The Mystery of the Wildman in Wynoochee
Posted: Feb 22, 2022
Who was John Tornow?
John was born in the last days of the summer of 1880. He spent his childhood roaming the woods near the family property along the Satsop River. After a few traumatic childhood experiences, John began to withdraw from society, spending weeks in the region's woodlands like a wildman in a thrilling book. Spending his days and night in search of something that holds no existence in his world.
His family was concerned about him by his adolescence because of the amount of time he spent away from others. While sometimes joining his brothers in their logging business, John continued to withdraw, living off the edge, wearing animal skins, and even wearing shoes made of tree bark. With his towering stature of 6'4" and 250 pounds, most people in the area thought of him as a giant wildman.
After his brothers sent him to a sanitarium in 1909, John escaped and retreated to the Wynoochee area, where he lived off the land and saw few others. He would pay visits to his sister, her husband, and their twin boys occasionally, but he never paid visits to his brothers. People would catch glimpses of John, adding to his notoriety as a wild guy. He was still relatively at peace, but things started unfolding differently.
In September 1911, John shot a cow and was dressing it out when a gunshot allegedly flew above. He fired in the direction of the gunfire and realized that he had murdered his sister's twin boys. He then ran into the Wynoochee wilderness, and here is when the narrative takes off.
The deaths were found after authorities were alerted because the sons had gone missing, and John was declared the suspect. A posse was promptly assembled to find, apprehend, or kill John Tornow. Loggers, farmers, and anybody else who could be soon wandering the Wynoochee Valley, attempting to apprehend him. John was adept at living in the region's wilds, thus the hunt was futile.
The Cabin of John Tornow
Winter arrived, and the hunt was still futile, but indications of continued to appear. Goods were stolen from cabins, and The Jacksons' County Grocery Store, which also served as a bank, was looted of flour, salt, matches, and $15,000. These crimes, together with the twins' murder, resulted in a $1,000 reward for the recovery of the stolen items. More men stepped outdoors in the hopes of finding John Tornow, and the hunt was halted. A guy reported to the region's Sheriff and Game Warden that he observed traces of Tornow, prompting the two to go out to catch the Wild Man. But then both males have gone missing.
Another posse was assembled in mid-March to search for John Tornow, but the gang uncovered something terrible. They found the Sheriff and Game Warden's remains, both of whom had been shot and gutted. By mid-April, Deputy Giles Quimby and a few other men stumbled across a cabin they believed to be Tornow’s. As they approached the cabin, gunfire rang out, striking the two other guys. Deputy Quimby confronted John Tornow, firing at bushes where he suspected was hiding. The woodland was silent, but Quimby did not approach. Instead, he departed, informed the sheriff of the area, and they assembled a posse to get once and for all.
When they arrived, they discovered the man dead, slouched against a tree. The Wildman of the Wynoochee was now dead, with the picture of his body plastered on newspapers and postcards.
The guys discovered $6.65 in silver coins on his corpse, part of which were identified as belonging to Jackson's Grocery shop.
Before John Tornow's corpse was even delivered to Montesano, news had spread that the "wild man" had been murdered, and curious bystanders started lining the street to get a glimpse of the mythical mountain man.
According to Deputy Sheriff Giles Quimby, "John Tornow had the most terrible face I have ever seen. The shaggy beard and long hair, through which sparkled two bright, malevolent eyes, still haunts me. I could only see his face as he exposed himself to fire a shot, and all the anger that could ignite a human soul was there."
This increased the curiosity seekers' want to see the wildman's face even more. In reaction, his brother Fred, who had driven up from Portland, attempted to prevent the corpse from being shown publicly. When 250 onlookers invaded the small morgue demanding to view the corpse, the overburdened coroner let them in. Before it was all said and done, dozens of deputy sheriffs were needed to keep over 700 locals from pulling off portions of the deceased man's clothes and plucking strands of his hair.
Fearing that individuals who couldn't see the corpse at the morgue might show up for the funeral, his ceremony was conducted at the family's ancient farm. Immediately, postcards with a picture of Tornow were created, as were countless newspaper pieces with screaming headlines labeling Tornow "The Great Outlaw of Western Washington."
The mystery based on John Tornow’s personality that spread all over become a national thrill after a book was launched John Tornow Villain or Victim? : The untold story of the "Wildman of the Wynooche" by Bill Lindstrom made people treat their curiosity more engrossingly as it unfolds many more secrets of Wildman of the Wynochee book.
John Tornow's mystery to either a villain or a victim spread all over the media where he almost becomes a celebrity yet with mysterious morale that is to unfold.
Where was John buried?
John Tornow was buried to rest at Matlock Cemetery in Grays Harbor, Washington, where his monument may still be seen today.
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