Cold Blooded Murder

A further story from John Wilson’s ‘Reminiscences of the Early Settlement of Dunedin and South Otago‘. The context suggests this story takes place in the 1860s.

A report of a double murder at Switzers reached 
Blatch at Clutha. Two brothers, named Tibbetts. had a 
station at Switzers. which they sold to a man named 
Switzer, who was a bootmaker in Dunedin. and from 
whom the place gets its name. Tibbetts Bros, haa another 
run near the former, and their horses always went back to 
the old run. The shepherds hunted them home with dogs, 
and one morning one of the Tibbetts found his favourite 
mare with her leg. broken. He said the shepherds had 
done it. and he would shoot the lot. Taking a double- 
barrelled gun. he walked to Switzers. where he arrived 
in the evening. He went to the hut, but the men had 
heard that he was coming, and they all cleared out. A 
woman with a child walked several miles to another 
station. The men hid in the scrub, from which they watched 
Tibbetts go into the hut, where he lit a fire and had his tea. 
About dark he went outside and called. "Aren't you coming 
in? You'll have to come some time." He stayed all night, 
and had his breakfast in the morning. It was a frosty night, 
and the hidden men had nothing on but shirt and 
trousers. After breakfast he went away up a gully, and 
one man. a German, who was cook, saw him going, but. 
being shortsighted, could not see him far. He thought 
he had gone, and started for the hut. Tibbetts turned 
and saw him. When he got near the poor fellow saw 
him and ran for the scrub, but Tibbetts shot him dead. 
He then turned away, and had some more breakfast with 
some men who were making a road near. One asked. 
"Been shooting?" "Oh. not much," said he: "only 
shot an old German affair." Some settlers then sent a 
mounted messenger to Blatch. but he had not gone far 
when another messenger overtook him and told him that 
Tibbetts the murderer had been shot by his brother. On- 
Blatch's arrival, he found that Sergeant Morton, who was 
on his way from the Lakes, had heard of the murder, and 
had gone to Tibbetts' house. He found the brother there, 
and they went to Switzers to look for the murderer, but 
did not succeed in finding him. They returned home, and 
in a little while saw him coming across the river. They 
saw him looking at the horses' tracks, and carefully scan- 
ning the place. There was a calico door to the hut. so 
they put the table against it, and cut loopholes to peer 
through. When he came near, the brother told him to lay 
down his arms and come into the hut. "Who is with 
you?" was the reply. "Oh. nobody that will hurt you. 
Lay down your gun." ''What for?" "Because you 
have shot one man, and I don't want you to have any 
more shooting." "Yes, you - . and I'll shoot you. 
too," was the reply. He fired at the door, but, finding 
from the sound that there was something solid against 
it, he aimed his gun again. The sergeant said, "now's 
our time; fire, or he'll shoot us." The brother fired, and 
shot him dead. He then tried to shoot himself, but Mor- 
ton, after a sharp struggle, managed to get his revolver, 
which went off in the tussle, and he was wounded in the 
hand. Blatch went for Rich, and an inquest was held, 
when in the one case a verdict of murder was brought in 
against the dead Tibbetts, and in the other one of justi- 
fiable homicide. 
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