Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

William Bales visited brother-in-law Burney Bayless, on October 4, 1908. He didn’t say a word as he entered the Johnson City house. Bales carried an axe. He found Bayless in the kitchen, and put the axe in his head. Bayless was instantly killed.

Bales’ wife was at the house to visit her sister, but he wouldn’t see reason. He turned the axe on her. She ran, but he chased her into the yard. He hit her twice with the axe, once in the arm, and again on the head. He broke her arm and fractured her skull.

Bales didn’t flee the scene, but that didn’t make the authorities’ jobs any easier. He remained so enraged the police had to physically restrain him. He was arrested and taken to jail, where he still tried to fight. There was no other option than to just tie him down.

They bound him and left him in a cell to see if his emotions would subside. They assumed silence and isolation would calm the irrational rage he suffered. They checked on him some time later, but rather than locate answers, they found he’d hung himself.

Mrs. Bales died on October 5, and was buried in the grave with her husband. Although she was twice his size, around 300 lbs., the couple had always been devoted to one another. No one ever found a motive for William Bales’ rage. The authorities concluded it was insane jealousy.

Burney Bayless, an officer of the Washington County Court, left a wife and six children.


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