Did you miss part of the story? Links to Part 1Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

You’ve read all the facts I could find about the murder of Dr. Allen S. King and the trial of Leo Olivier, the 15-year-old boy who killed him. This post has no new facts, just my own thoughts about the story.

We know there is a lot of missing information but based on what we do know, I have questions about the veracity of Hazel Olivier’s story, which was the foundation of everything that happened. Her family, the newspapers, and law enforcement appeared to take it on faith that she was being honest. She may have been, but it’s not the only possibility.

Hazel’s story doesn’t sound right. In a small town like Morgan City, if she was having an affair with the doctor, someone would have known it, but no one did until she returned from New Orleans and announced it herself. Her trip to New Orleans is off, too. Hazel didn’t have a lot of money, she was in a strange city, and abortion was illegal; how would she even know where to go to procure an abortion? When she returned home, she wanted to go to Sacred Heart to talk to her priest, but it wasn’t clear if she wanted to confess or if she was seeking guidance. Either way, it’s unusual she would have invited a friend.

I wondered if perhaps Hazel was infatuated with Dr. King and he had rejected her, so she invented the story to get even with him. The signs that were festooned all over town the day after Dr. King returned were a clear attempt to humiliate him. But would an indignant friend or family member, who would likely want to keep the story as quiet as possible, really paper the town with this announcement? Only someone who wanted everyone to know the story about Hazel and Dr. King would do this. Someone like a rejected paramour.

A week passed after the embarrassing poster incident with no other news. Then, per their account, Hazel spoke to her brother about it, and he murdered the doctor the next day. Leo seemed like a level-headed boy. Could Hazel have deliberately incited him to take action?

The other thing that bothered me about the case was that the defense’s case was so absurd. I felt like they weren’t even trying. Leo was a likeable kid and my guess is that his sister manipulated him into murdering the doctor. Given his age and record, together with possible/probable manipulation by an adult, he probably should not have been held entirely responsible.

But the defense’s case was so obviously false as to be insulting to everyone who heard it.

First, how is it even possible Leo did not find out about his sister’s story about the doctor until the night before the murder? The entire town was gossiping about Hazel’s story for weeks. Even if that escaped him, didn’t Leo wonder about all those posters all over town? I believe that Hazel had a conversation with him the night before he killed Dr. King, but it’s difficult to believe he knew nothing about it before then.

Second, the defense was clearly betting that the jury would actually judge Leo on the unwritten law defense. The plea of self-defense was only a formality, but… they ought to have found a better formality. Leo took a revolver to the doctor’s office, knocked on the door, and immediately shot him without saying a word. How could it possibly be self-defense?

The defense said the doctor was lying in wait with his brass knuckles. If Dr. King was smart enough to get through medical school, he’d know better than to bring brass knuckles to a gunfight.

Please share any thoughts or opinions you have in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

On February 1, 1899, a baby girl was born in Winston, North Carolina. She was the second child of Dr. Allen King and his wife, Phoebe Whitaker King. A daughter named Phoebe was born four years earlier. The Kings named this daughter Allyn.

I began the post this way, because I had planned to write about the actress Allyn King, but as I researched, I got derailed—as I so often do—when I read about an incident that occurred early in Allyn’s life. Though she wasn’t physically present when it occurred, it changed her trajectory and it’s a fascinating story. So let’s start here!

As you may have already noticed, there are some duplicate names in this story, including within the King family. For instance, Allen and Phoebe King named their daughters Phoebe and Allyn. To keep it simple, I’ll use the parents’ formal names (Dr. and Mrs. King) to distinguish them from their children.

The family was living with Mrs. King’s parents in North Carolina at the time of Allyn’s birth but, within a few years, they moved to Louisiana. They were probably drawn there because Dr. King was born and raised in New Orleans; however, the family opted to move to Morgan City, a small town about 90 minutes away from the Big Easy. Morgan City may have been a more manageable place for Dr. King to build a practice. He set up shop in a small office he rented in the bank building.

Morgan City, Louisiana

In 1909, Allyn, now 10 years old, accompanied her mother and sister on a visit to see her maternal grandparents in North Carolina. Dr. Allen King remained in Louisiana to work. At least, that was why he said he was staying behind.

Among Dr. King’s patients was the Olivier family. The Oliviers had a tragic story. Mrs. Olivier died many years earlier, after bearing her fifth child. Mr. Olivier soon married Miss Souby, the sister of a local priest. By the time Mr. Olivier died eight years later, his three oldest children were adults. The other two were technically orphans, but their stepmother stayed and continued to raise them after the death of their father.

Hazel Olivier was 19 years old, and she still lived in the family home. She was a schoolteacher in Morgan City but in late January or early February of 1909, Miss Olivier took a mysterious leave of absence and traveled to New Orleans. Not much was thought of it by her friends and acquaintances at the time.

Dr. King, whose family was 900 miles away, went to New Orleans around the same time. No connection was made to Hazel’s visit; indeed, there may have been none.

Sacred Heart Church Morgan City, LA, circa 1910 (from cityofmc.com)

 

Hazel returned to Morgan City in April. Soon after her arrival, she insisted on visiting the Sacred Heart church to speak to Father Souby. Her stepmother and a friend accompanied her. Once inside, Hazel told the priest her conscience was bothering her and confessed she had gone to New Orleans “to have an operation.” Abortion was illegal, but the real criminal in her listeners’ minds was the man who had gotten her into this terrible situation. When she was pressed, Hazel said it was Dr. King.

If you’ve spent much time in a small Southern town, you might be familiar with the astonishing speed with which a story can spread. The gist of Hazel’s story was immediately shared far and wide, and by the time families sat down for supper that evening, the story was public property. Dr. King, blissfully unaware of all of this, was gone several weeks longer. He returned home late on the evening of May 11 and immediately went to bed.

Go to The Kings of Louisiana, Part 2!