On the morning of January 31, 1919, Steve Haggidus received two visitors at his home. The visitors, Mike Boldis and John Agostin*, had stopped by his place with some local gossip. A. Baila Nagy** had been found dead in his bed. Not only that, he’d been murdered.
Haggidus immediately went to Nagy’s shack to see for himself, and sure enough, he found the dead man lying across his bed, partially clothed. A hammer was lying underneath the bed and an axe was found under the stove.
The Provincial Police had, of course, been notified and quickly launched an investigation. Within days, they had someone under arrest.
Her name was Annie Boldis. She was approximately forty-years-old, Hungarian, and was also the last person seen with Nagy. Furthermore, she was known in the community to have been on “intimate terms” with the deceased. As her son, Mike Boldis, later testified, about twelve years previous Annie and her husband had separated for about a year. The children were sent to an orphanage and Annie moved to Rosthern, where she lived for some time, working at the Queen’s Hotel. That’s where she met Baila Nagy and had begun something of a relationship with him.
When she returned to the farm at Wakaw, Nagy had followed her. He continued to frequent the Boldis homestead and when her husband was away he’d stay overnight. Annie would also go to Nagy’s shack and stay with him for intervals, until they’d inevitably quarrel and she’d go back home.
Annie Boldis was charged with murder and sent up to Prince Albert to face trial. The trial was set to begin in early May when something completely unexpected happened. The crown’s star witness, John Agostin, who’d given some strong statements to the police in connection with the chain of circumstantial evidence, had grown increasingly agitated since going to the city to serve as a witness. On the morning of May 1, 1919, he got up early and left the cafe where he was staying without eating breakfast. He went to his friend, James Kasi’s shack and asked him for a razor to shave with. He lathered up only his throat, then, instead of shaving, he drew the razor across it. According to Kasi, he made a slight noise and stood dazed for a moment, looking into the glass. Kasi looked up from where he was fixing the fire, saw the blood and made a dive out the door and ran for the police station, raising the alarm.
Inspector Tait was immediately notified, and while he could find no reason for Agostin to have committed such a rash act, he sent his men out right away. They went to the shack, where they found blood stains and the razor blade covered in blood, but John Agostin was no longer there. It would be five hours later when they found his body in the bush, some two hundred and twenty yards from the shack, lying in a pool of blood, his face turned downwards, the brush near him trampled down as though he’d thrashed about before dying.
The coroner’s inquest into his death found the cause to be that of suicide, although it didn’t stop the rumors from swirling that it had been murder. According to witnesses, Agostin had been greatly agitated since arriving at the city. He’d been having bad dreams and restless nights, calling out in his sleep things along the lines of: “Don’t shoot me. I didn’t tell it to anybody.” and “Leave me alone.”
Dr. Charlton of Regina, provincial analyst, said in his evidence that he was in doubt over whether it was possible for a man with such a wound to travel the distance covered by Agostin. The gash in his throat had been 3.5″ long and 1.5″ deep. He testified that the wound could only have been self inflicted by a left-handed man, but it was never made clear in any of the newspaper articles if John Agostin was left-handed.
Obviously, the crown needed time to re-organize their case, so the trial of Annie Boldis was pushed back to June of 1919. Annie entered a plea of not guilty and the trial began.
The first witness was her son, Mike Boldis. He told the story mentioned above, detailing the affair his mother was having with the murder victim. The court also heard from Steve Haggidus, who told the story of finding out about the murder and going to Baila Nagy’s home and told the court that he’d often heard Baila Nagy and Annie Boldis arguing during the summer before he was killed.
Dr. R. G. Scott testified to having been summoned by Constable Sulaty to Nagy’s shack and having made thorough examination of the shack and the body. He described finding a bruise on the back of Nagy’s head, a slight laceration to the right lung and blood stains on his underwear. Five ribs were broken, some in two places. He believed the injuries were caused by a heavy, blunt instrument. On cross examination, he admitted he couldn’t say how long the bloodstains had been on the undergarments and that they might have been there before the murder (which… yikes).
Dr. Charlton, who performed the post-mortem, stated that the blow to the head was not necessarily the cause of death. He agreed that the other injuries were inflicted by a blunt instrument using incredible force and testified that the injuries in the stomach area looked as though they could have been caused by someone jumping on it. He believed that internal hemorrhage had been the immediate cause of death.
On June 14, 1919, Annie Boldis was found not guilty. According to news articles, Annie had given evidence on her own behalf which implicated John Agostin, the witness who died by suicide on the eve of her trial, but no details were given as to what this evidence entailed and whether or not she’d testified in her own defense.
In an interesting turn of events, a month later on July 14, 1919, Jim Kasi, the man John Agostin had gone to see, was found dead in his shack. The door was wide open and it appeared from the advanced state of decomposition that the body had lain on the bed where it was found for quite some time. No superficial marks of violence were found on the body and based on the lack of follow up articles, it was most likely chalked up to natural causes.
As far as I’ve been able to research, the murder of A. Baila Nagy was never solved.
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Information for this post was found in the following articles of the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon Daily Star: Feb 5, 1919, Feb 10, 1919, Feb 25, 1919, March 1, 1919, May 2, 1919, May 5, 1919, May 6, 1919, May 12, 1919, May 17, 1919, June 3, 1919, June 13, 1919, June 14, 1919, June 16, 1919, July 15, 1919
*John Agostin was also spelled John Augoston in some articles
**A. Baila Nagy was also spelled A. Baila Magi and Bally Nagy in some articles
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