Arthur Covell

Photo added by Phyllis (Porter) Zegers

Arthur Covell

Arthur's cremated remains were never taken after his death and are still available at the Oregon State Hospital to be claimed by anyone who is related. More information is available at A book by David Maisel and a documentary by Ondi Timoner & Robert James, both entitled "Library of Dust" also provide more information.

Arthur was born in Geuda Springs, Kansas in 1879. He was the son of Charles Covell and Isabelle Letts. His father was born in Ohio and his mother was a native of Kentucky. They married in 1874. Charles was about 42 and Isabelle was about 15. Arthur's siblings included Fred (born in Kansas about 1876), and Belle (Colorado about 1886).

At the time of the 1880 census, Arthur was 5 months old and living with his parents and older brother, Freddie in Salt City, Sumner County, Kansas. In 1885, Arthur was living with his parents and brother in Hinsdale, Colorado where his father was a miner. In 1906 Arthur was arrested in Oregon for stealing rope from a ship.

During the 1910 census, Arthur lived in Bandon, Coos County, Oregon with his parents, his sister Belle, as well as his niece, Lucille Covell and nephew, Alton Covell (both children of Arthur's brother Fred). Arthur's father was not employed. It seems Arthur supported the family doing odd jobs. He was consistently employed.

At the time of the 1920 census, Arthur was said to be a single dairy farmer south of Bandon in Two Mile, Coos County, Oregon where he was the head of the household that included his widowed mother, his single sister, Belle Covell, as well his nephew, Alton Covell (age 12).

Arthur's sister, Belle, was 34, single and unable to read or write. She had partial paralysis of her left side (perhaps cerebral palsy). On 2/21/1922, Belle was place in the Oregon Institution for the Feeble Minded in Salem. She died there on 2/17/1927 and her cremains have not yet been claimed. (See memorial # 68407509).

About 1921, Arthur sustained a broken back from a car accident. His nephew Alton became responsible for caring for his Uncle. On 9/5/1923, Alton said he returned from working on the farm and found his step-mother, Ebba Covell, dead from strangulation with a broken neck and multiple bruises. This was Fred's 4th wife. Arthur called his brother Fred (Alton's father) and told him to come home from his chiropractic office. Initially Fred and Alton were arrested. At first, Arthur was not suspected and was placed in the Coos County Home because there was no one left at home to take care of him.

On 10/9/1923, Arthur was interviewed by a criminologist from Seattle and confessed to plotting to kill and steal from many of his neighbors and area tourists. It was his plan to tutor his 16 year old nephew Alton as a serial killer. The timing of the plans was based on Arthur's study of astrology. Alton, an intellectually challenged young man, confessed to the actual murder of his step-mother by smothering her with an ammonia soaked rag. Arthur's niece, Lucille confessed to helping move the body after the murder. The children said they did it at Arthur's instruction.

Arthur asked not to have an attorney appointed and he pleaded guilty to first degree murder, confessing to have been the master-mind behind the killing. The motive was that Arthur's sister-in-law "knew too much" about their plans to go on a murdering spree. Arthur was later allowed to change his plea to not guilty. The trial was held in November 1923. Throughout the trial Arthur was lying on a cot in front of the jury box.

Arthur was found guilty after a short deliberation. Before his execution, petitions were circulated to pardon Arthur. Dr. Nina Wood spoke about the Covell case and efforts to abolish the death penalty. Coincidentally, she was committed to the Oregon State Hospital and her ashes are unclaimed. (See memorial # 119195182).

Arthur was hanged at the penitentiary on 5/22/1925. Another man, Llewellyn Wilson Peare, was sentenced by the same judge and hanged on the same day. His ashes are also unclaimed. (See memorial #120143437).

In December 1923, Alton was sentenced to life in prison. In the 1930 census Arthur's nephew Alton was an inmate at the state penitentiary. He was 22, single and worked as a cook. Alton was pardoned in October 1934. By the time of the 1940 census he had been released and was living in northern California. Alton died in Texas in 2002. Lucille married Ray A. Venen in 1927 and later married glen Moats. She died in 2005.

Family Members






  • Maintained by: Phyllis (Porter) Zegers
  • Originally Created by: jessicado
  • Added: 15 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 68407525
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Arthur Covell (14 Dec 1879–22 May 1925), Find A Grave Memorial no. 68407525, citing Oregon State Hospital Patient Memorial, Salem, Marion County, Oregon, USA ; Maintained by Phyllis (Porter) Zegers (contributor 47125324) .