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Father Poisons Family, Oklahoma, 1934

Home | Rediscovered Crime News | Father Poisons Family, Oklahoma, 1934

After my last post (The Andrea Yates Epidemic of 1901) I remembered reading this filicide story (a parent who kills their children) and decided to post it because it has subtle differences to it compared to the mothers in the 1901 story. The father’s excuses and story in this post seem a little “hinky.” Isn’t it always odd how the parent “tries” to commit suicide afterwards and they always seem to fail?

Chester Barrett of Sapulpa
Charged With Murder After
He Is Said to Have Made Confession.
“Family Starving,”
HIS EXCUSE FOR ACT
“I Couldn’t Bear It Any Longer,”
He Is Quoted as Saying
Five Others in Family Made Ill

[Sapulpa, Oklahoma, May 5, 1934] A father who said he “could not bear to see my family starve” was held without bond here tonight on a murder charge after three of his small children had died from poison he allegedly administered.

Sebe Christian, Creek County Attorney, said the father, Chester Barrett, 32 years old, signed a full confession after several hours questioning today. A murder charge was filed immediately. The father’s excuse for the act, which not only killed the three little girls, but endangered the lives of his wife and four of his five other children, was that he was ill and had no money.

“I have been sick for months and can’t work,” Christian quoted Barrett as saying.

Had No Money

“I hadn’t any money and my family was starving. I couldn’t bear it any longer.” The dead are Betty Jo, 6; Mary Kathryn, 3, and Wanda Marie, 2.

Mrs. Barrett and Cora Lucille, 12 Duane, 10; Mildred, 8, and Dorothy, 5, were made seriously ill, but doctors said they would recover. Barrett also took some of the poison, which was administered last night, but recovered sufficiently to be taken to the courthouse today.

He did not give any of the poison to his 7-months-old baby.

“I could not do that,” Christian said Barrett declared. “I hoped someone would find the baby and take care of her. I didn’t want her to die, too.”

The statement related, Christian said, that Barrett tried to give his family poison Monday night [April 30th, 1934], but it failed to take effect. It was administered in milk on that occasion. “Barrett said he wanted to try again Wednesday night, but lost his nerve.” Christian added.

Questioned Before Officers

Sheriff Willis Strange, Deputy Lee Snider and Police Chief J.O. Edwards sat with Christian while Barrett was questioned.

The authorities were unaware of the tragedy in the shabby little dwelling on the out skirts of Sapulpa until late last night. Barrett, staggering from the effects of the poison he took, then went to the home of a neighbor, Mrs. Clara Hugo, and told her his family was ill, apparently from food poisoning.

Mrs.Hugo called Dr. P.K.Lewis, county physician, and he hastily summoned additional medical aid.

It was too late to save the three little girls, but the others were given effective emergency treatment.

Three of the Barrett children recovered recently from attacks of measles, and Barrett said he told the family he was giving them quinine to ward off fevers. He purchased the poison on the pretext he wished to kill rats.

Editors Note: Chester Barrett was executed in Oklahoma’s electric chair on September 20, 1935.

Source: Associated Press via The Joplin Globe, May 5, 1934

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