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Toni Jo Henry (January 3, 1916 - November 28, 1942), (née Annie Beatrice McQuiston), was the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair (for the murder of Joseph P. Calloway).

Contents

Early life

Born near Shreveport, Louisiana, she was the third of five children. Her mother died while she was a child. She worked in a factory, but later found her way into the employment of a local brothel as a prostitute. Petite, young and very attractive, she was very popular with many men. She soon became a regular user of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

Marriage

In 1939, she met Claude 'Cowboy' Henry in the brothel where she worked. A down-on-his-luck prize fighter, Cowboy fell in love with the young prostitute. Married on November 25, 1939, the couple honeymooned in southern California. During this time, Cowboy was able to wean his bride off her various drug addictions. Upon returning from California, Claude Henry was arrested for the murder of a Texas man prior to their marriage. He was found guilty in January 1940 and sentenced to fifty years in the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Texas.

Murder of Joseph P. Calloway

Toni Jo then began contemplating plans to break her husband out of Huntsville Prison. She and Harold 'Arkie' Burks murdered Joseph P. Calloway after he offered to give the two a ride, apparently believing that the victim's Ford V8 Coupe would make a suitable get-away car. As they passed Jennings, Louisiana, Toni Jo pulled out a .32 caliber pistol and ordered Mr. Calloway to drive down a country road. She then ordered him out of the car and to undress. After Burks collected the clothes, she told the victim to kneel down and say his prayers, then shot him once in the head. She later was interviewed by a Shreveport police officer, during which she confessed and disclosed the location of the body.

Trials and appeals

Her first trial was held from March 27-29, 1940. After deliberating for six hours, the jury convicted her and sentenced her to death by hanging. Her accomplice was later convicted and sentenced to death. She appealed and was granted a new trial. The second trial occurred February 1941. After an hour of deliberations, she was again convicted and sentenced to death—and again appealed and was granted a new trial. The third trial occurred January 1942. Again convicted and sentenced to death, she appealed, but this time her appeal was denied.

Execution

While pending her trials, Louisiana changed its method of execution from hanging to death by electrocution. Toni Jo Henry was executed on November 28, 1942. The DA was Griffin T. Hawkins of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Toni Jo Henry Music Project

[1] The band LENNART from Munich, Germany, known for their "popumentary" called concept albums made a record around the life and death of Toni Jo Henry. All the royalties go to Amnesty International.

Books

A Savage Wisdom, a novel by Norman German, was inspired by the life, crimes and legends of Annie Beatrice McQuiston, née Toni Jo Henry. Kindle Edition available - [2]








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