Sunday, July 23, 2017

Retired School Teacher Kills Three Police Officers


            A neighbor’s complaint to the authorities led to the shooting deaths of three policemen in Ocala Florida on May 28, 1955. After a siege lasting about an hour, an eccentric, 73 year old retired Indiana school teacher, and his wife were taken into custody and charged with multiple felonies.

            Edward S. Lindley, and his wife Bertha, (70), were from the Kokomo, Indiana area where Mr. Lindley had been a math teacher, and school principal from 1921 to 1930. He suffered a stroke, causing his retirement, and in 1932 started drawing disability from the Metropolitan Insurance Company. In March of 1933 Lindley had a nervous breakdown, and was arrested for firing a weapon at one of his neighbors. He was sent to Central State Hospital for 10 months, and after his release, he and his wife moved near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on some land they had bought in 1910.

            At the beginning of World War 2, the Lindley’s moved to Moss Bluff in Marion county, and lived there for about ten years. While there, Edward Lindley believed his neighbors were spies for Metropolitan Insurance sent to disprove his disability claim.  Feeling persecuted, he and his wife moved to a small house in Ocala.

            Next door to their home was a couple from Long Island, NY.  Mr. Lindley believed they were also spies, and when they moved, he thought they had trained his new neighbor, Douglas Wingfield to spy on him too.  After some items went missing, Wingfield put a “keep out” sign in his yard, and may have gotten into a verbal dispute with Mrs. Lindley. 

            On the day of the shooting, Mr. Lindley claimed that he shot into the air to get Wingfield’s attention since he was hard of hearing.  Wingfield said the bullet came within a foot of his head, and he ran to a neighbor’s house, and called the police.

            About 5:30 pm Deputies Bob Hooten, (56), and Curtis Youngblood, (39), pulled into the Lindley driveway.  A witness James B. Williams was a witness to what happened next.  Mrs. Lindley, carrying a shotgun came out of the house and walked down the driveway to the officers and met them about 50 feet from the house. She told them to put their guns down and there would be no shooting. Deputy Wooten grabbed the shotgun away from her. The witness heard someone yell, “Hey!”, and later Mr. Lindley stated that he shouted at the officers about four times.  Lindley was standing outside on the west side of the house, and shot Deputy Youngblood first killing him instantly. Wooten was then shot, and fell on top of the shotgun he had taken from Mrs. Lindley.

            Mrs. Lindley, calmly walked back to the house, then came back out to retrieve the shotgun from under Wooten’s body. William’s wife Gwen called the police to report the shooting.

            At 5:46 pm, Sheriff Don McLeod, and Deputy W.G. Ergle, Jr.  arrived and McLeod shouted, for the Lindleys to “Come on out!” This was answered by a barrage of shots fired from the house. Assistant Ocala police Chief Mahlon O. Tuck had arrived with other officers, and was standing about 60 yards from the house providing cover for State Patrolman Sam Oswald as he crept up to a window on the west side of the house to toss in a tear gas canister. Tuck was hit and killed at that time.  Deputy Ergle was hit and wounded as he tried to get to Youngblood’s body. The firing continued for about an hour until the tear gas finally forced the Lindley’s to surrender. There were 30 officers involved during the siege and they fired over 1,000 rounds into the little cinder block house.

            Four witnesses reported that they saw Mrs. Lindley in the backyard with a gun during the shooting. She tried to escape at the rear of the yard, but ran back inside when McLeod yelled at her. Mrs Lindley waved a white handkerchief and came out, followed a few minutes later by her husband.

            The Lindley’s were arrested and charged with three counts of murder, and one of assault with intent to commit murder. On July 25th a hearing adjudged Mr. Lindley to be insane and he was to be committed to the State Hospital at Chattahoochee. He appeared to be confused as he was led away for his trip to the hospital.  The next day Mrs. Lindley was released on her own recognizance and returned to Indiana to live with her daughter.  The authorities did not believe they had enough to convict her without her husband to stand trial with her.  She promised to return if there ever was a trial.  Before she left, the Lindley’s bank account of $17,191 was given to the widows of the fallen officers.  In 1956, the guns Edward Lindley owned were auctioned and $499 was raised. This was also given to the widow.  The State Legislature voted a payment of $225 per month to the widows for 13 and a half years.

            Edward Lindley lived until December 10, 1971 never leaving the Hospital in Chattahoochee. Bertha lived to be 96 years old, dying on June 16, 1980.  She lived with her daughter in Greentown, Indiana.
              

            

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Unsolved Pensacola Axe Murder, 1926

What is now a segment of W. Hilary St. in Pensacola, once was known as Chipley Alley.  It lies just south of W. Garden St. between S. Coyle St., and S. Reus St. It was near the site of the old Frisco railroad freight and passenger terminal building.  On the night of July 4, and early morning of July 5, 1926, 410 Chipley Alley was the site of a vicious attack on two adults, and two children by an axe wielding madman.

            Preston Pickerin, a 23-year-old carpenter, and his wife Hattie had spent part of the evening of July 4th in Cantonment at an Independence Day celebration, where Hattie won a cake.  Two children, 6-year-old Emmett Simpson, son of Hattie from her previous marriage, and 13-year-old Lucille Cushings, Hattie’s little sister had remained home.

            A neighbor, Mrs. Ella Martin was awakened just before dawn, by a low rumbling sound she could not identify, and got up to investigate. She walked outside, and looking through the Pickerin’s window.  Seeing the gruesome scene, she ran inside screaming, “Hattie, Hattie!” She later said that Mrs. Pickerin had mumbled something and lapsed into unconsciousness.  In the adjoining room lay the two battered children, still clinging to life.

            Mrs. Martin called the police, and requested they bring an ambulance.  The first officer on the scene was Captain J. R. Simmons, followed soon by Chief of Police William O’Connell.  The officers found the room in disarray, and the walls covered in blood.  There was evidence of a struggle in the adult’s room.

            An axe covered with hair, and blood was found in the children’s bed. The axe was delivered to fingerprint expert Robert Forrest, and after extensive examination, he could find no usable prints. A shoe was also found in the house that showed a defect in the sole that matched shoeprints found outside in the unpaved alley.

            As the rumors spread through the local community, a crowd began to gather to view the scene of the crime. All four victims were transferred to the hospital.  Mr. Pickerin was near death and was only given a few hours to live. His wife Hattie was unconscious with severe gashes to her head.  At this time, the children were reported near death, but a few hours later they regained consciousness.  They both could not remember what happened. They had been attacked while asleep, and had no memory of the assault.

            The police canvassed the neighborhood, questioning neighbors, friends, and acquaintances.  They discovered that bad blood existed between Pickerin and a man named Taylor. As recent as June 28th, members of Pickerin’s family had appeared as witnesses against Taylor.  Taylor and other members of his family were brought in for questioning.  (I haven’t been able to find out what the problem was between the families.)

            The authorities, being concerned about a growing lynch mob atmosphere, beefed up security at the jail in case they were attacked by vigilantes.  Preston J. Pickerin died from his injuries at one pm on July 5th.  His wife, Hattie was still in a coma.

            Hours after Pickerin died, Justice of the Peace, Judge Dan S. Nee summoned an inquest.  On Wednesday, July 7, a six-man jury met a Nee’s office.  Neither the police or the Jury could figure out a motive for the attack. Robbery was discounted because the Pickerin’s were not wealthy, and nothing was known to be missing from the house.

            Eleven suspects were picked up and held for the investigation, but ultimately none were charged with the crime.  Chief O’Connell told the press, “This case is being thoroughly investigated and we expect sensational developments any minute.”

            Police talked to a man named J. H. Perkins, a train dispatcher for the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad. He told officers he had seen a man from the railroad yard the night of the murder. “I first saw him coming from the direction of the Pickerin house.  He entered several yards, and searched through some wood piles.  I saw him in one yard swinging an axe in his hands, then I saw him go toward the Pickerin home.”  He described the man as being burly with black hair.

            The Coroner’s Jury heard all this testimony, including from the eleven witnesses/suspects being held, but all the evidence was considered weak, and circumstantial. With no new information coming to light, the hearing was postponed.

            On Thursday, the eighth of July, the Governor of Florida, John Martin arrived in Pensacola for the grand opening of the newly constructed Pensacola Bay Bridge. An estimated 10,000 cars crossed the bridge in the first 12 hours it was open.

            The next day, Hattie Pickerin came out of her coma. She remembered seeing a man. She did not know who he was. She remembered waking up when her husband was attacked, and she believed she struggled with the assailant, but with no identification, the investigators were at a loss.

            Chipley Alley was now known locally as, “Axe Murder Alley”.  All but 3 of the eleven suspects were released.

            During the investigation of the crime scene, police did find three, five gallon kegs of homemade liquor.  The Federal authorities joined the investigation to find out the origin of the illegal booze.  After a brief probe, they determined that the illegal whiskey had nothing to do with the attack.

            On July 28, Judge Nee resumed the inquest, calling 23 witnesses, including Captain Simmons, and Hattie Pickerin.  Mrs. Pickerin took the stand and related all she could remember from the night of the attack.  After she concluded without revealing any new information, a man stood and approached the witness stand.  When asked if she recognized him, Hattie said no, she had never seen him before.

            The man, (whose name was never revealed in court, and referred to as, “Mr. X” in the papers.), asked her, “Is it not true that you accompanied me on a party at Bayview and had a pistol which you used to shoot a spider on a tree?”  Confused, Mrs. Pickerin said, “No! I never did such a trick and besides I don’t know you.  I have never seen you before!”  After Hattie stepped down, the stranger swore under oath that she had accompanied him to Bayview and fired a pistol at a spider.

            (This whole testimony is bizarre to say the least.  Not only is any such occurrence irrelevant to the case, but what exactly was she being accused of? Why was this witness not identified?  I don’t believe this would never be allowed in a courtroom today.)

            At the conclusion of testimony, the jury verdict predictably was that the crime was, “committed by party, or parties’ unknown.”

            In 1950 a man named Robert Raymond Lassiter, in Greenville, South Carolina, confessed to the murder of Mr. Pickerin. He was arrested and brought to Pensacola, but was determined to be insane and sent to the state hospital in Chattahoochee until he could be found sane enough to assist in his own defense.

            In February 1959, it was determined that his mental condition had deteriorated, and there was going to be no prosecution.  The only evidence against him was his own confession, and he claimed no motive other than being drunk, and only remembered attacking one person. He was released into the custody of his family, who were going to put him in a private institution.

            This crime is also unsolved, and probably always will be.

            Hattie got married to Aulice McKenzie in February 1928, but divorced in 1930. She lived until 1950, passing away in Pensacola.

            Lucille Cushing married Lloyd Williams, and passed away in 2006. She was buried at Pensacola Memorial Park.

            I could not find out what became of Emmett Simpson. There was more than one person of that name in Pensacola, but this one is hard to find.

            It seems that it wasn’t very hard to get away with murder in the Florida Panhandle in the early part of the 1900’s.  I think that unless there were credible eye witnesses, or someone was caught red-handed, there was little chance of prosecution.

Thank you Patricia Wariner of the Santa Rosa Co., Genealogy Society for the old newspapers.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Unsolved Murder of Henry Hicks Moore

            There was another killing in a secluded parking area, before the Hinote, Bryars, killings. The location of this one was in the Magnolia Bluffs area off of Scenic Highway.  This occurred months before the last one I wrote about, and is also unsolved.

            Henry Hicks Moore left his wife and son at home on the evening of January 10, 1931 and went to the Saenger Theater to watch a movie.  He was not alone.  He had a date with a 19 year old Miss Gretchen Gregory. Moore was 23 years old and  lived at 503 E. Jackson St., with his wife Eulalie, and son Henry, Jr.  Later, Miss Gregory claimed she had no idea that Henry was married.

            After watching, “The Painted Desert”, they jumped in Henry’s roadster and drove toward East Pensacola Heights, stopping to get a soft drink at a roadside sandwich shop, then proceeded to the area of Magnolia Bluffs on Scenic Highway. About 11 pm Moore parked his car down a secluded path about 75 yards from the main road.

            Just a few minutes after stopping, two men, each shining a flashlight into the couple’s eyes, shouted for them to, “Stick ‘em up!”.  Miss Gregory screamed and one of the assailants shot Henry Moore, and then they disappeared in the woods.  After sitting in shock for a moment, she climbed over Henry and got behind the wheel.  She heard him mumble something, but didn’t understand what he said.  She had only driven a car once before, but after a few attempts was able to get the car started and back out on the highway.  She first stopped at a closed drug store, but finding no one there, she drove to Pensacola Hospital. (Later Sacred Heart on 12th ave.)  Her arrival time there was noted as 11:40 pm. 

            Ten minutes later, Dr. C. C. Webb pronounced Moore dead.  The police were notified. Sheriff Mose Penton was notified since the crime occurred outside city limits. Miss Gregory gave him the details of the night’s events.  When Gregory was informed that Henry Moore was married with a family she was shocked. The police went to the scene of the crime but found no evidence.  The only prints they could find on the car belonged to Moore, and Gregory.

            The Officers did discover, however, two $2000 life insurance policies, payable to the victim’s wife.  One of them had only been written that day.

            Miss Gregory was held overnight in jail as a material witness, pending the outcome of the coroner’s inquest and questioned repeatedly, but her story did not change. The autopsy was performed by Dr. James W. Hoffman, and showed the cause of death as a bullet through Moore’s heart that passed at a downward angle and came to rest in his back by the 8th rib. The bullet was identified as a .38 caliber. Powder burns indicated he had been shot a close range.

            Miss Gregory was released on $7500 bond, and her family retained Attorney William Fisher to look out for her best interests.

            A reporter interviewed Henry’s widow who claimed Henry hardly ever went out at night. He had been home for supper, and played with his son for a little while before kissing her goodbye, and heading for the movie. 

            On Wednesday, a capacity crowd gathered in the courtroom of Justice of the Peace, Dan A. Nee to hear evidence on the Moore case.  Testimony was heard from seven witnesses including hospital and police personnel, but the star was Miss Gretchen Gregory.  She repeated the detailed sequence of events of that night, and the jury found that Henry Hicks Moore died “at the hands of an unknown person, or persons.”

            On February 19, State Attorney Fabisinski called a grand jury to once again investigate the case trying to find new evidence. Even though the Associated Press had reported that Moore’s brother-in-law, R. S. Clark of Greenville, SC, claimed to have furnished clues to Pensacola police officers, the grand jury found no new information about the case.

            The murder of Henry Hicks Moore remains unsolved to this day.

            Gretchen Gregory married Henry C. Longuet on June 30, 1931 in Santa Rosa, County. In the 1940 census they are living on 81st Street in New York City, with a three year old daughter, and her husband was a Superintendent of an apartment building.  They divorced in Escambia county in August of 1958.  She passed away in May of 2003, and is buried In Bayview Memorial Park.

            Eulalie Turner Moore, Henry’s widow, married Lewis Kenneth Cahn in May of 1941, and died March 21, 1982.

            Henry Hicks Moore, Jr. was only 2 years old when his father was killed.  He grew up to be a prominent citizen in Pensacola, and was a community activist who wrote many opinion pieces for the News Journal.  He died on December 26, 2010.  He was an interesting person, and a google search should be productive for those interested.

            I doubt these two cases from 1931 were connected. The crime scenes were not too far apart, but there was no attempt to assault Miss Gregory.  I think it was just a robbery gone wrong. When Miss Gregory screamed, she may have startled one of the robbers into accidently firing his weapon.  According to her, they didn’t stick around after that and took nothing. 


Monday, June 19, 2017

Hinote / Bryars Murders, Unsolved


Arthur Hinote / Bernice Bryars
Murder, 22 Oct. 1931


            Arthur Hinote, born, 7 Mar 1914, and Bernice Bryars, born, 27 Sep 1916, left Hinote’s sister’s house at 1000 E. Brainerd St., in Pensacola to go to a movie.  When the two did not return that night, their families began to search.  They even made inquiries to neighboring states to see if a marriage license had been applied for, suspecting they may have eloped.

            Arthur worked at a mattress factory, and gave most of his money to his mother. On the night of their date he only had seventy cents in his pocket.

            The next day, shortly after noon, two wood cutters, John Engstrom, and John Birthright, were looking to collect some wood near Bayou Texar, about a mile north of Bayview Park.  At the time, this was a secluded area with little traffic.  Engstrom saw an automobile parked in the distance, and being curious, went to take a look.  Horrified, he saw the body of a young man lying next to the running board with part of his face blown away.  He turned to call his partner, and saw the body of a young lady lying about 15 feet away on the other side of the car.

            The young man had been obviously shot in the face.  The young lady had been savagely beaten to death.  It was later found that she had a deep mark on her forehead, a deep looking wound behind her ear, jaw broken in three places, and one of her eyes was discolored.

            Authorities were notified and began to arrive at the scene, and along with them, a growing crowd of gawkers began to gather.  Police identified the couple as Arthur Hinote, and Bernice Bryars, and notified the families. Police found few clues.  There were several wads from expended shotgun shells near the bodies.  The ground around Arthur was pretty much undisturbed, but it looked as if Bernice had put up quite a fight.  Her watch stopped at 10:15 pm, but not due to need of winding.  Some Bayou residents reported that they had thought they heard gunfire around 10 pm.

            Sheriff Mose Penton, Chief O’Connell, and Inspector Andrew Schmitz traveled to Andalusia, Alabama to interview a young man who had worked with Hinote in a sausage factory months before the slaying.  The young man had an alibi, and was cleared of suspicion.

            On Sunday, a dual funeral was held in the home of Arthur Hinote’s parents at 1118 W. Chase St.  Burial was at St. John’s Cemetery, attended by approximately 5000 people. The two young victims were buried side by side.

            The next day Sheriff Penton announced to the press that there were no new leads. He could not find a motive. It wasn’t robbery. It wasn’t revenge because there were no known enemies. He declared it to be the work of a maniac.

            By Monday, rewards for apprehension of the killer reached $550.  City Manager George J. Roark put up $100. The county offered $250. State Attorney Purl G. Adams in Crestview contributed $100, and a private citizen, Joseph Banman put up $100.

            County Solicitor Richard H. Merritt joined the investigation, and Florida Governor Doyle E. Carlton sent a special investigator to lend a hand.  Every day, at least a dozen investigators scoured Pensacola for leads.  Interviewing, double checking, back tracking, and tirelessly seeking answers, they were getting nowhere fast. 

            Finally, 15 days after the murders, Solicitor Merritt announced that he was holding a suspect named Grady H. Faulk, 25 years of age. Merritt said he would give evidence to the Grand jury, and seek a true bill.  Even though every effort was made to keep the evidence secret, the details began to leak.

            The evidence included a bloody shirt found in Faulk’s home in Klondike.
            A shotgun of caliber that killed Hinote with a bent barrel was in his possession.
            Rumor of a compact belonging to Bryars found in his home.

            The evidence was purely circumstantial, but it was strong enough for the Grand Jury to return two first degree murder indictments against Faulk. The court appointed Attorney Ernest E. Mason to defend Faulk.

            On the 8th of March, 1932, the trial began.  The State’s case, based on circumstantial evidence was built on these points:
            Faulk left home night of October 22nd, carrying shotgun.
            He didn’t return home until 3:30 in the morning, drunk.
            Someone noticed blood on his shirt.
            He became increasingly nervous, and didn’t return to work the day after the murders.
            Vanity case similar to Bryars found in his possession.

Faulk himself took the stand and withstood vigorous examination calmly while answering all questions put to him.

The Defense’s case:
            Faulk DID return to work the next day and the rest of the days of the week.

            The shotgun in question was a 20-guage, not 12-guage used in the murder.

            He was in possession of a shotgun but a witness backed up his story that he took it from an acquaintance named Nora Coleman when she attacked him with it. He bent the    barrel on a table while he was trying to break it.

            The blood on his shirt was turkey blood.

            The vanity case in question was never proven to belong to Bryars.

The same night the trial concluded, the jury took 25 minutes to acquit on the first ballot.
The case then went cold for over 29 years.

On May 1, 1951, Sheriff R. L. Kendrick arrested a 58-year-old man at a Crestview bus depot. The law had been looking for this man because they had been told that he had been in a car accident with Hinote several months before the murders.  Allegedly, he had threatened Hinote’s life when he was forced to pay repair charges stemming from the accident.  Due to lack of evidence, he was released.

            With no more evidence, the case has never been solved.  The killer of Arthur Hinote, and Bernice Bryars has never been identified.

            It was 1931, and the field of sex crimes was in it’s infancy.  I think this was the motive that Sheriff Penton could not, or did not want to publicly acknowledge.  This kind of crime became more common with the “Phantom Killer” in the 1940’s in Texarkana, Arkansas, and later the Zodiac killer in the San Francisco area around 1969-1970.
            I believe this young couple found a secluded spot for parking, and were accosted by someone with a shotgun who forced Arthur out of the car and shot him.  Then he assaulted Miss Bryars, and afterwards beat her to death. 
            It is nice that their families buried them together. They had been a couple for months, and all indications were that they would be married.
           

            

Monday, May 8, 2017

Grave of Frank M. Penton, Milton Cemetery


The Short Life, and Fast Times of Frank Penton

                Francis Marion “Frank” Penton was the Chief Deputy under Santa Rosa County Sheriff “Long” John Collins.  He killed two men in Milton in two separate shootouts, and possibly a third in an ambush.  The third one resulted in a Federal court trial; the first two he was cleared by a coroner’s jury. I think if Deputy Penton had lived out west in the 1880s, we would be reading about him along with Earp, and Hickock.

                On the 14th of February, 1909, at Andy’s Restaurant in Milton, Deputy Penton, and a man named Robert Fleming decided to settle their differences.  Apparently, as soon as they saw each other they drew their weapons, and commenced shooting.  Shortly after one pm on that day, Mr. Fleming died of gunshot wounds.  The Coroner’s Jury determined it was justifiable homicide.  It was reported that the shootout was a result of an old grudge. 

                On April 20, 1912, in a downtown Milton poolroom, Frank Penton, and his father, Abner T. Penton, were involved in a gunfight with George Warwick Allen.  Allen was a newly married 24-year-old, and the brother of Minnie Allen Collins, wife of S. G. Collins.  According to newspaper reports, 15-20 shots were fired, and though Frank Penton was wounded, he would recover.  Allen was shot with two different caliber bullets, once in the stomach, and a smaller caliber in the shoulder.  The Penton’s were both arrested, and later indicted for murder of Allen.  The elder Penton was found guilty of manslaughter, and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.  I have not been able to find any information on the sentence, (if any), for Frank Penton.

                 In early April 1906, George Allen had been tried for the murder of Eubesau Whitmire. On December 3rd 1905, they were quarreling at the L & N railroad depot over luggage owned by a traveling salesman.  Both young men were working as, “Hacks”, or porters for arriving passengers. During the quarrel, Whitmire was shot dead.  Allen was acquitted for the killing. As a possible motive for the gunfight with Penton, Allen had testified against Penton in Penton’s murder trial, and was assisting the prosecution against Penton in the Corbin Affair.

The Felix Corbin Affair

                In May of 1910, Felix Corbin fled Emanuel County, Georgia, with a warrant for Assault, and Battery on his head.  Emanuel Co. Sheriff Fields was able to track Corbin to Milton, Florida.  The Sheriff obtained the extradition paperwork, and took a trip to Milton.  When Sheriff John Collins received the paperwork, he arrested Mr. Corbin.  Corbin immediately got an attorney to arrange a hearing on the validity of the extradition papers. At the hearing the papers were declared to be, “irregular”, and Corbin was temporarily freed.  Sheriff Fields swore in an affidavit that Corbin was a fugitive from Georgia, and Corbin was again arrested.  Fields, Collins, and Deputy Frank Penton drove Corbin to Brewton, and Fields, with his prisoner took a train back to Swainsboro, Georgia.

                Once in Georgia, Corbin appeared before the U. S. Commissioner and swore out warrants for the arrest of John H. Collins, Santa Rosa Co. Sheriff, Deputy Frank Penton, also of Santa Rosa Co., and Sheriff Fields of Emanuel Co. Ga.  The charge was depriving Corbin of his constitutional rights by conspiring to take him back to Georgia without extradition papers.

                On June 16th, Collins, and Penton were arrested by Federal authorities for forcibly removing Corbin from Florida without a warrant. They were later released. Penton with a $300 bond, and Collins with a $1000 bond.  They were to appear in the next session of Federal Court.

                On December 6, 1910, Felix Corbin ate supper with his wife, and step-children.  As he finished his meal he heard someone calling his name outside.  He opened the door and was hit with four bullets. He died quickly, without naming his assailant.  Frank Penton was immediately suspected for the killing. He and a man named W. A. Simmons of Foley, Alabama were taken into custody.  On Dec. 9, there was a preliminary hearing, and both Penton, and Simmons were released with no indictment.  There wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with a case.  The Corbin murder goes unsolved. 

                By December 22nd, the federal authorities were investigating the murder. Penton Is no longer a Deputy and is in federal custody on two charges, killing Corbin to prevent him from testifying against him, Collins, and Fields, and a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the Corbin case.

                On April 3, 1911, Penton was indicted by Federal Court, but was freed on a $2000 bond.  His trial started later, on December 1.  The Government case was presented by Emmett Wilson, and Penton’s attorney was E. A. Pace of Dothan, Alabama.  On Dec. 3rd, after deliberating for 12 hours, the jury reported that it was hopelessly divided, and the court ordered a mistrial.  When the jury began deliberations the 10 man jury was 9 for conviction, and one for acquittal.  After 12 hours of debating the issue it was 6 to 4 for conviction.  Penton was released on the same bond, and was to be retried at the next federal court session. 

                In the March 10, 1913 issue of the Times-Democrat newspaper from New Orleans, it was reported that the U. S. Attorney, nol prossed, (dropped prosecution), in the Penton, and Collins cases.

                One final note on Felix Corbin.  There is a full slab grave marker in the Milton cemetery for Mr. Corbin next to his wife, who died in 1954.  Shortly after his killing, a newspaper in Georgia reported that his body had been shipped back to Georgia to be interred in the Corbin cemetery.  Personally, I think he was buried in Milton, and the Georgia newspaper jumped the gun.  Corbin had three sons from his first marriage living in Georgia, with their maternal grandmother. 

                Frank Penton sometime after being finally cleared of charges in the Corbin, and Allen cases found himself employed as the Fire Marshal  at the Pensacola Shipbuilding Company.  On June 27, 1919 he was shot, and killed by W. P. Cox, who was either on the police force at the shipyard, or was on the fire department with Penton and shared a dwelling with him.  There were no witnesses, and the reason for the shooting, or the fate of Cox are unknown at this time. 

                Good, or bad, Frank Penton was an interesting character.  I would like to know more about him.  I bet there is much more about his short life that would be of great interest. 

                Mr. Penton is buried in section three of our Milton Cemetery on Berryhill.  His marker claims he died in 1920, but the newspaper claims he was killed in 1919.  Felix Corbin’s marker is in section 12 as is Eubesau Whitmire’s.  George Warwick Allen is buried in the Collins plot also in Section 12. (northwest part, near the fence).  Allen’s widow, Eva Jernigan, remarried in 1915.  She, and her husband Henry C. Collins, are also buried in the Collins plot.

The one newspaper article I was able to find referring to Penton's death, stated his occupation as Chief of Police.  His death certificate shows it as Fire Marshal at Pensacola Shipbuilding Company.  The certificate show Homicide by pistol shot, and confirms his date of death as 27 June 1919.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why Judging Shadows?

I thought long and hard about what to name my blog.  I wanted it to be unique. While eating lunch with my wife Sandi at Ruby Tuesday’s, we hashed it out.  
The “Shadows” refer to the subjects of these essays.  Many of them are remembered only by name, and the info on their headstones.  Some have stories passed down through their families, but those too will continue to fade over time.  
We may hear these tales, and find old newspaper accounts, and subconsciously, or not we unfairly tend to pass judgement on these folks.  Honestly, there is no legitimate way, to criticize the lives, and actions of those who lived 80-100 years ago.  Hard times does not even begin to describe their existence. Justice was swift, and if it was not handed out in a timely manner, some people dealt it out themselves.  
City, and County police forces were small in the more rural towns, and they tended to selectively enforce the law, depending on the circumstances. County Sheriff’s had the power back in the early part of the 20th century.  

The point is, if someone should see an ancestor’s name in these stories.  Please, don’t be offended.  I assure you, there is no malice intended.  There is no judgement here on the motivations of those that lived decades before.