23 January 2008

Fugitive's Skeleton Found

Reading the story in today's Courier News about the hunter that was found dead on the Sourland Mountain reminded me of this story that was reported in The New York Times on November 12, 1940.

On the morning of November 11, Frank Nagy of Morristown was out hunting near the Woodfern section of Branchburg, just across the river from Hillsborough. As he passed by the Central Railroad of New Jersey tracks, he discovered the skeleton of a man in a gully near the tracks. The State Police were called to the scene and quickly identified the body from clothing and possessions as that of Joseph Kazlouskas - wanted for murder since September.


Broken ribs and other evidence were enough to convince police that Kazlouskas committed suicide. His sons were able to identify the possessions found at the scene - a gun, a belt and a knife.

Kazlouskas had been homeless since his farm was foreclosed on in 1939. He lived in the woods and survived by stealing from farms on the Sourland Mountain. Several posses were organized, but he could not be captured. Some of these posses were led by 21-year-old Julius Norvich, a one-time neighbor of Kazlouskas. In September of 1939, Kazlouskas caught up with Norvich, killing him and dumping him in a well at an abandoned house near his farm.

Kazlouskas left a shotgun shell at the scene, which led to the warrant for his arrest. Now on the run for murder as well as thievery, the pressure was undoubtedly too much for Kazlouskas. He waited until it was dark, and listened for the sound of an approaching train. As the train neared, he threw himself onto the tracks in its path, and was immediately killed.

The train crew never knew they struck anyone - let alone a fugitive wanted for murder!

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