Saturday, September 5, 2015

Murdered by Human Wolves

If you were to visit Oklahoma's Konawa Memorial Cemetery, you might come across the grave of Katherine Cross. The unassuming stone reads states that Katherine Cross, daughter of JT and MK Cross, was born on March 13, 1899 and died on October 10, 1917.  It's always sad to see the grave of someone who died so young, but death is a normal part of life, and it doesn't discriminate based on age---especially during that time period!

It isn't until you take a much closer look at the tombstone that you realize there is much more to the story...

Yup. That's right.  It says, "Murdered by human wolves." Who or what were these human wolves and how was Katherine murdered? Rumors sprang up that her body had been found mutilated---torn to shreds. Some say the culprits were Ku Klux Klan members, while others took a more supernatural approach and claimed that these 'human wolves' were actual WEREWOLVES. Further legends sprang up that Katherine's ghost was haunting the cemetery, being seen AND heard in the vicinity of her tombstone, a legend that persists to this day.

But what REALLY happened to Katherine?

According to data from Katherine's death certificate and an October 25th, 1917 edition of the Seminole County News, Katherine's death was every bit as horrific as the legends would lead one to believe---but with a much more human monster than any werewolf or even Klan member.  Katherine died of what was listed as a 'criminal operation' at the hands of Dr. A.H. Yates, and his assistant, a school teacher named Fred O'Neal. While not confirmed, this cause of death heavily implied that Katherine had undergone an illegal abortion and succumbed due to complications.

What is especially tragic is that she wasn't the first.  On August 15, 1917 another young lady named Elise Stone was admitted under Dr. Yates' care.  She stayed at his office for four days before being sent home, where she died soon after. The original cause of death listed for Elise was 'congestive chill,' but suspicion arose and her body was disinterred for an autopsy. Like Katherine, her cause of death was now listed as complications from a criminal operation. Although the newspaper article states that the two men were charged, it doesn't appear that any further legal action was ever taken. And even with the cause of death cleared up, there are still more questions than answers concerning this strange tale of how two young women suffered a nearly identical fate two months apart and what the heck a school teacher was doing assisting abortions.

One researcher has delved into a few different theories suggesting that Mr. O'Neal was actually the father of these unborn children or perhaps even worked as a 'scout,' choosing among his young pupils boys and girls to engage in illicit sex acts with prominent town citizens. Whether or not any of that is true, we will probably never know.

*All Photos from Find-a-Grave*

Merlyn's Cave

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