But Arthur had murder on his mind!
The Amarillo attorney & his family were church-going pillars of the community.
Arthur Payne professed moral superiority and contempt for the weaker humans committing all kinds of transgressions.
In the fall of 1929, fate tempted the forty-year-old criminal defense lawyer. The beautiful blonde Verona Thompson filled in as his secretary.
In no time, Arthur became infatuated with the young woman. Thus, the secret romance would soon be the talk of the town, except Eva, his wife, had no clue.
Arthur wanted his freedom to marry Verona, but he was aware of Eva’s steadfast belief in the sanctity of marriage. She would never allow a divorce.
In the 1920s, contested divorces were hard to come by & even harder to live down for a small town prominent attorney if he walked out on his faithful wife & three children.
The story is an actual historical incident.
So Arthur decided that his wife had to die. So he insured her life for $20,000 & began planning her demise.
During the Christmas holidays, he made excuses to retire in separate bedrooms since he felt sick & did not want to disturb Eva’s sleep.
He shut all the windows tightly in Eva’s room. Arthur caused the release of gas jets in the room. It was the first attempt on her life.
But Eva survived & blamed herself for absentmindedly leaving the gas on & turned it off herself later that evening.
Then in 1930, Eva stayed in bed with a bad cough & cold. The concerned husband got the kids off to school & gave his unsuspecting wife eight morphine tablets in a glass of orange juice. Eva fell into a deep sleep.
Four hours later, Eva regained wakefulness & fewer symptoms of the cough & cold.
Arthur’s next brainstorm was to entice Eva to a lookout at a nearby lake with a promise of rekindling their romance and push the car over the cliff with her inside.
He deliberately left the transmission in neutral. However, the car did not budge as Eva noticed it & shifted the transmission back…