In 1939, You wouldn’t expect a vacation to turn to murder. But when a man shows up at the hospital in Clinton, Oklahoma with his dead wife who he says had just been hit by a hit-and-run driver, it came to just that. Officers jump into action and do what they can to solve the case. This is the story of Warren and Julia Abby.
In this episode, we are returning to the great state of Oklahoma and to a case that took place just miles from where I live but happened a little over 82 years ago. We will cover the disappearance of Eudora Cunningham, a beautiful Oklahoma City Socialite whose family was well known in the community. Her Husband Roger Cunningham believes she left him, other suspect something more sinister is going on. But before we get started, please subscribe to the podcast if you have not done so already. This entire production is done entirely by myself. This includes research, writing, recording, editing, graphics, social media, and promotion. So this one act can help us out quite a bit. Plus, when we have new episodes, you will be the first to know. Now, enough self-promotion, let’s start this story.
Benjamin Sargent is born on March 13th 1896. His Father is Benjamin Terrell Sargent and Mother Martha Cargent
Benjamin Enlisted to enter the World War at Ft. Sill Oklahoma on August 29th 1917 at 21 years old
He was slightly injured in battle on October 15th 1918
He was Honorably Discharged on May 14th 1919
On May 24th 1919 – Six hours after his return to home from France where he served 17 months on the firing line, Carroll Sargent is dead, victim of an assassin’s bullet.
The same day Bethel Kincaid is arrested.
May 27th 1919 – The Preliminary hearing in the trial for Benjamin’s murder starts
Alton Rush is also arrested as an accessory to murder.
September 20th 1919 – There is a verdict in the case.
Benjamin Carrol Sargent was happy to serve his country in the great war. He was a young man from Texas who spent part of his youth in the state of Oklahoma. There, he fell in love with a young woman in a little town called Hochatown. Her name was Marian Woods and they quickly fell in love with one another.
World War One broke out on July 28th 1914. America didn’t enter the war until April 6th 1917. When given the opportunity to serve his country, Benjamin didn’t waver, but he wanted something, or better put, someone to come back to when the fighting was all said and done. So before leaving for Ft. Sill Oklahoma to enlist, he proposed to Marian, he promised that as soon as he would get back from the war, they would get married. She happily agreed.
On August 19th 1917, Benjamin made the trip to Ft. Sill to receive his training. One of the things I did a little research on is how the United States came to train a Military that had never dealt with warfare like this. The United States was not totally prepared and had to decide on how best to train a soldier in their modern times.
During his Training Benjamin became, Private Sargent and in 1918, he was sent overseas to fight on the front lines in France. Later that same year on October 15th 1918, he was injured during battle. We did some digging into his records and found his veteran war record that lists his service during the war. It shows his injury as “Slightly” injured. Which meant that he spent little time away and returned to battle.
One of the things we do know is that he kept regular correspondence with Marian. They exchanged letters when they could, despite uncertainty of the overseas mail at the time, they always seemed able to stay in touch. When Benjamin was not writing Marina he was talking about her. Many of his brothers in arms knew about his girl back in Oklahoma and how they planned on getting married just as soon as he got home.
The War ended on November 11th 1918, Benjamin would stay overseas until he received the happy news that he was being shipped home on April 26th 1919. Just a few weeks later he was Honorably discharged on May 14th 1919.
A few days later, when he was released from the Army, Benjamin decided that the first place he would go is to see the love of his life. They met up and spent the rest of the day and evening together. They discussed their plans for one another and what their future together would be like.
That evening, Benjamin was going to walk to the place where he was staying. Its not known if Benjamin knew he was being followed, but one thing is for sure. A gunshot rang out into the night and Benjamin, who survived the trenches of World War One, died on American soil.
Local police and County Sheriff Dewitt went to the little town of Hochatown to investigate what actually happened. Benjamin’s body was found on the side of the road, little to no attempt was made to hide it. It was likely that the assailant fired the shot and made a run for it. Many residents at the time would have probably looked out to see what happened or, they would have alerted authorities.
It turned out that there was another suitor who was madly in love with Marian Woods. William Bethel Kincaid who went by Bethel Kincaid, had just become a rejected suitor when Benjamin returned from the war. Although they were working with little to no evidence, the Sheriff believed that Bethel decided that the best way to get Marian back was to eliminate the competition.
When authorities interviewed his parents they found out that Bethel was not home at the time of the shooting. He was out, with a friend that night. That friend was Alton Rush. Alton was then interviewed and he admitted to being with Bethel that night but he admitted nothing else.
Not satisfied with the answers, they decided to arrest Bethel and charge him with the murder and they also arrested Alton on being an accessory to murder.
The case against them was not particularly strong and almost purely circumstantial. The trial was short like a lot of the murder trials of the day. The procession broke down the night’s events, how the two accused were out, in the same town, on the same night, with only each other as an alibi. The defense pointed out that there was no witnesses to the crime, there was no one who saw the two accused as being in the area. They both gave their statements, stuck to their story and no one could say that what they said was not true.
The case was given to the Jury and they returned with a verdict an hour later. Not guilty. Bethel’s parents who were in the courthouse were overjoyed with the outcome.
In case you are wondering, Bethel didn’t end up with Marian. He was married a short time after this to someone else and lived a full and seemingly happy life.
So my question is this. Who killed Benjamin? After the trial there was no more looking into the case because they believed that Bethel and Alton just got away with murder. They had their shot at convicting them for murder and decided to take a circumstantial case to trial knowing that they only had one try at this.
So let’s assume that Bethel and Alton had nothing to do with murder. Who does that leave? Well, lets take a look at the town this all happened in, Hochatown. When you look up Hochatown on the map, the place you are looking at is actually the second town with the name. The original Hochatown is not under a couple hundred feet of water in Broken Bow lake.
But before this town was sent into the depths of water, it was known in its early history as somewhat of a boom town. Logging had become the number one industry in the area and Hochatown was at the center of it all. The little town grew and people from all over came to live there. During prohibition, it was known as Oklahoma’s moonshine capital and in the 1920’s the number and level of crimes steadily went up. So, would some of these unsavory criminals have something to do with Benjamin’s demise? Perhaps while walking down the road, did he see something he wasn’t supposed to?
In my opinion, that would be hard to believe. The murder happened a year before prohibition so we are a little too early to be worrying about moonshiners throughout the area. But anything is possible.
So, what do you think happened to Benjamin? Was he murdered by a rival? Did he see something that he wasn’t supposed to? Or do you have a theory of your own? Comment down below or join us on Facebook to discuss the case further. You can find us at Facebook.com/Okie Investigations.
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 …