Florida · Newspaper clippings

Mother and daughter bludgeoned and “chopped to death,” their bodies left in their car

From the Chicago Daily Tribune
Melbourne, Florida
Published December 10, 1955

The bodies of a mother and her 7-year-old daughter were found bludgeoned to death by a sharp instrument, likely a hatchet. Their skulls were fractured, Patricia (the mother) was wrapped in a blanket in the front seat while Phyllis was stuffed in the car’s trunk. Approximately 16 months before the murders, the couple’s 4-year-old son Rodger died in an apparent accident at a park either from hitting himself in the head with a swing or falling from a tree.

The husband and father of the victims was arrested and convicted of the murder of his daughter (the jury was hung regarding the murder of his wife) despite no apparent motive and the murder weapon never being discovered. He served 13 years in prison, escaped, lived on the lam for 8 years, was recaptured, served one more year in prison, then was granted parole. The following year he was deported to Canada, his native country.

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