The First Man Hanged – Vinita, I. T., Sept. 4, - Robert
Colton, colored, was the first man to be hanged legally in the Northern
district of the Indian Territory. He was executed at noon today. He confessed
that last year he murdered his wife, literally cutting her body into pieces.
(The Sun, Chanute, Kansas, September 4, 1906, Tuesday, page 1)
Negro Slayer Dies Tonight
McAlester, April 15 – Finley Porter, twice a killer, spent
his last day quietly in death cell today awaiting hopefully for some official
action which might stave off his execution after midnight tonight.
Warden Fred Hunt and prison officials had not told him that
his last hope of official intervention went glimmering when acting Governor James
E. Berry said he would not interfere with the Pittsburg county court sentence,
affirmed by the criminal court of appeals.
The penitentiary staff made the customary gesture of
offering Porter despite rationing anything he wanted to eat at meals today but the 40
year old negro made no special requests.
He’s been calm and stoical, said the warden. We understand
he has conferred with the chaplain and
made his peace but he has offered no statement about the slaying.
Hunt referred to the second death caused by Porter – that of
his prison cellmate, L. Z. Beacham, also a negro, April 28, 1941, who was
stabbed to death while Porter was serving life for slaying his wife at
Activing Governor James E. Berry said today he would not
interfere with the execution of Finley Porter, 40 year old negro slayer
sentenced to die in the electric chair at McAlester tonight.
Berry said the case had not been mentioned to him and that
he was perfectly satisfied with the verdict of the court and jury and the
opinion of the criminal court of appeals which affirmed the sentence.
Porter, Okmulgee county farmer who already had served 16
years of life term for murdering his wife was convicted in Pittsburg county of
slashing to death a young negro cell mate.
It was the second time Berry had found himself installed as
acting governor on execution eve. It occurred once during the Phillips
administration. (Ada Evening News, April 15, 1943)
Gooch Loses Death Fight
Kidnaping Officer Violates Lindbergh Law, High Court Holds
Washington, Feb. 3 (AP) – The supreme court ruled Monday
that kidnaping of an officer to avoid arrest constitutes a violation of the
Lindbergh kidnaping law.
The ruling was on an appeal by Arthur Gooch, sentenced to
die for assisting in kidnaping two police officers at Paris, Texas, and
transporting them into Oklahoma.
The unanimous opinion, delivered by Justice McReynolds, was
the first the high tribunal has handed down concerning the Lindbergh law.
Gooch appealed his conviction to the tenth circuit court at
Denver. That tribunal asked the supreme court for instructions, presenting two
“Is holding an officer to avoid arrest within the meaning of
the phrase “held for ransom or reward or otherwise” in the act?
“Is it an offense to k idnap and transport a person in
interstate commerce for the purpose of preventing the arrest of the kidnapers?”
Answers will be sent to the circuit court for appropriate
The law was enacted three months after the kidnaping of the
Lindbergh baby in 1932. It was strengthened in 1934 by the words Gooch
Gooch and Ambrose Nix were alleged to have been questioned
at a filling station on Nov. 26, 1934 by R. N. Baker and H. R. Marks officers.
They were charged with compelling the officers to get into a police car and
with driving in it to the vicinity of Snow, Okla., where the policemen were
Justice McReynolds said “evidently congress intended to
prevent transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of persons who were
being unlawfully restrained in order that the captor might secure some benefit
to himself. And this is adequately expressed by the words of the enactment.”
He added that “while penal statutes are narrowly construed,
this does not require rejection of that sense of the words which best
harmonizes with the context and the end in view.” (Heraldo de Brownsville
(Brownsville, Texas), Tuesday, February 4, 1936, page 2)
Arthur Gooch, Doomed Under Lindbergh Law, Loses Appeal to
McAlester, Okla. (AP) – Arthur Gooch, first man doomed to
die under the Lindbergh law, resigned himself to death Monday night as his last
resort – an appeal to President Roosevelt for executive clemency – failed.
Gooch is under sentence to be hanged at Oklahoma
penitentiary June 19.
The “small time gunman,” whose abduction of H. R. Marks and
R. N. Baker, two Paris, Texas, officers, November 24, 1934, started him on the
road to the gallows, lost hope as word of the presidential decision reached him
in death row.
“There’s nothing more to be done,” he said.
The tenth district circuit court of appeals at Denver upheld
the death decree of Federal Judge Robert L. Williams.
The United States supreme court refused to review the case.
W. F. Rampendahl, Gooch’s attorney, presented the case to the President.
“Death is death,” commented Gooch gloomily. “It’s something
we all try to avoid as long as we can. But you won’t find me afraid when the
The men whom Gooch was convicted of abducting were confident
he was “getting what is coming to him.”
At Chickasha, the state peace officers in convention adopted
a motion directing a message be sent to the President and attorney general
asking “no interference with the jury’s verdict,” in the Gooch case.
“It’s bad news for me,” said Gooch. “I had been expecting a
better break. When this all went up to Washington it hurt my chances.”
Gooch said he also believed the work of women’s groups in
his behalf had an unfavorable reaction on Judge Williams.
Gooch, and a companion, Ambrose Nix, staged a series of hold
ups in which victims were bound.
After the abduction of the two officers, Gooch and Nix were
trapped by heavily-armed officers near Okemah in December of 1934. (Idaho
Statesman (Boise, Idaho) Wednesday, June 10, 1936, page 2)
President Denies Gooch Plea for Second Time
Washington, June 18 (AP) – President Roosevelt again refused
Thursday to commute to life imprisonment the death sentence of Arthur Gooch,
Oklahoma kidnaper. Gooch is scheduled to hang Friday morning in the Oklahoma
State Penitentiary at McAlester.
Breaking the traditional silence which surrounds his rule over
pardon pleas, the President discussed his decision in a statement issued by the
Department of Justice.
Gooch, convicted because of the kidnaping of two police
officers at Paris, Texas, and the injury of one officer, is the first man to
receive the death penalty under an amendment to the Lindbergh law passed in
1934 designed to protect police officers. (Dallas Morning News, (Dallas,
Texas), Friday, June 19, 1936, page 7)
Gooch is Executed for Kidnap Crime
First Lindbergh Law Victim Hanged in Oklahoma Early Today
McAlester, Okla., June 19 – Arthur Gooch, 27, who kidnaped
two Texas officers and released them unharmed after carrying them into
Oklahoma, was hanged today, first person to die for violate of the Lindbergh
Gooch dropped through the trap at 5:07 a.m. and was declared
dead 15 minutes later. Until the last he hoped for executive clemency.
Gooch was convicted of kidnaping R. U. Baker and H. R. Marks
in Paris, Texas, to escape arrest. The men were released at Snow, Okla.,
unharmed except for a cut Baker suffered when he fell against a plate glass in
a scuffle with Gooch and Ambrose Nix, who was slain by officers at Okemah when
Gooch was captured.
Gooch showed no emotion as he mounted the steps of the
gallows. He told United States Deputy Marshal George Hall he had no statement
Doctors waited several minutes after examining the body
before they pronounced Gooch officially dead.
A crowd of approximately 300, including prison and State
officials, watched him die. Executioner Rich Owen, who has sent 53 men to
death, tripped the drop.
Gooch’s final hope for clemency did not fail until last
night when President Roosevelt denied an appeal for a pardon.
He walked almost an eighth of a mile to the scaffold, which
was inside an extension of the main prison walls.
Last night Gooch heard that the President had denied his
plea. (Trenton Evening Times, (Trenton, New Jersey), Friday, June 19, 1936,