BOGUE — With Halloween just around the corner, thrill seekers are visiting haunted houses, watching scary movies and sharing spooky stories simply to get the feeling of fear.
A family in Bogue has a spine-shivering story of its own, but this story is not fictional or fabricated to instill fear; it’s a true story many feel is rather frightening all on its own.
It was a cold January night in 1933 when George Hocker inhaled his last breath at age 57.
He was a friendly man, according to his family. He always lent a helping hand to neighbors, and who — which ultimately led to his demise — would always leave his door unlocked, welcoming in whoever visited.
“He was a nice person,” said Hocker’s great-niece Cass Bruton. “He didn’t deserve to be killed by this murderer.”
In his early 20s, Chester Morris, a criminal who took the life of Hocker, wandered into town after escaping from the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, where he was to serve 10 to 50 years for bank robbery.
“The speculation is that in town this guy was snooping around and someone told him German farmers keep all their money in mattresses in their homes, or something like that,” Cass said.
According to Hocker’s niece and Cass’ mother, Bonita Hocker-Bruton, Morris entered Hocker’s home to rob him that night, and what unfolded was a bloody, gruesome murder — one that still today remains shocking and questionable to the Hocker family.
Before Hocker could reach his own gun to protect himself, Morris shot him in the back, according to his family.
“He staggered around, and he was shot in the head two more times after that,” Cass said. “Supposedly the killer then put him into his bed.”
Morris then tied a hangman’s noose around Hocker’s ankle, according to Cass and Bonita.
“He made those when he was in prison in Lansing,” Cass said of Morris. “He must have been a nutcase; it’s kind of like when you hear about those murderers who leave something behind. He left his mark.”
Several days passed before the mail carrier grew suspicious after noticing Hocker had not been retrieving his mail, so he went to Hocker’s brother, Charles — Bonita’s father — to tell him it might be a good idea to check on Hocker.
“They thought maybe he was sick because he hadn’t picked up his mail,” Bonita said.
Nothing could prepare Charles for what he walked in on when he decided to check on his brother, who he found slaughtered — his body frozen from the cold — in a room splattered in blood.
“He walked in, saw that his brother was dead and saw all of the goriness, backed out and called the police,” Bonita said.
The evidence, which included tire tracks, the noose, fingerprints throughout the home, and the bullets taken from Hocker’s body, were enough to eventually lead officers to the arrest and conviction of Morris. He later was granted parole in 1957.
Not only did the gruesome incident strike close to home because a member of their family was murdered in cold blood, it tied to the family in an additional way: The tragedy unfolded in the Hocker home on the longtime family property where Bonita and her husband now reside.
“He was killed in my kitchen, which was the bedroom at the time,” Bonita said.
A lot has changed since the 1933 killing. Family members who were there for it all have passed on, and updates to the home and property have been made.
There are a few things that still remain exactly as they were, however, such as the story of Hocker’s murder, many unanswered questions and the mysterious feelings some family members say they encounter within the home where Hocker had his final moments.
“Both of our sons say they have had creepy feelings upstairs in their rooms, and part of that room is the old part of the house from that time,” Bonita said. “They have feelings like someone is there, behind them, or have felt like they needed to look around to make sure no one was there.
“It is interesting.”
Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part story. Friday: A family disturbed by a killing