Murder Victim. She was kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered by David C. Stephenson, then head of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, a strong political leader and considered a contender for President of the United States. The sensational case sent him to prison for most of his life and destroyed the KKK in Indiana. Born Madge Augustine Oberholtzer in Clay City, Indiana, she grew up in Fulton County, Indiana. After earning a degree as a teacher, she worked for the Indiana Department of Education in the Indiana State Program for Literacy, helping illiterate adults learn to read. She also taught black children how to read. One evening in 1924, she attended a dinner at the Governor's mansion, where she met David Curtiss "D.C." Stephenson, and he was instantly attracted to her. Madge would go on two dates with D.C.; on the second date, he revealed that he was the Grand Dragon (state leader) of the Indiana Branch of the Ku Klux Klan. Incensed, she immediately broke off the relationship. On March 27, 1925, Stephenson called her, and asked her to come to his home about a new, important job. When she arrived at his home, he overpowered her, forcing her to drink several glasses of alcohol (she was a teetotaler), until she became sick and nearly passed out. Stephenson then had two of his bodyguards carry her into a car, where she fainted. When she awoke, she was on Stephenson's private train, on its way to Chicago. There he raped her several times, also mutilating her, until she blacked out. In Chicago, he let her and his body guards go to a drug store under the guise of purchasing some feminine hygiene items, where she purchased mercuric chloride tablets, and when no one was watching, she swallowed six of the poison tablets. When she was discovered vomiting blood that night, Stephenson waited until the next afternoon (nearly 24 hours), and when she didn't recover, he had his two bodyguards rent a car and drive her back to her parents' home in Indiana, where they dropped her off late that night without an explanation. Her parents immediately called a doctor, but there was little he could do. Madge told her mother what had happened to her, which her mother wrote down, and Madge signed her confession. Madge died on April 14, and Stephenson was indicted on charges of kidnapping, rape and second-degree murder. At his trial, the doctor who had examined her testified that the injuries she received during her rape would be sufficient alone to kill her. He described her wounds as similar to having been "chewed by a cannibal." The doctor also testified that since Stephenson had failed to seek immediate medical attention for her once he discovered she had taken poison, choosing to wait over 24 hours before returning her to her parents, he had made certain that she would die. Stephenson was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The resulting scandal destroyed the KKK in Indiana; within the next two years, the Indiana KKK lost over 178,000 members, becoming virtually non-existent.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson