Annie Beatrice “Toni Jo” <I>McQuiston</I> Henry

Annie Beatrice “Toni Jo” McQuiston Henry

Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
Death 28 Nov 1942 (aged 26)
Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA
Burial Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA
Memorial ID 12689552 · View Source
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Annie was known as "Toni Jo." She was the third of 5 children. Her mother died when she was 6, of tuberculosis, and her father later remarried. She begged an Aunt to let her live with her, not liking the new domestic arrangements. She got a job at a Macaroni Factory when she was just 13. But was fired when they found out her mother had died from Tuberculosis. Which seemed odd, if that's what she believed or told others. Unless in those days little was known about certain diseases and they were afraid she'd start an epidemic. When she got home that day, she was beaten by her father and left home for good, never looked back. Taking a wrong course in life, downhill from there. She took to smoking, drinking, and pot, and associated with underworld figures, she was drawn into prostitution. She had been arrested several times while in her teens, including assaulting a man. In 1939 she met Claude Henry, known as "Cowboy." They married on Nov. 25th, 1939. He succeeded getting her off drugs. She had become addicted to cocaine. They went on a honeymoon to Southern California. Soon thereafter he got a telegram from Texas to appear in court on a shooting charge. Toni pleaded with him to go on the run with her, but he declined and faced the charges. In January of 1940 he was sentenced to 50 years at Huntsville Prison in Texas.

Toni Jo immediately made plans to spring her hubby from Prison. She was residing in Beaumont, Texas at the time, to be near her husband, Claude. She teamed up with a young man named Harold Burks, who went by the name of "Arkinsaw." Or "Arkie" for short. Arkie was presently AWOL from the Army. They planned to steal a car and rob a Bank. They armed themselves with pistols. On Feb. 14th, 1940, posing as newlyweds, they came across Joseph P. Calloway. He was delivering a new Ford V8 Coup to a friend, the good samitarian seen the young couple walking, offering them a ride. They drove onwards to Jennings, Louisiana where Joe's friend lived. After passing through Lake Charles, Louisiana, Toni Jo pulled a gun and ordered him to drive down a side road off the main highway. She had him stop the car, get undressed, needing his street clothes for her husband, after she sprung him...and ordered him in the trunk. Farther down the road, they pulled over, she walked him through the field to some haystacks, had him kneel, and shot him in the head at close range, killing him instantly.

The next day her partner deserted her as she slept in a roadside motel, taking the car and clothes with him. Eventually a friends relative told Toni to confess, since Toni confided in that person. She took the Police to the body and handed over her revolver. Her accomplice was eventually tracked down and charged too, they would have seperate trials. She was sentenced to death and became the only woman to get the Electric Chair in Louisiana. Her photo on top right was taken the morning of her execution.

* NOTE: * FAIRYNOTPRINCESS sponsored this Memorial on April 11th, 2008. Thanks for remembering this person. A very tragic story. She deserves to be remembered.Murderer. She will be remembered as the only woman to be sentenced by death in the electric chair in the State of Louisiana. She had been convicted of the death of Joseph P. Calloway on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1940. Born Annie Beatrice McQuiston, she was the third of five children. Her mother died when she was six years old and her alcoholic, abusive father soon remarried. At the age of thirteen, she was taken from school to work in a macaroni factory, but was fired when the manager learned her mother had died from contagious tuberculosis. After her father had beaten her for something she could not help, she left home for good. Some sources alleged that her step-mother had used her to make money from men. She stayed with her aunt for about a year before she was on her own. At the age of 14, she soon learned the only way she could make money was by prostitution, which led to drug abuse by the age of 16. Soon she was associating with members of the Louisiana criminal world. It was at this point she changed her name to Toni Jo. She was arrested several times during her teens including once for assaulting a customer, but since she was a minor, she never was sentence to prison. In 1936 Toni Jo met Claude “Cowboy” Henry as a customer at the brothel where she was employed full-time in Shreveport, Louisiana. She was a raven-hair petite beauty. Although he did help her stop her drug habit, he had a criminal record and was on bail awaiting a second trial for shooting an off-duty police officer in a bar fight. The couple were married on November 25, 1939 in Louisiana with Toni using her birth name on the license. For the first time in years, she was off drugs and had a person to provide food and shelter for her. After a short honeymoon in Southern California, Cowboy heard that his second trial was scheduled in Houston, Texas. Scared, she wanted to run, but he wanted to returned for the trial thinking the man's death was an act of self-defense. He was found guilty, and in January 1940 he was given a 50 year-sentence in the prison at Huntsville, Texas. Toni Jo was very overwrought at hearing the sentence vowing to get him out of prison She was not thinking another trial but a jail break. This vow caused her to embark on a series of criminal acts for a hopeless cause. Staying in Beaumont, Texas to be near Cowboy for visitations, she met Harold Finnan Burks or “Arkie” as he was called. He was absent-without-leave from the United States Army and had earlier served a sentence at Huntsville too. He became her accomplice for an ill-fated attempt for Cowboy's escape from Huntsville. After getting two guns with only bullets for one, the two planned to steal a car and then rob a bank in Arkansas to pay for the expense of the jail break. Seeing the beautiful Toni Jo hitchhiking, Joseph P. Calloway, a Good Samaritan, stopped to give the couple a ride in the new Ford V8 Couple that he was delivering across the state line to Jennings, Louisiana. After driving into the isolated countryside, the car pulled over, Calloway was stripped naked, taken off the road into a field, and shot pointblank in the head killing him. Depending on whose story you believe, Tony Jo shot him or “Arkie” did. Fifteen dollars was stolen from his wallet. The couple then drove to Camden, Arkansas, booked a hotel room, and at this point the couple separated. Toni Jo said she hit Arkie in the head with the gun and ran, but Arkie said he drove off in the car while she was asleep. Using the stolen money to go back to Shreveport to her aunt's house, Toni Jo was arrested there. She gave the gun used in the crime to the police and took them to the body. The bullet used to kill Calloway was recovered at the autopsy and did matched Toni Jo's gun. The car was soon found abandoned in Arkansas. She was charged with first degree murder, “Arkie” was soon arrested, and it was decided that they were to be tried separately. Toni Jo's first trial opened in Lake Charles on March 27, 1940; she was represented by two tax lawyers assigned to her defense by the courts; the jury deliberated for six hours; and in a total of two days, she was found guilty of murder with mandatory sentence of death by hanging. She appealed on the grounds that the “trial judge had permitted conduct prejudicial” to her case and was granted a retrial which took place in February 1941. “Arkie”, who had already been found guilty, testified against her and the jury took only an hour to convict her. Again she heard the death sentence pronounced on her and again she appealed and won. By now she was becoming a newspaper celebrity with a fan-base following her trials. Her third hearing was held in January 1942 with the same results. This time the court saw no reason to overturn the lower court, but her lawyers challenged the constitutionality of her sentence. Toni Jo had been incarcerated in Lake Charles prison in Calcasieu Parish. She was scheduled to be executed on Saturday, November 28, 1942 at 12:05 PM in the basement of the Lake Charles prison using Louisiana's portable electric chair, which had been brought by truck from Angola Prison the previous day. Hers would be the 6th electrocution in the state. During her incarceration, she had become close to Father Richard and became a Catholic. Her last request was that a crucifix be left in her hand when she was buried. Some sources state she was buried in an unmarked grave in a Potter's field, but Father Richard officiated at her burial in a cemetery in Lake Charles and designed the headstone for her grave. In 2013 the movie, “Pardon,” was released telling this story from her point of view. The credits stated that everything that happened in the courtroom during the trials was true. “Savage Wisdom” a novel by Norman German was based on Toni Jo's life, but took liberties with the facts. A TV documentary aired September 10, 2016 in the 10th season of “Deadly Women” was another attempt to tell her story in the 3rd episode, “Bad to the Bone.” Cowboy was released from Huntsville Prison in a few years but killed in a bar fight in 1945.

Planning a visit to Orange Grove Cemetery?

  • Maintained by: Brian
  • Originally Created by: Bonnie Fortney- Wichita, Kansas
  • Added: 15 Dec 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12689552
  • fairynotprincess
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Annie Beatrice “Toni Jo” McQuiston Henry (3 Jan 1916–28 Nov 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12689552, citing Orange Grove Cemetery, Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by Brian (contributor 48651109) .