Tuesday, January 4, 2011
b. 19 Sept 1866 Old Mission, Peninsula Township, Grand Traverse County, Michigan
m. Florella "Ella" Agatha Colerick 1910
m. Martha Matilda Furrow 2 Feb 1929 Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Michigan
d. 22 October 1937 Peninsula Township, Grand Traverse County, Michigan
buried Ogdensburg Cemetery, Peninsula Township, Grand Traverse County, Michigan
Friday, October 22, 1937
Raplh Helfrich kills Chester F Colerick and then suicides-motive of tragedy not clear-had been friends.
Chester F Colerick, 63, well known Peninsula orchardist, was shot and instantly killed this morning on his farm by his neighbor and close friend, Ralph Helfrich, 51, who returned to his nearby farm home after the shooting and committed suicide with the same gun. Motive for the shootings is not clearly established.
Officers who investigated the case stated that Colerick and Helfrich, both prominent fruit growers, have been friends for years, working together on their farms, which are located north of Mapleton on the Peninsula. Each spent much time visiting the other at his home
Thursday Mr. and Mrs. Helfrich came into Traverse City and purchased a house trailer with which they planned to go on a motor trip through the South, leaving next Monday. Helfrich had been troubled with bronchitis for the past several years, officers reported, necessitating a trip south for relief each year. The trailer was purchased, but since there was not coupling on the car for attaching it. Helfrich left it here and planned to return and get the trailer today and paint the interior before leaving.
Yesterday morning Helfrich had made a remark to his wife concerning Colerick’s presence in their home, so Mrs. Helfrich went to Colerick’s farm and told him that to avoid any trouble it would be better or him to remain away from the Helfrich home. Colerick agreed and Mrs. Helfrich returned home and told her husband. He replied that that was satisfactory.
Early this morning Helfrich drove to Colerick’s farm, located one-half mile north of Mapleton, and apparently waited for Colerick to make his appearance. Colerick came out of his house about 6:30 and started for the barn to do his morning chores. Officers stated that it is not definitely known whether Helfrich fired the shot while sitting in his car. Colerick died instantly from a charge of buckshot fired from Helfrich’s 12-guage shotgun, which penetrated his heart. Helfrich then returned home, entered the house where his wife was still sleeping and said:
“Well, I’ve done for Joe.”
He then kissed his wife and 6year old daughter, went out the front door and around a corner of the house, placed the shotgun loaded with a once-ounce ball against his forehead, and pulled the trigger. The charge carried away the entire, upper part of his skull.
Helfrich’s step-son, Thomas Fitzgerald, 19, who was in the house, heard the shot and thought it was a door slamming. He looked through a window and saw Helfrich’s body. Helfrich’s own son, Harvey, 20, was also in the house when the shooting occurred.
State police and the sheriff’s department were notified and they took over investigation of the case. Word of the double tragedy was not received until Colerick’s son, Elgin, 22, found his father’s body lying between the house and barn at 7:15.
Mrs. Colerick collapsed and was placed under the care of a physician while Mrs. Helfrich and her small daughter, who was to have accompanied her parents on the southern trip were taken to the home of a neighbor.
Coroner H.B. Kyselka announced after investigating the case that no inquest would be held.
The bodies were brought to the Sampson Funeral Home. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.