On July 10, 1942, the 20-year-old wife of William Brown, a Tulsa trucker, was strangled and raped in her Main Street apartment, on Tulsa's north side. Pregnant at the time of the attack, the victim had been six days from delivery of her child, who also died in what authorities would call a double homicide.
Six months went by before the next attack. Clara Stewart and her married daughter, Georgina Green, were sharing an apartment in the general neighborhood of the July attack, while Georgina's husband served in the army. Police suspected that the man who beat them both to death and raped their corpses one December night was drawn by the naturally red hair of his victims, a trait they shared in common with the wife of William Brown.
Another redhead, Panta Lou Niles, became the next victim on May 15, 1945. Bludgeoned in her sleep, by a man who entered through her open bedroom window, she was also raped after death. The killer was still in her room hours later, when a friend phoned to wake her for work. Alarmed at the sound of a man's voice on the line, the friend hung up and called police, but they arrived too late to bag their man.
A simple-minded drifter, Henry Owens, was arrested on suspicion in the latest homicide. Previously booked on charges of sexual assault, Owens agreed to a polygraph test but the results were inconclusive. He was still in custody when the killer struck again, on July 1, 1948.
Breaking into an apartment, the attacker clubbed the female tenant, her 12-year-old daughter, and a teenage girl who was sleeping over. Police reported that the girls were partially undressed and an "unnatural sex act" was performed on the woman before a neighbor arrived, drawn by their screaming, and put their assailant to flight. Two blocks away, he invaded the home of Ruth Norton -- another redhead -- fatally beating his last victim before raping her unconscious body.
This time, a witness came forward and offered police a description of Norton's attacker, including the piece of advice that he "looked like a truck driver." A survey of local trucking companies revealed that Charles Floyd, a driver known for his obsession with redheads, had quit his job on the morning of July 2. Police broadcast descriptions, leading to his ultimate arrest in Dallas, on November 22, 1949.
Despite assertions of "confusion," Floyd supplied detectives with substantial details of the crime known only to the killer and police. A lifelong "Peeping Tom," Floyd said that voyeurism sometimes failed to satisfy his cravings, and on those occasions he was moved to violence. Panta Niles had been a special target, fond of stripping down before an open window; Floyd had watched her for a period of weeks before lust exploded into rape and murder. Psychiatric testing and the subject's low IQ saved Floyd from the electric chair in Oklahoma.
On confession to the string of rapes and murders, he was packed off to a mental institution, where he subsequently died.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial
Killers - Hunting Humans
M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex.
Voyeur rape-slayer of redhalred females attacked in homes; authorities
counted death of a nine-month pregnant victim as a double murder
DISPOSITION: Declared insane;
committed to asylum, 1949