On this date in 1901 the Oakes Republican reported that Coroner T.W. Millham and Sheriff Thompson had been summoned to investigate the death of Charles Brucker. The first report was that Brucker had been killed when his wife shot him with a shotgun. Mrs. Brucker was the daughter of Ferdinand Kosanke, a prominent member in the Germans from Russia community. She was only with husband Charles a short time before they quarreled and split up. Mrs. Brucker returned to her family. One evening, Brucker arrived at the Kosanke home threatening to kill his wife and the entire family.
The Kosanke sons overwhelmed the man and tied him up. Then they went to get their father who was visiting at a neighbor’s house, intending to to return with their father and call for the sheriff. They left Mrs. Brucker, armed with a loaded shotgun, to guard Charles. Before the men could return, Brucker was able to free one of his arms. Mrs. Brucker told him if he tried to get up she would shoot him. He ignored her threat and continued his efforts to free himself. As he tried to stand, his wife shot him, killing him instantly.
Upon completing his inquest, the coroner determined that Mrs. Brucker’s account was accurate. The coroner’s jury absolved the woman of all blame. They concluded she had acted in self-defense, and it was assumed the matter was settled.
But that was not the end of the story. Three months later authorities decided to prosecute Mrs. Brucker for the murder of her husband. Some of her neighbors had become suspicious of her story. It came to their attention that Mr. Brucker carried a $2,000 life insurance policy. His wife was the beneficiary and she was attempting to collect. The neighbors thought it was suspicious that her brothers left her alone to guard Charles rather than guarding him themselves and sending their sister to find their father. As a result of the neighbors’ concerns, a warrant was sworn out for her arrest.
However, the result was the same. A second investigation determined that Brucker’s death was indeed a result of self-defense. Charges against Mrs. Brucker were dropped, and she eventually did collect on the $2,000 insurance policy.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Oakes Republican. “Merricourt Woman Killed Her Husband with a Shot Gun.” 15 February, 1901.
The Minneapolis Journal. “Mrs. Brucker Will Be Tried.” 26 April, 1901.