Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Portage to the Past: A horrible tale of murder in Junction City

11:39 AM, May 22, 2013  |  Comments
Rhonda Whetstone
Rhonda Whetstone
  • Filed Under

It was one of the strangest and most gruesome stories every heard in a courtroom, according to the Grand Rapids Wisconsin Valley Leader newspaper.

In November 1908, 13-year-old Stella Luty came to the attention of a Milwaukee probation officer when she applied for work at several places in the city.

It was not long before Stella stood in juvenile court in Milwaukee giving a detailed account of total horror that occurred in her home in a Polish colony in the town of Carson near Junction City, during the summer.

She told how her father, who was an abusive drunk, came home from town inebriated, and in the absence of her mother, grabbed his gun and began shooting up the house. The girl said two of the bullets lodged in the foot and head of her baby brother, just 15 months old, and the child died a day or so afterward.

Once her father, Martin, sobered up, he threatened to kill any member of the family who told what he did and frightened them all into silence, further stating he was going to feed the dead baby to the pigs. Instead, he relented and did call a priest to bury the child.

Martin also threatened to kill Stella because he said she did not work hard enough, so she hid in the corn crib to save herself until her mother gave her $5 to go to Necedah and live with family still there. Stella told how her father sold their farm near Necedah and purchased a farm a mile-and-a-quarter west of Junction City just the year before.

It was not long after that the mother took her children and fled to Chicago to get away from crazy Martin, and, according to Stella, sent her to stay with a friend in Milwaukee. Later the mother returned home and told Martin if he was going to kill anyone, to kill her and not the children.

Upon hearing the horror stories, detectives set out to find the parents and investigate, while the story found its way into every paper from Milwaukee northward, although no warrant was issued for Martin's arrest.

Upon reading in the newspapers what they felt were false charges, friends and neighbors of Martin Luty sent letters to the police in Milwaukee telling them that Luty did not drink and was in fact a sober, hard-working farmer, liked by all his neighbors.

District Attorney George Nelson and Deputy Sheriff Merrill Guyant went to Junction City to investigate the matter, taking John Korda as an interpreter.

The men first visited the town clerk's office and the Catholic church to see if there was a record of the death and burial of the boy, but none was found, so they went to the Luty home where they found the mother and six daughters.

In speaking to the mother, the truth came out - everything Stella had testified to was a lie - except for the part about where the family lived. The mother told them that they only had daughters, that their only son had died in Necedah nine years previous.

In fact, at that very moment, Martin was in Milwaukee to bring Stella home. Confronted by her father in probation officer Zuerner's office, Stella broke down immediately and admitted in the presence of police Lieutenent Strehlow that she had made up the murder charge, and it was not true.

Martin said, "I want to take my daughter home. I think we will get along all right after this. I do not know what caused her to tell such a story about me. I never hurt anyone in my life, and I have been good to my wife and children."

Martin said Stella had been in trouble repeatedly, stealing from merchants and taking all the money the family had - $6 - to run away, which Stella finally admitted to as well.

Martin then said, "I've never had a son, and I'd give $2,000 for one this minute," according to several papers, including the Stevens Point Daily Journal.

Martin did not have enough money for both of them to return to Junction City, so he went home alone and said he would send the money to pay Stella's fare, as the case had to be discharged anyway when it was brought to court. At that time, she was to be sent back to her family.

One assumes that Stella returned home and behaved herself, and while I do believe that Martin was good to his family, I do find his comment of "never" having a son odd, when the wife herself said they had one who died nine years before. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just read and write too many of these old mysteries.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
576 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports

ORDER YOURS

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports