Note: Location on the map is approximate and not the exact location of the farm.
In 1927, a Dutch immigrant named Harry Powers married Luella Strother of Quiet Dell, West Virginia, after answering her lonely hearts ad in a local paper. The pair lived together at 111 Quincey Street and ran a grocery in town. After the marriage, Harry Powers continued running his own Lonely Hearts ads and corresponded with women from those ads regularly.
In 1931, Powers began corresponding with widowed mother of 3 Asta Eicher, from Park Ridge, Illinois. In June of that year, he went to visit Asta and her children, and left for several days with Asta, leaving the children with a friend. Powers then returned without Asta to retrieve the children. He took them to a bank to cash a check from their mother’s account, but were unable to due to the signature on the check being a forgery. Neither Asta nor any of the children would ever be seen alive again.
Around that same time, Powers was corresponding with a woman named Dorothy Pressler Lemke from Northborough, Massachusetts, and he eventually convinced her to marry him. He brought her to Iowa, where he had told her he was living, and had her withdraw $4,000 from her bank account. Dorothy was never seen alive again.
In August of 1931, investigators from Illinois were investigating the disappearance of Asta Eicher and her children, and discovered the letters from Powers, who was going by “Cornelius Orvin Pierson” in an effort to hide his true identity. They eventually traced him back to his home on Quincy Street where he was arrested. Several rooms were discovered below the house that had direct evidence of violence related to the missing family, including the bloody footprint of a child. Investigators dug up a portion of the land and found the bodies of Asta Eicher and her three children, along with the body of Dorothy Lemke. They had all been strangled except for Asta’s son, whose head was beaten in with a hammer.
Harry Powers was sentenced to death after a week-long trial in December of 1931. He was hanged on March 18, 1932 in Moundsville, West Virginia.