An Early Ouachita Parish Murder Mystery

               While reading through the old Ouachita Parish newspapers a few years back, I found an article written by John T. Faulk about a bloody murder that had happened over fifty years earlier around 1818.  The article appeared in the Ouachita Telegraph, November 12, 1870. 

               Stephen Wood Maddox, who eventually bought the land that became the town of Indian Village, came to Ouachita Parish from Virginia sometime before 1814.  According to Mr. Faulk’s article, he was married to Miss Milly Baker.  For some reason, their marriage was not legal and when they found out, they amicably separated.  Stephen then married Patsy Dunivant on July 26, 1817.  The couple settled one mile away from Stephen’s former wife Milly.  In 1818, Stephen was called back to Virginia on business.  It would be the last time he would ever see his wife. 

               The two women seemed to get along.  On Patsy’s last day on earth, she was visiting Milly.  The two women were spending the day carding and spinning cotton into thread to make cloth for clothing.  It was a rainy, dreary day.  Patsy’s mother’s slave named Joe came to the door and addressed her.

        “Miss Patsy, you had better go home, for you know it rained to-day, and your house leaks badly, and your things are wet.  Sure you ought to go home and take care of them.”

        Patsy replied: “I will go when I see fit.”

               Three times he asked her to come home, and three times she refused.  Finally, after supper, Patsy and Joe went home, using a burning pine torch to light the way.  The next day, neighbors came to visit her at her home but found her missing.  One began to walk the trail between Patsy and Milly’s homes.  Half-way down the road, a large pool of blood was found with signs of a struggle all around the area.  A few yards away, the upper half of Patsy’s body was found.  The rest was found one hundred yards away.  Apparently she had been pregnant, because an infant was found nearby, covered with Patsy’s apron.

               News of the murder spread like wildfire through Ouachita parish.  The first person under suspicion was Milly.  She was arrested by the Sheriff and taken to jail.  She was nearly lynched.  Everyone thought she was guilty.

        A prosecutor was sent from New Orleans to try the case.  Twelve men were selected for the jury.  According to Mr. Faulk, eight were Frenchmen, one was English and three were Americans. Mr. Faulk stated he was one of the twelve.

        Mr. Faulk stated that both sides made strong cases for and against.  He wrote, “Since that effort of forensic strength I have heard nothing to equal the efforts made on both sides.”

               At noon on the third day of the trial, the case was given over to the Jury for deliberation.  A Mr. Breard, probably Alexander Breard, was appointed foreman.  He put the all important question to the jury.

        “Well, fellow-jurors, I expect you are all tired enough; I know I am.  What is your opinion in this matter?  I wish to know.”

        One replied: “Mr. Breard, you are the foreman, and I think we are entitled to your opinion, and I ask it of you.”

        “And so do I,” and “So do I,” others said; and thus the request went round for the foreman’s opinion.

        “Well, gentlemen, I must say I can do nothing else but find Milly Baker guilty, as charged in the indictment.”

        So, I think, all proclaimed to believe but one.  He answered:

        “Gentlemen, maybe I am wrong to differ from you, but I differ from you, if it is your opinion that Milly Baker murdered Patsy Donivan.”

        “Whom, then, do you think did that act?” asked a juror.

        “Gentlemen, that is another matter.  It is not my privilege to say who did it.”

               The fourth day came and the jury stood eight to four in favor of conviction.  There was a great feeling against the four holdouts and tempers were beginning to flare.  On the sixth day, the verdict of “not guilty” came.  Most believed Milly got away with murder.  It is not known what eventually happened to her.

               Forty years later, Joe lay on his deathbed.  As he lay dying, he confessed that he was the one that brutally murdered Patsy.  The last line of Mr. Faulk’s article states, “To whom did he confess it?  To Judge Lewis F. Lamy.”

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