This is a document from RealityStudio’s collection of primary source documents relating to the death of William S. Burroughs’ wife Joan Vollmer Burroughs.
William Tell Shot Denied in Killing
Mexico City. (U.P.) — A grandson of the inventor of the adding machine said today he accidentally killed his wife at a drinking party but denied trying to shoot a glass of champagne off her head in an imitation of William Tell as police reported.
“It was all a tragic mistake,” William S. Burroughs, 37, of St Louis, Mo., said. He said he shot his wife when he dropped a newly purchased pistol on a table and it discharged accidentally
“When my wife fell, I thought it was a joke” he said. Burroughs was arrested for homicide after his wife, Joan, 27, died at a hospital of a bullet wound in her forehead Wednesday night. HE was held in federal penitentiary pending hearings.
“I did not put any glass on her head and if I did it must have been a joke and I certainly did not intend to shoot at it,” he said. “It was purely accidental. I am sure that no one present or acquainted with the circumstances has the least doubt about it.”
Burroughs said the fatal shooting occurred during a drinking party and admitted his memory was “very hazy.” He said he was examining a new .38 caliber pistol when he “dropped it and it hit the table and discharged.”
Burroughs and his wife, of Albany, N.Y., had two children, William, Jr., 3, and Julie, 7. They have lived here for the past two years while Burroughs studied languages at the University of Mexico.
Burroughs, a graduate of Harvard, divorced his first wife, Mrs. Ilse Burroughs, at Clayton, Mo., on grounds of desertion.