Decatur County Journal
December 31, 1914
A murder mystery in Nebraska has been solved through the efforts of little Miss. Mildred Skinner, the six-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Skinner, of North Platte, Mrs. Skinner, mother of the child, will be remembered by Decatur County people as Miss. Lucy Smallwood, sister of Charles and George Smallwood, of near Leon. The mystery, now cleared up, attracted wide attention. Last August, Vernon Connett disappeared from his home and the authorities had made every effort to unravel the mystery. It was firmly believed that Connett had been murdered and a reward of $400 was offered in an effort to solve the mystery and bring the murderer to justice. The mystery has cleared up through the clever work of this six-year-old child and confessions secured from parties placed under arrest after the information Miss. Mildred had secured had been communicated to the authorities.
The following account of the matter and the part taken by little Miss. Skinner in the work of detecting the murderer is taken from a North Platte paper:
The brutal murder of Vernon Connett by Roy Roberts at the Chris Sund farm near here on August 2 is pictured in all its gruesome details by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clayton in a signed confession secured at 2 o'clock this morning after a night of grilling examination by the authorities. The confession came about through the remarks made by six-year-old Nellie Roberts, stepdaughter of Clayton, who told of the murder to her little school mate.
In his confession Clayton says that Roy Roberts and Connett were quarreling over the ownership of Connett's team and wagon on the morning of August 2. They began to fight and Clayton rushed out from the house to interfere. He was met by a blow from the fist of Roberts which felled him. As he fell he saw Roberts strike Connett in the neck, killing him.
Roberts then demanded that Mr. and Mrs. Clayton assist him in disposing of the body, threatening to blow their heads off with his shot gun and cut the throat of the little girl, Nellie Roberts, if they refused.
Clayton then assisted Roberts in loading the limp body of Connett into his wagon after which Roberts drove off, stating that he would take the body to the South Platte River to burn it. At the South Platte River was recently found the jaw bone of a man which physicians, who have examined it, say has been through fire.
The authorities were able to secure this confession from the Claytons through the conversation little Nellie Roberts, daughter of Mrs. Clayton, had with her little schoolmate, Mildred Skinner.
The child was examined by the authorities last Saturday night. She told the above story in almost the same way. She stated that when she saw Clayton and Roberts start to carry away the limp body of Connett she ran to the house to tell her mother, Mrs. Clayton. Mrs. Clayton told her never to speak of it again, she said, and threatened to whip her if she ever mentioned it to anyone.
The little Skinner girl recently startled her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Skinner, by talking about the murder in their presence. Mildred Skinner was then told to get more of the story from the little Roberts girl if she could. The Roberts child later told that she had asked her mother if she might tell, but Mrs. Clayton had warned her again never to speak of the matter.
The child's story was not given much weight until Friday when Clayton showed signs of weakening. H.G. Connett, brother of Vernon Connett, with Sheriff Salisbury and Charles Clayton went out to look for the body of Connett near the Birdwood Bridge.
From the remarks made by Clayton, Connett became suspicious of him, and told him of his dangerous position unless he told all he knew of the affair.
Clayton then appeared to be troubled. He was heard to mumble brokenly of the affair and pleaded that he be taken to town immediately as he feared H.G. Connett. On the way to town in the Charles Hupfer automobile, which happened to be near, Clayton made confessions that warranted his immediate arrest.
The authorities spent all of Friday night with Mr. and Mrs. Roberts with the result that at about 2 o'clock this morning they both agreed to tell all. They then made a complete confession of which the above is a summary. The confession in itself is long and in detail, occupying ten pages of legal stationery.
This lates development in the murder case is taken to be conclusive proof that Roy Roberts is the murderer of the missing Vernon Connett whose relatives have been searching for him since last August when he disappeared. A case charging Roberts with first degree murder will probably be filed here late today by County Attorney, G.N. Gibbs. Robers has as yet not been told of the long confession of his mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clayton. He still maintains that Connett is (can't read). The statement that Clayton murdered Connett led to his arrest and detention here. Since that time the authorities have been working constantly on the case with the result that the signed confession has been secured.
Mr. and Mrs. Clayton are being held at the county jail lest they attempt to get away before the case comes to trial. The possibility that they will be incriminated with Roberts is great, their attempt to conceal the crime being damaging evidence against them.
Decatur County Journal
March 14, 1915
Journal readers will remember that this paper some weeks ago told of the detection of a murderer near North Platte, Nebraska, through the clever work of Mildred, the six-year-old daughter of Mrs. W.A. Skinner, formerly a resident of Decatur County. A few days ago we received newspaper clippings from C.A. Smallwood, of near Pleasanton, uncle of little Mildred Skinner, telling of the trial and the conviction of the murderer and his sentence to be electrocuted on June 4th. The murder was that of a young man by the name of Vernon Connett, who with his wife and baby had driven up into Nebraska from Kansas looking for work. At North Platte, he met Roy Roberts, who took him to a ranch to secure work. Mrs. Connett went to Mason City, Iowa, to visit relatives. Connett disappeared. Later the body of Connett was found with the skull crushed. The murder remained a mystery until little Mildred Skinner obtained information from another little girl, Nellie Roberts, step-sister of Roy Roberts, which she communicated to her parents. She was instructed to find out more from the other child and what she learned led to the arrest of Roberts and his final conviction.