Episode 378:

Gloved Hand Gesture

The Ouija Board Inspired Murder of Ernest Turley


The Story of Paul Ohtaki and the Internment of Japanese Americans During WWII


Episode 378: Gloved Hand Gesture

This week, Georgia covers the Ouija Board inspired murder of Ernest Turley and Karen tells the story of Paul Ohtaki and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

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The Ouija Board Inspired Murder of Ernest Turley

The Ouija Board Inspired Murder of Ernest Turley Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Oz Seyrek on Unsplash 

Other Images: 

1. Ouija Board (Laura Kuhn / Alamy)

2. Press Democrat article about the murder of Ernest Turley


"38-year-old Dorothea Turley, once a nationally renowned beauty selected as a “modern Venus” by New York’s Evening World newspaper in 1916, was away from her house in Apache County, Arizona, when her 15-year-old daughter Mattie shot Ernest Turley twice in the back on November 18, 1933. Ernest Turley, who was Mattie’s father and Dorothea’s husband, died from the wounds about six weeks later.

Mattie initially claimed she had been trying to shoot a skunk when she tripped and accidentally shot her father. However, when questioned by the sheriff, Mattie quickly changed her story, telling the sheriff that her mother had ordered her to shoot Ernest. Mattie explained that her mother had been having an affair with a younger cowboy, Kent Pearce, and a Ouija board had told Mattie and Dorothea that Ernest must be killed so that Dorothea could marry Pearce. According to Mattie, her mother had told her that she must carry out the Ouija board’s orders and could not be arrested for doing so.
After admitting her role in her father’s death, Mattie pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder and was sentenced to the State School for Girls at Randolph. Dorothea was charged with assault with the intent to commit murder but maintained her innocence. Contrary to what her daughter had said, Dorothea insisted that she had never discussed killing Ernest with her daughter, via Ouija board or otherwise. Instead, Dorothea said that Mattie had shot Ernest because she was angry about his rules and that Mattie was now trying to pin the murder on her.
At Dorothea’s trial in June 1934, the court refused to admit testimony as to Mattie's character. Dorothea was convicted of assault with intent to commit murder based mainly on the testimony of Mattie, and she was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison.
Three years later, on appeal, the Supreme Court of Arizona found that it had been prejudicial when the trial court’s refused to admit evidence regarding Mattie’s character that, if true, would have tended to destroy the belief in her good character. The court reversed Dorothea’s conviction and remanded the case for this reason. The charges against Dorothea were then dismissed."

The Story of Paul Ohtaki and the Internment of Japanese Americans During WWII

The Story of Paul Ohtaki and the Internment of Japanese Americans During WWII Notes:


1. Paul Ohtaki

2. Manzanar War Relocation Camp

3. Walt & Milly Woodward, owners & publishers of the Bainbridge Review newspaper


"The story of how Bainbridge Review publishers Walt Woodward and Millie Woodward defended the civil rights of islanders of Japanese ancestry during World War II may be a familiar one.

Now the large events are rendered in detail in “It Was the Right Thing to Do!” The anthology of newspaper clippings, letters and compelling first-hand reports written was compiled by Paul Ohtaki, who was just 17 when he was “drafted” by Woodward to write a column from Manzanar, the California camp to which Bainbridge’s Japanese-American citizens were removed in 1942.

The anthology has been available in rough form for some time, but was recently bound and made available through the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, the Bainbridge library, the Bainbridge High School library and Woodward Middle School.

The large, 231-page tome conveys the immediacy of the paper itself, comprised as it is of countless photocopies of news stories, editorials and and letters regarding the internment, in addition to personal correspondence. More recent material includes reflections on the internment up to the point of Woodward’s death in March 2001.

“I want to make sure the story is told,” said Ohtaki, now a resident of San Francisco, Calif. “I don’t want these young people not to know the history.”

Ohtaki was a Bainbridge High School student with a part-time job at the Woodwards’ paper when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was among the islanders first removed when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 two months later excluding people of Japanese descent from “militarily sensitive” Pacific Coast areas.

Ohtaki’s book makes clear that, in addition to a finely calibrated moral compass, the Woodwards were possessed of both prescience and an ability to act on insight without hesitation.

The night before Ohtaki, and all other islanders of Japanese heritage were to leave for internment at a relocation center in Manzanar, Woodward hired him to send regular reports back to the local paper.

Ohtaki wasn’t sure he wanted the job.

“In fact I tried to refuse,” he recalls. “I wasn’t a good writer. I wasn’t that responsible.”

Woodward wasn’t having any of that; Japanese Americans might be removed, but they wouldn’t be forgotten.

A column from the camp featuring daily life was a sure antidote, Woodward figured, to the government’s move to demonize people who were friends and neighbors.

Remarkably, the newsman had not only instantly grasped the full context of events that were only just unfolding, but had also crafted a plan that would help reintegrate Japanese Americans into Bainbridge life – and Ohtaki was to play a key part in that scheme..."

Source: “The Friendship That Made Island History” (Bainbridge Island Review) 2004

Georgia's Episode Sources

  1. “10 Chilling Crimes Involving Ouija Boards” by Lauren Cahn (Reader’s Digest)
  2. “DOROTHEA TURLEY” by Meghan Barrett Cousino (The National Registry of Exonerations)
  3. “Ideomotor phenomenon” (Wikipedia)
  4.  “’Kill Your Daddy’ Said the Ouija Board–So I Did!” (The San Francisco Examiner)
  5. “Kill Daddy: The Turley Ouija Board Murder (Ouija Boards Part 9)” by Chris Amandier (Buried Secrets Podcast)
  6. “Mattie Turley to Take Stand” (Arizona Republic)
  7. “Mattie Turley Wins Freedom” (The Arizona Daily Star)
  8. “Mrs. Turley to Get New Trial” (The Arizona Daily Star)
  9. “Ouida” (Wikipedia)
  10.  “Ouija” (Wikipedia)
  11. “Ouija Girl Sentence Due Today” (Arizona Republic)
  12. “Patents” (World Intellectual Property Organization)
  13. “Tap! Tap! New Echoes of the Weird Ouija Mystery” by Jack Martin (The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune)
  15. “The Ouija board's mysterious origins: war, spirits, and a strange death” by Baynard Woods (The Guardian)
  16. “The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie (Smithsonian Magazine) 
  17. “Turley v. State of Arizona, 59 P.2d 312 (Ariz. 1936)” by Alfred C. Lockwood (Arizona Supreme Court through Free Law Project)

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. “Pre WWII – First Japanese Immigrants on Bainbridge Island” (Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community)
  2. Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) website
  3. “In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story” by Mary Woodward
  4. “Bainbridge Island: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII” by Podcasts with Park Rangers: A National Parks Podcast (2018)
  5. “Remembering Paul Ohtaki” (Bainbridge Island Review) 2008
  6. “Nidoto Nai Yoni (Let It Not Happen Again)”  (PBS)
  7. “First Island Baby at Manzanar Born” by Paul Ohtaki (Bainbridge Review) 1942
  8. “Allen, Seized in Raid, Released to Manzanar” by Paul Ohtaki (Bainbridge Review) 1942
  9. “Only What We Can Carry Project” (Bainbridge Island School District)
  10. “Behind the Wire” Library of Congress
  11. “Evacuation” (BIJAC)
  12. “Paul Ohtaki” (Telling Their Stories: Oral History Archives Project) 2008
  13. “Walt and Milly Woodward” (Densho Encyclopedia)
  14. “Walt and Milly Woodward” (BIJAC)
  15. “The Friendship That Made Island History” (Bainbridge Island Review) 2004
  16. “Manzanar” (Read the Plaque)
  17. “The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial” (National Park Service)
  18. “Manzanar National Historic Site” (CIPDH)
  19. “Federal Bureau of Investigation (Densho Encylopedia)
  20. “Natural Beauty” (Bainbridge Island)
  21. “Homicide in camp” (Densho Encyclopedia)
  22. “Perhaps It Was the Sun, But Spartans Looked Lazy” (Bainbridge Review) 1942
  23. “Japanese American internment” (Britannica) 2023
  24. “Teaching Japanese-American Internment Using Primary Resources” by Marjorie Backman and Michael Gonchar (New York Times) 2017
  25. Executive Order 9066: Resulting in Japanese-American Incarceration (1942)
  26. “Bainbridge Island” (University of Washington Libraries)
  27. “Walt Woodward Interview” (Densho Digital Archive) 1998
  28. “Prisoners at Home: Everyday Life in Japanese Internment Camps” (Digital Public Library of America)
  29. “Manzanar riot/uprising” (Densho Encyclopedia)
  30. “Remarks on Signing the Bill Providing Restitution for the Wartime Internment of Japanese-American Civilians” (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum) 1988
  31. “From Wrong To Right: A U.S. Apology For Japanese Internment” by Bilal Queresh (NPR) 2013
  32. “Why Dr. Seuss got away with anti-Asian racism for so long” by Taylor Weik (NBC News)  2021
  33. “5 Examples of Anti-Japanese Propaganda During World War Two” by Lucy Davidson (HistoryHit) 2021