About Us
Museum Membership
Event Schedule
Museum Newsletters
Museum Displays


J. W. Kastle Murders His Wife

Arkansas City Traveler, February 26, 1921.
John W. Kastle, who early this morning shot and killed his wife in cold blood at their home in the Sleeth addition, was arraigned in Judge McIntire’s court this afternoon on the charge of murder, and his preliminary hearing was set for 9 o’clock next Monday morning. He was committed to jail without bond as is customary on a first degree murder charge. Deputy Sheriff Fred Eaton at once conveyed him to the county jail at Winfield.
It developed while in the court room that Kastle and his wife had considerable trouble on account of the fact that Mrs. Agnes Malone was in his employ at the store and Kastle stated that his wife was very jealous of the Malone woman. He said that he employed the girl because he could hire her cheaper than he could a man and that she was very capable of operating the grocery store. Mrs. Malone is a good looking and very bright young woman. She has been working for Mr. Kastle for some time past, but recently resigned her position and is at present residing with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Powers.
While in the court room this afternoon Kastle shed tears and said he was very sorry for what he had done, but that he was compelled to kill his wife because she had threatened to kill him. He said he got up in the night and fearing that she might carry out her threat, he procured his revolver and shot her while she lay in bed.
All indications point to the fact that he shot her while she was asleep, as there was no signs of a struggle and two of the bullets which were shot into the right side of her face penetrated the head and went into the pillow upon which she was lying. In fact all those who witnessed the position of the body in the bed this morning, were of the opinion that the woman was shot while she was asleep.
John W. Kastle, of the Sleeth addition, today occupies a felon’s cell in the city jail here, after the deliberate murder of his wife, Mrs. Arlene Kastle, whom he says he shot this morning in their home, at 1310 South G street and whose body was found at that location at 8:30 o’clock this morning by city officers who were called to the scene. Immediately following the conveying of the telephone message to the officers that the man had murdered his wife, Kastle was arrested and placed in the city jail. The only statement made to the officers at that time by the self confessed murderer, was that he “had to kill her.”  Soon after that time Kastle went into a swoon, or rather a drunken stupor, as he was alleged to have been very drunk at the time of the arrest. It is also stated by those who are conversant with the facts of the murder, or rather those who investigated after the finding of the dead body of the woman, that he was in a drunken condition when he committed the horrible crime. Those who first heard from the man’s own lips that he had shot and killed his wife, made no pretense of keeping the alleged facts a secret. On the other hand the officers were told the facts at once so far as they were known at that time.

Not until one o’clock this afternoon did the man come to himself enough to even seem to realize what he was doing or where he was. At that hour he opened his eyes and in answer to the question by Policeman J.W. White, who was in charge of the jail at that hour and who was guarding the prisoner, he said he would have some black coffee. He asked for the coffee with the remark that, “I’ll take the coffee black, please.”  The officer immediately ordered the coffee from the restaurant, over the phone and it was in the hands of the prisoner within ten minutes after that time.
From those who know the family well and who have seen both the man and the woman every day for many, many months, it is learned that the couple quarreled a great deal and that the woman was insanely jealous of her husband. Some of the neighbors say this jealousy on her part was without foundation, and that the man was a good and faithful husband and was not in the habit of seeing or being out with other women. Nevertheless, he is now branded a murderer and he says that he killed his wife in self defense.
However, that he had been drinking and was in a very much drunken condition when he committed the crime and even when he was arrested, there is no doubt. He did not realize what he had done, those who saw and talked with him this morning, were full convinced. This did not alter the facts by any manner or means and that the man will be tried on the charge of first degree murder there seems at this time to be no doubt.
The sight that met the gaze of those who called at the home of the Kastle’s this morning, before the body had been removed or even touched, was a gruesome one to say the least. The woman’s head lay in a pool of her own blood and there was a large quantity of blood on the floor and directly under the spot where the head of the dead woman was resting. Two shots, it showed at that time, had been fired into the face of the woman from a 32 caliber automatic revolver and the gun was found on a small stand-table at the side of the bed and very close to the woman’s head. Two empty shells were found there also, and these and the revolver are now in the hands of the police. It was stated this afternoon that Kastle had purchased the revolver at a local hardware store only a short time ago. Those who were familiar with the family and the family affairs, say that he was not known to have possessed a revolver before this time. It is said by those who claim to know, however, that Kastle had been drinking considerably of late and that he was intoxicated last night on a mixture of vanilla extract and apple juice. The kitchen of the home, which is located just north of the store, was the scene of some of the drinking affairs of last night. There were glasses, spoons, lemon extract and apple juice bottles, a plenty. Neighbors said that the Kastles’ had company last night until a late hour. No one could be found this morning, however, who had been at the home last night.
Of the two bullets that were fired into the head of the woman, one entered the right temple and the other entered the upper lip. Both were in the right side of the face and the woman lay on her left side with her face to the west. Kastle had been on the bed beside her, he told people who saw him early this morning.
Mrs. Kastle had been married before, it is reported, and has several children by a former marriage. They are said to be in Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Kastle had no children.   

Mrs. Agnes Malone, who is daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Powers of the Sleeth addition, and who until recently had been employed in the Kastle store, stated that Kastle had been drinking a lot of the vanilla extract of late and that he was drunk this morning when he called her to the store and asked her to take charge. He called her first, she told a Traveler reporter this morning at about 7 o’clock on the phone and asked her to come over and open up and take charge of the store, as he had killed his wife and would have to leave soon. Mrs. Malone did not take the matter seriously until she had reached the store and Kastle told her she could see for herself. He was at the desk in the store at the time and Mrs. Malone went over to the house alone, to see if what he was true. There she found the body of the woman as described above. She was greatly surprised and shocked to say the least. She notified others of the discovery and she was advised to notify the police and tell the truth of the case. She called Chief Peek on the phone and told him what had happened. He, in company with Policemen Pauley and White, went at once to the house. Later on, Constable Bob Callahan and Justice of the Peace J. W. Martin took charge of the case until the arrival of the coroner, Dr. H. W. Marsh.
The body of the woman was removed to the parlors of Parman and Powell shortly before the noon hour. Coroner Marsh arrived soon after that time and took charge of the case then and began an investigation.
Mrs. Malone stated to the newspaper men that she knew Mrs. Kastle was insanely jealous of her husband and it is her opinion that the woman had no grounds to be of that nature toward her husband, as he had at all times conducted himself in a very gentlemanly manner during Mrs. Malone’s services in the store. Mrs. Malone admitted that she left the employ of the Kastles’ because the woman was jealous. Kastle told the Malone woman that he shot his wife in self defense, and that he did the shooting about three o’clock this morning. After the shooting he said he went to bed beside her and was asleep for a time. He must have awakened, it is thought, about the time he called Mrs. Malone over the phone to come and open the store. When the officers called at the home to arrest Kastle he was lying of the sofa in another room from the bed room where the woman’s body lay, and he had on all his clothing, except his coat. Instead of the coat, he had on his store apron, a white cloth apron. The first thing he told the officers was that he had to do it.
It is said there were several cases of the vanilla extract at the store this morning. Mrs. Malone said that she went back home after the first call at the store this morning and that Kastle called her the second time about 8 o’clock and told her to hurry over and take charge of the store.
Nora Harness, who is said to be a Hooser, Kansas, girl has been in the employ of the store since the Malone woman quit the job, and she is living with a family named Smith, in the vicinity of the Kastle store. She could not be found this morning, however, when the newspaper men were on the scene gathering in the facts of the murder.
J. W. Kastle was a former employee of the Santa Fe store house here and he worked there for several years before opening up the grocery store. He has been in the city for four or five years and when in the employ of the railroad he was said to be a fine man and did not get drunk at all. In fact, he could not have held his job there, had he been a drinking man. The railroad men speak well of him. He formerly resided in Mexico, it is said, and can speak Spanish very fluently. He had a lot of the trade of the Mexican population in Sleeth addition, on that account.
The opening of the store about a year ago seems to have been the start of his undoing, as he soon became very prosperous. Recently he and an man named Ward built the new store and he was occupying that building with the grocery store at the time the murder was committed. The store was opened this morning and was in charge of Mrs. Malone and another girl in the neighborhood.

Mrs. Kastle was in a local hospital some time ago for a surgical operation. She was in the Arkansas City hospital from December 7, 1920, until January 4, 1921. It was reported she was partially demented at that time, but the attending physician denies the report in this regard, and says she was in the hospital for a surgical operation only. She was about 55 years of age, it is said. Mr. Kastle is a fine looking man, and is partially bald with short hair tinged with gray.
The murderer was taken to the county jail about the middle of this afternoon and he was committed without bail. His trial will be held at 9 o’clock Monday morning.
Coroner Marsh decided that it was unnecessary to hold an inquest in the case as the man did not deny that he had killed his wife. It was learned after the body of the woman had been taken to the morgue that there were three bullet wounds in the face. One was in the right temple, another in the corner of the right eye and the third in the upper right lip. The two former ones went through the head.
Coroner Marsh took the signed statements of the undertaker, B. E. Powell, Chief of Police Peek, and Mrs. Malone. The latter told the same story in substance to the coroner that she told to the reporters this morning. She signed the statement to the coroner and swore to the same. Either one of the two shots that penetrated the head would have proven fatal, the coroner and undertaker stated this afternoon.
The grocery store was turned over to the local wholesale groceries this afternoon by the owner, and he instructed the men representing the wholesalers to have it opened again and to let the Malone woman operate it, saying she was capable and perfectly able to attend to the business. He said his accounts were all right and that he desired the business to be continued.
Arkansas City Traveler, March 23, 1921.
H. S. Hines, who is the attorney for John W. Kastle, who shot and killed his wife at their home in this city on the morning of February 26, last, was in the district court at Winfield this morning and he succeeded in having the court reduce the bond of his client from $10,000 to $7,000. Mr. Hines states that he is of the opinion that Kastle will be able to make the bond for the smaller amount within a few days. Kastle has been in the county jail since the murder and his case will come up at the next term of the district court. His preliminary hearing was held in G. H. McIntire’s court here, several days following the murder and the bond was fixed at $10,000 by the justice of the peace, who refused to make it any less than that amount.
Arkansas City Traveler, May 12, 1921.
John W. Kastle, awaiting trial on a charge of killing his wife at Arkansas City, today received a box of cigars, from friends in Arkansas City. The friends were Mexicans and Antonio Ramirez brought the cigars.
Kastle speaks several languages fluently and was called “Amigo” by the Mexicans at Arkansas City. Antonio today showed a letter from Kastle written in Spanish and in response brought the present.
Kastle has not succeeded in making bond and has been in jail since the killing of his wife, several weeks ago. Free Press.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum