note) Ozro Cooper surrendered to authorities in Evansville Monday
April 21, 1884. A story in the Jaspr Courier stated that he was in ill
health, weary of constantly avoiding arrest, unable to sleep, and
haunted by the face of Thomas Dillin in his dreams. He was taken to
jail in Jasper to await trial, amid reported threats of lynching. For his
safety, he was returned to the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville.
He was interviewed there by a reporter of the |
Evansville Courier April 24, 1884, the text of which follows.
He is a man
of agreeable personal appearance, quiet and unassuming in his demeanor,
and the last person you would expect to see in jail upon the charge of
murder. He was neatly dressed, and when the reporter entered was
quietly enjoying his after dinner cigar. |
Upon having the article in the Jasper Courier read to him, he said:
"There is not a particle of truth in the statement that I am bothered by Tom Dillin's image. I have not thought of him but a very few times since the shooting, and then never in any sleep. And as for dodging the sheriffs, I have never given them a thought. In fact, I thought so little about the affair that I paid no attention to the officers and went on about my business, making an honest living. When I shot him, I was only holding up for my rights. I have plenty of friends where I was and never wanted for a dollar. I could have got any reasonable amount of money I needed at any time whether I was working or not. While I deeply regret the occurrence, it was a matter of life and death with me, and I preferred taking Dillin's life to letting him take mine."
When asked about the feeling prevailing in Dubois County, he said, "A few persons up there got so hot over my certainty of being acquitted that they threatened to get me out of jail and not give me a chance for justice. It was therefore thought best to bring me down here until the time of my trial. I want everyone to know that my mind is perfectly free from all anxiety over the killing and has been ever since it occurred. I only did my duty to myself. The best people up there are on my side, and I have plenty of friends. I am feeling tolerably well, though my rheumatism is bothering me today. I am in good spirits and am not and have not at any time been downhearted. The rumor published in the Jasper Courier, that someone attempted to extort a reward out of Dillin's relatives is totally without foundation".
With regard to the reward, The Courier is informed that although as stated last Tuesday, the reward of $500 was once withdrawn, it was again renewed and was standing at the time Cooper was arrested. From all the information the reporter has been able to obtain, Cooper is right in saying that the best elements of the community where he lives are with him, and there is not much doubt of his being cleared of the charge preferred against him. The prisoner would not say anything about the circumstances of the shooting, but as the facts were published at the time they are doubtless familiar to our readers.