Page 7


EVANS AND OTHERS England in ’49 ‘A Mistake Was Made’ Ten Rillington Place, by Ludovie Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. 288 page. $4.95. AUSTIN The subtitla of this book is “The story of John Reginald Halliday Christie, necrophile and multipl e murderer, and of the tragic mis carriage of justice that sent a n innocent man to the gallows.” A few days from now, unless th e state changes its mind and or ders a new trialan unlikely even t Howard Stickney will be exe cuted for a murder which ha s been recently gone into, at quit e exhaustive lengths, in the Ob server. In last week’s Observer, Ronnie Dugger \(who handled the study of editorial comment that would he reasonable to make in light of his previous findings: “The tragic flaw of capital punishment is the uncertainty of justice.” A great many people in Texas, especially those who have come under the influence of the Houston newspapers, feel that in the Stickney case there is no uncertainty. In 1949, probably nobody in England, including several members of the defendant’s family, felt there was the slightest uncertainty about the guilt of Timothy John Evans, who was sent to the gallows that year for the murder of his wife and infant daughter. For some time now, however, it has been known and admitted by just about everybodyexcept -the British Home Secretary and his hangers-onthat a terrible wrong was done to poor Evans, IQ 68. Dense and inflexible as governments are, it is difficult to see how even the Home Secretary will be able to deny Evans’ innocence, in light of the solid evidence of that fact assembled in Ten Killington Place. The previous Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. James Chuter Ede, the official who sent Evans to his death, five years later admitted with blythe understatement: “A mistake was made.” If this book has a message to judges, juries, and executioners everywherewhether of the hired or drugstore varietythis is it: In an “airtight” case, with the defendant condemning himself out of his own mouth \(though later “A MISTAKE WAS MADE.” There are COMMERCE Just now the critics for the bigcity dailies are explaining our leading playwright, Tennessee Williams, to the general public \(Rebellious Puritan by Nancy Tischler, Citadel Press, $5; and Tennessee Williams: the Man and His Work by Benjamin Nelson, Ivan taking place that reveals a Texas angle to his phenomenal success. The movie version of his Summer and Smoke has opened in Dallas at the Esquire. This Texas premier is not without reason. Williams “got his start” in Texas. The Margo Jones Theater, a successful experimental theater group until the death of the founder director in 1955, turned its stage lights on Williams’ talent in the summer of 1947. Margo Jones recognized Williams’ theatrical talent in the then-unknown writer’s Summer and Smoke. In tribute to this recognition, Dallas is showing the premier along with New York and Los Angeles. 1.Evans con f esse d, several times, the two murders for which he was arrested, but his confessions conflicted. Stickney also turned in a confession that conflicted at points with physical evidence. 2.Evans contended to the very last that his confessions were unfairly obtained by the police, and so has Stickney. 3.All available evidence was not used in the Evans trial, some of it having been suppressed by the prosecution, other simply not being discovered by Evans’ inadequate staff of defense attorneys. The very same thing applies, as we now know, in the Stickney case. 4.In the Evans case, evidence used by the prosecution “disappeared.” In the Stickney case, a prosecutor could not find a record of another suspect’s reported lie test. 5.Evans was advised to flee; it was bad advice, but he took it. Later he turned himself in voluntarily. Stickney was also advised to flee and was given money to do it with. But he started back to turn himself in, and was apprehended en route. 6.Christie, the real murderer in the Evans case, was a sexual beasta melodramatic word, but most certainly applicable who was much more at ease around men than women, a latent homosexual, a wretched fellow who bragged of his “conquests” to cover frequent bouts with impotency. While no effort is made here to establish a direct analogy with the Stickney case, readers who followed Dugger’s series will be reminded of Clifford Barnes, whom Stickney in one of his statements has accused of being the murderer of Shirley Barnes as the climax of a legal rape. manpower he way onto the he remained Summer and Smoke went from Dallas to New York. It didn’t create much of a stir, but its author did later with Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1948. Williams recognized the help he received from the Dallas start by remaining on the board of directors for the Margo Jones Theater after he became the biggest name on Broadway. A Dallas critic, John Rosenfield, can take pride in having foreseen and put into print that Williams would go far in the drama world. Williams is reported to be willing to help revive the not-deadbut-sleeping Margo Jones Theater by offering a new script to it. His thoughtful gesture, in which he joins other big names on Broadway who got their start in Dallas \(William Inge, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, and the team of Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee, may cause the Margo Jones Theater to rise phoenix-like from its ashes. JAMES BYRD murder. By this time his home was the bottom floor of a threetiered, cramped, dingy apartment house at 10 Rillington Place. His first victim was a prostitute, which is not surprising since he was quite a patron of prostitutes. He strangled her in his apartment while participating in the mechanics of intercourse. Christie discovered he liked dead bodies. He buried her in his backyard. That was in 1943. Within just over a year, a second body had been added to the backyard, this time his victim being a woman he lured to his home on the promise of helping to relieve her chronic catarrh. As with his first victim, he made love to her as he strangled her. Four years later Timothy John Evans, a cheerful truck driver with the mind of a 10-year-old child, and his wife Beryl and baby Geraldine moved into the top floor of 10 Rillington Place. The next year Beryl found she was again pregnant and, because she felt they couldn’t afford a second child, she attempted, unsuccessfully, to miscarry. Two floors below, Christie learned of her wish and again feigning medical ability he didn’t have, offered to help her. He did so with Evans’ knowledge but not his approval. teryl, however, was eager to have his help, and eventually she made herself available for the operation. THE “OPERATION” again took the form of strangling and rav ishment. Christie told Evans that she died during the abortion and that if he told the police he, Evans, would also ‘be implicated. He advised Evans to go away for a while, saying that he, Christie, would see to it that baby Geraldine was taken care of. Evans left, and Christie strangled the baby. These bodies Christie stacked behind firewood in the wash house. Distraught, befuddled, broke, Evans eventually turned himself into the police, at first saying that he had killed his wife \(he didn’t know until later that his daughter had been done in by retribution if he were implicated. Evans said he had put Beryl “done the drain.” Police, looking for the disposal drain he was talking about, found the bodies, both bodies, and Evans was on his way to the gallows. When Evans reversed himself and attempted to pin the blame on the rightful murderer, Christie, police scoffed at him. Christie a murderer? Christie, the former policeman, the guardian of his homeland who was gassed in the Great War? Nonsense! Evans was convicted largely because of his own confessions, which author Kennedy shows to have been coerced, and by the testimony against him of the real killer. He was executed in 1949. For three years thereafter Christie behaved himself. Then in December 1952, fed up with the nagging of Mrs. Christie and feeling the old urge, Christie strangled his wife in bed. With her in death . THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 7 Jan. 13, 1962 throes he did not, as he had not for two years, have intercourse. Mrs. Christie was buried under the frontroom floor. Early the next year Christie strangled and ravished a 26-yearold prostitute in his flat, and stuffed her body behind a false wall in the kitchen. A few days later he strangled and ravished a 25-year-old prostitute, her body also going behind the wall. A month later he strangled and ravished a third woman of the street, enticed into his apartment, and her body went behind the wall with the other two. NOW THE APARTMENT was fairly bulging with bodies. Christie, sick, crazy, out of work, moved out of it. Flats were hard to come by, so it was immediately rented again, and the next renter, poking about, discovered the false wall almost at once, and discovered also the three bodies ‘behind it. Police found the two in the hack yard and the one under the front room floor. When the jury brought in the guilty verdict, Kennedy tells us, the judge passed the death sentence “in tearsfor he could not help feeling pity that so dreadful a creature as Christie should exist, let alone have to die,” and this is as it should be; but no tears had been shed when Evans was routed to the gallows. Strangely enough, even after it was proved that Christie was the murderer of six women, the government of Britain refused to concede that it had made a mistake and that he was also the murderer of Evans’ wife and child. To believe that Evans was also guilty, says Kennedy, is to believe that “in this one small house in London, the only two ‘male occupants were both murderers who happened to be murdering people in exactly the same way” . . . It is easy to call the British government hardheaded now, with so much new evidence disclosed and at hand. But it should be remembered that at the time Evans was sentenced to die, it was a popular verdict and a popular sentence, just as Stickney’s senten:e of death is a popular one. One final point: Since Stickney was convicted largely on his own LEGALS TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Notice is hereby given that Joe R. Mooney, a sole trader, doing business under the trade name and style of ,Modern Paint Company at 2123 Blanco Road in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, has incorporated said business under the laws of Texas, effective January 2, 1962, the name of said corporation being Modern Paint Company, Inc., which corporation has acquired all of the assets of the former sole proprietorship. This notice is given and published as provided in Article 1307, R. C. S. of Texas. Joe R. Mooney Notice is hereby given that Albert Ward & Rip Ward, d-b-a Ward Sonora, Texas, has dissolved the said partnership and will do business under the name of Ward Sonora, Texas. Albert Ward, President CITATION BY PUBLICATION THE STATE OF TEXAS TO F. M. Beaty Defendant, in the hereinafter styled and numbered cause: You are hereby commanded to appear before the 126th District Court of Travis County, Texas, to be held at the courthouse of said county in the City of Austin, Travis County, Texas, at or before 10 o’clock A. M. of the first Monday after the expiration of 42 days from the date of issuance hereof; that is to say, at or before, 10 o’clock A. M. of Monday the 29th day of January, 1962, and answer the petition of plaintiff in Cause Number 122,793, in which Aluminum Company of America, Crown Central Petroleum Corporation and Carl E. Siegesmund are Plaintiffs and F. M. Beaty, the Railroad Commission of Texas and its mem hers, William J. Murray, Jr., Ern was Evans, the matter of confession is the crucial matter. Stickney now says his confession was wrung from him with false promises by the police. He also says he is so confused he doesn’t really remember what happened the night of the murders. In short, if this is the true situation, Stickney’s confessions were, as were Evans’, “largely self induced through misunderstanding and force of circumstance,” in the words of Kennedy, but the end result is about the same as that obtained by prisoncamp brainwashing. Kennedy discusses the psychological stages for successful brainwashing, whether in a police interrogation room or in a prisoncamp; anxiety, suspense, awareness of being avoided, feelings of unfocused guilt, fear and uncertainty, bewilderment, increasing depression, fatigue, and despair, great need to talk, utter dependence on anyone who befriends, great need for approval of interrogator, increased suggestibility, confession, and, finally, profound relief. Anyone who followed Dugger’s series on the Stickney case will know that that young man had passed through many of the above stages and was ripe for suggestion by the time he was in the hands of the Houston police. If he succumbed to “misunderstanding and the force of circumstance,” he is about to pay for it. No doubt Stickney’s case is, except for the ritual of execution, closed. But there will be others, and it is not too farfetched to consider that among those who read this there may be one who at some time in the future will stand accused of murder. He will have reason to thank us then if he remembers this advice Kennedy gives, and which we now pass on