Photo of Susan McCune Luzader, wife of murdered husband Walter Luzader, and her brother, Peter McCune, the father of Norville and Bruce McCune of Crooked Run

with man who could
be her murdered husband, Walter Luzader, of Orma

By Bob Weaver

It is a tragic story about murder, suicide and orphaned children at Orma in 1937.

The mother of Leroy Luzader, 37, Susan Luzader, said he'd been "crazy" for about two months when he shot and killed his father, Walter Luzader, 62.

Susan McCune Luzander was a daughter of Peter and Mary (Boone) McCune, a historical Calhoun family.

State Police said the elder Luzader was killed at his residence following a dispute with his son related to the placement of seven orphaned grandchildren in an institution.

The orphaned children were the children of Ralph and Ota Luzader Booher.

A shotgun was the murder weapon, striking Walter Luzader in the head and neck as he sat on the porch with his wife at his hillside three-room cabin at Orma.

Leroy Luzader fled south from the residence on State Route 16.

His brother and sister, Harry Luzader and Mrs. Ettie Cottrell, told Sgt. H. E. Pomroy they met Leroy near the home after the shooting.

It was then he gave them $129, admitting to the shooting and then telling them he would not need the money, he was going to kill himself.

Sometime later, a neighbor two and one half miles away, identified as Mrs. Jane Simmons, said she heard a gunshot in the woods.

Leroy Luzader was found dead in the woods with a shotgun wound to the heart by a search party, including Ellsworth McCune, Walter Cottrill, W. A. Cottrill, Ed Tucker, Dave Carpenter, Emerson Bailey, Homer Tucker and Capt. Dicks.

Following examination of Calhoun Coroner Gerald Stump, the bodies were taken to the Stump Mortuary in Grantsville after which a joint funeral was held at the Orma Methodist Church with burial in the church cemetery.

Since the motive for the murder-suicide was related to the future care of the seven orphaned children of Ralph and Ota Luzader Booher, who were placed in the Harry Luzader household, historian Kurt Cook provided a rundown of their lives:

1. Deward Booher, born 12 Feb 1922 in Calhoun County. I have not found him yet in the 1940 Census. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and was discharged in 1946, part of the "Flying Squadron" and received Bronze Stars, He married Freeda White on 13 Apr 1947 in Minnora. He died in April 1995 in Spencer.

2. Helena Booher, born 14 Apr 1923 in Orma. She was shown on the 1940 Census as living with her grandmother Susie Luzader on 6/6/1940 in Washington District. She married 1st to Arnoild Blake Siers on 14 Jul 1944 in Arnoldsburg. Her 2nd marriage was to a Mr. Fulks. Her headstone on findagrave.com does not have a death date and she may still be living.

3. Grover Booher ,born 01 May 1926 in Calhoun County. He was shown on the 1940 Census as living with his cousin David Baily on 4/28/1940 in Washington District. He enlisted in the Army on 12/1/1945. He married Juanita Ruth King in Summit County, Ohio on 10 Oct 1953. He died on 28 Apr 1988 in Barberton, Ohio.

4. Virginia Booher, born 27 Dec 1929 in Orma. She was shown in the 1940 Census as being a 12 year old maid in the household of Owen & Bessie Figg in Washington District. Apparently the domestic servant life wasn't for her as she married at the age of 15-1/2 to Forest Paul Cunningham on 21 Apr 1945 in Akron (with the Judge's approval). She died 02 May 2015 in Ohio.

5. Theodore H. Booher, born 24 Jun 1931 in Orma. I have not found him yet in the 1940 Census. In 1953 he married Doris Marie "Peggy" Kriebel. He died on 23 Nov 2013 in Clarion, PA.

6. Janet A. Booher, born 09 Nov 1933 in Orma. She was shown on the 1940 Census as living with her grandmother Susie Luzader on 6/6/1940 in Washington District. She married Edward Gene Chadock on 20 Oct 1956 in Calhoun County. They were living in Parkersburg in 1959. She may still be living.

7. Susie Booher, born 22 Feb 1937 in Orma. She was shown on the 1940 Census as living with her grandmother Susie Luzader on 6/6/1940 in Washington District. She married Joseph Frank Rauch on 04 Oct 1954 in Spencer. She may still be living.

"In a nutshell, based on the 1940 Census. three of the granddaughters went to live with their grandmother Susie Luzader, one grandson went to live with a cousin, one granddaughter was a maid, and I haven't yet found where Deward or Theodore were in 1940," said historian Kurt Cook.

It would be good if we could hear from one of the living grandchildren to add to this tragic story, and overcoming it.

- Kurt Cook is the Junior Warden & Historiographer at Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Salt Lake City, Utah

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