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View Full Version : OK OK - Who killed Pauline Amsel, age 14, in Durant, 1914



Marie
01-28-2006, 02:46 PM
I 1st learned of this cold case from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. (http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2006/01/more_than_90_ye.html)

The full article is here. (http://www.durantdemocrat.com/articles/2006/01/21/news/news8.txt)

A long ago unsolved murder of a young Jewish girl in Durant, Oklahoma has haunted a distant relative.

Pauline Amsel, 14, daughter of Jake and Celia Amsel, was brutally murdered Nov. 11, 1914, in the family's home at 501 N. Seventh Ave. The Amsels were described as some of Durant's prominent citizens who owned the Amsel Store in downtown Durant. Pauline was a student at Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls.


Melody Amsel-Arieli, a distant relative who is also a genealogist, is now seeking more information about the Amsels and old photographs. She has not been able to locate a photograph of Pauline. Melody is appealing to genealogists and others, anyone at all, who can help her solve this 92-year-old mystery.

Marie
01-28-2006, 02:50 PM
Another snippet from the article:

Family seeks information

Melody Amsel-Arieli is seeking more information about the Amsels and old photographs. She has not been able to locate a photograph of Pauline. Anyone with information should contact Matt Swearengin at (580) 924-4388 or mswearengin@durantdemocrat.com.

okiloki
02-07-2006, 12:17 PM
We've been working on this for some time. I grew up two blocks from where Pauline was murdered and have never had a clue as to who may be involved. If there's anyone out there that may know anything or anyone that may be able to tell us what Pauline looked like, we would greatly appreciate it.

Liz

Richard
02-07-2006, 01:09 PM
More than 90 years later, the question remains ... Who killed Pauline?

By Matt Swearengin Senior Staff Writer for The Durant Democrat

A long ago unsolved murder of a young Jewish girl in Durant has haunted a distant relative. Pauline Amsel, 14, daughter of Jake and Celia Amsel, was brutally murdered Nov. 11, 1914, in the family's home at 501 N. Seventh Ave. The Amsels were described as some of Durant's prominent citizens who owned the Amsel Store in downtown Durant. Pauline was a student at Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls.

“A deep pall of gloom and sadness was cast over Durant this morning when the news spread over the city of the cruel and brutal murder at 1:30 o'clock this morning of Miss Pauline Amsel, while she lay asleep in her home, by some unknown person,” wrote the Durant Daily Democrat in that afternoon's paper.
According to the article, the Amsels were awakened by the screams of their daughter who was on the sleeping porch. Mr. Amsel got up to see what was the matter and a scuffle began with the intruder who pulled an automatic pistol and fired it into the floor, telling Mr. Amsel to let him go.

The pistol jammed and the intruder then began to stab Mr. Amsel with a small knife. The scuffle continued for several minutes before the intruder broke free, ran out of the house and down an alley.

While her father was fighting with the intruder, Pauline walked to her parents' bedroom and said she was sick. Her mother was busy calling for help and Pauline walked to her own bedroom, fell across the bed and rolled onto the floor, according to information obtained at the time by the Democrat. Mr. Amsel, whose injuries were not reported to be serious, apparently did not realize their daughter had been attacked.Her horrified parents saw that the entire right side of her neck was cut from the throat to the back of the neck. She died about 30 minutes later.

A posse was organized and several suspects were questioned, some arrested, but the murder was never solved.The article in that day's paper states, “This is one of the saddest and most heart rending crimes that has ever been committed in the annals of Bryan County, and the citizens are worked up to a tremendous pitch over the sad occurrence ...

”More than 90 years later, the murder is still a sad chapter in Bryan County history. And one not forgotten.---Pauline was buried in Corsicana, Texas, and the family left Durant sometime after that, selling their dry goods store at 137 W. Main St. to a McAlester company. It was later acquired by Caddo businessman Ben Siegel who relocated to Durant.

Mr. Amsel offered a $1,000 reward and wrote a letter to the Oklahoma governor in May 1915 asking for assistance. He also hired a detective agency, but to no avail.---In 1985, the case caught the attention of Melody Amsel-Arieli, of Maaleh Adumim, Israel. She is an American who grew up in New Jersey and immigrated to Israel in 1971. Pauline is her second cousin, once removed. Amsel-Arieli, who has corresponded with the Democrat by e-mail, is a genealogist and freelance writer.

She received a photo of an unknown couple when an elderly cousin died. On the back of the photo were the words Durant, Oklahoma. Amsel-Arieli also received a handsketched family tree showing the Amsels and that their daughter died in Durant in 1914.

“Since I had long ago heard of an Amsel family in Texas, this piqued my curiosity enough to start badgering other cousins with questions,” Amsel-Arieli said. “Jake's branch of the family lives all over the U.S. today - yet none could tell me anything about Jake except that his daughter was murdered.”

During the next 10 years, Amsel-Arieli researched her immediate family in Slovakia. She tried to put the research of the Amsel murder on hold but was not able to do so.“It haunted me,” Amsel-Arieli said.She then began researching it and made contact with many people in the Durant area, including Leslie Webster, Dixie Prater, Marion Downs, Wayne Wylie, Liz Horton and Don Maupin.Webster and her husband Tim live in the home where bloody clothing was found.“

After the murder, the person got rid of the clothes,” Mrs. Webster said. “He threw them in the basement of our house. Our house was still being constructed at that time.”Mrs. Webster learned something happened there long ago after purchasing the home in 1989.“Dixie Prater said something was haunted - well, not really haunted, but something bad happened there,” Mrs. Webster said. “Six or seven years later, she told me.”Amsel-Arieli has written an article from her research and plans to submit it to several publications, including The Chronicles of Oklahoma. She hopes to learn more about the Amsel family and locate a photograph of Pauline.

Many of the local people she has corresponded with remember hearing stories about the murder. Some heard the Amsel home, which is no longer standing, was haunted. Many rumors have circulated throughout the years, according to Amsel-Arieli's research. One theory is that an employee of the Amsels had a romantic interest in Pauline and he was subsequently fired.“Pauline's murder haunted Durant for decades,” Amsel-Arieli wrote. “Some parents, rather than frightening their children with a vicious nighttime murder of a child, preferred to say that she had committed suicide. Others, most born decades after the tragedy, remember overhearing snatches of hushed conversations, and themselves avoiding the ‘haunted' house.

Rumors, fueled by nearly a hundred years of suspicion and speculation, range from a crime of passion to suicide to tales of a forbidden liaison with a Gentile ...”After the murder, the Caddo Herald reported, “Miss Pauline was the (The Amsels') only daughter, just blooming into lovely womanhood, a pleasant and charming young woman who was loved by all who knew her ... frightened citizens took the law into their own hands, forming a search posse ... townspeople all across eastern Oklahoma, nervously eyeing one another, secured their homes and purchased revolvers.”---

One person who grew up hearing stories about the crime is Liz Horton, one of the people Amsel-Arieli has corresponded with.“I'm told that Pauline and a young man from Durant fell in love and this deeply disturbed her father, the boy was not Jewish and the father was devout,” Horton wrote to Amsel-Arieli. “This much of the story I know is true but what happened after has been passed on until you have to speculate. Pauline was forbidden to see the young man again but she refused and not too long after she died.”

Another longtime Durant resident who had heard stories about the Amsels was the late Marvin McDaniel, who wrote a page about the murder in his memoirs.“Many people that knew the Amsels believed that Mrs. Amsel killed Pauline,” McDaniel wrote. The Amsels were Jewish and Mrs. Amsel warned Pauline about dating Gentile boys, this was common knowledge close to the people that knew the Amsel family.”

Amsel-Arieli does not think Mrs. Amsel had anything to do with the murder.“I believe that we are hearing hearsay - a town's search to understand what happened - since no killer was found,” Amsel-Arieli wrote. “

And two witnesses saw a man running from the Amsel's back alleyway shortly after 1 a.m. Perhaps Celia was highstrung or depressed. I have heard that she was ‘not okay.' High strung, (if it was so, we'll never know), is a far cry from a murderer.”

The Democrat reported after the murder that the killer put on a coat belonging to Mrs. Amsel before he went upstairs. This coat was the one later found in the basement of the home now owned by the Websters. Amsel-Arieli believes that could have led to the misunderstanding.

Robbery was considered a possibility at the time. The Nov. 12, 1914, Democrat reported, “The most plausible theory is that whoever it was went to the house for robbery, as the family was known to possess quite a number of valuable rings, and that it was while he was at the bed of the girl she awoke and the murder resulted.”

But it was also reported that burglary could not have been the motive because no valuables were taken and all valuables were downstairs, not upstairs where the murder happened.“I have spent many a night imagining the murder myself,” Amsel-Arieli said. “All of Durant was in an uproar then since the killer was still at large. In 1914 and 1915 everyone was afraid.”---

The Amsel family left Durant between 1915 and 1920. Amsel-Arieli has obtained U.S. Census records from 1920 that show the Amsels lived in San Antonio, Texas, at that time. They later lived in Colorado Springs, Colo., but did not find peace, according to Amsel-Arieli.

Years later, Mr. Amsel thought the killer could have been someone who worked for him. About 40 years after the murder, the Amsels moved to Corsicana, near Pauline's burial site in Temple Beth El Hebrew Cemetery, according to Amsel-Arieli's research. “Today, Jake, Celia and Pauline are together again,” Amsel-Arieli wrote. “For eternity.”

Family seeks information: Melody Amsel-Arieli is seeking more information about the Amsels and old photographs. She has not been able to locate a photograph of Pauline.

Anyone with information should contact Matt Swearengin at (580) 924-4388 or mswearengin@durantdemocrat.com.

Link to article:
http://www.durantdemocrat.com/articles/2006/01/21/news/news8.txt

Richard
02-07-2006, 05:04 PM
Researching a 90 year old murder would seem a very difficult task at first look. As the article indicates, knowledge of the crime today is a hazy memory kept alive through telling and retelling of the story which has picked up incorrect information, opinions, and speculation along the way.

The best way to approach this subject would be to seek the facts through origional and contemporary accounts from a variety of sources. First would be a check of newspaper archives to see what what written about it at the time, and to obtain the names of anyone connected with the investigation in any way.

Knowing who the law enforcement officers were who headed the investigation and searching archives for their notes or accounts would be another important step. Durant probably had its own police force, but Bryan County may have had a Sheriff Department as well. Who had jurisdiction, and who was involved? It is mentioned that in 1914, a possee was formed and some suspects were arrested or questioned. This was most likely a posse formed and paid on the County Level or possibly even at the State level. Knowing who those people were might lead to further accounts or information.

It is very likely that a Coroner's inquest was held in this matter, and that a Coroner Autopsy report exists. Places to look for this would be in the State or County archives, at the funeral home (if still in existence) and at the cemetery. Not all of these places would have an autopsy report, but all are possibilities.

Photos of the house might exist in other archives. Were crime scene photos taken? Was Pauline's photo taken at school, if not an individual photo, perhaps as part of a group picture. Sometimes County Historical Societies or Museums have such photos. Was there a likeness of her in the newspaper(s) of the time?
Knowing when Pauline's parents died might lead to identifying other relatives who might have inherited their property and possessions - possibly including photos and family records. Funeral notices or obituaries might include such information.

Durant, Oklahoma, located in the southernmost part of the state, not far from the Texas state line, was the county seat for Bryan County. In 1916 (two years after Pauline's murder) the published population of Durant was 5,330. This was a good sized city for the time. Town directories may exist for it. If photographer's studios are listed for around 1914, perhaps their photo negative files still exist somewhere.

As to who may have murdered Pauline, one might have to locate old prison records or newspaper accounts of arrests, trials, and convictions for similar crimes. It was mentioned that Mr. Amsel came up with a possibility some 40 years afer the murder that it might have been someone who worked for him. Who was that person? Was a list of such persons made during the initial investigation? Mr. Amsel fought with the intruder. How did he describe the man at the time? Was there a composite sketch or description published in 1914?

poco
02-07-2006, 05:31 PM
Not to be a smart aleck or a stick in the mud - but, assuming one does find out who murdered her - what will be done with this information?

okiloki
02-08-2006, 01:57 AM
There are no police records since there was no official police department and the county didn't mention any officers. There was no autopsy because Pauline was Jewish and had to be buried before the sun went down that same day. She was taken by train to Corsicana, 200 miles south of Durant to a Hebrew cemetary. There was no other family to inherit their money and property and they were very wealthy. Jake had immigrated from Hungery and Celia's parents were already deceased. They sold the store and all the land they had bought and moved away. They had no other children. They were already 40 and 50 at the time of the death but they lived long lives and never had to work again.

Even though the county had a fair sized population, it was scattered all over the farming areas and town was still small. I've been to the DA's office, court house and the police dept and none has a thing on this case. The newspaper story may or may not be correct since it was all hearsay. The only thing we have proof of is the casket receipt I looked at in the funeral home. People used to not talk about the dead, it was considered 'a bad thing'. This is what my Choctaw grandmother told me.

What I find so interesting is that so few people even know about this murder, since we have had so few in the life of this county. I grew up two blocks from where Pauline was killed and across the street from where the bloody coat was found. We were never scared but the generation before me thought the house was haunted. Two 80 something yr old men said they used to see strange things moving in the house and blood dripping, they were children at the time. The house remained there until 1960 with several families living there but none for very long.

This is about the coldest case I have heard, esp since it happened to a wealthy family in a very small town.

Richard
02-08-2006, 09:50 AM
There are no police records since there was no official police department and the county didn't mention any officers. ...

People used to not talk about the dead, it was considered 'a bad thing'. This is what my Choctaw grandmother told me.

What I find so interesting is that so few people even know about this murder, since we have had so few in the life of this county. ....
I know exactly what your Grandmother meant. Whenever I used to talk to my Grandfather and ask him about old photos that he had, I would ask, "Who is this?" and he would tell me the person's name. If I asked anything further, he would say, "Oh, he's dead." End of story.

Although Durant might not have had a town police force, there had to be some law enforcement agency which had jurisdiction. Although I am an Oklahoman by birth, I moved away from there as a small child, and I am not familiar with the history of Law Enforcement Agencies throughout the state. I know that in early years there were Territorial Marshalls who had the responsibility of rounding up law breakers, but I do not know what the situation was in 1914. There are folks who are very knowledgible about Law Enforcement History of the West, and Oklahoma in particular. Somewhere there is, or was, a file on this murder. And there must have been a wanted flyer for the unknown suspect. Because Durant is so close to the Texas Border, it is possible that the suspect also lived or operated in Northern Texas. Perhaps there might be something in the files of the Texas Rangers.

Do you know how long the Amsel family lived in Durant prior to Pauline's 1914 murder? I have a feeling that your best chance of finding a photo of her will be to find a group school photo with her in it. It was very common back then for a photographer to come to the school and take such group photos. Check with older established photography studios, the library, local historical society, antique stores, etc. Also, you might simply put an ad in the paper asking county residents if they have any old school group photos. It is possible, also that someone or a group may have put together a book for the bicentennial or the town centennial or some such which will have published the photo you are seeking.

Richard
02-08-2006, 12:01 PM
The link below is to a website called Oklahombres : The Association for Lawman and Outlaw History of Oklahoma.

Many of their forum posts tend to concern murders of Lawmen, shootouts, and stories about bankrobbers, rather than cold/unsolved cases. I could not find any references on their discussion boards to Pauline's murder, but I am sure that they would be interested in hearing about the Pauline Amsel case. Perhaps they might even publish a story about her in their journal/magazine.

From reading posts in their forum, it is evident that some of their members know a great deal about the history of Oklahoma Law Enforcement agencies. Perhaps someone there will know what agency had jurisdiction for the area around Durant, Oklahoma in 1914.

Link:
http://www.oklahombres.org/

Richard
02-27-2007, 06:30 PM
It has been a year since anyone has posted on this thread. Has anyone heard anything more or seen any other articles on this very old case?

Marilynilpa
04-03-2007, 06:10 PM
I have just read about this case, and checked here to see what had been posted about it.

I have a lot of family in Oklahoma, including an aunt who went to school in Durant. Unfortunately, my 102 year old grandmother died a couple of years ago - I have a feeling she might have had some info to tell about this.

Does the fact that she was Jewish play that big a factor in her disappearance?

KarlK
04-09-2007, 05:02 PM
Does the fact that she was Jewish play that big a factor in her disappearance?

I was wondering about that myself but after reading about Durant's history I don't think Pauline's religious/ethnic background was a factor because of the area's history of uncharacteristic racial harmony. In fact the town's history probably also explains its unusually low crime rate, and why the Amsel murder is still remembered locally.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durant,_Oklahoma

Personally my opinion is that this murder remained unsolved mainly because local/regional (SO?) law enforcement had no experience investigating such a major crime since none ever occurred locally. Nowadays state police or even the FBI would be called in to assist but in 1914 neither of these resources were available in OK.

Syl
07-28-2007, 01:33 AM
While surfing for old Durant postcards, I found the pic with Matt's article. What a shock! I had been trying to paint the house from memory with no picture.

The story then was Pauline was killed in her bedroom...my room. There was a bullet hole in the wall above my bed..supposedly fired by the father to either cover up a crime or shoot at the intruder
It alway seemed to me that the shot should have been fired away from Pauline's room, not toward it.....IF that is where the crime occured.

We never saw a bullet hole in any floor.

One big question I have is...Who sleeps on a screened porch in November in Durant, Oklahoma?
We only slept there on the hottest of summer nights. I can't believe she was on the sleeping porch to sleep if she were there at all.

However, if that were so, the porch was right next to the back stairway....the best escape...so why a bullet hole at the opposite end of the house where her bedroom was supposed located?

I never felt the house was haunted as people said....no noises, no blood, no screams. It was kinda fun to show the bullet hole...there was always a spot there on both sides of the wall that had survived papering and painting over the years after people poking it with their fingers.

I cannot imagine an intruder looking around for a coat in that house, then maneuvering ) up those stair, around the half moon landing, up more stairs....etc.

The back stairs were easier...the ones close to the upstairs sleeping porch. And, you could get to them from the downstairs back porch, or a door from the basement that also led outside. BUT, I still cannot believe Pauline on that porch on a cold Nov. morning.

I have more thoughts, but this is enough for now.

I have walked through that house in my mind and sketched the house plan from my 50 yr old memory of it. So, if anyone thinks that will help understand the different scenarios of the crime, please ask questions or email me.

Syl
07-28-2007, 09:12 AM
I fail to add to my previous post. I grew up in the Amsel house from 8 to 19 years old. That was from 1948 to 1958, maybe a little longer...will have to check. I would love to hear from any of you...questions or what I might need to clarify my own views.

It was 702 West Elm at that time...strange, because the main entrance was on 7th. However, there was a smaller entrance on Elm Street. I had never hear of the 501 7th Ave. until I read Matt's article.

KarlK
07-29-2007, 09:30 PM
The article says that Pauline was on the sleeping porch when she screamed but it's unclear if that meant she had been sleeping there?

The bullet hole in the wall is interesting. I suppose putting a date on it could be difficult and maybe that particular hole had nothing to do with the murder, but it could also be of great significance. Absence of a bullet hole in the floor may simply mean it was repaired or covered up but it could also mean that there was never one because the gun had been fired in the wall and not in the floor as reported.

From the article it appears the only indication that a shot was fired into the floor was either the original witness report or the article in the local paper. It was dark, the witness could have been wrong, or maybe the reporter who wrote the article did not really know where the short was fired and based his story on hearsay. There were no CSI's back then and in this particular case there doesn't seem to be a police report available. In any case Durant was a small town in 1915 and its police force (or the Sheriff's) may have consisted of part-time deputies with little resources and no experience in murder investigations. The murder solving rate in the early 20th century was low even in large cities so imagine a small rural town where the victim had no known enemies.

Syl are you aware if the house had undergone alterations between the time of the murder and 1948? It's possible that the change of address was due to the main entrance being displaced from one side of the house to another. Another frequent explanation is mail delivery route. In some instances it was more practical for mailmen to deliver mail on a side entrance rather than the main entrance and if the house sits on a corner the side entrance usually opens on a different street. In these cases USPS would usually require that a house be assigned a new civic number on the side street.

Gina_M
07-29-2007, 10:31 PM
Syl, I would love to see your sketch of the layout of the house. I'm trying to picture where the sleeping porch was in relation to the other rooms. If I read correctly, this all took place upstairs? This doesn't make sense if it was a simple robbery and all the valuables were downstairs, as mentioned in this article: http://www.durantdemocrat.com/articles/2006/01/21/news/news8.txt

I'm also trying to figure out why Pauline was on the sleeping porch in November, at 1 in the morning. I think either it was an intruder and she went to investigate the noise, or maybe she willingly met someone there. Perhaps the boyfriend she was rumored to have, that her parents had forbidden her to see?

tazette
08-03-2007, 05:14 PM
I fail to add to my previous post. I grew up in the Amsel house from 8 to 19 years old. That was from 1948 to 1958, maybe a little longer...will have to check. I would love to hear from any of you...questions or what I might need to clarify my own views.

It was 702 West Elm at that time...strange, because the main entrance was on 7th. However, there was a smaller entrance on Elm Street. I had never hear of the 501 7th Ave. until I read Matt's article.

I have been in touch with Melody Amsel-Arieli & yes she is interested in seeing a diagram of the house. I am sending her the link to come here & chat with you. I'm hoping that she can find some answers she has been looking for. Thank you all for the help.

Melody Amsel-Arieli
08-04-2007, 02:28 AM
My thanks to all of you for your ideas and speculations. I did not find a coroner's report, a police report, or a death certificate. Relatives on both sides of the family had no pictures of Pauline. Though I located a few group photos in her high school year book, the girls were unidentified.
Through much thought and study, I have come to the conclusion that, considering the nature of the crime--near decapitation with a straight razor, Pauline's murder may have actually been an act of passion. Might this explain how and why no official records were made (kept) ?

It is hard to wrap one's mind around this possibility-- especially in light of the next day's newspaper report, with Jake's explanations and suppositions.

What really happened that night? Did someone in this well-respected and influential family, owners of a successful business, succumb to unspeakable, endurable rage?

Melody Amsel-Arieli

Gina_M
08-04-2007, 07:46 AM
Hi Melody and welcome to Websleuths. I searched through the newspaper archives and can't find anything about Pauline. They are adding new papers every day so hopefully something will turn up!

I noticed that there are 3 people standing in front of the house in the picture at the top of this article...anyone know who those people are?
http://www.durantdemocrat.com/articles/2006/01/21/news/news8.txt

Melody Amsel-Arieli
08-04-2007, 03:16 PM
According to Durant 1872-1990, the people in front of the Amsel house were the next owners, the family of Rev. Oscar C. Fontaine. Reports of the murder appeared in a number of newspapers in nearby towns-- and as far away as Bartlesville, OK. People were frightened because the fiend, never caught, was still at large.

SewingDeb
08-04-2007, 03:56 PM
Syl,

I was just reading an article that told of many addresses being changed after murders happened in a home. I would guess that is to throw off curiousity seekers who come to town just to see the house.

In some cases, the street names were actually changed and houses renumbered.

SewingDeb
08-04-2007, 03:58 PM
Welcome to the forum Melody!

My first reaction is that maybe Pauline was sleeping on the porch to meet her boyfriend and her father caught them and killed her.

Maybe the boyfriend was the intruder?

LisainWV
08-04-2007, 04:32 PM
Sdeb, I think your theory, or something very similar to it, is very possible. I just don't think a stranger wandered into the house, found the daughter, and committed such a crime. Of course, anything is possible, but an intruder just doesn't "feel" right for this one.

LisainWV
08-04-2007, 04:40 PM
My thanks to all of you for your ideas and speculations. I did not find a coroner's report, a police report, or a death certificate. Relatives on both sides of the family had no pictures of Pauline. Though I located a few group photos in her high school year book, the girls were unidentified.
Through much thought and study, I have come to the conclusion that, considering the nature of the crime--near decapitation with a straight razor, Pauline's murder may have actually been an act of passion. Might this explain how and why no official records were made (kept) ?

It is hard to wrap one's mind around this possibility-- especially in light of the next day's newspaper report, with Jake's explanations and suppositions.

What really happened that night? Did someone in this well-respected and influential family, owners of a successful business, succumb to unspeakable, endurable rage?

Melody Amsel-Arieli

According to a post by Richard above, Pauline walked to her parent's bedroom, said she was sick and then went to her own bedroom where she died. I don't know the distances between these rooms, but if someone has been nearly decapitated, I don't think they're going to be walking around much?

Is this just a case of misinformation (not directed at you Richard, I've seen that account elsewhere, you were just "providing") or an inconsistency in the story?

PS Good to see you here Melody. Pauline's story is certainly interesting and it's great to get info from someone close to it and researching it so closely.

Syl
08-04-2007, 06:36 PM
From "Pauline's room" to the back screened porch was the width of:.....a hall way leading to attic stairs: a stairway leading to downstairs, a bedroom about 10-12 feet wide and a bathroom about 5 feet wide.... maybe totaling about 23-25+ feet. The main hall way led down the center of the upstair and ended at the center of the sleeping porch.. Yes, 25 feet is a long way to walk in her condition....and it would probably have been at least 3 more feet to any position her bed could have been in...in that room.

If her parent's were where mine were.....a bigger BR with fireplace and bathroom, their door was directly across the hall way from her door. These 2 bedroom doors were facing each other, not staggered, so it was easy to see (or hear?) someone by your own door.

Did 14 year old girls really get involved to this extent with boys in 1914? I can only imagine it was someone at the store...where else would she be around a boy of another faith very much if she went to a girls school?

Syl

Syl
08-04-2007, 06:51 PM
AND, , there were 2 steps at the backend of the hallway onto that upstairs sleeping porch!

Syl

Gina_M
08-04-2007, 10:07 PM
From "Pauline's room" to the back screened porch was the width of:.....a hall way leading to attic stairs: a stairway leading to downstairs, a bedroom about 10-12 feet wide and a bathroom about 5 feet wide.... maybe totaling about 23-25+ feet. The main hall way led down the center of the upstair and ended at the center of the sleeping porch.. Yes, 25 feet is a long way to walk in her condition....and it would probably have been at least 3 more feet to any position her bed could have been in...in that room.

If her parent's were where mine were.....a bigger BR with fireplace and bathroom, their door was directly across the hall way from her door. These 2 bedroom doors were facing each other, not staggered, so it was easy to see (or hear?) someone by your own door.

Did 14 year old girls really get involved to this extent with boys in 1914? I can only imagine it was someone at the store...where else would she be around a boy of another faith very much if she went to a girls school?

Syl

Thanks for the info Syl. I think all kinds of things happened back then. I found an article from 1924 about a Reverend of a local church who reportedly eloped with a 14-year-old school girl. So I think there are a few different possibilities here.

Syl
08-04-2007, 11:52 PM
there were like 2 steps up to get into the long hallway....then, the 23-25 feet to her bedroom door. Just doesn't seem possible she could do that.

In answer to someone's comment, the sleeping porches were at the back West...just about 3 car widths from the alley. "Pauline's room" was at the front East. (if you have seen the pic of the house it would be the upper left, second floor.....parent's upper right second floor.) But, who will ever know anything for sure............

Also, the only entrance to that upstairs porch was the long hallway....no outside stairs or other doors to it..

I had told Melody that it was a good place for a Romeo and Juliet scene...looking down to the back yard. I use to stand up there and watch for cars, people on the sidewalk and family members to drive to the garage..

tazette
08-04-2007, 11:56 PM
According to a post by Richard above, Pauline walked to her parent's bedroom, said she was sick and then went to her own bedroom where she died. I don't know the distances between these rooms, but if someone has been nearly decapitated, I don't think they're going to be walking around much?

Is this just a case of misinformation (not directed at you Richard, I've seen that account elsewhere, you were just "providing") or an inconsistency in the story?

PS Good to see you here Melody. Pauline's story is certainly interesting and it's great to get info from someone close to it and researching it so closely.
I was wondering about that too. Also, someplace it was mentioned "razor cut" to the neck. Why wouldn't the mystery man just use the knife he had w/him? And he used a gun while struggling w/Mr. Amsel, & then had time to pull a small knife?
http://www.durantdemocrat.com/articles/2006/01/21/news/news8.txt
According to the article, the Amsels were awakened by the screams of their daughter who was on the sleeping porch. Mr. Amsel got up to see what was the matter and a scuffle began with the intruder who pulled an automatic pistol and fired it into the floor, telling Mr. Amsel to let him go.
The pistol jammed and the intruder then began to stab Mr. Amsel with a small knife. The scuffle continued for several minutes before the intruder broke free, ran out of the house and down an alley.

Syl
08-05-2007, 12:21 AM
Do we have nothing but newspaper reports of Mr. Amsel's account? Or, have I missed something?

Angie4b1g
08-05-2007, 08:42 AM
The deep couldn't have been as deep as "near decapitation" if she was able to not only walk down the hall, but then live another 30 minutes before dying. How long can you live once you get a severed artery?

kygal
08-05-2007, 01:12 PM
Wow, this is an interesting case. I have lots of questions.....

Is it possible that the killer shot in the bedroom, but missed Pauline? If the parents were asleep, then they might have been jarred by it but not awakened.

Is it possible that Pauline was running AWAY from her killer? Her injuries were states as from the throat to the back of the neck on the right side. If she were running away, it may not have been deep and would have been a sharp cut from the pulling itself.

Is it possible that Pauline ran past her father as he ran to the sleeping porch and into her parents' room? Perhaps she ran to the sleeping porch and couldn't get away. A shallow cut could not have bled so quickly as to cause her to pass immediately (the article says she lived about 30 minutes past the attack on her father).

Her family must have expected her to marry not only someone Jewish, but also from their higher social class. I would venture to say that not many Jewish girls went to all-girl Jewish theory schools at the time (or to school at all). Perhaps this was in preparation for her to marry someone who could take over the family business as an heir. Maybe this young man was not of the social class she was, nor Jewish, which made him completely off limits to her.

My opinion is that the family never had her picture made. Perhaps this is a social class thing as well, but didn't many well to do girls have "coming out" parties at 15 or 16 in that day? Perhaps they didn't think it proper to have her picture made (other than a baby picture or something)? Just a guess.

My theory is that the boyfriend killed her after she broke off the relationship (at the parent's demand). It could have been that the boy was after the marriage for money or love, but he was determined that she not be with anyone else. She probably was running away from him (after the shot in Syl's bedroom missed her -- which may have jarred the parents but not woke them up) and he slit her throat on the sleeping porch. The loss of blood caused her to feel "sick", but went unnoticed until it was too late to do anything for her.

Zanko
08-05-2007, 04:50 PM
I wonder about an "Elizabeth Smart" type of attempted abduction. Maybe the intruder was attempting to remove Pauline from the house when she screamed or broke free and had her throat cut?

In one account it says that Pauline's throat was cut with a straight razor, but in the newspaper article the father was said to have been, "stabbed". I wouldn't imagine referring to the use of a straight razor as a "stabbing" so if this is correct, this would indicate to me that the intruder had a gun, a razor and a knife, all ready to use. It's possible, but I'm curious how one could tell that Pauline's throat was cut with a straight razor and not a very sharp knife? I guess the only difference it makes is the motive of passion and intent of bringing so many weapons. Sounds like a rape kit, maybe? I am especially curious about why the intruder would cut Pauline's throat so viciously, but then not shoot the father, but instead shoot into the floor (if that is what happened) and ask the father to "let him go". It would suggest IMO that the intruder may not have been there to intentionally kill anyone but was willing to do this to save himself. With the information given, I would think of an attempted rape and/or abduction rather than burglary.

I would also think that with such a close struggle, the father would have been able to identify the intruder if he knew him well. So the idea of someone that the father was well acquainted with, such as an employee or an undesirable boyfriend seem out of sync. Although, we don't really know how well he knew Pauline's supposed undesirable potential boyfriend.

There were sicko perverts out there 90 years ago, just as there is today. I think Richard suggested a search of criminals who were convicted of similar crimes in and around the area around the same time period. I think this would be a good avenue to explore in seeking responsibility for this crime.

Which brings me to the question someone posed awhile back,that seemed to ask why investigate a murder that occurred so long ago? Yes, the perpetrator is most likely dead and out of the reach of LE and human punishment, but I believe that no one should get away with murder and that no one who is murdered should be forgotten. I am glad that people care about Pauline, even after all this time.

Syl
08-14-2007, 08:31 PM
I tried to post the house plan and got a message that I had to be on the administrators white list.....help.

Gina_M
08-15-2007, 12:24 AM
I tried to post the house plan and got a message that I had to be on the administrators white list.....help.

Hi Syl,

Do you have an account with an image hosting site such as photobucket? If so, you can upload the picture there, and then post the link to the picture over here. http://photobucket.com/

After you create an account and upload your picture, click in the area under the picture where it says "url link". It should pop up a little message saying "Copied". Then when you are composing a message here on Websleuths, click on the icon that looks like a globe (this is the icon for "insert link"). Paste your link in the box that pops up and click ok. Here's an example from my page: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v368/ginad42/MissingPieces.gif

Syl
08-15-2007, 04:27 PM
http://img.inkfrog.com/pix/junebug/11871356708143_002.jpg

Syl
08-17-2007, 11:37 PM
An X marks the spot where the bullet hole was. It is in the front, southeast BR....supposedly Pauline's room directly across from the logical master bedroom which has FP (fireplace) and B (bathroom). The hole was about 5 feet up from the floor as I remember.

We always took for granted the bullet hole story. I don't know what else would have gone from one side of the wall in the hallway to the other side into the bedroom wall.

The only part of the plan that is off is the width of the long hall way. I think it was more like 4 feet than 5 feet on this scale.

Question: I had alway heard that the Amsels built the house. Does anyone know for sure?

Angie4b1g
08-18-2007, 12:07 PM
Thanks for posting that!

Gina_M
08-31-2007, 09:45 PM
Is this you Syl? :)

http://www.blaggs.org/DHSAA/news/newsletr8-07.htm

Zanko
09-05-2007, 06:06 PM
I wonder if the show "Haunting Evidence" would look into this case?

adam263
10-06-2008, 03:36 AM
Anything new about this?

Kiki
10-06-2008, 08:51 AM
I have some thoughts on this case.

* The fact that Pauline alone was stabbed or slashed, however you want to phrase it, suggests to me a sexual or a personal motive. Considering Pauline's age any personal motive is probably a failed romance, unrequited love turned into jealous rage or even something trivial like a real or imagined slight can prompt extreme rage.

* Before of after Pauline's death had there been any known instances of sexual deviancy? A man loitering outside the high school? A man who frequently watched activites or events involving teen or pre-teen girls (in that era I'm guessing something like cheerleading) who had no reason or business for being there? Were there any reports or newspaper stories about women's clothing, especially underwear, being stolen from washing lines? Any reports of peeping or men exposing themselves?

* There is also the possibility that the motive for Pauline's stabbing was simply one of panic during a robbery gone bad. Pauline's family was known to be wealthy. Pauline probably had a pet. If so, she may have mistakenly thought she heard her cat or dog on the sleeping porch and went to let them out and then encountered the burglar who would have been just as startled to see her. Since it was dark they would have had to be standing close to be able to see each other. In a moment of panic he could have grabbed her and if she was struggling he may have been able to get at his knife easier than his gun. Also a gun may have woken the other people in the house.

* As for the high school photos, while none of Pauline's classmates could still be alive their children or younger siblings may be. If you had a class photo and there was a girl who was later murdered in it you would probably mention it when showing it to your children or grandchildren. "This is me here, here was our teacher, this was my best friend and this girl standing here was Pauline. She was murdered." Older siblings may be able to help identify Pauline through elimination. If you had a class photo she was known to be in they would be able to point out their sister and probably their sister's close friends that would have come to their house. One of these friends could be Pauline. If not you would slowly be able to rule out which girls were not Pauline. It would even be worthwhile contacting the siblings and children of Jewish men who lived in the area and were around Pauline's age at the time. Their fathers or big brothers may have dated some of the girls in the photo and they may remember some of these girl's names helping with elimination. Some of them may even have met or remember Pauline from temple or Jewish social groups.

gaia227
10-06-2008, 04:56 PM
Did Pauline die after the authorities or doctor arrived or do we only have the time of her death from the parents?

Was Pauline's blood found in her parents room from when she walked in and said I'm sick?

Was Pauline's blood found on the porch?

I guess ultimately these are rhetorical questions because no one knows the answers anymore.

birdie74
10-07-2008, 12:38 AM
I'm not understanding some things. Did the struggle happen on a downstairs or an upstairs sleeping porch? If all the action happened on the porch, why was there a bullet hole in Pauline's room?

Zanko
10-07-2008, 07:48 PM
IIRC the sleeping porch was on the second story. The bullet was said to have been fired into the floor, so the bullet in her bedroom was not explained and not necessarily associated with the attack.

birdie74
10-07-2008, 10:26 PM
Thank you for clarifying that. I wasn't able to download the sketch of the layout, and I stayed up too late last night trying to read all the info, but I just ended up confusing myself.

Syl
03-29-2009, 12:37 AM
Hello sleuths who are interested in what happened to Pauline. I am writing about the mystery because I lived in the same house for ten years. So much of the account from the father and the doctor did not make sense to me in that house. At 30 pages I though I had finished the book, but I now have 85 pages and a bibliography of 44 and still have not finalized everything. It has consumed me for the last year or so. I still go to Durant about once a year and try to get info each time. People still talk about it 95 year later! I certainly didn't solve the mystery, but have gathered info that may shed some light on the case. And, I have ideas of my own about the case which i will share - for better or worse. My only goal is to leave a copy in the local history museum in Durant - the Three Valley Museum - just in case more info is found someday. Otherwise, i may self-publish copies. Will let you know.

Vegas Bride
03-29-2009, 02:55 AM
A very interesting case and one I would hope could be solved somehow.
About finding a photo of Pauline, someone mentioned there being school group photos but the girls were not named, I wonder if someone could look at the different years of group photos, taken the year before her murder and then the year after she was murdered and figure out who was then missing in the later group?

Since she was cut at the throat, I'm wondering if she was being held from behind with a knife being held to her throat and then was cut when she screamed? If someone was intentionally trying to stab her imo it would be more of an attack from the front, perhaps stabbing her in the chest area. Also, what was she wearing? If she did have a planned meeting with a boyfriend I'm thinking she would have been more formally dressed, maybe even some make-up and hair fixed, if she was somehow unexpectedly woken up she would have been just in a gown.
If this was a current case there is so much that could be checked, things like scrappings taken from under her nails, luminol to show where blood loss was, checking to see if anybody suddenly left town.
Back then young girls were likely to have a diary, I wonder if Pauline had one, or if there would have been doodlings in her school papers? What happened to everything when they sold the house?
Things were so different back then, many things hushed up. It could be that the girl was sexually attacked but records were not kept so the family would not have shame on them. Since they were Jewish, I wonder if there would be any records of this in the Temple, who was the Rabbi then, perhaps he kept a journal and mentioned the murder? Or in the town where she was buried there may have been someone?

VB

Richard
02-21-2010, 11:15 PM
Bumping thread up.

milopedes
07-21-2010, 03:14 PM
I really don't have anything new to offer, but I thought I'd share my opinions.

Pauline was very likely involved with someone. For whatever reason, she broke off the relationship. Maybe he was married? Maybe it was merely a flirtation, and she realized he was more serious? I doubt her father knew and forced her to break off the relationship, or we'd very likely have a solved crime.

The killer was spurned by Pauline, and very likely angry or hurt, and determined to keep the relationship going. Maybe he felt that if he couldn't have her, no one else could? Maybe the pain of rejection was simply too much? Either way, he went to her house late that night. Weapons were taken because he either feared a confrontation with her father, knew he'd end up killing her, or both.

When he snuck up to her room Paulie was shocked. Due to the proximity of her room to that of her parents, she felt it best to go to the sleeping porch, where she could handle the situation without waking her parents. It is possible that she still felt something for him, but knew the relationship needed to end. Either way, my best guess is that she knew the killer and didn't feel threatened by him whatsoever. Otherwise, why not scream immediately?

Now some will say that she did. But as one poster pointed out, it is doubtful she was asleep on the sleeping porch in November in Oklahoma. And why else would she be awake that late?

Once Paulie broke it off permanently, or spurned his less than innocent advances, the killer snapped and slit her throat. But she had time to scream, thus waking her parents.

I know one account indicates her throat was slit with a razor, but keep in mind, reporting back then was pretty suspect. It could have very likely just been cut with the same knife he used to stab the father.

Once wounded, Paulie was dazed and instinct took over. She went where she knew help could be found, or where she might feel safe (i.e., her parents' room). Dazed, all she could mutter was something about feeling sick. The thought of revealing the identity of her attacker never entered her mind.

Maybe her relationship was with a teacher from the Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls?

justthinkin
07-24-2010, 03:58 PM
Melody,

Interesting case, but the story doesn't add up at all, and my first thought was the girl's father did it. Why? Because we have a totally implausible story. We have an intruder who slashes the girl's throat, but as soon as the father intervenes, said intruder draws a gun on him, gun then jambs, so guy pulls a knife. What did the intruder do with the knife while fiddling with the gun or vice versa? Sounds like a made up story as it would require too much weaponry juggling. The intruder should be in a circus.

Then we have a daughter who walks into her mother's bedroom, announces she's sick when in reality her throat's been slashed, and the mother never notices blood dripping down the girl's neck? More implausibility. Meanwhile the mother is dialing for help. The girl dies 30 mins. later, and no help showed up??? Durant was after all, a small town. What were Mr. Amsel and his wife doing for that entire 30 mins? Also, if Pauline's head was half-severed from her body, she wouldn't have been walking anywhere.

Does a guy who brings a knife to do a crime also carry a gun? And if he had a gun on him, then why the necessity of slashing the girl's throat instead of just shooting her?

Also after firing the gun into the floor or wall, the intruder asks to be allowed to leave? Oh my. The guy's just mortally wounded Mr. Amsel's only child, and expects that Mr. Amsel will let him walk? Oh, but Mr. Amsel explains this away by saying he didn't know his daughter was injured. No? Well wasn't the intruder's borrowed coat bloody? After all, he'd gotten the coat from an upstairs bedroom....absurd. Most likely Mr. Amsel donned the coat to protect his clothing or pajamas, and as his daughter lay dying, he was off getting rid of the bloody coat.

Mr. Amsel's injuries weren't serious which reminds me of Darlie Routier, Jeffrey McDonald, et al. Most likely the Amsels left town because the rumor mill wouldn't die down, and people were saying that one or the other Amsel was responsible. This murder occurred before the women's suffragette movement, so it doesn't take much to think that the father expected his daughter to do what he said, and without question. The girl refused to give up her gentile boyfriend, a good motive, IMO. Besides the newspaper account, the rest we have to go on is hearsay.

It truly sounds like the parents fabricated the intruder story as a cover for what they'd done. Sorry.

http://durantdemocrat.com/pages/full_story?page_label=full_story&id=1128251&widget=push&article-More%20than%2090%20years%20later-%20the%20question%20remains%20-%20Who%20killed%20Pauline-%20=&open=&

Syl
07-25-2010, 06:32 AM
After writing 90+ pages with almost 50 references about this case and from my own perspective from living in the Amsel house, I stressed the same premise! Just one example about all those weapons.....one news report quoted Mr. Amsel saying the "intruder" used some kind of plastic knife on him. Add that to the gun the "intruder" used, the hat he was wearing and left behind, the coat he put on, the real knife he was supposedly carrying and a razor used on Pauline and you have just part of an unbelievable scenerio.

One post here questioned the bullet hole "in the floor" opposed to the bullet hole I knew about in the other end of the house in the wall. After I had written most of the "book" my brother reminded me of a story I had forgotten.....one day my mother noticed a car in front of the house and a man staring at our house so she finally went out to see what he wanted. He told her he had spent a lot of time in the house years ago when his relatives, the Amsels, lived there. My mother invited him in for a tour of the house. When they got upstairs, he pointed out the bullet hole in the wall and asked if she knew about it. I was about eight years old at the time and remember their visit but didn't pay much attention to their visit or follow them upstairs....oh, if I had only known then what I wonder about now!! What did that man know about the bullet hole?

That bullet hole was at the EAST end of the house. According to news reports the "intruder" came up the back stairs at the WEST end of the house and where the confrontation took place. Mr. Amsel was quoted as saying he followed the "intruder" out of the house to Elm Street which was SOUTH, but the neighbor said he saw the "intruder" going down the alley which was NORTH.......toooooo unbelievable..............

Newpapers get stories wrong and certainly did in those days, but from all accounts, I just cannot believe the basic story of the "intruder".

Syl
I lived in the Amsel house for ten years.

Stella
07-25-2010, 10:07 PM
Justthinkin, I've always believed one of the Amsels committed the murder. You wrote out what I was thinking but couldn't put into words.

cocolafay
07-26-2010, 03:30 AM
I just saw this cold (very cold) case mentioned and I have just finished reading what's here. Did anyone ever contact the "Oklahombres"? That seems to be the one road that might lead to a few real facts; like these ex-lawmen, historians etc. could say who was in charge and that might lead to at least a small file or report.

Kat
07-26-2010, 03:53 AM
This is going to sound like a stupid suggestion but has anyone watched that show (I think it's on PBS) called the History Detectives?

This story sounds exactly the type they like to investigate and create shows on.

Just my opinion.

Would be great if the family member posting here would contact them.

Syl
07-26-2010, 05:47 PM
I have gone through all the posts about Pauline Amsel’s murder and will try to answer some of the questions and speculations from what I have gleamed from my research. I have not found any OFFICIAL records from local lawmen, territorial lawmen, detective agencies, coronary reports, or other records we could take for granted. My answers are secondary sources through news articles, censuses, interviews, and what I know for sure about the house in which the murder occurred. The order of my comments starts with the beginning of the posts here.

The only possible photo of Pauline is a blurred silhouette copy of a copy showing a man and child sitting on a bench on the south side of the wrap-around porch next to that entry door on Elm Street. The child’s silhouette shows her wearing a dress and those lace-up boots which children wore in those days. Her feet cannot touch the floor. Someone had written on it that it was the Amsel house. I have tried to find photos from old Durant studios to no avail.
There were many arrests made for likely suspects from far and near to Durant. There were articles about the deputy or sheriff traveling to towns to check out suspects. All suspects were released. Even a posse was formed soon after the murder. Although the sheriff and deputy were mention, neither made any significant comments in print.
I found Pauline listed as a student at the Presbyterian School, but no photos…..so far.
Reports of the murder made papers as far away as Wisconsin.
As far as I can tell, the Amsels lived in Durant from 1900 to 1914, but one new report mentioned that the Amsels had visitors there in 1916. Much later a report noted that Mr. Amsel was in Durant on business.
I don’t know if the fact that the Amsels were Jewish had anything to do with this case. They were well-to-do and seemingly well-thought of in the town. It is pure speculation that Pauline’s death was better than her marrying a Gentile. However, this was a paramount subject in Durant for years.
I agree that law enforcement did not do right by Pauline! In reading about territorial lawmen’s reports about other cases during that time, it seems impossible that this case seems to be completely lost in history. About five months (5 months!) after the murder, there is a brief notation in the governor’s record that someone sent a request that had something to do with the case. So much for the “first 48 hours”!
In researching, I was surprised that it was not uncommon for lawmen to be former outlaws and former lawmen to become outlaws or at least be easily paid off. Lawmen had a hard job with little or no pay except in goods rather than money often and no travel money to speak of, so it was often easy to look the other way.
In ten years, we never saw a bullet hole in any floor, but an Amsel relative toured the house when I lived there and pointed out the bullet hole in the bedroom wall.
The distance from the sleeping porch to the master bedroom was at least 25 feet, a long way to walk and then back to her own bedroom…if not impossible in her condition. The doctor, who was also a neighbor and friend, was quoted extensively about her FOUR wounds that he surmised was done with a razor. And, Pauline had to walk up two steps from the sleeping porch before she walked down that long hallway. Interestingly, blood was found on the sleeping porch, the master bedroom and Pauline’s room. But no mention of blood in the hallway!
I don’t know why the “intruder” would shoot into a far-away bedroom when his hat and blood were supposedly found on the sleeping porch…and from his struggle with Mr. Amsel a stray bullet could not have reach the point of the bullet hole in the bedroom without going through a corner wall first.
No, I don’t think Pauline was able to “run” past her father while he was struggling with the “man”.
I don’t know where a fourteen year old Jewish girl who went to a girl’s school in 1914 in a small town could have developed such a deep relationship with a Gentile male who would want to murder her.
From different accounts, the “intruder” carried a sharp knife, a gun, a razor, a small non-sharp knife (which was what he used on Mr. Amsel…according to Mr. Amsel) and wore a hat with a label from a Chicago store and put on Mrs. Amsel’s coat. Logical gear for a burglar or a suitor intent on murder?
Why are we still interested in this case? For me, it’s because I lived in the same house at the same ages as Pauline and it makes me sad that no one was ever held accountable for ending her life.
Maybe the bullet hole WAS from another occurrence, but that story never was mentioned in Durant for the 20 year I live there.
The nearest synagogue was in Ardmore, Ok. about an hour’s drive from Durant and that might be a possible research project if there were any record, which I sincerely doubt. I think it has been torn down. And, I speculate that any secrets are gone with any rabbi of that day.
If Pauline were meeting someone, the downstairs sleeping porch would have been more logical with its three doors if escaping. The upstairs sleeping porch had only one way in or out….a trap almost. Besides, in the dark, I think even Pauline would have had a hard time maneuvering around in the dark in that house…..little lone a stranger to the house.
Maybe Pauline did go to her mother in the master bedroom for help, but her mother was too busy calling for help to notice her daughter when she entered bleeding and “sick”.
In response to the questions about Pauline herself…it almost seems that any trace of her has been erased…..except for her gravesite in Corsicana, Texas.
more later.........

justthinkin
07-27-2010, 02:20 AM
Syl, the other thing is if Mr. Amsel struggled with the intruder for several minutes, he should have seen his face or been able to supply a decent description of the man. Also, a person without a knife wouldn't last several minutes against someone armed with a knife.

Now suppose this intruder was a total stranger, someone who'd been lurking around the home, had seen Pauline, and wanted to rape and kill her. If such a person was interrupted by the girl's father, the intruder would've either fled or stayed and also killed the parents to eliminate witnesses. He wouldn't stick around to inflict insignificant wounds so it all goes back to the adult Amsels themselves.

Syl
07-27-2010, 04:07 AM
I just saw this cold (very cold) case mentioned and I have just finished reading what's here. Did anyone ever contact the "Oklahombres"? That seems to be the one road that might lead to a few real facts; like these ex-lawmen, historians etc. could say who was in charge and that might lead to at least a small file or report.

Hopefully some one has tried that avenue. I didn't research that very much. Maybe because I feel strongly that local lawmen were the primary source for this case not being solved. I can find no mention that they called in any other agencies, which seems illogical to me, but I try hard to remember that their resourses and training were pretty nil in those days for such a case like Pauline's.

Syl

Syl
07-27-2010, 04:25 AM
Syl, the other thing is if Mr. Amsel struggled with the intruder for several minutes, he should have seen his face or been able to supply a decent description of the man. Also, a person without a knife wouldn't last several minutes against someone armed with a knife.

Now suppose this intruder was a total stranger, someone who'd been lurking around the home, had seen Pauline, and wanted to rape and kill her. If such a person was interrupted by the girl's father, the intruder would've either fled or stayed and also killed the parents to eliminate witnesses. He wouldn't stick around to inflict insignificant wounds so it all goes back to the adult Amsels themselves.

Yes and actually, the local paper quoted Mr Amsel saying the "intruder" asked to be let go, so why a middle aged man would want to fight and follow the "intruder" out of the house to the street (another Amsel quote in the news) seems questionable.

It seems that the logical suspects, the people closest to the victim, were not considered OFFICIALLY as suspects. Un-officially was another story passed down through several generations in Durant, Oklahoma...........

milopedes
07-27-2010, 12:54 PM
justthinkin,

Well, your theory is certainly better than mine. I enjoyed your post. And you raised some good points, though I would need more on the motive. Syl seems to disagree about the gentile boyfriend, but without a larger jewish community in Durant, I'm inclined to disagree with him. A girl that age, regardless of religion, might develop an infatuation with a boy / man that her father did not sanction.

But murder their only child vs. allow her to establish a relationship with a gentile? Seems far fetched to me. And to believe the mother would go along with this? I'm simply not buying it.

Now, maybe there was another reason Mr. Amsel would want to murder his daughter. But if this is the case, it would be impossible to know.

justthinkin
07-28-2010, 01:41 AM
Other theories: incest gone awry somehow or perhaps the father heard a noise in the house set out to investigate, armed with a gun from his bedroom, only to find what he thought of as his very prim and proper daughter in bed with a boy in her bedroom. The father may have fired a warning shot or a serious shot, but missed. If this occurred and the boy later heard the father had slit the girl's throat, he may have feared for his own life too much to ever come forward.

It could prove interesting to exhume Pauline's body to see what marks her bones may have on them. What do you know of the other 3 wounds?

Poobah90
07-29-2010, 12:20 AM
This is going to sound like a stupid suggestion but has anyone watched that show (I think it's on PBS) called the History Detectives?

This story sounds exactly the type they like to investigate and create shows on.

Just my opinion.

Would be great if the family member posting here would contact them.

I don't think it sounds stupid at all.

Syl
07-29-2010, 07:46 AM
justthinkin,

Syl seems to disagree about the gentile boyfriend, but without a larger jewish community in Durant, I'm inclined to disagree with .....him.....

It was such a post-Victorian age and mostly young girls were pretty prim and proper. Also, I guess because Pauline was from an orthodox Jewish home, I tend to think of her as the typical young lady of the era.

Incest had been mentioned, but who knows.....and no one would have believed her in the early 1900 anyway. I don't believe it now. I do think early on that some orthodox Jewish families felt that marrying a Gentile was a fate worse than death. That doesn't mean they acted on it. Of course, we certainly don't know if that was the motive if it were a parent. We don't know much, for sure, do we!

Syl
07-29-2010, 07:55 AM
Is anyone here from Durant or close by?

Syl
07-29-2010, 08:05 AM
[quote=Kat;5447017]This is going to sound like a stupid suggestion but has anyone watched that show (I think it's on PBS) called the History Detectives?

I have never seen it...and I thought I knew them all. What a great idea. When and where is it on? Thanks!

Marilynilpa
08-06-2010, 09:27 AM
Is anyone here from Durant or close by?
I haven't looked at this thread in quite a while.

In answer to your question, I am not from Durant but have many relatives in that area, including some in Ardmore, OK. I also have an aunt who attended college in Durant.

okiloki
01-27-2011, 06:52 PM
Is anyone here from Durant or close by?
I live in Durant!

Syl
08-09-2013, 11:35 AM
[IMG]http://C:\Users\Sylvia\Pictures\p

I can never forget about Pauline. When I wrote a book about the case, I had only one picture of the inside of the house (I lived there myself), so I painted the living room staircase beside which I play on my first piano, only I picture Pauline there since I had read she was a music student in Durant, Oklahoma. I imagined she felt the breeze through that huge window in the early 1900s as I did in the 1940s and 50s

Tessie
08-09-2013, 04:59 PM
Is anyone here from Durant or close by?

I am close just on the south side of the river. I can't believe I am just now seeing this thread. We actually lived in Durant for three years...

Syl
08-10-2013, 06:50 PM
This is the painting I tried to attach in my last post....my idea of Pauline at the piano. I am neither a real artist nor writer, but I had no pictures to put in the book like the master bedroom, the long hallway toward the sleeping porch, Pauline's bedroom, the house from the outside, etc. so I painted them from memory and from drawing plans of the house.

Linnaeus
03-30-2014, 02:56 AM
Here's a recent discovery for those who have tried to put faces to the names: A photo of Pauline and her mother Celia Levy Amsel, probably taken within a year or two of the murder. Melody Amsel-Arieli, who had done her own research on her distant relative's long-ago murder (100 years this November), received this from another cousin who was cleaning out her attic. This was posted just a couple of weeks ago on her blog:

http://amselbird.com/2014/03/11/hello-pauline/

Not TOO far off from the nice painting, except the fashion for those enormous bows must have lasted several years-- somewhat reminiscent of photos of Mary Phagan from 1912.

A contemporary article from the local paper about a suspect in the case (surprise! some poor Mexican immigrant who was darned lucky nobody lynched him, since it appears extremely likely that he was innocent of the crime.)

http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc82632/m1/1/

The early 1900s were a weird time with a LOT of messy, unsolved stabbing sprees (Villisca being the most infamous.) But this does smack of a family dispute gone horribly wrong.