A death bed confession in September 1891 provided the answer to three murders with connection to the Shamokin area.
In an account published by the Hazleton Sentinel and picked up by the Evening Herald, Shenandoah, on Monday, Sept. 28, 1891, it was reported a man named John Giroc confessed to the murders before a priest and other witnesses before dying of typhus.
Father Andrukowicz, a priest in Shenandoah, had been called to Silver Brook to attend the death bed of Giroc, who had been ill for some time.
The dying man confessed he had murdered a man named Olacz some seven years earlier and buried his body at Reed’s Station on the Northern Central rail line. According to his story, Giroc had asked to borrow money while they were working in the vicinity. When Olacz refused, Giroc struck him on the head with a pick and robbed him of the $170 he carried. Other laborers were around the curve and did not witness the attack. Giroc said he carried the body to a nearby swamp and quickly buried it.
When the section boss questioned Olacz’s absence, Giroc told him the man had quit and gone to Sunbury. Somehow, he was actually able to draw the dead man’s wages.
A short time later, a brother of Olacz became suspicious of Giroc, who claimed he also murdered him and concealed the body with the assistance of a man named Ward. He said he and Ward then found employment at the Enterprise colliery.
In October 1885, a peddler named Hornwell disappeared somewhere between the Enterprise and Bear Gap. Giroc claimed he and Ward had also murdered the peddler for a large amount of money he’d been carrying. They then absconded to Shenandoah where they remained until Giroc moved on to Silver Brook.
“On his death bed, Giroc gave full and explicit directions as to where the body of Olacz could be found at Reeds. It was buried a short distance from the railroad tracks.” He added, the body of the brother had been buried under a toolbox in the same area.
The newspaper said authorities were seeking the man called Ward, but he had not been found at the time of publication.