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William Jackson Marion

William “Jack” Jackson Marion and his friend, John Cameron, traveled to Gage County, Nebraska, in search of work in 1873. While in Gage County, Marion purchased a team of horses from Cameron, making a small down payment for the purchase. The men then traveled together with the team of horses through Beatrice, Nebraska. After they passed through Beatrice, Marion was seen traveling alone with the horses and Cameron was not seen again.

Shortly thereafter, a body was found in nearby Odell, Nebraska, with three bullet holes in the skull. The body was decomposed, but it was wearing clothing similar to that which Cameron had been wearing when he was last seen. The sheriff was certain that the body was Cameron and that Marion had killed him. It took the sheriff ten years to locate Marion. Once located, Marion was brought back to Beatrice, Nebraska, where he was tried, convicted, and ultimately hanged for this murder on March 25, 1887.

Four years after his hanging, Cameron reappeared, alive and well, in LaCrosse, Kansas. He stated that he had been in Mexico for years, avoiding a woman who claimed to have given birth to his child. He had not heard about Marion’s arrest and conviction until after Marion had been executed.

Marion’s grandson, Elbert Marion, worked determinedly to have Marion posthumously pardoned. In March 1987, 100 years after William Jackson Marion’s hanging, Governor Robert Kerry pardoned him.

- Meghan Barrett Cousino


Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1873
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence