Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tulsan Slain At His Home (1956)

There are two great-grandfathers that I never met because they died before I was born. One in particular died fairly early in life at the age of 50 and as you can see from the title of this post, he did not die peacefully.  I’m not too surprised by this because Orville Godwin didn’t live too peacefully in life either.  He was a sign painter and a drunk, and unbeknownst to us until reading this article, he was evidently married to a woman, almost 20 years his senior, named Mrs. Mildred Godwin. 

Lawrence Orville Godwin Sr was born October 12, 1905 in Hardy, AR to Alvin and Lou Ella (Davis) Godwin. He married Nova Lee Peters, November 9, 1927 in West Plains, MO.  They had 3 daughters and a son (my grandfather). They were divorced around 1945 and Orville moved around a lot going from one job to another.

In 1956 Orville was living with his wife, Mildred, in a small apartment in Tulsa when he was gunned down by his neighbor, Mr. T. H. Hubbard. Although Mr. Hubbard confessed to shooting Orville, he did not say why, except that Orville had taken his gun earlier that day and was threatening to kill him with it.

On to the story….PS it took up 3 pages in the newspaper and contained 2 pictures, one of the killer and one of the grieving widow.

Picture of T. H. Hubbard being led away by police

From the “Tulsa Daily World,” 11 Sept 1956, Tulsa, OK

Tulsan Slain at His Home; Neighbor

Held, Confesses Shooting, Gives No



Argument Over Gun Apparently Figures in East Side Death

Lawrence Oliver Godwin, 54,  of 1305 E. 1st St., was shot by a neighboring resident who admitted the shooting after his arrest.

T. H. Hubbard, 54, a concrete finisher, was arrested within 5 minutes after police were called at 5:14 p.m.  He was seized at the home of a son about a half-block from the shooting scene.

Detectives Woody Wilson and Jim Gott said they recovered the death weapon from the home of the son, Eddy Hubbard, 1329 ½ E. 1st St.

The elder Hubbard, who made a signed statement to police within the hour, confessed firing shots at his neighbor but offered no sensible reason for shooting him.

Wife Knows No Motive

Mrs. Mildred Godwin, 69 year-old wife of the slain man who witnessed the shooting, also was unable to offer any motive for the slaying.

Mrs. Godwin said the gunman also pointed his weapon at her, after firing shots at her husband, but did not fire at her when she threw up her hands and pleaded:

“Don’t shoot me!  Please don’t shoot me!”  Mrs. Godwin said she had been lying on a bed resting when Hubbard came to the door.  She said she let him in and that he pulled a gun from his pocket and began firing.
Her only suggestion of a motive was that she had overheard her husband and Hubbard talking Sunday night on the Godwin’s front porch about a gun.

Gives Hazy Account

“I didn’t hear all they said, but I heard him (Hubbard) say he wanted his gun,” Mrs. Godwin said.  She denied any knowledge of a gun and said to her knowledge there had never been a gun in her home.
Hubbard, in his statement, gave a hazy account of Godwin’s coming to his sleeping room Monday afternoon a short while before the shooting and getting his (Hubbard’s) pistol.

The shooting suspect claimed Godwin picked up the pistol and hurriedly walked back to his own apartment with it.  Hubbard said he followed and walked into Godwin’s bedroom.

He said the pistol lay on the foot of Godwin’s bed and claimed Godwin told him he was going to kill him.  Hubbard said he then reached down, picked up his own pistol and began firing.

Neighbors Hear Shots

The shots were heard by  several neighboring residents and Mrs. Eva Livesy, who lives in another apartment at 23 S. Peoria Ave. said she saw Hubbard walk off the Godwins’  porch and stuff a pistol inside his shirt. 
Mrs. C. O. Freeman, 19 S. Peoria Ave., whose husband owns the houses in which both the victim and suspect lived, also saw Hubbard leave the house and walk northward toward an alley and toward his son’s home.

Neighbors said Hubbard and Mr. and Mrs. Godwin all drank heavily.  Dozens of empty whisky and vodka bottles were found in Hubbard’s sleeping room, located only a few yards from the Godwins’ porch.

Denies Knowing Victim

A baffling aspect was that Hubbard denied knowing Godwin and Mrs. Godwin claimed she did not know Hubbard.

“I had seen him around a few times but I didn’t know him,” Mrs. Godwin said.

Freeman, the landlord, said Hubbard had lived at 23 S. Peoria Ave. only a few weeks.  The Godwins had lived at their address about 4 months.

Hubbard listed his permanent address at Rt. 5, McAlester.  He said his wife lives there and that he has 10 children.  He is employed  by the Western Concrete Co.  Godwin was a sign painter for the Summers Sign Co., 408 E. 2nd St.  His wife said they were married 10 years ago.  He is survived by a former wife and three daughters of Fort Smith, Ark., she said.

Differ on Number of Shots

Witnesses to the shooting reported hearing five shots fired and Mrs. Godwin thought there were four, but Detectives Wilson and Gott said six rounds had been fired from the revolver.

W. A. Lang, County Investigator, said a preliminary examination of the body at the scene disclosed two wounds.  Both struck in the left arm and ranged into the chest, Lang said.

J. Howard Edmondson, County Attorney, and Earl Beddoe, Assistant Police Chief, directed the interrogation of Hubbard and questioning of witnesses at police headquarters.

Arrangements for Godwin are pending with the Tulsa-Whisenhunt Funeral Home.


Godwin Rites Today

Graveside services for Lawrence Oliver Goodwin, 54, of 1305 ‘E. 1st St., Tulsa sign painter, will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday in Rose Hill Cemetery under the direction of the Tulsa-Whisenhunt Funeral Home.  Godwin was shot to death Monday afternoon at his home.

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