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Elvin Jack ODOM





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 12, 1937
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1910
Victim profile: Charles Edgar Goade
Method of murder: Beating with an iron grate
Location: Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Status: Executed by asphyxiation-gas on January 14, 1938

An information was filed in the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, in and for the County of Maricopa, on October 21, 1937, charging the defendant Elvin Jack Odom with the crime of Murder, a felony.

On October 21, 1937, defendant was arraigned and entered a plea of guilty to the said crime of Murder, a felony.

On October 25, 1937, defendant was sentenced to death in the lethal gas chamber and that the execution be carried out within the wells of the State Prison at Florence, Arizona, on the 14 day of January, 1938, between the hours of 5:00 o'clock A.M. and 6:00 o'clock P.M. of said day.

The facts end circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime are as follows:

One Charles Edgar Goade was brutally murdered by heavy blows with an iron grate in and on his head on October 12, 1937, about 10:00 P.M., while he was asleep on a wagon in a cotton field near Perryville, Arizona.

Soon after the body was discovered on the morning of October 13th, the defendant Elvin Jack Odom was arrested on suspicion of murder as he was about to leave the camp at which he was employed.

Odom's arrest on suspicion was based on statements made by witnesses as to his actions on the night of the murder, his sudden and unaccounted possession of money and previous remarks which he had made concerning highjacking the murdered Goade.

On October 20, 1937, Jack Odom voluntarily confessed to the crime, telling in detail how he believed Goade had considerable money on his person; how he had taken an iron grate from a stove outside his cabin about 10:00 P.M. and walked over to a wagon in which Goade was asleep and how, upon Goade awakening, he beat and hit him on the head with the iron grate until he was dead.

He then told how he searched Goade's pockets, removed a pocketbook containing 54c and how he later buried the iron grate and pocket book about one hundred feet beyond the wagon.

He further described how he returned to his cabin, washed his hands and then being so frightened, how he called to Red Simmons and Bob Barnette to come over to his cabin on the pretense that he was sick.

Investigation by the officers of the facts surrounding the murder of Goade revealed the following:

That Jack Odom went to work at Bradley's Camp No. 1 on or about the 15th day of September, 1937. Witnesses testify that Odom arrived at the camp without any money and up to the day of his arrest spent every cent he earned at the camp, and was often broke and had to borrow money.

On several occasions prior to the night Goade was murdered, Odom had remarked to friends that Goade would be a good person to highjack as he was purported to have considerable money on his person. Furthermore, conversations were overheard between Odom and Goade wherein Odom questioned Goade concerning his finances.

Other witnesses testified that Odom, on the day of the murder, stated he hated the old man, referring to Goade. Previous to the night of the murder Odom had expressed a desire to buy a dress for one Marie Harden as soon as he could earn enough money to do so.

On the evening of the murder, Odom visited several friends of his in the camp, and had several drinks of whiskey. About 9:00 o'clock he left the cabin of Red Simmons and Bob Barnette and stated he was going to his cabin to go to bed. Instead, Odom picked up an iron grate about four inches wide and fourteen inches long, which was on a fire place outside his cabin, and walked to a wagon in the middle of the cotton fields where Goade was asleep.

Odom climbed onto the wagon and as Goade awoke, he struck him a terrific blow on the head with the iron grate. At least five blows were struck crushing in Goade's skull. Odom then searched Goade's pockets and removed a purse, which he claims contained only 54c. Odom then walked about 100 feet beyond the wagon and buried the iron grate and purse near a clump of johnson grass.

Odom then returned to his cabin and washed the blood off his hands. About 11:00 P.M. he called to Red Simons and Bob Barnette, whose cabin was about 80 feet from his, and asked them to come over to his cabin as he was ill.

Red end Bob found Odom in an extremely nervous and frightened condition. Odom claimed he was suffering from a heart attack and requested that they get him some whiskey.

While Red was gone for the whiskey, Tom Harden and Nick Vaughn arrived at Odom's cabin. After the pint of whiskey had been consumed, that Red had purchased, Odom told Barnette and Red that he had Six ($6.00) Dollars he had been saving, hid behind some cardboard nailed on the wall of his cabin and asked Red to get the same out so that they could buy more Whiskey.

When the money, which was in a dirty tobacco sack, was removed, it was discovered that there was Thirty-six ($36.00) Dollars in bills. Harden and others present believing at first the money was counterfeit, as they knew Odom had had no money, examined the money closely and found it to be moist and damp as if having recently been carried on the person.

Furthermore those present stated that the tobacco sack was identical to one which they had seen Goade carry on his person on previous occasions.

After the money had been counted, Odom sent Red back to the store to buy five more pints of whiskey and gave the remaining money to Nick Vaughn, instructing him to give Ten ($10.00) Dollars to Marie Harden for the dress which Odom had promised her, and to keep the balance of the money for him, or, if necessary, for Nick Vaughn to spend it on himself.

In answer to objections made by Nick Vaughn to taking the money, Odom stated he had not had to work hard to get that money and that he wanted Marie to have that dress.

About 4:00 A.M. all those at the cabin had gone home except Bob Barnette, who remained the rest of the night with Odom at his request, as he said he was afraid to stay alone.

The next morning after Odom had been advised by the officers that there had been a murder committed, he went to Red Simons and Bob Barnette and offered to pay them well if they would drive him to Tolleson.

It was after they had started for Tolleson that Odom was picked up and placed under arrest. Upon first questioning by the officers, Odom denied knowing anything of the murder, in spite of the fact that he had already been previously advised by other officers. He denied ever having had any conversations with Goade and explained that the money he had so generously passed around the night before was money that he had brought with him when he came to the camp, and had saved it for a long time.

When confronted with blood stains on his pants and a cotton sack, he denied knowledge of the same, but explained that the same could have been caused by a scratch on his hand or have resulted from killing a snake the day before.

Chemical analysis however, disclosed the blood to be that of a human being. On October 19th, Odom expressed desire to talk to the Sheriff and on October20th, Odom told the whole story as to how he had murdered Goade believing he had a large sum of money on his person.

Investigation of Odom's record disclosed that he had, on several occasions in the past, tangled with the law, and on one occasion in particular, where he seriously beat up a man, he testified he would have killed him if he had not been prevented from so doing by his wife and brother.

Defendant states that his true name is Elvin J. Odom; that he is 27 years of age; that he was born in Denton, Texas; that he was born in 1901; that his mother, sister and brother all live in Denton, Texas; that he is an American Citizen; that he has lived in Arizona and Maricopa County for four weeks; that he is a painter and last worked in Denton, Texas, contracting for himself; that he worked there for eleven years; that he was convicted in Corsicana, Texas, for Burglary, in 1932; that he is married and has two children in Amarillo, Texas.

Respectfully submitted this 26th day of October, 1937.



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