Even without the defense — a so-called unwritten law that gives a man the right to “kill another man who has violated the chastity of his home through immoral relations with his wife” — it was a killing oozing with scandal.
Louis E. Parker, a former Savannah, Ga., police officer bent on revenge, tracked his wife and her lover to Dayton, finally spotting him on Christmas Eve 1934.
Parker guns down the lover, Chestnut Payne, with a revolver in front of horrified shoppers and clerks in the lobby of the Postal Telegraph at Third and Ludlow streets.
Dayton History will re-create Parker’s two week first-degree murder trial that concluded in spring of 1935 as part of its Old Case Files courtroom drama series at the Old Court House in downtown Dayton.
The case will be staged July 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 and Aug.4, 5 and 6.
Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday performances are at 3 p.m.
Admission is $12 for Dayton History members and $15 for non-members. Refreshments and memorabilia will be sold.
For reservations or information, call 937-293-2841, ext. 127 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The trial with its twists and turns made front page news in Dayton with a jury of nine men and three women ultimately deciding Parker’s fate on April 11, 1935.
(See clips below of the actual Dayton Daily News articles related to the case and trial. Note: they contain spoilers that give the whole thing away.)
Audience members decide a verdict in the case as part of Dayton History’s re-creation. Some will be placed on the jury.
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ABOUT THE CRIME
According to a Dayton Daily News article printed on Dec. 24, 1934, the day of the killing, Parker wired money to his wife expecting Payne to pick it up.
Parker fired shots with his mother-in-law, 67-year-old Annie Delaney, and son, 8-year-old Louis “Sunshine” Parker Jr., standing next to Payne.
After emptying the weapon of its five shots, Parker stood over Payne’s still warm body and cried: “You’ll never break up another home.”
He later confessed that he killed Payne because he took his wife.
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Parker’s wife, Lolar Parker, had been in Dayton three weeks with Payne, her mother, her son with Parker and Lucille, her 14-year-old daughter from another marriage.
From the Dec. 24 1934 article:
“Authorities said that Mrs. Parker was employed at a restaurant near Dayton and that she was working there at the time of the shooting.
Parker, a motorcycle officer on the Savannah police force since 1928, married his wife nine years ago. He is a war veteran.
The husband said that Payne met his wife several months ago while he was staying at a transient camp in Savannah.
In September his wife left and worked for several weeks in Cincinnati and then returned, Parker said.
He accused Payne of persuading his wife to leave at that time.
A few weeks ago, his wife left and came to Dayton, again to be with Payne, Parker said.
She brought her mother and children with her.
“I couldn’t stand it any longer,” Parker declared. “I followed, and finally caught up with them.”
He arrived in Dayton at 4 a.m. Monday.
Payne was dead by 10:30 a.m.