Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews
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John Biondi #2

Scanned and edited by Dick Chenault
Newspaper article read by Rosalyn McCain
From the file of John Biondi

RM: This is Rosalyn McCain and I am at John Biondi' s house. I am reading from a newspaper from Friday, January 18, 1924, called The Independent. The headline is: “Extra! Slayer Donati is Captured! Shoots Self!” Donati Brought to Lamme Brothers Hospital Here. Wounds ARE Mortal” Just at the point of being captured and using the same gun in murdering Chief of Police Jack Rose and H. E. Robart, Deputy State Prohibition Officer, here Tuesday, Louis Donati shot himself at the Gaetano Santi Ranch, 24 miles south of Walsenburg at 9:35 this morning. Donati was brought to the Lamme hospital at 1 o'clock this afternoon. But his captors and attending physicians say he cannot live. Sheriff Charles E. Cornwall and Deputy A.W. Hodges, Fred Wagoner, F.J. Sweet, with E.E. Horne and M.B. Porter, W.L. McDonald detectives from Pueblo and State Prohibition Officer Walter Byron left Pueblo late last night after getting a clue as to the whereabouts of Donati. They were joined by a party of local men at Apache at 2 o'clock this morning at the Santi place, 8 miles north of Apache at the foot of Greenhorn Mountain. The captors arrived at the Santi Ranch at 9:35 this morning after leaving their cars within three miles of the house where the capture took place. The house where Donati was hiding was surrounded. Under Sheriff Fred Cornwall approached the door and shouted, “Come on out. We won't hurt you!” The door opened and Donati stood face to face with his captors. He said, “All right, “and immediately turned the .32 automatic weapon upon himself and fired. He fell mortally wounded in the doorway. The bullet entered the right ear and came out at the top of his head. The wounded man was taken in to the house. Due to the seriousness of the wound, Sheriff Cornwall kept him at the Santi place for an hour. After that time, Donati was put into a wagon, taken to the car four miles distant, and brought to this city. Donati was put immediately upon the operating table. After 16 hours without sleep or change of clothes, his face unwashed and eyes bloodshot, Sheriff Cornwall made the following statement at 1:30 today. “I wish to express my gratitude to W.L. McDonald, Elmer Horne, Miriam Porter, Gar McCafferty, Pueblo Officers and others for their cooperation in the Donati case. These men together with Harry Klein, W.W. Hammond, Jas. Sweet, L. H. Kirkpatrick, Rev. James, John Lahring, John Micol, and Fred Cornwall, Albert Lenzini who joined us at Apache really are responsible for the capture of the murderer. I want to especially thank the volunteers who left Walsenburg last night. The Santi place where Donati was found is an out of the way place at the foot of the Greenhorn Mountain. The posse encountered a great deal of snow and they were forced to leave their cars 4 miles below the Santi place. At noon today, just before the party left with Donati, a terrific blizzard came up and it was with difficulty that the cars were reached. Albert Lenzini was of great value to the officers as an interpreter. It was through Lenzini that Sheriff Cornwall was able to get information from the Santi family and other Italians who could not speak English, and who resided in the neighborhood where Donati was captured. Lenzini was told by members of the Santi family that Donati reached their home at midnight Tuesday. Donati has not slept or eaten since the shooting. While at the Santi place he said repeatedly he would rather shoot himself than be forced to take the lives of Porter or Charles Cornwall. He had made up his mind to take his life if he were captured. The Santi family has been a friend to Donati since he came here several years ago. Donati has gone on many deer hunting trips in the Greenhorn Mountains near the Santi ranch. He became well acquainted with the family during these hunts. Word of double tragedy was first heard about 6 P.M. Tuesday when Albert Lenzini, one of the proprietors of the Lenzini Motor Company, which is located a short distance from the shack where the killing occurred, notified patrolman Albert Zinc that Louis Donati had come to his garage and demanded a car. Lenzini expected foul play as Donati was speaking in a broken accent and was spattered with blood. Upon being refused a car, Donati walked across the track and set out on foot across the Hogback to Toltec. Patrolman Zinc quickly proceeded to Donati's shack on West 7th Street and found both doors locked and the electric light on. Zinc kicked the door in and found both Robart and Rose lying in a pool of blood, dead. He immediately notified Sheriff Cornwall and a posse was soon formed. Both men had been shot through the head on the left side. Robart was shot through the head on the left ear, coming out through the left cheek. Rose was shot through the nose and another shot has pierced him a little above his right kidney, passing through both lungs. The two bodies were found with their faces up. Robart was found in the doorway and Rose was in the kitchen where he was believed to have been searching the cupboard. Both officers had gone to the house wholly unprepared for any attack or murder. Chief Rose had a pair of heavy mittens on and his revolver was strapped about him beneath two coats. Robart's gun was in his pocket when he was found. In the room also were found a hundred gallon still, two gallons of wine and a quantity of mash. Immediately after the news reached town, posses were organized to scour the entire surrounding country. All roads leading out of Walsenburg were heavily guarded. One posse stopped a Dodge car about 11 o'clock Tuesday night that was coming from Pueblo. The driver told the deputies that stopped him that he has been in Pueblo all day. His license number was obtained and it was learned that Primo Baltoni of Toltec was the owner and investigation showed that he had worked Tuesday. He was summoned from the mine and taken to the sheriff's office in town where he told officers that Donati had forced him to take him, at the point of a gun, to a place within seven miles from Pueblo. In the meantime bloodhounds from the famous Quinlan Kennel Farm of Colorado Springs were brought to Walsenburg. The dogs were taken to the scene of the shooting. The dogs picked up Donati's scent and traced it over the tracks at Walsenburg, over the Hogback to a spot near one of the stores in Toltec, where the scent was lost.

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