A History of Lucasville Ohio: A Digital Gallery

The Blue Goose Murder

“ The October night was intensely still after the rain. A languid wind stirred and rustled fitfully among the few leaves remaining on the tree that stood, sentinel-like, on the west side of the Blue Goose Tavern in Lucasville, Ohio.” – Frank H. Ward, Scioto County Sheriff

One October night in 1932 a grisly murder took place in Lucasville at the Blue Goose Tavern. 

Bill Burton, the owner of the tavern, was shot in his own home in front of his wife, Mary Burton, and children. He was a jovial man and no one in the town had reason to harm him, although he was known to be a bootlegger and had served time for this illicit activity.

 An investigation was immediately launched. The focus was on obtaining the weapon, a 12 gauge shotgun, that was used to kill Bill Burton and finding a match to two sets of footprints outside the window of the Burton household. 

The detectives soon suspected Mary as she had attempted to claim a life insurance policy of $1500 on Bill Burton and rumor had it that she was having an affair with a local man by the name of Frank Wright. However, nothing came of this suspicion until two years later…

In 1934 a nearby creek, Millar's Run, began to fall. Two boys out hunting bull-frogs came across and astonishing discovery in the mud, a 12-gauge shotgun with two shells in it. The gun was formerly own by Joe Burton, Bill Burton's brother, who had sold it recently in Portsmouth. Joe denied being at the house that night but evidence at the scene, a set of footprints, placed him there. Joe finally confessed and implicated both Frank Wright and Mary Burton in the murder as well. 

It turns out that Mary and Frank were having an affair and Frank Wright wanted to get Bill out of the way so that he could marry her. Joe was also interested in Carrie Burton, Bill's daughter. Detectives questioned both Frank and Mary about their part in the murder. Mary stated that she was involved and did move the furniture that night so Frank could get a good clean shot at Bill. After the murder the gun was thrown into the creek where it was subsequently found by the two boys.

Frank denied takin part in the murder and stated that Bill knew about his affair with Mary and he didn’t seem to mind, they were good friends. After the subsequent trial Frank was acquitted. He was not at the Blue Goose that night but was being framed by Joe and Mary Burton. Mary wanted Bill gone for the insurance money and Joe wanted to pursue his love affair with Carrie Burton uninhibited by her father. Frank admitted to knowing about the murder plot but insisted he did not play an active role in the murder itself.
Ultimately Joe Burton and Mary Burton were found guilty of Bill Burton’s murder.

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