Hi, y’all. I am Eli Wilkerson, a Certified Fraud Examiner and US Army Veteran (Afghanistan 10/11). I have served 10 years in Texas Law Enforcement and have earned a Master of Business Administration.
Take a trip with me back in time to the 1920s. To a time of booms and busts, to an era of glitz and greed, which built a powder keg of crime, corruption, and murder?
We won’t have to travel to Chicago. Let’s take a short drive to the rolling plains of North Eastern Oklahoma. Let’s turn the pages of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” By David Grann
Like all true crime stories, there is The Impact …
The 1920’s, Osage County, City of Pawhuska, OK, wealthy members of the Osage Tribe that own oil ‘head rights’, have been dying or escaping death under questionable circumstances. Federal prosecutors have finally made their case against William K. Hale and he was sentenced to life in prison with forced hard labor for first-degree murder.
This case left a lasting impact on Special Agent Tom White, modern American Law Enforcement, and ultimately the Osage Tribe. Even today, the Osages remember the Killings from the 1920s.
Agent Tom White resigned from the FBI and accepted the Warden position for Fort Leavenworth federal prison. Maybe a twist of fate, but William K. Hale an Osage murder was under his charge during their time at Leavenworth.
The 1920s saw modern developments of criminal investigations. The Burns Detective Agency began to advocate for and use wiretaps on phones and telegraph lines. The Pinkerton Detective Agency further refined the mugshot. The Bureau of Investigation (later the Federal Bureau of Investigation) began to use fingerprints and ballistics.
The investigation tactics used by the various detectives began the end of the iconic gun fighting frontier lawman. J. Edgar Hoover even took pride in his, and I quote ‘college boy’ investigators, meaning he required a college education, suit and tie, and polished gloss dress shoes. The era of scientific investigations had begun.
The Osages were hit the hardest through these investigations. Yes, William K. Hale was brought to justice, but recent court records have shown that there are more than 60 other Osage Tribe members that died with very questionable circumstances under their court-appointed wards and caretakers. While there is no proverbial smoking gun court records evidence has been found the Osage Killings were might have been more commonplace than previously known. In general, the killings were calculated in a way to gain a financial advantage by those close to and known by the individual Osage Members.
In today’s terms, this would be considered Red Collar Crime. William K. Hale crossed between a white collar and murder crimes. His crimes of financial exploitation and homicide went hand in hand. Sadly, he and only a hand full of his coconspirators were brought to justice. He showed that Pressure, Rationalization, Victims, Suspects, and Opportunities can create a deadly combination that when acted upon can create an impact that lasts for generations.