February 27, 1931
“Sheriff Hunter So Far Unable to Locate Killer”
Funeral of Prominent Farmer Slain Thursday Night Largely Attended When Held Saturday
No trace has yet been found of the slayer of Mr. Will Peeples who was slain at the entrance of his garage last Thursday night about 9 o’clock.
Sheriff Hunter and his deputies have scoured the country and run down many clues only to find them end in failure, as far as locating the slayer is concerned.
Funeral services were conducted at the home and at Frink cemetery Saturday morning by Rev. R. P. McPherson, pastor of the Jasper Baptist church, assisted by Rev. Frank McCall and Rev. J. L. Hunter of the Methodist church. There was a great host of people in attendance at the last rites, as the slain man was well and favorably known throughout the section.
Mr. Peeples was about 65 years of age and is survived by a brother, Hubert Peeples of this county; two sisters, Mrs. Zella King of Miami, and Mrs. Ruby Pope of Sneeds, as well as a number of other relatives.
Mr. Peeples was instantly slain at his home near this city Thursday night by unknown assailants who made their getaway after the shooting. The slayer or slayers presumably used a double-barreled shotgun for the murder, firing both shots from ambush. Private vengeance is thought by officers to have been the motive of the murdered, as a sum of money on the person of the slain man was not molested.
The fatal shooting took place about 8:15, Mr. Peeples being shot down as he emerged from the doorway of his garage, immediately after putting up his car for the night. The first load took effect in the left arm, almost tearing that limb from the body, and most of the load of the second barrel lodged in the chest. Hearing the shots, Mr. Peeples’ son rushed from the house to the garage, to find the body of his father.
A crowd of approximately 200 men gathered at the scene of the murder immediately following the shooting, and a posse was formed. An effort made to procure dogs from Valdosta, Ga., Live Oak and Raiford, Fla., failed that night and the posse made a search of the surrounding territory without the dogs. Bloodhounds were procure Friday morning, however, and the man hunt continued.
A Hamilton county coroner’s jury met at the scene of the murder, but has not yet rendered a verdict, being held by Judge Johnson for further developements. The jury is: Frank Hancock, C.H. Levins, W.B. Lewis, W.A. Prayther, C.M. Mitchell and John Henderson.
Considerable feeling was aroused in the county by the murder, which was said to have been one of the most brutal in the history of Hamilton county.
Mr. Peeples was one fo the leading citizens of the section, being one of the most successful farmers in these parts, and an outstanding business man. He maintained four large farms in Hamilton county and one each in Lafayette, Columbia and Suwannee counties.
March 6, 1931
“Bill Hilliard and Arzo Peeples Arrested During Week”
Investigation of the murder of Will Peeples who was found shot at the entrance of his garage on Thursday night, February 10, took a sensational turn during the past week when Sheriff Hunter placed under arrest Bill Hilliard, who has been employed at the Peeples place for some time as a carpenter and handy man and placed him in jail here under suspicion.
Hilliard is said to be about 50. He was about the fourth person to reach the side of the murdered man on the night of the shooting and later at the coroner’s inquest swore he had been asleep and did not hear the commotion at the garage. He occupied a room nearest the garage and in his room was kept one of the guns belonging to Mr. Peeples along with a lot of carpenter and other tools.
According to officials, he refuses to talk further than to say that he does not know anything about the murder.
“Arzo Peeples Arrested”
Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Hunter places Arzo Peeples, son of the slain man, about 20 years of age, in custody and carried him to a jail outside the county, and has not let it be known where he is confined.
No specific charge has yet been placed against either man under suspicion but Sheriff Hunter believes he has clues which will lead to a warrant for murder before long. He will not intimate who he believes is guilty of the crime.
At the time of the inquest, help at the scene of the crime, young Peeples declared that he was in the front room of the residence talking with his sister, who had two or three children ill with measles. He also stated that when the alarm that something had happened he secured a gun and a flashlight and hurried in the direction of the shooting and was the first to reach his father’s side.
Numerous reports have been in circulation that young Peeples and his father had had a number of arguments during the past few months, but it has been substantially proven that this is not the case.
The coroners’ jury met again on Tuesday afternoon at the office of Judge B. B. Johnson, but what was brought out at the hearing has not been made public, owing to the fact that the jurors could not reach an agreement. However it is understood that some very valuable evidence was adduced.
However, at the time of the going to press, the murderer of Mr. Peeples remains as much a mystery as it was on the night of the crime. But officers believe that they will be able to place their hands on the guilty party in the near future, working on the theory of the old adage that “murder will out.”