A fractious marriage deteriorated to murder in March 1933 in North Powder when a woman hacked her husband to death with a hatchet, then tried to cover up the crime.
Warren W. May, 42, a farmer living five miles southwest of North Powder, was murdered sometime during the night of March 27, 1933. His wife, Rose May, 30, told police that she awakened around midnight and, finding her husband gone from their bed, went in search of him. She said she found his body just outside the front doorstep. May had been struck several times on the right and left sides of the head with a heavy object.
But investigating officers found some discrepancies with Mrs. May’s story. Officers found a blood-soaked pillow covered in a clean pillowcase, and the blankets were soaked with blood. Two pillows had been washed the morning after the killing. And a hatchet with blood and hair on the blade and the handle was discovered secreted behind a cupboard.
The Mays’ two children, Lloyd, 7, and Juanita, 5, said they didn’t waken during the night. They were being cared for by the Baker County juvenile judge.
According to neighbors, the Mays had a violent quarrel three weeks before Mr. May’s death. He was shot in the left arm with a revolver, but conflicting stories of the shooting were offered to investigators. Mrs. May said her husband shot himself while cleaning the gun. Young Lloyd May said his father was shot while struggling over the gun with his mother. Warren May told a neighbor shortly after the shooting that he was shot accidentally by his wife, and that the argument was “all his fault.”
Rose May was arrested on suspicion of murdering her husband, and arraigned on a first-degree murder charge. However, Rose May was judged insane by Baker County Judge Charles Baird, and was committed to the state mental hospital in Pendleton on March 30.