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Looking Back to 1931: Local harness maker missing for days, suicide suspected 

Looking Back Paso Robles

This look back at Paso Robles history comes from local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. News for this column is selected with the assistance of Research Director Jan Cannon. Newspaper photography by GiGi Green.

Excerpts from Thursday, June 4, 1931 Paso Robles Spotlight

Snibley hunt continues, police baffled

River bed searched and nearby hills are scoured; harness maker takes weapon with him; strengthens suicide theory.

With five days elapsed since he disappeared under puzzling circumstances, police and deputy sheriffs today conducted their search for Frank Snibley, 65-year-old Paso Robles harness maker, in isolated areas of the district.

A suicide theory gained strength today when it was learned that Snibley took with him a shotgun.

Another theory of the disappearance was that Snibley had careful plans to vanish from the Paso Robles scene, it was suggested he might have boarded a stage and fled to northern or southern cities.

Against the latter theory is the statement of Mrs. Sibley who asserted she had no differences of a serious nature with her missing spouse.

Paso Robles history

Last seen Saturday night

Snibley was last seen about 9 o’clock Saturday night. He retired to a small building adjoining his house where he had been in the custom of sleeping, according to his wife.

The next morning he had disappeared, she said, leaving his watch, money and other personal articles carefully arranged on a small table at the side of his bed.

Checks had been made out to him personally, had been signed and placed in a neat pile with the other valuables he had left behind. The only missing article was his gun and the old clothes he had been wearing, Mrs. Sibley told the officers.

Deputy searches riverbed carefully

No insurance was carried by the missing man, according to Mrs. Snibley. She said that if he did carry insurance she did not know of it.

According to Deputy Haskins the riverbeds and surrounding territory were carefully gone over by volunteer searchers to failed to find any clues which might indicate what had become of the man.

For many years Mr. Snibley was a harness maker in the Mercantile company here, but of late he had been doing his work in a shed on his own premises.

Investigation of his shop revealed that Mr. Sibley had evidently made preparations for leaving since each piece of work had been tagged with its price for the information of customers.

Mr. and Mrs. Sibley have no children.

Constable Herman Anderson today had planned to head a volunteer searching party in the hope of finding the body in the event Snibley has destroyed his life.


Man shot by youth in home intrusion

Bullet in neck; surgeons probe wound

Alleged threats of Ralph Plumm, 25, Templeton, against Albert Casteel, his wife and daughter, and Frank Rounstein, 17, late yesterday in Templeton were met by a revolver shot in the Casteel premises.

This was the information in the hands of sheriff Jess Lowery today. Rounstein is under technical arrest pending a thorough investigation into the shooting.

According to reports Plumm instigated a quarrel in the Casteel home and intimidated Casteel’s family. Becoming alarmed at Plumm’s threatening gestures Rounstein is said to have seized the gun and fired. Plumm fell with a bullet wound in the neck, several inches below the chin. He was rushed to Atascadero hospital where his condition is thought to be grave.


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Thank you to sponsors of Looking Back

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.