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Peter said he left town after Minnie shot herself at Mrs. Hall’s home. He’d gone to Etowah, Tennessee, 70 miles south of Knoxville. He stayed there through Thanksgiving and Christmas. He stayed through the New Year. He might’ve stayed forever, if Minnie hadn’t written to him in February and asked him to come home.

For a month, he saw her every day and they were happy. Then she began to talk of suicide again.

At last, Peter agreed. They decided to carry out their suicide pact on March 13 but his nerve failed him again. Two days later, Minnie confronted him: she was determined to end her life that day.

“Go home,” he told her.

“If I ever go in that home again, I’ll be carried in,” Minnie cried fiercely. “I mean to get out of my worry this night, if I have to walk down to the bridge and jump off in the river.”

Minnie insisted on visiting her cousin before she died and Peter asked why she was so anxious to go. Minnie said she had told her husband that she was going there and “I want the last thing I told Will to be true.”

They agreed to meet in a few hours, on the corner of Church and Lithgow. While Minnie visited her cousin, Peter fortified himself with alcohol.

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Turner’s narrative was read in the still courtroom. Peter’s words were read aloud. He said he had known Minnie Scott for four years and they were very attached to each other. Though the document was long and detailed, the court was not interested in the affair between Peter Turner and Minnie Scott.

Peter’s attorney attempt to plead insanity had failed, but he moved forward with a bolstered defense. By the time Minnie was shot at Mrs. Hall’s home, her affair with Peter had been going on for some time. It’s interesting that neither the court nor the newspapers explained why Minnie didn’t leave her husband. Peter was not apparently not questioned on this point.

Knoxville County Courthouse-circa 1900 (LOC)



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This is Part 3 of Death in Knoxville. Need to catch up?

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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.

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