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Midway Murders


One of the most horrific mass murders in North Dakota’s history occurred in April of 1920, at the farmstead of Jacob Wolf near Turtle Lake. Wolf, his wife, five children, and a 13-year-old farmhand were brutally murdered with a hatchet and shotgun. Five of the victims were found in the cellar of the farmhouse by a neighbor, and three were found in the nearby barn and hayshed. One lone survivor, eight-month-old Emma, was unharmed in her crib. On this date in 1920, without leads or a suspect, authorities called on the public to help solve the baffling murders. Within weeks, neighbor Henry Layer confessed to the killings, revealing that an argument over Mr. Wolf’s dog had led to the murders.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job


Dill, Joseph (ed.). 1988 North Dakota: 100 Years: p. 26. The Forum Publishing Company: Fargo, ND.

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. Monday (Evening ed.), April 26, 1920; pp. 1-2.


http://undnews.areavoices.com/2011/09/16/book-author-to-discuss-mystery-behind-1920-north-dakota- mass-murder-at-turtle-lake-former-und-faculty-member-vernon-keel-at-und-bookstore-sept-21/

http://www.infomercantile.com/dakota_death_trip/Eight_Murdered_1339285201.html (Dakota Death Trip blog posted by D. Dahlsad, Slope County News, April 30, 1920).