Parents see Clifton King Commit Suicide After Wounding Mrs. Rodgers.
Quarreled about Ride
Rosemark Farm Manager Shoots Inamorata and Sends Bullet Through Own Brain When She Denies Him Lift to Town
Denied the right of a ride to town with Mrs. Hugh T Rodgers, 33, his alleged inamorata, Clifton King, 48, manager of the Rodgers farm at Rosemark, stood on the farmhouse porch in the presence of his aged parents yesterday afternoon and committed suicide after shooting Mrs. Rogers.
Mrs. Rodgers is in a serious condition at Baptist Hospital. Doctors contain? little hope for her recovery. She is a widow and the mother of three small daughters.
One of the three bullets fired from a range of six feet from a .38-caliber revolver, pierced her abdomen. She fainted in the driveway where she was standing. King placed the smoking muzzle to his right temple and fired. His body toppled from the porch to an oak grove near the drive.
Body Left in Yard
Dr. C.C. Chaffee of Brunswick, took Mrs. Rodgers to the hospital after administering a hypodermic. King’s body was left lying in the grove. There was nothing that a doctor could do for him.
An emergency operation was performed on Mrs. Rodgers last night by Dr. Eugene Johnson while the three little girls, the oldest only 12, sat in the sun parlor on the floor below without realizing the slenderness of the thread by which their mother held to life in the operating room above.
Miss Mary Ella Davidson, 20, niece of Mrs. Rodgers, who was at the farmhouse during the tragedy, told reporters that she and Mrs. Rodgers were preparing to go to Brunswick to do some shopping and that King, who had the car keys, wanted to go along.
“I’m going! See!” King said.
“No, you’re not.” Mrs. Rodgers replied. “Give me those keys!”
Shoots Self Through Head
“With that,” said Miss Davidson, “he walked in the house and came out with that gun. He walked to the edge of the porch and he fired three times at my aunt. Then he shot himself through the head and fell out on the lawn.”
King, who was married and the father of two grown children, had been manager of the Rodgers’ farm for almost two years. He had lived at the farmhouse following the death of Mrs. Rodgers’ second husband. Hugh T. Rodgers, 69, wealthy Rosemark farmer, who died under mysterious circumstances, and whose body was exhumed by order of county authorities last spring to be examined for traces of poisoning.
Nieces of Mr. Rodgers, second husband of Mrs. Rodgers, became suspicious of the circumstances surrounding their uncle’s death and were also suspicious of her relationship with King. Mr. Rodgers died of convulsions on last March 4, and Mrs. Rodgers, herself, told doctors that prior to his death, her husband had been bathing his feet in a mercury solution.
Poison Probe was Dropped
“If death was due to that poisoning, it had to be taken internally.” Dr. Chuffee said at the time. But analysis was made at city laboratories, no trace of any poisoning was found and Attorney General McLain dropped the investigation.
Mrs. Rodgers’ first husband, Archie Moore, Halls, Tenn., mail carrier, died of a nervous disorder in the Bolivar asylum four years ago. A short while later on Dec. 15, 1927, Mrs. Rodgers, who had moved to Memphis, married the elderly Mr. Rodgers.
It was Mr. Rodgers who first contracted with King to manage his $15,000 Rosemark farm, and King continued in his capacity of manager while tongues in Rosemark wagged, even after the death of Mr. Rodgers.
King’s wife, who made her home at Normal, left Memphis Thursday night for St. Louis, where her mother is seriously ill. King also leaves a brother, C.S. King, of 895 Kensington, a married daughter, Mary Louise and a son, W. C. King.
The three children of Mrs. Rodgers are Frances, 12, Dorothy, 10, and Norma, seven. The children were all in school at Brunswick when the tragedy occurred. King’s Aged parents, Mr. and Mrs. William King were at the doorway when their son ended his life after firing at Mrs. Rodgers. yesterday was Mrs. King’s 79th birthday, little Dorothy said.
Miss Davidson, the niece left her home in Pine Bluff several days ago to spend the Christmas holidays with Mrs. Rodgers, who is her paternal aunt.
“When my papa died, ” Frances the oldest girl said, “I went to the Masonic school at Nashville. My papa was a Mason, and he lost his mind because he was always going around and around on his mail route at Halls.”
Hospital Waiting Room
“Lord,” said Miss Davidson looking at Frances wristwatch, “it has been more than two hours now that she has been in the operating room. I wonder what they are doing to her?”
“I don’t know,” said Frances, “but I wish she would come out.”
“There has been something the matter with Clifton (King) for two or three days,” Dorothy volunteered. “He has been going around with his head hanging down all the time – like he was worried.”
Neither the children nor Miss Davidson seemed to grasp the situation or even to realize that King was dead. His body is at the J. T. Hinton & Son funeral parlor, awaiting the completion of burial arrangements.
[The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., Saturday, December 19, 1931]