Executions · Illinois · Newspaper clippings

Man executed for murdering girlfriend and her young sons

October 20, 1931
Chester, Illinois
Merle (alt. spelling: Merley, Murley) Johnson is executed for the murders of his live-in girlfriend and her two sons

On May 20, 1931, Johnson (25) shot Carrie Bowers (38) before he strangled her sons, Joseph (6) and Delmar (19 months). The boys were also bludgeoned with a car crank and shot. When questioned about the murders, Johnson claimed he and Bowers had “decided that they had lived enough of this life and both wanted to die, taking the children with them.” He also admitted that Delmar, the younger son, was his biological child.

Johnson made no attempt to defend his actions nor to appeal his death penalty. To the contrary, he thanked the judge when the sentenced was read. He went to his death emotionless, saying “So long, boys,” as he walked to the death chamber and repeated the sentiment immediately prior to his electrocution.


Journal Gazette, July 27, 1931.
Via Newspapers.com

Sources:
Hearn, Daniel Allen. Legal Executions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri: A Comprehensive Registry, 1866-1965. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2016
“Nonchalant Killer Executed Today,” Public Opinion [Chambersburg, Pennsylvania], October 20, 1931
“Given Chair,” Journal Gazette [Mattoon, Illinois], July 27, 1931
“Murderer Likely to Carry Secret to Chair on Oct. 30,” Dixon Daily Telegraph [Dixon, Illinois], July 3, 1931
“Think Story of Johnson Mostly True,” Journal Gazette [Mattoon, Illinois], May 26, 1931
“Confesses to Triple Murder in Illinois,” Jefferson City Post-Tribune [Jefferson City, Missouri], May 20, 1931

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