- Wisconsin State Journal - May 9 1960
Killer Uncertain in Couple's Death
Police Sunday investigating the murder-suicide of a Madison West side couple were still unable to determine who wielded the murder weapon.
Deputy Corner John W. Stevenson and Dist. Atty. William Byrne Sunday said a ruling on the deaths of John Buending, 20. and his wife Florence, 34 would have to wait for the results of tests to be conducted by the State Crime Laboratory today.
The couple died in a murder suicide shooting Saturday night in the basement of their home at 4609 Windigo Trail.
The gun involved, a .22 caliber automatic pistol, was found under Buending's right foot.
Charles Wilson, director of the lab, said that tests would be run to determine if the pistol involved fired the bullets taken from the bodies; and to determine who did the firing, by analyzing tissue samples believed to contain powder residue, and by firing a test pattern to ascertain the distance between each victim's skin and the muzzle of the gun.
Buending had previously been arrested on Nov. 20, 1958, and charged with reckless use of firearms, when he pointed a rifle at a man at 210 N. Lathrop St. Police worked late Saturday and Sunday to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the Buendings' deaths.
According to their reports, the Buendings left their recently purchased home together about 12:20 p.m. in their car.
They drove to the home of Mrs. Buending's mother, Mrs. Louise Gross, at 302 N. Hillside terrace, where Mrs Buending was to have lunch and spend the afternoon. Buending left her there and went to Jingle's Stadium Bar, 1419 Monroe St.
He sped the afternoon there drinking beer, according to William E. O'Brien, 1228 Mound St., owner of the tavern. O'Brien said he did not consider Buending intoxicated at the time he left.
Buending talked to his wife twice while he was at the bar. Mrs. Gross told police and the Wisconsin State Journal that there was no argument between her daughter and son-in-law during the afternoon.
Buending left the bar about 5 p.m. and drove his 1956 red and white Plymouth coupe to the Transport Oil Co. filling station at 2843 University ave. While there he called his wife again. Mrs Buending had taken her mother's car and left for home after deciding that her husband would probably not pick her up, Mrs Gross said Sunday.
Donald Gust, 406 Hilldale St, an attendant at the filling station said that Buending apparently argued with his wife, while at the station, when he learned that she had taken her mother's car to go home.
Hit and Run
Buending left the station and almost immediately ran into another car. Instead of stopping, he drove off in the direction of his home. A witness to the accident took Buending's licence number and give it to police.
Police traced the car to his residence and about 7 p.m. Special Investigator Fred Hall went to the home. Both Buending's and Mrs. Gross's car were parked in the driveway, and lighter were on in the house. But Hall could get no answer when he knocked at the door and left.
About 8 p.m. Mrs Gross called Mrs. Harry Kissane, 4615 Windigo trail; the next-door neighbor after she was unable to get an answer at the home by phone. When Mrs. Kissane told her that both cars were in the driveway and the house lights were on, she became worried.
She phone Policeman John Randall, 1114 Pontiac trail, who had been giving her driving lessons, and asked him to check at the residence. After knocking several times, Randall spotted the bodies when he looked in a basement window.
The picture that emerged of the young couple was one of devotion. Mrs Gross said Sunday that the Buendings had met more than a year ago.
Two daughters by her former marriage live with her ex-husband, Bernard Fluaitt at Whitewater.
The Buendings eloped to Iowa 11 months ago, Mrs Gross said, and had lived with her for about three months after their marriage. During that time her new son-in-law had given her an impression of stability. He was a very likeable person, she said.
She had not known that Buending ever owned a gun. "If he did, I never saw it," she said Sunday. The pistol was kept in a tackle box. It was of a type commonly used by sportsmen to kill large game fish. Mrs Gross said Buending had been an avid fisherman.
Buending was a native of Hastings, Minn. He came to Madison originally as a civil engineering student at the University of Wisconsin.
"Good Natured Guy"
He had previously attended the University of Minnesota, where he played freshman football. When he ran out of money in his junior year at the University of Wisconsin he went to work for the Dane County Highway department as an engineering aid.
County Highway Commissioner Ray R. Swann said Saturday night that he knew Buending only casually, but that he was "a good natured guy, You'd think that nothing ever bothered him." Buending would have been 26 years old next month, "I had already given him his birthday gift," Mrs. Gross said. The gift was money to pay for his new car registration.
In a gesture of charity, Mrs Gross gave doctors permission to take her daughters eyes for the eye bank at Madison General Hospital. While she was undergoing a cesarean section in a futile attempt to save her unborn child.
In addition to Mrs. Gross, Mrs Buending is survived by her two daughters, Karen and Debbie Lynn, both in Whitewater, and two brothers, William Gross, Dearborn, Mich, and Joseph, Rochester, N.Y.
Buending is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Buending, Hastings, Minn., and by his maternal grandparents Mr. and Mrs. John Bellman, Ft. Atkinson.
The bodies were taken to the Frautschi funeral home, 120 E. Wilson st. Friends may call at the funeral home after 3 p.m. today.
A prayer service will be held at 8 p.m. tonight. The bodies will be taken to Ft. Atkinson for funeral services and burial later.