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It's a Murder Mystery in the Sooner State

January 7, 2004

Almanac Transcript

It's a murder mystery in the Sooner State this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

In the countless number of texts written on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War very few, I'm sure, contain any mention of Enid, Oklahoma. It might be necessary, however, to make a few changes in the history books if the claims of one David E. George are to be believed. It was in this week of 1903 on January 13th, that residents of the Grand Avenue Hotel in Enid, Oklahoma Territory, hearing screams, rushed to room No. 4. There they found the resident of the room David George lying on the floor dead from self-inflicted strychnine poisoning. As officials and acquaintances heard of the suicide the details of this now mysterious stranger began to emerge.

Before Enid George lived in El Reno renting a house with a married couple. The couple testified that numerous times George admitted to being a murderer and having killed the greatest person ever to live, and on more than one occasion George admitted to his house-mates that he was indeed none other than John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin. People who knew George stated that they often heard him quoting Shakespeare and everyone around both El Reno and Enid knew of his flamboyant theatrical mannerisms. "The Booth" thought to have been murdered shortly after Lincoln's death was indeed an actor and Booth and George did share similar physical characteristics.

The official Government statement was that John Wilkes Booth was killed and buried by the military, later exhumed and buried again by his family. Suspicion, however, always surrounded the death of Booth and rumors circulated almost immediately after the assassination that Booth had actually escaped, and the army was lying to conceal incompetence. So the historical record did leave room for David George to be telling the truth and then there were those odd parallels in action and appearances. Once the news of George's confession and death spread a flurry of theories and conspiracy rumors began that haven't yet shown signs of abating. The embalmed body of David --John Wilkes Booth-- George remained on display for nearly thirty years and underwent numerous x-ray sessions and examinations all without any conclusive identification.

A mysterious stranger and his story this week on the Almanac.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of Oklahoma's Public Radio and the Oklahoma State University Library.

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