Laura Taylor Renfrow Ferguson

From The Jena Times

Thursday, Jan. 26, 1939

Farrell not wanted in Laura Ferguson Death

Sheriff Thompson discredits many wild rumors circulated after woman found dead in her home.
(Contents of stomach sent to Shreveport for analysis, no report expected efore Saturday or Sunday according to advice from Sheriff's office)

Sheriff Barlow Thompson in a statement issued today discredited rumors that are rife regarding the death of Mrs. Laura Ferguson, 45 year old widow, whose partly nude body body was found lying on the floor of her home in the Eden community last Friday night. Mrs. Ferguson had apparently been dead for a day or two when her body was found by a son, Henderson Renfrow, who came home from a "CCC" camp to spend the weekend. Renfrow went to the home of Mrs. Joe Whatley six miles away and Mrs. Whatley notified officers.

According to an interview given a Times reporter, Sheriff Thompson & Deputy Blake went to the home of Mrs. Ferguson after being notified and with the coroner and undertaker spent about five hours searching the premises and looking for evidence that might indicate foul play but none was found. There was a bruise over the woman's right eye, but the skull was not fractured, and it could have very easily been caused from a fall.

Parish coroner, Dr. J. A. Gaharan, suggested to Sheriff Thompson that there was a possibility of death from poisoning, and the contents of the woman's stomach were carried to Shreveport by Deputy Blake for analysis. The analysis will be made by Dr. Willis P. Butler, coroner of Caddo Parish and a report of his findings will likely be received here not later than Saturday or Sunday and at present the verdict of the coroner's jury is being withheld.

Contrary to reports appearing in some daily papers, Sheriff Thompson states that George Farrell, with whom Mrs. Ferguson was last seen alive, is not missing and his whereabouts have been known ever since her body was discovered. And he is available at anytime. He further stated that his office had not suspected Farrell in the connection with her death.

Mrs. Ferguson, daughter of Mrs. Henry Taylor, was born at Summerville and had resided in that community all her life. Funeral services were conducted at the Eden Methodist Church Sunday, Jan. 22 by Rev. Crain, with interment in the Belah Cemetary under the direction of Riser & Upshaw Funeral Home of Jena. The deceased is survived by her mother, a number of brothers and sisters, and four children.

Two pages over in the same paper was the following obituary:
Mrs. Laura Taylor Ferguson, who was found dead at her home in this community, was buried here at Belah Sunday afternoon.

February 2, 1939

Woman's Death From Natural Cause Is Belief

Sheriff Barlow Thompson received a report Saturday from Dr. Willis P. Butler, pathologist and coroner of Caddo Parish Shreveport on the examination made of the contents of Laura Ferguson's stomach. According to Sheriff Thompson there have been no further developments in the case to date, and the report from Dr. Butler appears in full below:

Dr. Willis P. Butler
Box 201
Shreveport, LA
Report on examination: Stomach and contents
Jan. 28, 1939
Laura Ferguson, w. female - Deputy W. D. Blake
Jena, LA__________________Dr. J.A. Gaharan, coroner
I received a quart jar containing the stomach and contents from Deputy W. D. Blake, at my office in courthouse, Shreveport, Louisiana January 23, 1939. The jar was duly closed and labeled in my presence. Examination of contents showed early digestion of approximately two or three hours duration, and containing chili, butterbeans, greens and other portions of digested food with acid reaction normal to digestion. No blood was present. No poisons of any kind were detected. No escharotis or caustic actions were noted. Pathological examination of tissue section dos not show any disease, trauma, or other injury.

Findings: partly digested stomach contents without pathology or poison.
Willis P. Butler M.D.