This is Part 3 of Death in Knoxville. Need to catch up?
Part 1 Part 2
After killing Minnie, Peter fled to the small town of Middleboro, Kentucky. He may have known someone there. But after only a week, he went home to Knoxville.
He was approached almost immediately by Deputy Sheriff Singleton. In a panic, he denied that he was Peter Turner.
The policeman shook his head. He’d known Turner prior to the murder; Knoxville was not such a large town. Why deny it?
Peter, hopeless, admitted his identity and voluntarily handed over his pistol. He must have intended to turn himself in because he was carrying a handwritten narrative about his relations with Mrs. Scott; a similar statement in the deceased woman’s handwriting, and a complete confession of the crime.
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.
I was hoping to find enough information about this Knoxville, Tennessee murder for my next book because it’s a fascinating story. The case was controversial when it happened, even amongst the friends and family of the victim and the killer. Though there wasn’t enough information available for a full book, I kept thinking about this story and I decided to write about what I could find… voilà!
Even after all the research and writing about this case, my opinion is still shifting about where the guilt lies, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as you read about the case.