The mystery deepens with current interviews
Gertrude Marshall Blakey was attacked October 13, 1981, in the doorway of her home in one of the most exclusive wealthy neighborhoods in Tulsa. Forty years later, it remains an unsolved open case of homicide and, oddly, many who could describe the events surrounding her death have never been questioned by police.
According to Gertrude’s grandson Marshall Johnson, T.H. Rogers, with his wife, Nevada Wolfe Rogers, began a lumber business in Missouri in 1896 and then moved to Oklahoma City. He incorporated in 1901. Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
T.H. Rogers had three daughters one of which had no children. Those having heirs are Ada Justine Rogers Kennedy and Mable Wolfe Rogers Marshall. Ada’s husband, William Bernard Kennedy worked for his father-in-law in management of the lumber company. Mable Marshall lived in Oklahoma City and her daughter, Gertrude Caroline Marshall after college moved to Tulsa.
Gertrude married Carl Walter Blakey and in 1944 they adopted Ann Lee Blaket as an infant who later married Richard Edward Elder. Ann had six children: Caroline (Carrie) Truit (born 1963), Everett Elder (born 1965), Alyssa (Lysa) Elder (born 1971), Edward Marshall Elder (born 1975), Ehren Walter Elder (born 1977) and Wendoline (Wendy) Elder (born 1980). At 18 years Marshall Johnson changed his legal name from Edward Marshall Elder to Marshall Johnson the name of his most significant foster family he said.
Ann told her son Marshall Johnson she was raped by a Kennedy when she was twelve and that was the reason Mable set up the Mable Marshall Trust to formalize her permanent position as a part of the family. Ann died September 10, 2012.
Significant Family Events
- June 26, 1945, Kennedy vs. Marshall decided in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, a case of dispute on stock decided in favor of Marshall.
- September 1978, there was a house fire at Ann Blakey Elder’s home. Lysa, then seven-years-old, as an adult later tells Marshall she was playing with matches in the closet and started the fire. Lysa and Marshall escaped on their own as children. Ann was severely burned rescuing Ehren, then nine months old.
- 1979, Gertrude loans Ann $4,000.00 for home repair after fire.
- May 1979, Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) removes four children from Ann’s care. At the time of his removal, Johnson was 4 years old and says his DHS records document he had ninety-six fist size bruises all over his body. Intervention by DHS occurred after Lysa told public school officials that she was raped by brother Everett.
- August 1979, Gertrude changes GMB Trust to specifically exclude Ann from any benefit. Gertrude signs Last Will and Testament that also excludes Ann but includes Ann’s children.
- Also in 1979, Everett (age 14) begins living with Kennedy Family in Arkansas. In just over a month in the home, he is accused of molesting Elisabeth Kennedy Riedel who was close to his age.
- 1979-80, Gertrude retains her existing (since 1976) Attorney Robert Huffman to defend Everett.
- 1980 – 81, Ann and Richard’s parental rights terminated. Oklahoma Court System was aware of multiple issues with the family.
As “Justice for Gertrude, Part 1” details, Gertrude Blakey was found by neighbors including, Rob Shofner, then 13-years-old in 1981. In a recent exclusive interview, Rob Shofner recalled the event to this reporter and declared facts the Tulsa Police Department has never gathered.
Rob Shofner said, Gertrude Blakey lived next door when I was growing up. She was a very private person. She would come and go. Mrs. Blakey drove a huge older car that she always parked in the garage. It was a land yacht and her friends drove similar cars. They were always well dressed and going somewhere. From a 13-year-old’s perspective they were sophisticated older women.
If you kicked a soccer ball in her yard and went up to the door, she would not open the door. She would talk to you through the door to give you permission to get the ball in the backyard. She didn’t come over and talk on the front porch. She was a very private person and kept to herself. That is how I remember her.
The night she was attacked, my dad and I were coming in the back door as my mom was opening the front door and talking to a lady apparently in her 70s. She was supposed to go out that night with Mrs. Blakey, but the screen door and door to [Gertrude’s] house were ajar and that concerned her friend. She asked if we could come check with her.
We walked around and when we got there Mrs. Blakey was unconscious on the floor inside the door with her feet sightly outside the main door. It looked as though she had hit the back of her head on the floor and there was a pool of blood, she was lying in. When we found her, she was partially on her side.
She was still breathing, but with a very raspy labored breath. My dad and I rolled her over carefully keeping her head immobilized and opened her airway as best we could. Then my dad sent me down the street to a neighbor’s house who was a doctor to get help.
I ran down there; the Doctor grabbed his medical bag and we both hurried back to Mrs. Blakey’s house.
There was a mark on the front of her head like a crease that was less noticeable because it wasn’t bleeding. She looked like she had fallen straight back – kind of like the old Nestea “plunge” commercial where they would fall straight back into a pool. It wasn’t like she collapsed down, but straight back [stiff as a board].
At the time she had a little dog which had tracked pawprints of blood throughout the entryway and down the hall.
Nobody was thinking of foul play at the time. We were just trying to get her help. At some point an ambulance was called, but I don’t remember who made the call. It was a Monday night and at some point, my dad sent me home to get ready for school the next day. My bedroom was closest to Mrs. Blakey’s house, and I remember flashing emergency lights while I was trying to do my homework.
These memories Rob has carried for a lifetime, but he was a young teen. His mother, Renita Shofner has additional adult perspectives she shared, but as with Rob, the Tulsa Police Department have never interviewed her.
Renita Shofner said, I had two other children besides Rob. I was so grateful when my husband Jim arrived and I’m glad I didn’t send my son next door alone after what they discovered. Rob and his dad both went over with the friend of Gertrude.
Jim and Rob, both vividly remember her little dog (that we referred to as her little yappy dog) had left bloody paw prints all over the entry way from where he had run through her blood. Mrs. Blakey was alive when they found her but not communicative at all. Her breathing was labored and gurgling.
We had several neighbors who were physicians and Jim had Rob ran over to a doctor’s house who was just across the street and down about three houses on the west side of Yorktown. He came over and he must have been the one that called the ambulance because Jim and Rob have no recollection of calling. No one had cell phones at that time.
Gertrude was a very private person. We knew her as a neighbor and would see her over the fence, but I didn’t go have coffee with Gertrude or anything like that. I had other neighbors across the street that were Gertrude’s age that we had good relationships with – two neighbors across the street in both directions that were Gertrude’s age and we had good relations with them. She was just a more private person.
I didn’t remember this, but Jim did (we were talking about your article just this morning) that after Gertrude died, a police officer came and talked to him. I must not have been there because I don’t remember that at all. I couldn’t have told you that, but he mentioned that this morning.
I do recall that there was some connection between Gertrude and, what I thought, was a niece by marriage or something that was my contemporary and that I knew, and I do recall that she had access to Gertrude’s house after Gertrude died.
Mrs. Shofner is apparently referring to Beth Kennedy Dunkin who lived approximately three city blocks from the Shofner family and Gertrude. During the interview, Shofner was asked about Dunkin directly, and she then declared that she was a good friend saying, “I knew that Beth was not close to Gertrude, but I knew that after Gertrude’s death, she had some role in resolving the estate. She could give you more information – I couldn’t possibly speak for Beth. But I do know that Beth is well respected. I respect her. I like her. She is funny and she has certainly done a lot of volunteer work in Tulsa.”
Both Rob and Renita Shofner asserted to this reporter that Jim Shofner would interview, but he did not call as promised or return repeated calls. His son, by text, said Jim decided not speak. One can only wonder what changed or who if anyone, may have told him not to speak on this story.
Six months before Gertrude Blakey’s ex-husband who was the trustee of her GMB Trust, Carl Blakey died in 1985, he appointed John Dunkin (Beth Kennedy Dunkin’s husband) the trustee. That appointment certainly implies an active financial relationship. Shofner asked if this reporter had talked with Beth and while this writer had not at the time, an attempt was soon made.
Beth Kennedy Dunkin now lives in an apartment at Trinity Woods (formally Methodist Manor) in Tulsa, but she did not answer calls to schedule an interview. When this reporter visited at her door, Kennedy was not forthcoming. After I introduced myself and identified as a reporter to talk with her about Gertrude Blakey she said:
I have been told not to talk with you. I’m 80 years old, and I do not care to talk to you if you’d like to look further you may call Mr. Daniel or an attorney. Because we’ve just been frightened, harassed, and scared by the whole thing.
Arnett: Well, Gertrude was murdered, and no one’s ever figured out what happened.
That’s not anything to do with me. I have nothing to do with it except I was a Kennedy. So that’s all I can tell you.
Arnett: Did you help clean up the house after she was gone?
I have nothing to say to you.
Arnett: There’s an item on the probate records where it appears you were paid to help clean up.
Well, that’s all erroneous. I’ve never been paid. I never received any money. I’ve never done anything.
Arnett: So, you were a child when she died?
No, I was not a child. I lived at 2894 South Utica. That’s what – I’m not even supposed to tell you that. I had barred her from my house because she was a blackout drunk.
Arnett: I’m sorry.
Well, I’m sorry too.
Arnett: I do hear your husband made great sausage back in the day.
Yes, he surely did.
Arnett: I didn’t mean to disturb you in anyway, but I was and am continuing to investigate.
My heart is just pounding ninety miles an hour because this whole thing has been nothing but harassment. It’s been terrifying to me.
Arnett: How have you been harassed?
I’ve been harassed with emails. I’ve been harassed and my family has been accosted.
Arnett: I’m so sorry, but that is not what I am doing.
I know. You’re an investigative reporter for some newspaper, and I don’t know what you’re up to, but I don’t want anything to do with it.
God bless you.
Arnett: Thank you.
Please don’t come to my door again.
Arnett: I will not.
Thank you, sir.
It is regrettable that Dunkin does not welcome inquiry. Further questions include: Who told Beth Kennedy Dunkin not to talk to this reporter on this story? If a horrific event has nothing to do with her, why not talk about a related victim of an unsolved homicide? Dunkin says she has been “frightened, harassed, and scared by the whole thing” which is odd that inquiry into a murder causes distress, but apparently not the murder itself. Her objection also omits that she engaged in email correspondence with Johnson in 2015. How does she know Sam Daniel and why would she tell a reporter to call him? Was Sam Daniel the one that told her not to talk?
Dunkin’s stated fright from inquiry does mirror that expressed by Sam Daniel and his wife Tulsa Judge Millie Otey in their stalking report to the Tulsa Police Department and the protective order request and as noted in the interview posted in “Justice for Gertrude, Part 1.”
As Daniel says that the murder of Gertrude has nothing to do with him and he and his wife just bought a house, why then is he the point-man for Beth Kennedy Dunkin?
There is no indication in the Gertrude Blakey Autopsy of alcoholism or heavy drinking which would have been present at age 73 if she was a “blackout drunk.” This apparently false charge was first proposed by Dunkin to Johnson by email during their exchange in 2015. Dunkin is the only one saying this about Gertrude. “Even her daughter Ann never said a bad word personally about Gertrude,” Johnson said. Both Rob and Renita Shofner said they never saw drunken behavior or indications of heavy drinking by Gertrude.
Johnson said, I believe Richard and Ann were involved in the murder of Gertrude. In addition, I have been told by my sister Lysa’s foster father, Bob Rodgers, that he had a private investigator investigate Richard and Ann at one time. Richard was a TPD Officer from 1967 to 1975 from records we have been able to find. Richard was removed from the Tulsa Police Department because he and Ann were running a crime ring. Ann was working as a dispatcher for TPD and would have a crew of minions rob some business at night and when the alarms went off, Ann would send the call to Richard, and he would go allegedly investigate. While that may be hearsay, Bob Rogers had no reason to lie to me and lives still in Broken Arrow.
As kids, Lysa and I were not raised at all from the time we were babies. We were left to our own devices and Lysa who is 4-years older basically raised me.
Ann would have the kids stealing prescription pads from doctor’s offices so she could get pain pills or other drugs.
Lysa says she was with the family one day and to distract whomever, they reached over and started abusing Lysa. She started screaming hysterically and that allowed Ann to get away with whatever she was trying to steal.
From stories told to me by his biological father and stepmother and what he has said himself to me, after Everett was accused of molesting Lysa in 1979, Gertrude sent him to Arkansas to live with her cousins by marriage Bruce and Louise Kennedy. The Kennedys soon sent him back because he got caught molesting or trying to molest their daughter. The story Everett tells me is that Bruce Kennedy, walked down the stairs to the basement TV room to discover Everett and Betsy on the couch in ‘a very compromising situation.’ Well, the father wasn’t having any of that and they sent Everett packing back to Oklahoma where he went back to the Tulsa Boys Home and the streets until he went to live with his biological father in Garland, Texas when he was 15 or 16 years old. Everett was never punished and Lysa still suffers.
Arnett: How did the Kennedys and Gertrude deal with that?
I believe the Kennedys immediately began blackmailing Gertrude. You can look at the Probate Court Documents and her Trust Fund Documents and see that they were being changed to benefit the Kennedys. I believe they were doing some of that without Gertrude understanding what they were doing. On the face, the documents look straight forward, but in detail the language used you see the differences. The Kennedys were not intended to be the beneficiaries of her estate. Her trust was changed several times. If Gertrude was going to exclude both Ann and all of Ann’s children, it would have said that plainly.
I believe that the Kennedys had Gertrude’s signature forged on some of those Trust Documents after her death, but her Last Will and Testament is very clear that while excluding Ann, benefits go to Gertrude’s grandchildren. They appear to have committed fraud upon the court to make those changes. For example, asserting that Gertrude died without any other heirs of law other than Ann Blakey Elder. After Everett returned from the Kennedys is when all of that started.
Gertrude was attacked on October 13, 1981, and she died October 21, 1981, at 1:42 am. On October 22, 1981, Gertrude was scheduled to be in Tulsa County Court to testify against Richard and Ann about what was going on with the children. Gertrude’s attorney was Robert Huffman who was also one of the executors of her estate (not Allen Smallwood as Millie Otey alleges in her protective order pleading against me). The other executor was Bruce Kennedy.
The day that Gertrude was attacked you can see in the Probate file that Robert Huffman was one of the last persons Gertrude spoke with. On October 22 when Gertrude was supposed to be in court to testify, Ann was also in Tulsa County Court. Apparently, Ann had been arrested for defrauding the State of Colorado for claiming welfare benefits (food stamps) for all her children then in foster care. I was told that people would not get within 30 feet of her because she smelled that bad.
I believe Gertrude was getting run-rolled by the Kennedys because they wanted control of her stock in T.H. Rogers Lumber Company.
Coming Soon: Justice for Gertrude – Part 3 features a recording of Ann speaking to daughter Carrie about the murder of Gertrude.
Editor’s Note: This report was first published on Arnett.Substack.com and distributed by email to subscribers. David Arnett founded Tulsa Today in 1996 and continues as publisher. He was once a daily reporter covering the city beat for the now departed afternoon paper, The Tulsa Tribune, and has been a paid contributor for many print and broadcast news organizations.
Arnett has won two national awards as a First Amendment Advocate, hosted a radio talk show for a year and currently provides communications consulting to select private and public organizations. He served as public information officer for the now completed Vision2025 projects and, as downtown forgot the reason for the season, organized the Tulsa Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills in 2011. Arnett attends the Anglican Church, brews his own beer, plays music and is a fourth generation Tulsan with family he dearly loves and critical thinking friends of good humor and merciless wit.