The Dillon Herald

Dec 23, 1908

Harley Hayes, of Pages Mills, Mourned as Dead,
is found by Detective Living Under an
Alias in Clarendon County.
Another Man's Body Lies Buried in Family Plot.
Good Material for Dime Novel Story.


            The Marion Star in the following tells how Harley Hayes, mourned by his family and friends as long since dead, is discovered by Sheriff Wall under an alias at Manning:

            A true story, of local interest as Marion was the first scene of the plot, and a citizen of this county the star actor, has just been learned.

            It will be recalled by people here that one Harley Hayes, who ran a beef market on Manning Street, to the rear of Mr. Lee Campbell's store, about three years ago was arrested for burning his premises, the charge being that he did it for the insurance money.  He was given a preliminary hearing, and was released as the evidence was considered insufficient.  And now Mr. Hayes appears again on the scene, in a role just as startling and more unique.  After leaving Marion he is heard from next at Fair Bluff, N.C., engaged in the carpenter's trade and fishing by turns.  Sometime last June he mysteriously disappeared from home, no trace of him could be found, having been last seen on his way to Lumber River to fish.  It seems no one attached any importance to his disappearance until about twelve days afterwards, when a nearly descomposed corpse was found on the river near the place Hayes was accustomed to fish.  Hayes' coat with his watch, chain and tax receipt in the pocket, was found on the body.  The jury of inquest, after taking all the testimony, decided that it was the body of Harley Hayes, and his father, who lives at Pages Mills in this county, had the body removed and decently buried in the family burial ground, thus closing chapter one.

            After a short time, Mrs. Hayes, the wife of Harley Hayes, demanded from the insurance company of Virginia, $5,000.00, the amount of insurance he carried on his life; but the insurance company, considering that they had not sufficient evidence of his death, declined payment, whereupon Mrs Hayes placed the matter in the hands of attorneys.  Meanwhile the company engaged Ex-Sheriff W. A. Wall of this city to investigate the matter.  Mr. Wall, after spending several days in and around Fair Bluff, learned enough to satisfy him that Hayes was still alive.  By putting together all the links of evidence that he had he went to Manning courthouse, and there learned that there was a man there answering Hays' description living under the name of J. H Hines but receiving mail addressed to Will Straley.  Mr. Wall, who knew Hayes well, stationed himself in the post office, and when he came in and asked for his mail there was unearthed a well laid scheme to rob an insurance company of $5,000.00.

            Hayes is still at large, having visited his former home at Pages Mills, from which place he wrote a letter to the Bank of Fair Bluff, N.C., in which he sought to justify his strange conduct, but made no explanation as to the finding of the dead body in the woods covered with his coat containing letters addressed to himself.

Dillon Herald - Jan 7, 1909


Interesting Sequel to the Harley Hayes Episode, Grave Supposed to Contain Remains of Hayes is Opened and Reveals Decomposed Body of Hog.  The Carcass was Clothed in Hayes' Garments and the Deception was so Complete that Hayes' Relatives Refused to Believe he was Alive Until Body was Exhumed.


Readers of The Herald will recall an article that appeared in these columns some weeks ago telling of the strange disappearance and subsequent reappearance of Harley Hayes who was believed by relatives and friends to be buried in the family plot at a cemetery near Pages Mills.  There was also an account of the finding of a badly decomposed body in the river swamp near Hayes' home covered with Hayes' coat which contained letters and a watch belonging to Hayes.  Hayes carried $5,000 insurance, but the insurance company refused to pay the death claim because there was lacking evidence of Hayes' death.  Sheriff Wall was employed to work on the case and after some research found Hayes living under an alias at Manning, S.C.

   At the time the story appeared many of The Herald's readers wondered whose body lay buried in the family plot at Pages Mills? The supposition was that it contained Hayes' body, but when it was discovered that Hayes was alive interest centered on the grave and its gruesome mystery.  This, the main part of the original story, had been omitted and many were the questions asked as to whose body the grave contained.

   Now it develops that the grave contained the body of a hog.  The hog had been shaved and the body was clothed in Hayes' garments.

   Inside the pockets were found Hayes' watch and some letters bearing his address.  The body of the hog was badly decomposed and the remains were lifted into a coffin which was quickly sealed and carried away to the family burying ground and laid away.  The coroner feeling sure that it was Hayes' body decided that a postmortem was unnecessary and had it not been for the effort of the Ins. Co. to prove that Hayes was still living the man might have remained dead to the world forever.  It was a cleverly concocted scheme, reading like a story from a dime novel, to pass out of existence forever, though still live and come into possession of $5,000 of cold cash.

   Hayes' father, a highly respected old citizen of the Pages Mills community, was an innocent party to the scheme to defraud the insurance company.  He mourned for his son as dead and when the body found in the swamp was alleged to be that of his offspring he enclosed the remains in a coffin and laid them tenderly away in the family plot.  On account of the badly decomposed state of the body no funeral services were held and no one was more surprised than the aged father when his son was discovered living under an alias at Manning.

   But another strange circumstance connected with this gruesome story of real life is that Hayes denies that he took any part in the effort to collect the insurance on his life.  He declares that he was dead to his family and friends and would have remained so forever if his identity had not been discovered at Manning.  But who was responsible for the attempt to collect the insurance is still a mystery.  Hayes returned home with Sheriff Wall but made no explanation as to his strange conduct.  He lingered around home for some time and no effort was made to prosecute him.  Some days ago he disappeared again and probably is seeking his fortunes in pastures green and fields anew.

   The elder Mr. Hayes removed the remains of the hog from the cemetery and re-interred them in another spot in the event the insurance company may desire to pursue the investigation further.

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