There is a familiar lesson in the story of the double murder at Salters on Saturday night, and of the two outrages which preceded it, and we venture to urge it on the attention of the county authorities generally, as we have done before on several like occasions. It relates to the wisdom of the plan of keeping bloodhounds or other tracking hounds at every county seat for the purpose of hunting criminals who cannot be traced by any other means. In the present case, the murderers of the two unfortunate peddlers had no difficulty in escaping from the scene of their crime because of the character of the locality. A swamp was near and afforded ready cover for their flight. "Very little effort" accordingly was made for their capture. Men armed themselves and took their stations to watch the swamps, but it is possible that the murderers were miles away before their crime was discovered. The sheriff was summoned from a distance and was expected to "organize a posse and chase the men down," but with their start of twenty-four or thirty-six hours, the chances of the chase were altogether in favor of the fugitives. It would have been different had it been practicable for the authorities at Salters to get bloodhounds from the county seat as soon as the murder was discovered. Well-trained dogs could doubtless have led the chase directly on the trail even as late as an advanced hour on Sunday, the day after the killing.
The men who killed the Italians are suspected with good reason to be the same ones who committed two other serious crimes during the preceding week, and who have since been wandering around the county at their pleasure. With track dogs available for the search, they could have been run down before they committed their last and worst crimes.
The lesson has been repeated over and over in nearly every county. It appears to have been repeated often enough to compel its general application. The dogs cost little and are serviceable not only to trace criminals who cannot be traced by other means but to deter men from crime. It is wholly reasonable to believe that evil-disposed men will hesitate long about committing murder or robbery when they know that an armed posse and a pack of hounds would be on their track in a few hours after its commission. The dogs are a protection, therefore, to every home and every person in the county in which they are known to be kept for service. There is not a county in the state that is exempt from the need for the services and the protection they afford. It is really surprising that the authorities of any county should require to have the duty of providing such detectives urged on them more than once.
Reprinted in The County Record, April 22, 1897