Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mystery In Milton, Part One

     On the 26th of February, 1931, there was a fire across Henry St. from the Railroad Depot. The building was owned by S. G. "Babe" Collins, and consisted of an Ice Factory, a warehouse, and a store. The building was a total loss, but after the fire was out, the safe in the office was discovered to be open, and empty. Aubrey Gainer was the bookkeeper, and secretary for Collins, and he was suspected as the arsonist. Gainer was indicted for the arson, but on June 3rd, he was acquited in circuit court. Gainer must have felt threatened. He bought a $50,000 life insurance policy, and started planning on moving to Crestview by investing in a drug store.  On Saturday, the 18th of July, around 10 pm, Gainer, his wife, and daughter returned from a drive. Gainer parked the car in the garage, and as he rejoined his family to enter the house, someone fired a shotgun, and struck Gainer in the side, and back.  He was holding his daughter's hand when he was shot, and as he fell, she was pulled down on top of him. She was not injured.  Gainer died early in the morning in a Pensacola hospital.   Later, a shotgun was found with 2 spent shells about a 100 yds away. It was discovered that the shotgun had belonged to Babe Collins, but had been stolen at some point in the past. At the time of the murder, Collins was in South Carolina working. Collins was a road construction contractor, and was one of the wealthiest men in Santa Rosa County. H.R. Covington of Naval Air Station, Pensacola, was arrested early Sunday morning, but was released Wednesday afternoon by Sheriff Mitchell who stated that Covington had no connection to the shooting. On Monday afternoon, Webb Allen, and William T. Wolfe were taken into custody on suspicion of murder. To be continued...

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