Voices From the Grave: Thou shall not covet
By Kathi Kresol
The events that took place on November 7, 1948 happened so quickly that witnesses would find it difficult to remember the exact sequence. There were other details that were abundantly clear, however. When it was all over and the smoke had cleared, two men lay dead and a young woman was missing.
Events leading up to the tragedy had begun months earlier when two couples moved next to each other on North Second Road. Glen Marsh and his wife, Audrey, moved into a small house right next to Vernon and Catherine Anderson in March of 1948. They had a lot in common and quickly became friends and managed to find time to get together during that spring and summer.
It was during this time that Glen and Catherine, or “Kit” as she was called, began to spend more time together away from their spouses. Soon, Glen went from being smitten with the pretty young housewife to completely obsessed.
Kit returned Glen’s affections but she started to feel guilty about the affair and decided to take a step back. She went for a visit at her parent’s house in Michigan to think things over. Before Kit left she told Vern of the affair.
Kit’s father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Grant Muhrlein, brought her back to Rockford in early November. Kit made the decision to stay with her husband. Vernon and Kit decided to start over and planned to move to Michigan.
Glen’s wife, Audrey, told Glen of Kit and Vern’s decision probably hoping that this information would make her husband realize that the affair was over. If Audrey thought that this would end Glen’s infatuation with Kit, she was wrong. The news made Glen enraged. He grabbed something from his chest of drawers and left the house.
Audrey, frightened by her husband’s reaction, went to the Anderson’s house to warn them. Vernon decided that it might be safer for the family to spend the evening at his parent’s house on Sixth Street. Kit’s father accompanied them.
That evening when they were preparing dinner, the whole family gathered in the kitchen. Vern’s sister, Mabel, was sitting the three young Anderson children at the table while Kit helped Vern’s mother, Gertrude, finish the cooking. Kit’s father, Grant and Vern were also in the room.
Vern’s mother heard a soft tap on the door and before Vern could stop her, she had opened it. Vern shouted, “Mother, don’t open the door.” Getrude screamed as Glen forced his way into the room with a gun in his hand.
Gertrude stated in her testimony later that everyone was yelling and that Glen came in shooting. She saw her son fall to the ground first and then Grant. Gertrude shouted to Kit to “Run for your life.” She saw Kit run into one of the bedrooms before Glen shoved her against the wall. He told her that if she was quiet no harm would come to her. Gertrude screamed. Glen shoved the gun into her stomach and pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t fire. Glen raised the pistol and struck Gertrude on the head with the butt causing her to collapse on the floor.
Glen chased after Kit and dragged her from the house kicking and screaming. He forced her into the car waiting at the curb and then he drove off into the night.
Gertrude regained consciousness only to find the two men dead in the kitchen. Vernon and Kit’s children had witnessed the whole horrible event. The police arrived quickly and took everyone’s statements. The search for Vern and Grant’s killer and Kit’s abductor began.
Several hours later and 100 miles away, a car pulled into a motel parking lot. When Glen left the car to enter the office Kit realized that this might be her only chance to escape, so she grabbed the gun that Glen had left on the seat and ran.
Glen knew any further escape would only postpone the inevitable so he made his way back to Rockford and surrendered to authorities.
The courts decided to hold separate trials for the two murders. The trial for Vern was held in January, 1948. The jury acquitted Glen of the murder of Vernon Anderson.
The trial for the murder of Grant Muhrlein was held in May of 1948 and ended in a conviction for murder. Glen was sentenced to 199 years in prison for the death of Grant Muhrlein. He was paroled in December of 1963 but was sent back to prison when he stole a gun. Marsh was paroled again and two months later in August of 1967, he was killed in a car accident near Peoria Heights, Illinois.