This is Part 2 of Death in Knoxville.
If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can find it here.
Peter Turner fled the scene, leaving Minnie Scott behind. His boarding house was not far from where they met. When he reached the house, the other boarders noticed Turner was drunk and distraught.
Turner told fellow boarder Charles Cheatham in a low voice that he had just killed Minnie Scott.
Cheatham listened, stunned, as Peter said Minnie told him to shoot her in the mouth. He had, but it didn’t kill her. She directed him to shoot her in the abdomen. Still, she didn’t die.
“Then she said, ‘Shoot me again, here!'” Peter placed his hand on his breast. And when he had shot her a third time, and she sank down on the ground. He knew people would come when they heard the gunshots, and he ran away.
A little later, Turner admitted to another boarder, Pat Campbell, that he and Minnie were lovers. They had made a suicide pact and he killed Minnie, as per the plan.
This time, though, his explained his failure to kill himself differently. “My heart failed me,” he told Campbell. “I couldn’t do it.” He admitted he’d been drinking, and he wouldn’t have shot Minnie if he had been sober.
Minnie’s body was discovered immediately and police were called to the scene. Bystanders told a responding officer that the deceased woman was rumored to be going with a man named Peter Turner, who lived in a nearby boarding house. The statement Minnie wrote about her relationship with Peter was missing.
By the time police got to Turner’s boarding house, the suspect had vanished. However, they interviewed Cheatham and Campbell, who repeated what Peter Turner told them. Soon afterward, the police investigation turned up one other violent incident between the victim and the suspect that occurred six months earlier, in October 1906.
The information came from Mrs. Hall, who had been a friend of Minnie Scott. She told the detective that her friend had visited her home and brought Turner with her. During their visit, Mrs. Hall left the pair alone in her kitchen for several minutes.
She heard a gunshot and ran back into the room. She found Minnie doubled over, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the face. Her friend was conscious. “‘It’s my pistol’,” Mrs Hall remembered her friend saying. “She told me, ‘Peter didn’t do this.'” Apparently, Minnie had threatened to shoot herself and when Peter attempted to wrestle the gun from her hand, a shot was fired, inflicting the wound on her face. Minnie insisted Turner didn’t hurt her so Peter was not arrested or even questioned about the incident.
Now, with Minnie dead and Peter missing, rumors flew through the streets of Knoxville. The most popular story was that Turner had demanded Minnie leave her husband and run away with him. When she refused, he shot her in cold blood.
Will Scott, Minnie’s grief-stricken husband, may have believed the story. Three days after the murder, he posted a reward in Knoxville’s Journal and Tribune, offering $25 for the capture of Minnie’s murderer.
This would be worth approximately $700 in 2020 and it galvanized the community. Everyone was looking for Minnie Scott’s murderer. In fact, Peter Turner had fled north to a small town in Kentucky.