November 24, 1934
The bodies of 3 sisters, Norma Sedgwick (12), Dewilla Noakes (10), and Cordelia Noakes (8), are found in the woods along Pennsylvania Route 233
The girls had been “suffocated by external means” and covered gently with a blanket. The same day, Elmo Noakes (father of the younger 2 girls and stepfather to the eldest) was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. With his body was that of his 18-year-old niece Winifred Pierce, whose breast was exposed and who had been shot in the heart and head.
No note was left behind and Noakes was known to be a very loving father, so the deaths were extremely strange. Many theories have been made about the deaths including: cult activities (Norma’s head bore a “symbol,” though some have argued it was a head wound instead); the deaths of the children was accidental, from automobile exhaust, and drove their father to suicide; mental illness; Noakes and his niece were running away together and, having exhausted their savings, smothered the children to spare them the agony of starvation and entered into a suicide pact.