THE LAST OF THE GANG
Tulsa, I. T., Feb 7 - Jim French and "Verdigris" Kid,
two members of the Cook gang, were killed last night while attempting
to rob the general store of W. C. Patton & Co, at Catoosa,
Fifteen miles east of here. Sam Irvin manger for Patterson was shot and
seriously injured although it is not known how badly. These outlaws
were members of the notorious Bill Cook gang and are the last of the
desperate lot. All of the murderers and thieves are now dead or in
prison. Jim French was a full-blooded Cherokee, very well educated and
20 years old "Verdigris" was a noted horse-thief.
Source; Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, February 14, 1895 -
Transcribed by Veneta McKinney
Oklahoma Cashier Suicide
Tulsa Man Uses Knife to End his Life on a Georgia Tain
Muskogee, Okla., March 28 – L. R. Teubner, cashier of a bank at Tulsa,
Oklahoma, who has been missing for ten days, wounded himself on a train
running into Jacksonville, Florida, early today according to word
received at the office of the South Surety Company, owner of the bank.
The nature of the wound is not known. Officials of the surety company
said an examination of the bank’s books had disclosed irregularities.
Jacksonville, Fla., March 28 – The passenger who committed suicide on
the train while the train was near Waycross, Georgia, and identified by
Oklahoma bank officials as L. R. Teubner, missing cashier of the bank
of Tulsa, Okla., used a pocket knife to end his life.
Passengers who witnessed the act of suicice say Teubner appeared as if
insane. His body was brought here. Papers in his pocket bore the name
of R. C. or J. C. Teubner of Caddo, Bryan county, Oklahoma. (The
Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas, Wednesday, March 29, 1911, page 2)
Roy Benson Accepts Two Years in Penitantiary
Roy Benson one of the would be assassins of James
Cherry several months ago accepted two years in the penitantiary
Tuesday to expiate for his crime. His accomplice, Henry Randolph who is
now held in the county jail is fighting the case and will stand trial
on the 16th of this month. The shooting of Mr. Cherry is considered a
most cowardly attempt to murder a man for nothing more than envy or
jealously. County Attorney Malone has expressed himself as desiring to
convict Randolph and secure a maximum sentence for him. (The Tulsa
Star, April 11, 1913)
Sheriff Gets Big Haul of Gambling Devices
Tulsa, Okla., Aug. 29 - One complete truck load of
gambling devices were brought to the courthouse from a resort near
Among the brightly colored tables and new chairs was a
roulette wheel. It is the first roulette wheel captured in Tulsa county
in many months.
Sheriff James Wooley stated that he had visited the
shack which stood near the coal pits at Mohawk at about midnight on
Wednesday. He found a game of dice in progress. As he entered the place
the crap game broke up in a general stampede and he was left to destroy
the table. The rest of the equipment he confiscated the next morning.
The Mohawk den was far from electricity and was
lighted by large gasoline torches. (The Oklahoma City Times, August 29,
ARREST OF YOUNG NEGRO ON
STATUTORY CHARGE CAUSED BATTLE
BETWEEN THE RACES
The race rioting that broke
out here late Tuesday night grew
out of the arrest Tuesday afternoon of Dick Rowland, a negro bootblack
charge of assaulting a white elevator girl in the Drexel building on
There was a movement afoot,
it was reported, among white
people to go to the county courthouse Tuesday night and lynch to
This report spread over “Little Africa” and early in the evening crowds
negroes began forming.
Rowland was taken from the
city to the county jail Tuesday
afternoon and his preliminary trial set for June 7 in municipal court.
Rowland was arrested on South
Greenwood avenue early Tuesday
morning by Officers henry Carmichael and H. C Pach. He was identified
girl after his capture. The boy did not deny the attack and said he
her foot but did not scratch her in any way.
The girl alleged that the
negro entered the elevator and
without any provocation attacked her. She screamed for help and a clerk
Renberg store ran to her assistance. Upon his approach the negro fled
been in hiding until captured by the police officers yesterday morning.
The girl is an orphan and is
attending a local business college and
running an elevator on off hours. (The Morning Tulsa, Daily World,
Okla., Vol. 15, No. 243, Ed. 3, Wednesday, June 1, 1921, front page)
RACE WAR RAGES FOR HOURS AFTER
OUTBREAK AT COURTHOUSE
Troops and Armed Men
Negroes Finally Driven into
“Little Africa” Where 1,000
Armed Blacks are Reported at Bay with More Than 500 Armed Whites Facing
Opposite Frisco Tracks; Move to Lynch Bootblack Starts Trouble
two dead negroes at the Frisco depot.
After six hours of race
rioting, extending over the entire
city, two white men are known to be dead and about a score are known to
There are no known negro
fatalities, though reports are that
several were killed. One injured negro is at the police station and is
momentarily to die.
Thousands of shots were fired
during the rioting, crowds
swarmed up and down the streets brandishing weapons and the greatest
Both of the white men known
to have been killed were shot
through the head.
The city, patrolled by 45
automobiles filled with armed men,
while 500 armed men with their center on the Frisco railway station
stone’s throw of an armed mob of 1,000 negroes, form the nucleus of the
There was a furious outburst
of firing in the vicinity of
the Frisco tracks and Cincinnati about 2:30 this morning but whether
any casualties could not be ascertained.
Some negro shacks on the
north side of the Frisco tracks at
Boston were fired by white men at 2 o’clock. The blaze was spectacular
was at first reported that “Little Africa’s” business district was
Fireman who responded to the alarm were at first kept away, but later
extinguished the blaze.
Firing which for two hours
was general over the city and
centered in the north part of the business district following the first
outbreak at the courthouse about 10:15 o’clock last night declined at 1
after a crowd of 30 negroes were driven from Second street and
In response to a call from
Muskogee, indicating several
hundred negroes were on their way to the city to assist Tulsa negroes
the fighting continue, a machine gun squad loaded on a truck, went east
city with orders to stop at all hazards these armed men.
For three hours city
officials, under direction of J. F.
Adkison, police commissioner, and Charles Daley, inspector of police,
assistance of part of the home guard company, formed armed white men
and these companies were marched to advantageous positions. Hundreds of
were volunteered for use by the armed patrol of the city, and these
speedily detailed to prevent armed negroes from taking action except in
negro district of the city.
About 12:30 a.m. when an
armed party of whites scouring the
vicinity of the Frisco station after an attack by blacks, at the corner
second and Cincinnati, mistook a lone white man for a negro, and fired
of at least 25 shots at the white pedestrian. Death was instantaneous
was hit so many times his body was mangled almost past identification.
The last car containing white
men through the negro
district, which made the trip shortly after midnight, reported that at
1,000 armed negroes were gathered north of the Frisco depot. One white
badly beaten by negroes when he attempted to pass through the district.
Two companies of regular
troops from Ft. Sill were ordered
out by Governor Robertson, and home guard companies from surrounding
ordered to mobilize and take immediate transportation to Tulsa.
Thousands of persons, both
the inquisitive including several
hundred women and men, armed with every available weapon in the city
every hardware and sporting goods store, swarmed on Second street from
to Boston avenue watching the gathering volunteer army or offering
services to the peace officers.
Intermittantly throughout the
two hours following midnight
shots were fired into the air by the white forces, but except for a few
shots fired by whites at the Frisco depot and returned by the negroes,
remained in quiet. The armed cars containing negroes were driven from
streets before 1 o’clock and the patrols continued scouring the city,
negroes and placing them in the city jail. Twelve were captured by the
patrols before 1 o’clock. No attempt was made however to disperse the
north of the Frisco depot.
Armed with weapons ranging
from shotguns to .22 caliber
target rifles, men filtered into the police station singly or in auto
Ammunition was scarce and the entire supply of virtually every store in
carrying such goods was confiscated before midnight.
Thousands Line Streets
Crowds of thousands lined
Second street east of Main, the
guard line established by the homeguards and braved the occasional fire
revolvers and rifles in the hands of negroes, watching the formation of
volunteer companies. At least 500 persons among them 100 women watched
in which a crowd of negroes menacing the business district of the city,
driven from Second and Cincinnati avenue.
About the police station
hundreds of men carrying every
description of weapon, with pockets bulging with ammunition, attired in
ranging from overalls to palm beach suits, gathered for three hours.
conversation was indulged in, but all wore an expression of
put down the uprising of the negroes. Old men, carrying shot guns
marched side by side with youths in white flannels carrying target
small bore shotguns.
Well in Hand Says Sheriff
“We believe we have the
situation well in hand without
further help from the national guards or state militia,” Sheriff
told a world reporter about four hours after the riot had broken out,
time he signed a telegram asking Governor Robertson for outside help to
with the situation. The telegram was already signed by Chief of Police
Gustafson and Mayor T. D. Evans. “While I do not feel the situation
help from the outside yet it is always best to play safety first,”
The sheriff was well
entrenched in the jail and the elevator
was put out of commission early in the evening. The only entrance to
was up a winding stairway which terminated in great steel bars. It was
these that the county sheriff and more than eight deputies were firmly
entrenched. Great difficulty was experienced in getting the telegram to
sheriff for his signature and the bearer was a stranger. It was at this
that a World Report who was well acquainted with McCullough succeeded
getting the telegram to him for his signature.
Soon after the first few
shots were fired around the
courthouse in which one negro was wounded and one white killed the
which had collected in front of the county building dispersed. The
running toward “Little Africa” and the whites scattering in all
few knots of armed whites formed on all sides of the courthouse soon
and planned a reprisal on the negroes. These formed the most
that collected at the county building.
Hardware Stores Emptied
At 10:30 o’clock a report was
received at the police station
that the hundreds of armed black were gathering at First and Cincinnati
another invasion of the business district.
The demand for arms became
glarorous. While the police were
endeavoring to secure the opening of the hardware stores by legal means
began to batter in the doors of the Magee sporting goods store, almost
the street from the station. The first guns began to arrive from the
store on South Main. Armed men seemed to spring from everywhere. Within
hour an army of about 500 men was being drilled for duty and coached
emergency. Practically all hardware stores were emptied of guns and
Some opened their doors voluntarily.
The arrival of Major Rooney
and a bunch of national guard
men on an army truck was a signal for cheers.
“Now let the niggers come if
they dare,” the crowds shouted.
Armed guards were placed in
cars and sent out on patrol
duty. Companies of about 50 men each were organized and marched through
business streets. Much promiscuous shooting resulted with a very
result that no one was hurt.
Policeman’s Life is Saved
While the negroes were
congregating at Second and Cincinnati
about 10 o’clock, J. L. Wilson, a day patrolman, came into town in a
litney not knowing
what the trouble was
The negroes saw him and in an
instant he found himself in
the hands of the mob.
“That’s one of them. Let’s
lynch him,” they shouted.
But a negro preacher who has
been shining shoes in a stand
near the police station threw his arms around Wilson and pleaded so
for his life that the blacks let him go.
Wilson kept admonishing the
crowd during the evening to “let
their conscience be their guide.”
Brakeman Shot Twice
A brakeman on an east bound
freight train was shot twice by
a negro at Madison and Frisco tracks according to reports. The brakeman
shot twice, one in the face and once in the chest.
It is reported that a negro
sharp-shooter who was stationed
on Madison street aimed at a boy about 16 years old who was bumming his
the train when the brakeman was shot. He was taken to a hospital.
The rioting followed a
movement early in the night of a
crowd of 150 white men to take Dick Rowland, negro bootblack charged
assault upon a white girl Monday afternoon, from the county jail.
William McCullough stationed armed guards in the jail and succeeded in
the mob temporarily.
More than 300 negroes, most
of them armed with rifles,
revolvers and shotguns gathered at the courthouse at 9 o’clock with the
intention of preventing the threatening lynching. Both white and negro
argued with the two mobs which intermingled at the south and west
the county courthouse. The negroes were finally dispersed but continued
about the city in automobiles. The crowd at the courthouse numbering
whites at 10 o’clock refused to disperse on demand of Sheriff
for half an hour waited at the south entrance of the courthouse
speakers who attempted to disperse them.
Motor Cars Volunteered
Owners of automobiles
volunteered the service of their cars
in which from two to seven armed men were placed and ordered to scour
In many cases prominent business and professional men remained at the
piloted the armed men about the city. The patrols were sent out to
prevent any sporadic
attack in any part of the city by auto loads of negroes.
Two of the negroes wounded in
downtown battles which
happened about 10 o’clock were taken to the police station. This only
began at Sixth street and Boulder avenue and as the three sections of
went north on Main street, Boulder avenue and Boston avenue negroes
northward and three were wounded in pistol duels before they could
firing continued northward and the negroes made their first stand at
and Cincinnati avenue. They remained there for almost an hour when a
armed whites attacked them and drove them across the Frisco tracks.
negroes made their stand and a mob call mated at 1,000 gathered behind
frame building north of the tracks at Cincinnati avenue and defied the
Many shots were exchanged between the beligerenis, but no report of
were reported to the police before 3 o’clock.
The Mob Separates
About 10:30 o’clock the mob
separated those to the south of
the courthouse running east to Main street and then north. At this time
second half, numbering about 100 men, was gathered at the west entrance
after discussing the matter for a short while, several of the men fired
revolvers into the air. This was the signal for general firing at Sixth
and Boulder ave.
At this time a crowd of
negroes came north on Boulder avenue
and in an exchange of shots a white man and one negro were wounded.
taken to the hospital.
The half of the mob which
went east on Sixth street went
slowly north on Main street and a group of four who had gone north in
alley, pursued an armed negro north. In an exchange of shots at the
between Main and Boulder on Fourth street a negro was wounded, and fell
street. Another negro was a few minutes later found, dead in the alley
north of the place where the first negro fell. The mob did not
of the presence of the second negro, who it is believed was killed by
shots fired at the wounded negro.
Fighting Is Hot
One white and one negro were
shot at the beginning of the
fight at the courthouse when hundreds of shots were fired in the small
three minutes. Andy Brown, negro, Highland addition received slight
by one of the first shots fired. According to Brown, he had promised to
the negroes who were under his leadership home when some person in the
shot him. Immediately afterwards firing commenced in earnest and an
unidentified white man was badly wounded by a negro said to be Johnny
Deputy Sheriff McLean tried to disperse a threatening crowd of negroes
gathered on the west side of the courthouse. Cole is alleged to have
gun and tried to shoot the deputy sheriff. McLean quickly knocked the
one side just as he fired and the bullet is supposed to have been the
hit the white man.
When the mob formed shortly
after 8 o’clock Sheriff
McCullough who had obtained rumors of the threatened lynching,
guards in the county jail on the top floor of the courthouse and the
himself, with Ira Short, county commissioner-elect, stationed
themselves on the
first floor and awaited the coming of the mob. Three men, without masks
the building and the sheriff without waiting for them to open the
immediately told them to get back with the crowd and disperse under
death. The men left and went back with the mob, which deliberated for
It was at this time that the armed negroes appeared on the scene and
mobs mingled. No shots were fired at this time, however, and the
quiet, obeying the commands of negro officers lead by Barney Cleaver
But the white mob failed to leave and hooted commands made by the
others who spoke to them advising them to leave.
F. Z. Currys Son Hurt
H. L. Curry, employee of the
? Oil company and son of Judge
F. Z. Curry was the victim of flying shot which grazed the left side of
neck. The injury was received when he stopped his car at the filling
Fifth and Boston to obtain some water about 11 o’clock Tuesday night.
sounds from around the corner and a group of negroes hurried west on
street. He heard a shot close by scarcely realizing that it struck him
felt blood trickling down his neck. He drove at once to the Tulsa
met by attendants who came quickly down the steps and soon had the
wound dressed and was in a hospital bed. Curry had a woman companion
and was starting home after attending the last show at the Orpheum
Curry did not think that the shot was aimed at him directly, but may
fired by the negroes pursuers or fired widly. Curry was resting well
Taxi Driver Unscathed
Taxi drivers seemed to ride
serenely through the fray. A
driver for the Yellow Cab taxicab line said that the negroes did not
the taxi, even in the danger zone, though several bullets whizzed
Four Negroes Chased
Four negroes said to be
hiding in the weeds on a vacant lot
at Archer and Frisco were the object of pursuit by one group of men.
midnight the white men stationed themselves by the viaduct crossing on
Denver and deflected all cars headed north, while waiting for some of
number to obtain more guns and an armored car.
Several cars of negroes were
seen driving furiously on
residence districts out from the main thorough-fares as late as
dash along Main street at midnight revealed the whites in undisputed
possession, men striding along the street in pairs and small groups
guns and some ten cars in the course of a few blocks were bristling
Sapulpa City Clerk Shot
While A. B. Stick, city clerk
of Sapulpa stood on the steps
of the Cincinnati entrance to Hotel Tulsa watching the armed crowds, a
shot entered his back to the left inflicting what physicians at the
hospital say may prove to be a fatal injury. At 1:30 o’clock he was
be in a serious condition, and messages had been sent to his people in
telling of the shooting. Stick is 29 years old.
G. T. Prunkard, 34, another
Sapulpa man, conductor for the
Frisco, was resting in a caboose at Madison and the Frisco tracks. It
reported when a shot fired by a negro at a boy in the crowd nearby went
hitting the conductor. He was wounded in the right shoulder, chin and
A negro fired at Lee Fisher,
318 1?2 East First, a truck
driver, while he was standing at the corner of First and Cincinnati,
him in the left leg and thigh. Fisher is 21 years old.
Man Hit by Negroes’ Car
When L. C. Slinkard of West
Tulsa, 25, car inspector for the
Frisco, was crossing Main street at the Frisco tracks, a passing car
with blacks, struck him, causing simple fracture and contusion of the
thigh and left leg.
Robert Palmer of West Tulsa,
23, a laborer and at present
unemployed was fired upon while he was waiting for a train to pass at
Frisco tracks and Main street by a negro and wounded in the left
Ed Austin, installer for the
Southwestern Bell Telephone
company was standing on the south side of a drug store when a shot
fired by a
negro took effect in his left foot. Austin’s home is /8 South ? and he
years of age.
E. F. Beishmer, at 1437 East
Hodge was shot in the left hand
and left leg by a black at the corner of First and Detroit.
Bank Office Boy Shot
Curd Miller, office boy at
the First National Bank was hit
in the leg during the first shooting fray at the courthouse. Young
is 17 years old, was standing in the crowd when he was struck by a
bullet. The wound is merely a flesh wound and will not prove serious.
Complaint was made at The
World office at 2 o’clock by
former Lieutenant Demerkel that he had been refused arms at the
armory when he went there in charge of a squad of eight men to secure
the men at the request of Chief Gustafson. A colonel in charge refused
admittance. In the squad were five ex-service men, one of whom had seen
months service overseas.
The first indication of
trouble, so far as appearances were
concerned was given to watchers from the windows of The World office
negro walked out into the middle of the street in front of the office,
a long shotgun loosely under his arm. A knot of blacks, all of them
armed, quickly formed about him and in a few minutes a big car drew up
“Disarm?” one of them was
heard to say, “you bet we won’t
In a few moments the car,
loaded and with the running boards
full of negroes, all of them carrying guns, passed by on the way to the
jail. The car was followed within a few moments by car after car loaded
blacks carrying shotguns, pistols and clubs all headed for the county
Groups of negroes were seen running up the street in the direction of
With the sound of the first
shots from up the street, there
were answering reports nearer the office, and people were seen running
in all directions for shelter. Within a few moments, Boulder, from
up towards the jail was clear of all pedestrians; there was a clang and
as the ambulance tore along the streets, south and with the comparative
following the excitement of the first shooting, little knots of people,
apprehensive and on the lookout for a fresh outbreak, began to gather
Muskogee Police Watch Roads
Muskogee, June 1 – People are
watching all roads leading out
of Muskogee early this morning under instruction that no negroes shall
permitted to leave the city.
The precautions were taken
when it became known that negroes
in Tulsa had asked negroes of this city if “reinforcements” of 500 men
not be hurried to that city.
(The Morning Tulsa Daily
World, Wednesday, June 1, 1921,
front page and page 8)
Charles B. Fray Cheats Electric
Chair 16 Days
Hangs Himself in Death Row in
Penitentiary at McAlester As
Other Prisoners were Breakfasting
Convicted of Killing Wife –
Aged and Crippled Mother Had
Waged Pathetic Fight to Save Son’s Life – M’Alester, March 12 – The
special” will not take Charles R. Fray on his last journey. Cheating
electric chair by 16 days, the condemned man, scheduled to die at the
penitentiary here March 28, hanged himself in his death row cell as
prisoners were eating their breakfasts today.
With his own cell blanket
twisted into a hangman’s noose,
and acting as his own executioner, Fray, the killer of two women, went
death before the state had its chance to exact its toll. Fray was
a Tulsa county district court of killing his wife, Lucille.
On the same day Fray shot his
wife, he killed his former
wife, Laura and seriously wounded the town marshal of Jenks apparently
a fit of rage brought on by drunkenness. He was tried for killing his
jury returning a sentence of death in the electric chair. He pleased
The women were killed May 4,
1928, and on Oct. 6, of the
same year, he received at the prison to await electrocution.
At 6:10 o’clock this morning
J. C. Boyd cell house man and
W. N. Horland, negro prisoner who serves the convicts their meals too
breakfast to him. “How are you feeling?” Boyd asked the condemned man.
very well,” Fray replied.
Body is Found
That was the last time Fray
spoke to prison officials. An
hour and a half later as Boyd was making his rounds again delivering
newspapers to the prisoners he found Fray’s body hanging from an upper
the death row cell. His feet barely cleared the floor. He had strangled
Boyd hurriedly removed the
body with a hope that life still
lingered, but it was too late. He apparently had been dead several
the body was cool, Boyd said.
Fray’s self destruction
automatically brought an end to a
fight his aged and crippled mother, Mrs. Anna Fray, 66, of Jenks, had
waging in an effort to save the life of her only son.
A month ago she pleaded with
the state pardon and parole
board to recommend to gov. W. J. Holloway that the death sentence be
to life imprisonment, but her efforts were in vain. The board’s
to the chief executive was that no clemency be granted.
Made Appeal to Governor
Then this week, as the time
for her son’s death drew nearer,
she made a final appeal to Governor Holloway.
“He is our only son, how can
we give him up?” the mother
asked in the penciled note. “He was not a bad man,” she said at another
Governor Holloway had delayed
action in Fray’s case,
intending to appoint a sanity commission to determine whether he was
Fray went to his death
quietly. Several other prisoners in
death row cells declared they heard no noise, and knew nothing of
action. Claude Hager in the next cell east and Tom Quest in the second
east, said they heard nothing unusual in Fray’s cell.
James Forrest, negro, two
cells west said he went to sleep
after finishing breakfast. “Otherwise I might have heard him,” he said.
Boyd, immediately upon
finding that Fray was dead summoned
prison officials and Frank Watson, Pittsburg county attorney, who
started an investigation, which, however, was procedure such as is
all similar cases.
Dr. John Q. Newell, warden,
declared none of the prison
officials were to blame for Fray’s action.
At the time Fray shot his
wife and former wife, he was an
ice dealer at Jenks and Tulsa.
Fray’s death leaves Tom Guest
as the only remaining prisoner
in death row whose sentence has been affirmed. Convicted of the murder
Bailey Browder, Asher druggist, in a bank robbery, Sept. 2. 1928, Guest
scheduled to die May 2.
His case has been affirmed
and a re-hearing denied by the
criminal court of appeals. An application for clemency is to come
pardon and parole board at its April meeting.
Hager, convicted of murder in
connection with the death of
man in a robbery in Ottawa county is awaiting a decision of the
as is James Forrest, negro. Forrest was convicted of criminally
woman in Stephens county.
Ted Cole, 17, technically is
under sentence of death for
robbery as the result of his guilty plea before Saul Yeger, Tulsa
district judge. Governor Holloway has announced, however, he will
sentence. He ordered Cole’s removal from death row a few days after he
committed and the youth now is working in the prison mess hall.
Fray Left Three Notes
Fray left three notes, one to
his mother, one to Governor
Holloway and another addressed to “Mr. World.”
“Mother do what I have asked
you to do take care of my baby
and clean out my trunk for she is all I died for if I could stay and
baby I never had to ask my friends for help and I am getting pretty old
is too late now for that Mother don’t fail with my baby put me away
Chas.” Fray said in the note to his mother.
Fray told the governor, “You
mite have done something for me
but there is a man here in my place all alike that needs help and you
it he is a good boy I know please help him, C. R. Fray.”
The note addressed to “Mr.
World” was incoherent. (The Daily
Ardmoreite, Wednesday, March 12, 1930)
Is Charged Ex-Oregon Convict
Okla., April 3 â€“ Authorities disclosed today that Marvin Hampton, 23,
said to have served a term in an Oregon prison, was named as the slayer
Charles Miller, 23, in confessions made last night by Cecil Harris, 20,
Clifford Wilson, 16. Miller was killed on a lonely road the
is being sought in Texas and New Mexico.
confessions related officers said, that Hampton killed Miller when
thelatter refused to stop his automobile as the three youths sought to
hold up him
and his companion, Miss Ruth Waldern, 19. (Eugene Guard (Eugene, OR) -
Thursday, April 3, 1930, transcribed by Jim Dezotell)
Kills Officer and Wounds Another
Tulsa, Okla., July 23 – A
gunman and an officer who survived
a pistol battle here last midnight in which another officer was killed
given slight chance to recover from their wounds today.
The gunman James R. Hargus of
San Antonio, Tex., was
reported dying at a local hospital. W. L. Martin, Tulsa detective, was
an even chance” to recover from a bullet wound in the abdomen by
L. D. Mitchell, Martin’s
partner, in a scout car last night
died almost instantly from a bullet wound in the heart. (Omaha
(Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, July 24, 1934, page 8)
There is Irony in the case of
There is Irony in the case of
James Hargus, a 24 year old
desperado of the “wild west” type for whom June 14 is the designated
Hargus, who killed a Tulsa policeman was saved for the chair after
critically wounded in a gunfight with officers. There is a .44 slug in
head. It passed through the brain from the right side, blinding an eye.
arm, torn by bullet wounds, has been amputated. (Augusta Chronicle,
Georgia), Tuesday, January 29, 1935, page 2)
Officer’s Slayer is Electrocuted
McAlester, Okla., April 24 –
James Hargus, 27, was
electrocuted at the state penitentiary here Friday for the fatal
shooting of L.
D. Mitchell, Tulsa police officer in 1934.
Hargus had protested late
Thursday to prison officials that
he was getting a “raw deal,” and that he shot in self-defense.
Hargus whose home was in San Antonio, Texas, had but one
arm. The other was amputated after being shattered by a bullet during
shooting affray in which Mitchell was wounded fatally and another
seriously injured. (Heraldo de Brownsville, (Brownsville, Texas),
24, 1936, page 10)
Alfred Clarence Bingham
Bingham Executed After Admitting He Had Slain His Wife
Okla., May 31 – With a request on his lips for God’s forgiveness for
the slaying of his wife, Alfred Clarence Bingham of Tulsa died in the
electric chair at the state penitentiary shortly after midnight today.
a dramatic 4-1/2 minute statement, Bingham told a handful of officials
and newspapermen “I want you folks to look at a guilty sinner.” He
blamed the death of his wife on his drinking habits.
prison officials and shaking hands with them, Bingham started saying a
prayer but half way through began sobbing and then burst into tears.
was strapped into the chair and the current was turned on at 12:09 a.m.
Thirty eight seconds later it was shut off and he was pronounced dead
by the prison doctor at 12:11 a.m.
Stanley Steen, who was scheduled
to die with Bingham cheated the chair by committing suicide just 24
hours previous when he slashed the veins of his right arm with half a
He died soon afterwards in the prison hospital. Steen
was sentenced to death for the slaying of penitentiary guard Sergeant
Pat Riley during an attempted prison break Dec. 31, 1943.
Bingham was found guilty of slaying his wife, Mary, in 1943 after pleading insanity at his trial.
to higher courts on the grounds he was insane also failed. A last
minute effort to save him by his mother who appealed to Gov. Robert S.
Kerr and Pardon and Parole Officer A. B. Rivers also was for naught.
Both told her they could no nothing. (The Ada Evening News, Friday,
March 31, 1946, front page)
Melburn J. Mott
Death in Chair May be Ruled for Tulsan, 33
Jury Returns Quick Verdict of Guilty, Against Men in Child Slaying
April 28 – Melburn J. Mott, 33, faces a sentence of death in the
electric chair for the butcher-knife slaying March 8 of his six year
old daughter, Mary Frances.
A district court jury which included 11
fathers deliberated only 45 minutes last night before returning the
guilty verdict, the first such Tulsa conviction in two years. Mott was
charged with murder.
The child’s throat was cut as she slept in her
bed with a brother at the home of Mott’s estranged wife in nearby Sand
Springs after a series of family quarrels.
Formal sentencing will be
pronounced within three days by Judge Horace D. Ballaine who presided
at the three day trial. An appeal can be filed in that time.
Mott, who wept during closing arguments yesterday showed no emotion at the verdict.
choked sobs of his mother, Mrs. J. Mott, of Arkoma, could be heard over
the quiet court room. Members of the convicted man’s family most of
whom appeared as witnesses in his behalf, remained huddled together
long after the crowd left.
Mott’s own son, Charles Wayne, 10,
was the state’s star witness. He was in bed near Mary Frances when she
was killed. He pointed out the elder Mott in court Tuesday as his
Mrs. Mott and the couple’s other children were in the courtroom. They remained expressionless as the verdict was read.
On the stand yesterday, Mott accused his wife of having affairs with other men while he served away from home in the Army.
Attorney Elmer Adams, in his argument to the jury, demanded the death
penalty for what he described as “one of the most brutal murders in the
history of Tulsa county.
Mott’s attorneys contended that his combat
experiences and boyhood head injuries left him mentally unbalanced.
Family witnesses were introduced in an attempt to support their case.
verdict is the first in Tulsa county since Feb. 26, 1947 when Lawrence
Walters, 26 year old Negro got the chair for the slaying of another
Negro, Arthur Bell, 60. Walters’ sentence, however, was later commuted
to life imprisonment.
Alfred Clarence Bingham, 41, Tulsa, wife
slayer was electrocuted May 31, 1946, over two years after he cut his
wife’s throat with a pocket knife on a downtown street. (Miami Daily
News Record, Thursday, April 28, 1949, front page)
Carl DeWlf Dies in Chair
Howard Cowan, Editor, McAlester News-Capitol, Written for the
Associated Press – McAlester, (AP) Carl Austin DeWolf, 37 year old
Massachussetts gunman who lived four years in a death row prison cell
while lawyers tried to clear him of a Tulsa policeman’s slaying, died
in the electric chair early today.
Unflinching and calm, DeWolf
denied to the last he shot and killed Jerry St. Clair after a hijacking
and running gun battle Aug. 30, 196.
“I’ve never seen Jerry St. Clair,” he said, raising his voice to be heard above the 2,300 volt hum of the death machine.
“How could I kill a man I’ve never seen?”
wasn’t charged until nearly 3 years after the slaying. Wounded after an
unsuccessful attempt to hijack a liquor store in California, he was
arrested and a gun found in his possession was identified as the St.
Clair death weapon.
He insisted it was given to him by Victor
Everhart once charged with the St. Clair slaying but later absolved on
the alibi he was under treatment for a broken collar bone in Indiana at
DeWolf repeatedly maintained he was at a dance hall in
Drumright, 60 miles away when St. Clair was slain. But he never was
able to produce witnesses.
At his trial in 1949 witnesses identified him as the gunman and the jury returned a death penalty verdict in 26 minutes.
claimed he didn’t have a fair trial, that he was chained in sight of
the jury and that a last minute change in public defenders denied him
Twice the case was heard by state Criminal
Court of Appeals. Twice it was carried to the U. S. Supreme Court.
Three times the state Pardon and Parole Board considered the case.
Each time the decision was against DeWolf.
Sen. Kirksey Nix became interested in the case in July 1952. When the
1953 Legislature convened he was named head of a committee to
investigate the DeWolf case. After lengthy hearings in Oklahoma City,
Tulsa and McAlester, Nix proclaimed his belief DeWolf was innocent.
condemned man came close to the chair many times during the long battle
to prove his innocence but he won a record 15 stays of execution from
the time he first entered death row in October 1949.
efforts were made yesterday to gain a 16th stay and Gov. Johnston
Murray offered to grant him another if only one member of the five man
Pardon and Parole Board would recommend it.
His appointment with
executioner M. E. Elliott was scarcely four hours away when DeWolf
heard the verdict over a small radio outside his death row cell.
board unanimously voted against further stays after considering the
story of two last minute witnesses who thought they saw DeWolf at
Jennings, Okla., near Tulsa about the time of the shooting.
Chaplain Marcus Prather consoled him and they talked briefly, DeWolf agreed to be baptized.
were snapped on his wrists and he was led from his cell out into the
prison yard for the short walk over to the chapel. He breathed deeply
of the cool autumn air and blinking skyward, gazed at a star.
“The first time in four years,” he remarked.
and without visible signs of emotion, he bowed his head in prayer, was
immersed and returned to his cell a few steps from the chair.
rest of the night he spent in quiet conservation with a brother, Edwin
DeWolf, 35, Springfield, Mass., three ministers, newspapermen and
guards. He asked to be left alone the last few minutes while he penned
farewell notes to several relatives and friends.
The chaplain began
reading Scripture shortly before midnight and a hush fell over the
death chamber where about 35 witnesses were gathered.
Charley Beeler threw the switch on the dynamos, independent of the
prison power and lighting unit. They groaned and whined then leveled
off into a high pitched hum.
DeWolf entered the death chamber and quickly looked over the witnesses, searching from face to face.
Warden H. C. McLeod, who presided over the execution in the absence of
ailing Warden Jerome J. Waters, asked DeWolf if he had anything to say.
He spoke a few words, then gestured helplessly at the dynamos’ hum.
can’t hear me, he said with a half smile. McLeod motioned him forward
and DeWolf stepped nearer the screen separating the witnesses from the
I want you to know I’m innocent, he began in a firm
steady voice. I’ve never seen Jerry St. Clair and I’ve never killed a
man I’ve never seen. How I got messed up in this I’ll never know
but there are some people who’ll suffer for it.
There’s one standing here, Mr. Roy Hanna. You ought to be proud, he said turning to the Tulsa Tribune writer.
his lawyer, Nix, DeWolf said: “I never had a dime, Kirksey. I’m glad I
had you for a friend, and thank you Dan (Vinson) for what you’ve done.
had a promise of hope after a heart to heart talk with Gov. Murray. The
man told they’d never pull the switch on me as long as there was a
doubt in his mind and he told me there was a doubt.
Well I guess that’s all I have to say.
As guards were strapping him into the chair, DeWolf beckoned to the deputy warden.
I keep this, he asked? In his left hand was clenched a small photograph
of a friend in Tulsa. The chaplain identified her as Alice Dunham.
took two minutes to fasten the leather mask over DeWolf’s face, fit a
brine-soaked electrode over his head and clamp another to his leg. At
12:08 a.m. the executioner applied the current. Two physicians
pronounced DeWolf dead three minutes later. The body was removed to a
Tulsa funeral home.
The Rev. F. C. Fonley said funeral services
would be held at Tulsa tomorrow with burial at Springfield. It has not
been determined if the services will be private or public.
thing he said to me, the minister said, was: I’ll be in heaven before
my heels get cool. (The Daily Ardmoreite, Tuesday, November 17, 1953,
page 1 & 2)
Daughter’s Suspicions Aroused
“Poison” Widow’s Kin Suspects More Deaths
North Carolina Woman Asks Check on Child, Grandmother
Emporia, Kan., Dec. 1 – A first degree murder charge was
filed here today against Mrs. Nannie Doss, Tulsa, in connection with the death
in Emporia in May 1953 of her fourth husband, Richard L. Morton.
County Attorney Lacy Haynes said the charge was filed after
he received a telegram report from Dr. John L. Lattimore, state pathologist, at
Topeka. Haynes said Lattimore reported an analysis of vital organs from Morton’s
exhumed body revealed “many times the quantity of arsenic needed to kill a man.”
Tulsa, Dec. 1 – Oklahoma crime bureau agent Ray Page
reported today a daughter of Mrs. Nannie Doss, 49, confessed poisoner of four
husbands, has asked the bodies of her son and grandmother be exhumed.
From Lexington, N. C., where he went for an investigation
into the death of one of the men, Page said the request was from Mrs. Melvina
Mrs. Hedrick, born of Mrs. Doss’ first marriage, was quoted
by Page as saying she felt there was something “funny” about the deaths of her
son, Robert Lee Higgins, and Mrs. Doss’ own mother, Mrs. Louisa Holden Hazle.
The boy died in July 1945 at Jacksonville, Ala., and Mrs.
Hazle in January 1953 at Lexington.
The body of Harley Lanning, Mrs. Doss’ third husband, was
exhumed in Lexington Monday to see if it contains the poison the woman told
officers here she fed him.
Meanwhile, the five times married grandmother retired to
relative obscurity in the county jail.
She is awaiting preliminary hearing Dec. 15 on a charge of
murdering Samuel Doss, 58, of Tulsa, her fifth mate.
One of her two public defenders, Gordon L. Patten, said he
will ask at the district court hearing that his client be committed to a state
hospital for mental observation. He already has indicated the defense will be
based on an insanity plea.
Her biggest complaint seems to be her immediate personal
comfort. She said after a night in the jail, “this ain’t no country club.”
She is permitted to mingle in the day room with other female
prisoners although Monday the other women asked that she be kept in a cell by
herself. (The El Reno Daily Tribune, Wednesday, December 1, 1954)
Defenders May Ask State Aid
Tulsa, Dec. 1 – Attorneys for confessed husband slayer Nannie
Doss said today they will ask the legislature to pay for psychiatrists to aid
in her defense.
Public Defender Gordon Patten said he plans an insanity plea
for Mrs. Doss, who admits she fatally poisoned four of her five husbands.
Patten said Mrs. Doss has “talked too much already,” and he
may seek a court order to prevent officers from questioning her further.
Without a court order, Patten cannot stop officers from
asking Mrs. Doss for more details about the four slayings and about possible
other poisonings. Even worse from his standpoint, he possibly may not have
persuaded his chubby, giggling client to stop answering.
Investigators said Mrs. Doss is a “wavering type of person”
and there is a possibility she may talk some more although she told County
Attorney Howard Edmondson late yesterday “you’ll have to see my lawyer.” (The
El Reno Daily Tribune, Wednesday, December 1, 1954)
Officers Widen Hunt for More Poison Victims
Bodies Being Exhumed to Test for Poisons; Two Murders
Tulsa, Dec. 2 – Oklahoma officers reported today from
Lexington, N. C., they have widened their probe into the morbid activities of
Mrs. Nannie Doss to determine if her mother and three other relatives were fed
Mrs. Doss has admitted giving rat poison to four of her five
husbands but has steadfastly denied fatally poisoning her mother or grandson.
She has been charged with murder in the deaths of husbands
four and five – Richard Morton, 64, Emporia, Kan., and Samuel Doss, 58, Tulsa.
More Murders Sought
Ray Page, Oklahoma crime bureau agent, said he and Kansas
crime bureau agent Wayne Owens were checking information that Mrs. Doss may
have fed the lethal poison to her relatives while on a North Carolina visit
earlier this year.
The relatives, besides the mother and grandson, were listed
as a woman relative by marriage, a brother and son-in-law. Their names were
Purchased Rat Poison
Page said Owens had discovered that Mrs. Doss, a plump, “lonely
hearts club” widow, had purchased a 50 cent bottle of rat poison at a Lexington
drug store during her visit.
The woman relative, Page said, died suddenly during Mrs.
Doss’ stay. Her brother, William Hazle, a furniture factory worker, became
violently ill but recovered. This was true also of Mrs. Doss’s son in law.
Poison Check Made
Meanwhile a chemical analysis was to be made today on the
body of Mrs. Doss’ mother to determine if poison was cause of her death.
Page said similar tests yesterday revealed that husband No.
3 – Arlie Lanning – died in 1952 with enough poison in his body to kill a
Page also reported the request to exhume the body of Mrs.
Doss’ mother, Mrs. Louisa Holden Hazle, was from Mrs. Doss’ daughter by the
first marriage. The daughter is Mrs. Melvina Hedrick who also reportedly asked
that the body of her own son be exhumed. (The El Reno Daily Tribune, Thursday,
December 2, 1954)
Mother of Widow Also Poison Victim, Tests Show
Tulsa, Dec. 3 – UP – Grandma Nannie Doss’ own mother died of
poisoning, it was revealed today by a North Carolina toxicologist.
Ray Page, state crime bureau agent, telephoned from
Lexington, N. C. that an autopsy report received from Dr. Hayward Taylor of
Duke University, Durham, said Mrs. Louisa Holden Hazle’s body yielded poison.
Mrs. Hazle died Jan. 3, 1953, at Lexington. Her body was
exhumed Tuesday after Nannie’s daughter became suspicious when her mother
confessed to poisoning four of her five husbands.
Lexington, N. C., Dec. 3 – North Carolina joined Oklahoma
and Kansas today in bringing murder charges against a giggling 49 year old
widow who confessed to feeding arsenic to four of her five husbands.
District Solicitor Charles T. Hagan said a warrant charging
Mrs. Nannie L. Doss with the murder of her third husband, Arlie J. Lanning of
Lexington, in February, 1952, had been forwarded to authorities in Tulsa, where
Mrs. Doss is being held.
Lanning’s body was exhumed after Mrs. Doss made the
confession Sunday in Tulsa. Her mother’s body was being examined for traces of
arsenic at Duke University and a report was expected today or tomorrow.
Mrs. Louise Hazle died here in January, 1953, presumably
from a heart attack. An investigation revealed that Mrs. Doss visited her
mother 48 hours prior to her death. William Hazle, a brother of Mrs. Doss,
requested that his mother’s body be exhumed and examined for possible
Mrs. Doss confessed the murders of her four husbands but
refused to talk about the death of her mother, father, two sisters,, two
daughters and a step-grandson. Authorities in several states have voiced suspicions
as to the causes of their unexpected deaths. (The El Reno Daily Tribune,
Friday, December 3, 1954, front page)
“Poison” Widow Lures with Cake
Letters Reveal New “Friendship” Brewing
Tulsa, Dec. 7 – Grandma Nannie Doss, confessor to the poison
deaths of four husbands, reportedly was corresponding with a North Carolina man
not long after the death of her last spouse here, it was disclosed today.
The information came from letters found among the woman’s
possessions by Homicide Captain Harry Stege.
In one latter dated Nov. 8, less than a month after Samuel
Doss, Tulsa, died of poisoning, her correspondent thanked her for a cake she
had sent him and said he was looking forward to meeting her.
Four Murder Charges
Mrs. Doss is charged with the deaths of Doss, Richard L.
Morton, Emporia, Kan., and Arlie Lanning, Lexington, N. C. She admitted not
only poisoning them but also husband No. 2, Frank Harrelson, Jacksonville, Ark.
At Lexington yesterday, Homer Lee Cox, Davidson county’s new
sheriff, signed a murder warrant, charging Mrs. Doss with the murder of her
mother, Mrs. Louisa Holden Hazle.
Other Bodies Checked
The disinterred bodies of four more of Mrs. Doss’ relatives
were checked today for possible signs of arsenic that she confessed she used to
kill four of her five husbands.
The bodies of Frank Harrelson the giggling grandmother’s
second husband; Mrs. Dovie Weaver, her sister, and Robert Lee Higgins, her step
grandson who died when only two months old were checked for the deadly poison.
At Lexington, investigators checked for poison in the
disinterred remains of Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Lanning, one of Mrs. Doss’s five
mothers-in-law. (The El Reno Daily
Tribune, Tuesday, December 7, 1954)
Two Poison Tests Awaited as Tulsa Widow’s Toll Increases
Anniston, Ala., Dec. 10 – Autopsy reports were awaited on
bodies of a sister and a grandson of Mrs. Nannie Doss today, but pathologists
reported they have found at least one dead relative of the Tulsa grandmother
who was not poisoned.
Mrs. Doss, who has admitted slaying four husbands and is
suspected of feeding arsenic to possibly nine other relatives or in-laws, is in
jail at Tulsa.
Reports were awaited on bodies of Mrs. Dovie Weaver, sister
of the widow; and Robert Lee Higgins, Mrs. Doss’ grandson. Their bodies were
buried at Jacksonville, Ala.
Body Free of Poison
Authorities here said today arsenic was found in the body of
Frank Harrelson, the husband Mrs. Doss said she “loved best.” He died in 1945.
However, at Lexington, N. C., Coroner Milton E. Block said
Mrs. Sarah E. Lanning, a mother-in-law of Mrs. Doss, apparently died of natural
Block said no trace of arsenic was found in an examination
of Mrs. Lanning’s body by a Duke University toxologist.
Since Mrs. Doss confessed slaying the last four of her five
husbands, investigators systematically have been exhuming the bodies of the
husbands and those of other dead relatives.
Poison Found in Five
Arsenic was found in bodies of all four husbands, officers
said, and in the body of Mrs. Doss’ mother. The report on Mrs. Lanning was the
first autopsy which failed to disclose arsenic.
Coroner Block said the local investigation here is now
ended. The body of Mrs. Lanning, mother of Mrs. Doss’ third husband, was exhumed
Monday at the request of Mrs. Lanning’s family. Mrs. Lanning died in 1950. (The
El Reno Daily Tribune, Friday, December 10, 1954)
Court Orders Nannie Doss into Hospital
Tulsa, Okla., Dec. 15 – Grandma Nannie Doss, who has
confessed the poison killings of four husbands, today was ordered sent to
Eastern Oklahoma hospital at Vinita for 90 days of mental observation.
District Judge Lloyd H. McGuire, acceding to the request of
her court appointed counsel, directed her commitment when she was brought
before him for arraignment on a charge she murdered Samuel Doss, her fifth and
Mrs. Doss appeared a few hours earlier for preliminary
hearing in common pleas court.
The prosecution called only one witness, Dr. Lee Lowder, a
pathologist, and the defense made no effort to force additional testimony.
Dr. Lowbeer testified that in his opinion Doss had been
given two doses of poison before his death Oct. 10.
The court appointed defense attorneys objected to his
testimony claiming his facilities for performing the original autopsy on Doss’
body did not qualify him to say definitely it contained poison.
The department subsequently reported the presence of the
Mrs. Doss, chewing gum vigorously, stared hard at the
physician as he testified. Before the hearing she smiled and chatted with
newsmen. (The El Reno Daily Tribune, Wednesday, December 15, 1954, front page)
“Grandma” Doss Believed Insane
Doctors Ask Asylum for Confessed Killer
Tulsa, March 14 – Psychiatrists today declared “Grandma”
Nannie Doss to be insane and recommended the confessed poisoner of four
husbands be recommitted to an asylum.
The recommendation came from psychiatrists at Eastern State
hospital, Vinita, where the much married grandmother underwent 90 days of
Effect of the ruling is to prevent her trial, at this time,
on murder charges in the death of her last husband, Samuel Doss, a highway
department employee here.
Tells of Poisonings
Mrs. Doss, who captured headlines late last year with her
cheerful confession of feeding rat poison to four husbands, has been charged
with their deaths and that of her own mother. She denied killing her mother.
Grandma Nannie’s strange career as a husband poisoner came
to light casually after Doss’ death last October. Physicians said there was no
apparent cause for death.
Arsenic is Found
Mrs. Doss herself approved the action that led to the
amazing disclosure of the other rat poison slayings. She gave written
permission for exhumation of Doss’ body.
The autopsy disclosed “enough arsenic to kill a horse,”
according to the state crime bureau report.
When prosecutors quizzed her, she not only admitted giving
Doss the lethal dose of rat poison in his coffee and prunes; she confessed the
other three crimes as well. (The El Reno Daily Tribune, Monday, March 14, 1955)
Sanity Trial for Poisoner to Be Delayed
Tulsa, April 4 – The state today won its battle to delay a
sanity trial for Grandma Nannie Doss, confessed poisoner of four of her five
District Judge Elmer W. Adams reset the trial on a jury
docket beginning May 2. It had been scheduled for next Monday.
Should Mrs. Doss be found sane, the judge said, her trial
for the murder of Samuel L. Doss, her fifth husband, will be placed on the same
The delay was asked by County Attorney J. Howard Edmondson
who claimed he could not have reports from psychiatrists on Mrs. Doss’ mental
condition by the originally set date.
Edmondson has engaged Drs. Arnold and Milford Ungerman to
examine the 50 year old woman, who psychiatrists at Eastern State hospital,
Vinita, pronounced “mentally defective” after a 90 day observation period.
Judge Adams today entered an order that the psychiatrists
can’t question Mrs. Doss out of the presence of a defense attorney and that she
can’t be removed from jail for mental tests unless her lawyers are notified.
(The El Reno Daily Tribune, Monday, April 4, 1955, front page)
Nannie Doss Called Clever
Tulsa, Okla., May 3 – Nannie Doss is a shrewd, selfish woman
who sadistically killed her husbands, County Attorney J. Howard Edmondson
declared today at the confessed poisoner’s district court sanity hearing.
This appraisal of the 50-year-old grandmother was by one of
two psychiatrists engaged by the prosecution to examine her.
Edmondson disclosed it in his opening statement to the 12
He said Dr. Milford Ungerman reported the defendant “is a
shrewd, clever, sharp, calculating, selfish, self-aggrandizing female whose
aggressive behavior under frustration releases her hostility toward men –
particularly her husbands in the form of a sadistic, secretive violence.”
Mrs. Doss has confessed to causing the deaths of four of her
five husbands by putting rat poison in their food or drink. (The El Reno Daily
Tribune, Tuesday, May 3, 1955)
Former Employers of Confessed Poisoner Called in Sanity
Tulsa, May 4 – A couple for whom Nannie Doss kept house the
month before her arrest indicated at her district court sanity hearing today
they aren’t convinced she poisoned her fifth husband.
Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Kinder were surprise witnesses for the
prosecution, which is trying to prove the 50 year old widow is mentally sound
enough to be tried for the murder of Samuel L. Doss, 59.
Kinder, who described the confessed poisoner of four mates
as “just like a grandmother,” was asked by Defense Attorney Quinn Dickason: “Do
you think she killed her husband?”
“I really don’t know,” replied the witness.
Mrs. Kinder, asked the same question, would say only, “Well,
the evidence shows it.”
The couple who entrusted their three children to Mrs. Doss’s
care while they worked, testified the good-humored woman had convinced them she
The panel of 10 men and two women must answer a question that
finds the experts divided: is Mrs. Doss, confessed poison slayer of four
husbands, insane or is she simply horribly mean and selfish?
If Mrs. Doss is found sane she must stand trial for murder
of her last husband, Sam Doss of Tulsa. If she is insane, she will go to a
state mental hospital until she is cured.
A private psychiatrist retained by the county attorney’s
office yesterday testified the plump, jolly widow was “the cleverest criminal I
have ever seen.”
Dr. Arnold Ungerman said that covered 20 years of practice.
He described Mrs. Doss as “shrewd, clever and able to conceal her anti-social
Mrs. Doss listened politely, smiling faintly. (The El Reno
Daily Tribune, Wednesday, May 4, 1955, front page)
Grandma Doss Pleased With State Prison
McAlester, June 3 – Grandma Nannie Doss, who admitted
poisoning four husbands, is not at all unhappy with her new home – the women’s
ward at the McAlester state penitentiary.
She checked into the prison late yesterday and announced
with a smile: “I expect to make it my home for the rest of my life.”
There seemed a good chance she would get her wish.
A few hours earlier the giggling 49 year old grandmother had
been sentenced to life imprisonment for feeding her fifth mate, Samuel Doss, a
killing mixture of rat poison in prunes and coffee.
District Judge Elmer Adams sentenced her to life in prison,
observing it would be a “poor precedent” to hand her the first death sentence
ever given a woman in the state of Oklahoma.
Prison Warden H. C. McLeon said the gum-chewing widow was
cheerful when she entered the prison. He said she will join 48 other women
inmates who are kept busy with housekeeping and sewing chores. (The El Reno
Daily Tribune, Friday, June 3, 1955)