The Police & Lawyers

Will H MorrisO. V Hurt hired Morris, Southard, and Shipley, one of the best law firms in Washington to defend George Mitchell. In 1906 Will H. Morris was perhaps the most renowned criminal lawyer in the state, with a record of eleven acquittals in eleven first-degree murder cases--among them were two brothers who killed a Seattle police chief, a wealthy Klondiker who shot his wife three times, and a man who killed the seducer of his daughter on a public thoroughfare in Seattle. Morris’s partner, Silas M. Shipley, was one of the most effective advocates in the country. At the time, George had $2.50 to his name, not even enough to cover the expenses of a day for the likes of Morris, Southard, and Shipley.


Morris and Shipley soon began receiving telegrams and letters from all over the country offering assistance. “The reasons which actuate these proffers are of course understood by all,” Morris said.


All, that is, but by King County’s prosecuting and assistant prosecuting attorneys, Kenneth Mackintosh and John Miller. “It seems strange that if public opinion in Oregon is in the mood it is represented to be,” Miller said, “that these people could not have done their killing down there without picking one of the most prominent corners in Seattle as the wash-line for their dirty linen.”


“The killing of Creffield by George Mitchell was the most cold-blooded case of murder in the first-degree that has occurred since I have occupied this office,” Mackintosh said. “I will prosecute him, and believe he will be convicted. The popular opinion which opposes the enforcement of the law will not be considered. I see no reason why Mitchell should not be hanged. . . . I fail to see why the people of this county should not support their officers in the enforcement of the law.”


Poor Miller and Mackintosh. They were about to become almost as reviled as Creffield for simply doing their sworn duties as officers of the court. They got an indication of what lay ahead of them when Multnomah County’s district attorney in Portland, John Manning, sent them a letter offering his assistance, an offer Mackintosh described as “the most remarkable thing I ever heard of.”


ManningDear Sir:


I notice by the press that there was a man killed in your city the other day by name, Creffield, of religion, Holy Roller, so I hasten to say to you that I have had a great deal to do with this man Creffield, in his lifetime, and the outrageous crimes committed by this brute, in this state, on simple-minded girls and women were many. I had him arrested for the crime of adultery, committed with Mrs. Starr, sister of George Mitchell, the man who killed him. He was convicted, sentenced, and served a term of two years in the penitentiary at Salem, Or.


Creffield broke up many families in Oregon by leading them astray on his fake religion. I investigated many, many charges against him while he was on his Holy Rolling tour in Oregon, the character of which were perfectly awful, in so far as being low, degenerate and brutal, and if permitted, I would like an opportunity to testify before the grand jury, before Mitchell is indicted, or the trial court, as to the low degenerate character of this man, and the outrages and brutalities practiced by him, in Oregon, upon ignorant and unsophisticated girls.


Our officers chased this man all over the state of Oregon, and finally found him hidden under the floor of a house at Corvallis, Or., he having ruined the family and broken up the home.


Now, Mr. Mackintosh, I do not want you to understand that I would not uphold the majesty of law, but when a man infringes upon the common decency of society to the extent that this man did, and there is no statute under which he could be prosecuted, and he has so grossly debauched families, I think the taking of the law in one’s own hands, under such circumstances, to mete out summary justice is almost excusable.


Yours very truly,

John Manning


Archibald Wanless Frater, the judge in the case, said Washington wasn't like Oregon, where, “lynch and mob law and anarchy ruled.


Police Chief Charles W. Wappenstein once declared that he had had enough of the Holy Rollers and that no more of them would be tolerated in Seattle. "I wish,” he said, “these Oregon people would kill each other on their own side of the [Columbia] river."


Kenneth MackintoshJohn F. MillerJudge Frater

George & Perry Mitchell & Shipley

George Mitchell

Kenneth MackintoshJohn F. MillerCharles Wappenstein

Will MorrisKenneth MackintoshJudge Frater

Sketches from the TrialJudge Frater

Sheriff M. P. Burnett’s first experience with the Holy Rollers was in 1903 when he went to check if Creffield had put the Hurt’s


Photos of Jeffree Newman as Sheriff Burnett are stills from How the Fire Fell, Edward P. Davee’s movie based on the Holy Rollers.

Most were taken by Destiny Lane.

Sheriff Burnett
Jeffree Newman as Sheriff Burnett

Sheriff Burnett
Jeffree Newman as Sheriff Burnett

Edmund Creffield
Jeffree Newman & Joe Haege as Jeffree Newman
as Sheriff Burnett & Edmund Creffield

Jeffree Newman

Jeffree Newman






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