December 9, 1939
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Donald Cameron begins a 45-minute robbery-murder spree, killing himself and four relatives, and fatally wounding a robbery victim
Shortly before 1 a.m., Cameron punched gas station attendant Earl Redard to steal $22.42 in cash. As he fled the scene, two men arrived at the filling station. Redard ran to the men to tell them he had been robbed. Cameron replied by shooting at all three with a shotgun.
Redard, who knew Cameron, informed police of his attacker. When police arrived at Cameron’s home, they found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and his home on fire. The fatal bullet entered under his chin and exited through his “rear scalp.” Though Cameron was dead his “nerves were still ‘jumping’” as detectives touched his body. In his pockets was the $22.42 he had stolen around 45 minutes before.
Inside the burning house were the bodies of Cameron’s wife Louise, her parents, and the Camerons’ 2-year-old son David. Redard died of his injuries on December 15, bringing the final victim count to six. A possible seventh victim, gas station owner Marshall Brenden, was found shot to death in his car, though the bullet which killed Brenden did not match the Luger or shotgun Cameron used in his killing spree.
During the investigation, a ransom note was found showing Cameron had intended to kidnap the 11-year-old son of a wealthy family, demanding $40,000 for the child’s safe return. According to notes left by Cameron, he had planned to kidnap the boy later in the day but the botched robbery had ensured the kidnapping would never take place.
The Racine Journal Times. December 11, 1939
- Stetzer, Rod. “Little-remembered mass murder put city in international spotlight.” The Chippewa Herald. December 5, 2011. Accessed: December 9, 2018. https://chippewa.com/news/local/little-remembered-mass-murder-put-city-in-international-spotlight/article_f6170780-1f90-11e1-838b-0019bb2963f4.html
- “Police Theorize Chippewa Falls Killer Had One or Two Accomplices.” The Racine Journal Times [Racine, Wisconsin]. December 11, 1939
- “Young Husband Kills Four and Himself After Wounding Three in Local Holdup.” Chippewa Herald-Telegram [Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin]. December 9, 1939