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Mrs. Lilly Gardner Kills the Wife of Her Paramour in 1900 Bibb County – Part II

Part II of the sensational event that took place in Bibb County 1900.

(Transcribed from The Centreville Press, Centreville, Alabama, June 21, 1900)


Of Mrs. Gardner and Festus Caddell

The preliminary trial of Mrs. Lilly Gardner and Festus Caddell charged with the murder of Mrs. Mamie Caddell was held on Monday before Justice Tom Holmes and Judge W. L. Pratt at the court house in Centreville.

The attorney’s for the defense Messers Ellison & Thompson, put in a plea of not guilty and insanity. Festus Caddell had no attorney, but plead not guilty. The evidence introduced by the state was very damaging to the defendants. The defense introduced no evidence.

The state was represented by J. M. McMaster, W. S. Cary and W. W. Shortridge.

The first witness placed on the stand was Mr. McMaster.

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J. M. Master – I was in the house on the day and at the time Mrs. Caddell was killed. Prior to the killing, a warrant was sworn out by Mrs. Caddell, charging Mrs. Gardner with adultery, I went to the Caddell residence at his request; Mrs. Gardner was there. I told them if they would leave the state that the prosecution would not be pushed. Caddell said he would take his gun and kill his wife and he would have something to be arrested and go to hell for. Mrs. Gardner said she slept in the same bed with Festus Caddell. I was at the house on the day of the killing. Mrs. Caddell came to the house to get her clothes. Festus Caddell cursed her and said, “I told you not to come here. I hope I will meet you in hell, and Mrs. Caddell remarked: I hope I will meet you in Heaven, and that you will reform and be a better man.” I suggested that she leave the room and she did so. Caddell told his wife that Lilly would be there the next day and for her to come and ger her —– clothes.

Caddell came after me the next day in a buggy, telling me that I would not be detained long. Mrs. Gardner came in while I was there. Mrs. Caddell came in shortly with Willis Jones, Pomp Peyton and Ed Morrison. Jones is a deputy sheriff. Caddell cursed his wife and told her to get out. Mrs. Caddell pulled her pistol from her belt and told him if he used that language to her again she would kill him. Caddell then walked away and the woman placed the pistol back in her belt. The officers commenced searching the house, and Mrs. Gardner protested against searching through her effects. I told her the warrant gave the officers the right to search everything in the house, and if necessary to break the locks. While the officers were examining the contests of the trunks, Mrs. Gardner would occasionally remark, is this or that yours in a friendly way. Felix Caddell was in the back room and stepped to the door and called Mrs. Gardner in the back room, he said something to her in a quick and excited tone of voice. I don’t know what they said. Mrs. Gardner returned and picked up a waist and handed it to Mrs. Caddell and as she took it she snatched the pistol from her belt and fired two shots in rapid succession. Mrs. Caddell fell to the floor and expired without speakin (sic) a word.

H. P. Davidson My name is H. P. Davidson and I live in Blocton. I know the defendants. I did not know, Mrs. Caddell. Pryor (sic) to the killing I had a conversation with Festus Caddell. He said he would kill any one that interfered with Mrs. Gardner and himself.

Pomp Peyton – I saw Mrs. Caddell when she was killed. Was shot by Mrs. Lilly Gardner. Festus Caddell said something to me several times before the killing, about killing his wife. A couple of days before the kiling he told me he would kill her if he had to waylay her on the roadside and kill her with a stick. I have heard him say a half dozen times he would kill her. Never heard Mrs. Gardner threaten Mrs. Caddell. I went to the house with Willis Jones on the day of the killing to assist in the search. Mrs. Gardner handed Mrs. Caddell a waist and snatched the pistol from her belt and fired two shots in rapid succession. Willis Jones caught her arm after the first shot. Mrs. Gardner said nothing at the time about being crazy. Caddelll never came to his wife’s side, but passed by looked at her and started as if he was going to the woods. He was called to and returned. I brought Mrs. Gardner to Centreville.

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All the other witnesses testify to substantially the same thing, and on account of space it is impossible to give. The defendants were remanded to jail without bail.

(Transcribed from The Centreville Press, Centreville, Alabama, November 1, 1900)

Mrs. Lilly Gardner and Festus Caddell were arraigned on Wednesday. Mrs. Gardner is defended by Col. Sam Will John of Birmingham, who stated that on account of the impossibility to have some witnesses who are in Florida at this term of court, he desired a continuance. Mrs. Gardner will remain in jail until the next term of the Circuit Court Caddell’s trail is set for Monday, Nov. the 6th. The court appointed C. D. Glover and W. H. Logan to defend him.

(Transcribed from The Centreville Press, Centreville, Alabama, November 15, 1900)

The case of the State vs. Festus Caddell, charged with murder, was called on Monday morning and both sides announced ready. Monday was occupied in drawing a jury, and the following jurors were selected: Elisha Mayfield, G. A. Smith, T. A. White, J. T. Clark, J. A. White, S. L. Clark, A. L. Briles, W. A. Jones, J. M. Greathouse, W. T. Steele, Jas. Mitchell, and O. L. Thomas. The examination of witnesses was begun on Tuesday morning.

(Transcribed from The Centreville Press, Centreville, Alabama, November 22, 1900)


Verdict of the Jury After Being Out 36 Hours

The Caddell case has finally ended, after a week’s trial, the jury reaching a verdict on Saturday morning. The jury after being out thirty-six hours brought in a verdict of guilty and sentenced Caddell to hang by the neck until dead.

As soon as the jury rendered their verdict the Judge ordered Caddell to stand up and asked him if there was any reason why the sentence of death should not be passed upon him. He stated that they testified to things that never happened. The Judge then sentenced him to be hung by the Sheriff of Bibb county on Friday, December 28th, 1900. His attorney took an appeal to the supreme court.

The editor of The Press visited Caddell after he had been returned to his cell. A photographer was present and asked Caddell to sit for his picture. He remarked that he was not seeking notoriety and that he had rather not have his picture published.

He talked freely about his case; said he had been convicted by perjured witnesses who swore to things that never happened. He said he wasn’t afraid to die, but hated to be convicted for something he did not do. He thanked his attorney, Mr. Glover, for the interest he had taken in his case, and said that he had done all in his power. He looks broken and worn out from his long trail, and held up until he reached the jail, where he fave way to tears. He said he did not want his wife killed and intended to leave the county in a short time.

The Press man then went to Mrs. Gardner’s cell and she consented to talk. She said she had been ordered by attorneys and friends not to talk.”My husband and friends would not let me go on the stand and I was weak enough to be persuaded by them. They told me that my evidence would do no good and that I would not be believed. Festus did not tell me to kill Mamie, and nothing was said about killing her in that back room. Festus was trying to get me not to go into the room knowing my excitable condition. My God, I am dying of a guilty conscience. My heart feels like a ball of fire. Festus says he has forgiven me, but God will not.”

Mrs. Gardner was weeping and walking up and down her cell. She seemed to think if she had gone on the stand she could have cleared Festus Caddell. She said, “An innocent man had been convicted for another’s crime.” Festus Caddell and Mrs. Gardner would excite the pity of the strongest one sentenced to death, and the other awaiting trial for murder. But sympathy cannot lead the better judgment of man. Twelve men have said he was guilty of murder and set his punishment at death. Mrs. Gardner said she preferred death to confinement, a stricken conscience, and an unknown fate. Her cell shows that it is inhabited by a woman. A tame pigeon sat in the window drooped up, as if grieving with her mistress. In a few moments of anger and rashness has brought two souls nearer to eternity. Verily the “way of the transgressor is hard.”

Caddell’s sentence has been suspended to await the action of the Supreme Court.

Caddell Gets the Death Penalty

The trial of Festus Caddell at Centreville, charged with the murder of his wife, Mamie Caddell, at Blocton, May 29, ended Saturday with a verdict of murder in the first degree and a sentence to hang December 28. The trial was had before Hon. John Moore, Judge of the fourth judicial circuit.

(Continued in PATRON + Mrs. Lilly Gardner Kills the Wife of Her Paramour in 1900 Bibb County – Part III)

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