Dixon Family Murders Screven County Georgia


Screven County Family Bios


Says wife was untrue to him and his mother-in-law is the cause of separation.

Crazed by the rejected love of his wife and her alleged improper relations with other men, Elliot Padrick shot and killed his eighteen-year-old wife, formerly Miss Willie Mae Dixon, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Byron M. Dixon, aged about thirty-eight years, on the river bridge at Dover late Monday afternoon, in one of the most cold-blooded and apparently well-planned murders that has ever been committed in Bulloch county.
Both women died in just a short while after the shooting, and made no statement before their death. There were no eye-witnesses to the affair but the tragedy was discovered very shortly afterwards by the occupants of a car which followed that containing the unfortunate victims on the road to Dover when they came upon their Ford sedan obstructing the bridge over the main stream.
 An investigation to ascertain the cause of the halt disclosed that inmates had been shot and left there to die. The only signs of life then apparent by either were the occasional movement of the head by one of the women. Mr. Freeman, who was an occupant of the car discovering the dying women, ran on to Dover, a distance not quite half a mile to give the alarm.
Inquiries disclosed that a man, later found out to be W.E. Padrick, had been seen coming from that direction only a few minutes previous. He was noticed to be running until he reached the last bridge of the embankment to the river swamp, when he reduced his speed to a fast walk. He had just departed in a journey for Sylvania where he was able to persuade the driver to carry him to after he had made an unsuccessful effort to have him make the trip to Millen. The driver refused to go that far an account of the distance and the condition of the roads and the lateness of the hour. Padrick did not seem particular as to where he was carried only wanted to get away from Dover and asked the trip be made as hurriedly as possible because he was sick and wanted to get to the hotel and go to bed. The alarm given by Mr. Freeman caused the sheriff at Sylvania to be notified of the crime and he was on the lookout for the fugitive who was met two miles out from Sylvania by two members of the county police force who stopped the car. The driver was questioned as to where he was from and as to his passenger's identity and his actions while the trip was being made from Dover. Nothing wrong was noted in the demeanor of the passenger had bee noted by the driver and he was perfectly calm and had talked freely on all subjects. Padrick was questioned and gave his name, took his bible from his pocket as confirmation of his declared innocence of the crime and stated he was a preacher and believed in the word of God. The two officers then withdrew for a conference among themselves and returned to the car placing Padrick under arrest telling him that it would be necessary for him to go to Dover with them to investigate the affair. Then a return trip was begun with Padrick in the officers car, but only about two miles of the distance had been traveled when the prisoner asked them not to go any further, that he was the man who had committed the crime, and asked that he be taken away for safe keeping. An investigation by the police showed he had a Smith and Wesson 32-calibre revolver on him, which though empty, showed that all five chambers had been recently fired. It was a new pistol and in the opinion of the arresting officers had not been fired more than five times which carried the five fatal bullets into the bodies of the unfortunate women. Padrick was returned to Sylvania and later, on account of the wide relationship of the deceased in Screven County and fear of violence from them, was taken to Augusta that night for safekeeping. The boy-murderer was calm during the whole affair, talked freely and intelligently with the officers and seemed unaware of the magnitude of the crime, which he had committed. He is a Bible student, has preached in Bulloch and Screven counties and belonged to the Methodist conference until recently dismissed on account of charges brought, about over the relations between his wife and himself. The strain and worry from these matters had been too much for his frail physique. He stated to the officers that he loved his wife more than anything in the world and had rather see her dead than have her continue as she had with certain Statesboro men. While it is generally believed by his actions that the crime was far planned the magnitude is somewhat lessened in the criticism of some of the circumstances surrounding the case who concede that he is mentally deranges by his failure to win the love of his girl-wife. At the coroners inquest Tuesday which was not held until the afternoon that all witnesses, most of whom lived in Screven county, might be present and testify, the examination was conducted for the coroner by A.M. Deal, of the firm of Deal and Renfro, who have been employed by the prosecution in the case. The evidence brought out at the inquest showed that the coupled had not lived together for some time and had previously been separated on several occasions. A letter was introduced Sunday in most cordial language by the husband, then in Warthen where he was working asking his wife to meet him at Clito Monday afternoon. He requested that she come in the Ford sedan alone because they had not seen each other for some time. He was met at the station at the appointed time by his wife but his mother-in-law was also driving along in the car. The meeting of the trio was most cordial. Padrick kissed his wife three times when he got in the car and shook hands with Mrs. Dixon. After a very brief stay in Clito, they started for home in the car but had only gone a short distance before they returned and purchased some gasoline and oil for the car, Padrick paying the bill. They then started off again with the explanation that Padrick had left his suitcase at Dover and they had to get it for him. The mother was driving and the wife and husband were on the back seat together when last seen. Mr. Freeman of Dover is the next link in the murder case. He found the Ford sedan containing the two women obstructing the main span of the bridge across the Ogeechee River. The front of the car has gone on the planks and the back wheels of the car are still on the ground just ready to go onto the bridge. He sees the women in the car apparently in trouble and finds blood running from the car to the ground. The mother is still in the front seat under the steering wheel with her arms by her side and her head thrown back, her daughter has moved from the back seat and has fallen partly in balance over the front seat of the car with her feet resting on the floor in the back and her head on the bosom of her mother and her arm around her neck. As soon as he was able to give the alarm and help arrived from Dover, Mrs. Dixon was dead, two bullets having entered her body, one through the neck breaking the spinal cord, the other entering just under her right arm and tearing its way through the body. Mrs. Padrick, who had been shot three times�once through the right arm the ball passing into the body and piercing her heart; another in her right cheek, which broke her jaw bone and lodged there, and the third ball which entered an inch or two below her left ear�was not yet dead. Their bodies were allowed to remain there in that position until ordered to be taken in charge by the undertakers and were brought to Statesboro about 10 o'clock that night. It is believed that Padrick had no ill feeling toward Mrs. Dixon. That he had planned to kill his wife and had asked her to come alone. Possibly his intention was to throw the body in the river and make his getaway with the car and the one hundred dollars which he had secured that morning by forging a check on his employer and getting it cashed in Sandersville. The murder of Mrs. Dixon was made necessary by her presence in the car. When arrested by the Screven county authorities, Padrick had between seventy-five and a hundred dollars on his person, which indicated that he meant to get away if possible. Padrick, who is only twenty years of age, is the son of Rev. E.L. Padrick, a circuit Methodist minister who preached and resided at Eureka, near Clito, for several years and only recently moved to Sardis. Both he and all of his family were held in highest esteem by public opinion. While at home from attendance to the theological study at Wilmore, KY, he me miss Willie Mae, the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. M. Byron Dixon, who lived in the same vicinity of his people. No immediate courtship followed but they became warm friends, he always taking an interest in her welfare. About a year ago they called a minister to the Dixon home to marry them but it is understood the young lady, then only a girl of seventeen, refused to come from her room. The minister returned to the city but the couple soon followed and he performed the ceremony. It is understood that after the departure of the minister the mother prevailed on the young girl against her will to marry the young man. It seems that she did not want to marry him because she did not care for him and told him she wouldn't live with him, but, it is said, he hoped on account of her youth to be able to make her change her mind but the Monday afternoon murder affair indicates that he had failed to accomplish the task which he had taken as his object. Interment of the two women was made yesterday morning at Union church, 6 miles north if Statesboro. The prisoner is still held in the Richmond county jail at Augusta, but it is believed that he will be moved to Statesboro at an early date for trial as there is no indications of any mob violence that is known of in this county. The crime was committed on the Bulloch side of the river as shown in the coroners inquest and the trial will undoubtedly be held at Statesboro.


Elliot Padrick the murderer of his 18-year old wife, Willie Mae Padrick and her mother, Mrs. Byron Dixon near Dover late Monday afternoon, and who is now in the Richmond county jail at Augusta, has made a complete statement of the affair, stating the reasons why he committed the murders. The confession follows: I am satisfied that the life her mother lived caused our separation, for my wife wished to come back to me. For what reason I do not know unless to carry out her mother's plan. I do not think her plans were good. Our difficulties arose lately over rumors that were circulated regarding my wife's mother's character. These rumors she denied, probably through ignorance of the true fact of her mother's character. 

Our troubles started on the day that we were married, for on that day she declared that she hated me and said that her mother had forced her to marry me. I was blind to that fact because of my affection for her. Her mother often declared that she, too, was forced to marry her husband. 
Up until the time I fell in love with my wife I walked and talked with God daily and had a clear conscience that His smile of approval was on my ministry at the time of my marriage. 
I believe that my marrying was the mistake of my life. My wife, though young as she was, realized this fact. Realizing this she became dissatisfied with me, and this caused separation. 
I still loved her and believed that God could make her my ideal, but all the persuasion and kindness of a husband seemed to be in vain. We parted several times but would go back together and have the same disputes. In spite of this I still held on to God. 
She seemed bent on having the world. Seeing that our troubles were bringing shame upon my ministry, at one time I remonstrated with her for her childish peevishness. She later forgave me for this, and I thought all was settled. I decided to make a temporary change, all the while fighting convictions that I should leave her, as she often expressed would be her desire. 
My love was deeper than my grace, and I could not get the consent of my mind to leave her to the cruelty of her mother. Her mother, in my opinion, expected some financial reimbursement for all her trouble in helping me settle the difficulties that arose between my wife and myself. Since none came, as I was without position, she began to make plans for our separation, and told me to go away and leave her alone. 
My father-in-law made the statement after I had remonstrated with her, that he was sorry that we married. That may be true. But he drove the car with his wife in it to Effingham county after me and said Willie Mae was ready to marry me. 
We had at one time broken our engagement, she declared that she was not old enough to marry, being then only sixteen years of age. It seemed that this poor man was ruled about by his wife as a servant before a tyrant master. 
Four and a half months had elapsed when her father agreed to rent a farm and place me on it, going on my note and furnishing us with everything. 
My wife stood the farm life with me for about thirty days. I do not care to repeat the blaspherous outbursts, the cursing and taunting remarks that she flung at me during those thirty days. It was a miniature hell. 
I had worked my health down on theology at college in the spring previous to our marriage. My summer work in the evangelist service, with all of this trouble, had about driven me insane. It seemed to me that I was marrying my life and talents for the devil's gain. 
I believe we would have been on the farm until now if her mother had let well enough alone. But there was no money coming and my father-in-law had notes piled upon him that threatened to deprive him of all of his prospects. 
My father-in-law told me to take my belongings, which consisted of my two suit cases containing my personal effects, and some dozen chickens that my mother had given us, and get out of the community. 
Thus I was married by my parents-in-law and separated from my wife, my heath declined and there arose in my heart, a bitter hatred for them. 
She did not answer him but moved months and having worked one month, making $30 and my board, five of which I sent to my wife. The three months while idle I spent in prayer and delivering six sermons in church of my father and brother. I received no answer from my wife until I had decided to go to Oklahoma to continue scientific-dairying. 
In her first letter she earnestly pleaded with me to come after her. I could not understand why she waited so long to write unless her mother was at work again and trying to get us back together so that she would be looked upon by the people of the community as a respectable wife, but in the meantime, if what my parents wrote to me were true, they having attended the district conference at Statesboro, where my exhorter�s license was renewed by an overwhelming vote, she had been running around with a Statesboro man.
On receipt of the news that my wife had been untrue to me a feeling arose within my breast which the condition of these women now expresses. I went to prayer at once and pleaded God to restrain me from any murderous act, but I fear that I have sinned against the light, for on the arrival of this letter from my parents, and one from my wife, telling me she expected to see me sometime soon, and that she would steal the sedan and meet me at the train. A hideous plot arose in my mind. I did not know whether I could trust this invitation to be genuine or not, for at this time we lived on the farm together in her perverseness she would often declare that she would kill me with a butcher knife. For this I do not believe she can be held entirely responsible, for, before leaving home and going on the farm I was in the kitchen when I overheard my father-in-law say, as he raised an object from the refrigerator. It sounded very much like a knife. �Here�s something Willie Mae, you can get rid of him with, the butcher knife. She did not answer him, but moved silently out of the dining room. I believe my father-in-law did this through sympathy for his child and to please his witch wife. Why all this has happened at the beginning of my youthful career, I do not know. I do believe that the same God who forgave David of murder forgives me and will aid me in my trial, and the light of heaven and peaceful joy of full constant privilege and enjoyment.
Article from the Bulloch Times and   Statesboro News (Thursday, June 22, 1922)
Submitted by
Ellen Kotzin
Researching Wilsons and Dixons

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