The most atrocious crime that ever occurred in Andrew County was the murder of the McLaughlin children, two little girls, aged, respectively, seven and nine years, which was perpetrated on a Sunday afternoon in September, 1884, near Flag Springs. The children had gone to spend part of the day at Thomas Bateman's house, which was a mile and a quarter distant, and at half past 2 o'clock they started home. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon they passed the house of Eli Knappenberger, and as they passed were seen and spoken to. That was the last seen of them until 9 o'clock next day, their dead bodies being found, after a night's search by the entire community, in a cornfield. The two bodies were 175 yards apart, one shot through the head, with the body cut open, and the other with her throat cut and shockingly bruised. The sight of the murdered children threw the community into a fury of excitement and the search for the murderer began at once. It was found that half an hour after the children left the Bateman house to go home two boys, Newton Bateman, son of Captain T. Bateman, at whose house they had been visiting, and Harry Knappenberger, started along the same road. After going a short way together they separated, Newton Bateman saying he would go to his uncle, William Bateman, and young Knappenberger continuing on the road over which the girls had passed. The bullet taken from the head of the elder girl was found to fit one of the barrels of a double-barreled pistol dug up near a tree in the Bateman yard, and this directed suspicion to the Bateman family; and when it was learned from a statement made by one of the Bateman daughters that her brother, Oliver, left the house about 2 o'clock on the fatal Sunday afternoon, and did not return until 5 o'clock, the suspicion became so strong that he was arrested and put in jail at Savannah. Additional evidence sufficient to fasten the crime upon the prisoner was brought to light, and he then made a complete confession. He had left home shortly after the girls left his father's house, with malicious intent, and by taking a short cut through the woods intercepted them on the road and enticed them into a cornfield. He shot the elder girl twice, and when the younger one ran off he followed her, caught her and cut her throat and then returned and abused the dead body of the elder one. There was an evident disposition to lynch the prisoner, but no outbreak occurred, and on the 6th of October the trial took place. It was short. The prisoner pleaded guilty, refused to have counsel and asked the court to sentence him and hang him as quickly as possible. Judge Kelly accordingly pronounced the sentence, which was that he should be hanged on the 21st of November, 1884, and the prisoner was executed on that day, mounting the scaffold with a firm step and meeting death without a sign of fear.
Source: Howard L. Conrad, Ed., Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Vol I, The Southern Publishing Co., 1901.