Justice for Gertrude, Part 3
Previous editions (Part 1, Part 2) reported Gertrude Marshall Blakey (73 years) was murdered at the front door of her Tulsa home October 13, 1981. Forty-one years later, it remains an unsolved homicide. Wealthy, but reclusive Gertrude was well known to never open her door for people she did not know. So, who did she know that struck her head 4 times with a blunt object?
Gertrude was found with her feet partially extending out of the door as she had fallen straight back, lying in blood pooled large enough for her little dog to track blood throughout the entryway. There was no apparent robbery. This was a targeted killing. Gertrude’s only daughter Ann Elder is the prime suspect, and you can hear Ann talk about the murder with her eldest daughter in a recording featured later in this story.
At the time of Gertrude’s attack: No one called police, not those who found her, not emergency personnel who transported her, not nurses or doctors who treated her for eight days before Gertrude died at St. Johns Health Center in Tulsa nor family. From the autopsy report, police were notified of the crime. They told Marshall Johnson, Gertrude’s grandson who has investigated the case his entire adult life, that as officers first arrived, relatives had hired a truck with Gertrude’s money (according to probate records), and were removing Gertrude’s personal property after apparently cleaning the crime scene prior to probate.
Gertrude was attacked the week before she was to testify against her daughter, Ann, and son-in-law, Richard, over the abuse of her grandchildren. Ann and Richard Elder’s criminal attorney at the time was Allen Smallwood, who was also mentioned by Attorney Sam P. Daniel III and Judge Millie Otey’s in a protective order request in 2021 (Justice for Gertrude, Part 1) against Johnson.
Otey’s statement dated June 27, 2021, said that she and Daniel bought Gertrude’s house with approval from the Tulsa County Probate Court also noting, “There was some kind of Trust involved; I later learned that well-respected attorney Allen Smallwood, had been the Trustee. Although I knew Mr. Smallwood, I did not know anything about his clients or any of his legal business.”
Smallwood said, “I represented [Ann Elder] in some criminal accusations, yes. I was the Trustee of the [Mabel Marshall] Trust and that was the first time I met Ann, in 1981, and she had some criminal issues after that in which I represented her.
“I foolishly agreed to take over as Trustee and did that until 2008 – 2009. For the grand sum of $2,500 a year I put up with a lot – hundreds of phone calls from Ann Elder. She was just bad and why I stayed in the thing I don’t know, but I did. She had all kinds of problems. She was probably a lousy parent and, in my view, was just not a good person. I couldn’t affect that. I would try, but I couldn’t affect that.
“The major problem that Marshall [Johnson] and I had,” Smallwood said, “He considered himself to be a beneficiary and that he and his siblings had a right to a portion of anywhere between $45,000 and $100,000 a year in proceeds, which were distributed semi-annually. We had two judges construe that Trust agreement. I see Ann Elder as the only direct beneficiary during her lifetime and her children as contingent beneficiaries. Correct me if I am wrong. Both Judges Edward Hicks and David Winslow said [Ann] is the only beneficiary during her lifetime.
“Marshall would never accept that and he said he was going to sic all kinds of lawyers and accountants on me, and I said bring them on, but bring a checkbook because you are going to end up paying attorney’s fees if you do this. He even went to the U.S. Attorney’s office as late as a year ago – nine months or so trying to get them to indict me for something… Those findings are in the Trust file if you want to go find that thing. I assume that is still available. I think Marshall ended up being the Trustee after everybody died.”
Taking seriously Attorney Smallwood’s advice, this writer checked the Mabel Marshall Trust which states in Article IV (c) “From and after the death of Mabel R. Marshall and my daughter, Gertrude M. Blakey, the Trustee shall, preferably monthly, pay or credit such portion of the income of this Trust to and among my said granddaughter, Ann Lee Blakey and her then living issue so long as my said granddaughter shall live, as in the exclusive discretion of the Trustee is necessary or proper for the care, comfort, support, medical attention, maintenance and education of said beneficiary or beneficiaries; provided, however, if Ann shall have additional issue all such issue shall become a beneficiary hereunder in the same manner and to the same extent as the other issue of Ann. “
Apparently Smallwood, as Trustee, missed that section and now stands corrected.
According to the probate record, one of the last people documented to have spoken with Gertrude was her attorney and an executor of her estate, Robert Huffman. The other executor was Bruce Kennedy. The grandchildren were dispersed with three kids going into DHS custody then soon transferred to foster families. While the grandchildren were included in Gertrude’s Last Will, no one represented them in Probate or Trust proceedings.
Johnson remembers Gertrude at her home holding his head in her hands while locking eyes to tell him, “Everything will be okay.” She knew he was being abused. Johnson’s DHS intake reports 96 fist sizes bruises on his body. Gertrude was the only tender, loving, honorable adult Johnson knew as a child and he has spent a large portion of his adult life to discover what happened to her.
Gertrude’s only daughter, Ann Elder, told Johnson she was raped by a Kennedy (one of many cousins) when she was 12 years old. Apparently, Ann was forever twisted by that criminal abuse. While Ann once ran into her burning house to rescue a newborn, once her children were able to walk, Ann lost interest and near age children raised each other.
Johnson is not untouched by the abuse he suffered. This reporter finds him highly intelligent, quick witted, but prone to belligerence if someone lies to him. Johnson has an absolute perspective on right and wrong. He believes law enforcement, officers of the court and family both close and distant have often lied to cover four different evils; Gertrude’s murder, invasion, and pillage of her estate (with two trust funds), failure of the state to represent minor grandchildren, and the cover-up.
Johnson said, “In 2008 is when I started looking into the possibility Ann and Richard were involved in Gertrude’s murder. Late that year or early in 2009, I asked Carrie, my oldest sister, to call Ann. What I have been told by Everett and Carrie (two oldest siblings) is that Ann and Carrie were two criminal buddies. Ann would not speak with me because I was beginning to piece together what had happened to Gertrude by talking to family and reviewing records. Carrie called Ann to get her talking and record whatever she said. When Carrie emailed the recording to me, I immediately provided a copy to the Tulsa Police Department (TPD).
“To me, the recording sounds like two people who knew exactly what had happened and Ann was trying to figure out what Carrie’s angle was, and Carrie was trying to get Ann to admit stuff she shouldn’t. In that conversation, Carrie foils her own plan and admits that she knew about plans for the murder prior to it happening. The two key points clear in the recording are first, that Ann says clearly, ‘we got my mother’ and second, that Richard, who was an over-the-road truck driver, ‘was in San Francisco.’ Listening to Ann talk and knowing her, you can tell she dumbs up and starts talking like a child, obviously, to play events down.
“I took the recording to TPD because I believe, flat out, that it is an admission of murder. It doesn’t name all the parties, but it is an admission of murder. That was about the time I was trying to reach out to Attorney Sam Daniel and [Judge] Millie Otey to find how Gertrude’s home came into their possession,” Johnson added.
The recording begins with the voice of Carrie talking about Johnson “not acting very well” as in being difficult, then transitions to the murder.
Carrie: I’m sorry. I can’t help it, but the Tulsa Criminal Investigation, Homicide Division, has called me and Marshall. And they have just point blank said if we do not cooperate with them, we’ll go to jail.
Johnson says police never threatened jail. Next, Carrie pushes Ann for more detail but states an untruth that “Gertrude had a hatchet in her head” and Ann agrees. Had they been told by, or had they instructed the killer to use a hatchet? Gertrude was killed by a “blunt instrument” according to the autopsy – a cutting instrument would have left a far different injury.
Ann: What now?
Carrie: They are not after you. They are after Richard. They know that you are sick. I told them that you can’t really remember from one day to the next, but they need some kind of help to get her murder solved and the main person they are looking at is you and Richard because you-all were married, but they really want Richard. They really think Richard set it all up because he even – remember when we were in Colorado when I was pregnant right before you had to go to Tulsa to fight for parental rights?
Carrie: And you got thrown in jail and I was watching Wendy and I went into labor and Richard and Allen and Bill were all there and Richard offered Bill and Allen $5,000 apiece to kill Grandmother [Gertrude] and I talked with you about it cause I was scared, and you told me you didn’t know nothing about it. Allen and Bill came to me and told me about it. It scared the shit out of me that Richard would do something like that, and Bill said his [Richard’s] main objective was getting ahold of her money.
Carrie: Do you remember that?
Carrie: Do you have any idea if Allen was near or around Richard about the time grandmother was murdered? Because I have a funny feeling Allen did it, momma.
Ann: Allen? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Allen is trying to find out about me.
Carrie: What do you mean Allen -Allen Peoples? That is who I am talking about mom. Bill’s brother. Remember Richard offered him and Bill $5,000 apiece in Colorado to kill grandmother.
Here is the clip.
If, as Carrie declares on her own tape, she knew about a murder plan, then she was a part of the conspiracy regardless of the details or execution of the crime.
TPD has not been forthcoming with any request by Johnson or any one of his several attorneys. They have not been in anyway supportive of his private investigation. However, Johnson has engaged a Federal Attorney in his state of residence and filings are expected within days according to Johnson.
When litigation is filed, it is expected as a Civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Case. “RICO charges rely on proving a pattern of behavior, rather than specific crimes, they are generally easier to prove in court.”
This writer has spoken to Johnson’s attorney who declined specific questions prior to filing.
To date, this writer has focused on the murder of Gertrude. Future stories will cover remaining issues. Gertrude was attacked October 13 and died October 21. Today in 2022 it has been 41 years ago. What happened to Gertrude? What happened to the wealth? Why were minors not represented in court and by whom and to what extent did an apparent coverup prevent this case from being solved? Will we find #justiceforgertrude.
Your comments on this series are welcome below.