June 13th, 1929
Killed with a hammer and throat slashed.
Mrs. Hix was killed on the OSU campus. Two students discovered her body when they went to the Rifle Range. The Range’s name was the New York Central Railroad Rifle Range.
Theora K Hix, 25, Murder Victim.
Dr. James H Snook, Suspect
Marion T Meyers, Suspect
Chief of Detectives W. G. Shellenbarger, lead Detective on the case.
Prosecutor John J. Chester, Lead Prosecutor
Hello everyone, and welcome to Forgotten True Crime by Okie Investigations, the True Crime Podcast where we tell the stories of crimes that happened long ago. If you are a true crime fan, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. That way, when we have new episodes, you will be the first to know. Also, check us out on our Facebook page Okie Investigations and visit our blog TrueCrime.Blog where we post many cool things we found for each episode. This episode, “The Visitor,” has a lot of exciting stuff for you to dig into. Could you make sure you go there and check it out?
Parts of this story may contain opinions and speculations and should be taken as such. These stories depict violent crimes of all types and may trigger some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the show. I spent the last month getting a lot ready for this year. So far, we have a pretty great lineup for you all. So far, I have about 30 cases that I am researching and doing writeups on. Not all of them will become podcasts. Some become deadends or are just too short of making it into a podcast. Some of them will be multipart episodes. This has been an enormous undertaking and has been a lot of fun to dig through. The end goal here is to provide you with the best and most accurate content that I can provide. 2021 was a massive year for us, and I want to make 2022 even more significant.
We are in the month of February, the month of love! We decided to start an annual event called “Be Mine.” This will feature true crime stories of love and loss. Many of these stories do not feature a happily ever after, but rather full of misery forevermore.
This story is one of shock and betrayal, Love and Fear. This story is unique in many ways, but deep down, it’s like many others that we have covered over the years. This is the month of love, and today I am bringing you a story of forbidden love. One forgotten through time, and yet it seems so familiar.
This story first takes place on June 13th, 1929, near Ohio State University. Two college students were just arriving at the New York Central Railroad Rifle Range. This Range was a popular spot for shooters in the area. It featured some of the best shooters in the country.
These two young men were the first on the Range for the day. The shooting field was overgrown, the grass was knee-high or taller. The boys walked out to place their targets, and one of them noticed something in the distance. It almost looked like someone was sleeping in the tall grass. The boy pointed it out to his friend, and they went to investigate. What they found, they would never forget. A woman was lying in the field. Her head was beaten and bloody. As they got closer, they knew she was dead. They quickly left the Range and alerted the police to what had happened.
One of the first Detectives on the scene was the Chief of Detectives, W. G. Shellenbarger. The Detective advised everyone to stay back from the body. He wanted to observe the area before they went in. He could see the tracks the two boys made from the tall grass, placing their targets and then their tracks heading to the body. You see, when you move through the tall grass like that, it parts the grass enough for you to know where you had been. But, besides their tracks, there were no others in the area. None that lead to or from the body. So, this made the Detective believe that it had been there for a while. The grass had repositioned itself, and the tracks were now gone.
They then moved in. As the Detective checked the body, the other officers were combing through the tall grass, looking for anything that could be evidence.
Detective Shellenbarger and the Corner counted multiple blows to the head. They were rounded, so they thought it might be from a hammer. The Corner noted the roundness of each impact, and he believed it to be a ball-peen hammer, the type that has a rounded head. Her throat and body had several deep slashes as well.
The Detective searched the woman’s personal belongings. He found a set of keys in her pocket but nothing else to help identify the woman.
The search was completed just hours later. Nothing was found on the rifle range. No hammer or knife was left at the scene. The Corner took the mystery woman back to his office, where he would start his investigation on the manner of death. But this woman would not be a mystery woman for long.
Two sisters who attended Ohio State University were very worried about their roommate, who had not returned to the dorm from a date. So they decided to go to the police station and tell the authorities about the situation. They described the missing woman to a detective, who thought it matched with the woman found on the rifle range.
The two sisters were Allice and Beatrice Bustin. The Detective led them to the morgue to see if they could identify the woman found that morning. When they were shown the body, they positively identified her as Theora K. h ix, their missing friend.
The police questioned the two girls about what they knew of Mrs. Hix’s movements yesterday. They both stated that she had gone to the hospital to see if she could get a part-time job there to earn some extra money. She was a medical student and was interested in the work. She had also told them that she had a date that night. They were surprised because Mrs. Kix never dated anyone. She was very focused on school. The sisters didn’t know much about her private life. They said that she was seen with an older man in a small car several times around campus, but they didn’t know what the relationship was there. They thought he was faculty. She had also been seen with another man closer to her age. He might be a student or a young staffer.
Besides that, they didn’t know much about Mrs. Hix. She had mostly kept to herself and offered little about her life to anyone. The only thing they remember her saying was that her family was from Florida, where her parents were.
The Detective then worked on notifying the next of kin. In this case, it was Mrs. Hix’s parents. They contacted the school, who gave them the contact information. Then they made contact with her parents. They were absolutely devastated to learn of the news of their daughter’s death. They had not seen her for quite some time since she started school, and now they would never see her alive again. They started the long drive to Ohio from Florida when notified of the news.
Detective Shellenbarger then decided to follow up on Mrs. Hix’s movements through the day. He had already spoken to her roommates, but they said she had left to find work at the hospital. So that was the next place that he went. It was found out that the hospital did indeed see Mrs. Hix that previous day and they hired her on the spot. They trained her on operating the phone switch, and then she had to go. She told them she had a date to go on but provided no names.
It was odd that the name of the person she had a date with was such a mystery. But, the thing about small towns, news travels fast, is doubly true on school campuses. The news of Mrs. Hix’s murder spread like wildfire across campus, and that’s when the police received their first big tip.
The police received several tips about Mrs. Hix, but several that came in all at once was that she was often in the company of a teacher at the school, Professor James Snook. They had seen her in his car just a day or two ago.
This was surprising because James Snook was not just a teacher at the school. He was a local celebrity. He once held the world’s record for pistol shooting and was also a gold medallist at the 1920 Summer Olympic Games for 50-meter team pistol shooting. He taught veterinary medicine at Ohio State University and had done so for some time, making a name for himself as a senior member of the faculty.
The Detective called the school to see where Professor Snook was, and his assistant told him they believed that he went to the shooting range, where he spent much of his time. They immediately went to check, and indeed, they found the Professor there shooting a rifle, and they brought him in for questioning.
The Detectives wanted to know what the Professor knew about Mrs. Hix, and they needed to rule him out as a suspect. So they needed to know his movements for the previous night. The Professor told them that he and Mrs. Hix were professional friends, nothing else. She was in his car because he was putting together a book, and he needed her help with typing. They had discussed payment for the service.
One thing that the Detective noticed right away was that Professor Snook’s hand was bandaged. They asked about the injury, and the Professor told them that he had hurt his hand while working on his car.
The Professor told the police that on the night of the murder, he had stayed late in the office. He didn’t leave until 7 or 8 PM. He then drove to the country club to get some shooting glasses, and then he purchased a newspaper on the way home. He met his wife at home around 9:30PM. Professor Snook believed that the school’s night watchman could confirm with the police that he was indeed in the office and that others from his stops would do the same to verify his movements.
Officers would start verifying the Professor’s statements, but Detective Shellenbarger received an intriguing phone call from the Corner’s office before they could. A man had just left his office, he asked to view the body of Theora Hix. The man was upset about her death and stated that he knew her well. His name was Marion Myers, and he fit the description of the person who was a little closer to her age that Mrs. Hix had been seen with recently.
So the Detectives sent officers to find Mr. Myers. Mr. Myers was a state employee. He worked for the State Department of Agriculture and conducted research at Ohio State University. They would start there to find out where he was staying while researching.
Detective Shellenbarger went to the Professors office and spoke with his staff. They didn’t work as late as the Professor did, so they couldn’t tell them one way or another if the Professor had indeed stayed late in the office. The Detective then checked with the staff about what they did know about the Professor’s movements today. And that’s when they gave up some interesting information. You see that morning when the Professor first came in for the day. He had his staff take care of and clean his car. It wasn’t unusual for him to have them do so, but it was the first thing he had them do for the day.
Now, the Professors car had been left at the shooting range where they had picked him up. So Detective Shellenbarger then returned to the station to pick up the keys to the car, and then he began getting a warrant to search the Professors vehicle and Mr. Meyers vehicle.
In the meantime, Officers located Marion Myers, the state worker. He was at a fraternity house on campus. He was arrested on suspicion and was brought to the station for questioning. The entire time he pleaded with the officers that he had nothing to do with the murder, but they told him to cooperate, and if he had nothing to do with it, he had nothing to worry about.
When Mr. Myers arrived at the station, Detective Shellenbarger immediately interviewed him. When asked about his relationship with Mrs. Hix, he said he had been a close friend of hers two years ago, but their friendship had cooled. He said he was in Columbus Thursday night and had returned to Bono when a fraternity brother called him early today to tell him of Mrs. Hix’s death. Thinking it might be a joke, he phoned the police to see if it were true. He then said that he then came to Columbus.
Once they received the warrant to search both suspects’ cars, they did so right away, starting with Dr. Snook’s car. When they arrived at the shooting range, they were a little disappointed. The vehicle had indeed been cleaned very well. It was evident that the exterior and interior of the car had been detailed. But they still searched. Blood has this way of seeping into areas that no one thinks to clean. They looked under flooring and in creases but found nothing. Only when they opened the passenger door, one of the Detectives noticed what looked to be a drop of blood on the door jam. He carefully collected the sample. The sample would be taken to the police chemist to see what it was. You see, back in 1929, we didn’t have DNA evidence, but we could identify blood and type it. If it matched the same type of the victim, it would be one more piece of evidence of who had committed the crime. It would take several days for the chemist to have the results, but it was their first lead.
They also impounded Mr. Meyers’s car and conducted a search on it as well. Unlike the Professor’s car, Mr. Meyers didn’t appear to have been recently cleaned. It had a more used look but didn’t contain anything that seemed to be blood.
They continued searching the car. They also found a ball-peen hammer in the trunk, like the one believed used in the murder. They also found stained gloves. They, too, were taken by the chemist to see if they had blood on them. With this possible evidence, Detective Shellenbarger could obtain a warrant to search the Professors house.
The Detectives, in this case, we’re moving as fast as they could. They had heald both men on suspicion, but if they didn’t charge them with a crime. They had to let them go after 48 hours.
Focusing on Professor Snook at the moment, the Detectives worked on getting the warrant on searching his house. The scope of the search would be for articles of clothing or items that appear to have blood on them. Once obtained, they quickly moved in to search the home. Mrs. Snook was home, and she let the Detectives in with little protest. She hoped that the lack of evidence would prove her husband’s innocence. She was the main alibi for her husband. She told officers that he had been with her after 9:30PM and that he never left the house once he got home.
Once inside the home, they found a couple of items. One was a piece of dry-cleaning that was just picked up from the cleaners. It was a jacket of the Professors. It had stains on the sleeve that could have been blood. The slip showed it was dropped off the day after the murder. The other was not discovered until they looked into the home’s furnace. Inside was a shirt with stains on it and a women’s vanity case. Mrs. Snook had no idea why those items would have been in the furnace.
Now, Detectives were starting to lean toward Professor Snook as their primary suspect. They still needed to rule Marion Meyers out, but things were looking up for him. Mr. Meyers had told them all along that he didn’t learn of Mrs. Hix’s death until a friend had called him. The police interviewed this friend, and he told them the same story. He actually called long distance to speak to Mr. Meyers and that he was shocked to learn of her death. With no evidence against him, Detectives decided to take one more shot at cracking him before letting him go.
Detectives took Mr. Meyers to the morgue, where Mrs. Hix’s body was. They made him look at her and the damage that had been done to her. It was said that he showed little emotion during this. When he didn’t break and tell them more information, the Detectives let him go.
On his way out of the police station, Mr. Meyers said little as he got into his car. The only statement he made was that he was now scared of Professor Snook.
Now with just one suspect. The Detectives, who had been taking it somewhat easy on Professor Snook, now we’re changing gears and were coming at him much harder. They refused to let him rest or sleep. For hours they would slowly reveal the evidence they found against him. First, they told him what they believed, that he killed Mrs. Hix and then transported her body to the shooting range. They thought that the blood-like stain on his car was from the Professor closing the door on her hand when she tried to escape. She had an injury on her hand that looked like it had been closed in a door.
The Detectives then showed him the charred articles of clothing that didn’t thoroughly burn in his furnace and the cleaned jacket that looked to have bloodstains on it. But as they brought each piece of evidence out, it didn’t seem to phase the Professor in any way. He sat there, unmoving and uninterested in what they had to say. But the next thing the Detectives revealed changed all of that. Because they had a new witness come forward.
Who was this witness? Find out next time on Part two of this story debuting next week.
I hope you all enjoyed this series so far. It’s only a two-part series and is a great story. This was incredible to research. Make sure you rate the podcast and share it with a friend. We want to grow and provide more content. The only way that will happen is with your help. You can follow me and my exploits by following my social media. The links are in the description. I hope you all have a great week, and I will see you all next time. See ya.