Fearful Double Tragedy

By Heather Turner

This story is about my great-great-aunt, Eva Patton (Nutter) and Richard Orville Patton in drunk jealous rage Richard shot his wife to death on their youngest son Earl’s second birthday, December 11, 1914, and then committed suicide Eva was carrying their third child expected to be born in the spring  the  pictures are of Eva with her two boys it was  taken shortly before she was killed and the other is picture of Richard Orville Patton, their husband and father the following article was taken from the Knoxville Journal it is dated December 16, 1914. Warning this story is graphic in detail it is not for the faint of heart.


Fearful Double Tragedy

Fearful Double tragedy In Knoxville Last Saturday

Dick Patton, Rock Island Brakeman in a fit of Jealous rage killed his wife and Committed Suicide

December 16, 1914

Eva Patton(Nutter) with her Boys Carl Age 5 and Earl age 1A double Tragedy as horrible a thing as ever happened in Knoxville, impelled by insane Jealousy. Dick Patton brakeman on the Rock Island freight shot and killed He wife Eva, and then Shot himself in the head. Mrs. Patton ran out of the house and fell dead in the yard. Her Murderer died at 9 O’clock that night without regaining Consciousness.

About 3:30 p.m. That afternoon D.B. Elliot Who lives some distance east of the Patton home was working out and about his place when he heard two shots, followed by a short interval by another shot. He looked toward the west, the direction from which the sound seemed to come from and saw something fall at the back of the Patton house. He was unable to tell what fell but he connected it with the sound of shooting and hurried over.  He found Mrs. Patton lying on the ground in the rear of the house and was five steps from the back door, He took hold of her and found that she was wounded and apparently dead.

At this moment G.L. Gustin who resides just across the street and who had been attracted by the shots came around the back of the house looking for the source of the trouble. Just about that time they began to think the man who fired the three shots probably had two or three left for somebody else and they curiously in through the window. They saw the body and at once realized that the danger of more shooting was over.

By this time others had come Sheriff Cronkite, Mayor Culberson, Marshall Kelly and Dr. Mulky was called by telephone and soon came. Mrs. Patton was quite having a ball through her head and another through her lungs. Dick Patton was alive, but the brain was oozing through hole in his head made by the third shot. The doctor saw at once that his death was certain and filled the wound with absorbent cotton to stop the bleeding and made a temporary dressing. Another cut or hole about an inch from the bullet hole was supposed to have been made by striking some object while falling. Sheriff Cronkite had the man taken to county jail where he could be attended to then at the home he passed away at 9 o’clock without regaining consciousness.

Richard (dick) Orville PattonNot far from Patton’s body as it lay on the floor of the cottage where the double tragedy occurred was found the revolver which did the work. It is a big Colts revolver six shot and known a 30-32. The Caliber of the ball is only .32 inches, but the cartridge is long and looks almost like a rifle cartridge. On the stock of gun Chet wade Swan, Iowa was cut in the wood. In Patton’s pocket were found a purse, some keys and other articles. He left a note unsigned as follows “my wife and me have quarreled she won’t listen to anything I have to say I have tried to settle everything with her and cannot, so I would rather die than live this way there is some money in the bank and my insurance papers are there so goodbye”.

Along with other things were found two letters addressed to Mrs. Patton evidently from former friends or admirers. One was dated 1907 and the other in the spring of 1908, The Patton’s were married in November of 1908. Coroner McLaughlin held an inquest upon the murdered woman at his office Saturday night. The jury consisted of W.F. Wetherall, H.J. Boylan, and B.H. Brost. After examining witness’ and eliciting facts given above a verdict was returned that Eva Patton came to her death by a gunshot wound at the hand of her husband R.O. Patton. Dick came to Knoxville as a brakeman on the rock island many years ago with him were his wife and child.

Apparently, they did not agree, and they finally separated. Years afterwards in November 1908 Patton a man of 50 married Miss Eva Nutter daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Nutter who was then 21. The Girl attended Knoxville schools and had taught school. Patton was man of rather peculiar disposition and drank a good deal.

Here lately he had been doing better and had not drank a great deal although it is said he was drinking on Sunday preceding the tragedy, but he developed an insane jealousy of his wife and spoke of his suspicions to others. Last summer he told Sheriff Cronkite and county Attorney Shinn and sometimes telephoned the sheriff about it. G.L. Gustin who resides across the street says he twice gave Patton a “talking to” about his foolish Jealousy and that Mrs. Gustin had to him once about it but seeming to convince him. About a week before the occurrence of Friday Patton told trainmen that he employed a man to watch his house and keep track of Mrs. Patton’s movements.

The neighbors all who the couple unite in saying that the man had no ground whatever for his suspicions and Mrs. Patton was most exemplary Woman devoted to her home and children. But the Delusion seem to grow on Patton as time went on and for a few days he had not been out on his run but had evidently stayed at home to nurse his Delusion, the note left by him would indicate some determination and Preparation yet probably the immediate cause was only momentary as he had been over to Mr. Gustin’s and taken home a bucket of water only 5 or 10 minutes previous. A hasty word from one or others probably roused all the man’s treasured Resentment and the sense of supposed wrongs and in a flash the deed he had already contemplated and determined upon was done.

Patton is the father of a son by his first marriage and by his second marriage he was the father of two boys Carl William Patton age 5 born November 14, 1909 and Earl Richard Patton age two born December 11, 1912. Neighbors say that Mrs. Patton was expecting in the spring. The funeral of the dead man and woman were held at the Christian church Sunday and interment was made in the North Cemetery.

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