Into Oblivion: And Then She Was Gone, Part 4

Moore, Oklahoma

Missing Persons Flyer
The Crown Motel, 9501 S. Shields in Moore (OK), was owned by the Blasdell family and managed by son Jim Blasdell in May of 1958.  It was on a busy thoroughfare in the south Oklahoma City suburb and linked drivers to the south route linking US 77 and the new Interstate on I-35.

A future thinking manager Blasdell was adding and upgrading his holdings. Seeing the growing need for living space he added apartments. All around Oklahoma City was booming and expanding and the future looked bright.  The Naval training facility in Norman was once more drawing people for training and the University there was growing as well. 
The motel was in a prime location. It was a short jog to US 77 to take one south to Norman and north to Oklahoma City.  This military facility was located in the area of the present “South Campus” of the University of Oklahoma and just north of HWY 9.

A young couple, married barely two weeks, took a room there.  The young husband was reporting for duty to the Navy Air Training Center in Norman and the bride would search for their first real home. Carol Ann Hlavac Batterman was an attractive young woman with a friendly disposition making and keeping friends easily. She had a savings account back in Illinois and wrote her parent’s long letters regularly.  She had married just two weeks prior to her disappearance; she and her husband were originally from the Chicago, Illinois area.

She had long brown hair, usually worn loose to nearly her shoulders. Her olive complexion was tanned and dotted with freckles on her nose and forehead. Over her clear eyes arched two bold eyebrows.  On that morning her husband took their car to work, and the plan was that she would follow by bus and they would later go house hunting in Norman. 
That day, no doubt eager to make a good impression on her new husband and prospective landlords, she dressed with special care for the expedition.  She slipped into a beige suit, high-heeled shoes, and proudly slipped on her yellow Provo Township High School class of 1956 ring with a black stone worn on her right hand, and a wedding band with 13 engraved stars (it was engraved on the inside with their initials  and wedding date ( "DB to CH - 5/17/58"). She put approximately $35 in a small white purse (6" x 3-4") and the couple’s only room key.  As the motel door closed behind her, the room held all her clothing, makeup, jewelry, and $100 in cash.

She was last seen waiting for a bus outside of the Crown Motel in Oklahoma City at 3:35 p.m. on May 31, 1958. She never got on the bus and was never seen or heard from again.

Witness reports varied.  One story from June recounted someone seeing her voluntarily enter a white ’55 or ’56 Chrysler station wagon with an OK auto tag.  Another reported a witness seeing a gray pickup truck, possibly a 1953 Ford, stop at the curb near Batterman shortly before she vanished. The witness could not be sure if the vehicle was connected because something interrupted the line of sight and when it was cleared the vehicle, and the young woman, were both gone. It's unclear if the driver of the truck (reported wearing a large cowboy style hat) had anything to do with her disappearance.

In early June, a room key was returned via the mail to manager Blasdell of the Crown Motel and it was thought it was the room key last seen with the missing bride.  The lead was an intriguing mystery but ultimately a dead end.
East of Norman, was Reynolds Lake, a reservoir and dam, east of Lake Thunderbird . It was just north of HWY 9 and close to present SE 224. The caretaker, Mrs. E.F. Kelly, of the fishing resort reported in June having seen a woman struggling with two men in a white station wagon. It appeared she was attempting to jump from the vehicle but the men restrained her.    Several days later the caretaker reported she loaned a shovel to two men who claimed they had to dig worms.  She did note they did not appear to have any fishing equipment with them.  As a result, the lake became epicenter to searches for the missing woman.

Three years later, her young husband was living in Tennessee, seeking a divorce so he could marry another woman and start a new life.  Of Carol Ann there was no word.  The savings account remained untouched and her parents, to whom she had written so often and at length, never heard from her again. They retained hope, however, that she was somewhere well and safe.

A retiring police officer in 1973 looked back at the case of Carol Ann Batterman as one that still baffled him with its apparent insolvability. To this day, she is listed as missing, because although she was declared dead to accommodate the remarriage of her husband, a body was never found.
Carol Batterman is still listed as a missing person.  She joined, that May day, a select group of unfortunate travelers whose journey was into oblivion in a vehicle fashioned of mystery and unanswered questions.
--Marilyn A. Hudson, c2014





As the 20th century dwindled down, law enforcement forged into new territory to crime fighting by creating a "profile".  Various psychologically trained, experienced investigators in the FBI and other law agencies began applying new ways of thinking in trying to identify and out think predatory killers, termed in the 1970's as "serial killers."
As a result some truisms emerged.  These stereotypical statements were taken as gospel: most serial killers are white, of a certain age, certain socio-economic level and will prey on one gender or another, and always within their own racial or social comfort zones.
Thus, for the past forty years the strong belief that there were no women serial killers or ethnic serial killers.   If found, they must be an anomaly.  Yet, statistics about the personalities that can evolve into these types of killers indicate there are a lot of them in society. Thus, few possibilities of anomalies but rather a pattern undetected or under recognized.
Then, however, was Jake Bird arrested in 1947 for killing two women in Tacoma, Washington.  Various newspaper accounts of the time reflect an intelligent, even savvy, man in his 40's.  He implied and claimed connection to over 40 murders in a half-dozen states.  He favored using an axe but a knife worked as well.  His favorite target were white women usually in their 30's to 50's.
So - - one major prop is shuttled aside in this one case.  Rather than being an exception that proves the rule, it may be the exception that indicates the basic rule is flawed and too restrictive.  One of the guiding principles for early serial killers was a limited field of operation. Society was not as mobile and options were limited for them to act out their dark desires to kill.  As a result there would tend to be a similarity in selections of victims; the killer would tend to be in places where he felt invisible, safe or easily accepted without questions.   As society became more mobile, there tended to be a shift in the selection of victims and they were not as cookie cutter as mystery novels might imply. Issues of opportunity were enlarged with the ability to get away swiftly.  Most importantly, a killer who did not feel he fit into society anyway, who had developed skills to help him, or her, retain a low profile and move with ease through various realms of society, began to prey on a wider variety of victims.
So many states have long, long lists of missing persons or unidentified bodies going back decades.  In researching some of these, it is often clear that working under assumptions of motivation, victim selection and methodology, police were often hampered in connecting victims to a predator. 
Is it time to go back to the criminal investigation drawing board and start fresh with an assumption, "everything you know is wrong?"



According to first hand reports, nearly every block around the center of meat selling, packing and shipping had at one or two saloons, brothels, and gaming sites.  It was a wild, and often lawless, center that cleverly maintained a position as a non-district for tax purposes in the early days.  This, no doubt, invited in a certain shady clientele that gave it the wild, west patina long after the cowboys had nestled into study Ford trucks and Model T's.

Some links to view images and learn more:

OKC Net  http://okc.net/2013/10/31/butchers/#comment-380798

Agnew Theater http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/17693

Redskin Theater http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/7830


In the late 1940's families in one area of Tulsa, Oklahoma were frightened and nervous.  Over a six year period several women had been slaughtered by person or persons unknown.  This killer seemed to follow a strict protocol of seeking victims in a limited area, removing a screen from the back of the house and silently slipping inside.  More than once he stayed around long enough to make a sandwich or otherwise enjoy the hospitality of his victim's abode before slipping out once more into the unknown. On more than one occasion, he slipped past sleeping family members and never woke them. All attacks occurred in a narrow box of neighborhoods bordered by a railroad and the business district.
  • Mrs. Helen Brown, beaten to death in her apartment, on July 16, 1942
  • Mrs. Clara Stewart and Mrs. Jack Green in 14 January 1943
  • Mrs. Pat Campbell also listed as Panta Lou Liles,  a red-haired Navy wife, 15 May 1945.
  • Mrs. J. B. Cole, age 38, along with  her 13 yr. old daughter Doris Cole and a 14 year old friend, Levon Gabbard,  where all attacked, but survived, receiving severe injuries on July 1, 1948.
  • Mrs. Ruth Norton, killed in her apartment, that same night in July of 1948.

Plus other women who were beaten and survived.  There may be other deaths unattributed and unknown, as is so often, unfortunately, the case in such matters as serial killers.

All of these were women who died in the time, place and parameters of the other killings.  In addition, several murders in Texas also featured redheads.

According to the book Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects  by Anil Aggrawal, the killer was identified as Charles Floyd.  The indication was that he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Texas and actually died in a mental institution. This source identifies only a Mrs. Brown (1942),  Stewart and Green (1943), a Niles (a corruption of Panta Lou Liles) (1945), the wounded mother and daughter (1948) and Ruth Norton (1948) as his victims.

According to this source he had a penchant for redheads and was a voyeur until it no longer satisfied his dark hungers and then he killed and abused the victims post death.

An inmate from the asylum at Vinita, Oklahoma was closely examined by police. He had been institutionalized after an earlier slaying but had recently been released.  There may be a gap between the murders that might fit such a scenario: 1942-1945.  Then, the murders/assaults in 1948.  This assumes the killer remained in Oklahoma for those years.

There are still gaps in this story as validation for the Charles Floyd suspect is still lacking.  Searching through newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma has yet to prove this name in association with the crimes or any crimes of murder. It is possible if he were a mental patient he might have fallen under privacy restrictions and his absence might be explained. It is very strange, however, that a death of serial killer might go so unremarked. Is it surprising because we are so familiar with a constant deluge of data - significant and meaningless - about every event that happens in society?  Perhaps it is just an example of putting the emphasis where it should be in such cases; the killer fades into the background and the focus is on the loss of the person they killed...the person taken from the world by evil.

--Marilyn A. Hudson, c2014

Into Oblivion: Women Found Dead, Part 3

They were often found in hard-to-reach pastures or deserted areas.  Often, there was no clear cause of death. Many of them had been driving home or going shopping.  Many times their cars were found far from where they were known to have been, abandoned with no sign of purses or purchases.  Usually, they were left in slips or underwear.
In 1953, a rancher riding in the Osage Hills of Northeast Oklahoma came across the body of a white female, 21-25 years of age, 110-125 lbs. and about 5'2".  She was unknown and unidentified.
A Texas woman visiting in Louisiana spoke of a "mysterious trooper" who called her and with whom she may have gone off on a date one evening in 1957. Ruth Tilotta was 31 when her body, clad only in red underwear, was found in Louisiana.  No clues as to who the trooper was or what she did that last day.
A 17 year old Yolanda Gomez's skeletal remains were found near Anapra, new Mexico in 1960. She had been missing a year when discovered.  For awhile it was assumed she might be the missing Andrea Lopez Phares. She had a bracelet with initials not her own engraved on them.
In Potter Co., Texas in 1971 the mystery of where store clerk Elizabeth Perryman had gone for finally answered.  Her body was one of three discovered that year in the Amarillo area.  The others were Linda Simmons and Kathryn Louise Sands.
In 1988, east of the metropolitan area of Oklahoma City, 27 year old Savona Lynn Kidd's body was discovered ending a search for her whereabouts.

---Marilyn A. Hudson, c2014

Into Oblivion: All The Missing Wives, part 2

They were all young, attractive, and most were dark haired...

In 1955, Andrea Lopez Phares, 20, left a town in Texas to return to her home and never was  seen again. Her car was found with a key still in it, her purse and wallet in place (but missing a large amount of money according to her husband) and the trunk mat and a blanket were gone. Her husband and his brother would both go to court charged in relation to the disappearance but neither convicted.  Her husband finally moved to Arizona.
In 1958, Carol Ann Batterman,19, left the motel where she and her brand new husband were staying to meet him and look at apartments and was never seen again. Reports of a woman struggling with two men by a local lake and strangers asking for a shovel to dig worms, yet lacking normal fishing gear, was under investigated.  Local deputies shrugged wondering what the fuss was all about when reports of clothes found just northwest of the same area a year or two later. It was a known "lover's lane" after all; apparently making it safe from murder. Despite searches, digging, and lack of activity on a savings account, the woman was never seen. Her case is still considered open by local police.
In 1959, Billie Schaffer, 37, drove to town to do some shopping and meet with friends and several weeks later her body is found far from home in a lonely field. Her Air Force Captain husband was in Greenland when she died but rushed back to join the search.  Her car had been found abandoned far from where she had been driving and no sign of the purchases or her purse where found. [She may also be one of string of murders where the victims were placed in hard to reach fields One was in 1953, a rancher riding in the Osage Hills of Northeast Oklahoma came across the body of a white female, 21-25 years of age, 110-125 lbs. and about 5'2".  She was unknown and unidentified. The place where she was found was not easy to get to according to locals].
In 1959, a young bride Virginia Moore, 19, leaves El Paso, Texas to visit relatives and apparently disappeared.
In 1963, a young and expectant woman disappears on a short trip in the Kansas City, Missouri area and is last seen at the side of the road.  Weeks later her slip clad body is found in a corn field, her hands severed and part of her head missing. She is six miles from where  her car was found. Patricia Willoughby,22, had been seen, possibly, being "led" or "steered" toward another vehicle, along a stretch of road.

--Marilyn A. Hudson, c2014


Into Oblivion: Some Interesting and Haunting Disappearances, Part 1

In this new series, author and researcher, Marilyn A. Hudson explores some missing persons cases.

Early May of 1955 in the south plains area of Hale Center, Texas, a charming bride of 19 took the family Lincoln into town to complete some errands.   A Mexican national whose family made the annual migration circuit had caught the eye of the farmer and now, a year later, she was a happy wife and a soon to be mother. Her life, however, was soon to take very different direction. Andrea Lopez Phares never returned to her home with her 43 year old husband and local farmer.
Her car was found abandoned, the key still in the ignition but the wires yanked under the hood.  The speedometer showed it had exceed 100 miles an hour in its last journey.  A huge posse crisscrossed the countryside looking for the woman.   Her jewelry was found buried far from the car.  Over the months and years both her husband and her brother-in-law would be charged in the case but both times juries failed to find enough evidence.  After a time her husband moved to Arizona citing the need to get a fresh start as the search for his wife had ruined his farm.
An anonymous letter arrived at the police at one time claiming having seen the woman in a Laundromat in Guymon, Oklahoma.  Texas Rangers and an Oklahoma private investigator could find nothing to prove any link.
For 21 months ...for 17 years....for decades...the mystery of where she was and what had happened to her lingered like a fragile scent on a summer evening.  Skeletons were found several times in the desert and hope sprang up but always it was some other poor soul.
Is there a lonely road out there where in the mystical hours of dusk, a solemn parade of lost people continues their last...and endless...journey home?  Keep the lights burning on the front porch; maybe some will make it home ...at last.

---Marilyn A. Hudson , c2014



What are the odds of two murderers having the same name? Strangely that is what happened in the case of a couple found in the Mohave Desert in 1948 and a series of women killed in Alaska in more recent years.  The criminal in both cases was named Robert Hansen but no relation to each other apparently.
In May of 1948 the headless and handless bodies of an east Los Angeles radio store owner and his wife were discovered in an isolate area of the Mojave Desert (AP "Bodies of Decapitated Pair Discovered in Desert Grave", May 17, 1948).   They were each wrapped in a blanket and were trussed in wire.  They had been shot to death as the result of an altercation with
Hansen.  He had attempted to incinerate the hands leading to his actions being discovered.  He was given a life sentence on July 27, 1948.
The "other" Robert Hansen was a serial killer who murdered dozens of women in Alaska in the 1970's and 1980's.  He used his bush plane to ferry women into his remote cabin and then to bury their bodies in the harsh and hard to access terrain of the area. He died in 2014 while in prison.


A NEW RESEARCH PROJECT: Missing People 1950's

Writing and researching for some of the books I write involves a lot of background digging and sometimes all the information is not found in archives, old newspapers, or on library shelves.  I am looking for information some people who went missing in the 1950's in Oklahoma.  They appeared - briefly - in local papers but then were pushed off the pages as new hot stories emerged.   I am working on an upcoming writing project dealing with some missing, and sadly found, victims in this time period. Your help is appreciated.

I am  looking for anyone with information about the following:

Shirley Ann Cuica, Capitol Hill student?, walked to a store in OKC and never returned [disappeared in April; family had moved from Chicago in January and owned property in Missouri]
Charlene Wright, Capitol Hill student?, walked to a store in OKC and never returned

Mrs. Ruth Elizabeth Gee, June; Dorothy Moss, OKC reported missing July 23 (Fri); Tillie Mae Pennington (reported missing Monday July 26 (Mon).\; Sept. two unnamed teenage girls reported missing; were they ever found?

Denise Barry, Missing Sept. 3, 1958, left school early and never returned

Dorothy Jean Collinsworth, April 14, 1959

(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons--public domain)
Please email me here, if you have information.


A Ghost Named "Effie"

A revisit to an article I originally published in 2008...

Local historian and author Marilyn A. Hudson presents an intriguing theory concerning the alleged "Effie" ghost of the old Skirvin Hotel. Having researched stories and interviewed several people who had worked in the old hotel, Hudson suggests that several "ghosts" of the Skirvin were based on incidences occurring much earlier in OKC history.
Failing to find many deaths reported in the famous hotel, she was able to find numerous deaths in hotels that once graced the downtown area: The Grand, The Lee, and others. In 1904 there was a "keeper of a bowdy house" on West 2nd Street who was killed by her husband by the name of "Effie Fisher".
Knowing from other research how easy it is for memory to get tangled and distanced from the facts, Hudson suggests that many of the exciting deaths, suicides, strange visitors, and shootings from the other hotels and "houses" (which may not always have survived) may have been assigned later to the more Gothic and imposing Skirvin. After all, she notes, when a place "looks haunted" people expect to be haunted. An article in the Oklahoman (May 1, 1910) pointed out the construction of the new hotel (then called the "Skirvin House") at First and Broadway was a landmark from the earliest days of the city. On that location had stood the Richardson Real Estate office.
Just in case, if you have first hand experience from someone who worked in the pre-renovation Skirvin use the comments to add your tales.
Some facts:
  • The original name of the hotel, according to newspaper accounts, was "The Skirvin House" (1910).
  • In 1911 - the manager committed suicide and it was investigated as suspicious.
  • Later, (1902's?) a workman fell to his death.
  • Several people committed suicide - as they did in all the local hotels- most by poison and a few by pistol.
  • The legend that "Effie" was a mistress kept imprisoned in the hotel is also strikingly similar to a tale told about the "Gold Hotel" in Nevada - making it more the urban legend than real tale. In that time period, it was more likely he would have sent away - with a payoff - a pregnant mistress or simply paid for an illegal abortion. If an "Effie" did die - perhaps it was a botched abortion rather than some convoluted prisoner in the hotel scenario.
All of which led to another article on the subject exploring the urban myth and folkloric aspects of the story.
In Oklahoma City she is known as 'Effie'.   A poor woman who loved not wise but too well and found herself pregnant with a married man's child.  She a) either killed herself , b) was imprisoned by the married man, or c) was murdered.   She has been said to haunt the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City since the 1920's.

In Goldfield, Nevada there is the story of "Elizabeth" associated with the historic Goldfield Hotel, who was a poor woman who loved not wise but too well and found herself pregnant with a married man's child.  She a) either killed herself , b) was imprisoned by the married man, or c) was murdered. 

It should be remembered that in Oklahoma City when it was opened as the result of the Land run of 1889, there were 'working girls' on the very next train into town.  "Big Annie" Wynn Bailey was a strapping girl in her mid-twenties fresh from the lucrative mining towns of Colorado. She saw opportunity and bought land, opened businesses in the heart of "Hell's Half Acre".  Soon she controlled much of downtown Oklahoma City through real estate and a system of well placed bribes.  

These "girls" as the prostitutes were sometimes called were a social subgroup with their own status, traditions, and behaviors.   Did they also share a common 'folklore' of cautionary or fear tales to warn each other, and potential customers?

So who came first, "Emma" or "Elizabeth," or perhaps some yet to be discovered woman?  It would be interesting to see how many of these tales of 'fallen' women with names beginning with an "E" might exist, identify when they first emerged, and discover if their movement could be tracked.

Other famous 'soiled doves' include Jerome, AZ's 'Julia' and 'Maggie' in Cripple Creek, CO.  Over all the motif is similar to the cautionary tale of the 'Cry Baby Bridge', which I feel is a transference of the  old Irish song, "Mary of the Moors" into the newly liberated and mobile early 20th century.  Like the "Vanishing Hitchhiker" both serve as morality tales about the dangers of youthful independence in the face of new mobility and social mores. Did the earlier tale of the "E" women have a similar purpose to warn prostitutes of mixing business with pleasure? Perhaps to convey the subtle inference that even a man in business suit might not be trustworthy?

NOTE: Anyone with knowledge of a story about a 'fallen women', 'scorned woman,' or 'compromised maiden' associated with a  hotel or other town site, please contact me for an upcoming work.


A Sister's Vision

Just in time for Halloween... 
Once upon time there were two sisters Mamie Durieux and Mrs. Dan Patton.  Mamie had wondered off from the nursing home where she resided in her flannel night gown days before in the Chula Vista, California area.  Mrs. Dan Patton had discussed the disappearance with a friend, Mrs. Harry Craige, also of Tulsa.
In the night, a vision of canyon came to Mrs. Patton as to the location of her missing sister. S
he was convinced her sister would be found there. She called the sister's daughter (Mrs. Eva Fridlund of Otay Ranch near Chula Vista). 
A search was made and the woman was found, still wearing her robe and slippers, safely in the canyon has her sister had said.  She had survived by eating bamboo shoots and water from a jug.  
Although the story occurred in August of 1957, it is a suitable tale of the strange and the bizarre and perfect for Halloween.  It leaves one to wonder just how the information was communicated. Telepathy? Some strange sisterly bond? Who can say for sure?


Stephen Shannon: Poet

1910 Man Writing
He was born in Tennessee about 1870 to parents born in Tennessee.  In 1910, he published a long narrative poem with a Davis, Oklahoma publishing enterprise called "Pascagoula".   He also authored "Golden Thoughts" but little has been uncovered so far on that work.  On the front page of the Nov. 25, 1909 Daily Oklahoman was his poem "Thanksgiving Thoughts".
On the 1910 census he is listed as a "cousin" residing in the home of Albert B. Wainscott in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He listed his occupation as "poet" and "writer".
All in all, however, he is a mystery outside of perhaps old reference works or newspaper articles not yet found.  No grave has been found either that identifies itself as belonging to a poet.  A mystery indeed.
His works can be downloaded at these locations.
"Pascagoula", J.W. Williams, Davis, Ok 1910 , 62 pages long. From the author's preface to the original:"  Introduction On the Southern boundary of Jackson County, Mississippi, is Pas-ca-gou-la Bay, which name is of origin, meaning Winning Maiden. Ancient Indian legend has it, that back in the dim, almost forgotten past, long before the invasion of white settlers in that country, a weaker tribe of Indians were being suppressed by a stronger one. After being practically annihilated, the remaining few assembled on the banks of the beautiful Pas-ca-gou-la and made one more stand for life and liberty; but rather than submit to capture and torture, drowned themselves in this bay. From this incident the legendary story Pas-ca-gou-la is woven and dedicated to all lovers of nature. The Author." It appears to have been republished by Forgotten Books in London.
He is mentioned on these sites:
"Celebrating the poetry of South Mississippi", SunHerald article by Tammy Leytham
April 8, 2013
"Historia", William Parker Campbell, volumes 1-46, indicates the title meant "Winning Maiden".
Anyone with information on this man, or his writing, is invited to leave a comment.



The numbers are staggering.  Nearly 700,000 people reported missing in 2013. Men, women, and children.  The worst part is not that they are missing but that because of race many never receive the media attention they deserve.  A social bias exists that seems to suggest we feel that "some people" are not worth a news story because they are poor, people of color or are employed in socially unacceptable fields. 
Yet, the news is not all bad. An FBI report indicates missing persons reports related to endangerment went down from 2011 and "During 2012, 661,593 missing person records were entered into NCIC, a decrease of 2.5 % from the 678,860 records entered in 2011.  Missing Person records cleared or canceled during the same period totaled 659,514.  Reasons for these removals include:  a law enforcement agency located the subject, the individual returned home, or the record had to be removed by the entering agency due to a determination that the record is invalid."
Yet, even that lower reconciled  number is high. Too high. 
When people go missing and there is cause to believe they are endangered, nothing should stand in the way of getting those who wait and hope all the help they can to find their lost family member. 
"The shocking reason you've probably never heard  of these missing Americans" at http://news.yahoo.com/shocking-reason-ve-probably-never-heard-265-000-195421951.html

Osage Murders of the 1920's

Looking at a crime over cultural or economic divides can be challenging. Secrets, in-crowd status, outsider vantage points become mixed up with things like facts and understanding. They can hinder quick solutions and prosecutions of the guilty.

In the 1920's in Oklahoma a widespread series of crimes occurred targeting members of the Osage Tribe. The cases would result in the first involvement of the new FBI in a murder case.  The cases would highlight the depths to which greed can drive some people and the way that members of Native American society were too often viewed.   Young women were murdered by husbands, strangers and friends to acquire control of their land (headrights).   Others were targeted as well in this mad, greed infused time.

To this day people will recall, in hushed voices, the crimes committed in those days. Small town memories are both long and selective. 

One book on this 'reign of terror' period of history is The Osage Indian Murders.   Another book is The Death of Sybil Bolton, where the author explores the real cause of his grandmother's death.  A follow-up title was Bloodland.  The FBI has digitized files of the investigation available in their 'vault'



From Oklahoma Paranormal (2008):

"Local historian Marilyn A. Hudson presents an intriguing theory concerning the alleged "Effie" ghost of the
old Skirvin Hotel. Having researched stories and interviewed several people who had worked in the old hotel, Hudson suggests that several "ghosts" of the Skirvin were based on incidences occurring much earlier in OKC history. Failing to find many deaths reported in the famous hotel, she was able to find numerous deaths in hotels that once graced the downtown area: The Grand, The Lee, and others. In 1904, there was a "keeper of a bowdy house" on West 2nd Street who was killed by her husband by the name of "Effie Fisher".

Knowing from other research how easy it is for memory to get tangled and distanced from the facts, Hudson suggests that many of the exciting deaths, suicides, strange visitors, and shootings from the other hotels and "houses" (which may not always have survived) may have been assigned later to the more Gothic and imposing Skirvin. After all, she notes, when a place "looks haunted" people expect to be haunted. An article in the Oklahoman (May 1, 1910) pointed out the construction of the new hotel (then called the "Skirvin House") at First and Broadway was a landmark from the earliest days of the city. On that location had stood the Richardson Real Estate office.

Just in case, if you have first hand experience from someone who worked in the pre-renovation Skirvin use the comments to add your tales.

Some facts:
The original name of the hotel, according to newspaper accounts ,was "The Skirvin House" (1910).
In 1911 - the manager committed suicide and it was investigated as suspicious
Later, (1920's?) a workman fell to his death.
Several people committed suicide - as they did in all the local hotels- most by poison and a few by pistol.
The legend that "Effie" was a mistress kept imprisoned in the hotel is also similar to a tale told about the "Gold Hotel" in Nevada - making it more the urban legend than real tale. In that time period, it was more likely he would have sent away - with a payoff - a pregnant mistress or simply paid for an illegal abortion. If an "Effie" did die - perhaps it was a botched abortion rather than some convoluted prisoner in the hotel scenerio.

The Ghost of the Skirvin Strikes Again?

Recent news coverage has brought new noterity to the story of female spirit inhabiting the now renovated Skirvin Hotel.  

The legend:  A maid, aka "Effie", worked at the hotel and became pregant by someone in management.  She was confined in the hotel and was so depressed after the birth she is said to have both her child and herself out a a tenth floor window.   Stories of her appear to always involve men (I do not think I have ever heard a story involving a woman but may be wrong...), fondling in bed or in the shower and the cries of a child.

Cons: (a) No evidence of such a death has been found despite numerous researchers (myself included) combing through at least one major newspaper of the city. (b) Police I spoke with said they had no records of such a suicide related to the hotel. (c) The rather earthy conduct of the spirit seems in conflict with the innocent maid taken advantage of by a black hearted lover. (d) The story is eerily similar to a tale told in Gold, Nevada at an old hotel there.

Pros: (a) A researcher, many years ago, was approached by a woman who said that the maid was her aunt (or other relative) and that researcher is once more trying to track that line of evidence. (b) Records are often tossed out despite the requirements to keep them. Ask any records management officer.   Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.  If the maid was African-American there is ample historical evidence that news about or involving African-Americans was often swept under the rug unless it served some purpose of stirring up racism or criminal activity (during the 1920's-1930's in OK the KKK was VERY dominant in communities and government).  In unrelated research, I have encountered crimes that were conducted against African-Americans that were under reported or ignored.  Given the combination of power and money it is entirely possible a crime or a suicide might have been unreported or reported in a different manner. An example might be a woman who killed herself by jumping from her lover's office.  She might find her body moved to a railroad crossing or a bridge thus removing her from the neighborhood of her lover and his public image. Searches into newspapers and diaries of local African Americans might be a better means of identifying the woman. (c) The consistency of the reportings may hint at several spirits rather than a single entity. We like to combine things for our convenience.  Given the hotel's long history and the many known suicides that DID occur there, it would be a wonder something did not negatively imprinted on the hotel. (d) The similarity of the tale with others may indicate a common folklore motif or a urban legend used to teach a warning to women "in the business."

Previously on this blog I suggested that Effie might be a confusion with an earlier unsolved murder of a prosititute/madam named Effie Fisher.  She was killed no more than two blocks away from the area of the hotel in 1904.  To my thinking the teasing and provovacative actions of the Skirvin ghost seem better to reflect an Edwardian prostitute than a chamber maid in a hotel.  If there is a ghost at all....



As Rod Serling said, there is a signpost up ahead...or in this case, along Highway 81 in southern Kansas in a small town begun in the cattle wealth of the late 1800's.   Here, for your enjoyment and thrills are several tales from this community.  Others exist but they remain tucked away in corners, memories, and local legend.

In 1960 or 61 (date is approximate at present based on directory information as to when the family resided at the home near east 7th and Douglas). "I was coming home and found myself being followed by small gray "things" - I cannot explain more. They were very nebulous and indistinct. I could see through them and I know I was afraid. I had been playing in an old rail yard behind our block (lots of sand hills). I was headed home ...the memory of the heavy sense of anxiety, the turning to look over my shoulder at the 'men' and the sense they were following are accompanied by a sense of moving in very slow motion...of a strange caste to the air and the sky...a strange amber bubble that encased the episode... Soon after this, I discovered a small healed scar on the back of my thigh - yet I had not been hurt there (it was about 1-1.2 inches long). It showed a strange "weaving" pattern of skin growth between the two smooth edges with tiny pinpoints around the edges. It remained faintly white for many years but is faded now. This was nearly 50 years ago and the memory has remained clear and insistent - like a tooth ache that has refused to go away. I am sharing this now - in the hope that it may help someone else who may have also encountered "something" strange during that time in this location." 

Wellington Lake Story
About this same time, around the area of Wellington Lake, came a report of a strange experience along a sandy road among a thick cover of foliage.

 "I was a small girl and we  had gone out to the Lake for a drive. I remember the sun as we drove through the trees, seeing the sparkle of the lake...my next memory is walking, alone, down that same stretch of road with everything absolutely silent.

I remember how tall the trees seemed walking alone down that road. It felt as if a clear bowl had been upended over the area and no sounds or winds were heard. It also gave a gray caste to everything, as  if it had suddenly clouded over.  I remember walking down the middle of the road in that thick sand wondering where did everybody go? .. I remember seeing our car, but at least one other car also, stopped at the side of the road. I remember seeing everybody just staring, blank looking, and then we get back in the car and drive away...everybody is silent until we move away from the gray area....and then it was as if nothing happened."

In about 1963 (thought to be no later than 1964) a resident in a house on North Jefferson street in Wellington, Kansas, reported "my brothers and mother and myself observed a red light bathe the backyard, there was no sound, no wind, nothing but the light." Later interviews with this witness indicated the red light covered the entire sky above the area just out the back door. She remembers seeing the mother and a brother go out and look up wondering what the thing was. The witnessed reported "Its appearance was similar to the "safelight" used in darkroom photography. Then it was gone, like a light being switched off. Details of the source were not visible; you could only see the red-orange round source of the light itself. I remember looking out the screen door, walking outside, looking up and then the next thing I remember is looking back into the house with the light gone. "

Rewriting History and Leaving Out the Negative Bits

Generations of people in Oklahoma City were born, educated and lived in the area descriptively called by author Lawrence Thompson in his "Gray Belt."  This place that was neither here nor there. A no-man's land created by poverty and want in a great economic depression. This series of articles and essays (location unsure) described the reality too many wanted to ignore and sweep under the community rug by even burying their names: "Community Camp", "Mulligan Gardens", and the "May Avenue Camp."
One local pastor Joe Gist of St. Mark's Methodist Church worked among the people in these camps with sympathy but realism.  Others were Don Christy of Boys Neighborhood and Miss Elizabeth Gilligan  of the Girls Neighborhood Clubs and Miss Mary Nichols Riverside School District who had been working there with depressed men, women and children for many years.
Local social columnist and advocate, Edith Johnson, asked bluntly "What Will You Do With the Gray Belt?" and her question echoes down the years.  Vague tales of things seen in the night have been reported in these broad regions that once where these camps; do the ghosts of those who suffered in those camps linger on or revisit in nightmares?
Maybe, just maybe, they are merely waiting for their full story to be uncovered and shared.  Maybe.


In 100 Years Why Is This Crime Still Around?

In Oklahoma City in 1913 two men came to speak in several churches - three Methodist, one Congregational and one Presbyterian - on the problem of 'White Slavery." ("White Slavery Will Be Discussed Here", Oklahoman Feb.23,1913;6).   Dr. E.R. Fulkerson and Dr. F.H. Essert were passionate about the need to halt the loss of young lives into dissolution, prostitution and even death through what we would call human sex trafficking today.

Fulkerson was a medical doctor and had been a consulate to Japan and was considered an expert in social science.  Essert was an evangelical Methodist minister who crossed all denominational lines to communicate the message that they preying on young women and young boys had to cease. He was also a member of the World Purity Federation.
In 1915 Roe, also of the W.P.F. co-authored  with Walt Louderback, The Girl Who Disappeared.  It chronicles some of the methods, stories and challenges faced in fighting human trafficking in the first dozen years of the 20th century.
Strangely, today, as we see a renewed emphasis on putting a halt to victimizations of women, girls, and boys for sex and other trade, it is clear that in a century little inroads were made in the halting of this terrible practice.
Essert in a mass meeting of men in Lawrence, Kansas " told of the danger of girls from good homes being decoyed to serve the purposes of these vultures, he deplored the existence of a double standard for men and women. As a cure for the evil Dr. Essert stated that the people of the nation must be educated to realize the dangers that beset them and to develop more self-control. It was a strong address, to the point and yet not in the least suggestive." (Lawrence Daily Journal-World, June 13, 1913). 
Nearly 160 years after the outlaw of slavery based on race. the F.B.I. lists human sex trafficking as the most active form of modern slavery and states: "Although comprehensive research to document the number of children engaged in prostitution in the United States is lacking, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation."
The basic methods outlined in The Girl Who Disappeared are little changed according to the FBI webpage: "Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. These women and young girls are sold to traffickers, locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly."  Noting that "These continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape.."
Methods seen in Oklahoma City, like so many other places, from its earliest days.
The staggering, earth-shaking question is "why is it still going on?"  The forced abduction, abuse, and exploitation of children and youth for sex is a mystery that lingers...haunting....demanding attention and resolution.  Too often these are the people targeted as worthless and disposable by serial killers.  Now, a growing global economy is being fed by criminal elements to create a market and supply the need for children (male and female) and for young girls and women. Who will solve this mystery and place it where it belongs - in the dusty realm of history.




A recent news piece about a demon possessed house and family in Illinois reminded me of stories mentioned in passing conversations with people about certain areas and the ghosts who resided there.  I have long had a theory that paranormal investigators would do better to dig into history than just go with a 'it-sure-looks-haunted' investigation approach.

In my research I have found numerous places were haunt-worthy activity occurred but because of where it is located no one  has thought to conduct any research.  Instead, the focus is always on a location safely described as 'spooky' or creepy or eerie.

One location that might bear a fruitful investigation is within spitting distance of a freeway.  Another, just off a busy main street and still by a lake. Murder most foul occurred in all of these places, but decades later, no one has ever been charged.  Dozens of such places exist just waiting for some one to go to the historical record and then look for the mystery.


'Lasses White: From Minstrel to Movies

Born in Texas about 1888. Lee Roy White aka, 'Lasses or Lee, had been in some of the better minstrel companies touring America in the early decades of the 20th century.  He was often in the same company with pals Al and Don Palmer.
His career was launched in 1912 with the questionably titled, "Negro Blues" (latter retitled with a less acceptable word reflective of the time).  This is thought to be the FIRST blues song published and by a performer familiar with the structure of blues music.  It set the standard for blues as it developed within the 1920's and 1930's vaudeville entertainment venues.
He was part of Neil O'Brien's "American Minstrel Organization" appearing at the Academy of Music in 1916 (Reading Eagle, March 26, 1916, pg. 12) and was listed as one of the popular vocalists with Don and Al Palmer in "O'Brien and His Minstrels (Plattsburg Daily Press (Aug. 14, 1916, pg. 6). Later, he was with the famous Al G. Fields Minstrel show ("Minstrel Show at the Overholser," Oklahoman (march 24, 1918)42). 
In the 1930's he did a stint with the Grand Ole Opry and performed on other circuits but finally, he  moved to Hollywood and remained there playing western side-kicks in a long series of minor western movies with leading men such as Tim Holt and Jimmy Wakely for RKO.    He died there in 1949.
Here is a song he wrote that was recorded by a six year old.  Here is a film clip from "Come on Danger" (1942)
 with Lasses (Lee) playing the jug.


Al J. Palmer

In March of 1918 a troupe pulled into Oklahoma City for a run in the local theater, The Overholser, for three days.  Top rated minstrel show, "Al G. Fields" included in their performers was listed an "A.R.Palmer".  There was also another Palmer with first name Don and a Lasses White.
The name listed is no doubt a typo and should read "Al J. Palmer."  He was a songwriter and had several popular tunes out on sheet music in the 1916 to 1918 time period.  They often carried the label indicating they had been made popular by an artisan such as Sophi Tucker or one of the performers from the Al G. Fields Minstrel Show.
Some of his sheet music can be found in archive collections, such as  at this link. He published some under his own label, "Al J. Palmer Music Publishing" out of Columbus, Ohio. Much of it reflects the demands of supplying music to a "minstrelsy" entertainment company.  Several were popular into the early 20th century, such as Fields. Palmer also worked for the 'Neil O'Brien Shows' and a number of "Eastern stock companies."

 Back to Alabama in the Spring
It Took the Sunshine from Old Dixieland
I'll Come Back Some Day
Dancing at the Old Plantation
You Only You, Broke My Heart
That Chocolate Colored Gal of Mine
Wake Up Sleepy Hollow

The Only Sweetheart I Ever Had
Let's Go
Will You Sometimes think of Me
March Eternal

In about 1919-1922 the pastor of Oklahoma City's Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church discovered he was in town and approached him about working with the youth program (Epworth League) to organize some boys bands.  He accepted the offer and organized a junior and senior boys band and later an orchestra.
He published under "Al J. Palmer Music Publishing" out of Columbus, Ohio but did publish some through other firms. He was mentioned in a 1920 issue of Billboard. The article noted his brother Don Palmer and friend Lasses White had been very helpful in the success Al J. Palmer's songs were receiving. (Billboard, January 17,1920, pg. 35)
A marriage record is found 18 May 1920 for "Al J. Palmer" and a "Bunny Dale." (Oklahoma County Marriage Records 1889-1951 Book 36, Pg. 137 (Microfilm)
In 1926  he had an ad in the local paper as "Prof. Al J. Palmer - Instructor of Band Instruments." He was , however, still composing because he also offered "words written to music" and "music written to words"; "special songs written to order" ; "expression in dramatic art"; and "entertaining material furnished for amateurs." (Oklahoman, 3 Oct 1926).
Wesley Boys Band, ca 1924, Palmer shown lower right.
In about 1933, he had a operation to treat a brain tumor and in the process he was blinded and his speak impacted.  He had to re-learn to speak as well as cope with his blindness.
 In 1935, a local Oklahoma City fire chief, George Goff, had heard of what had befallen this once "top-flight minstrel show performer" and writer of some 14 published songs.  He also learned the man had that while recovering Palmer had written a new song which he had never heard played.  With a copy arranged by one of Palmer's old music students, Walter Harris, the fire department band held a party.  At Palmer's home at 2237 NW 26th (NW of the OCU Campus) they performed the march for him. ("Surprise Party Is Given by Band fro Blind Composer, Onetime Minstrel Star", Oklahoman (16 Dec. 1935):4.)
--M.A.H., 2014


What Do Al Jolsen, A Local Boys Band and a Church Have in Common?

Professor Al J. Palmer.

According to a story uncovered, while Dr. Dean C. Dutton was pastor of Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church (1919-1924) he learned that Al J. Palmer was living in Oklahoma City and called on him to see if he could come into Wesley Methodist Church and help with the "Epworth League" (youth organization of the M.E. Church).
Mr. Palmer was a composer and, according to the story of this source, had written several of the songs that Al Jolsen sang during his career.  Records do indicate Jolsen worked for a time with two Palmer brothers (Al and Joe) but they parted company around 1905. 
The first available program of a Band concert found by researchers in 1975 (for the history book written then), was dated June 19, 1923 under the direction of Al J. Palmer.
The boys band created had 38 pieces  and costumes in deep red with black trim and Mr. Palmer wore an all white suit.  They had stunts and band rehearsals and gathered on Sunday evenings for concerts.  People who belonged to other churches came to hear the band on Sunday nights.  The band was composed of youth of the church and at that time it was one of the few bands ever organized by a church group.  Palmer also directed an orchestra at Wesley.
Some identified with the band includes: Ed Fuller, Bob Sherman, Ruhl Potts, Harold Klein, Harold Hamlin, Warren McCreight, Everett Bradshaw, ....
In 1927, as Wesley turned ground to build their new sanctuary, the band was there under the direction of Palmer.   An ad from the time period is for "Prof. Al J. Palmer, Instructor of Band Instruments".  He listed he was Director of Wesley Senior and Junior Bands and was available for "special songs written to order...expression in dramatic art...words written to music and music written to words...entertaining material furnished for amateurs."
Interestingly enough, several of the band members could be heard over a local radio station WKY every Sunday evening in 1931 as members of the Oklahoma City Concert Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Weitz ("On WKY Every Sunday Night", Oklahoman (Aug.30,1930):40.
Boys Band, Wesley M.E., OKC, cal 1923.
Is the man shown here one of the Palmer's who once worked with Jolsen in Vaudville?


A White Ribbon Around the World

"WCTU Window at Wesley UMC, Oklahoma City"

"The white  ribbon bow was selected to symbolize purity, and the WCTU's watchwords were "Agitate - Educate - Legislate." (WCTU History, WCTU webpage)
In Oklahoma City there is a window in a church that has been called "The Tie Around The World" and was donated in 1928 by the WCTU "for God, Home and Every land."   Several women of the Wesley Methodist Church were active members of this citywide organization.
In a book on the windows  it was noted the ribbon signified a pledge members made around the globe to pray at noon each day.  (These Stones Will Shout, pg. 41)

The white ribbon bow of the WCTU was seen early in this form:


It is clear stylistically that the globe or world and the white ribbon tied around its girth symbolizes the white bow and its reach around the globe for the purpose of bettering the lives of communities and women through missionary outreach and social reforms in the area of drink.

The history of the WCTU in Oklahoma dates back into the 1880's and the Indian Territory.  As Oklahoma City grew - and with it the notorious area known as  "Hell's Half Acre" - the WCTU established itself in the community. 


Oklahoma Architect Leonard H. Bailey

Masonic Lodge/Journal Record Building
designed by Leonard H. Bailey
What do the Masonic Lodge Building (now the Journal Record building), the old multistory Kinkade Hotel and Lawrence Hotel, a small town jail, an Army Chapel at Fort Sill (1933) and Wesley United Methodist Church (1928) share in common?
The architectural skill of Lawrence H. Bailey and the firm Bailey and Alden.  After completing training in London, Bailey traveled to the United States, finally arriving in Oklahoma in 1903.  William Matthews, busy then designing the Overholser Mansion, took him on as a very junior partner.
As Oklahoma entered the Union in 1907, he was launching out with his own firm.  He went into partnership with another local man, Virgil D. Alden in 1920.  Both men were members of the American Institute of Architecture.
Postcard of the Hotel Kingkade
designed by Leonard H. Bailey
Other buildings designed by Leonard H. Bailey exist around the state and some have achieved a place on the National and/or Oklahoma Register of Historic Places: The Prague Courthouse and Jail (1936), New Chapel at Fort Sill (near twin in style to Wesley Methodist; 1933).  Other jobs included the 1909 St. Paul's Parish House in Oklahoma City and the Woodward Arts Theater.

Wesley Methodist Church (UMC), designed by Leonard H. Bailey and his partner Virgil D. Allen, 1927-1928. 

Wesley Methodist Church Interior - Bailey and Allen architects, 1928

New Post Chapel, Fort Sill, Ok (1933) designed by Leonard H. Bailey