Child, 11, Admits Hammering Her Mother to Death

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/April 5, 1940

Officers Quote Her Saying Woman Set Self Afire, Asked to be Killed

 Four in Family Slain

 Authorities Report Some Discrepancies in Her Early Statements

 Los Angeles, April 4 (AP)—Police Captain Edgar Edwards said today 11-year-old Chloe Davis had admitted she hammered her mother to death and smashed her 3-year-old brother’s skull with the hammer to “quiten him.”

Police began questioning the girl after the mother, Mrs. Olita Bjorkman Davis, and three of her four children were found dead in their home. The children were Daphine, 10, Deborah Ann, seven, and Marquis, three.

Accuses Her Mother

Chloe, suffering from a head injury, told police her 36-year-old mother killed the children and then set fire to herself and forced the girl to strike her with a hammer until she “stopped talking.”

After several hours of questioning, Edwards said the girl changed her story that Marquis was dead when she awakened, and that she found her mother striking her young sisters.

Edwards said the girl admitted hitting her brother as well as her moth, but denied striking her sisters.

Chloe said the killings occurred just after her father, Barton Davis, grocery store employee and former Grand Rapids, Mich., resident, left for work.

Pigtails and Blue Dress

Police quoted the little girl in pigtails and blue dress as saying:

“Mama believed demons were after her. She thought she had killed my aunt’s little girl a long time ago.

“She hit me on the back of the head with the hammer. I fought and got the hammer away from her.

“Then she made me help her carry a mattress from the bedroom into the hall. She picked feathers from the mattress and scattered them around her. Then she set fire to her hair and to the mattress. She didn’t have her clothes on.

“She screamed, ‘hit me, hit me. I can’t stand the pain.’

“I hit her about 20 times and then the hammer broke. I guess I must have hit her 50 times.

Phoned for Her Father

“I finally ran to a neighbor’s house and telephoned my dad. They heard me phone and called police.”

Detective Lieutenants Thomas Bryan and B.G. Anderson said they did not believe the mother could have set fire to herself in the position in which she was found.

A policewoman said Chloe, questioned at the hospital where her wounds were treated, was not hysterical and told a frank story, but with several discrepancies in it.