Twenty-two-year-old Grover Blake could never recall exactly why he had taken the claw hammer from the kitchen closet that March morning of 1908 and bashed in his mother’s brains. He had only wanted some of her secret stash for a friendly game of cards. Considering how much Louisa Blake, 46, adored her only son, she probably would have given him what he wanted had he merely thought to ask.
Blake had been out drinking all night before he stumbled home that morning, murdered his mom, freshened up, and dashed out to meet a buddy at an uptown Anderson bar before heading out of town. Traveling north, he made it to Fort Wayne before he was caught by the Madison County sheriff and his deputies.
Her testimony, coupled with Blake’s previously clean record, influenced the judge, who spared Blake from the gallows, sentencing him instead to life in prison. The next year, Blake’s father, William, asked the Indiana Parole Board to pardon his son. The elder Blake futilely asked again in 1913, 1914, and 1918. In early February 1920, Grover Blake died of the Spanish Flu, thus, in a sense, granting his pardon. Blake was laid to rest a few days later in Anderson’s West Maplewood Cemetery next to his mother. His father joined him 18 years later.
I visited the Blakes on May 29, 2017. Had I not done my research, I never would have suspected their terrible story. ... Sweet dreams. •
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