Murder and mayhem

A body in the river

The Town Talk – Sept. 7, 1896

New Orleans – Peter Lamana, the New Orleans undertaker, made his appearance at his home here last night, much to the delight of his friends. He is the father of the little Italian boy, Walter Lamana, who some months ago was kidnapped and murdered by a band of Italian murderers.

Peter Lamana had been absent ten days from home, and his wife not hearing from him supposed that he had been foully dealt with and notified the police.

Peter Lamana, when questioned by the reporters as to where he had been, told them it was none of their business. To other parties, however, he stated that he had been to Chicago and St. Louis to buy some mules. It is supposed that he and his wife had had a spat, and for that reason he did not keep her posted as to his whereabouts.

When the police started an investigation as to his whereabouts, they heard that he was last seen in Baton Rouge on Aug. 28th, when he paid a bill at the hotel where he stopped while there.

What first lead to the belief that Lamana had been murdered, was the fact of the finding of a body in the Mississippi river in a cypress box. Persons on the steamer J. E. Trudeau yesterday say (sic) a box floating in the Mississippi river, near Jamestown, in St. James parish, and had it towed to shore. When the box was opened, it was found to contain the dead body of a man who had evidently been murdered. The deceased was a large man, and the murderer, in order to get the body in the box broke the legs and cut off an arm of their victim in order to squeeze the body in the box. The body was partially decomposed and had on a sweater and blue trousers. He was a large, dark complexioned man. The identity of the body has not been ascertained, although the authorities are working to try and clear up the mystery.

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