Dead Women Crossing, Oklahoma
Dead Women Crossing, also known as Dead Woman's Crossing, is a small unincorporated community on Deer Creek near Weatherford in Custer County, Oklahoma, United States, at elevation 1,509 feet. The community takes its name from the unsolved murder of a local woman.
Origin of the name
On July 6, 1905, a schoolteacher named Katie DeWitt James filed for divorce. The next day, she carried her 14-month-old daughter Lulu Belle to a train station in Custer City. James was going to visit her cousin who lived in Ripley. Her father Henry DeWitt came to bid farewell; her husband Martin James did not come to the station.
A few weeks later, Henry became concerned that he had not heard from his daughter. He contacted a sheriff, who suggested hiring a detective named Sam Bartell. Bartell started his investigation from Clinton, but nobody remembered seeing a woman and a baby there. Then on July 28, 1905 in Weatherford, Bartell learned that James and the baby spent a night in the house of William Moore. They were brought to this house by Moore's sister-in-law Fannie Norton, a resident of Clinton who also was known as Mrs. Ham, and reputed to be a prostitute. In the morning Norton, James, and the baby left in a buggy, headed for Hydro. Eyewitnesses reported that buggy entered a field near Deer Creek, and Norton came out alone approximately 45 minutes later. Norton returned to Moore's house, and then back to Clinton.
Later, Bartell discovered that two women and the baby were seen around Deer Creek. The detective also was able to find the baby. The witness testified that Norton left the baby with a boy, and asked him to take the baby home. The baby was unharmed, but her clothing was covered with blood.
While locals searched for James, Bartell tracked down Norton, who denied she murdered James. Later that day, Norton committed suicide by poison.
On August 31, 1905, James' remains were found near Deer Creek, about twenty miles east of Clinton. Her head was severed from her body. James' father confirmed these were remains of his daughter. Martin James took custody of his daughter. The murder was never solved.
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