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True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow

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New Book: Murder in the Name of Love: The Phil Kennamer Trial

Home | New Books | New Book: Murder in the Name of Love: The Phil Kennamer Trial

Every major city has that one true crime story that supersedes all others. In Tulsa, where I live now, the most legendary crime of all was the murder of John Gorrell Jr, the college age son of a beloved local doctor, by Philip Kennamer, the brash, arrogant, highly intelligent but mentally unstable son of a federal judge. I wrote a book about that crime that was published last May. As far as I know, it was the first time in eighty-years a book had ever been published about the case. I heard from others that many books on it were started, but none were ever finished.

Today, I am happy to announce that a new book about this legendary case has recently been published by my pal, Jim Freese. This time, the author has an inside angle to the story: he is the grandson of Virginia Wilcox, the young lady who was at the center of it all in 1934.

Jim Freese has been wanting to write this story for a very long time, he once told me, and I am glad he accomplished his dream and wrote this book. I know it was not only important to Jim and his family, but it is also an important contribution to the history of Tulsa, as well as Oklahoma.

With two books on the subject, both he and are sure it will only raise the level of interest in this fascinating true crime saga. Congratulations to the author on a job well-done.

Book Summary:

Murder-in-the-Name-of-LovejpgIn Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the Great Depression, a young Phil Kennamer, the son of a prominent federal court judge, is lovesick for Virginia Wilcox, the teenage daughter of an oil millionaire. Phil is obsessed and will do anything to win her heart. But she is not interested.

Phil learns of a plot to kidnap Virginia for ransom. He feels compelled to protect her and her family from harm. He intervenes with an unconventional plan to stop it. But the intervention goes awry. John Gorrell, the conspirator and son of a well known Tulsa physician, is killed in a wealthy neighborhood on Thanksgiving evening in 1934. The murder stuns the city. Phil confesses to the killing but declares it was in self-defense. Days later, Phil’s friend, Sidney Born, is dead with a bullet to the head. Was his death a suicide? Or was it Gorrell’s gang looking for revenge? Regardless, a key witness has been silenced. And Sidney’s death sends the residents into a state of panic. Who will die next?

A true story of a forgotten crime that made national headlines, Murder in the Name of Love: The Phil Kennamer Trial is full of intrigue and drama as Phil’s attorneys battle to save his life. But will the jury believe that this teenager is a hero or see him as a cold-blooded murderer?

Available on Amazon.


Steven T. Judy, Indiana’s Most Hated Killer, 1979

Home | Short Feature Story | Steven T. Judy, Indiana’s Most Hated Killer, 1979

Many years after he murdered three young children just so he could rape and kill their mother in 1979, Steven T. Judy, a diagnosed sexual psychopath, was the most hated man in Indiana. Although I kept this feature story short, it could have been five-times longer and still just as fascinating. A book written in 1981 called Burn, Judy Burn, was recently released for Kindle and epub readers and sells for 3.99. A link to both versions is posted below. More images related to this crime can be found through Google Images.

Story by Jason Lucky Morrow



Terry Chasteen, murdered at 23

On Saturday, April 28, 1979, the naked body of twenty-three-year-old Terry Chasteen was found strangled along White Lick Creek, near State Road 67 and Mooresville in Morgan County Indiana. Not far from her, were the naked bodies of her three young children, Misty, 5, Mark, 4 and Steven, 3.

Terry’s hands and feet were bound by material torn from her clothing. Her slacks covered her head and a scarf was wrapped around her throat. An autopsy would later reveal the children were forcibly drowned, their heads pushed into the shallow water until they died.

The death of a divorced, single-mother and her three-children shocked the quiet, Midwestern-minded residents of Indiana. Within a day of their discovery, numerous witnesses came forward to report they saw a read and gray truck decked out for construction work, near the area where the bodies were found on Saturday morning. Getting into the truck, one witness said, was a blonde-haired man.

This was enough information to lead them to a young, Indianapolis man with blonde hair and a violent criminal record named Steven Judy. The twenty-two-year-old denied having anything to do with the murder of the Chasteens, but investigators were positive he was their guy.

Steven-JudyAs they would soon discover, Judy had the kind-of past that told them they were on the right track. When he was just thirteen-years-old, Judy posed as a Boy Scout and forced his way into the home of an Indianapolis woman. He then raped her and tried to kill her with a pocket-knife but the blade broke before he could finish. Finding a hatchet, Judy fractured her skull and cutting off one of her fingers as she tried to block the blows.

He was later caught and sentenced to six months in a juvenile detention center. From there, he was sent to a mental hospital where he confined from October 1970 to January 1973. While receiving treatment, Judy was diagnosed as “sexual psychopath.”

Instead of sending him home, Judy was put into the foster care system and sent to live with Robert and Mary Carr. Although they had children of their own, they were told nothing about his past.

Judy went right back to his life of crime. Between 1975 and his arrest in 1979, for one reason or another, he was in jail or prison forty-four out of forty-eight months. Although the allotted time doesn’t fit, Judy

Judy would later recount his criminal career saying “he had been involved in approximately two hundred shoplifting incidents, a like number of burglaries, twenty to fifty robberies, approximately twenty-four car thefts, and from twelve to sixteen rapes.”

[Although some of these crimes were confirmed, it’s hard to say how much of his claim is true when it comes from a narcissistic, sexual psychopath. He lied often, and likely exaggerated his criminal career to increase his status. Furthermore, he was easily captured after the Chasteen family slaughter, and doesn’t seem bright enough to have gotten away with as many crimes as he claimed. Just my personal opinion, not stating as fact. – JLM]

On the morning of her murder, Terry was on her way to work at a supermarket, and was taking the children to a baby-sitter. Sometime before 6:00 a.m., Judy passed Terry’s car on Interstate 465. He then drove alongside, indicated there was something wrong with her tire and motioned for her to pull over. When she pulled over, Judy pretended to help her, then got under the hood of her car and removed the coil wire. When the car wouldn’t start, Judy offered to give Terry and her three children a ride.

Court documents described what happened next.

“Judy then drove the victims to the location of the killings and pulled his truck off the road. He testified that he directed them on foot toward the creek, and that he sent the children down the path ahead of Terry and him. Judy testified that he then raped Terry Chasteen and bound her hands and feet and gagged her. When Terry cried out, the children ran back up the path to them. Judy stated that the children stood around him and yelled. At that point, he strangled Terry Chasteen and murdered the children and removed their clothes which were later found downstream.”

Judy’s arrest triggered an emotion-laden outcry and media circus that would last for the next two years. Judy eventually confessed to the murders but at trial, he pleaded insanity. The jury found he was sane at the time of the murders and was guilty.

When the trial moved into the punishment phase, Judy initiated a self-led, fast-track course towards his own execution. He instructed his attorneys any evidence of mitigating factors. Then, he threatened the judge and the jury and promised to kill again unless they sentenced him to death.

“I honestly want you to give me the death penalty because one day I may get out,” he said to the trial judge. “If you don’t want another death hanging over your head, I think that’s the only thing you can do.”

Then, he threatened each member of the jury one-by-one, beginning with the foreman. “I know where you live,” he told the man, “and I know you have a daughter.”

The jury of nine men and three women obliged him. All of Indiana hated Steven Judy and if there was ever a case in the state’s history that merited the death penalty, this was it.

According to Bette Nunn who wrote a book about the case called Burn Judy, Burn[epub here] her synopsis describes a narcissist who not only enjoyed the attention he received for committing one of worst crimes in the state’s history, but also by how he was able to keep the media attention going.

Twenty-three-year-old Steven T. Judy gloried in being “the star” of television. He loved hearing the sound of his own voice on radio. His name was splashed in dynamite headlines on the front pages of newspapers across the state of Indiana and it thrilled him — he clung to every word. When he walked, he threw his head back and pranced, like the grand stud of the stable. His deep-set blue eyes danced from side-to-side, making sure everyone’s attention was on him.

To achieve his stardom, Judy committed the worst crime Morgan County, Indiana, had ever known. He beat, raped and strangled to death a young mother, and then drowned her three small children. When he was apprehended, reporters and TV news crews began following him around like he was the second coming of John Dillinger, a man Judy was said to have idolized and historically the state’s most notorious criminal. But even Dillinger, the bank robbing 1930s FBI public enemy No. 1, was never accused of such heinous crimes.

Judy was able to halt his automatic appeal and his march toward the electric chair continued. There were no delays, no court-filings, no last-minute stays of execution, no decades on death row.

It took just two years.

His Monday, March 9, 1981, execution date came quickly and in the days leading up to it, made news around across the country. He was famous, and the case became one that was more about him then it was the victims. He was even quoted as saying he had no regrets for murdering a young mother and her children during a press conference held on March 6.

During his last day, he spent time with his attorney and foster parents with whom he made wise-cracks and jokes about his death. At one point, his foster-father later said, Judy broke down and cried. Otherwise, he was hyped-up and made an impulsive decision to call one of his ex-girlfriends that he hadn’t seen in five or six years. Prison officials tracked her down in Texas and the two spoke by phone.

More than sixty reporters and cameramen were there to cover the execution. Judy would be the first man in Indiana since 1961, and since the state reinstated the death penalty following the United States Supreme Court’s suspension and reinstatement of the death penalty.

Judy’s manic state ended when he was given an injection of ten milligrams of valium. Just after midnight, Judy was strapped into the electric chair and as the curtain to the witness box was opening, officials placed the black cloth across his face. There were no last words. When Judy was hit with 2,300 volts, his body stiffened and smoke came from the cap on his head. He was declared dead at 12:12 a.m. He was twenty-four-years-old.

The day after his death, his foster mother told newspapers she was going to sue the state of Indiana who failed to inform them that Judy almost killed a woman when he was thirteen-years-old.

“We were only told that he accosted a woman and had a nervous breakdown,” Mary Carr said. “We feel the juvenile authorities at (the mental hospital) jeopardized our safety; they jeopardized the entire society by putting Steve in our home without making us fully aware of his past and without recommending psychiatric treatment.”

Today, if still alive, Terry Chasteen would be fifty-nine-years-old. Her children would be: Misty, 41, Mark, 40, and Steven, 39.

More images related to this crime, including some of the murder scene, Terry’s bound feet, and the family in happier times can be found through Google Images.


Author Sarah Weinman’s Article on 1903 Mass Murder in Winfield, Kansas

Home | Uncategorized | Author Sarah Weinman’s Article on 1903 Mass Murder in Winfield, Kansas

Here is a good article from writer Sarah Weinman on Buzzfeed.com:Massacre on Ninth and Main.”

Summary: On August 13, 1903, Gilbert Twigg opened fire during a concert in Winfield, Kansas, killing nine and injuring dozens. There was no motive, and no one had ever seen anything like it before, or for decades after. Yet it’s the archetype for the kind of tragedy we see so frequently now.

“Inside an alley right near Milligan’s, the boys finally saw the man’s gun. One or two might have known who he was. They might have heard their elders call him ‘Crazy Twigg,’ or somehow sensed that something wasn’t quite right with him. And now the man was upon them.

“He stared down at one boy. “I am going to do some tall shooting, son,” the man said. “And you had better run, as I have no desire to hurt you.”

“The boy did not run. Neither did the others, not at first. The man raised his firearm, a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun, and said, ‘I wonder if I can get Caman.'”

Read More

Thank you to M.V. Avery for the story tip.


Investigation Discovery to hold June 11
“ID CON” Convention in NYC

Home | Recent News | Investigation Discovery to hold June 11
“ID CON” Convention in NYC

Investigation Discovery will hold June 11 convention for their “ID Addicts,” in New York City. ID Addicts unable to make the trip to New York will also have the ability to watch the panels via live stream on ID’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/InvestigationDiscovery.

Articles Below:


LA Times


New Book: The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer, by Skip Hollandsworth

Home | New Books | New Book: The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer, by Skip Hollandsworth

HCD Review:

This is going to be the biggest historical true crime book of 2016. Some authors crank out books, some of them write books, and an elite few craft a great book over years of unimaginable diligence and Skip Hollandsworth has produced a new American classic. I read it this weekend and I can tell you that the writing is so exquisite, that it’s like being connected to a virtual reality headset that takes you back to the panic and horror of a serial-killer whose murder spree was more daring than Jack the Ripper–before there even was a Jack the Ripper. The ebook and print version are priced about what you would expect for a book with a decade of work behind it, but that doesn’t matter. This book is an experience, not some superficial read. Do whatever you got to do to get this book. – Jason Lucky Morrow

Book Description:

A sweeping narrative history of a terrifying serial killer–America’s first–who stalked Austin, Texas in 1885

The-Midnight-AssassinIn the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens’ panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.” And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.

With vivid historical detail and novelistic flair, Texas Monthly journalist Skip Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.


“Gripping and atmospheric… This true crime page-turner is a balanced and insightful examination of one of the most stirring serial killing sprees in American history, and certainly one of the least well-known.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Through scrupulous research and a finely tuned sense of the gothic, Hollandsworth has brought this Texas-sized true-crime story, more than a century old, to vivid, chilling life on the page.”
—Hampton Sides, author of Hellhound On His Trail and In the Kingdom of Ice

“Readers who loved The Devil in the White City now have the pleasure of reading The Midnight Assassin. It paints a compelling portrait of a culture at a turning point – that is, the capitol of Texas at the end of the 19th Century, when the barbarism of the frontier was giving way to the savagery of urban life.”
—Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author The Looming Tower and Thirteen Days in September

“Skip Hollandsworth, one of the great true-crime writers of our era, has brought his remarkable talent to bear on one of the most fascinating untold criminal stories in American history. The Midnight Assassin captures a time, a place, and a feeling—booming Texas in the latter 19th century—in a way no nonfiction account I have read has done. A jewel of a book.”
—S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell


Suspect Arrested in 1976 California Cold Case

Home | Recent News | Suspect Arrested in 1976 California Cold Case

SAN BERNARDINO, CBSLA.com, April 2, 2016  —   The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has announced the arrest of a suspect in a murder that took place in 1976.



Larry James Allred, now 61, has been charged with the murder of then 19-year-old Cynthia May Hernandez.

The DA said that Hernandez left  her home on the evening of August 26, 1976 to catch a movie at the Fox Twin Theaters in Covina.

Hernandez, a recent graduate of Charter Oak High School, never came home.

The next morning, her family located her unoccupied vehicle in the theater parking lot. They immediately filed a missing person’s report with the Glendora Police Department.

Nearly 40 years after her disappearance, a suspect has been formally charged in connection with her murder.

Read More on this recent story:

San Bernardino County DA’s Office Announces Arrest In 1976 Cold Case Murder

From 2012

Woman’s disappearance still unsolved, 2012, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Also Read:

In 2011, a Larry James Allred and Robert Edward Smyrak were arrested for importing $2 million worth of knock-off Disney Pins. “In 1975, he was convicted of rape; in 1978, for kidnapping and rape,” the 2011 report

Allred’s 2011 arrest photo:




Mug Shot Monday! Bert Martin, Horse Thief, 1900

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Bert Martin, Horse Thief, 1900


Bert Martin, Horse thief, 1900/01

In October 1900, ranch hand Bert Martin went on trial for stealing horses in Springview, Nebraska, the county seat of Keya Paha County. During his trial, he was supported by his wife and step-child, as well as his widowed-mother.

On October 13, he was found guilty and sentenced to serve two years at the state penitentiary. His conviction was probably no surprise to anyone in the county since Martin already had the reputation as “an expert ‘borrower’ of steeds.”

Due to what prison officials saw as Martin’s “ill health,” he was put on light-duty and worked in the prison’s broom factory.

“The convict Martin was always regarded as a delicate prisoner. Ill health seemed to be undermining his constitution,” read a newspaper report from 1901. “Small feet, small hands…standing five-feet four-inches, weighing but 120 pounds…Martin was employed in the prison broom factory, and performed the duties well, but was not assigned to heavy work.”

After Martin was eleven months into his sentence, he became the subject of prison gossip and an air of mystery about his identify was forged. His cellmate told prison officials that an investigation into Martin would reveal “a sensation.”

Soon, an examination by the prison physician uncovered Martin’s secret: Bert Martin was a woman.

Her real name was Lena Martin. Unable to find employment as a woman that was suitable to her liking, she ventured to a sparsely populated county in northeast Nebraska, dressed as a man, and found work as a ranch hand. She also met and married a single mother who agreed to keep her secret. Lena’s mother was also in on the deception.

On September 22, 1901, Lena Martin was transferred to the women’s prison in York, Nebraska. Before she was transported, Lena was taken to Lincoln where prison officials were forced to purchase a new dress for her because “women’s clothing is not carried in stock at the penitentiary.”

Seven months later, Governor Ezra Savage was so disgusted with Lena Martin that he commuted her sentence to time served and she was released. In his biennial address, Savage referred to Martin as “it” four times in a single sentence.

“[She is] a sexual monstrosity, unfit for association with men or women even in a penal institution, and on the solemn promise of its aged mother to care for it and guard it, and that prison morals imperatively demanded its removal, sentence was commuted to one year, six months, February 3, 1902.”

Note: I could not locate this particular Lena Martin in the US Census records from 1890 to 1940.

Similar Story posted on HCD: Handsome Jack Hill Was a Woman, 1913


New Book: In the Company of Evil:
Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980

Home | New Books | New Book: In the Company of Evil:
Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980

Inside Look at Serial Killers, Assassins, Bank Robbers, and More
Crime Overviews, Evidence Gathered, and Theories for Solutions

in-the-company-of-evilCalifornia’s picturesque shores have always been a magnet for outcasts and criminals. Read about 64 of the most horrifying crimes ever committed in The Golden State, from the early 1950s into the 1980s.

These accounts tell of man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man and provide an inside look at infamous serial killers, assassins, sadistic rapists, bank robbers, kidnappers, Satan worshippers, and a plethora of other notorious criminals.

Revisit “The Sex Club Slaying,” “The Chowchilla School Bus Kidnapping,” and the “Real House on Haunted Hill.” Be glad you’re not on the helpful list of “The Lonely Hearts Killer” or “Souls for Satan.”

Written in an accessible, chronological sequence and enhanced by over 60 photographs, each entry provides an overview of the crime, the parties involved, evidence gathered, and leading theories about solutions. This reference is indispensable for the study of the history of modern crime in California.

About the Author: Award-winning author and columnist Michael Thomas Barry is a graduate of the California State University Fullerton with degrees in criminal justice and history. He is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com where he pens, “This Week in Crime History.” He is the author of six nonfiction books and has received numerous literary awards that include the 2014 Readers Favorite International Book Awards (gold medal). Barry resides with his wife Christyn and their golden retriever Jake in Orange, California. Visit Michael’s website at http://www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information.


Mug Shot Monday! Jay Kelly Pinkerton, 1979

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Jay Kelly Pinkerton, 1979


Jay Kelly Pinkerton

Warning: This story contains graphic content.

Jay Kelly Pinkerton was executed by the state of Texas on May 15, 1986, for the rape and murder of two women while they slept in their home. On October 26, 1979, Pinkerton entered the Amarillo home of David and Sarah Lawrence between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. where he murdered, mutilated, and raped (possibly in that order) with a large Bowie knife found in the home. While he did so, her children were asleep in another room.

Fresh footsteps outside the home led police two blocks away to the home of a known and experienced burglar, Jay Pinkerton, who was just seventeen-years-old. Although he was wearing tennis shoes with similar tread patterns, the forensic skills of the Amarillo Police Department were not at a level that could conclusively match them together and Pinkerton was released for lack of evidence. A bloody palm print was also not immediately matched to Pinkerton.

Six months later, on April 9, 1980, Pinkerton broke into an Amarillo furniture store and raped and stabbed twenty-five-year-old former beauty queen, Sherry Welch. The brutality and knife worked of the Welsh and Lawrence matched up, with each victim being stabbed approximately thirty times. From the Lawrence murder, police had a good idea who was responsible but it would take them a few more months to match the bloody palm print found at the Lawrence home to Pinkerton who was arrested and paraded on local television on September 26.

Due to the intense fear and anxiety of Amarillo residents after each murder, Pinkerton’s trial for murdering Sarah Lawrence was held in Corpus Christi—approximately 660 miles away. Pinkerton, who relished the media attention, was found guilty and sentenced to death on May 30, 1981.

Eleven months later, he was put on trial for the murder of Sherry Welch when bite marks found on her breasts were matched to dental impressions taken from Pinkerton. Another trial, another change of venue (El Paso), more savoring of the media attention, and another guilty verdict came with a death sentence on May 30, 1981.

Pinkerton’s skills as a burglar, and the creepiness with which he applied that skill, are explained in this 1999 Amarillo Globe article by Amy Porter. She also carefully illustrates his narcissistic and dangerous personality while in prison.

Pinkerton, who converted to Islam before his execution, gave a final statement just minutes before he was declared dead at 12:25 a.m.

“Be strong for me,” Pinkerton told his father, Gene Pinkerton, as witnesses entered the execution chamber. “I want you to know I’m at peace with myself and with my God,” Pinkerton said. He recited a prayer to Allah, the supreme being of Islam. “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah. With your praise I ask for forgiveness and I return unto you,” Pinkerton said. “I love you, Dad.”

At one point, unclear when from official documents, Jay said to his father: “Say good-bye to mom. Keep your spirits up for me.”

“Good-bye Jay,” his father said.

“I love you dad,” he replied.

Pinkerton was twenty-four-years-old when he was executed. If still alive today, Sarah Lawrence would be approximately sixty-six-years-old, and Sherry Welch, sixty-years-old.

The following report comes from the prosecution’s reply to Pinkerton’s 1983 appeal and described in graphic detail the Lawrence crime scene, her mutilation, and rape.

Warning: Graphic Content.


…David Lawrence, husband of the deceased, testified that he called his wife at 9:30 on the night of October 26, and told her he would be home about 11:00.

Upon arriving home at 11.30 p.m., Lawrence found his wife with blood on the side of her face on the floor of their living room. His wife was lying face-up between the couch and the coffee table. The lower portion of her body was entirely nude. After examining her more closely, Lawrence noticed a large gaping hole in her throat with blood still running out of it. Her legs were spread apart and her panties had been rolled down to the bottom of her right leg.

Missing from the house was a large bowie knife which had been displayed on a rack in the master bedroom. Lawrence had last seen the knife in its place on the rack when he left for work at 3:00 p.m. on the 26th. The deceased’s purse was also missing.

Lawrence testified that on the 27th he noticed the bottom of a window screen in the master bedroom had been pulled out somewhat and that there were red stains on the window sill underneath the screen.

Carolyn Sue Porter, an officer in the Amarillo Police Department, took several pictures at the crime scene. Porter took a photograph which revealed a palm print in blood on the inside of the deceased’s left leg. State’s Exhibit Number 17 is a latent palm print in blood which Porter lifted from the coffee table next to the deceased’s body.

Sergeant Claude Free of the Amarillo Police Department took an inked palm print of the appellant as did Raymond Thomas of the same department.

Peter Belecastro, a fingerprint expert with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, compared photographs of the palm print on the deceased’s leg with the print found on the coffee table and the palm prints of appellant taken by Free and Thomas. Belecastro testified that all of these prints were made by the same person, namely, the appellant.

Gary Chadwick, another police officer with the City of Amarillo, testified that he saw footprints in the alleyway outside the deceased’s residence and followed them to an alleyway on 45th Street in Amarillo, right across from the appellant’s residence.

Officer Everett Smith testified that he also viewed the footprints going down the alley from the Lawrence house to a point in an alleyway across from appellant’s residence and described the footprints as tennis shoe tracks with dimple patterns on them. Smith stated that he saw the appellant on October 27, at 2:30 a.m. At that time appellant was wearing a tennis shoe with a dimple pattern on the bottom which appeared to match in size and pattern the footprints seen in the alleyway. No measurements were made of the prints in the alley.

Dr. Jose Diaz-Esquivel, a pathologist who examined the deceased at the scene of the crime and later performed the autopsy, testified that the deceased suffered thirty stab wounds or more to her arms, shoulders, neck, back, left hand, face, and abdomen. The cause of death was a stab wound to the neck with transaction of the hyoid bone and larynx and associated asphyxia. With reference to the abdomen wound, Dr. Diaz-Esquivel stated that the introduction of a male penis into the wound would be compatible and consistent with the evidence he found.

The doctor also testified that the deceased’s vagina was distended and that something cylindrical in shape, possibly a penis, had been introduced into the vagina after death. Dr. Diaz-Esquivel stated that the stab wounds found on the deceased were consistent with wounds caused by a large knife and could have been caused by a bowie knife.

Officer Ken Ten Brink (sp?) was the first to encounter appellant three and one-half hours after the murder. Ten Brink went to appellant’s home and, not finding him there, searched the surrounding neighborhood, ultimately spotting appellant running across the parking lot of a bookstore a few blocks from the deceased’s home. Though Ten Brink chased appellant through several well-lit areas yelling “police halt” and “police stop,” appellant would not stop. Ten Brink finally caught up with the appellant as he attempted to climb over a tall picket fence. Appellant had on jeans and tennis shoes and his hair was slicked back.

Investigator Dennis Hendley helped Ten Brink capture the appellant. Hendley said appellant looked as if he had just stepped out of the shower.

Officer Greg Soltis testified that the blood found in the Lawrence house was located on and in the immediate area of the victim’s body with a small amount being found on the window sill. When the body of the deceased was moved, Soltis discovered what was later determined to be the brass weight for the missing bowie knife. Soltis observed that the latent palm print lifted from the coffee table beside the deceased appeared to have been made in blood.

John Alley was a fellow inmate of appellant’s in the Randall County Jail. He testified that over a six-month period appellant made several admissions of guilt in the deceased’s murder:

“Q. What did he say to you specifically, sir, do you recall?

“A. The first thing that I ever heard him say was that he cut her tits off and set them on the television and he started laughing about it and that was it.

“Q. Did he say he had done anything else concerning the killing of Sarah Donn Lawrence?

“A. Do you want the whole gruesome details of it?

“Q. Yes, sir I wish you would tell the jury.

“A. Sexually assaulted her.

“Q. Is that what he said in those words sir?

“A. Well, I’ll get to it.

“Q. All right.

“A. He cut her stomach open and f—ed her in the wound until he cum and [then] he slashed her throat and he cut her breasts off.”

Alley chose to testify because, “I have got a little three-year-old girl and pretty little wife and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit there and see somebody like that go free after he bragged for six months that he done it and it might be my wife or my daughter next time.”


Mug Shot Monday! Sgt. John Reid, 1906

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Sgt. John Reid, 1906


On the evening of May 13, 1906, a violent confrontation occurred between the African American members of Troop B, Tenth United States Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and the townspeople of nearby Crawford, Nebraska.

A year before, Crawford City Marshal Arthur Moss and Sergeant John Reid of Troop B had come close to blows after the July 4, 1905, horse races. Animosity between the two men continued. On the evening of May 13, Moss was sent to break up a soldier’s beer party near the city park on the west edge of town. Moss ordered the party to quiet down or disperse. An altercation broke out between Moss, Reid, and Pvt. Jordan Taylor, also from Troop B. During the brief scuffle, Reid shot Moss with a .38-caliber revolver.

Fearing for their lives over what had happened, Reid and Taylor fled into town and took refuge at the home of Edna Ewing, an elder black resident. While making their escape, the soldiers were followed and fired upon by several civilians. Art Moss died shortly after being shot. As a crowd gathered at the Ewing house, Taylor suddenly bolted and ran towards Fort Robinson. Before getting very far, he was fatally wounded. Reid was captured and taken under guard to the city jail.

Rumors spread through Crawford that soldiers from Fort Robinson had threatened to storm the jail and free Reid. City officials feared a civilian mob might seize and lynch the prisoner. So, they decided to move Reid to the Chadron jail for safety. Before he could be transported, word came from the fort that several men and rifles from Troop B were missing. Colonel Augur quickly sent Troops I and K into town to prevent further violence. Soldier guards surrounded the jail. Tensions remained high into the next day. The seven men who were reported absent from the B Troop barracks were placed in the post guardhouse and fourteen rifles were found concealed near the town limits.

Reid was moved to the jail at Chadron, twenty-four miles away. Reid was eventually tried and convicted of manslaughter for the death of Arthur Moss and sentenced to 7 years at the Nebraska State Prison.

Story Credit: from the Nebraska State Historical Society