Two Men Are Questioned In Torch Death
Officers Still Endeavoring To Solve Mystery Of Murder Or Suicide
Stories told by two men questioned by sheriff’s officers regarding their whereabouts from the time Orville T. Wurster, 34-year-old Manchester store clerk, was last seen alive until after his burned body was found in a desolate woods a mile east of the village are being checked today in Manchester’s second mysterious torch death within a year.
One of the two men, who was reported to have tried to buy incense at three Manchester stores Monday morning, was questioned last night and released.
The other, who was picked up last midnight and was still being held today, is a man whose car was reported seen on the Chelsea-Manchester Rd. at 6:30 Tuesday morning near a side road leading to the site where the body was found.
In the death a year ago of Miss Hazel Briggs, 38-year-old Detroit woman whose burned body was found in a farm rubbish dump, testimony at the inquest indicated the murderer had returned to the scene three times to rekindle the pyre. Some kerosene was in the two cans found near Wurster's body.
Seen Last On Sunday
Mr. Wurster was last seen alive at 8:30 Sunday night in the village.
His disappearance was noticed when he failed to report for work the next morning and his body was found at about 10:30 Tuesday morning. Officers said evidence disclosed thus far indicates he met his death Sunday night or early Monday morning.
The first of the two men questioned was released after he gave what officers termed a satisfactory account of his movements from Saturday night to Tuesday morning. He said he purchased the incense in a Manchester drug store to burn in his car in an effort to remove the odor of tobacco smoke which he said was objectionable to his sweetheart.
The second man was given a preliminary questioning last night and is to be questioned further this afternoon. Within the last year he had been picked up for mental examination and was released after observation at the Neuro-psychiatric Institute of the University hospital,
Seen By Marshal
Willard Schaible, Manchester village marshal, reported seeing the car at 6:30 Tuesday morning, about four hours before the body was found.
The man is employed on the night shift of a Chelsea factory, and did not work last Sunday night.
In preliminary questioning, he told officers he slept in his car Sunday night and until 9 o clock Monday morning near a restaurant 10 miles from Manchester He said he had stopped on the Chelsea-Manchester Rd. for a few moments Tuesday morning and then went on to Manchester.
Stories of both men are being investigated today. Other aspects of today’s activity in the investigation include efforts to identify a long-handled gravel shovel which was found buried with Mr. Wurster’s clothes 221 yards from his body and shipment of the clothes, two kerosene cans found at the scene, and other articles Lansing for examination at state crime laboratory.
Members of the Wurster family told officers yesterday that the shovel did not belong to them. G. H. Breitenwischer, owner of a dry-goods store where Mr. Wurster was employed and also the latter's uncle, identified one of the two kerosene cans as being owned by the store, but ownership of the other has not yet been established.
Case Still Open
Sheriff John L. Osborn said the case is still open and there is not sufficient evidence to call it either suicide or murder. Reports of the state crime laboratory examination and the autopsy are expected to shed considerable light on the case.
Psychiatrists at the University of Michigan medical school, when consulted in regard to the possibility of suicide by fire, said it could by no means be ruled out because there were such cases in the records of that scientific field.
While refraining from making any statement that could be construed as an attempt to solve the Wurster case, these psychiatrists said that often persons taking their own lives would not use the obvious or painless method would deliberately choose a difficult and painful means of exit from life.
There is a form of mania called masochism which prompts people to inflict injury on themselves because of pleasure derived from the act.
"Anything is possible," said the psychiatrists, where severe mental disturbance is concerned.