The headlines of the March 31, 1899 issue of the CASS NEWS screamed, "FINIS !! Soper with his God. Dead in 10 minutes. Went through the trap at 5:36 A.M. Thursday morning.." (3-30-1899) Thus ended the career of E.B. Soper convicted of killing his wife Delia Hunt Soper and his two children, Maude and Gillis, in Archie, Cass County, Missouri, in 1891.
E.B. Soper had left the scene of the murder in Archie, escaped to Kansas City and eventually to Spokane, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. He had been a butcher in Archie but worked with farmers and as a cleaner for the Pullman Car Co., in the Northwest. It was there in Portland that he met Mrs. Prince. She divorced her husband, married Soper, and they had one child. After some three years of marriage, Soper left taking their two year old son with him.
Later he confessed to having also murdered this two year old son. Mrs. Soper advertized his abandonment. The notice was picked up in the Kansas City Library, referred to a detective, and Soper was apprehended in Ashland, Oregon, where he had rented a small fruit farm with the alias Homer Lee. At the trial in Harrisonville he was convicted of these crimes and admitted the murder of his father in 1880 - as per the CASS COUNTY DEMOCRAT.
Edward Bates Soper was born February 7, 1855, in Clay County, Missouri. He was forty-four at the time of his death. His brother, W.Q. Soper, claimed the remains for burial in the family plot. His mother at age sixty-eight, a sister, Mrs. P.H. Crafton, along with his brother, W.Q. Soper, testified at the trial in an attempt to gain a verdict of insanity, to no avail.
Samuel Soper, a brother of E.B. Soper, died of malaria, after a brief illness, on January 4, 1887, according to the LIBERTY TRIBUNE, as reported to the Missouri Historical Society by Evelyn Petty: Samuel Soper was a graduate of Kirkeville, now N.E. Missouri State University, and was considered one of Missouri's most distinguished educators. Since January is an unusual time to contract malaria and since Samuel died in convulsions, it was not unreasonable for his inlaws (then and now) to suspect foul play. He died in convulsions after a visit of his brother, E.B. Soper, who was then running a drugstore in Kearney, Missouri, and who had brought a special prescription. This was some four years before Edward Bates Soper murdered his wife and children in 1891.
THE CASS NEWS, February 24, 1899, and March 31, 1899.
CASS COUNTY DEMOCRAT, March 30, 1899.
Clay County Historical Society Newsletter.
A note regarding "Mrs. Prince", of Portland, Oregon. She was in fact Catharina Henriette Bronleewe, born in Mark, Ostfriesland, Germany. With her first husband, she had two children, George and Agnes. She and E. B. Soper had a son, Gillis, who was brutally murdered by his father in their home on April 16, 1897, at the age of 2 years, 7 days. At first Catherina believed that her husband had taken their son with him when he abandoned her, until his body was discovered buried in their back yard . On July 5 of that year he was buried in Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland.Information obtained from copy of death certificate for Gillis Soper, from Gordon Bronleewe, and from family genealogy.