At the corner of 10 East 21st Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, there is what used to be a parking lot. There is a set of old stone steps leading off the lot into the street. These steps are the remnants of one of the most evil female serial killers you may have never heard of: Carolann Smith.
It is difficult to truthfully record all of Carolann’s history of crime; not much is known about her before, during, and after her crimes. And her list of potential victims wasn’t unearthed ...until law enforcement found the two captives in her basement…
Opal Mary Carey was from Indianapolis, Indiana. She was using the name Carolann Mary Smith when her husband Fay H. lost his job about 1934. Sometime in 1934, Fay was found dead with his face blown off and a shotgun
nearby. None of his friends or former
coworkers thought he was suicidal, but Carolann and Fay had discussed in depth
his suicide as an option to end their financial woes. It left Carolann with a
$31,000 payoff. The landlord was not a fan of Mrs. Carolann Smith, so he raised
the rent just to get her out. The ploy worked and the 51-year-old widow packed
up and moved into a bigger duplex, a lovely brick home at 10 East 21st Street
near Main in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
|Carolann Smith liked living the |
high life (Tulsa World File)
At the time, perhaps it didn’t seem strange. Or maybe it was just a coincidence or foul play that could not be proven. But wherever Carolann went, people dropped dead. The investigator working Fay’s suicide case died. Carolann’s sister also passed during this time period. The records as to cause of death no longer exist.
Carolann decided she wanted her father to move in with her. He resided in St. Louis. She invited him, telling him the duplex was just too big for her alone. He agreed, and she made several trips to help him pack and get his affairs in order. One of those affairs was to take out an insurance policy naming her as the beneficiary. Her father never made it to Tulsa; he died. Carolann collected a nice lump of cash by way of an insurance payoff. No one person could put all of these deaths together and find an unusual pattern. While Carolann Smith was planning all of these funerals, the officiant who had to organize them also died.
Carolann Smith was living in the 21st street duplex in February 1935 when a woman burst out of the door and ran
screaming across the lawn. She ran down the few stone steps blindly into the street where she was struck by a car. The victim was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to her injuries days later. Carolann told investigators that the poor woman’s name was Beulah Walker, a nurse that worked in Carolann’s home. Multiple efforts were made to reach Beulah Walker’s family to no avail; Carolann told the investigators she would be happy to handle that. After all, Beulah Walker had a large insurance policy and Carolann was the beneficiary. But when she was sitting in the insurance office, Carolann told them Beulah was her beloved - and wealthy - aunt, which created a higher payout. The insurance company didn’t buy it. They investigated and discovered poor Beulah was a lowly servant who Carolann treated like a dog and paid crumbs. The company canceled the policy. All was not over, however: the man who was driving and killed Beulah was dead soon after. It is said he was tight-lipped about this very shady incident.
|Side view of 10 East 21st St. in Tulsa, OK circa 1944. |
The balcony from where Carolann supervised the
dog's burials. (Tulsa World File)
Thirty-one-year-old Virginia Evans was from a prominent family in Stroud, Oklahoma. She had the misfortune of meeting Carolann Smith in 1937 at a Christian Science bookstore. The two women struck up a friendship. After a year or so, Carolann asked Virginia to move in with her, which she happily did.
Seven years later, Virginia would say she was “hypnotized and mesmerized” by the older woman.
Thirty-year-old Willetta Horner met Carolann at grocery store, where they talked occasionally. Willetta eventually told Carolann about her bad childhood. Later, Willetta would say she and Mrs. Smith had a “mother-daughter” relationship. She also thought Carolann adopted her when she moved in at the duplex.
It was wartime, which means items across the United States had to be rationed. Families were meted out ration books, which were used to purchase certain items. When the ration stamps were gone, the family had to wait until they received another book. The bigger the family, the more ration stamps they received.
|Virginia Evans and Willetta Horner were kept |
as slaves for seven years (Tulsa World File)
The Rations Board felt this was a suspicious case, so they turned it over to the local police department to investigate. The Tulsa police began interviewing neighbors, and they got an earful – enough to get a search warrant on 10 East 21st Street, especially when a neighbor reported seeing two women burying coffins in the backyard by the light of the moon, with Carolann Smith overseeing the project from her balcony. Then those crazy screams and growls coming from their apartment at all hours…
The graves turned up to hold dog remains, to include “Bobby” / “Bonbon.” It was inside the house where the most horrific sights awaited.
|From The Post, 1944|
Carolann had created her own religion and carefully studied mind control and brainwashing techniques. She had Virginia and Willetta convinced that if they did not follow Carolann’s orders, they would be doomed to hell. Like all cult leaders, she was using religious teachings with her spin, charisma, isolation, fear, and intimidation. “She put a hex on us,” One of the captives told law enforcement. That got to the press. The house will forever be known as “The Hex House.”
|10 East 21st St. in Tulsa, OK today. Note the original stone steps in front.|
As the investigator dug further into her past, they found the trail of death Carolann left in her wake, none of which could be proven.
In October of 1944, Carolann Mary Smith AKA Opal Mary Carey was found guilty of inducing Virginia Evans and Willetta Horner to testify falsely against a neighbor. She was sentenced to one year in prison. In November 1944 she pled guilty to purgery, mail fraud, obtaining money under pretenses, and using false statements to obtain a ration book (for Bonbon); she received probation. “In my opinion, I’m sane,” she told the court.
Upon release from prison, Carolann left Oklahoma and disappeared from the public eye.
The “Hex House” at 10 East 21st Street was destroyed in 1975, the basement filled in. It was a parking lot for a while and tales circulate of it being haunted. The old stone steps Beulah Walker ran down into the street are still there, the only witness to one of the most evil female serial killers you may have never heard of, Carolann Smith.