Saturday, November 1, 2014

Murdered by Family Members to Stop Her from Testifying Against Her Husband (Allegedly)

I've written posts about Ephraim Bennett (my great, great grandmother's brother) killing his abusive brother-in-law, Nathan Buchanan. A few days ago, I uncovered another murder in my family tree. This time some in-laws allegedly killed my 3rd great grandfather's granddaughter (so she's my first cousin, three times removed) to prevent her from testifying against her husband!

Her Death is Cause for Four Being Held, Springfield Republican, Springfield, Missouri, 01 Nov 1911,
page 1, column 4, digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 30 Oct 2014

Ollie Werther's father, Guenther "Kenny" Werther, immigrated from Germany with his family when he was 15 years old. Her mother, Lucy Jones, had a Cherokee father and a "white" mother. Lucy received her allotment from the Cherokees and brought her land and a house into the marriage.

Ollie married Roy Crockett in 1909 or 1910. In a 1910 census taken on April 28th, the newlyweds are living with Roy's family in New Mexico. But, on a census dated June 1st, they are listed as living with Ollie's family in the town where she grew up: Nowata in Nowata County, Oklahoma.

According to newspaper accounts, the couple lived for a short time in her home which had been a wedding present from her family. But "soon after the wedding - at the request of Werther - the couple went to his house to live. Last August (1910) their deserted home burned and Crockett collected $400 insurance..." [The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 20 Nov 1911]

The newspaper accounts go on to say that Ollie quarreled with her husband and eventually went home and talked with her dad who had an "implacable hatred of his son-in-law." Ollie told her dad that she had proof that her husband had burned down the house for the insurance money. Ollie and her father, Kenny, Kenny and Ollie gave this information to the state insurance officials and Roy was arrested for arson.

Since a wife can't testify against her husband, it is alleged that Roy's sister, his brother, his cousin & a friend came up with a plan to kill Ollie. Allegedly Roy's sister, Dora Gaines, and the friend, Maude Warner, "induced (Ollie) to visit them on the pretext of their trying to effect a reconciliation between the estranged couple. It has been established that Ollie Crockett left the home of her father and, coming to Nowata, took up her residence at the Valley hotel. On October 12 [1911] she became ill and soon after being taken sick she died. Physicians declared they detected symptoms of morphine poisoning and State Chemist DeBar testified that he found four grains of morphine in her viscera and more than enough unassimilated in her stomach to kill a healthy person." [The Wichita Daily Eagle, 12 Sep 1912]

I have found newspaper articles showing that the two women, Dora Gaines and Maude Warner, were acquitted of the murder. But, I haven't found anything on the trials of the two males, Orville and George Crockett. As for Roy Crockett, I found a clipping from 1914 saying he'd been "surrendered by his bondsmen."

Ollie Werther's headstone buried under maiden name & burial paid for by father
Nowata Memorial Cemetery, Nowata, Nowata County, Oklahoma
image by Will Babb posted on Find A Grave
Ollie (Werther) Crockett was only 20 years old when she was allegedly murdered on October 13th, 1911. But, what happened to her husband outside of the arson charges? He remarried less than 6 months later to Blanche Hubbert and had at least 3 children with her. He later started Crockett Oil Company in Texas and became both a judge and a mayor.

I found over a dozen articles about the arson and murder on newspapers.com. Here are a few of them:

  • Crockett Murder Case to Go Over Until February?, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas, 20 Nov 1911, page 1, column 1, digital image newspapers.com, (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 30 Oct 2014 
  • Freed of Charge of Killing Her Sister-in-Law, The Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas, 12 Sep 1912, page 1, column 2, digital image newspapers.com, (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 30 Oct 2014 
  • Roy Crockett charged with Arson, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas, 03 Feb 1914, page 1, column 6, digital image newspapers.com, (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 30 Oct 2014

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

4 comments:

  1. Isn't that a sad story Dana? Only 20 years old. Then the husband becomes a judge and a Mayor. Boy, wouldn't you like to be able to talk to all the people involved in this incident?

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  2. Yes! It's crazy! And, so unfair! He went on to have such an incredible life. I guess it's hard, looking back, to keep in mind that he/they are 'innocent until proven guilty.' In fact, the husband was never charged with her murder. But, it is a very sad story!

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  3. I just heard this story for the first time today from my Grandmother Neva Werther! Ollie was her aunt (She is Emil's daughter). I'm so shocked!!

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    1. Hi, Phillip. Isn't this a sad part of our family's history! I'm glad you found my family history blog, though. I'd love it if you'd contact me so we can talk more. I have more information about this family, both on my blog and items I haven't published yet. Please email me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net. Thanks! Dana

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