageman might remember servicing a Paige sedan recently. Their investigation revealed there were four Paige automobiles registered in the Ontario area.
The now-anxious lawmen began questioning owners of the four Paige automobiles. Unfortunately, all four gave reasonably strong alibis for their whereabouts during the approximate time period of Goodwin's death.
So, where do we go from here, the frustrated investigators asked themselves.
Brown struck upon the one thing he and his men had overlooked: the lethal bullet. He called the county courthouse in Vale and directed his men to contact the coroner' s office to find out what caliber bullet had been fired into Goodwin's head. The coroner's report noted the fatal bullet had come from a .38-caliber revolver.
With that, Brown and Noe began making the rounds of local hardware stores and gun shops, trying to find the names of people who might have bought such a gun or .38-caliber ammunition within recent months. They found one hardware store owner who recalled selling a large quantity of bullets to a local handyman named Dave Brichoux within the past month.
Brichoux, the two lawmen recalled, was one of the four Paige automobile owners they interviewed. They recalled he said he had gone to Nevada at the time of Goodwin' s death to look for a ranch to buy.
Brichoux repeated that story when he was confronted by Brown and Noe. But his story that he left town Aug. 29 conflicted with the hardware store owner who claimed he sold Brichoux the ammunition Aug. 31.
Brichoux was taken into custody on a first-degree murder charge, but Malhuer County District Attorney William H. Brooke told Brown and Noe they would need something more to win a murder conviction against Brichoux. The circumstantial evidence may have been strong, Brooke told them, but their chance of convicting Brichoux, without a clear motive, was weak.
Both Brown and Noe were now convinced that robbery was the motive for Goodwin's murder, after ruling out the love triangle and revenge angles. So they decided to go to Nevada, the area where Brichoux claimed to have been at the time of Goodwin's murder, looking for ranch land. Several ranchers recalled talking to a man matching Bricoux's description, but none could remember dates.
Before leaving Winnemucca, Nev., Brown and Noe decided to check some local restaurants and bars on the hunch Brichoux tried to spread some of his new-found wealth among the locals. Their hunch paid off when a local tavern owner recalled Brichoux came into his place the night of Sept. 5 - one day after R.C. Goodwin was last seen alive. The tavern owner said Brichoux bought a round of drinks for other tavern patrons and boasted he had plenty of money to go around.
The two lawmen figured Goodwin's checkbook must have been among the items taken by the killer; that might explain how Brichoux had suddenly come into a seemingly endless stream of money.
They next checked the local Winnemucca bank and learned that a man matching Brichoux' s description but claiming to be R.C. Goodwin had come in a week earlier asking to cash a check for $500. When the man presented what appeared to be proper identification, the bank manager said he gave the man $500.
Confronted with this evidence, Brichoux confessed to shooting Goodwin. But to the end, he claimed it was an accident. He said the two men were driving along a country road, heading back to Ontario from Steens Mountain on Sept. 4, when a dog came after their car, barking and running back and forth in front of the vehicle. Brichoux claimed he got out his .38-caliber revolver and was ready to shoot the dog when Goodwin lunged at him. During a struggle, Brichoux insists the gun went off accidentally and killed Goodwin.
He admitted removing all of Goodwin' s clothing and burying the clothes along with the revolver in the desert before tossing Goodwin into the Snake River. He said he kept the identification and money because Goodwin wouldn't be around to enjoy it.
On Sept. 15, a Malhuer County Grand Jury indicted Brichoux of second-degree murder. He later was convicted of the charge and on Oct. 27, Circuit Judge Dalton Biggs sentenced him to life in prison.
But Brichoux was pardoned after serving only 16 1/2 years ha prison. In September, 1933 -- three months after being released from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem -- he killed the wife of a Baker physician while trying to extort money from her and her husband. (See story in Baker County). Ironically, one of the men who helped Baker County Sheriff Henry McKinney track down and arrest Bichoux was Capt. Lee Noe, by then an official with the Oregon State Police.
Brichoux committed suicide on Sept. 9, 1933, in his cell at the Baker County Jail. He slashed his wrists with a metal spoon which he had sharpened against one of the walls of his jail cell.
The Murdering Widow
Fidelity was never one of Gladys Lincoln Broadhurst's better qualities. She was still married to her fifth husband Lester Merle Lincoln when she hatched a plan to snag Dr. Willis D. Broadburst, a well-healed Caldwell, Idaho, physician and rancher, in the summer of 1945.
She had known Broadburst most of her life and was fully aware that he had accumulated considerable wealth. The attractive, red-headed woman came up with what she thought would be the ideal plan to snag the good doctor. She concocted two stories -- one that her aunt had died in Hawaii and left her some $3 million; the other that she was a widow, being pursued by the identical twin brother of her late husband, Lester, who had been killed overseas.
The doctor, obviously captivated by her beauty and apparent sincerity, fell for both stories. Early in 1946, he proposed marriage to Broadburst and the two were wed in a simple ceremony in Reno, Nev., in May, 1946.
But the new Gladys Broadhurst was not through yet. She had fallen for a young cowpoke, 23-year-old Alvin Lee Williams, who occasionally worked on the Broadhurst ranch in Jordan Valley and who had become a regular visitor at the ranch house during Dr. Broadhurst's frequent absences from the ranch.
Less than four months after she and the doctor were married, Gladys Broadhurst and her young cowboy were back in Reno, tying yet another knot. Knot No. 7, to be precise.
The two returned to the ranch a few days later where they concocted another plan. This time, they would kill Dr. Broadhurst on a lonely country road and make it look as if the evil deed was committed by an unknown assailant. There was the doctor's $200,000 estate at stake. The pair followed Dr. Broadhurst's car along a lonely country road into Malheur County on Oct. 14, 1946, where Williams stopped the vehicle, slugged the physician over the head with a heavy wrench and shot him with a shotgun.
Those were the key elements presented by prosecutors to a jury of nine men and three women during Gladys Lincoln Broadhurst's murder trial in Malheur County Circuit Court in February, 1947. During the 16-day trial which was widely covered by newspapers from Vale to Portland, special prosecutor Blaine Hallock portrayed Gladys Broadhurst as a greedy, self-indulgent, scheming woman who had mined the lives of two of her husbands and plotted the murder of a third.
Good investigative police work by Malheur County Sheriff Charles W. Glenn and his Deputies turned up some damning evidence against Gladys Broadhurst, including a note supposedly written by the fictitious twin brother of her "deceased" fifth husband, Lester Lincoln. The note, which prosecutor Hallock claimed was composed by the defendant, said in part, "Your cowboy strongarm didn't do it (kill Dr. Broadhurst), but don't start anything or I will get you, same as I did DOCTOR. I warn you. I need cash."
The note was signed "Sweet Pea" - purportedly the sinister twin brother of Lester Lincoln. But Hallock introduced evidence during the trial that the supposedly deceased Lester Lincoln was still very much alive, that he had no twin brother, and in fact had no brothers at all.
Gladys Broadhurst's defense went out the courtroom window when Alvin Lee Williams took the witness stand and confessed to the murder after telling the jury he and the defendant planned the whole thing at the Broadhurst ranch near Jordan Valley.
The jury took only three hours and 23 minutes to return a unanimous verdict against Gladys Broadhurst on March 13, 1947: Guilty of first-degree murder. But they asked the judge to be lenient. Judge M.A. Biggs sentenced the 40-year-old defendant to life in prison. Alvin Lee Williams also was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Willis Broadhurst.
The Oregon Supreme Court in July, 1948, upheld Gladys Broadhurst's conviction and life sentence.
In 1956, after serving nine years of her life sentence, Gladys Broadhurst was paroled from the Oregon State Penitentiary. She was 50 at the time of her release.
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