Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 48
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Henry Harrison, a team of physicians tested the contents of Perry's stomach, using distilla-
tions from it to kill both a frog and a mouse, and pronouncing that, as many citizens had
already concluded, Perry had indeed been murdered. Walker's trial, in June, ended with a
hung jury; ten jurors were convinced she was guilty, two that she was innocent. Her daughter's
trial was postponed. On August 2, the two women cut a hole through the wall of the jail and
escaped. They were still at large in October, when their new trial date arrived. By February
1876, however, they had been arrested. That month, Fanny Walker had a baby, which was
born in jail, and which prompted a sympathetic judge to postpone the trial. The following
September 13, when the case came up again, the state dropped its charges against Milly
Walker, and Fanny Walker was found not guilty. 62
By then, a new sensational murder case had occupied the public consciousness.
In February 1876, Mathias Malsch, who had, since his 1871 immigration initiatives, practiced
law, was on the road from Frelsburg to Columbus when he encountered another attorney,
Emile Houillion, riding the other direction. Houillion suspected that Malsch had had an illicit
affair with his wife, Belle. He knew that Malsch had accused him of forging a deed, and had
therefore greatly damaged his practice. Believing that no one else was around, Houillion
drew a pistol and began shooting. Malsch was hit at least once, and was thrown to the
ground by his horse. He quickly scrambled to his feet and began running down the road.
Houillion pursued him, still shooting. He shot Malsch again, then dismounted and stabbed him
three times. Leaving Malsch dying or dead, Houillion rode back to Columbus, discarding his
knife in a field along the way. In town, he encountered Robert Henry Harrison, a local
physician, and reported that he had had a shootout with Malsch. Harrison and another phy-
sician, Joseph W. Brown, rode to the site. They found a small crowd gathered around Malsch's
dead body. Even in his first conversation with Harrison, Houillion had blamed Malsch for
firing the first shot. Houillion did not know, however, that two young men had seen the
murder, and that they were prepared to dispute his story. Following their lead, authorities
soon found Houillion's knife. They arrested Houillion shortly thereafter. His trial began on
March 15, 1877. Over the next three days, fifty or more witnesses appeared, many of whom
presented sensational evidence regarding Belle Houillion's apparent affair with Malsch.
Houillion claimed that he knew nothing of the affair, and that he had shot Malsch only in self
defense. He denied that the knife was his, and speculated that some unknown party had
killed Malsch with it after he had left him wounded in the road but before he returned with
help. The trial ended on March 17. Noting that the evidence indicated Houillion had pursued
62 Colorado Citizen, April 8, 1875, April 22, 1875, May 6, 1875, June 24, 1875, July 29, 1875,
September 14, 1876; Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause File No. 1349: State of
Texas v. Milly Walker and Fanny Walker Minute Book F, pp. 529, 617, Minute Book G, p. 55. It was the
jury in the Fanny Walker case that spent the night in the courthouse and complained of the foul
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/48/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.