Episode 12- Ouija Board Murder

In 1933 fifteen year old Mattie Turley shoots and kills her father. Her reason? She was ordered to by a Ouija board.

Listen to “Ouija Board Murder” on Spreaker.

It was the fall of 1933, two women sat at a table, the only light coming from the flickering flame of a lamp. The women, Dorothea Turley and her 15-year-old daughter Mattie, had their hands on a small wooden planchette, it was slowly moving around a Ouija board. Mattie began to read out each letter.

Who-who must kill him mommy?

Dorothea Irene Kelynack was born 1895 in Loverpool England. When she was a year old, her family immigrated to New York on the Ship Lucania, unfortunately, nothing else could be found about her childhood.

When Dorothea was 21, there was a competition called “Miss American Venus”. Over 50,000 women from across the world competed. It was a completion to see whose measurements was closest to that of the statue of “Venus de Milo” She entered the competition, and with her being the closest, was crowned the winner.

This brought a lot of attention to young Dorothea, and she loved it. She received letters from all over from men, pleading for her time and affection, somewhere handsome, others were rich. But one man, wooed her to the point where the other men didn’t matter. Ernest J. Turley, he was young, handsome, and an officer of the United States Navy, his personality captured her. The two were married in 1918.

In December of that year, the couple welcomed a baby girl they named Mattie. Despite being out of the public eye, Dorothea received letters and telegrams congratulating her on the wedding and the birth of their daughter.

The couple moved to Boston shortly after and were incredibly happy with their life. But as the years came and went, Dorothea stopped receiving letters from admirers, and was no longer being stopped in the street. While this change in admiration hurt her. She was still happy, she had her baby girl who adored her, and soon she had a baby boy that they named David.

The Turley family moved to Coronado California after Ernest had retired from the Navy. With the new changes, Dorothea remained happy for a few more years. But slowly, Dorothea started to become bored with her life in California. With Ernest’s change in salary, she was no longer living the life she grew accustomed to, she turned to the occult and bought a Ouija Board. She hoped it would give her the comfort she needed. But instead of happiness, she became ill. Dorothea started suffering from sinus problems. A friend had suggested to try Arizona, since the air was dry, it would be good for her.

After talking with Ernest, the family decided to go to Arizona for an extended vacation. Before they left, Ernest had gone out shopping for supplies, when he came home, he had two new shotguns. One for David, the other for Mattie. The children were excited about the trip, they couldn’t wait to go hunting and fishing. Even Ernest seemed eager to go saying that he “Might even bag a mountain lion.”

In August of 1933, the family travelled over 600 miles to the mountains of Arizona. They found the perfect spot, it was high in the White mountains. The cabin they rented was a little run down, but they made do. Something slowly started to change in Dorothea, whether it was the isolation, sickness or her longing to be admired again. She soon began to feel resentment. By September, Dorothea was having multiple séances with her Ouija Board, wanting any comfort it could give to her.

One day, while Dorothea was exploring the woods, she discovered some rock with picture carvings, she went back home and consulted her board. It told her that buried underneath the rock was gold, that she needed to dig. She talked to her husband, and told him there was gold out there, eager to please his wife, he went out and started to dig, then he used dynamite. But nothing could be found. Confused, Dorothea went back to her board and learned that a mistake had been made. He became furious that he was taking the word of a Ouija Board.

After a couple days, things seemed to cool down and Ernest took Mattie and David out to Hunter. Before they left Dorothea took her daughter aside.

Don’t forget your promise Mattie.

Yes mother, I won’t forget.

Later that night, they returned home after the hunt. Mattie looked disappointed and apologized to her mother.

I’m sorry, I fell down on my promise.

No matter, you’ll have another chance.

On the night of November 17th, a skunk had gotten underneath the house and started a fight with their cat. The noise and smell kept them awake that night. The next morning Dorothea and David had gone into town to buy supplies for David’s birthday party and told Mattie to stay behind to help her dad catch the skunk.

I won’t help him catch it, but I might shoot it.

Mattie and her father worked on a few chores and on their way back Ernest grabbed a bucket and headed towards the corral to milk their cow. Mattie following behind. Suddenly a gunshot rang out. The shot hit Ernest in the back and he collapsed, he turned to see Mattie on her need with the gun in front of her. She quickly scrambled over to him.

Oh-h-h-h, Daddy have I hurt you?

Go get help, you should be more careful. Let this be a lesson to you.

Mattie rushed to go get help, yelling that she had tripped, and her father was shot. Not long after Ernest was taken to the local hospital, then flown to the US Naval Hospital. He was expected to recover from the wound. Members of the community came to help the family, offering their sympathies. Mattie was still clearly shaken.

While Ernest, and other assumed it was an accident. There was an older Deputy Sheriff who was unsure. One morning he came to talk to Mattie about the incident and she told him what had happened.

Deputy Sheriff:
If you had tripped and the gun went off, why did the gunshot travel downwards instead of upwards Mattie?

After a moment of silence, Mattie broke down. She began to tell a different story entirely.

It was not an accident, I did it on purpose, so mother could marry her handsome Cowboy. I had to do it! Ouija ordered me to- and when the Ouija commands, it must be obeyed.

The cowboy in question was Kent Pearce, a young, athletic, and handsome rancher. He had met the Turley’s when they stopped hear the Village of St. Johns. Kent had showed the Turley family around the area and he helped them find an inexpensive cabin to rent. Dorothea asked Kent to be her guide as they drove through the mountains to see the scenery. Mattie joined them on the trips and Kent brought along Pollard Wiltbank, a boy around Mattie’s age to keep her company. Some of the drives lasted a few hours, others lasted overnight.

Dorothea heard the confession and became outraged. She accused the Sheriff of intimidating her daughter and forcing her into a confession. That there was no affair going on. But Mattie stuck to her story, stating that night when they used the Ouija Dorothea has asked the board “Shall we kill father?” the planchette moved over to the word “Yes” then she asked, “Who should do the killing?” the planchette then spelled out Mattie’s name. Mattie hold them that Dorothea said that she must not refuse the command of the Ouija or she would suffer terribly.

Mattie was sent before the Judge in juvenile court and plead guilty to shooting her father. Dorothea was arrested for the intent to commit murder. Ernest who was expected to recover, took a turn for the worse and on December 26th, 1933, passed away at the Naval Hospital.

January 18th, 1934, Mattie was sentenced to attend and all girls reform school in Arizona. Dorothea tried to fight it, but Mattie said that she killer her father and she wants to pay for it. Dorothea, in jail awaiting her trial which wouldn’t come for another five months.

In June, Dorothea’s trial started, and Mattie was brought in to Testify. She had retold her story about how the board spelled out “Daddy must die” then spelled out her name. The Ouija board story is true, Mattie testified. She said that she agreed to kill her father, but when she pointed the gun at his back, she lost her nerve and dropped the gun to the ground. But then she remembered her mother eye’s and she picked the gun back up and shot both barrels. She said that she was horrified, and panic stricken, that she fell to the ground.

Then Pollack WIltbank was brought in to testify. He said that Kent and Dorothea spent most of their time together, on outings in each other’s arms. A neighbor also testified that Dorothea admitted to loving Kent and wanted to Marry him.

Prosecutors then began to paint a picture of what happened. They told of a woman who was unhappy with her husbands decreased salary and wanted him dead so that she could collect his life insurance policy which totaled $5,000. They had testimony that Dorothea often asked Ernest about his policy and how she could get it if something was to happen to him. Another witness testified that while the couple was out running errands, they started to argue, and Dorothea was overheard yelling “Every time I look at you, I want to kill you!”

That was when she planned to get what she wanted and use her Ouija board to make it happen. Dorothea was able to manipulate the board to make her daughter believe that the only way for Dorothea to be happy was to kill her father, so she could be with Kent.

While, Dorothea may have loved Kent, it appears that he didn’t feel the same. When he was called to testified, he stated that he had to plans to be with Dorothea and marry her. That anything that was planned was solely Dorothea’s doing.

The Final person to take the stand was Dorothea herself. She wanted to tell her side of the story. But she only blamed her daughter.


Mattie was angry with her father and me. We didn’t want her to use rouge or to run about at night with cowpunchers or to cross her legs the way she did or to wear such short dresses. She has been influenced to place the blame for this killing on me because some of the cowboys didn’t like me.

The trial concluded and after a short time later they reached a verdict. On June 10th, 1934, Dorothea was convicted of assault with intent to murder and on July 7th was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. Two years later on June 29th, 1936, Dorothea awarded a retrial of her convictions. She was transferred from the prison to Apache City Jail on July 17th to prepare for the trial. However, on September 11th, Judge Levi S. Udell exonerated Dorothea stating there was “insufficient evidence for a new trial for assault with intent to murder. Due to the death of former Sheriff Haws who had died in an auto accident on September 8th, 1936.

When Dorothea was freed, she tried to reconnect with Mattie who was moved from the Abandoned reform school to a Catholic institution for wayward girl. She had gotten a court order and went to visit Mattie at the institution. She was then handed a note written by Mattie and was told by a supervisor that she didn’t not care to see her. Dorothea was upset and claimed that the institution had poisoned her daughters mind against her. She demanded to see Mattie, they sent someone in to talk to Mattie and asked her again if she wanted to see her mother.

I think not, I believe that it will be better for both of us if I don’t. We should never see each other again.

Mattie was paroled on December 1st 1936, by Superior Judge Levi S. Udell. The state board explained that it was in the best interest of the girl due to her mother’s own conviction being overturned. Dorothea tried to get Mattie’s location, but the information was refused per Mattie’s request. Dorothea filed a $75,000 lawsuit against the School for girl in 1938 for poisoning her daughters mind. But the suit was later dropped.

As far as we know, Mattie and Dorothea never saw or spoke to each other again.

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