There is only one thing known for certain about the death of Adolph Ibenfeldt, and that is that on the morning of Oct 8, 1925, he was shot by his employer, Colin Feader. As to the how and why, well that’s where the stories begin to differ.
Colin Feader was a prosperous and well known farmer of the Fleming district near Moosomin. He and his family had been farming there for thirty years and he was held in very high regard by his neighbours. His labourer, Adolph Ibenfeldt, had been working for him since August 23, 1925 and was known as a good worker, likeable and not at all quarrelsome.
And yet, in the early hours of Oct 8th, Mrs. Feader told the court that she heard a shot. She called outside for her husband, and getting no response, called a doctor. Dr. Keyes arrived at the farm shortly before 8:00AM and found Adolph lying on the floor with gunshot wounds. Colin Feader was not there. He’d jumped on his horse and started riding north. Dr. Keyes assessed the wounds of Adolph Ibenfeldt and had him taken to the hospital in Moosomin. Meanwhile, two of Feader’s neighbours had tracked the horse and rider and found him five miles up the road. They told him to come back to the farm and he did so willingly.
Dr. Keyes was still at the farm when Colin Feader returned. He testified later that Feader seemed indifferent about what had happened, that maybe he didn’t fully understand what had occurred. He asked, “did he attack you, Colin?” To which Feader replied, that no, he hadn’t. Dr. Keyes asked him if he was crazy when he shot Ibenfeldt.
“I certainly must have been.”
Dr. Keyes asked Feader if he’d give him a statement, but Feader refused. “No, I’ll see a lawyer,” he told him.
Meanwhile, Adolph Ibenfeldt, while seriously injured and at death’s door, was quite conscious and being interviewed by the police. Afterward, he gave an interview to a reporter as well and this is the story he told both.
He said that at about 6:30 in the morning he and Feader had gone down to the stable together. Both were in a good mood, laughing and joking. Adolph began to milk the cows and when he’d finished milking the first one, he walked across the stable and emptied the milk into a larger pail. As he was walking back, he was shot in the right side of his chest. He crawled on hands and knees across the stable floor and dragged himself out of the building. A moment later, he turned and saw Feader standing near the stable, laughing at him. He said that Feader grabbed him by the coat collar and dragged him back to the door, then stepped back about 9 feet and shot him again. Feader then struck him three times over the back with the gun, breaking it. Laughing, he got on his horse and rode away. Ibenfeldt crawled across the yard to the house and lay sprawled on the doorstep, until the doctor arrived and he was taken away to the hospital. He told police and reporters that Colin was a good man and a good boss, and up to that point they’d never quarreled.
Colin Feader was taken into custody and brought to Moosomin where he was charged with attempted murder, until later that same night, the charge was upgraded to murder. Adolph Ibenfeldt had died of his injuries, leaving a widow and three children in Norway. He was thirty-three-years-old.
A search of the farm was done by the provincial police and Constable Gathercole found the 12 gauge shotgun in a manger in the cow barn. It had two exploded shells and was broken at the breech, as Adolph had described.
A preliminary hearing was held on Oct 18, 1925. Colin Feader was committed to stand trial at the next sitting of the Court of King’s Bench at Moosomin in November. The trial opened on November 20, 1925. It included testimony from Feader’s neighbours, attesting to his good character, as well as labourers who worked with Ibenfeldt, attesting to his.
Dr. Keyes took the stand and described the injuries to Ibenfeldt that led to his death. According to the doctor, Ibenfeldt was shot from behind as well as when an assailant stood over him. He said the pellets had entered the right side of the deceased, fracturing some of his right ribs, passing through his right lung, his right kidney and his liver. One pellet had penetrated the bowel. The trajectory was from the right armpit diagonally through the abdomen. He believed that when the second shot was fired, Ibenfeldt must have had his arm raised in the air, because there were no pellets in his arms. He described abrasions on the right shoulder blade, the left shoulder and the left forearm.
All of this seemed to support Ibenfeldt’s description of events. But Colin Feader took the stand and told a very different story. Through tears and sobbing, he described how Ibenfeldt had attacked him, coming after him with a pitchfork. He said that he’d tried to flee but couldn’t get the barn door open, so he grabbed the shotgun, trying to scare Ibenfeldt into backing off. The gun went off by accident he said, that he’d never meant to shoot Ibenfeldt. They tusseled and Colin had managed to get away, which was when he’d jumped on his horse and fled. When the prosecution asked why he’d left his children and wife behind at the mercy of Ibenfeldt, he said that he wasn’t worried about them, because Ibenfeldt had no quarrel with them.
The defence argued that Ibenfeldt’s statement was full of discrepancies and that he wasn’t in any condition to give a true statement, due to the pain medication he was given by doctors.
The jury seemed to believe the defence, and Colin Feader was only found guilty of manslaughter. The judge sentenced him to five years at the Prince Albert pentitentiary, saying that he’d given him such a light sentence because of all the evidence given to support his ‘outstanding character’.
The only ones who know what truly happened on the morning of October 8, 1925 are Colin Feader and Adolph Ibenfeldt. The evidence seems to support the story told by Ibenfeldt, but as we know, the truth is often somewhere in the middle. Did Colin Feader go momentarily insane after thirty years of being so highly regarded? Was there an argument that neither would admit to? We’ll never know.
But that is the story of the murder of Adolph Ibenfeldt and the differing accounts of what led to his death.
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Information for this post came from the following editions of the Regina Leader-Post, the Saskatoon Daily Star and the Winnipeg Tribune: Oct 8, 1925, Oct 9, 1925, Oct 16, 1925, Oct 19, 1925, Nov 21, 1925, Nov 26, 1925 and Nov 28, 1925.
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