William Bales visited his brother-in-law in Johnson City, Tennessee, on October 5, 1908. He carried an axe with him. He didn’t say a word as he walked in his brother-in-law’s house. He found Burney Bayless and put the axe in his head.
Bayless was instantly killed. Bales’s wife was at the house to visit her sister, so next he turned the axe on her. She ran, but he chased her into the yard and hit her on the head with the axe. She didn’t survive.
Bales remained so livid that the police had to physically restrain him and keep him that way. There was no other option than to secure him with rope. They tied him up and left him in a cell in an attempt to calm whatever irrational rage he suffered from.
They found him later in the cell, but rather than find answers they found he’d hung himself. The authorities assumed it was insane jealousy.