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OUT OF THE VAULT: Lover’s triangle leads to tragic deaths

Published on April 14, 2018 3:00AM

A Heppner man, insanely jealous when the woman of his dreams chose a different companion, went on a shooting spree that left his heart’s desire and himself dead in May 1908.

Henry P. Morrison, a brakeman for the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company in Heppner, had fixed his sights on the lovely Nora Wright. But Miss Wright spurned Morrison’s affections, instead choosing Barney Ahalt as her escort. On May 2, 1908, after several weeks of depression and working himself up into a jealous rage over Wright’s rejection, Morrison went looking for the pair with deadly intention.

Morrison borrowed a .41 caliber Colt revolver from Express Messenger Smith, telling him a dog down the track had been annoying him and he wanted to be prepared. Morrison took a “speeder,” a small two-man vehicle used for railroad track maintenance, and traveled along the tracks to Cecil, where Miss Wright lived with her parents. He stashed the speeder in a field and created a hiding spot under a warehouse that gave him a good view of the Wright house.

Morrison spent the night and half the next day waiting for Wright to emerge, finally spotting her and Ahalt climbing into a buggy around 2 p.m. on May 3 and heading south toward the tiny hamlet of Morgan. He caught up with the pair at a crossing two miles north of Morgan.

Morrison had waved to the pair cheerfully as he traveled along the track in the speeder, and was waiting for them on the bank next to the wagon road when they approached the crossing. Morrison stopped Ahalt’s team, brandished a revolver and said, “You had better say your prayers.” He then opened fire.

Miss Wright fell dead immediately with a bullet to the head. Ahalt was also shot, a flesh wound in the shoulder, but managed to whip the team into motion and fled, carrying Wright’s body with him.

Morrison followed the racing team to Morgan, where he was told Wright was dead. He turned the gun on himself, shooting himself in the forehead. He was carried to a warehouse, where he died about 9 p.m.


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