September 15, 1959
Paul Orgeron detonates a bomb at Poe Elementary School after attempting to enroll his son at the school
Orgeron had brought his son, Dusty Paul Orgeron (7) to the school to enroll the second-grader. He was told he needed birth and health certificates to do so, and he said he would return with the required documents. Instead, he brought a suitcase filled with dynamite.
As Orgeron walked onto the school’s playground with his son and the suitcase, he approached a teacher and handed her two notes. She noticed the bottom of the suitcase had a doorbell button and, alarmed, sent her students inside and asked them to fetch the principal and a custodian. As principal R. E. Doty and custodian James Montgomery approached Orgeron to ask him to leave, Orgeron threw the suitcase to the ground causing an explosion powerful enough to leave a six inch crate in the asphalt. Orgeron and his son were killed, along with Montgomery, a teacher named Jennie Kolter, and students William Hawkes Jr., 7, and John Fitch Jr., 8. A further 18 were injured.
One piece of Orgeron, his hand, was found on a hedge. Investigators were able to find his identity through fingerprints, as Orgeron had been arrested for safe-cracking in the past. William Appelt, who witnessed the aftermath, said “one boy was completely devoid of clothes, and a little girl had been blown over 100 feet. There were pieces of flesh everywhere, and bits of clothes scattered all over.” Fred Bozant, who was working a block from the school, said “I saw the torso of the man who triggered the bomb explosion. All that was left of him was his right arm and the middle part of his body between the neck and legs.”
The notes Orgeron gave the teacher read as follows, including spelling and grammatical errors:
“Please do not get excite over this order I’m giving you. In this suitcase you see in my hand is fill to the top with high explosive. I mean high high. Please believe me when I say I have 2 more (illegible) that are set to go off at two times. I do not believe I can kill and not kill what is around me, an I mean my son will go. Do as I say an no one will get hurt. Please. —P. H. Orgeron”
“Do not get the Police department yet, I’ll tell you when. Please do not get excite over this order I’m giving you. In this suitcase you see in my hand it fill to the top with high explosive. Please do not make me push this button that all I have to do. And also have two 2 more cases [illegible] high explosive that are set to go off at a certain time at three different places so it will more harm to kill me, so do as I say and no one will get hurt. An I would like to talk about god while waiting for my wife.”