It was close to four thirty in the afternoon on Monday, September 30, 1929, when the phone rang in the office of Wadena lawyer and crown attorney Ross Pratt. It was Lena Faust, a widow and dairy farmer in the district. She needed advice, and to be frank, protection. Her recently fired hired man, Emile Plasky, was in her kitchen and they were having an argument over the wages he was owed.
As they were speaking, Ross heard a bang and the sound of a woman’s scream as the phone was dropped. He immediately phoned the RCMP detachment in Wadena and he and Corporal Stevens rushed to her farm about four miles east of town.
As they were coming up the drive, they met John Wilchinski, the fifteen-year-old nephew of Plasky. The shaken teenager told them he’d just seen something awful on the Faust farm. Lena Faust was dead. As the two men made for the house, they heard a shot. They found Plasky in the kitchen, bleeding profusely, his jaw blown away. A doctor was called but he died from blood loss within an hour, never regaining consciousness.
As for Lena Faust, she was found dead in the wheat field about a quarter mile from her house. The contents of two shotgun cartridges had been fired into her face and back.
Given that there was a witness to the murder, it was fairly simple to put together what had happened. On that fateful Monday afternoon, Plasky had taken his nephew and driven out to the farm from town with the intention of picking up his clothes and final wages. He left Wilchinski in the vehicle and went into the house. A quarrel ensued over his wages, prompting the call to Ross Pratt.
While Lena was on the phone, he went to the well house at the rear of the building and returned with her shot gun. He fired on her while she was was still talking, but missed, leaving holes in the wall above the phone.
Faust ran from the house and crouched behind the car Wilchinski was still sitting in. According to his testimony, Plasky followed quickly after her and fired at the car she was hiding behind. She ran into the wheat field, Plasky chasing after. He fired another shot and this time Faust fell to the ground. As she attempted to scramble to her feet and keep running, he leveled the gun at her and pulled the trigger, shooting her in the face.
Wilchinski said that after this, Plasky returned to the car and told him to drive back to Wadena, then entered the farmhouse.
But was it just an argument over wages that prompted the cold-blooded murder of the well-to-do widow? Lena Faust was well known in Wadena. She’d lived there for more than twenty years and was quite prosperous. In addition to the dairy farm, she owned a lot of property. She was survived by two daughters; Mabel, a nurse at the St. Boniface hospital in St. Boniface, Manitoba, and Emma, a teacher in Wadena, as well as a stepson named Arton, who was a prominent merchant in Wadena.
An inquest was held and Albert Halvorson, another hired man, gave testimony, adding another piece to the puzzle. Plasky, a twenty-two-year-old immigrant from Austria, had been employed on the Faust farm during the summer and grown angry when Halvorson was hired on September 26, 1929 and given the job of driving the tractor. According to Halvorson, Plasky offered him $50 to quit. When he refused, Plasky took the oil plugs out of the tractor, draining it of oil and rendering it useless. When Faust confronted him about the sabotage, apparently he threatened her, saying, “I’ll see you some other time alone.” Faust fired him. This was on Friday, September 27th.
Emile Plasky’s brother-in-law, Joe Wilchinski, also testified. He said Plasky appeared “like a man in a dream” both on the day before and the day of the murder.
The jury at the inquest reached a verdict, declaring that Lena Faust came to her death at the hands of Emile Plasky, and that Emile had died by suicide.
And that, my friends, is the story of the murder of Lena Faust.
*A Small Note: I found several different spellings for Emile Plasky. His first name was spelled as both Emile and Emil, and his last name was written as Plapsky, Plaski and Plasky.
Information for this post came from the following editions of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and the Regina Leader-Post: Oct 1, 1929, Oct 2, 1929 and Oct 3, 1929.
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