Tulsa County, Oklahoma Genealogy Trails

CRIME NEWS ARTICLES

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 Mohawk yesterday.

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, 1919)

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 on a charge of assaulting a white elevator girl in the Drexel building on Monday.

There was a movement afoot, it was reported, among white people to go to the county courthouse Tuesday night and lynch to bootblack. This report spread over “Little Africa” and early in the evening crowds of 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 by the girl after his capture. The boy did not deny the attack and said he stepped on 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 in the Renberg store ran to her assistance. Upon his approach the negro fled and had 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, Tulsa, 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 Patroling Streets

Negroes Finally Driven into “Little Africa” Where 1,000 Armed Blacks are Reported at Bay with More Than 500 Armed Whites Facing Them Opposite Frisco Tracks; Move to Lynch Bootblack Starts Trouble

Bulletin:  There are 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 be injured.

There are no known negro fatalities, though reports are that several were killed. One injured negro is at the police station and is expected momentarily to die.

Thousands of shots were fired during the rioting, crowds swarmed up and down the streets brandishing weapons and the greatest excitement prevailed.

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 within a stone’s throw of an armed mob of 1,000 negroes, form the nucleus of the gathering white forces.

There was a furious outburst of firing in the vicinity of the Frisco tracks and Cincinnati about 2:30 this morning but whether there were 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 and it was at first reported that “Little Africa’s” business district was burning. 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 o’clock after a crowd of 30 negroes were driven from Second street and Cincinnati avenue.

In response to a call from Muskogee, indicating several hundred negroes were on their way to the city to assist Tulsa negroes should the fighting continue, a machine gun squad loaded on a truck, went east of the 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, with the assistance of part of the home guard company, formed armed white men into companies and these companies were marched to advantageous positions. Hundreds of cars were volunteered for use by the armed patrol of the city, and these were speedily detailed to prevent armed negroes from taking action except in the 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 of second and Cincinnati, mistook a lone white man for a negro, and fired a round of at least 25 shots at the white pedestrian. Death was instantaneous and he 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 least 1,000 armed negroes were gathered north of the Frisco depot. One white man was 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 towns 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 taken from every hardware and sporting goods store, swarmed on Second street from Boulder to Boston avenue watching the gathering volunteer army or offering their 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 stray shots fired by whites at the Frisco depot and returned by the negroes, the city remained in quiet. The armed cars containing negroes were driven from the streets before 1 o’clock and the patrols continued scouring the city, arresting negroes and placing them in the city jail. Twelve were captured by the auto patrols before 1 o’clock. No attempt was made however to disperse the negro mob 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 loads. Ammunition was scarce and the entire supply of virtually every store in town 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 from revolvers and rifles in the hands of negroes, watching the formation of the volunteer companies. At least 500 persons among them 100 women watched the battle in which a crowd of negroes menacing the business district of the city, was 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 clothing ranging from overalls to palm beach suits, gathered for three hours. Little conversation was indulged in, but all wore an expression of determination to put down the uprising of the negroes. Old men, carrying shot guns walked or marched side by side with youths in white flannels carrying target rifles or 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 McCullough told a world reporter about four hours after the riot had broken out, at which time he signed a telegram asking Governor Robertson for outside help to cope 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 warrants help from the outside yet it is always best to play safety first,” McCullough said.

The sheriff was well entrenched in the jail and the elevator was put out of commission early in the evening. The only entrance to the jail was up a winding stairway which terminated in great steel bars. It was behind these that the county sheriff and more than eight deputies were firmly entrenched. Great difficulty was experienced in getting the telegram to the sheriff for his signature and the bearer was a stranger. It was at this time that a World Report who was well acquainted with McCullough succeeded in 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 great crowd which had collected in front of the county building dispersed. The negroes running toward “Little Africa” and the whites scattering in all directions. A few knots of armed whites formed on all sides of the courthouse soon afterward and planned a reprisal on the negroes. These formed the most threatening crowd 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 for 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 crowds began to batter in the doors of the Magee sporting goods store, almost across the street from the station. The first guns began to arrive from the Bardon store on South Main. Armed men seemed to spring from everywhere. Within half an hour an army of about 500 men was being drilled for duty and coached for emergency. Practically all hardware stores were emptied of guns and ammunition. 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 the business streets. Much promiscuous shooting resulted with a very fortunate 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 about.

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 earnestly 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 was 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 way on 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 with assault upon a white girl Monday afternoon, from the county jail. Sheriff William McCullough stationed armed guards in the jail and succeeded in cowing 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 avowed intention of preventing the threatening lynching. Both white and negro officers argued with the two mobs which intermingled at the south and west entrances to the county courthouse. The negroes were finally dispersed but continued to ride about the city in automobiles. The crowd at the courthouse numbering about 200 whites at 10 o’clock refused to disperse on demand of Sheriff McCullough and for half an hour waited at the south entrance of the courthouse heckling 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 the city. In many cases prominent business and professional men remained at the wheel and 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 firing began at Sixth street and Boulder avenue and as the three sections of whites went north on Main street, Boulder avenue and Boston avenue negroes were driven northward and three were wounded in pistol duels before they could escape. The firing continued northward and the negroes made their first stand at Second street and Cincinnati avenue. They remained there for almost an hour when a crowd of armed whites attacked them and drove them across the Frisco tracks. There the negroes made their stand and a mob call mated at 1,000 gathered behind the frame building north of the tracks at Cincinnati avenue and defied the whites. Many shots were exchanged between the beligerenis, but no report of fatalities 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 the second half, numbering about 100 men, was gathered at the west entrance and 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 street 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. Both, were 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 the alley, pursued an armed negro north. In an exchange of shots at the alley between Main and Boulder on Fourth street a negro was wounded, and fell to the street. Another negro was a few minutes later found, dead in the alley 100 feet north of the place where the first negro fell. The mob did not apparently know of the presence of the second negro, who it is believed was killed by stray 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 time of three minutes. Andy Brown, negro, Highland addition received slight flesh wounds by one of the first shots fired. According to Brown, he had promised to take the negroes who were under his leadership home when some person in the crowd shot him. Immediately afterwards firing commenced in earnest and an unidentified white man was badly wounded by a negro said to be Johnny Cole. Deputy Sheriff McLean tried to disperse a threatening crowd of negroes that had gathered on the west side of the courthouse. Cole is alleged to have raised his gun and tried to shoot the deputy sheriff. McLean quickly knocked the gun to one side just as he fired and the bullet is supposed to have been the one which hit the white man.

When the mob formed shortly after 8 o’clock Sheriff McCullough who had obtained rumors of the threatened lynching, stationed six guards in the county jail on the top floor of the courthouse and the sheriff himself, with Ira Short, county commissioner-elect, stationed themselves on the first floor and awaited the coming of the mob. Three men, without masks entered the building and the sheriff without waiting for them to open the conversation, immediately told them to get back with the crowd and disperse under penalty of death. The men left and went back with the mob, which deliberated for some time. It was at this time that the armed negroes appeared on the scene and the two mobs mingled. No shots were fired at this time, however, and the negroes were quiet, obeying the commands of negro officers lead by Barney Cleaver and left. But the white mob failed to leave and hooted commands made by the sheriff and 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 his neck. The injury was received when he stopped his car at the filling station at Fifth and Boston to obtain some water about 11 o’clock Tuesday night. He heard sounds from around the corner and a group of negroes hurried west on Fifth street. He heard a shot close by scarcely realizing that it struck him until he felt blood trickling down his neck. He drove at once to the Tulsa hospital was met by attendants who came quickly down the steps and soon had the slight flesh wound dressed and was in a hospital bed. Curry had a woman companion with him and was starting home after attending the last show at the Orpheum Theater. Curry did not think that the shot was aimed at him directly, but may have been fired by the negroes pursuers or fired widly. Curry was resting well about midnight.

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 fire on the taxi, even in the danger zone, though several bullets whizzed perilously near him.

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. About midnight the white men stationed themselves by the viaduct crossing on North Denver and deflected all cars headed north, while waiting for some of their 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 midnight. A dash along Main street at midnight revealed the whites in undisputed possession, men striding along the street in pairs and small groups carrying guns and some ten cars in the course of a few blocks were bristling with rifles.

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 stray shot entered his back to the left inflicting what physicians at the Oklahoma hospital say may prove to be a fatal injury. At 1:30 o’clock he was reported to be in a serious condition, and messages had been sent to his people in Sapulpa 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 was reported when a shot fired by a negro at a boy in the crowd nearby went wild, hitting the conductor. He was wounded in the right shoulder, chin and forehead.

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, injuring 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 filled with blacks, struck him, causing simple fracture and contusion of the middle 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 the Frisco tracks and Main street by a negro and wounded in the left shoulder.

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 is 20 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 Miller, who is 17 years old, was standing in the crowd when he was struck by a stray 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 national guard armory when he went there in charge of a squad of eight men to secure arms for the men at the request of Chief Gustafson. A colonel in charge refused them admittance. In the squad were five ex-service men, one of whom had seen 28 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 when a negro walked out into the middle of the street in front of the office, carrying a long shotgun loosely under his arm. A knot of blacks, all of them apparently armed, quickly formed about him and in a few minutes a big car drew up beside them.

“Disarm?” one of them was heard to say, “you bet we won’t disarm.”

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 county jail. The car was followed within a few moments by car after car loaded with blacks carrying shotguns, pistols and clubs all headed for the county jail. Groups of negroes were seen running up the street in the direction of the jail.

With the sound of the first shots from up the street, there were answering reports nearer the office, and people were seen running wildly in all directions for shelter. Within a few moments, Boulder, from Fourth street up towards the jail was clear of all pedestrians; there was a clang and clatter as the ambulance tore along the streets, south and with the comparative quiet following the excitement of the first shooting, little knots of people, apprehensive and on the lookout for a fresh outbreak, began to gather again.

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 be 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 could 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 “midnight special” will not take Charles R. Fray on his last journey. Cheating the electric chair by 16 days, the condemned man, scheduled to die at the state penitentiary here March 28, hanged himself in his death row cell as other 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 to his death before the state had its chance to exact its toll. Fray was convicted by 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 while in a fit of rage brought on by drunkenness. He was tried for killing his wife the jury returning a sentence of death in the electric chair. He pleased insanity.

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 Fray’s breakfast to him. “How are you feeling?” Boyd asked the condemned man. “Not 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 morning newspapers to the prisoners he found Fray’s body hanging from an upper bunk in the death row cell. His feet barely cleared the floor. He had strangled to death.

Boyd hurriedly removed the body with a hope that life still lingered, but it was too late. He apparently had been dead several minutes as 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 been 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 commuted to life imprisonment, but her efforts were in vain. The board’s recommendation 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 place.

Governor Holloway had delayed action in Fray’s case, intending to appoint a sanity commission to determine whether he was sane.

Fray went to his death quietly. Several other prisoners in death row cells declared they heard no noise, and knew nothing of Fray’s action. Claude Hager in the next cell east and Tom Quest in the second cell 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 immediately started an investigation, which, however, was procedure such as is followed in 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 of Bailey Browder, Asher druggist, in a bank robbery, Sept. 2. 1928, Guest is 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 before the 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 appellate court, as is James Forrest, negro. Forrest was convicted of criminally attacking a 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 county district judge. Governor Holloway has announced, however, he will commute the sentence. He ordered Cole’s removal from death row a few days after he was 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 raise my baby I never had to ask my friends for help and I am getting pretty old so it is too late now for that Mother don’t fail with my baby put me away Sunday. 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 can give 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)

Murder Is Charged Ex-Oregon Convict

TULSA, Okla., April 3 – Authorities disclosed today that Marvin Hampton, 23, said to have served a term in an Oregon prison, was named as the slayer of Charles Miller, 23, in confessions made last night by Cecil Harris, 20, and Clifford Wilson, 16.  Miller was killed on a lonely road the night of March 22.

Hampton is being sought in Texas and New Mexico.

The 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)

JAMES HARGUS

Gunman 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 were 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 given “just an even chance” to recover from a bullet wound in the abdomen by hospital attendants.

L. D. Mitchell, Martin’s partner, in a scout car last night died almost instantly from a bullet wound in the heart. (Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, July 24, 1934, page 8)

There is Irony in the case of James Hargus

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 death day. Hargus, who killed a Tulsa policeman was saved for the chair after being critically wounded in a gunfight with officers. There is a .44 slug in his head. It passed through the brain from the right side, blinding an eye. One arm, torn by bullet wounds, has been amputated. (Augusta Chronicle, (Augusta, 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 the shooting affray in which Mitchell was wounded fatally and another officer was seriously injured. (Heraldo de Brownsville, (Brownsville, Texas), Friday, April 24, 1936, page 10)

Alfred Clarence Bingham
Bingham Executed After Admitting He Had Slain His Wife
McAlester, 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.
In 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.
After praising prison officials and shaking hands with them, Bingham started saying a prayer but half way through began sobbing and then burst into tears.
He 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 rusty razor.
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.
Appeals 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
Tulsa, 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.
The 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 sister’s slayer.
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.
County 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.
The 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 DeWolf

Carl DeWlf Dies in Chair
By 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?”
DeWolf 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 the time.
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.
He 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 adequate representation.
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.
State 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.
The 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.
Frantic 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.
The 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.
Handcuffs 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.
Quietly, 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.
The 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.
Engineer 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.
Deputy 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.
They 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 death chair.
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.
To 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.
I 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.
Can 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.
It 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.
The last 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)

NANNIE DOSS

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 Hedrick.

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 Charged

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 rat poisoning.

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 withheld.

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 horse.

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 poisoning.

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 causes.

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 latest mate.

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 poison.

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 mental observation.

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 husbands.

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 docket.

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 member jury.

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 Trial

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 was innocent.

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 behavior.”

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)

 

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