by Diana Staresinic-Deane
It was the most brutal murder in the history of Coffey County, Kansas. On May 30, 1925, Florence Knoblock, a farmer’s wife and the mother of a young boy, was found slaughtered on her kitchen floor. Several innocent men were taken into custody before the victim’s husband, John, was accused of the crime. He would endure two sensational trials before being acquitted. Eighty years later, local historian Diana Staresinic-Deane studied the investigation, which was doomed by destroyed evidence, inexperienced lawmen, disappearing witnesses, and a community more desperate for an arrest than justice. She would also discover a witness who may have seen the murderer that fateful morning.