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True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow


Welcome to HistoricalCrimeDetective.com where you will discover forgotten crimes and forgotten criminals lost to history. You will not find high profile cases that have been rehashed and retold ad infinitum to ad nauseam. If you want to send me a comment, old crime tip, submit a story, or exchange links with a related website, please Contact Me Here. - Please follow this historical true crime blog on Facebook.

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New Book: Gitchie Girl

Home | Uncategorized | New Book: Gitchie Girl

[The following information was provided by the authors.]

Gitchie Girl coverGitchie Girl is a fast-paced, quick read at 164 pages that has been on several #1 true crime national bestseller lists since its January 2016 release. It profiles one of the most heinous mass murders in the Midwest. What happened at Gitchie Manitou State Park over a span of several hours was a true life nightmare for five teenagers. Only one survived. Find out why her life was spared and the challenges she faced being the lone survivor of a mass murder. Below is the back cover summary of Gitchie Girl. A portion of the proceeds benefits the lone survivor as well as the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence. Order from Amazon at: http://amzn.to/1mSk9rP


“Who are you? What do you want?”

            The sound of snapping twigs closed in on the five teenagers enjoying an evening around a glowing campfire at Gitchie Manitou State Park. The night of music and laughter had taken a dark turn. Evil loomed just beyond the tree line, and before the night was over, one of the Midwest’s most horrific mass murders had left its bloodstains spewed across the campsite. One managed to survive and would come to be known as the “Gitchie Girl.” Harrowing memories of the terrifying crime sent her spiraling out of control, and she grasped at every avenue to rebuild her life. Can one man, a rescue dog, and a glimmer of faith salvage a broken soul? This true story will touch your heart and leave you cheering that good can prevail over the depravity of mankind.

            Through extensive research, interviews, and personal insight the authors bring a riveting look at the heinous crime that shook the Midwest in the early 1970s. Written from rare, inside interviews with the lone survivor who broke nearly four decades of silence, this story brings the reader a shocking yet moving story that will not soon be forgotten.


Mug Shot Monday! Charles ‘Chucky’ Rumbaugh, 1975

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Charles ‘Chucky’ Rumbaugh, 1975


Charles “Chucky” Rumbaugh

Charles Rumbaugh’s minor notoriety as a killer and criminal only came after he committed the murder that put him on Texas death row.

On April 4, 1975, Rumbaugh shot and killed an Amarillo jewelry store owner, fifty-eight-year-old Michael Fiorillo, during a robbery. When he was arrested the next day, he pulled a gun on the officer who pulled his own weapon and shot Rumbaugh in the right hand.

Rumbaugh, who was only seventeen-years-old at the time of his arrest, was charged with capital murder. A few days prior to the jewelry store robbery, he used two pistols to rob a motel in San Angelo and got away with $350.

His troubles with the law started long before he was seventeen. At age six, he committed his first burglary and at age twelve, his first armed robbery. He was in and out of mental institutions, county jails, and reform schools before he was arrested for murder.

In May, one month after his arrest, Rumbaugh tried to commit suicide with a razor blade. One month later, he tried again by taking an overdose of drugs. (His prison record doesn’t indicate whether these were prescription or illegal drugs smuggled into prison).

In December 1975, Rumbaugh and two other inmates escaped from the Potter County jail by cutting an eleven-inch by eleven-inch square hole out of piece of steel 3/8-inch thick. From the hole they had cut, they tied bed sheets together to drop themselves down to street level where a girlfriend to one of the other inmates was waiting with a car.


The car with all four of them in it was later stopped during a routine traffic check near Snyder, Texas, approximately 200 miles south of Amarillo. Since the girlfriend had forgotten to bring her driver’s license, all four were taken to the courthouse. There, the three boys overpowered the officer and took his gun. As they were leading him back to their car, another officer, who was arriving at the courthouse, saw what was going on and pulled his own weapon. The first officer then broke free and overpowered the escapee who had his gun.

Following a short trial in April 1976, the jury recommended the death sentence for Rumbaugh, in part, after listening to tape recorded conversations of him after his escape in which he called himself an assassin, and said he would have killed the officer in Snyder—if he had had the gun.

A few days later, during his formal sentencing given by the judge, Rumbaugh was being transported from the jail to the courthouse when he threatened to murder the judge, the district attorney, the bailiff, and his own attorney. Later that same day, they found he was carrying a metal strip seven-inches long and one and one-half inches wide.

In 1980, Rumbaugh won a new trial in which he was again found guilty and again sentenced to death.

During a February 1983, during a mental competency hearing, Rumbaugh was shot in the chest in the courtroom after he lunged at a US Deputy Marshal with a makeshift weapon (a six-inch pick made from wire) while screaming “Shoot me!” He survived after a long hospital stay that involved a chunk of his right lung being removed.


The hearing was called by the American with Civil Liberties Union who questioned Rumbaugh’s mental state for trying to hasten his own execution. The lunge at the US Marshall was an attempt to enforce his own execution, his biographer, D.J. Day Stubben, told reporters. Although she had been friends with the murdered jewelry store owner, she became fascinated with Rumbaugh and his troubled youth and wrote a book about him, #555 Death Row. The number, 555, was his assigned death row number. Stubben, who was married, denied having any romantic interest in Rumbaugh.

In the months leading up to his September 1985 execution, Amnesty International protested his death sentence because he committed the crime while still a juvenile.

On the eve of his September 11 lethal injection, Stubben told reporters that Rumbaugh’s execution was preordained. “He was destined to end up where he is tonight,” she said. “If he hadn’t killed Mr. Fiorillo, he would have ended up killing someone else.”

When asked if he had a last statement, the twenty-eight-year-old said: “D.J. (Stubben), Laurie, Dr. Wheat, about all I can say is goodbye, and for all the rest of you, although you don’t forgive me for my transgressions, I forgive yours against me. I am ready to begin my journey and that’s all I have to say.”

Michael Fiorillo would have been sixty-eight-years-old. He was a bachelor.




Feature Story: The Love Song of Archie Moock, 1928

Home | Feature Stories | Feature Story: The Love Song of Archie Moock, 1928

   by Jason Lucky Morrow


During the spring of 1928, Catherine Clark was lonely and looking for love. Things hadn’t worked out with her first husband, Ralph, whom she divorced in 1925. Nearly every day for the next three years, Catherine would wake up early, go to work at her small business repairing genuine fake oriental rugs, then return home to an empty apartment. There were no children to happily greet her at the door; no sober man to hold her in his big arms. Just sore fingers, a meal for one, a depressing light bulb or two, and solitary life in big city Boston—far from her childhood home in Connecticut where she grew up with ten brothers and sisters.

A woman can only take so much loneliness. If men weren’t coming to her, the plump, thirty-five-year-old would have to put herself in a place where they could see her better. Three years was enough and in April 1928, Catherine placed her information with one of the many nationwide matrimonial agencies popular during her time. To get a man interested in her, Catherine would not only have to advertise her measurements—five-feet five-inches, 165, blue eyes, light-brown hair—in a catalog for men to peruse, but also her net worth—a dowry to be paid to the man who promised to take care of her. He, in turn, was required to list his employment, income, and net worth including property.

It wasn’t romantic, but it was practical. True love, Catherine hoped, would come eventually.

Continue Reading “The Love Song of Archie Moock, 1928.”


Mug Shot Monday: Timothy Palmes & Ronald Straight, 1976

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday: Timothy Palmes & Ronald Straight, 1976


Executed for the Robbery/Torture/Murder of a Jacksonville, Florida, furniture store owner in 1976.

On July 30, 1976, Ronald Straight received a mandatory conditional parole from the Florida Parole and Probation Commission. By early September, he had drifted to Jacksonville, where he moved into an apartment occupied by Timothy Palmes, Palme’s girlfriend Jane Albert, and Albert’s seven-year old daughter. Jane Albert worked as a secretary for James Stone, forty-one, who owned a furniture store called Scott’s Furniture Company.

After discussing Stone’s business with Jane Albert, Straight and Palmes proposed that they would collect old debts of Stone’s customers in exchange for forty-percent of the monies collected. Stone rejected their offer because they contemplated using violence against the uncooperative debtors. However, Stone did offer Straight one hundred dollars for new clothes, and told Palmes there might soon be a full-time job opening in the store.

By late September, Stone had decided not to employ Palmes, who then told Straight and another person, “You know, I’m going to kill him.”

Straight replied that he should take that opportunity because Stone’s offer of money was insulting. They agreed to wait until after the first of October, when customers’ monthly payments would be in the store.

On Sunday, October 3, 1976, Straight, Palmes, and Albert purchased lumber, cement, metal supports and screws to construct a heavily weighted coffin. The next morning, Albert lured Stone from the store to her apartment, where her daughter told him to go to the back bedroom. Straight and Palmes were waiting for him and there struck him with a hammer, bound his hands and feet with wire and placed him in the box.

For approximately thirty minutes, they beat him, amputated several of his fingers and otherwise tortured him. During this time the victim repeatedly begged for his life. Finally, with a machete and butcher knife, Straight and Palmes stabbed Stone eighteen times, eventually killing him. They took his watch, money and car. Meanwhile, Albert took $2,800.00 from the store.

The weighted coffin with Stone’s corpse was dumped in the St. Johns River. Albert, her daughter, Palmes, and Straight then left for California. When police there apprehended them, Straight resisted arrest by shooting at the officers.

Albert was granted immunity from prosecution by the state in exchange for her testimony as a witness. Palmes confessed and the coffin was recovered from the river. Tried separately, Palmes and Straight were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

After his appeals and stays of execution ran out, Palmes was executed on November 8, 1984, at 10:03 a.m in Florida’s electric chair in Starke, Florida. His last words were, “My family’s love has been my strength. That’s all. Good-bye.” The thirty-seven-year-old was the hit with 2,000 volts of electricity.
Straight was executed in the same chair on May 20, 1986. Unlike Palmes, no family members were present. Straight refused a last meal, nor made any final statements.


Mug Shot Monday! Torturer-Murderer Donald Fearn, 1942

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Torturer-Murderer Donald Fearn, 1942

New Mug Shot for an old blog post.


Obtaining vintage mug shots from original sources is never easy. It takes time, money, and effort to coax these old photographs from state archives. This one below of Colorado inmate Donald Fearn, executed in 1942 for the torture murder of sixteen-year-old Alice Porter, took several weeks and $30. A pricey sum for a mug shot-which is why I so obviously watermarked it. This is the first time it has appeared anywhere on the internet.

“Fearn told the court that he had “uncontrolled impulses” since before he was six years-old, and that they consisted of a desire to inflict injury on others,” the Associated Press reported on June 11. “The impulses, he said, grew more intense as years passed and became frequent when he was twelve or thirteen years-old. Later, they became continuous causing him worry, depressed attitudes, and dreams from which he awoke at night from perspiration. Always, he said, he dreamed he had tortured someone.”

You can read about Donald Fearn’s horrible crime here.


The 1898 Lynching Report

Home | Feature Stories, Rediscovered Crime News | The 1898 Lynching Report

While conducting research for a story about a double-homicide in 1898, I came across an account of all known lynchings for that year. The statistics were interesting and confirmed what you might suspect, but also revealed some surprising information.

Out of 127 lynchings in 1898, five of them were women. As expected, African-Americans represent the majority with 102 black men and women murdered, while only 23 whites and two Indians met a similar fate. By far, most of the lynchings occurred in the south with 118.

The report also reveals the reason for each lynching—and that’s where it gets interesting.

I do not possess the academic qualifications to comment on all the social injustice this document contains. I will leave that for the experts. However, there are few cases from this point worth spotlighting. Some of the more outrageous reasons to lynch a man include: “insults;” “paying attention to a white girl” (I looked up this case and read that the white girl enjoyed the attention); “resisting assault (so, he was just supposed to take a beating and not fight back?); and “violation of contract (whatever that means).

In a few of these cases, there are links to where I looked up the case and copied a newspaper article which described the events that surround the lynching.

Also worth noting is that in 1898, lynching didn’t necessarily mean hanging. Instead, it could mean a homicide inflicted in any manner by a group, gang, or vigilante mob that denied the individual his or her right to due process.

If you would like to search for more information on any of the names listed below, you can try the Library of Congress newspaper archives. You will have to use the advanced search option and exact match for search terms.

Read Full Report


Mug Shot Monday! Adolph Smetak, 1925

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Adolph Smetak, 1925



In August 1925, neighbors of Prague, Nebraska, farmer John Smetak grew suspicious when they hadn’t seen him since March. His son, Adolph, told neighbors he had gone back to the “old country” (Bohemia) to visit relatives. Their suspicions led them to report the missing man to county deputies who began their search on the Smetak property. There, down a water well, was the body of John Smetak.

His son twenty-one-year-old son, Adolph, confessed to murdering his father during a physical confrontation—one of many John Smetak had with his six children and his wife. During that fight, Adolph hit his father on the head with a hammer and then killed him.

Afterward, Smetak also confessed to taking more than $1,000 in cash savings from his father, and forged his name to three certificates of deposit totaling $2,500.

Smetak was sentenced to life in prison. He came up for parole in 1935, but was denied. At his next parole hearing in 1940, relatives and citizens from Prague attended the hearing and petitioned for his release. A former school teacher told the board how John Smetak had brutalized his six children and wives.

“All the children, but Adolph, had been driven away by their father’s tyranny,” the Lincoln Star reported as it paraphrased the teacher. His brothers Frank and Anton expressed the belief that their father had poisoned their mother to death. The also pointed out that their father’s second wife was brutally beaten and driven to take refuge in an insane asylum.

A local banker also testified and called the boys’ father a “brute, moron, and pervert.” The newspaper avoided reporting on exactly why he thought John Smetak was a pervert.

After that hearing, Smetak’s sentence was reduced to 22 and one-half years, and he was released in March, 1940, after serving fifteen years which was approximately three-fourths of his sentence plus “good-time.”

In 1941, Adolph Smetak married thirty-seven-year-old Marie Vrana. For their entire marriage, the couple lived in the same county where Adolph murdered his father in 1925. He died on May 25, 1967. Marie died on September 19, 2001 at the age of ninety-seven. They had no children.


Mug Shot Monday! Doyle Edward Skillern, 1974

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Doyle Edward Skillern, 1974


Doyle Edward Skillern, Cop Killer, & murdered his own brother.


During the month of October 1974, Patrick Randel, an undercover narcotics agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety, was working a drug buy/sting operation against two underworld figures from Austin.

With $850 in “buy money,” Randel agreed to purchase Quaaludes from the two men. On October 23, the three met in a room at the Esquire Motel in Beeville—approximately sixty miles northwest of Corpus Christi. At 7:10 p.m., the three exited the motel room, with Randel leaving the money behind. Randel then got into his own car with one of the men in the passenger seat. The other individual followed in the vehicle they had driven from Austin.

It was the last time his fellow agents, who were monitoring the drug deal from nearby, saw Randel. One hour later, at approximately 8:10 p.m., the two men were seen returning to the motel and one of them entered and left Randel’s room.

When Randel failed to return by nine o’clock that night, the DPS issued an all-points bulletin to be on the lookout for the two men, their car, and a possibly kidnapped agent Randal.

At one o’clock in the morning, six hours after their agent was last seen, DPS narcotics agents and officers with the Cameron County Metro Squad pulled over the suspects’ vehicle near San Benito—just a few miles from the Mexican border. Arrested were Doyle Skillern, 38, of Austin, and Charles Victor Sanne, 41, of La Mahara, California. The car turned out to be stolen from Austin and investigators found the $850, Randel’s service weapon, and his wedding ring with Skillern, and Sanne had two of his state issued credit cards.

Although they had them in custody, it would take another hour-and-a-half before they learned what happened to their agent. Randel was found in his car located at a roadside park just east of the town of George West, near US 59 and (then) State Highway 9. He had been shot six times in the chest and abdomen. Randel, who was forty-years-old, left behind a wife, two sons, and a daughter.

The Skillern and Sanne trial held in January 1975 in Live Oak County was the largest at the time in the county’s history. It was a slam-dunk case against the two men since agents were monitoring most of the drug transaction up until the time Randel disappeared, and because they were found with the marked buy-money, service weapon, and other personal items.

The murder weapon, a 1914 South American revolver, was found along the roadside six weeks after the murder. Skillern was linked to the weapon by an Austin associate who said Skillern had tried to sell him the gun weeks before the murder.

The jury took three hours to convict both men, and after a contentious sentencing hearing, recommended the death penalty for Skillern, and a life sentence for Sanne.

For Skillern, it was his second conviction for murder. He had been released from the state prison in May (1974) after serving two years of a five-year sentence for killing his own brother at his Padre Island marina home in 1971. The body of Milton Skillern, 46, was found beneath four-inches of a concrete patio slab outside his home. Doyle killed his brother on or around May 17, 1971, following arguments with Milton that had gone on for several days. Sanne, who was also living with the two men, testified against his pal Doyle in that trial. After his release in May, the two joined up again.

During his ten years on death row, Sanne testified at an unspecified hearing to being the one who actually shot Randel. Sanne said he was the one who had gotten into the car with agent Randel when they left the motel. His testimony was not believed. Skillern was the one who had the money, agent’s gun, and ring on him when found and his course toward execution was continued.

In 1981, after a ten year long search, Doyle learned he had a daughter who found him while he was on death row. The two spoke one last time for five minutes during the late evening hours before he was executed after midnight on January 16, 1985.

His last words were: “I pray that my family will rejoice and forgive, thank you.”

When asked if she felt any relief, Randel’s widow, Wanda Randel Hogg of Odessa, said the execution “really does” ease the pain she felt for ten years after her husband’s death. “It was a great relief that it all over,” she added.

According to the Texas Department of Corrections Online Inmate Search, Sanne is still alive and is currently being held at the Ramsey Unit. He was denied parole on July 17, 2013. His next parole date is in 2016. He is eight-two-years-old. Randel, if he were still alive, would be eighty-one. He was the first DPS narcotics agent, and undercover narcotics agent ever killed in the line of duty.

Officer Down Memorial Page – Patrick Randel.


The 1935 Delaware Execution of a Mother & Son

Home | Short Feature Story | The 1935 Delaware Execution of a Mother & Son

Story by Jason Lucky Morrow
Posted: December 9, 2015

On November 9, 1927, twenty-year-old Howard Hitchens of Georgetown, Delaware, was growing concerned for his uncle, Robert, whom he had not seen in several days. When he went to the man’s home in nearby Frankford, he found him “beaten to death in a blood splattered room,” the Associated Press reported.

When police arrived, they found the fifty-five-year-old farmer and auto-mechanic crouched in a corner “as if he died in a last effort to ward off blows which fractured his skull in three places and inflicted sixteen other wounds.”

Robert, who was unmarried and described as “sober and industrious,” was known throughout southern Delaware as “well-to-do.” Police theorized that he arrived home to find robbers in his house who then overpowered and bludgeoned him to death. The coroner said he had probably been dead for two or three days which made it more difficult to talk to witnesses who might have seen anything.

After his death, a $2,000 life insurance policy was paid out to his sister, May Hitchens Carey, a widowed mother to three boys, including Howard. After she paid for Robert’s funeral expenses and settled his estate, she was left with $900 ($12,300 in 2015 when adjusted for inflation).

The crime went unsolved for seven years until police got a break in the case on December 5, 1934, when May’s youngest son, Lawrence, was caught burglarizing a house. When questioned about his uncle’s murder, the twenty-one-year-old told police that he heard his mother and two older brothers, Howard and James, planning his uncle’s death. His mother promised Howard “a new car” if he helped her kill his uncle.

On the day of the murder, November 7, his mother sent him to a general store, where his uncle liked to hang-out, to see if he was still there. Lawrence, who was just fourteen-years-old at the time, found his uncle there and reported back to his mother. She then took Howard and James with her to Robert’s house where they waited inside for him to come home.

After Lawrence gave his confession, Delaware investigators quietly arrested and questioned James, who confirmed the story. He told police that when his uncle came home, his brother Howard knocked him half-senseless with a club made of white-oak. His mother then attacked her own brother with a sledge-hammer and together, the three beat  Robert Hitchens to death.[1] When they were finished, May poured whiskey into her brother’s mouth, spilled some on his clothes, and then shattered some drinking glasses on the floor.

James, who was just sixteen-years-old at the time, then told police that three of them returned to their home in Georgetown where they burned their clothes and buried the club and sledgehammer.

On Friday, December 7, 1934, fifty-six-year-old May Carey and her son, Howard, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Both mother and son denied the charges.

However, during their one day trial held on April 8, 1935, May took responsibility for the crime and said “I drove the children to do it.” Howard agreed and in a last minute plea to the jury, he blamed his mother for “coercing him” to kill his uncle. After three hours of deliberation, the jury found May and Howard guilty of first degree murder with a sentencing recommendation of mercy. For his part, James was convicted of second-degree murder.

In Delaware, as in other states, a first-degree murder conviction typically meant a death sentence. Juries could make recommendations, but the decision was usually left to the presiding judge. Because she was a woman in an era when women seldom received death sentences, newspapers confidently predicted May would be sentenced to life in prison. Since she was the architect of the crime, and took responsibility, many believed Howard would also receive a sentence of life in prison. And in the 1930s, life in prison did not mean life in prison. Instead, May could expect to be paroled in less than ten years, while Howard would likely have to serve ten to twenty before he was released.

When sentencing was handed down on April 26, the judge refused a defense motion for a new trial. He then went on to describe the crime as “the most vicious in the criminal annals of the state, and that the law makes no exceptions to sex.” He then sentenced both mother and son to death by hanging in the Sussex County jail near Georgetown on June 7.

May Carey, who expected the judge to follow the jury’s recommendation of mercy, “screamed hysterically” as the court imposed the penalty.

Due to a quirk in Delaware law at the time, the particulars of the Careys’ case, or both, June 7 was a solid date for the mother and son execution. There would no appeals.

They each spent their last night alive in adjacent cells with their own spiritual advisors with whom they prayed and sang hymns—the guards occasionally joining in. They ate cake and ice cream together around 2:00 a.m., then slept a little before resuming their prayers and discussions of forgiveness and the afterlife.

May Carey, Executed in 1935 in Delaware with her son.At 5:02 that morning, May Carey was led away from her cell and when she passed by her son she turned to him crying and said, “Good-bye Howard. Good-bye boy.”

“Good-bye mother,” he replied.

From the cell block she was taken outside to the main courtyard where the state-owned gallows were assembled. It was surrounded by a high-board fence and canvas roof that had been hastily built to conceal the execution according to Delaware law—the spectacle of public executions having long since passed.

“Tight-lipped and dry-eyed,” she walked unassisted up the thirteen steps to the stop of the scaffold. Just before the black hood was placed over her head, she said half-defiantly and with a wavering voice: “My way is clear. I have nothing else to say.”

At 5:07 the trap-door gave way and the bound and hooded figure of a fifty-five-year-old gray-haired grandmother dropped quickly and jerked hard when the thick rope reached its limit. She was allowed to hang there for seventeen minutes before she was declared dead. Seventeen minutes were never more longer when officials stood there watching a bound, hooded dead woman swinging gently back and forth, back and forth.

Howard was taken from his cell at 5:31 and he walked the same one-hundred feet his mother had just taken. Like her, he needed no assistance as he walked steadily up the thirteen steps. At the top, before the black hood was placed over his head, he gave the twelve jurors, who were legally required to be there, Sussex County Sheriff, and the prison physician his last words.

“Gentleman,” he began, “what I did was against my will. I am sure anyone in my place would have done the same. I hope to see my three little ones on the other side.”

He did not mention his wife, Myra, and as the black hood was adjusted, he began mumbling a prayer. He was still reciting that prayer when the trap was sprung at 5:41. He hung there, twitching at first, then swaying, like his mother did, for nineteen long minutes. Finally, at six-o’clock, he was declared dead.

Two hours later, both mother and son were buried together at St. George’s Cemetery, located on a mount near Frankford. More than seventy family and friends attended their funeral.

During the night, while both mother and son slept briefly, Howard’s spiritual advisor spoke with newspaper reporters waiting in an administration building, that “both were very sorrowful and repentant, and in his opinion, well prepared for death.”

Nearly every newspaper account of her death declared that May Carey was the first white woman to ever be executed in Delaware. This was not true, writes author Daniel Allen Hearn in his book, Legal Executions in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. She was just the first in living memory, and that several white women were executed during the 1700s.


  1. “Farmer was Found Beaten to Death,” Associated Press, The Sedalia Capital, (Missouri), November 11, 1927, page 3.
  2. “Accuse Mother, Sons of Murder,” Associated Press, The Gettysburg Times, (Ohio), December 8, 1934, page 2.
  3. “Life Term Facing Mother, Two Sons,” Associated Press, Cumberland Evening-Times, (Maryland), April 10, 1935, page 2.
  4. “Mother and Son are Condemned for 1927 Slaying,” Associated Press, Titusville Herald, (Pennsylvania), April 27, 1935, page 1.
  5. “Mother and Her Son Will Die on Gallows,” by Joseph S. Wasney for United Press, Sheboygan Press, (Wisconsin) May 23, 1935, page 10.
  6. “Woman Pays Penalty for Murder,” Associated Press, The Evening-Tribune, (Marysville, Ohio), June 7, 1935, page 1 and 4.
  7. “Mother and Son Die on Delaware Gallows for Insurance Murder,” by Leo W. Sheridan for Associated Press, The Kingston Daily Freeman, (New York), June 17, 1935, page 17.
  8. “Legal Executions in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia: A Comprehensive Registry, 1866-1962,” by Daniel Allen Hearn, McFarland and Company, Inc., Published 2015, pages 12-13.

[1] Some news reports claim Howard finished him off by shooting him in the head with a pistol, but this claim is inconsistent and went unreported in 1927.


Mug Shot Monday! James Dupree Henry, 1973

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! James Dupree Henry, 1973


James Dupree Henry

On March 23, 1973, James Dupree Henry broke into the home of eighty-one-year-old Orlando civil rights leader, Zellie Riley, with the intention of robbing him. After finding just $64 and some credit cards, Henry bound Riley, who was his next door neighbor, to a chair beat him with a pistol, slit his throat with a razor and stuffed a gag in his mouth and left him to die. Riley suffocated to death on the gag in his mouth.

After he was caught and charged with first-degree murder, Henry turned down a deal that would have given him a life sentence. At his 1974 trial, the jury convicted him and recommended the death penalty.

Ten years later, in a last bid appeal, new evidence and testimony from a psychiatrist suggested that James Henry was “an intellectually limited, brain-damaged individual with very poor judgment, and a propensity to impulsive action and violence.”

On the day before he was executed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected this medical hypothesis as just cause to grant a stay of execution and stated: “We therefore agree with the district judge that this claim constitutes an abuse of the writ and, that the ends of justice do not require its further consideration.”

The thirty-four-year-old Henry was executed on September 20, 1984. When asked if he had any last words, he stated: “My final words are–I am innocent.”

1984 Article


UPI – STARKE, Fla., Sept. 20— James Dupree Henry, trembling and professing innocence, died in the electric chair today for the murder of an 81- year-old man in a robbery.

Mr. Henry, 34 years old, bade his mother and girlfriend farewell and ate raw oysters for the first time before he was put to death in the oak electric chair moments after a temporary stay of execution expired at 7 A.M. He was pronounced dead nine minutes later.

”My final words are ‘I am innocent,’ ” Mr. Henry said before the death hood was dropped over his face.

Mr. Henry was the 25th man executed in the United States since the Supreme Court lifted its ban on the death penalty in 1976, and the ninth man executed in Florida. Gov. Bob Graham signed death warrants Wednesday for two more Florida inmates.

Mr. Henry was to have died Wednesday morning, but the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted him a 24-hour reprieve while it considered his case. He had a calm visit with his family, including a half- hour alone with his new-found mother, after the court rejected his appeal. ‘Ready to Go Either Way’

”He said he was ready to go either way the court told him,” said a State Correction Department spokesman, Vernon Bradford.

Mr. Henry’s final words were barely audible to witnesses because the microphone placed in front of him did not work. He winked at his attorney, Richard Jordanby, a public defender.

He was executed for the murder on March 24, 1974, of Z.L. Riley, his next door neighbor and an Orlando civil rights worker. Mr. Riley was found gagged, tied to a chair and beaten with a pistol. His throat was slit with a razor but the police said he strangled on the gag.

Mr. Henry, who repeatedly denied killing Mr. Riley, began a life of crime when he was 15 years old and once served a prison term for shooting a man in the eye. He Ate a Dozen Oysters

Mr. Henry ordered a dozen oysters with hot sauce and crackers for his last meal. He had never eaten oysters. He finished the dozen along with half a cantaloupe and a glass of grapefruit juice but refused an offer of more oysters.

Late Wednesday night, Mr. Henry was visited by his mother, Dora Mae Bradwell of Quincy, Fla., four sisters, two brothers, Flora Talley of Paterson, N.J., and his attorney.

Mr. Henry, who was shifted from family to family while growing up, said he did not know who his real mother was until a week ago after she read of his impending execution and contacted him at the prison.

”In my time of need, she was there,” he said in an interview Tuesday (September 18, 1984).