This is Part 3 of The Kings of Louisiana. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 first!
According to the Hattiesburg Daily News, the doctor’s killer was 15-year-old Leo Olivier.
“Last Tuesday, Dr. King returned to the city and immediately resumed his practice. The day following his return the town was placarded with large printed posters which heralded his return and branded him as the betrayer of women. It is believed that the poster was what inflamed the youthful brother with a desire to avenge the wrong.
“Arming himself with a 32-caliber automatic revolver, young Olivier proceeded to the office of the physician yesterday morning. The boy told police he had committed the murder because Dr. King took advantage of his sister Hazel.”
By the time the Marshal arrived at Dr. King’s office, a number of people were crowded into the tiny room. Deputy Sheriff Leroy Olivier arrived first. He had the same name as the boy who killed the doctor, but they were not related or connected in any way. Shortly afterward, Dr. E. G. Cherrault, was summoned to assist the doctor. But Dr. Allen King was beyond help.
Marshal Maitland glanced at Cherrault, who shook his head. Rather than examine the body at once, Maitland pulled Deputy Sheriff Olivier aside. “Tell me what you found.”
“The doctor was lying on his face with his hand stretched out,” Olivier said, demonstrating with his own hand. “He had a pair of brass knuckles on his right hand.”
The marshal looked up sharply. Brass knuckles would indicate that possibly Dr. King had intended to defend himself. How could he have known about the boy’s intention?
Dr. Cherrault corroborated the deputy sheriff’s statement. “I’m absolutely positive Dr. King had on a pair of knuckles when I came to his side.”
And indeed, the brass knuckles were still clutched in the doctor’s hand.
“While the town is divided to a certain extent, those who are in sympathy with the boys seem to be in the majority,” the Hattiesburg Daily News declared. “However, there are those of friends of the dead doctor who said that he was a particularly honest and upright man, and that he is the victim of unfortunate circumstances.”
The details of the story, as told to the police by the boy, seemed to check out. Multiple eyewitnesses had seen him throughout the morning. Miss Bibbins had seen him, heard two gunshots, and peered around the corner to watch as Leo descended to the ground floor. Leo had said he fired twice before his gun jammed, and a third cartridge was found stuck in the chamber.
Leo spent the night in jail and was escorted on to the train the following morning. He would be tried for the murder in Franklin, Louisiana. At the depot, a reporter from the New Orleans Times–Democrat called out to him, asking why he killed the doctor.
Leo shook his head. “I cannot say.”
When the reporter persisted, the teenager continued, “I would rather not talk of the affair. One of my attorneys is on the train, and you will have to see him. I would rather that he do the talking if there’s a need for any to be done.”
After a moment, Leo added, “But I don’t think that either of the attorneys is prepared to talk as we have it pretty well understood not to say anything for publication just at this time. However, all of the facts will be made known later and then the whole world will be told.”
Reporters freely opined Leo’s real defense would be the unwritten law.
The unwritten law typically referenced cases in which a woman was compromised and the man who had seduced her was likely to go unpunished by the law. In these cases, the unwritten law compelled a woman’s male relatives to punish the man who “ruined” her. In this case, Dr. King had seduced Leo’s sister, caused her to have an abortion, and destroyed her reputation, and it was his duty, as Hazel’s brother, to ensure the doctor didn’t get away with it.
The unwritten law was not legally valid, of course, so the official defense was a plea of self-defense. Bail was set at $10,000, far out of reach for the Oliviers. Prominent citizens of Morgan City paid Leo’s bail for him.
2 thoughts on “The Kings of Louisiana, Part 3: A 15-year-old Avenger”
Pingback: The Kings of Louisiana, Part 4: The Unwritten Law – old spirituals
Pingback: The Kings of Louisiana, Part 5: Just an Opinion – old spirituals