The Helen Welhouse Murder

Glen Allen Barker was born June 28, 1913 in Ellington, Wisconsin to George “Al” Barker and Hallie Peeples.

In 1937, Glen Barker was a 24-year old farmhand for his father. He had graduated from Shiocton High School and had taken an agriculture course at the University of Wisconsin before returning to the family farm.

On August 8, Barker met his ex-girlfriend Helen Welhouse, 18, at a dance in Twelve Corners (11 miles north of Appleton). Helen had graduated from Appleton High School and worked as a housekeeper for Louis Weyenberg in Kimberly. The couple had only been together for two weeks, but Barker was heartbroken. She requested her photo be returned, because she wanted to give it to a man named Vern, who was now her fiancee. Barker did not believe that anyone named “Vern” existed and this was a lie to get the photo back. Helen walked away and sat on a bench along the wall of the dance, but Barker followed and sat down beside her.

He stabbed her “on impulse,” partially because he had already drank five or six glasses of blackberry brandy. He held her shoulder with his left hand and quickly brought the knife from his right pocket into her neck. She only had time to shout, “Don’t!” He fled and at first nobody seemed to notice, though a dancer reported to the deputy sheriff on hand (John L Mueller) that Helen had been slapped. Mueller quickly realized it was more than a slap when he saw the bloody handkerchief she held to her neck.

Glen wandered aimlessly for 20 hours. The first hour was spent driving between Appleton and Green Bay without any real destination. He then decided to stop home and tell his parents, who insisted he turn himself in to the sheriff. They drove him there, but upon learning that Helen had died before reaching the hospital, Barker cried out, “If she is dead, I may as well be dead, too!” He again ran, this time in the direction of Walnut Street, hiding out in a nearby woods. He decided he would rather be dead than in jail, so he took off all his clothes besides his shoes and jumped in the Fox River. Unfortunately for his plan, he was too good of a swimmer and could not drown himself. He returned to shore and put his clothes back on, besides a tie and pair of underwear he could not find.

Barker next wandered around Appleton. Motorcycle cop Clarence Hoppe saw Barker and he fit the description over the radio, so he stopped him. Barker said to Hoppe, “I guess I’m the guy you want.” He admitted the murder immediately. Police looked also for “Vern,” who they believed was real and lived in Manitowoc. It is unknown if this Vern existed, but another report said she may have been dating George Kettner of Hortonville. Kettner is the one who drove her to the Twelve Corners dance.

Barker pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder on August 10. In under 48 hours, he was caught, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to Waupun by Judge Edgar V Werner.

He hired Appleton attorney Mark Catlin, Sr (not the scandalous one). On December 8, 1939, Catlin argued to the parole board that Helen’s death wasn’t completely from the stabbing, but also from authorities giving her medical attention too slowly. If they had been faster, she might have lived, so the proper sentence should be for fourth-degree manslaughter, which had a maximum sentence of four years. Catlin also had with him letters of recommendation from prominent local citizens (unnamed in the newspaper). The board apparently agreed, and reduced the sentence from 25 to 7 years. Catlin was then able to get Barker parole in November 1940, barely three years after the murder.

On June 15, 1946, Barker marrid Arlis Mattie Mielke, a woman 14 years his junior. They were married for over fifty years.

Barker died July 13, 1999 in Outagamie County, and was buried in Appleton. His wife Arlis followed on March 3, 2017. They were survived by several children (who I won’t name for privacy reasons).

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