Early November 21, 1911, Theodore Candland, a cutter in the meat department at Sampson Meat and Grocery Store in Garfield, Utah (a city near present day Magna), went to work as usual, but when he arrived at 6:45 the door was still locked. Most days the manager, William Sandercock, unlocked the store before Candland got in. Candland was concerned, but had a key and let himself in. He quickly discovered what had kept Sandercock from completing his normal duties. Sandercock slept on the floor near the counter, but on this morning Candland found an empty bed and the remains of Sandercock nearby. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “the head and the shoulders were in a mass of blood and bullet holes in the face and body showed in what manner death had overtaken the manager of the store.” Evidence suggests that Sandercock put up a struggle after the murderer hit him in the head with a tack hammer while he slept. Sandercock tried to get behind the counter to a revolver hidden there. He was unable to grab the gun, the murderer had his own gun and shot Sandercock at least twice, possibly three times, unloading all six rounds.
Murder was not in the original plan. William McVey and (allegedly) Robert Burns planned to rob the store and possibly to blow the store’s safe; McVey was a known safe cracker and dynamite was found near the scene. But Sandercock’s presence ruined their plan. Shortly after the murder, they were overheard talking in an alley trying to decide what to do next, finish the job or flee. They decided to flee. The robbery and murder netted them all of 60 cents. It’s possible they left at least a hundred dollars behind in the uncracked safe.
Candland quickly reported the murder to the police who jumped into action and arrested around thirty vagrants, two of whom became the prime suspects (the rest were charged with vagrancy). The two men were innocent, but they did have useful information, which led police to two new suspects, McVey and Burns.
Come back Thursday for part three…
Entry contributed by Dr. Michaele Smith, Archivist, Salt Lake County Archives.