Part 10…Criminal in the Family

Welcome back to the Hogue Connection and Part 10 of Criminal in the Family! At the end of Part 9, Marion Larner was found to have some cash shortages in his new prison job, is diagnosed with stomach cancer, and marries his second wife.

No charges filed.

Evidence points to Marion Larner embezzling funds from the canteen accounts. It is likely that the state decided to drop the issue due to Larner’s newfound cancer issues. It is unclear how often he went to the infirmary at the prison or to a local hospital during the next few months of his 1946. Based on a copy of his prison card I found online, he never left the O.S.P. during that period.

I mentioned that the name of Larner’s wife was included his death certificate. This woman, FT for my purposes here, married Marion Larner on 13 Sep 1946. The license was obtained in Osceola, Mississippi County, Arkansas. You don’t need to prove residency to get married there. Bride and groom signatures are not required, either. On the license receipt, the birth dates, birthplaces, and names matched exactly. On the actual license, recorded separately, Larner’s residence is listed as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, OK. This is the only inconsistency.

FT was born in Illinois, but moved with her family to Le Flore County, OK, in the center of Choctaw country, around 1930. She married her first husband (VT) there in 1932 and had three children with him, the last one born in 1943. Most of FT’s family returned to Illinois before 1940. If you follow the road map, you’ll notice that Osceola, Arkansas is almost exactly in between Memphis, TN, and the county her parents moved back to in Illinois. Specific place names are left out here for reasons alluded to earlier.

My Thoughts on the “Marriage”.

This could be too “Hollywood”, but, as I said before, I think the marriage of FT and Marion Larner may have been done to move the embezzled canteen cash around. Perhaps to the comely widow back in Dill? Was the widow involved enough to help plan it? Did he place an ad in the newspaper looking for a pen pal and make the arrangements then? Did he have a chance meeting with FT during one of his hospital visits and plan it at that time? FT lived in Talihina, OK, only about an hour from McAlester in 1946-47.

I found a newspaper article that mentioned Mrs. FT’s travel to visit family in Illinois dated 6 Nov 1947. She was still married to her first husband and living with him at the time. She split from him for good and moved back to Illinois in the early 50’s. Too many mysteries to clear up without some eyewitness accounts!

It’s Over for Marion Larner.

On 17 May 1947, Larner was transferred to the Oklahoma State Hospital in Clinton, Custer County, OK. A physician checked him out on his arrival. Remember that Clinton is where the Larner’s met friends for dinner on their fateful anniversary night in 1938.

At 6:30 AM on 28 May 1947, Marion Larner died due to carcinoma of the stomach. It was less than one year after his diagnosis.

His age noted on the death certificate as 44 years, 9 months, and 16 days. He was buried the next day in Liberty Bell Cemetery, Dill City, OK. His father requested a tombstone through Veterans Affairs that was delivered sometime in the fall of 1948.

It’s hard for me to let this story go. There are just too many unanswered questions. Of course, it’s possible that someone out there in one of the families may know some of the details of this twisted saga. I post articles on this blog exactly for that reason. Please contact me if you know more!

The murder of Bertie Mae Bewley Larner is such a sad tale. Many people had their lives change forever because of the selfish behavior of one man. A man that was supposedly a pillar of his community. I want the victims of his crimes to be thoughtfully and appropriately remembered. My post next week will be an “In Memory of…” with some final thoughts.

Thanks for reading Part 10 of Criminal in the Family on my blog! See you back at The Hogue Connection soon! You can return to the Home Page here.

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