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By Donna Flood
Chapter 28 - Uncle Dean’s Story

Uncle Dean was acquainted with murder. Never did he say he felt this was the way Bertha died, but his paranoid conduct, with his obsession for having guns handy at every turn, spoke for his belief that she didn’t commit suicide. In this instance with his son’s death, he was vocal in his belief that this was planned.

He told the same story and could have been an interrogator but one performed by himself. As time went along he was diagnosed with neurotic anxiety and then on to being schizophrenic. While in the mental hospital he talked of seeing members of his family there. He was so sure of their identity.

“Officer Taylor, my old friend, caught me on the road and told me about my son. He put his arms around me and I wept like a baby. I left right away to go to Mansfield, Missouri where Weldon had been shot.” Uncle Dean always started the story from the beginning.

“I tried to keep Weldon centered. I didn’t want him to leave the ranch, or to get involved with people who would not be a help to him. He knew ranching is a hard business. Why wouldn’t he listen?” On and on were his ramblings and for the love, kindness, and security my uncle had always given me, I repaid him by being there for him, to liste, if nothing else.

My feelings were in unison with what my uncle spoke. Certainly, for all my life I had heard the warnings. We didn’t really know, then, first hand, all the awful things to happen with the Osage, or the sorrows for the children but somehow, while our parents spoke we listened, even though some of the reasoning was skewed with illogical thoughts“You can’t associate with those folks. Whatever danger there is you might well escape, but they won’t. You are responsible for their protection. Would you want to see them harmed just so someone can get through to you?”

This was probably the strongest of the arguments for my staying apart. Of course, if a person meets someone and wants to befriend them, then a strong bond can develop. Why would you ever want them to be hurt? Probably Weldon and Mariah felt safer because they had the advantage and support of their position. I knew where I was as far as that went. Mother made this plain to us. We had no illusions about what the consequences would be if we got into trouble. Mariah had learned the sad realities of making a wrong decision and now, so had Weldon, but he had lost his life in the process. Even though I was not Osage, just by living under their umbrella of hearth and home I became as one of them.

“That situation up at Mansfield, Missouri was so set up. Even an idiot could see the collusion. The staff in the hospital acted like they were seeing a ghost when they saw me. Everything was cut and dried. What was out of order was when a nurse found an opportunity, when we were alone, to whisper to me.” Dean told.

“This man has been dead for a while. He couldn’t have rigor mortis set up like this in the time it took for the ambulance to get him here from where he was supposedly shot.”

omeone else told me the Uncle of Weldon’s wife who shot him had just arrived from California and that he was a law officer. Another uncle was the district attorney and the sheriff were related to her as well. We went through the coroner’s judgement and the crime was called justifiable homicide. I never knew, maybe the coroner was related to them. It was all information for me, unsubstantiated. A strange man in a strange town, the smell of money, who knows what was true and what wasn’t. Where there is smoke, there is fire, though. Something not right was happening.”

“A neighbor of Weldon’s in Bartlesville called me and told me he was unconscious in the back bedroom. When I drove over there from Ponca (about an hours drive,) I did find him unconscious, I thought he was dead then. I cleaned the blood off his head and he rallied.” Dean related the story as if he were seeing the happening in his own mind.

“I think I killed Gwen,” Dean said, Weldon told him.

“No, she’s not dead. A neighbor has driven her home. They took your car.”

Dean told his son. “What in God’s name has caused this?

“I went crazy when they told me the baby was not my son!” I started to drink and I just went nuts. She fought me and must have hit me on the head after I passed out. Anyway, I don’t remember her hitting me.”

Weldon was blurry in his thinking.

“Looks like you’ve been hit with this iron. It is all bloody.” Dean told him.

“Why didn’t I take him to the hospital?” Weldon’s father was remorseful.

“He didn’t want to go, but I could have called an ambulance. Someone besides myself should have seen what had happened in that house. Why? Why? Why? Why didn’t I? He didn’t want me to but I could have left and called, anyway. When he began to come around, I did leave and came back to Ponca City. I should have stayed there with him.” These were the thoughts to torture the man until he died.

“Did you notice at the funeral home he was shot on the right side of his face and head? Did you see how the hair had been taken off the top of his head? I think he was shot at Bartlesville and taken to Missouri.” Uncle Dean asked.

“If he was opening the door with his right hand, and he was very right handed, the blast from the shotgun would have to hit him on the left side of his face, not the right. The right side would have been protected to some degree by the door.” Uncle Dean was using his own trained law enforcement observances to explain what I had seen that was irregular, but one I couldn’t explain.

I was nineteen, young and inexperienced but I knew enough to ask, “There should be an autopsy! Why not now? For whatever reason, Uncle Dean never replied to my request. There were chores I must go through with him now and these would be the things to remember for a life time. He had other plans tied up with his belief that his son was murdered. Those methods would prove to be so cruel and torturous it makes me afraid of what barbarous, brutal thoughts go into the minds of men and women, who are motivated by revenge.

“Revenge is mine,” Uncle Dean always taught me. I didn’t know he was referring to himself, and not God.

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