TRUE CRIME: Tragic Double Murder and Suicide Shocks 1893 Sioux Falls
This Horrific Murderer is Buried In Sioux Falls
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It was almost Halloween in 1893 when Harry Lacey, a prominent businessman, committed what was described as the “most awful tragedy” in Sioux Falls history.
On October 22, 1893, Lacey walked into his mother-in-law's house and shot her in the head. Lacey then turned the handgun on his wife and shot her in the head. He then walked out the door and put the gun to his own head.
Harry Lacey married Clara Bunkers in 1873. The couple had two children, ages 4 and 7.
Harry was described as a lawyer in good standing in Sioux Falls. But, he had a falling out with his mother-in-law Mrs. Lydia Bunker, age 66.
Contributing to the falling out was a situation where Mrs. Bunker had sold some land east of town and had given Harry around $15,000 to invest. This was a very large amount of money in the 1890s.
Harry lost all the cash in some bad investments.
In December of 1891 Harry, his wife Clara, and Mother-in-law Lydia Bunker got into an argument at the breakfast table about her lost money. Clara took her mother's side in the argument.
At one point Harry kicked his mother-in-law out of the house, hit his wife, pulled out a revolver, and threatened to shoot her and himself.
A policeman was summoned. Harry was arrested. He was given a $50 fine. From that point on he lived mostly away from the house.
Harry Lacey was said to be an expert marksman; and on Sunday, October 22, 1893, he used this knowledge to execute his wife and mother-in-law.
On that sunny Sunday afternoon, Harry walked into his Mother-in-laws's house, coldly pulled his .38 caliber, and shot her point-blank just behind her right ear. She died instantly.
His wife Clara Lacey saw what happened and reached for the gun, but Harry managed to shoot her in almost the exact same spot in the back of the head as he had shot her mother.
Harry Lacey then walked out the back door, sat down on a wheelbarrow, put the gun behind his right ear, pulled the trigger, and committed suicide. The horrible events instantaneously made Lacey's two young children orphans.
To add to the horror it was the two little kids who discovered the gruesome scene. After which they ran to a neighbor's house and said to Mr. Jones, “They're all dead, sir”.
Harry Lacey committed these horrific acts just four days shy of what would have been his and his wife's 20th Anniversary.
The family monument is part of the Sioux Falls Mount Pleasant Cemetery walking tour. It contains the names of B.H. (Benn) Bunker, Frank Lacey, Clara Lacey, and Harry Lacey.
Sources: Usgwarchives.net, Newspapers.com, Findagrave.com