100 Years Ago Today: Small Son Tells How Father Killed Mother

Herald Democrat, January 28, 1919

Let’s fill out some key points to this terrible story. On December 2, 1918, 34-year-old Pearl(e) Centers, plow factory worker, father of nine-year-old Raymond Centers and former husband of now-deceased Daisy Myrtal Centers (34), killed his wife because she refused to reconcile their recent divorce, aka she wouldn’t take his sorry ass back (Sings: Try to control me, boy, you get dismissed). He testified in court that he also tried to shoot himself in the head. It seems he was not successful.

I’m not sure why the accused is not named specifically in this short, tragic news article, but I found a follow up article also from the Herald Democrat that ran the next day, which brought forth more details about the attempted murder/suicide.

There were only two witnesses for the prosecution, Daisy’s brother, Leonard Shields, and their star witness, her son, Raymond. Pearl Centers took the stand to defend himself in court, testifying that his son’s story was true: he shot his wife and then shot himself.

The jury took four hours to arrive at a guilty verdict, sentencing Mr. Centers to life imprisonment for first degree murder. They did, however, need to grapple with the following piece of confusing testimony from Pearl himself.

Herald Democrat, January 29, 1919

Is he saying he pulled out the gun, tried to kill himself, and then his wife grabbed the gun and accidentally shot herself? Or did he take the first shot to the head, and then kill her? How is this confirming your son’s story? And bruh, your son is asleep in the bed, right there next to your wife, WTF?

San Juan Prospector, February 7, 1919

As of the 1940 census, Pearl Centers was still incarcerated at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City, as he had been since 1919.

100 years ago today, Pearl Centers was tried and convicted of first degree murder for killing his wife, Daisy, while his young son, Raymond, slept next to her (and her brother was in the kitchen), and then he tried and failed to kill himself, but instead he spent the rest of his life in prison.

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