May 16th 1921, In the little town of Caddo, Oklahoma. Shortly before dark, Lloyd Wideman was just leaving the Baptist Church with a friend. They got into his car and he took his friend home, that was across town. On his way back, he drove down Buffalo and turned south on Manning. A little ways down, he spotted a woman standing near the steps of the Methodist Church. He then pulled into his driveway which was near the same church. It had been a long day for Lloyd, he was ready for bed. No sooner than he turned the lights off and slipped into bed, he heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots near his home. The shots were so loud that Lloyd feared for his home and neighbors.
Quickly, Lloyd ran from his home where he ran into his neighbor, Ray McGee. Ray had also heard the shots. One single shot followed up by several quick shots. Seeing that they and their neighbors were ok, they then saw movement from the Methodist Church. A man and a woman were standing there, the woman was hysterical.
As they approached they heard the woman yell “He insulted me!” Lloyd knew the two as Mordecia and Sadie Golden. He looked to where they were both looking and that’s when he saw it. A man was laying on the ground, not moving. Lloyd slowly approached and quickly recognized Tom Craighead.
Lloyd quickly moved to help Tom and he heard a sickening gurgling sound coming from Tom, he then realized, Tom had just breathed his last breath.
Tom Craighead was a prominent man in Caddo. He owned a garage in town and had a small family, a wife and two children. Tom’s wife was sick and was in the hospital.
A small crowd started to gather. Mr and Mrs Golden had walked over to a nearby house to make a phone call, as they did so, Mrs Golden’s Father pulled up in his automobile. Mrs. Golden’s father, D.B. Williams, was well known in town. At this point he had been living in Caddo for the last 22 years. He was in the furniture and undertaker business. He was also the City’s Treasurer and has held other offices in the little town. Although he had not been there for a minute, he already knew what was going on.
No one needed to call the police though. Constable Alexander heard the shots and was already on his way. When he arrived, he was met by Williams who stated that “Golden wanted to give up”. Officer Alexander met Mr. Golden at the door, asked if he wanted to give up and he agreed. Golden headache out his hand and handed a .25 automatic pistol to the officer. Officer Alexander quickly made arrangements by getting a car to drive Mr. Golden to the jail in Durant.
Along the way, the officer noted that Mr. Golden didn’t really talk much. What he did say was very telling as to why this even happened at all. He said that he and Tom grew up together and went to the same school. He just found out that Tom tried to contact his wife through a letter that was left for her. It didn’t say who it was from but it suggested that the author always loved Mrs. Golden and wanted her to come over and stay the night. If she accepted, she was to meet him at the church that night.
When they arrived at the jail that night, Officer Alexander handed over the .25 automatic pistol over to the jailer. The Jailer then turned the colt over to Sheriff Ruel Taylor.
Mr. Golden was far from the only person arrested for the killing. After details were found out, others were arrested as well.
The Durant Daily Democrat had this to say at the time. This was published on May 18th 1921.
Murder Charge to Be Filed Against Mrs Sadie Golden.
County Attorney Phillips announced this afternoon that he had drawn an Information charging Mrs Sadie Golden, wife of Mordecia Golden with murder Jointly with her husband. Her husband surrendered night before last for the killing of Tom Craighead at Caddo, Monday night. It is alleged that Mrs Sadie Golden was with her husband at the time and was party to the killing. No date as yet has been set for the preliminary hearing.
And just days later the Muskogee Times – Democrat reported on May 25th 1921.
Father Is Arrested. E. B. William father of Mrs. Golden was arrested today charged with being an accessory to the murder. The prosecution admits that the evidence against William is purely circumstantial. According to the evidence that was brought out this morning before Justice J. R. Broaderick, Williams father of Mrs. Golden telephoned to Pink Williams, his son at Durant, on the day of the shooting of Craighead and advised Williams to tell Golden to come at once to Caddo where Goldens wife was living. Golden, his wife and Mrs. Goldin’s father came downtown In the evening and went to Craighead’s garage and then returned to the church it was alleged. Williams left the church a few minutes before the shooting, according to statements.
Now, this was one of the biggest things going on in the state at the time. All of the newspapers were covering it and if you wanted to see some live entertainment, going to see an accused murdering family on trail was a cheap way of having something to do. People traveled from all over the state to see what was going on in the little town of Caddo. So many people came in fact, that Sheriff Ruel Taylor had to swear in a number of special deputies to help keep order.
At the preliminary hearing, it was reported that the state had over 100 witnesses to the crime. But, it was quickly evident, that not one witness actually seen the crime happen, they just say the aftermath and or were character witnesses that would only speak on Mr. Craighead’s kind nature.
The Defense however had two very important witnesses to call. Mr. D. B. Williams and Mr. Golden himself. This was a bold move because this would show their hands for what was coming for the trial itself. But attorneys believed that their testimony may clear them of any wrong doing and may end the need for a trial.
Mr. Williams testimony was reported about in the Durant Daily Democrat on May 30th 1921.
“The evidence upon the part of Mr. Williams briefly stated was to the effect that on the evening of the 16th, he stopped at the post office when on his way home to supper and got a letter out of the office addressed to “Mrs. Sadie Golden (Williams)” And that he took It home and gave it to his daughter Mrs. Golden who was at the time in the kitchen preparing supper. That Mrs. Golden opened the letter and after preparing supper, that Mrs. Golden opened the letter and after reading the contents came out on the porch where he, Mr. Williams was sitting. crying and showed him the letter, that front the appearing of the hand writing and other matters connected with It, he concluded that It was not a man’s handwriting, but a woman’s, that they discussed the matter awhile and finally concluded that It was written by a Mrs. Smith who lived on that same street.
The letter about which the tragedy is woven, read about as follows.
May 16th, 1921
Mrs. Sadie (Williams) Golden; I have long admired you; although I was never with you, yet you know me well and so do I you; and I am lonesome. I have a home, but am by myself now, so if you with to have a good time for one night only, meet me in the front of the Methodist Church tonight at nine o’clock sharp and go home with me and spend the night and I will take good care of you. I can’t tell you my name, but you was almost raised with me and I am no stranger to you. If you don’t come, or you do not wish a good time, tear or burn this up and think no more about it. – Lovingly yours.
According to Mr. Williams testimony, he tried to get his daughter to just ignore the letter. He didn’t see the point in bugging Mr. Golden with something as silly as this. At this time Mr. Golden was working was working in his Brother-in-laws furniture store in Durant.
Now remember this is 1921. When you make a phone call, you have to speak to an operator to have your call connected to make a call. It was common for the operator to be someone in the local area and they might say on the line to listen in. This had been going on for quite a few years to a lot of people would commonly be tense with saying any gossip over the phone.
Mr. Williams decided that he would go ahead and call Mr. Golden at work. Mr. Williams called spoke to his son who owned the store and told him to loan Mr. Golden his car, that he needed to come home right away. When asked why, Mr. Williams just said “I can’t say over the phone”.
Knowing that there might be trouble coming, Mr. Williams then testified that he drove to his place of business and got his pistol. He states that he kept one there because he was in the undertaking business. As if that explained it all. I have so many questions to why an undertaker needs a gun. Hopefully it does not involve zombies.
Anyways, they all met up at Mr. Williams home just before dark and after reading the letter, Mr. Golden decided that they would figure out who wrote this once and for all.
Now, according to his testimony, Mr. Golden asked if Mr. Williams had a gun, he said yes and told him where it was. They retrieved it and then Mr. and Mrs. Golden left Mr. Williams home and went in the direction of the church.
Now, we will pause Mr. Williams testimony here and move over to Mr. Goldens.
So, Mr. Golden stated that he was working at his Brother-In-Laws store and that he was told to go home. His Brother-In-Law then come up with a set of codes that they could say over the phone, so that prying ears could not understand what was being said. They had a code was “Number one” for there was no trouble and “Number two” if there was trouble.
Mr. Golden states that he drove home to find his wife upset and crying. She showed him the letter and they discussed the possibility that it might be Mrs. Smith down the road who wrote it. Mr. Golden stated that he wanted to know for sure so he thought of a plan. He and his wife would go down to the meeting spot. Mr. Golden would hide out of sight and then they would find out who would come to the meeting spot.
That way, when they turned it over to the police, there was no doubt to who had written the letter. Mr. Golden then said that he asked for the pistol because there was a very real chance that the letter was not by Mrs. Smith and that he didn’t want to take any chances.
So they left Mr. Williams home and then proceeded to the church. Mr. Golden then hid behind the church and Mrs. Golden was waiting at the front. When no one came, Mr. Golden told Mrs. Golden to walk downtown and then back to the church, so that whoever wrote the letter might see her and see that she is waiting for them.
She begged Mr. Golden to just give up at this point. She was getting scared and didn’t like where it was all going. But Mr. Golden insisted and she left to go downtown. She walked through town and then circled back down to the church. Mr. golden had found a good spot to hide where he could see what was going on and no one could see him.
It was at this time Mr. Craighead was walking down Manning Avenue. He lived right behind the church and he went into his home. Turned on some lights and then came back out of his home and then he walked back to the church right up to Mrs. Golden and said “Well, you are up pretty late tonight.” and Mrs. Golden responded sharply “Yes, I am”. He then said “Lets go to the house”.
At this Mrs. Golden was shocked that Mr. Craighead was the man who wrote the letter. She belted out “Well, you are the one who caused all this trouble, are you?”
Mr. Golden then stepped out of his hiding place and asked. “Tom, what have you done?” Tom, who was quite shocked about being confronted stammered and then said something about not writing a letter. When Mr. Golden began to approach, Mr. Craighead then reached into his pockets as if he were grabbing something. This frightened Mrs. Golden and she screamed. Mr. Golden, fearing that they were in danger and that Mr. Cragighead was about to pull out a knife, he quickly shot him to defend himself.
After that they went to the neighbors house and waited for police to arrive.
After the shots were made, Mr. Williams went down to see what was going on. That’s when he found out that Mr. Golden had killed someone. He told the Officer Alexander that Mr. Golden wanted to surrender and then he went home to call his son in law to let him know of what happened.
Now, like I said before. The prosecution had a lot of witnesses that they called to the stand. None of them actually witnessed the crime. They were either people who saw what was going on before or after the shooting and then they had a lot of character witnesses who would go on to say that this is not something that Mr. Craighead would have done.
The defense moved to end the court case at this point. There was absolutely no evidence to rebuttal what Mr. Golden and Mr. Williams had testified to. The Judge stated that at this point, he had no power to end it and that they were discussing the matter of bonds today. Mr. Williams and Mrs. Golden was let out of jail on bond, to wait for trial. Mr. Golden however, would be held without bond.
Mr. and Mrs. Golden would be arraigned on June 6th 1921, where they would plead not guilty in the charge of murder of Mr. Craighead.
The long awaited trial did not take place until the following year. On April 6th 1922 the trial was about to start and the Jury selection had begun. They had a hard time finding anyone who had not already read what had happened and perhaps had not already formed a biased opinion in the case. To take them all day and they had to go through the entire jury pool that had come in that day, but they had got it done. It was reported that the courtroom was standing room only. There were many people from all over the state who were eager to find out first hand what was going on.
The trial was drawn out for its time. The prosecution had called their witnesses and quickly built their circumstantial case. They called witness after witness almost in the hope that they would convince the jury that this man was not capable of doing what he was accused of. One of the witnesses that the prosecution had called was a former superintendent in the school in Caddo. Mr. Morris stated that he taught Mrs. Golden and Mr. Craighead penmanship. They were both taught different styles of writing and it was his opinion that the letter was most likely written by Mrs. Golden herself.
They did have a little bit of a ruckus when a man was found in the courtroom with a pistol. It happened to be Mr. Goldens brother, Ira Golden. To make matters worse. Ira was sitting directly behind the prosecuting attorney.
Ira was disarmed and then held in contempt of court. He was freed after it was found that the language in the state laws about bringing a gun to a courthouse was confusing and that they could not prosecute Ira for having a pistol on him.
The Defense called Mr. Williams and Mr. Golden who repeated their previous testimony and then they showed the letter to the court as evidence to support their claims.
The Jury was handed the case and they deliberated for 25 hours and 30 minutes. After that they informed the judge that they had a verdict. Everyone again gathered in court to hear the verdict.
“We the jury duly, upon our oaths, so find the defendant Mordicai Golden, Not guilty of the killing of Tom Craighead.”
After this was read, Mr. Golden was all smiles and made sure to go to each juror to shake their hands.
It was announced in court that the trials for Mrs. Golden and Mr. Williams would still go forward. But a few months later, the prosecuting attorneys decided to drop their cases against them. If they could not convict the man who pulled the trigger, it would be even harder to convict the people who were involved who did not do the killing.
Through my research, I do not know what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Golden after the trial. I will continue to do a little research on this and will provide an updated episode down the road.