remembering annie etter: april, sexual assault awareness month

“MURDER IN READING  Annie ETTER, a fifteen-year-old girl of Reading was found on Sunday morning bruised and bleeding in a wood shed.  She was found in an unconscious condition and was removed to a hospital where she died on Sunday.  George Gantz, a 21 year old man of Reading, was arrested on Saturday evening for disorderly conduct.  It was ascertained that he had blood stains on his hands and chin and after being closely questioned he made a partial confession to the crime.  He admitted that he met the girl on Saturday evening and said they took a trolley ride.  He then pretended to see her safely home but in stead took her into an alley, through an open lot into a shedding where the deed was committed.  The young girl resisted his advancements and it appears a violent struggle was the result in which the young man struck the girl upon the head with either a board or bottle as numerous broken bottles lay close by.  The girls skull was fractured which caused her death.  The young man has a reputation for being of intemperate habits and he must have been under the influence of liquor when the deed was committed.”1


Annie L. ETTER (born September 6, 1888 Pennsylvania, United States of America, died October 26, 1901 Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania; buried Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania)2, was the daughter of David ETTER (1866–1940) & Kate A. FISHER (1866–1954).  Annie is a 3rd cousin twice removed from me via her great-grandmother Susanna (Anna) (FESSIG/FASIG) ETTER (1803-After Sept. 3, 1850), who is a 3rd great-grandaunt (some say, “4th great-aunt”) of mine.

At the time of her death Annie was the oldest of her parents’ five living children; an older sibling, born sometime after David & Kate’s 1885 marriage, had died before the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.  Remaining were Annie, Paul D., age 10; Ruth, age eight; Esther E., age five; &, toddler Mary ETTER.3  Annie’s dad David was employed as a hatter pouncer for the John Hendel Hat Company.4

Hanged for the Murder of Annie Etter
He Makes a Statement in Which He Declares He Was Not in a Responsible Condition When He Committed the Crime.5

      “George Gantz, the slayer of Annie Etter, was hanged in the Berks county prison yard yesterday morning.

      “He was deeply penitent, but went to his death calmly, walking to the gallows apparently unmoved. The drop fell at 10.15. The execution differed from all others so far as the attendance was concerned. There was [can’t read] solemnity inside the prison walls but without there were eager crowds, scurrying here and there to different spots of vantage; some as close to the prison yard gate as the police would allow; others along the driveways and seated as close to the jail as possible. Men, women and children to the number of at least 500, congregated outside. Some were discussing the murder, various opinions being given. There was general expectancy. among the crowd that something might happen inside the prison yard that might be heard on the outside. Some thought that Gantz might break into a fury on the scaffold.

      “But nothing of the kind occurred and the crowd saw or heard nothing until seven minutes after eleven when the prison doors were opened and the dead body of Gantz resting in a closed coffin was carried out and placed in the undertakers wagon.

      “Sheriff Mogel, accompanied by Coroner Moyer and the jury arrived at the prison at 9.45 o’clock. A short time before that hour Sergeant Edwards and Officers Auchter, Rothermel, Kirschman, Miller, Ludwig, Hintz, Grimmer, Lewis and Bowman marched up in a body and were stationed at different points outside of the prison to keep the crowd in order. Sheriff Mogel ushered the jurymen into the Inspectors room where they remained until a short time before the execution. The jurors were as follows: Frank B. Brown of Leesport; James M. Yeager, Sixth ward; Calvin A. Miller, Fleetwood; C. R. Grim, Maxatawny; Edward Elbert, Third ward; Charles J. Lesher, Twelfth ward; George G. Baker Cumru; David H. Baird, Hamburg; Dr. C. M. Bachman, Eighth ward; Aug. Bartels, Ninth ward; Irwin F. Maurer, Sixth ward; Jonathan Lutz, Twelfth ward.

      “County Commissioner Gunkel was accompanied1 by Sheriff Milnor, of Lycoming county, from whom the gallows was secured for the execution. Sheriff Thomas L. McMichael of Lancaster county, and Sheriff Weiderlick, of Lehigh county, also were present.

      “Some of the prison inspectors, a number of the county authorities, Rev. Dr. Brownmiller, Garrett Stevens, Jr., and four reporters constituted the balance of the spectators.

      “Monday night the condemned man was in a disturbed frame of mind. He did not retire to his cot until 1.30 Tuesday morning. By his request, Rev. Dr. Brownmiller remained with him all evening, leaving at twelve o’clock. The fact is that Gantz almost broke down yesterday afternoon, but mastered himself and regained the courage which stood him in good stead until the last breath of life was taken. He was considerably more cheerful after his spiritual adviser’s visit, and chatted a little with his death watch, Moses Hoffert, who had been on guard in front of the cell door for 26 days. Watchman Jacob Becker also spoke to him for a little while. Then, as at many other times, Gantz expressed his sorrow that his young life should be cut short in so ignominous a manner.

      “Whenever any reference was made by Gantz to the deed charged against him, he expressed great pity for the girl, saying that had he been in his right mind he would not have touched a hair of her head to injure her. He greatly deplored that he had allowed drink to overpower his better judgment.

      “He heard with interest of the efforts his counsel, Garrett Stevens, Jr., had made to secure a reprieve from Governor Stone. He was very grateful to his attorney for the trip taken to Harrisburg yesterday, and the parting between Mr. Stevens and the condemned man was quite affecting. Gantz expressed sincere gratitude for all that his attorney had done for him. Early Tuesday morning, at about 5 o’clock, the condemned man awoke and dressed. He noticed later in the morning that the sun was shining brightly without and commented: ‘Well, I see my last day on earth is a fine one.’ A cool statement, but nothing toward the cool and unfaltering manner in which the young man passed through the ordeal yet to come. At eight o’clock a fine breakfast was brought to Gantz, consisting of oatmeal, squab, cake and bread.

      “He looked at it disinterestedly. Not a bite would he take, simply drank a little coffee and resumed that contemplative demeanor which has caused him to become known among the prison officials as a model prisoner. After breakfast he was shaved by one of the prisoners, Elwood Schlaub.

    “Rev. Dr. Brownmiller arrived early and by Gantz’s request took a statement for publication. It is as follows, as dictated by the condemed man: ‘Tell them that my last words were that I positively know nothing how it happened (the crime), and knew not that it happened until they (the officers) told me. It wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have been drunk. I am very sorry for the deed and heartily repent, and face death with bright hopes of a better life.’ Some other private statements were made and it is said that Gantz believed that some other verdict should have been made, claiming that he did not commit the deed from malice or that it was premeditated. Furthermore, he did not believe that he had outraged [raped] the girl. For this reason his one wish was that the girl might have regained consciousness and told the real story of the occurrence. After Gantz had attired himself in his best suit, with laydown collar, link cuffs and a generally spruce appearance, he awaited’ the coming of the sheriff.

    “At ten minutes past ten the cell door was opened and he stepped out, with Sheriff Mogel on one side of him and Rev. Dr. Brownmiller on the other. The jurymen brought up the rear. Gantz marched forward with a steady step, Rev. Brownmiller by his side reading aloud a prayer. He briskly ascended the steps to the gallows and found the proper place to stand over the trap door without hesitation. Dr. Brownmiller followed, robed in the vestments of the Lutheran clergy. On the steps Gantz had smiled a little to himself. Sheriff Mogel’s deputies, John C. Bradley and Jacob H. Sassaman then adjusted the handcuffs, Gantz’s arms being pinioned behind him. They were carefully strapped, as were his lower limbs. Then before the black cap was placed over his head, Dr. Brownmiller read a prayer for the dead, which the condemned man repeated after him. A benediction was then pronounced, God’s mercy being pleaded for in behalf ot the unfortunate young man.

    “Dr. Brownmiller then in a tremulous voice said ‘Well, good-bye, George,’ and kissed him upon the cheek. There was gratefulness in the young man’s voice and face as he answered in a whisper ‘Good-bye.’ He had winced a little when the rope was tightened, but said not a word. He did not even tremble at the last moment, but stood erect and in this position continued with wonderful grit until the sheriff at 10.15 o’clock pressed the lever. It was noticed at once when the body dropped that the rope had slipped and that instead of its lodging under the left ear, It had caught him at the base of the skull. There was therefore some apprehension lest the execution would not be a success. The body gave several convulsive twitches and then was quiet. But the heart beat on. The physicians set the spectators at their ease by reporting at 10.26 that the pulse had ceased to beat. At 10.34 they announced that life was extinct. Deputy Sassaman then remounted the gallow steps and with a sharp knife cut the rope, attendants having hold of the body. Then it was placed upon a stretcher and carried into the rear prison corridor, where the handcuffs and straps were removed and lastly the black cap. The appearance of the dead man was not much changed. There was no expression of pain and it is believed that he suffered little. Drs. Schmehl and Wagner made an examination and Dr. Bachman, one of the Jury, joined them at their invitation.

    “It was then discovered, as It had been feared, that the murderer was strangled to death. If the rope had not slipped, the doctors said, the neck would have been broken and death would have resulted quicker. There were no abrasions upon the neck, the skin being only slightly discolored. Sheriff Milnor, who has operated the gallows himself in Lycoming county, said that the execution was very creditably done and that the slipping of a rope was an unavoidable occurrence. The authorities from other counties also assured the Berks officials that the hanging was in every way well conducted. The jurymen then signed the papers of the coroner and he then left with his report which is to be presented to court. In the meantime Undertaker Seidel brought a coffin and the body was delivered to him. It was carried out to the wagon in waiting in front of the prison. Dr. Brownmiller was not for a moment absent, having promised the young man that be would stay by his side until deposited in the undertaker’s wagon. The body was removed at 7 minutes after 11 to the home of, Harry D. Miller, [number jumbled] Mulberry street, from which place the funeral will take place in several days. The exact time will not be made public, so as to avoid a crowd. While in prison Gantz became friendly with the watchman and attendants. Those whom he caught sight of while going from his cell to. the gallows were greeted with ’good-byes.’ Warden Newcomet received a farewell in which Gantz expressed his appreciation of the kind treatment accorded him. …

    “Last Sunday, Garrett Stevens his counsel, spent some time in the [can’t read]. For two years he was struck[?], Gantz is said to have told condemned man’s cell. This statement was then dictated and signed by him: ‘At the trial I heard for the first time a full account of what I had done on the night of Saturday, the 26th of October last. I have always said, and still say, that I did not kill Annie Etter purposely, and until I was told by the chief of police, I did not even know that she had been hurt by me. Everybody was down on me at the time of my trial, and nobody would believe me when I said that I did not remember anything that took place on that night after we got on the car to come in from Stony Creek. I have tried to think what took place that night, but I can’t do it. Since I have been here I have realized what an awful thing it must have been, and I have been very, very sorry that things went the way they did, for I never thought even for an instant of doing anything to injure the poor girl. That was the first time we had ever been out together. I forgive everyone for the parts they have had to take in this case, and hope that I may be forgiven. The only place where I think a mistake was made was in the chief of police’s testimony. I never knew what took place and I can’t believe that I told him what he said I did. I have been kindly treated while here in prison and have nothing to complain of. Of course, no one wants to die in this manner, yet it is the punishment which the law makes for a thing of this kind.’

    “The murderous assault for which George Gantz paid the death penalty, occurred on Saturday night, October 26, 1901. The unfortunate young girl whom he fatally wounded while in a drunken rage, was Annie Etter, 15-year-old daughter of David Etter, at 428 Pearl street. She had left home that afternoon at 6.30 o’clock to visit relatives at 135 Poplar street. Shortly before 8 o’clock she left the latter place and was thought to have returned home, but she subsequently met Gantz by appointment and they went together to Stony Creek. About 11 p. m. the couple returned to town, walked down Sixth street and then down Franklin to Pearl. Their actions were noticed by a number of people who testified at the trial that the girl seemed to want to escape from Gantz, but that by pulling her by the arm and coaxing her, she finally accompanied him. She wanted to walk down Sixth street to Bingaman, but Gantz finally got her started down Franklin street, then compelled her to turn into Pearl street with him. He had been drinking heavily and several times had almost fallen while walking by the girl’s side.

      “About 100 feet from Franklin street, on Pearl, they arrived at a stable and there Gantz is said to have made a proposal to the girl which she opposed. He then forced her into the shed, beat her on the head with a board until she became unconscious and then outraged her, after which he took flight. People living in that vicinity heard the girl’s moans and notified the police department. Officer Benjamin Rhoda was sent to the scene, and was accompanied by Mahlon Bortz, an electric light in spector. In the shed they found the girl lying senseless, her head lying in a pool of blood. Her clothing were disarranged. Bortz then hurried away for a stretcher and the girl was carried to police station. Here it was seen that her condition was very serious and she was quickly removed to the Reading hospital. It was 12.45 o’clock when the patient was admitted. She was bleeding from her right nostril and right ear. An examination revealed that she had fracture In the vault of her skull, a transverse fracture over the head, lead-ins from temple to temple. The front of the skull was depressed. At 8 a. m. an operation was performed, piece of bone was removed from the temple, clots from the brain and the depressed portion of the skull raised. She did not regain consciousness, but died at 12.35 Sunday noon. The fatal injuries bore signs that they were inflicted with a board and the bruises on the face are supposed to have been caused by Gantz’s fist.5

Annie L. ETTER’s grave marker at the Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.6

      “In the meantime Gantz was arrested and locked up at police station. Chief Miller, questioned him regarding the affair and Gantz is said to have made a confession to the effect that the girl had resisted him, but that he managed to get her into the stable, then picked up a board, felled [her?]. Chief District Attorney Rothermel was present when the statement was made to Chief Miller by Gantz. The trial came up in court at the December sessions. On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Jury was selected. It required a full day to do it. Sixty-seven names were considered, these being chosen: George T. Hawkins, colored, Ninth ward; Fred. Shilling, molder, Cumru; Solomon Stafford, farmer. Cumru: J. V. Shankweiler, storekeeper, Hereford; John A. Hiester, boat builder, First ward; John M. Rhoads, pipe cutter, Eighth ward; John Trexler, cabinetmaker, Longswamp; Adam S. Fisher, carpenter, Sinking Spring; J. K. Groman, 134 Schuylkill avene; Thomas C. Darrah, tax collector, Eleventh ward; George Melnholtz, contractor, Tenth ward; Howard C. Strauss, justice of the peace, Maidencreek. The case was opened for the prosecution by Harry P. Keiser, who related the, story of the crime, which was substantiated by witnesses. Garrett Stevens, Jr., opened for the defense the following’ morning (Tuesday). There were witnesses to testify that Gantz was an epileptic and that whenever he received any drink he was not his same self. When the testimony was all In, the prosecution had nothing to offer In rebuttal. Mr. Stevens addressed the jury with a tremor in his voice. ‘I come before you today almost brokenhearted,’ said he. ‘We have worked day and night to gather our testimony and had it all arranged. But now, as though we were some plague-stricken body, they have fallen away from us. Even the father of the boy has remained away. He on whom the son should rely has rendered himself a fit subject for pity. The father who has no greater love for his son than to leave him face the greatest of perils alone, is not a fit lather.’ On December 17 the jury brought in a verdict finding Gantz guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced on April 26, 1902, to be hanged. The death warrant was signed by Governor Stone on July 11, and received by sheriff Mogel on the 18th inst. The whole proceedings dazed the youthful murderer. He resented the statements made by Chief Miller, claiming that he was not fairly dealt with and that he knew of no admissions. In fact, Gantz to his very best friends since then has said that the whole affair at the shed and afterward was a blank to him and that he did not realize the awful nature of the crime charged against him until he was in the court room and heard the stories of the witnesses.”5

Re the booklet shown below:  Why is it the Gantz tragedy?  Isn’t it more like, the Annie Etter tragedy?  Right:  let’s make the murderers famous, slide their victims into obscurity.  (How much would the board Gantz beat Annie to death with fetch on a collectibles site??  Or, one of those broken bottles?  [How about a fragment of Annie’s actual skull??])

As a society?  We haven’t come too far on this one…

Original 1901 Story Booklet Titled ‘The Gantz Tragedy.’ The Story of the Murder of Annie L. Etter from Reading PA. Discusses in detail the murder of Annie L. Etter. George Gantz beat her to death. He was executed by hanging. Measures 7 1/4″ by 5″. 32 pages. Few tears. Overall nice original condition.”7

1 USGenWeb Project, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, at , accessed Apr., 2018.
2, “Annie Etter,” memorial no. 90082887 at , photo contributed by N.D. Scheidt.
3 U.S. Federal Census data:  1900 and, 1910 Censuses, “David ETTER” household.
4 What is a hatter pouncer? 😀  If you’re wondering, well, so did I, so I Googled and found a great explanation at, “The Custom Hatter,” ; browser address good as of Apr. 4, 2018.
5 The Reading Times newspaper, Reading, Pennsylvania; issue date Wednesday, September 24, 1902; page, 2, at , accessed Apr., 2018.
6, “Annie Etter,” memorial no. 90082887 at , photo contributed by “Carol & Pete.”
7 Booklet image and, text in quotes beneath (i.e. caption), from, at , accessed Apr., 2018.


murdered — lola dewey (gregory) halbert

Researching my Aunt Geri (Geraldine Frances McGINNIS) BUCKNER’s (1916 Crawford County, Missouri–2006 St. Louis County, Missouri) family the other night, I may have audibly gasped upon reading at her memorial that one of Geri’s aunts, Lola (GREGORY) HALBERT, “was brutally murdered in her home on August 12, 1982 during an attempted robbery.”[1]

You watch stories like this on “Dateline,” or, “48 Hours;” they seem remote and, distant, terrible events you never expect to find in your own “family files.”

Austin Paris HALBERT & Lola Dewey GREGORY [2]

Austin Paris HALBERT (1893 Steelville, Crawford County, Missouri–1976 Sullivan, Crawford County, Missouri), next-up sibling of my Aunt Geri’s mom, Nellie A. (HALBERT) McGINNIS (1897–1982), married the lovely Lola Dewey GREGORY (1898 Hinch, Crawford County, Missouri–1982 Steelville, Crawford County, Missouri) on September 28, 1918, in Steelville.  Lola, the daughter of Winfield Scott GREGORY (1848–1911) & Susan Jane COMPTON (1856–1932), and Austin, youngest son of Volna Pearce HALBERT (1856–1944) & Francis D. (Fannie) COLEMAN (1865–1900), had two children together, Mildred Evelyn, &, Cecil.

When her husband Austin died in 1976, Lola went to live with her bachelor son Cecil.

Cecil operated the “Fishermen’s Dude Ranch,” a trout fishing resort in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains near Steelville.  Among Cecil’s employees, one Theodore F. LEWIS, Jr.[3]

Reads “STATE V. LEWIS” at

[3]“Lewis worked with Cecil at the ‘Fishermen’s Dude Ranch,’…and knew that Cecil was responsible for the money generated by the pay lake.  The Halbert house is approximately one-fourth of a mile away from the ‘Dude Ranch.’  Hoping that Cecil would be home for lunch with receipts from the ‘Dude Ranch,’ Lewis drove to the Halberts on the morning of August 12.  In preparation for the robbery, Lewis obtained a shotgun, numchucks (a martial arts weapon made from two pieces of wood connected by a chain), ski mask, bailing twine, and an extra change of clothing.  He brought these items with him to the Halbert residence.  He also prepared to leave the area after the robbery by packing a sleeping bag and other personal items.

Lola Dewey (GREGORY) HALBERT [4]

“At approximately 10:30 a.m., Lewis knocked on the Halbert front door.  Lola Halbert, the eighty-three year old victim and mother of Cecil Halbert, answered the door.  Lewis identified himself by name and asked if he could use the telephone; he was not wearing the ski mask.  He had decided to leave it in his car.  After Lewis was inside, he struck Lola Halbert in the head with the numchucks, knocking her to the floor.  She started screaming and crying out for Cecil.  Cecil, however, was at work.  To silence her, Lewis struck her two more times with the numchucks while she was on the floor.  However, the victim persisted in her pleas and cries for help, so Lewis kicked her in the face and stuffed a rag into her mouth.  At this point Lola was unconscious, but Lewis did not leave.  He went outside to make sure that no one had heard the screams, came back into the house and began searching for valuables.  Unfortunately, after 15 minutes or so, the victim woke up and started crying for help again.  Lewis returned to his victim and tried to tie her up with a cord.  Having no success, Lewis then tried to strangle her with the cord.  Worried about the continued screaming by the victim, Lewis went outside again to see if anyone had heard the noise.  Seeing no one, Lewis went back in the house and saw the victim squirming, trying to get up.  He stabbed her with a meat fork and then stabbed her in the chest with a pair of scissors, but she still did not die.  Lewis went outside again and found a hatchet.  He came back in the house, went over to the victim, and struck her in the neck with the hatchet, ending her life.”[3]

Convicted of capital murder with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years[5], LEWIS appealed his conviction contending, “the murder was not premeditated.”

[3]“Lewis testified at trial to all of the aforementioned events.  He testified that all of his actions were intended to get the victim to be quiet, either by frightening her or rendering her unconscious.  Lewis testified that he did not intend to kill Lola Halbert.  Lewis did testify, however, that he had taken the numchucks to the Halbert residence, intending to use them.  He testified that he knew that they could kill.  Lewis stated that he had taken the change of clothing with him because he knew that the clothes that he was wearing would get blood on them.  Lewis testified that he intended to stab the victim with the scissors in order to scare her.  He also testified that he intended to hit her with the hatchet.

Lewis testified that he delivered that hatchet blow at 11:15 a.m.  He stated he knew this because he went to look at a clock in the house to make sure it was not noon.  He testified that he was afraid Cecil would be coming home for lunch and he did not want to be there at that time because he did not have his gun with him.  Lewis testified that he had left his shotgun leaning on a fence while walking from his car to the Halbert house.

“After striking his victim with the hatchet, Lewis resumed his search for things to steal.  He found an antique shotgun and a flashlight that he placed by the door so he would not forget them when he left.  He called Cecil at work to ask him if he had any money, but he was told no, so he decided to leave.  Before leaving, however, Lewis testified that he wrote a note to throw off the police and placed it on Lola’s chest.  The note read:  ‘I am staying around town until the time is right to kill again. /s/ The Chinaman.’

“As Lewis was fleeing the scene, his car ran out of gas.  At this time Lewis changed his blood stained clothes and threw them, along with the shotgun and flashlight he had taken from the Halbert home into the woods near his stalled car.  He had hidden the instruments used to kill Lola Halbert in or nearby outside of the Halbert home.

“At approximately 12:05 p.m., Sheriff John Giles received a call to investigate an occurrence at the Halbert residence.  Giles testified that at this time he was not exactly sure what had happened.  While en route, Giles saw Lewis standing next to his car on Highway BB.  Giles stopped and asked Lewis if he was having trouble.  Lewis told him that he was out of gas.  Giles offered to take Lewis to the ‘Dude Ranch’ so that he could get some gasoline, since it was on the way to the Halbert home.  Giles testified that because he was unsure of what had occurred at the Halberts, he surreptitiously studied Lewis, looking for evidence of blood and peculiar mannerisms.  Giles testified that there was nothing unusual about the way Lewis acted and, based on his twenty-two years in law enforcement, it did not appear that Lewis was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Giles dropped Lewis off at the ‘Dude Ranch’ and continued on to the Halbert residence.  Ben Redman, an employee at the ‘Dude Ranch,’ was there when Lewis arrived.  Redman testified that Lewis got there just as he was instructing the ambulance driver how to get to the Halberts.  Redman testified that Lewis ran up and asked him ‘What happened?  Did somebody get hurt or what?’  Redman told Lewis that he did not know and went in to call Cecil.  Cecil told Redman that his mother had been murdered and Redman told him that he would be right over.  Redman testified that both Lewis and himself went over to the Halbert house and that they sat with Cecil making ‘small talk’ trying to console him.  After Redman and Lewis left the Halbert house, Lewis asked Redman for some gas.  Redman got Lewis a gallon of gas and took him to his car.

“Lewis then fled the state, stealing gas on his way to Arkansas.”[3]

What a piece of work 😡 , but wait, there’s more:

[3]“The next morning, August 13, Lewis was arrested by Arkansas authorities in connection with the shooting of a Newport, Arkansas police officer.  Lewis was arrested by Arkansas State Police Officer Max Jones.  Jones handcuffed Lewis, put him in his patrol car, and took him to the Newport City Hall, in which the police station was housed.  Jones told Lewis several times that he was not going to ask him any questions and, therefore, did not read Lewis his Miranda rights.  Jones testified that he never questioned Lewis, but that Lewis voluntarily initiated a conversation by asking if the police officer he had shot was dead.  Jones testified that at that time he did not know that Lewis was wanted in Missouri.

“Lewis arrived at the Newport City Hall at approximately 10:30 a.m. for booking. A crowd of about 15 or 20 people were in front of the City Hall, but Lewis was taken in through a side entrance.  Officer Jones testified that he recognized the persons congregated in front of the building as those who normally transacted business there.  As court did not convene until 1:30 p.m., the Arkansas authorities proceeded to question Lewis prior to taking him before the municipal judge for arraignment.  Officer Gary Wilson and Detective Larry Cook of the Newport Police Department first questioned Lewis.  Before the questioning began, a deputy prosecutor not assigned to the case but curious, walked over to Lewis, who had his head down.  The deputy prosecutor, according to the testimony of Officer Wilson, said, ‘I just want to look at the person who shot the officer.’  With that, according to Wilson, the deputy prosecutor put his hand on Lewis’ head and ‘just sort of gently pushed his head up.’  The prosecutor then left and the questioning proceeded.

“Officer Wilson testified that he discussed both, the shooting of the Arkansas Officer and the incident that occurred in Missouri, with Lewis.  Wilson testified that he advised Lewis of his Miranda rights prior to beginning the discussion, but that Lewis began to talk before he got through the entire Miranda warning.  Wilson testified that he made Lewis stop and completed advising him of his rights.  Wilson stated that Lewis was advised two more times of his rights during that period of questioning, including prior to recording his statement.  Wilson testified that no threats or promises were made to Lewis and that Lewis was asked if he understood each of his rights and Lewis so indicated.  At no time did Lewis request counsel or ask that the questioning be stopped.

“State’s Exhibit 26, the recorded statement that Wilson took from Lewis, was introduced at trial.  However, since no one testified as to its contents at trial and Lewis did not include it in the legal file, we are not aware of its contents.  In any event, Wilson testified that the statement was typed, presented to Lewis for inspection, and he was told to correct any inaccuracies.  He made one correction, changing ‘Cecil’s’ name to ‘Halbert’ and then he signed each page after being told to do so only if he concurred with what was contained therein.  Within a couple of hours after giving this statement, Lewis was taken before an Arkansas magistrate and an Arkansas attorney was appointed to represent him.

“At approximately 6:30 p.m. that same day, Missouri authorities arrived to question Lewis about the murder of Lola Halbert.  Lewis gave a written and a tape recorded statement (which was transcribed) to these authorities.  Again, neither the written nor tape recorded statement (or transcript thereof) have been provided for us in the legal file.  Sheriff John Giles took Lewis’ written statement.  Giles testified that he advised Lewis of his Miranda rights before he began talking with him.  Lewis was asked if he understood his rights and indicated that he did.  Lewis then signed a waiver of rights form that Giles presented to him.  Giles testified that Lewis completed, in his presence, a statement in his own handwriting about what had happened in Missouri. Giles testified that at no time did Lewis request an attorney.

“Apparently, Lewis’ appointed Arkansas counsel arrived at the City Hall after Giles had taken Lewis’ written statement.  His counsel requested to be permitted to speak to Lewis immediately prior to Lewis giving his taped statement.  This request was complied with and Lewis and his counsel conferred for about 40 minutes.  Missouri State Highway Patrolman Paul Mertens testified that none of the Missouri authorities were aware that Lewis had counsel at the time he gave his written statement and that the first time they became aware of the fact was immediately prior to the taped statement when the attorney asked to see Lewis.

“Patrolman Mertens testified that after Lewis finished speaking with his attorney, he proceeded to take Lewis’ taped statement.  Mertens stated that, as he remembered, Lewis’ attorney only requested that the Missouri officers not discuss the Arkansas case with Mr. Lewis and did not try to stop them from questioning him about the Missouri case.  As to what counsel advised Lewis to do in regard to the Missouri case, we are unaware.  Lewis did not testify to his conversation with counsel and the record does not indicate what was said.

“Mertens testified that when Lewis returned after consulting with his counsel, he asked Lewis if he wanted to continue and Lewis said, ‘yes.’  Mertens testified that he again outlined for Lewis his rights under Miranda, indicating his right to have an attorney present, and Lewis stated that he did not want an attorney.  It was then that the taped confession was made.

“At trial, Lewis testified that the written statement given to Sheriff Giles and the taped statement given to Patrolman Mertens were true and accurate.  He testified further that he had not been threatened or coerced into giving any statement and that he had not been denied anything that he requested.  He stated that he had not asked for an attorney before his written statement to Giles and that he did not object to talking about the Missouri incident after he had conferred with his Arkansas counsel.  Lewis testified that he had made the statements because he wanted to tell what had happened and because he wanted to get out of Arkansas and back to Missouri.

“Prior to trial, Lewis waived his right to a jury trial and, in exchange, the prosecutor did not seek the death penalty.  Defense counsel filed a pre-trial notice of his intention to rely on the defense of mental disease and, thereafter, a motion for a psychiatric examination to determine Lewis’ capacity to stand trial, and whether, at the time of the offense, Lewis could appreciate the nature of his conduct or conform his conduct to the requirements of law.  The motion was granted and a psychiatric examination was ordered.  Doctor S.D. Porwatiker conducted the examination and found that Lewis understood the charges against him and could assist his attorney in his defense.  Doctor Parwatiker also found that at the time of the offense, Lewis knew and appreciated the nature, quality, and wrongfulness of the offense and was capable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of law.

“In his first point Lewis contends that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress, and trial objections to, the admission of his recorded statements.  Lewis argues that the state failed to prove that he initiated further communication with the Missouri authorities ‘after expressing a desire for assistance of counsel.’  Lewis also argues that the trial court erred in these rulings because the statements were involuntary because of his counsel’s failure to prevent interrogation by the Missouri authorities.

“Addressing Lewis’ first argument, we note initially that he does not claim trial error in the admission of his statement given to Arkansas Police Officer Max Jones.  Further, the record does not indicate that Lewis ever requested counsel prior to, during, or after the Missouri authorities had interrogated him.  We recognize the principle, cited by Lewis, contained in State v. Oldham, 618 S.W.2d 647 (Mo. banc 1981), i.e., if accused requests counsel, further questioning can be had only if accused voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently initiates the communication.  This principle applies if the accused has requested counsel.

“Lewis asserts that he ‘obviously had requested counsel as one had been appointed by the Arkansas court prior to interrogation by Missouri officials.’  The record does not indicate this.  Lewis did not testify that he had requested counsel.  Indeed, Lewis did not testify about the statements.  Under Arkansas law, one need not request counsel in order for the court to appoint one.  …  In the absence of evidence in the record, we will not presume the request.

“The record indicates that Lewis’ rights were adequately protected by the interrogation procedure.  The Missouri authorities arrived, and gave Lewis his Miranda warning.  Lewis stated he understood the warning, including his right to counsel, but nevertheless signed a written waiver of rights.  The Missouri authorities were unaware that an Arkansas attorney had been appointed to represent Lewis and at no time did Lewis so indicate.  After learning that an attorney had been appointed, Lewis was allowed to confer with counsel for forty minutes.  What advice his counsel gave is a matter of conjecture as Lewis did not testify about the conference with his attorney.  However, after Lewis returned, he was again read his Miranda rights and expressed a willingness to continue with the questioning.  Lewis testified at trial that he had not asked for an attorney before conferring with his counsel and that he did not object to talking with the Missouri authorities afterwards.  He testified that he made the statements because he had wanted to and that he was not threatened or coerced in any fashion.  Viewing the totality of the circumstances surrounding the questioning by the Missouri authorities, we conclude that the statements given by Lewis were voluntary and that the procedure adequately protected his constitutional rights.

“Lewis’ second argument is that his statement was involuntary because his Arkansas attorney did not ‘prevent further interrogation by Missouri authorities by invoking {Lewis’} Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent.’  Lewis claims that his counsel was ineffective for this reason.  Because of the lack of an adequate record, we are unable to decide the point.  As noted, Lewis did not testify as to what advice his attorney gave to him during their forty minute conference.  Counsel may well have advised Lewis to remain silent.  The record does not indicate what transpired and, therefore, we cannot conclude that counsel was ineffective or that Lewis’ statement was involuntary.

“In his final point, Lewis contends the trial judge erred in finding him guilty of capital murder because the evidence was insufficient to prove premeditation and deliberation.  …”[3]

At this juncture I would just like to insert, OMG 😮 , “the evidence was insufficient to prove premeditation and deliberation”?!?  (On what planet!?!)  What an insolent joker.  Again:  What a piece of work!  Dance that you escaped the death penalty you lowlife. 😡  (And I am, normally, anti the death penalty…)

[3]“Reviewing the evidence and its reasonable inferences, we find the following:  Lola Halbert, the eighty-three year old mother of the intended robbery victim, was struck in the head, kicked, tied up, strangled, stabbed with a meat fork, stabbed with scissors and struck in the neck with a hatchet.  Lewis performed these heinous acts over the course of an hour and one-half.”[3]


[3]“Further, prior to his arrival at the Halbert residence, Lewis planned to rob Cecil Halbert.  He took numchucks, a shotgun with shells, and an extra change of clothes with him.  He testified that he intended to use the numchucks and that they could kill.  He also stated that he would have used the shotgun if he had to and that he knew that a loaded shotgun could kill.  Lewis testified further that he intended to perform all of the violent acts at the time he did them; to kick, choke, stab, and strike with a hatchet.  Further, there is no indication of any type of struggle, and the fatal beating was inflicted at a time when the victim was alone.  From the seriousness of this beating being inflicted on an eighty-three year old woman Lewis was practically certain to cause the death of Lola Halbert.  There are no questions about Lewis’ mental capacity.  The psychiatric examination of Lewis concluded that ‘at the time of the alleged offense, he knew and appreciated the nature, quality and wrongfulness of the alleged offense and was capable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of the law.’  Lewis’ contention as to premeditation is without merit.

“Lewis also argues that he is not guilty of capital murder, but is guilty of second degree murder.  The difference between capital murder and second degree murder is deliberation.  Lewis contends the evidence at trial failed to show deliberation and that he did not intend to kill, needed money, had taken drugs, and was upset by the breakup between him and his girlfriend.  However, the evidence shows otherwise.  Lewis attacked the victim numerous times.  After each attack, he went outside to make sure that no one had heard the victim’s screams.  At one point the victim was unconscious for approximately 15 minutes, but instead of leaving, Lewis remained at the Halbert residence.  Lewis was calm and cool enough to know that Cecil Halbert would be coming home for lunch soon and that he needed to leave the house before noon.  He was also calm and cool enough to search for gas for his car, take the shotgun and flashlight and attach a note to the victim’s body to cast suspicion on a fictitious Chinaman.  These are the acts of a deliberating individual.  The evidence clearly and substantially supports the finding of deliberation. Lewis’ point is without merit.

“Judgment affirmed.”[3]

Yay team.

Me?  I hope Lola haunts you in your dreams, Theodore Lewis. 😥

1. memorial no. 71073293, “Lola Dewey Gregory Halbert,” at , accessed Dec. 13, 2016.
2. Karen Cleland photo shared to (See Endnote No. 1 above).
3. (“a leading provider of United States Court opinions and decisions”): “STATE v. LEWIS,” No. 51749, 734 S.W.2d 847 (1987); STATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Theodore F. LEWIS, Jr., Appellant; Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Division Four; June 9, 1987,” at , accessed Dec. 16, 2016.
4. Karen Cleland photo shared to (See Endnote No. 1 above).
5. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri; issue date Wednesday, June 10, 1987; page 5; at , accessed Dec. 13, 2016.