|John Buck's second wife
Bertha threw a fiery jar
of gasoline at him while
he was getting ready to
eat supper. (The Daily
Times. April 2, 1910)
The coroner’s inquest re-enacted the scene inside the home. The couple was just getting ready to sit down for dinner. Bertha Buck was at the stove finishing up supper. She mentioned some bills and asked if Buck intended to pay them.
“You know what bills.”
“Those bills on the sideboard are not addressed to me,” said Buck. “I can’t open your mail."
“She turned to the stove without a word,” Buck told his son Emil. “I heard a roaring sound. A flame leaped by my head. She had thrown burning oil at me.
“In an instant, my neck was on fire, and I rose to rush from the room. I noticed the screen door was locked, and that was very unusual at our house.” He grabbed a chair and battered the door open, then ran outside.
Arthur W. Parker was sitting in his swing on the second floor of the Parkview Apartments. “We heard a scream,” said Parker. “Then Buck came rushing out the door with his neck aflame” and just stood there, bewildered.
Parker yelled at him to lay down in the grass and roll around. When he got to Buck, Parker tore a piece of cloth from his wife’s apron and extinguished the fire. Buck groaned and whispered, “my wife threw kerosene on me.”
Detective Peter Kuehl questioned Mrs. Buck the next day. There’d been trouble brewing between them for four years. And “it was gasoline, not kerosene. She lit it and threw it at him.”
A jury found Bertha Buck guilty of manslaughter. She was sentenced to a term of not less than eight years in the woman’s reformatory at Rockwell City.