WARDEN CHASE'S STATEMENT
Winfield Daily Courier - February 7, 1894
In Reply to a Request from the Courier, Warden Chase, of the
Kansas Penitentiary, Makes the Following Statement in Regard to the
Norton-Roberts Affair. The Letter We Publish in Full.
EDITOR WINFIELD COURIER: In reply to your letter of yesterday regarding the Norton-Wright attempted escape, and asking whether or not Captain Nipp stood by and saw them register the wrong names; I have to inform you that Wilbur Norton was not associated with the plan further than having knowledge that it was to be attempted. Morgan Wright was the man that was to escape. The facts in the case are these.
Charles Roberts was measured and registered as Morgan Wright, and Morgan Wright, as Charles Roberts. Charles Roberts, as you doubtless know, was convicted in Cowley County on a charge of grand larceny, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment in this prison. And Morgan Wright, as you know, was sentenced to be hung.
Wright had a large scar on his back, the effects of a knife wound, and on that account the prison physician excused him from working in the mine for the present. We, of course, supposed him to be Charles Roberts, the two-year man. Wright worked in the cell house. We would in all probability never have discovered the game, had it not been that Wright has acquaintances here who know him quite well, who gave him away, which led me to investigate. I took Morgan Wright before two or three convicts here who had known him before he came for the purpose of identification. I then had Roberts before me, and told him that I had discovered everything, and threatened to take he and Wright back to Cowley County for identification, telling him at the time that I would not be responsible should they be hung if I were so compelled to take them back there, which caused him to yield and confess all. I then had Wright brought to my office and he acknowledged and admitted that it was an attempt whereby he should escape. I then sent for Norton, who likewise confessed, and said the scheme was concocted while they were in the jail at Winfield.
Now as to Capt. Nipp's part in the transaction and his being present in the clerk's office when they gave their names wrong, I will say that such was the case, as Deputy Warden Markum and other officers who were in the room at the time these prisoners were received can testify. Deputy Markum and my son, Seth, both say that Captain Nipp pointed out Roberts as being Wright, the man that murdered Captain Siverd. I met Captain Nipp at Holliday, as he was in transit with the prisoners to this place, and he pointed out Roberts to me and told me it was Wright.
These are fcts just as they occurred. Should the plan have been successful, Morgan Wright would have been released in two years, then, in all probability, Roberts would have gotten out on a writ of habeas corpus. Respectfully yours.
S. W. CHASE, Warden K. S. P.
The Winfield Daily Courier
A COURIER reporter met deputy Sheriff Rothrock this morning and asked him about the Norton-Roberts affair and the statement of Ex-Sheriff Nipp, which appeared in Monday's COURIER. Mr. Rothrock stated that as far as he knew the statement of Capt. Nipp was correct, and that he left the sheriff and the prisoners at Topeka and if there was any scheme being concocted to escape he was not aware of it.