Love can make a person do crazy things. I think that’s a song somewhere. But it’s true. Love can make a life the most amazing thing in the world and it can also destroy your life and the lives of your loved ones. I don’t know why more people don’t think about this before they act in the name of love but we are shown over and over, that many people do not think harder about their actions before they make them.
This story starts on November 26th 1930, Will Hughes, a local farmer in Utica Oklahoma was walking to his horse barn, he would never walk out alive. A little while later Mrs. Ila Hughes phoned for help. Her husband was dead. Police quickly responded to the Hughes property. Ila was in shambles and led them to the barn, Mr. Hughes was lying on the ground, his face beaten and almost unrecognizable. According to Mrs. Hughes, she believed that one of the horses kicked her husband in the face. But the police seemed to suspect that the damage to the face was not just from a kick, they thought there was something more to all of this. It didn’t take the police long to find an auto spring near the barn covered in blood.
When confronted with this, Ila Hughes began to tell a story that would soon be on the front page of every major newspaper in the state of Oklahoma.
For the past few months, Ila Hughes and their Neighbor Andrew Eastep had been falling in love. The only problem was that they were both married. So, according to Ila, Andrew began telling her that if they were rid of their spouses that they could be together and that he could do it in such a way that no one would be the wiser. Ila, who was completely love struck, believed him and so Andrew began to form a plan. The first thing he was going to do was murder his own wife. To do this he ordered some poison in the disguise that he was going to kill some rodents. Then he mixed it with his wife’s food and she became very ill and then died. This all went according to plan. So well in fact that his wife was not only dead and buried but no one seemed to think that he had anything to do with it. He collected a life insurance policy on his wife within a week. The next part of the plan was to happen a month later. Ila would wait to hear a knock upon the wall of the house to laert Ila to lure her husband to the barn. When he got there they would kill Will Hughes and then desiguse his death as an accident.
Every time I hear of a murder like to happeneing I cant help but wonder, why on earth didn’t they think of divorcign their spouces? Why? Is it because they didn’t believe in divorce? What since does that make? I dont believe in Divorce, But Murder, thats ok in my book. Or does it have something to do with money? Or how others will see them? Its like they never think, well if I do this, I might be caught so its better to be a poor divorcee than it is to bring a broke murderer.
So according to Ila, she heard the rapping upon the wall and then got her husband to go into the horse barn. But instead of being able to make it look like an accident, Andrew hit Will over the head over and over with the Car Spring and caused a gruesome injury that proved to be much harder to explain. Ila, told the police that just as soon as it happened she knew she had made a horrible mistake.
The police arrested Ila Hughes and then went and Arrested Andrew Eastep.
When at the station, Andrew was confronted with the story that Ila told and he became very quiet. He would not speak or acknowledge anyone that attempted to talk to him. Eventually, it became clear that Andrew was not going to give them anything so they decided for his own safety they were going to take him to the McAlester Prison. The small time of Utica came alive with anger as the news broke of the possible double murder that happened in their little town. The small jail was not enough to hold back what might happen to Andrew if they didn’t quickly move him. It was this that probably scared Andrew into opening up a little to a guard which on the drive to the prison. Andrew denied killing Ila’s husband, but he did say that he had a hand in Will’s death. He gave Ila $50.00 to hire someone who could do the deed.
After dropping Andrew off in the Prison, Officers again questioned Ila about Andrew’s accusation. Ila, denied it all, but she two began talking less and less to the police. She was quickly figuring out that she was also in a lot of trouble and because she has confessed in having a hand in her husbands murder, she too could be changed with his murder.
So, one of the things that Police knew they had to do was they had to figure out if what Ila has been telling them was truthful or not. The easiest thing they could do was to go and exhume the body of Andrew’s wife. As it was reported in the Miami Daily News – Record. On November 30th 1929, Sheriff Ruel Taylor, The County Attorney George Deck and an undertaker went to Wolf Creek Cemetery near Utica and disinterred Mrs. Eastep’s body. Removing the viscera and dispatching it to Oklahoma City for examination, they reburied the body.
That had to be no easy task, digging down to the body and then removing the viscera. Mrs. Eastep had been dead for over a month and you can only imagine what kind of condition she was in at the time. The viscera, if you didn’t know is your internal organs.
Now, while all of this is going on, the police have relaxed some on Ila and are giving her some freedoms within the jail. She is described as a subdued little farm woman by the local papers. They begin to let her have the use of the reception room during the day where she can sit and listen to music on the phonograph or to read. I can’t help but wonder if some of the jailers have either taken pity on her or if they are being nice to her to let her guard down. Either way, it’s working. When detectives come to talk to her, she starts to talk and open up more and more like she had done before.
5 days after the police removed Mrs. Easteps viscera and transported it to Oklahoma City. They receive the results they have been waiting for. They found poison in her remains and possibly multiple kinds of poison.
The Sheriff and County attorney brought this information to Andrew who was still in the prison. The news that they had found the poison seemed to shock him, and he then said he was ready to talk, but not now. He was quoted as to saying “I won’t pleas guilty to murdering my wife or Will Hughes, but I will plead guilty to something else.” When asked what that something else was, he wouldn’t say. Andrew stated to officials that he would testify against Ila and tell what part she had with the killing of her husband.
Now, it was evident that the two sides of Ila and Andrew had begun to turn on one another. The police set out to see if anything that Ila had said in her statement was true and they so far, was able to find some truth to her statement. She had confessed and Andrew seemed to be backed into a corner so the Sheriff took the kiddy gloves off and charged them both with First Degree Murder in the death of Will Hughes.
This must have been a shock to Ila who was cooperating with the police to some extent and being given liberties of the jail. She probably thought that she would receive a lesser charge for her cooperation. But that didn’t happen.
At this time, the police had waited on charging Andrew with the murder of his wife. They were waiting on more evidence to come to light and an official report to come out of the police chemist. By December 6th, just 10 days after Will was murdered, the Oklahoma City Police Chemist was able to find large amounts of a deadly poison in Mrs. Easteps’ remains.
One of Andrew’s children came forward and told the police that she suspected something was not right with her mother’s death because her father had given her some medicine to get over an illness, she only got worse. Then he gave her another medicine and she died shortly after. With this in mind, the police searched Andrew’s home and Police found a 12 ounce package of poison, half which was gone .
Now, armed with this evidence and the official report from the Oklahoma City Police Chemist. The Sheriff charged Andrew with the murder of his wife. They chose not to charge Ila in this, because in her statement, she said that it was mentioned to her that the killing would happen, but she didn’t know of the details or when it would happen. So proving her involvement would be hard.
According to the Oklahoma City chemist, there was enough poison in Andrew’s wife’s body to kill a dozen people.
Now the trial was set and both Ila and Andrew were denied bail. During the preliminary hearing they set up the case and showed why they believed that Andrew and Ila conspired to kill their spouses and the evidence that supported their theory. Andrew pleaded not guilty and surprisingly so did Ila. Ila’s attorney asked for separate trials and that was granted.
They needed separate trials because their defense would be against one another. Besides just coming clean, this was the only hope for either of them to avoid a prison sentence.
Andrew’s trial was one mixed with real evidence and accusations from Ila Hughes. The prosecution brought forward the evidence of the poison used to kill his wife. The statements made by his daughter that she saw him administer the poison, they found bloody clothing in Andrews’ home, the shoes he wore matched prints found near and at the scene. The star of the Prosecution was Ila herself who testified to her statement she gave to police and answered questions about it. This was where we would get a glimpse of her defense she was setting up for her trial, she claimed that she was threatened by Andrew when she refused to participate in the slaying of her husband.
Andrew testified that he was at home with his children when Will Hughes was murdered and they brought forward several of his children who stated the same.
The case went to the jury, the prosecution was asking for the death penalty. It didn’t take the Jury long at all, they returned to the court with a guilty verdict and they fixed life imprisonment as the sentence.
At Ila’s trial she suggested that she did not know of the plan to kill their spouses until Andrew already murdered his own wife. He then threatened her life if she did not participate. She stated on the stand that Andrew would tell her things during the affair like “I wish you were my wife. There’s nothing to do but get rid of your husband.” but she didn’t realize that he was actually planning on doing so until the night of the murder. She stated that after the killing she immediately regretted her actions and that is why she came forward to the police.
The jury wasn’t kind to Ila, within 30 minutes they returned a verdict of Guilty and also gave her life in prison. Ila appealed her verdict and lost her appeal.
In 1946 The Governor of Oklahoma Robert S Kerr, issued a pardon to Ila for her involvement in the murder of her husband. I could not find any reasoning behind this but I think it was something he probably felt strongly about. Kerr was once an appointee to Governor Earnest Maryland’s official pardon and parole board so he had a lot of experience in this area.