‘A Bloody Deed’: The Story of Clarion County’s Only Execution – Part One
(Pictured above: A postcard from the Clarion County Historical Society’s archives 1910 depicting the Clarion County Courthouse and the old jail, as well as an oil derrick behind the courthouse.)
A blacksmith at a mine near his home, Stupka’s death is at the beginning of one of the most interesting historical moments in the history of Clarion County.
Vincent Voychek, a boarder in Stupka’s home and the man found guilty for his death, would be the only man ever executed in the county.
Andras “Andrew” Stupka was born December 1, 1867, in Slovakia and came off the boat at Ellis Island on June 8, 1893.
Specific details of his early life and the period until his death are unknown.
Before his death, Stupka was supposedly preparing to move. Newspaper reports from the time say he recently returned to Rimersburg on the Saturday before his death after five weeks of being away from home.
The reports differ as to where he was moving to: The Clarion Democrat mentioned Fairmount City in Clarion County while The Clarion Republican said Fairmont, West Virginia, instead.
Regardless, Stupka did not make it.
After a day of preparing for his move and drinking at local bars with his friends, Stupka came home for dinner around eight in the evening of October 18, 1909.
An hour later, Voycheck came for dinner, as well.
Court testimony places Voychek in the same bars as Stupka, though “not with Stupka, drinking at the other end of each bar,” according to a story by the The Clarion Democrat.
At this point, the story takes a dark turn.
Voychek brought with him a bottle of whiskey, which he offered to share with Stupka as they were eating.
Stupka refused, but Voychek insisted more and more as if being fueled by his landlord’s turndowns.
Voychek then became violent and threw whiskey on Stupka’s face, but Stupka’s wife, Mary Stupka, forced Voyckek out of the house before he could do more.
A few minutes later, Andrew Stupka, armed with a lantern and a poker, and aided by another of his boarders, Mike Sidor, exit the house to make sure Voychek left the property.
Hiding inside an empty piano box in front of the house, Voychek waited with a knife, and when Stupka came out of the house and passed him, he took the opportunity.
Sidor witnessed Stupka’s death and “gave the alarm to Mrs. Stupka, and they went out together,” said The Democrat. “The man who attacked Stupka fled, and the latter only breathed a few times after they got to him, having been stabbed to death.”
The Rimersburg Constable, F. C. Shearer, was immediately notified of the murder, and as he made his way to the Stupka’s house, he saw Voychek running down an alley.
“Stop, or I’ll shoot,” yelled Shearer, to which Voychek stops and puts his left hand up first, concealing the right behind his back until Shearer tells him to put it up.
Putting his right hand up, Voychek, who had blood on his hands and clothes, dropped “a long, bloody knife – a heavy case knife sharpened to a point,” said The Democrat.
Shearer arrested Voychek and brought him to the Rimersburg Jail, where Voychek would stay only a short time.
With the fear that Voychek might be lynched, Shearer persuaded Voychek to be taken to Clarion where he would be safer. The next morning, on Tuesday, October 20, 1909, Shearer, G. B. Stopp and another person brought Voychek to the Clarion County Jail.
Here begins the drama of Voychek’s murder trial…but that is a story for another time.
This article is Part One of an ongoing series diving into Clarion County’s only execution.
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