The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Moment In History

MURDER AND MAYHEM-Robert Rankin murder (continued):During the summer of 1892 a number of highway robberies were committed at what was known as East Burlington which gave evidence of a gang of desperadoes operating in that locality. October that same year a tough character, William Higgins, who resided in a cabin near East Burlington, got drunk and made a murderous assault for which he was jailed.

While there, he confessed to a number of crimes he had done or had knowledge of. He told the deputy that Dan Waters and an associate told him that they had killed a man down by the Burlington bridge and asked him to help bury the body. He refused but offered to loan them his boat, but they declined.

Dan Waters as well as his accomplice Henry Peton was arrested on the charge of murdering Rankin. Waters claimed that he had never heard of the disappearance of Rankin, but Peyton said that the matter had often been discussed in Waters' cabin. Waters and his wife blamed John Block, a desperate character whose headquarters were in East Burlington.

He was arrested about this time for highway robbery upon William Gillespie and Freeman Doak and was convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary.

Upon consideration by the Grand Jury, however, the charge was ignored as to Waters and Peyton, but John Block was indicted for Rankin's murder.

As no corpse was found and one was needed for a murder conviction; this charge was dropped and Block served his sentence for robbery.