Patrol chief John McCord directed his men to check every Buick dealer in Kentucky to see who bought a new grayish-blue Buick that was seen at the Lexington Country Club on the night of a double murder in 1941.
It was soon learned that Robert H. Anderson, owner of a Louisville night club, purchased such a vehicle. The police learned through a background search of Anderson that he he had served time at the LaGrange State Prison and was frequently seen in company with convicted robber Thomas Penney. Upon searching Penny’s record they learned he was free on parole at the time of the murders. When Chief McCord learned that Penney formerly delivered beverages to the Lexington Country Club he felt the pieces to the murder puzzle were falling into place.
McCord had a warrant issued for the arrest of the two men but they were nowhere to be found. A nationwide bulletin was issued describing the two men and the Buick. Penney had a noticeable facial scar and when authorities in Fort Worth, Texas, stopped a grayish-blue Buick and noticed that the driver had such a scar they placed him under arrest.
Officers went to Texas and found loose cartridges in the car that matched those at the murder scene in Lexington. They returned with Penney and the Buick.
Meanwhile the dapper Robert Anderson filed a stolen car report on his Buick. Thomas Penney became irate at what he called a double-cross by Anderson. He told police the robbery was all Anderson’s idea. He surprised McCord and the others by also implicating Skeeter Baxter.
Although Anderson denied the charge when he was arrested at his Cat and Fiddle Club in Louisville, the police case was further solidified when they learned his coat was missing a button that was found at the murder scene. Police also learned Anderson purchased a .32 caliber Colt automatic that was used during the double homicide.
Penney testified that about September 30, he and Anderson had talked about getting rid of the car; Anderson said it was a “hot” car, and that “someone had seen it there; he wanted me to wreck it; burn it, just anything.” Anderson told him to take it and he would give him twenty-four hours before he reported loss. Penney was to go to Anderson’s place and get it. He went there and Anderson’s wife said it was locked; “she thought I was up to something.” Penney left and called Anderson and told him the car was locked. Anderson agreed to meet him at 18th and Main; met him there and they drove to another point. When Anderson came up a window vent was broken, Anderson saying he had to break it to get in as his wife had the key. Anderson left the car at 18th and Maple and Penney headed south into Tennessee. He was positive that the car he had in Fort Worth was the same car which he and Anderson used on the Lexington trip on the 27th.
He also said that on the return trip to Louisville he and Anderson had buried the two pistols around an old building in a park near Louisville. Penney afterwards took the officers to the place where they found the weapons.
When the police questioned Skeeter Baxter, the club groundskeeper, following the crime, he appeared distraught over the shootings, “Mrs. Miley has been like a mother to me,” he exclaimed.
When the police called on Baxter again with the information supplied by Penney he admitted his part in the murders.
Baxter met Anderson and Penney at the country club early on the morning of the break-in and assisted them through a back window after telling them as much as $5,000 was in the clubhouse. He led them to the basement where the electricity was turned off and the phone wires cut.
Anderson and Penney searched for the money downstairs before reasoning that Mrs. Miley may have it in her apartment above. The frightened women turned over $139.50 when they were threatened. The men were dissatisfied and the two women were shot, leading to their deaths.
The three men were tried separately in December of 1941. Anderson and Penney were found guilty of murder and given the death penalty. Skeeter Baxter was guilty of being an accessory before the fact. When a death verdict was given to Baxter it sent the newsmen rushing from the courtroom in a frenzy to telephone in their stories. All three of the men were going to the electric chair at Eddyville.
The verdicts were automatically appealed but upheld by the higher court. An appeal was made to Kentucky Gov. Keen Johnson for clemency. After studying the records and information he agreed with the verdict feeling Anderson, Penny and Baxter deserved the death penalty. They were not reluctant to brutalize and murder the two women so he would not stand in the way of their execution.
On February 26, 1943, Robert Anderson had a razor blade smuggled into his cell where he planned to cheat Kentucky out of electrocuting him. Dr. A. M. Parrish, a Baptist minister from Paducah, Ky, was successful in talking him out of taking his life.
“I didn’t do it Reverend,” Anderson told the astonished pastor. “Thomas (Penney) did it. I’m not saying I don’t deserve it. I killed other men in my life, seven altogether. One of them was a Jefferson County deputy sheriff in Louisville.”
Anderson was the first of the three men to be electrocuted, entering the death chamber with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
“Gentlemen, the only thing I can say is I’m innocent of what I’ve been charged with. I didn’t kill either of those ladies,” he said as he was strapped to the electric chair. He then kicked off his prison shoes. The current was turned on within seconds, causing his body to contort.
“We were disappointed in the money we got,” Thomas Penney confided to the officer prior to being electrocuted. “We expected from three to ten grand… maybe more. We got only $139.”
Penney, who became a Catholic while in prison, then asked the warden to release his statement to the newsmen. In the statement Penney said he participated in the robbery and the killing but that Anderson was the first to shoot.
“Somehow I fell down or got knocked down and got up shooting,” he said. “I don’t know if it was me or Anderson who killed the women.”
Baxter was the last of the three to be put to death. “I regret it so much,” he stammered. “Mrs. Miley was like a mother to me.”
Hugh Cramer, the youthful newspaper delivery boy who gave police the tip that led to the arrests was hailed as a hero. It almost cost him his life however. Police learned from the killers that they saw Cramer making his delivery and planned to kill him so there would be no witness. He never stopped his vehicle and they didn’t have an opportunity.
“I have so many newspapers to deliver I don’t have time to dilly after the papers are thrown,” he explained.
He made his normal hasty exit so his practice of wasting no time ended up saving his life. Otherwise he may have been the sixth death resulting from the unfortunate and ill-advised incident that led to the demise of the two prominent lady golfers of the time. Copyright 2017 Jadon Gibson.
Editor’s note : Jadon Gibson is a widely read Appalachian writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read periodically at BereaOnline.com. Don’t miss a single episode!
A Voice for God – a voice for good
My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me.
Misery loves company I guess. One evening in about 1981 a casual acquaintance handed me a small pill saying something like, “take this and it’ll make you feel great. It was in my hand before I got the gist of what was going on. There was a garbage can nearby so after he departed I dropped in into the can. I’m glad I did.
I’m already on cloud nine most all the time. Life is so precious. People often say to me that I’m always smiling or you’re always happy. That’s my nature. I don’t need the ole devil to help me in getting there. If I did he would probably put me on a detour.
There’s many things in life that’ll make you feel great… that is if you keep your faculties intact. You need not explore some quick way to get there. Actually it would be a quick way to nowhere.
If you have Jesus in your life you will have so many blessings you need not explore some quick fix… something to push you higher. You’ll not want a life sentence that’ll pull you down more and more until your life ends.
It’s better to have friends with good vibes, a good and positive greeting. Do you get a warm feeling when you see a mother deer and her doe? What about when you see the beaming nature of someone after being saved from a difficult situation. What about that individual who helped rescue them? What about the feeling when you’ve worked for something great and are on the cusp of attaining it? Or you’ve just eaten a tasty peach and you love peaches. You can substitute strawberry, apple, pears or whatever. Or it’s such a wonderful day and there’s not a problem in the world that you can’t overcome.
You can think of hundreds of other ways toward enjoyment without doing something that’ll affect your life adversely. If your conscious says don’t… then don’t do it.
Don’t do something so ill-advised as diving off and into an abandoned rock quarry. Don’t pick up a rattler or copperhead unless you really know what you’re doing. Don’t do something as dumb as playing Russian roulette. One out of every six who play probably won’t survive. Those are terrible odds so just don’t do it!
Likewise don’t take some unknown pill or drug from a friend or acquaintance… even if you are having a bad-hair day and be wary of any drink given to you especially if it tastes “funny.”
Jesus can turn your life around in a second. He can change your life as quickly as a smile… as quickly as your loving dog can wag it’s tail.
I accepted Jesus as my savior in 1954 but I haven’t always held him close in my heart although he has always kept me under his wing. I’ve prayed in times of need. Late last year he got my attention. I’m devoting more of my life to Him. The more I do the more blessings I receive. I’ll discuss more of this next week.
My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. He will watch over you too if you accept Him as your Savior and keep Him in your heart. Begin telling your children about Jesus from a young age and try to live the life you want them to emulate. If you don’t… they will likely emulate the life you are living.