TINA DAVIS MURDER MYSTERY
Submitted by Pam Leonard
Tina was listed on the 1900 Scott County census in Blackfork Township as "Tiny," the nine-year-old daughter of
widower Ace/Asa Davis. This source lists her date of birth as March 1891 in Indian Territory. We know nothing of her life
between 1900 and the time of her death in February 1913. She was evidently married at some point to a man named Kendricks
and had two young children at the time of her death.
From: The Daily Oklahoman, 16 February 1913
WOMAN MURDERED BY BLOW ON HEAD
Stigler, Okla., Feb. 15 - (Special) -
Two Children Were Almost Frozen and Starved When Found
NO ARREST MADE YET
Body Is Found in Shanty Home By Neighbors Who Heard Children
"We the jurors, upon our oaths do say that Tina Davis came to her death during Sunday night, February 9, 1913,
by a blow on her head with some deadly weapon in the hands of an unknown person with felonious intent to then and
there kill and murder the said Tina Davis."
The above was the verdict rendered by the coroner's jury empaneled by Justice of the Peace Duke Frederick to investigate
the death of Mrs. Sarah V. Kendricks, known here as Mrs. Tina Davis. Mrs. Davis was found dead lying on the floor of
her home, a little shack in the east part of town, by W.F. Massey and other neighbors.
It was said that the neighbors at different times heard the small children at the Davis home crying, but paid no
particular attention to it until late in the afternoon, when the oldest child, a little girl of about 4 years of age,
came out on the porch crying. The child of a neighbor asked her what she was crying about and received the reply that
she was cold and that her mother was laying on the floor asleep and she could not awaken her.
The child, hearing this, told her parents with the result that neighbors were called and entered the home, finding
the mother dead on the floor, laying face downward in the blood that had escaped from three ugly wounds on her head.
The other child, a little tot of abut 2 years of age, was laying on the floor beside its mother, and was nearly frozen.
The officials were notified by the parties discovering the dead woman, and Justice Frederick immediately summoned a jury
to investigate the matter. The jury was composed of Guy C. Stafford, Charles L. Sigmon, T.A. Pope, B.B. Combs, Eugene
Mayer and J.P. Jones.
The jury met at the Davis home soon after being summoned and began their investigation. They continued in session until
late at night, all of the next (day) and late the second night returned the verdict as above stated.
About fifteen people testified before the jury, but as they held secret sessions, nothing could be learned as to what
was told them. As yet no one has been arrested for the crime, though it is stated that evidence is piling up against a
certain prominent man of the town.
From: The Daily Oklahoman, 24 February 1913
OFFER REWARD OF $700 FOR SLAYER
Stigler, Okla., Feb. 23 - (Special) -
The sum of $700 has been subscribed and paid by citizens of Stigler for the purpose of conducting a search for the
slayer of Mrs. Tina Davis, who was brained in her home near this city two weeks ago. The authorities have secured evidence
which they hope will lead to the arrest of a man residing in Stigler. The shocking crime has greatly incensed the people
of Stigler and surrounding territory.
From: The Daily Oklahoman, 1 March 1913
CHARGE PERJURY IN MURDER CASE
Stigler, Okla., Feb. 28 - (Special) -
G.B. Smith was today held to the grand jury by Justice Frederick, on a charge of perjury in connection with the murder
of Mrs. Tina Davis, who was found dead in her home in this city February 9, with her head split and skull crushed with
an ax. Smith swore at the coroner's inquest that he was attending church with a woman companion on the night of the
murder and this statement is alleged to be untrue. He is in jail on default of bond in the sum of $2,500.
A fund of $750 has been raised to prosecute the slayer of the woman. Rumors are that when an arrest is made in the case
it will cause a sensation.
From: The Daily Oklahoman, 6 April 1913
THINK MURDERER HAS MADE ESCAPE
Stigler, Okla., April 5, - (Special) -
Stigler Police Have Little Hope of Avenging Mrs. Davis' Death
That the slayer of Mrs. Tina Davis, who was brutally murdered in her home in Stigler six week ago, has made good his
escape seems to be the opinion of the authorities who have been investigating the tragedy.
Mrs. Davis, a widow with several small children, was found in her home, her skull crushed with a blunt instrument.
Although it has been repeatedly rumored an arrest was certain, the only development in the case was the "arrest" of a
coroner's inquest witness who was held to the grand jury on a charge of perjury.
The name of a prominent Oklahoma cattleman has often been mentioned in connection with the affair, but the authorities
no longer look upon this as a clew (sic). The citizens of Stigler raised nearly $1,000 to pursue the search and employed
a representative of a well known detective agency to take up the search.
Mrs. Davis was found three days after she was murdered by neighbors who were attracted to the house by the continued
cries of her hungry children.
From: The Scott County Record, 1 September 1921
Testimony of 11 Year Old Boy May Decide Old Murder Case
“A one-armed man killed mamma.”
Upon this statement of Edra Tipton, 11 years old, the state hangs its chief hopes for the conviction of J.W. Harrell at
Poteau, Okla., well known stockman of Stigler, in his trial for the murder of Mrs. Tiny Davis of Stigler, who was
mysteriously slain in her little home at Stigler eight years ago.
Little Edra Tipton, who was but three years old when her mother met death on the night of February 9, 1913, is expected
to be the star witness for the state. The evidence against Harrell is chiefly circumstantial, it is declared and the
child’s testimony that a one-armed man was her mother’s murderer is expected to be the keystone of the structure.
Harrell lost his left arm many years ago living at Bates. For eighteen years he has lived at Stigler, raising four
children to maturity. He has a brother in Sallisaw, another in Heavener and one at Bates.
Harrell’s arrest last winter followed eight years of investigation, during which the mystery was several times given
up as hopeless, only to be revived again when some slender clue was turned up. Detectives have worked on the case from
time to time, but no evidence warranting a trial was uncovered.
Mrs. Davis was beaten to death in her little two room house where she lived with her two babies, Edra, three years old,
and another child about a year of age. She was expecting another child at the time of her death, according to the
Though she was slain in the night, no one knew of it until the following afternoon, when neighbors saw Edra crying on
the porch. When they inquired the trouble, she brokenly told them “Mother is asleep and I can’t wake her up.”
Investigation revealed that she was dead, and the children had been there in the house with death since the previous
night, too young to know what it all meant.
Harrell’s home was a few blocks distant from the Davis house.
Charges that Harrell had bribed a witness to keep still were made at the preliminary hearing. A counter-charge that
this witness has been bribed to tell this bribery story is expected to be made in the trial.
From: Tulsa Daily World, 3 September 1921
HARRELL OFFERS ALIBI IN TRIAL
Poteau, Sept. 2--John W. Harrell, charged with the murder of Mrs. Tina Davis at Stigler, Okla., February 8, 1913, went
on the stand tonight in district court here in his own defense. He answered the first question shortly after 8 o'clock
and was under direct cross examination about an hour. The cross examination took up the same time.
Harrell testified that on the night Mrs. Davis was murdered he was at home at 9 o'clock and went to bed shortly after.
Previous defense witnesses had accounted for his whereabouts at all times during the day. The first he heard of the
murder, he said, was the next day when he was on his way to Arkansas.
The defendant's two daughters, Mrs. Opie Hardy and Mrs. Birdie Weeks, both of Muskogee corroborated his testimony
that he was at home early on the night in question.
Poteau Defendant Shows He Was at Home on Night of Murder
Refused to Pay Money to Man Who Offered to Clear Him of Slaying Woman
Twenty-five witnesses were called by the defense and practically all the testimony brought forward by the state was
contradicted. The defense went far in making two important points: That the defendant has a complete alibi and the
prosecution of Harrell grew out of an attempt at blackmail.
Harrell testified that when he returned from his trip to Arkansas, he was informed that a committee wished to see him
and he was examined by the sheriff, a justice of the peace and the county attorney on the day he got home and for two
days thereafter. Out of this investigation no charges developed.
Case Was Dropped for Years
That was the last Harrell heard of his name being mentioned in connection with the case, he said, until March of this
year, when he was approached by Clyde Wood, deputy city marshal of Panama, Kan., who said he could get Harrell out of
it for $1,000. Harrell said he refused to listen to the offer and told Wood that he "wouldn't give any damned crook
a red cent." No counsel was employed by him until March of this year, he testified.
In regard to the contention of the state that Harrell was intimate with Mrs. Davis and made her gifts of clothing and
wood, defense witnesses testified that Mrs. Davis was very poor and that Harrell was only doing as others did when he
provided these necessities.
It was conceded that the defense had made a strong case for the day. Probably some of the defense witnesses will not
be called and the arguments in the case will be complete tomorrow morning. The case is expected to go to the jury by
noon or 1 o'clock.
From: Tulsa Daily World, 3 September 1921
POTEAU - John Sweetson, farmer boy, who signed the warrant upon which John W. Harrell, former wealthy stockman of
Stigler, was arrested last April, charged with the murder of Mrs. Tina Davis eight years ago in Stigler, is missing.
With the exception of 11-year-old Edna Davis, who claims to identify Harrell as the murderer, whose testimony may be
ruled out, owing to the fact that she was only three years old at the time, Sweetson was held to be the chief witness
in the case.
Star Witness Missing
From: The Scott County Record, 8 Sepember 1921
Harrell is Freed of Murder Charge
John W. Harrell, charged with the murder of Mrs. Ida(sic) Davis, at Stigler, February 8, 1913, was acquitted by a
jury at Poteau, Okla. Saturday afternoon within a few minutes after the case had been submitted. Harrell proved a
complete alibi and made an excellent witness in his own defense. He claimed that a demand had been made on him for
$1,000 last March in order to have the charges against him hushed. Harrell told the jury he declined to be blackmailed.
The case was carried to Leflore county on a change of venue from Haskell county. A feature of the trial was the
testimony of an eleven year old child, three years old at the time of the crime, who declared a one armed man had
killed her mother.
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Copyright 2008 by Delaine Edwards
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