On Dec. 10, 1910, long before Leawood was a city, a concerned postman and neighbors around the Bernhardt farm found three men in the barn, bludgeoned to death.
A fourth body, that of 75-year-old Emeline Bernhardt, turned up in a bedroom closet. She appeared to have tried to hide from a killer swinging the blunt side of a pick ax.
The slayings went unsolved.
More than a century later, baseball historian and metrics nerd Bill James is on the case.
James, of Lawrence, links the carnage at the Bernhardt farm — which stood near what now is 135th Street on the Kansas side of the state line — to dozens of similar ax murders from Oregon to Maine to Florida. He believes all could have been carried out by the same monster, someone James calls The Man from the Train.
“The Man from the Train” is also the title of James’ forthcoming book that he co-authored with his daughter Rachel McCarthy James. It could only have been plucked out of history by a person with the obsessive curiosity and attraction to statistical probability as James.
He has been called the “Sultan of Stats,” Major League Baseball’s analytics pioneer. In researching ax murders of the early 1900s, however, James relied less on statistics and more on logic to conclude that a serial killer, riding the…