The Knoxville News-Sentinel from Knoxville, Tennessee on April 27, 1941 · 32
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The Knoxville News-Sentinel from Knoxville, Tennessee · 32

Knoxville, Tennessee
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 27, 1941
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T?t C-12 Tune -In WNOX ' THE KNOXTlLLE'NEWS-EXTLVErJ Want 'Ads' S513t Sunday April 27 194T' liJM fnkM mi ?'n Ya Yi ' -7 Ji n ) " wummmi r mm mm mi® (Pi — Mcmphian's Death Bizarre Career and Arrest of One of Women in Life and Husband" THIS is the story of the Case of the Poisoned Milk Bottle It concerns itself with the murder of Walter Lewis Samples a 60-y ear-old Spanish American War Veteran who died two days after drinking from a bottle of poisoned milk which was placed ' on the front porch of his home in Memphis Louis Roy House 40-year-old owner of a 1400- acre stock farm in the new Mississippi cattle country and his ' wife Bertha Hamilton House have been jointly indicted for the murder of Samples and police say they caused the bottle to be placed on the victim's front porch i Police first arrested House and said his motive was jealousy over intimate relations Samples had with his wife over a period of years Mrs House readily admitted the relations but said her husband "could not have committed the murder— -he was too kind' V " ! The Brother of the dead man scouted a confession police said House had made to the crime and said he believed " a-woman did it" ' Others who studied the case had difficulty in believing that husky straightforward House who built up his own freight trucking line and with the proceeds purchased the HOO-acre Green Pastures Plantation to raise stock was the sort of man who would slip poisoned milk under the nose of another man if he wanted to kill him Then Attorney General Will Gerber announced that a will of Samples had been found among Mrs House's possessions in which she is named sole beneficiary of a $10000 estate This caused police to switch the possible motive from jealousy to money and Mrs House was Jointly indicted with her hus-iand Both have pleaded not guilty to the crime - The South is agog over the murder of a man who during his lifetime was regarded as a highly respected bachelor and was a ranking official in the Spanish American War Veterans' Association After his death he was revealed as a man with a remarkable power over women and to have had bizarre relations with a number of them It Was Sample Bottle He Decided The story begins on Feb 25 of this year a frosty morning in Dixie White-maned Samples clad in his deep purple dressing gown went to the front door of his modest home for the morning paper the Commercial Ap- He shivered slightly as the biting wintry - air struck his pink-tinged face Hurriedly he reached down to pick up the paper and there beside it was a bottle of milk! Samples eyebrows went up in surprise because he hadn't ordered any milk that day Besides the shape of the bottle told him it was from a different dairy than the one he patronized No doubt left by mistake he concluded and going back Inside he telephoned his next-door neighbor No he learned they'd received their bottle Samples pondered a minute and then his face cleared It was a sample bottle Much pleased with this manna from Heaven he placed the milk In his refrigerator You see Samples loved milk It was his favorite drink The reason he didn't order it more regularly was because he ate most of his meals away from home But at every meal he drank milk It was good for him and Samples was very fastidious about food He ate raw carrots and spinach and all sorts of things just because they were good for him A little later he dressed and ate some bacon and eggs and toast and washed it down with a glass of the newly found milk Now here we come to one of the most significant factors in the story Having Head Cold May Have Cost Life — ' The fateful milk bottle contained a variety of rat poison which has a bitter taste and gives off a distinctive odor Ordinarily a finicky person like Samples would have observed something was wrong as soon as he opened the bottle but he didn't this day He had been suffering from a severe cold and had previously remarked to friends that he was unable to smell or taste anything He poured out a glass of the doctored milk and gulped it down L8ter he said it tasted strange going down but thought the queer taste was in his own mouth because of the cold A friend later described him as probably drinking the milk ?nd saying in (Characteristic fashion "It tastes funny but darn it it's good for me" and draining the glass Samples' brother firmly believes that if Samples had not bad the cold he'd be alive today After downing the milk he left his home and drove to another house he owned in the neighborhood which he was ' fiM redeaorated Neighbor Widow Spent l Night as Nurse In a little while he sensed a peculiar sensation in his throat His stomach began turning cartwheels and he was soon doubled with pain Stumbling to his car fee started horte On the way fee became violently ill had to tfn and vomit ' Upon reaching the house he f gered to the chore and called Ur' RbMey Mills a middle-aged widow whose husband had Uncovers Story of WALTER LEWIS SAMPLES 69-year-old Spanish-American War vetpran who died two days after drinking from a bottle of milk left on his porch Analysis showed -the milk contained rat poison ' " been Samples' friend and who says she regarded him as her counselor in business affair She is an official in the veterans' auxiliary On the night before drinking the milk Samples had attended a committee meeting with her but left her immediately after and what he did later if anything has never been revealed Samples fainted during the phone conversation but had sufficiently recovered when she arrived in response to his desperate call to answer the door He-- was vomiting profusely Mrs Mills called a doctor who prescribed a saline laxative and gave him a hypodermic The doctor asked Samples what he had been eating and was told about the strange milk After sniffing the bottle the doctor suggested Mrs Mills have it analyzed Throughout the night Mrs Mills stayed with him and nursed him He writhed and moaned until morning and was unable to keep a laxative in his stomach ' ' Felt Better Next Day Then Came Relapse Strangely enough the following morning Samples felt better Mrs Mills left him and went to work During the day he ob tained relief from a laxative took a tub bath busied himself around the house and though he was well on the way to recovery Late in the afternoon he phoned Mrs Mills and invited her to have dinner with him at his home He ordered two dinners sent in and ate lightly of soup a salad and then retired with a glass of milk He sent Mrs Mills homesaying he thought he could sleep- However during the night he suffered a relapse and in the morning was once again filled with nausea and had developed a pain in his side A doctor was called and over the phone he said the pain was probably caused from the vomiting About noon Mrs Mills Came to see him and he agreed to go to Veterans' Hospital AH this time Samples seemed to have no idea he had been deliberately poisoned He had no idea the poison was slowly seeping through his body carrying death While waiting for the ambulance Samples with characteristic care and thoroughness directed Mrs Mills to shut off the water stop the paper and milk He expected to be gone several days and hated to have his porch cluttered 'If Only I Had Not Been So Dumb' At the hospital his condition appears not to have been considered serious He was given a hypodermic and throughout the afternoon he chatted with Mrs Mills about the annual flower sale on Memphis streets to raise funds for veterans They were both chairmen of committees and the sale is to be held the end of this month Once during the afternoon Samples said to Mrs Mills "if only I had not been so dumb" She said he never elaborated on this and she did not know what he meant Mrs Mills left him at 9 that night and he was fairly comfortable About 11 a patient passing by Samples' room saw he i? It was on the front porch of this modest three-room house in Memphis that teas placed the Pois' oned Milk Bottle rom tohich Walter Lewis Samples drank and later died' : - looked deathly - pale and called hospital attaches It was too late Samples died at 11:40 on the night of Feb 27 Death was formally reported as being 'from "stoppage of the heart" with no hint of murder Analysis Showed Milk Was Poisoned Next morning before she knew of Samples' death Mrs Mills remembered the doctor's advice of two days earlier to have the milk analyzed She'd been so busy she hadn't found time Obtaining a sample of the milk she called the hospital to find out if it had facilities for analyzing and then learned of Samples' death She immediately went to the : police with the milk and Wired Samples' brother in Oklahoma Analysis disclosed the milk contained rat poison and an autopsy showed the same substance in Samples' body : Police said it was murder and the in-" vestigation started - Now here is where the Jekyll-Hyde picture of Samples commenced to unfold Hitherto he had been described as a genial bachelor who had been retired a dozen years ago from the U S Engineers He had dabbled in real estate with mod--erate success Considered a level-headed business man friends brought their financial problems to him He helped them with their income taxes advised widows of war veterans on estates and often drew up wills for his friends However though affable and convivial he was always reticent about his own affairs He played bridge but never gambled He enjoyed dancing and temperately drank whisky and beer He never smoked Somewhat of a Beau Brummell he had several suits of the finest cut clothes At his death he had about $300 in a checking account a $2000 life insurance j policy four pieces of rentable i Memphis property and some land in Arkansas He had an i income of more than $200 a i month from pensions and rentals - Veneer Shrouding 'Hyde' Personality Lifts Born in Missouri he had been educated at the University of Missouri and briefly taught school in his native state He also had been a postman in Nevada Mo He came to Memphis about 40 years ago with the Engineers He had served honorably in the war of '98 and was senior vice commander of the Memphis Camp of the United Spanish American War Veterans Association He was slated to be commander next year He read much and - was well informed on current events In short he appeared at death to have been a normal happy bachelor of property and respec-ability who had been - foully murdered for no apparent reason ' '- And then the ' veneer that shrouded his "Hyde" personality began to be lifted First of all it developed he was not a bachelor but had been married years ago in Missouri The marriage ended in divorce after a short while and his wife has long since died Next came the revelation-that there had been numerous women in nis life of all types to whom he gave costly Christmas presents although in business dealings he was rather close-fisted Some of these women- were highly respectable and ' there was no reason to believe the relationship was other than purely friendly Others police said he had been intimate with and they were questioned in a daily stream by the police: Police claimed Samples had gone with over a dozen different women within the past year Woman's Type Murder Brother Thinks Samples' - brother who had come in from Oklahoma and had taken up residence at Samples' home told reporters first that he believed his brother had been the victim of "areed" and "jealousy" and to cherchez la femme Later - he discounted Lal nf Vi hrnthvr'a lnv nffair but hpldfto the 'belief -that It rrY x j n tyf A I 1 V v Mrs perlha Hamilton HOusei 40-year-old part Indian was indicted with her husband after police discovered she was sole bene-ficiary in Mr Samples' $10000 will' She is pictured aboce being greeted by her husband at police headquarters shortly after their arrest ' was a woman's type of murder He continues to believe that i The brother told of women his brother had helped but could think of none who would want to kill him For 35 daVsthe case rocked along apparently getting -nowhere' iWas it to be another un- solved murder in Memphis? There had been-several recently Public pressurewas put on the police Action was demanded Then with lightning swiftness on 'Friday April 4 action came Police announced the case was solved They had obr tained a confession from House the former truck -line operator He ' had admitted - putting - the poisoned milk bottle on Samples' porch and his motive was jealousy police said - Another Woman Comes ' Fortfi Witb Key- " The key to the solution had been fur n is h e d by another woman It seems that this worn- an a Mrs - Searley M Smith widow of ' still another Spanish War veteran had come to Samples' home on a purely business mission— for advice about some compensation papers A woman was there crying about loss of a purse containing $35 Samples introduced the woman to Mrs Smith as Mrs ' House Mrs Smith remembered that as? she left : she noticed Mrs House peering after herefrom the windows All this happened about two'-years ago vV' s:"'-v'T' After Samples' -death this same -Mrs Smith happened to have a flat tire in front of the victim's home ' She went into Samples' house to-use'the phone-and started -talking to Samples brother his wife and Mrs-Mills -who were present At that time the papers were full of stories about the dead man's women friends Mrs 1 Smith recalled the meeting with ' Mrs House described her and ' then-Samples' brother and his wife remembered having met Mrs House on a visit to Memph's six years ago Mrs Mills decided the police 'should know about this and called them Mrs House was located at the Green Pastures Plantation was questioned for six hours by police and released -However two weeks later the Houses were" lured to Memphis by the police on a pretext tot a business enga cement arrested upon-entering the city and sfei! I ? - - - r f ¥ " :' nearly a week of questioning the solution was announced Samples' brother said Samples met Mrs House' about 10 years ago when she came to his house to sell him a washing machine" He said Samples lent her Rancher Who Cares for - 2000 Rattlesnakes i - - - - - ' Has Handled Them for 22 Years Without a Bite By United Pms) GOLF AX Calif — Seein' snakes? Better steer clear of the Foot Hill rattlesnake ranch with its 20000 or more inhabitants : ' This 3000 - acre ranch one mile west of Colfax on national highway lNo 40 literally crawls with rattlers' "au naturel!' and in confinement Believed to be the largest of its kind in- the world the farm is owned and operated 1jy S E Evans and his wife both veterans in the delicate task -of handling their temperamental charges Even has handled rattlers for 22 years and has never been bitteni - ' The actual management of the huge ranch is a humdrum busl-rtess according to Evans The interest in the unusual enterprise comes from visitors to the ranch averaging 100 to 200 during the week and 1000 on Sundays - v When he first started the ranch Evans allowed the public to view the pens where he keeps thousands of the reptiles But he lost hundreds of snakes which are "highly nervous creatures' and can't take the stares of a gaping public Now Evans maintains a° snake pit especially for visitors where Fome 25 to 50 rattlers are under the limelight for show-off purposes Even so the loss of snakes Is still large life in the pit virtually is a death sentence to the rattler who will usqally die within 60 days after its contact with the curious public Feeding time draws the most visitors The snakes are fed live mice as they like to kill their own food When the rattlers get "fussy" a special meaj of raw hamburger 4s provided y ' "Ki v- Revenue from the snakes Is derived from f four sources— meat hide oil and venom Last year 12000 snakes-were slaugh- ered for market purposes and this year'Evans expects to kill- 'vV - 1 " 1 -'DsNvr?'v- I - v --v v h - - X v - - - - - - -- — — — - — -— - — Louis Roy House and hit wife indicted jointly on charges of murdering Mr Samples bought the house and HOO-acre planta- tion in South Mississippi (shown in-scenes above and at right) for $45000 last fall Police say they have learned that the former Memphis tracfc-Iine operator twos' hatino trouble meeting the down payment of $9000 LOUIS ROY HOUSE some money and that the relationship was purely business 'A Lamb by Day and a ' Wolf by Night'' : — However Mrs House said In & press interview that she had been intimate with Samples since 1929 before and after her marriage to House and that she had stolen $7600 from her husband to give to Samples She would not discuss her relationship with Samples but called him a fHuman Vampire"' Police Inspector Hinds described him as a "lamb by day and a wolf by night" When police- told Mrs House her husband had confessed she screamed hysterically She protested his innocence said he confessed to get her outof Jail because "I am about to become a mother" Interviewed In the women's twice that many The average litter of the female rattler runs from five to a dozen "according to Evans but last y a r - one mother presented him with 64 offspring ' - -' v- The demand for rattlesnake steak which Evans calls a "thrill dish": outweighs the supply He has' standing orders from distributors for the delicacy 7 '-Oil rendered from the carcass" 1s sold for its alleged curative ' powers " ' ") : The skins are valuable -mostly for ' their decorative quality-Persons desiring-a pair of genuine rattlesnake ihoii - may order them on the spot - ' SO-O-O-0 SLE - 1 ' Look at this picture and see Left to rioht 'ore-Jackie Terry avd rnoozt u'oitmg th etr turn to strut at ' B- '- j rTIITIIt-l-r Mnmm- — fi"""f V"" quarters at city jail" Mrs House a 40-year-old slightly built part Indian puffed nervously on cigarette after cigarette and said her husband was not guilty "He must have been driven half crazy by the hours of questioning to have made such a confession" she said "1 told him it would send him to the electric chair but Be said he loved TOe and confessed to keep us from rotting in jail He said 'Sweetheart I am innocent' " Police said they were checking on the amount of the shortage reported in House's " accounts but one officer said "It was evi dent Samples bled Mrs House 4 Mrs House Found Sole Beneficiary in Will At first it was thought that Samples had left no will Nona was found among his effects although he kept all his accounts in minute detail even t° purchases of bread However la- ter Attorney General Gerber 're-' ported a will purported - to 'be that of Samples had been found among Mrs House's possessions Biggest source of income is the snake's venom used chiefly for - serum Venom is sold to medical laboratories "by the snake" says Evans because it's just as dangerous to handle one snake which may give two drops as one that gives 30 the maximum The snakes are "milked' about once every tiiree weeks" from May to October : - 1 Evans and his wife personally do all the milking"-ior the venom They can't get insurance for t h i r -workers the job being considered s tea dangerous by-state authorities In milking the snake Evans holds - it back by the head placing the fangs E - E - EPY 1 if ycu can keep from yawning MariAaiddird vp fara spring iew ior duij nu rww " - T i 4 1— aoww naming her as sole beneficiary to his estate Previously Mrs House wrt being held merely as a material witness but this information brought her directly into' the case and she was indicted jointly with her husband for the murder House "has had little to say to reporters about the ca-e father -than-to state that there had been some lies told and that it would all come out at the trial House is a good-looking well set up man who talks and acts like a successful business executive In a brief meeting with his wife In the corrir of the police station shorUyVter the alleged confession he embraced her fondly - Until last October House had operated a r successful freight trucking line and had lived modestly in Memphis When he sold oyt his trucking interests every-thing was in order his successors said He bought Green Pastures at an auction for $45000 - At first he was believed to be a wealthy man and to have paid cash for the plantation but subsequent developments revealed he had purchased on the install ment plan and was- having dif ficulty meeting the down payment of $9000 through chamois covering a Jar Evans' 22 years of handling snakes and dealing" with curiosity seekers has brought him financial security and the habit of not asking too many ques- tions His favorite story deals with a group- of Chinese who make frequent pilgrimages te the ranch ' ' ' ' " ' With great ceremony the Chinese select a snake place it in a jar of alcohol and watch it die to - the i accompaniment of more rituals ''i-i vi-1 When Evans kept asking the Chinese why they did this they replied "We buy snake You got money" : All of which is part of the business of running a rattlesnake farm : 4 ' Flax Adapted To Make Paper: for Cigarettes MINNEAPOLIS Minn — A new industry is springing up in Minnesota because of the European war German occupation of northern France cut the American tobacco industry from its source of cigarette papers 1 Cigarette manufacturers turned the problem over to research experts who discovered that cigarette paper could be made from flax straw The French had used linen rags Minnesota is' the nation's leading flax producer Consequently six Minnesota tow mills are operating 24 hours a day to meet a sudden demand for the by-product of a straw that farmers often burned - Herbert Miller head of tji'e Minnesota resources commission estimates that 100000 tons of straw will be processed in the state this year The farmer is paid "about '$7 a - ton ' for the straw - 1

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