Entries - Entry Category: Law - Starting with T

Taylor Sisters (Lynching of)

Two African-American women known only as the Taylor sisters were killed on Sunday, March 17, 1907, in McKamie (Lafayette County) while they were detained on charges of murderous assault against Ella Roton and her married daughter, Nora Ogelsby. According to some counts, there were only eight women ever lynched in Arkansas, all of them African American, and so this case constitutes a quarter of all such murders in the state. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the two sisters were aged twenty and fifteen. The likeliest pair of women in the area are sisters Suffronia and Lela Taylor, born in 1885 and 1890, respectively. They appear on the 1900 census, living in Steele Township, but not thereafter. The Roton family (the …

Taylor, Marion

Marion Taylor Jr. was the first African-American officer in the Arkansas State Police, serving as a public service spokesman and an instructor at the state police academy. Marion Taylor Jr. was born on January 18, 1940, in Dermott (Chicot County) to Marion Taylor Sr. and Bessie White Taylor. His father supported the family with employment at Missouri Pacific Hospital and Our Lady of Nazareth Nursing Home, and the family attended St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County). A 1957 graduate of Horace Mann High School, Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock and an MS in education at what is now Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Taylor served …

Tebbetts, Jonas March

Jonas March Tebbetts of Fayetteville (Washington County) was a prominent lawyer, judge, and politician known for his abhorrence of slavery and support for the Union during the Civil War. His aid to Union forces led to his later arrest by Confederates, who condemned him to death. But fortuitous circumstances led to his freedom, and he lived a long life. Jonas M. Tebbetts was born on January 5, 1820, in Rochester, New Hampshire, one of five sons of Enoch Tebbetts and Anne Roberts Tebbetts. Tebbetts attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. At sixteen, he was working as a marketing agent selling copies of The Family Expositor by English religious nonconformist Philip Doddridge. As a salesman, he traveled throughout New England, Pennsylvania, …

Texarkana Moonlight Murders

An unidentified assailant often known as the Texarkana Phantom Killer committed a number of murders and assaults in Texarkana (Miller County, Arkansas, and Bowie County, Texas) through the spring of 1946. Five people were killed, and three were wounded. While there was one major suspect, he was never convicted of these crimes. The attacks served partially as the basis for a motion picture, The Town that Dreaded Sundown. On February 22, 1946, two young people, Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey, were parked on a secluded Bowie County road outside Texarkana. They were forced out of the car by an armed man, his face hidden by a burlap sack with two slits for eyes. The assailant beat Hollis with the …

Thomas, Henry Andrew “Heck”

Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas became one of the best-known officers of the law in Arkansas and Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). His reputation as a fearless crime fighter stemmed from a determination to bring felons to justice and from the notorious characters he encountered. Tall and lean, with dark eyes and a mustache, Thomas was the image of the frontier lawman, usually attired in knee-high boots, corduroy trousers, and a flannel shirt. Thomas, and others like him, helped combat frontier criminals in order to make the region safe for settlers. Heck Thomas was born on January 6, 1850, in Oxford, Georgia, the last child of twelve of Martha Ann Fullwood Bedell Thomas and Lovick Pierce Thomas. He acquired the nickname “Heck” …

Thomas, Wade (Lynching of)

On December 26, 1920, a gambler and petty thief named Wade Thomas was lynched in Jonesboro (Craighead County) for the alleged shooting of Elmer “Snookums” Ragland, a white police officer. Thomas, also known as “Boll Weevil,” was a Jonesboro native but had recently returned from “up North.” According to the Arkansas Gazette, he was known as a “‘bad’ and impudent negro,” who had formerly served time in the Arkansas penitentiary for highway robbery. According to Jonesboro historian Lee A. Dew, Thomas made his living by playing craps and engaging in petty thievery. Dew recounts that Ragland had arrived in Jonesboro from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) not long before he was killed. The Gazette reported that he was an “efficient and …

Thompson, Alex (Lynching of)

On April 23, 1903, a young African-American man named Alex Thompson was hanged in Gurdon (Clark County) for allegedly attacking a local doctor (named Cuffman) with a knife. There is no record of a man named Alex Thompson living in Clark County during this period. The 1900 census, however, does list a doctor named Cuffman who was living there. He is listed in the census as George A. Cuffman, but subsequent marriage and census records indicate that he was probably John Henry Cuffman. At the time of the census, he was thirty-six, single, and living in a boarding house. Later that year, on June 28, he married Mary Euella Littlejohn in Gurdon. The Arkansas Gazette reported that trouble had been …

Thornton, Raymond (Ray) Hoyt, Jr.

Law professor Raymond (Ray) Hoyt Thornton Jr. was an Arkansas entrepreneur, lawyer, attorney general, U.S. representative, university president, and Arkansas Supreme Court justice. Thornton also played a key role in fashioning the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon concerning the Watergate cover-up. Ray Thornton was born on July 16, 1928, in Conway (Faulkner County), one of two children of Raymond Thornton Sr. of Sheridan (Grant County) and Wilma Elizabeth Stephens of Prattsville (Grant County). His parents attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) and eventually returned to Sheridan to live; Thornton’s father served as superintendent of schools for Grant County, and his mother taught at Sheridan. Thornton graduated from high school in 1945 at age …

Three Guardsmen

The Three Guardsmen were three U.S. marshals based in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) who became famous for their effort to track down the Doolin Gang, also known as the Wild Bunch, in Oklahoma in the early 1890s. When the three accomplished lawmen teamed up in 1891, they spent the next five years pursuing the group, finally capturing gang leader Bill Doolin in January 1896, only to have him escape from the Guthrie Federal Prison less than six months later. They tracked him down again, but refusing to surrender, Doolin was killed in a shootout on August 25, 1896. The leader of the Three Guardsmen was Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas, who was born in 1850 in Athens, Georgia. Thomas was joined …

Tillman, John Arthur

John Arthur Tillman was the last person executed by hanging in the state of Arkansas. Accused of murdering a girlfriend, Tillman insisted upon his innocence to the day of his death. John Arthur Tillman was born in January 1891, the third oldest of nine children of John Franklin Tillman, a farmer and cattle breeder, and Lennie Belle Townsell Tillman of Delaware (Logan County). His arrest in 1913 was connected to the March 10 disappearance of Amanda Stephens, age nineteen, who lived north of Delaware. Friends and neighbors said that the two were “seeing each other,” and Stephens left behind a note pinned to her pillow suggesting that she was running away. According to later newspaper reports, she had told friends …

Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000

After the establishment of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between several major U.S. tobacco companies and four state governments (Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Mississippi), the remaining forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories not party to the original legal action were allowed to join into benefits conferred by the agreement. The tobacco companies were mandated to pay damages approaching the sum of $10 billion over an indefinite time period to the states joining the agreement, as well as acknowledge publicly that tobacco companies targeted youth in marketing and sales of products. In addition, the companies were subjected to sponsorship, marketing, and sales restrictions on their product. The State of Arkansas, agreeing not to file further litigation …

Toll (Lynching of)

The only documented lynching recorded in Saline County occurred on October 23, 1854, when a slave known only as “Toll” was murdered by a mob. He was hanged on a hill near the second Saline County Courthouse in Benton. Recent scholarship has argued that the Toll lynching was not a spontaneous event but was instead an organized act of vengeance. The man known as Toll—spelled “Tol” in the Arkansas Gazette—was a slave owned by Scottish-born Samuel McMorrin, who, at the time, was living in Fourche Township in Pulaski County. Reportedly, in 1853, Toll sneaked up on and shot two white men, Jessup McHenry and John Douglas, who were deer hunting about fifteen miles outside of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Toll …

Trieber, Jacob

Jacob Trieber of Helena (Phillips County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the first Jew to serve as a federal judge in the United States. Serving from 1900 to 1927 as judge for the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, he became known in judicial circles as a “genius as lawyer and jurist.” He presided over more than 1,000 cases annually, kept his docket current, and had time to serve many assignments outside his own district. He issued nationally important rulings on controversies that included antitrust cases, railroad litigation, prohibition cases, and mail fraud; some of his rulings, such as those regarding civil rights and wildlife conservation, have implications today. His broad interpretation of the constitutional guarantees of the …

Triple Execution of 1994

On the night of August 3, 1994, three inmates of the Arkansas Department of Correction were put to death at the Cummins Unit for their participation in the same crime. Convicted of a murder and robbery committed in Rogers (Benton County) on January 8, 1981, the three men were executed at one-hour intervals. On the night of January 8, 1981, the home of Donald Lehman and his family was the scene of a home invasion. Four masked men rang the doorbell and burst into the home. At least two were armed with handguns, and a third carried a chain. Lehman was thrown into his bedroom and repeatedly shot and struck with the chain, killing him. Lehman’s wife and daughter were …

Triple Execution of 1997

A triple execution took place at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction on January 8, 1997. The first two inmates to be executed, Paul Ruiz and Earl Van Denton, were convicted of murders perpetrated during a post-escape crime spree. Ruiz and Van Denton escaped together from an Oklahoma prison on June 23, 1977. Van Denton was serving a life sentence for murder, while Ruiz was serving life for armed robbery. The pair moved across Oklahoma and into Arkansas, committing a number of crimes. On June 29, near the town of Magazine (Logan County), the men kidnapped town marshal Marvin Ritchie and handcuffed him in the back seat of his patrol car. Driving the patrol car, the two …

Tuck, Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber

Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber Tuck was the first woman elected justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and, as a trial judge, wrote the original order that reshaped the financing of public education in the state. While a chancery judge in Pulaski County in 1994, she issued an order declaring the state’s system of funding and operating its public schools unconstitutional and gave the Arkansas General Assembly two years to produce schools that guaranteed every child the same opportunity for a good education, as the state constitution required. Ten years later, the case, Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, resulted in sweeping reforms, including school consolidation and changes in tax structures, that the Supreme Court declared had finally complied with …

Tucker Telephone

The “Tucker Telephone” was a torture device invented in Arkansas and regularly used at the Tucker State Prison Farm (now the Tucker Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction) in Jefferson County. It was likely used on inmates until the 1970s. The Tucker Telephone consisted of an old-fashioned crank telephone wired in sequence with two batteries. Electrodes coming from it were attached to a prisoner’s big toe and genitals. The electrical components of the phone were modified so that cranking the telephone sent an electric shock through the prisoner’s body. The device was reputedly constructed in the 1960s by, depending upon the source, a former trusty in the prison, a prison superintendent, or an inmate doctor; it was administered as …

Tucker Unit

aka: Tucker Prison Farm
Tucker Unit, often referred to simply as Tucker or Tucker prison farm, is a 4,500-acre maximum security prison and working farm located in Tucker (Jefferson County), roughly twenty-five miles northeast of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). It is one of thirteen prison units in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Tucker Unit is not to be confused with the Maximum Security Unit, which was built in 1983 and is also located in Tucker. Tucker is the second-oldest prison in Arkansas (Cummins Unit is the oldest). Tucker was accredited by the American Correctional Association in 1983, but for many years, the prison had a tarnished reputation and was at the center of the prison scandals of the 1960s and subsequent reform efforts of …

Tucker-Parnell Feud

The Tucker-Parnell Feud (or Parnell-Tucker Feud) refers to a series of assaults and shootings in the Union County area between 1902 and 1905, stemming from a shootout in downtown El Dorado (Union County) that left three dead in October 1902. The repercussions of the downtown shootings led to an estimated thirty to forty deaths in Union County over the three-year period. The dispute began not between the Parnells and the Tuckers, two Union County families, but between two other men over which would marry an El Dorado woman. William Puckett of Texarkana (Miller County) had arranged to marry Jessie Stevenson and arrived in El Dorado on September 17, 1902, to meet her. Stevenson worked for local photographer Bob Mullens, who …

Turner, William (Lynching of)

Nineteen-year-old William Turner was lynched in Helena (Phillips County) on November 18, 1921, for allegedly attacking a young white girl. According to newspaper accounts, it was the first lynching in Helena. Early on the morning of November 18, Turner allegedly attacked a teenaged girl as she was walking to her job at the telephone exchange. He was arrested and placed in the jail, which adjoined the courthouse. According to the Arkansas Gazette, local citizens, in a state of “suppressed excitement,” began to gather near the courthouse during the afternoon. In an attempt to protect Turner from harm, two deputy sheriffs put him into a car shortly after dark to take him to jail in nearby Marianna (Lee County). They were …