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Old News Stories
Bones of Six Found in Fire Debris, 1942

From The Chatsworth Times
Nov. 5, 1942

Mark Pulliam Charged With Murder of Wife and Children

The charred remains of a mother and five children, victims of a fire and possibly murder, were buried in a single casket Wednesday afternoon at Sumach cemetery. The dead are Mrs. Mark Pulliam, 36, formerly Miss Winnie Charles, and her five children, Alvie Jean, 11; Katherine, 9; Martha, 7, and Wayne and Worth, 3 year-old twins. Burned beyond recognition, their bodies were found Monday morning by neighbors who discovered the Pulliam's two-story frame house, located in the Ball Ground district, had been destroyed by fire.

Mark Pulliam, 34, husband and father of the victims, was arrested Monday by Sheriff John Morrison at Rocky Face where he was employed as a logger at a sawmill. Held on a charge of murder at the order of the coroner's jury, Pulliam was kept in the Murray county jail until Monday night when he was taken to the Fulton county jail in Atlanta.

Ella Mae Hall, of Dalton, formerly of this county, was arrested Monday night by Whitfield county officers for questioning. She was later moved to Fulton tower in Atlanta and charged with being an accessory before the fact.

The Pulliams also had three other children who were not at home at the time of the fire. Mozelle, 14, and Lovell, 5, were visiting their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John Charles, in Gordon county at the time. Mark, Jr., 16, who worked at the sawmill with his father, had spent the night with an aunt in Whitfield county.

Serving on the coroner's jury which first investigated circumstances of the tragedy were Sam Kelly, Justice of the Peace and acting coroner, Dr. E. H. Dickie, W. W. Shelton, Walter Scott, A. J. Childs and J. H. Mashburn.

After examining the torso of the dead woman found on a fragment of bedding which apparently escaped the fire because it was soaked with a dark substance believed to be blood, Dr. Dickie stated, "this woman undoubtedly has been slashed across the stomach with a knife."

An open knife and a charred shotgun were found near the bodies. Dark stains, which may possibly be blood, were found in the yard.

Mozelle and Mark Pulliam, Jr., swore before the coroner's jury that their father had threatened "to kill us all."

T. W. Kenemer, of Dalton, executive of a Whitfield county insurance company, told investigators and newspaper reporters that four months ago Pulliam had policies in the aggregate of $2,400 issued on the lives of the twins and a third child. These policies expired Saturday. Early Sunday night a man and woman who failed to identify themselves paid premiums on these policies to Tom Smith, a Kenemer employe. In Atlanta Wednesday Smith identified Pulliam and Miss Hall as the couple who made the payments.

Following her arrest in Dalton, Ella Mae Hall, according to Deputy Sheriff Tom Crow, stated that she had spent Friday night and Saturday with Pulliam in Chattanooga, returning to Dalton Sunday, and that she had not seen Pulliam after 8 o'clock Sunday night.

In the Murray county jail Monday afternoon, Pulliam, sitting on a cot with his knees drawn up to his body, wept into a white handkerchief and said, "Damn it, no," when asked if it was true that another woman caused estrangement between him and his wife.

He knew nothing of the tragedy, he declared, "until the law came for me."

When arrested at Rocky Face, Pulliam asked, "what do you want me for, John?" Sheriff Morrison said. Told that some of his family had been burned, Pulliam reacted to the news with silence for a long time, officers said, then, approaching town, he remarked, "I thought just as much of my family as any damn man."

Pulliam told a Chatsworth Times reporter here that he had held no wish to destroy his wife, that he spent each weekend with his family, living in Dalton with a sister (name illegible), during the week, and commuting from there to his work.

Major Pulliam, brother of Mark Pulliam, told The Times that the logger had made a small crop this fall, then gone to work at the sawmill. He expressed the belief that his brother had known nothing about the tragedy until the sheriff told him.

Pulliam told reporters in Atlanta he had spent Sunday night with his wife, that she had arisen at 3 o'clock cooked breakfast for him and kissed him goodbye. Mrs. Moore, a neighbor, testified at the inquest that she had stayed with the family until 11 o'clock Sunday night and that Pulliam had not been there. Pulliam's brother testified that Pulliam had come to his house, a few miles away, early Monday morning and got him to take him back to work.

Pulliam also told Atlanta reporters that he did not know the woman that had been arrested in Dalton in connection with the case.

Tuesday brought investigators from the State Fire Marshal's office and Insurance Underwriters Association, as well as Solicitor-General J. H. Paschall to this county to look into the matter. Representatives from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation came Wednesday with equipment to make scientific investigations of certain angles of the case.

The case will be tried at the regular February term of Murray superior court unless Judge John C. Mitchell decides to have a special term. Col. R. Noel Steed is legal representative for Pulliam.

Guards stood watch over the embers of the Pulliam home Monday and Tuesday until state investigators arrived.

Although crowds were around the ruins all day Monday and Tuesday, only relatives and friends attended the funeral of the mother and children Wednesday.

Three of Mark Pulliam's brothers and three of the dead woman's brothers served as pallbearers. The Rev. Casey of Casey Springs, was in charge of the service and Kenemer Brothers, funeral directors, made arrangements.

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