Killers of the Flower Moon The Osage murders and the birth of the FBI

David Grann

Large print - 2017

Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. --Publisher

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True crime stories
[New York] : Random House Large Print [2017]
Main Author
David Grann (author)
Physical Description
512 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

After being driven offtheir land twice, Native Americans struck it rich in oil lands, only to be preyed upon by murderers. IN 1804, President Thomas Jefferson hosted a delegation of Osage chiefs who had traveled from their ancestral land, which Jefferson had recently acquired - from the French, not the Osage - in the Louisiana Purchase. The Osage representatives were tall, many of them over six feet, and they towered over most of their White House hosts. Jefferson was impressed, calling them the " finest men we have ever seen." He promised to treat their tribe fairly, telling them that from then on, "they shall know our nation only as friends and benefactors." Over the next 20 years, the Osage were stripped of their land, ceding almost 100 million acres, and were forced onto a parcel in southeastern Kansas that measured about 50 by 125 miles (four million acres). This land would be theirs forever, the United States government told them. And then - as David Grann details early in his disturbing and riveting new book, "Killers of the Flower Moon" - this promise, too, was broken. White settlers began squatting on Osage territory, skirmishes ensued and eventually the tribe had to sell the land for $1.25 an acre. Looking for a new home, the Osage found an area of what was to become Oklahoma that no one else wanted. It was hilly and unsuited to cultivation. The Osage bought the parcel for roughly a million dollars, later adding a provision that the land's "oil, gas, coal or other minerals" would be owned by the Osage, too. Thus they owned the land above and whatever was below, as well. No one argued the point at the time. No one but the Osage knew there was oil under that rocky soil. The Osage leased the land to prospectors and made a fortune. "In 1923 alone," Grann writes, "the tribe took in more than $30 million, the equivalent today of more than $400 million. The Osage were considered the wealthiest people per capita in the world." They built mansions and bought fleets of cars. A magazine writer at the time wrote: "Every time a new well is drilled the Indians are that much richer. . . . The Osage Indians are becoming so rich that something will have to be done about it." Indeed. The federal government, ostensibly concerned about the Osage Indians' ability to manage their windfall, required many Osage Indians - those it classified as "incompetent" - to have a guardian oversee the management and spending of their money. Full-blooded Indians could expect to be deemed "incompetent" and in need of oversight, whereas those of mixed blood were allowed to manage their own affairs. Not surprisingly, the Osage became popular targets for theft, graftand mercenary marriage. A white woman sent a letter to the tribe, offering herself to any willing Osage bachelor: "Will you please tell the richest Indian you know of, and he will find me as good and true as any human being can be." Grann approaches his narrative by way of Mollie Burkhart, a full member of the Osage tribe and one of four sisters who all became wealthy and married white men. But despite their windfall, their lives were fraught and ended too soon. Her sister Minnie died at 27 of what doctors ruled a "peculiar wasting illness." A few years later, her sister Anna, who was known to enjoy whiskey and late nights in speakeasies, leftone evening and never came home. Her body was found a week later in a ravine. She had been shot in the head. Another Osage member, Charles Whitehorn, was found shot within days of the discovery of Anna's body. Both he and Anna had been killed with small-caliber bullets. "Two Separate Murder Cases Are Unearthed Almost at Same Time," a newspaper headline declared. Two months after Anna's body was found, her mother, Lizzie, also died of the same vague wasting "disease" that had claimed Minnie. When another sister turned up dead in a suspicious fire, leaving Mollie as the last of her family alive, she was terrified. Someone or something was killing not just the members of her family but Osage Indians en masse - hence the first half of Grann's subtitle, "The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I." Nine months after the deaths of Anna Brown and Charles Whitehorn, a champion Osage steer roper named William Stepson died of an apparent poisoning. Two more Osage died in the ensuing months, both of suspected poisonings. A couple was blown up by a nitroglycerin bomb while they slept in their bed. The killing continued, with more than two dozen people - not just Osage Indians but also white investigators sent to look into the crimes - killed between 1920 and 1924. It became known as the Osage Reign of Terror. The second part of Grann's subtitle nods to the fitful investigation into the killings and their role in shaping the modern F.B.I. In the 1920s, law enforcement was typically conducted by a patchwork of sheriffs, private detectives and vigilantes. The sheriffof Osage County at the time was Harve M. Freas, 58, who weighed 300 pounds and was rumored to cavort with bootleggers and gamblers. He had done nothing to determine who was killing the Osage Indians, so the tribe asked Barney McBride, a white oilman they trusted, to go to Washington, D.C., to insist the federal government intervene. A day after he arrived, McBride's body was found in a Maryland culvert. He was naked and had been stabbed over 20 times. "Conspiracy Believed to Kill Rich Indians," The Washington Post's headline read. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, to fill in gaps in jurisdiction and assist where local enforcement was overmatched. By the 1920s, though, it was still relatively small, with only a few hundred agents and a handful of offices around the country. Most important, the bureau's agents were not trusted. Known for bending laws and getting cozy with criminals, the Department of Justice, Grann writes, "had become known as the Department of Easy Virtue." That changed in 1924, when J. Edgar Hoover was appointed the director of the F.B.I. He was not a likely choice. He had been deputy director under Burns, but was only 29 and had never been a detective. He was diminutive, struggled with a stutter and a fear of germs, and lived with his mother. But he was zealous and organized, and had a vision for the bureau. He insisted that all agents have some background in law or accounting; that they wear dark suits and ties; that they abstain from alcohol and be models of personal propriety; and that they use new, scientific methods of sleuthing, including fingerprint identification, ballistics, handwriting analysis and phone-tapping. The Osage murders would be Hoover's first significant test of the new F.B.I.'s abilities. Given that so many investigators had already failed or had been murdered in pursuit of the killers, Hoover needed the sturdiest and most incorruptible of agents to head up the investigation. He chose Tom White, a Texan myth of a man. White's father was the local sheriffin Austin, so Tom grew up in a home attached to the county jail. He and two brothers eventually became Texas Rangers. Looking for a more stable life, White became an F.B.I. agent. White was empowered to put his own team together, most of whom would insinuate themselves into Osage undercover. One older agent entered town as an elderly cattle rancher. Another agent, a former insurance salesman, set up a real insurance office in town. And John Wren, part Ute Indian - one of the F.B.I.'s few Native Americans - arrived as an Indian medicine man hoping to find his relatives. If this all sounds like the plot of a detective novel, you have fallen under the spell of David Grann's brilliance. In his previous two books, "The Lost City of Z," about the search for the golden Amazonian city of El Dorado, and "The Devil and Sherlock Holmes," a varied collection of journalism, Grann has proved himself a master of spinning delicious, many-layered mysteries that also happen to be true. As a reporter he is dogged and exacting, with a singular ability to uncover and incorporate obscure journals, depositions and ledgers without ever letting the plot sag. As a writer he is generous of spirit, willing to give even the most scurrilous of characters the benefit of the doubt. Thus, when Tom White and his men solve the crime, and the mastermind behind the murders is revealed, you will not see it coming. You will feel that familiar thrill at having been successfully misdirected, but then there are about 70 pages leftin the book. And in these last pages, Grann takes what was already a fascinating and disciplined recording of a forgotten chapter in American history, and with the help of contemporary Osage tribe members, he illuminates a sickening conspiracy that goes far deeper than those four years of horror. It will sear your soul. Among the towering thefts and crimes visited upon the native peoples of the continent, what was done to the Osage must rank among the most depraved and ignoble. "This land is saturated with blood," says Mary Jo Webb, an Osage Indian alive today and still trying to understand the crimes of the past. "History," Grann writes in this shattering book, "is a merciless judge." DAVE EGGERS is the author, most recently, of "Heroes of the Frontier."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [May 5, 2017]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* During the early 1920s, many members of the Osage Indian Nation were murdered, one by one. After being forced from several homelands, the Osage had settled in the late nineteenth century in an unoccupied area of Oklahoma, chosen precisely because it was rocky, sterile, and utterly unfit for cultivation. No white man would covet this land; Osage people would be happy. Then oil was soon discovered below the Osage territory, speedily attracting prospectors wielding staggering sums and turning many Osage into some of the richest people in the world. Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, 2010) centers this true-crime mystery on Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman who lost several family members as the death tally grew, and Tom White, the former Texas Ranger whom J. Edgar Hoover sent to solve the slippery, attention-grabbing case once and for all. A secondary tale of Hoover's single-minded rise to power as the director of what would become the FBI, his reshaping of the bureau's practices, and his goal to gain prestige for federal investigators provides invaluable historical context. Grann employs you-are-there narrative effects to set readers right in the action, and he relays the humanity, evil, and heroism of the people involved. His riveting reckoning of a devastating episode in American history deservedly captivates.--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Three voice actors divvy up the task of narrating the audio edition of Grann's saga of the mysterious murders of at least two dozen members of the wealthy Oklahoman Osage Indian nation. Actor Lee reads the first third of the book, entitled "The Marked Woman," which largely focuses on the story of Mollie Burkhart Lee, an Osage woman whose family was killed off one by one in the early 1920s. Unfortunately her pacing is so slow that the grammatical structure of sentences is often lost, and she uses the same tone whether the subject is serene scenery or vicious murders. Luckily Patton picks up the pace when reading the middle portion of the book, entitled "The Evidence Man," which chronicles FBI agent Tom White's struggles to investigate the case. Campbell ultimately steals the show in the third section, "The Reporter," which follows the man who uncovered the plot to steal the oil-rich Osage territory. He reads in a voice as gruff as the man the chapter is based on, while clearly communicating the complex plot twist that ends this fascinating chunk of American history. A Doubleday hardcover. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Relating the little-known story of the murders of members of the Osage tribe in 1920s Oklahoma, Grann (The Lost City of Z) relates how the Native Americans became wealthy via mineral rights and how the new and untested FBI became involved when many Osage were murdered. The actual number of murders will never be known. The book is presented by three different narrators: Ann Marie Lee, Will Patton, and Danny Campbell, who reads the author's voice in the final segment. Grann provides a view of early 20th-century attitudes about Native Americans and sheds light on this heretofore obscure story. Verdict Recommended for those interested in Native American history, civil rights, and the history of forensic science in this county. ["A spellbinding book about the largest serial murder investigation you've never heard of": LJ 2/1/17 starred review of the Doubleday hc; an April 2017 LibraryReads Pick.]-Cheryl Youse, Norman Park, GA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

In 1920s Oklahoma, many members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation were dying untimely and suspicious deaths. The widespread crimes against the Osage and the inability to identify those responsible led to the establishment of what is now known as the FBI. Grann, author of the best-selling The Lost City of Z, makes a complex web of violence and deception easy to follow by keeping the focus on one Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, whose family members were murdered one by one. This gripping title uncovers a baffling level of corruption. The author points his investigative lens at the perpetrators of the murders, reveals cover-ups by authorities all the way up to the national level, and illustrates that the deception continued almost a century later. There are plenty of curriculum connections: Native American and Osage tribal history, economics, law enforcement, and journalism. A varied selection of photographs help to set the scene for readers. End pages include comprehensive source notes, citations, and a bibliography. VERDICT This thoroughly researched, suspenseful exposé will appeal to followers of true crime programs such as the podcast Serial and the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, as well as to fans of Louise Erdrich's The Round House.-Tara Kehoe, formerly at New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent deathby shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombingbegan to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs. Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Chapter 1 The Vanishing In April, millions of tiny flowers spread over the blackjack hills and vast prairies in the Osage territory of Oklahoma. There are Johnny-­jump-­ups and spring beauties and little bluets. The Osage writer John Joseph Mathews observed that the galaxy of petals makes it look as if the "gods had left confetti." In May, when coyotes howl beneath an unnervingly large moon, taller plants, such as spiderworts and black-­eyed Susans, begin to creep over the tinier blooms, stealing their light and water. The necks of the smaller flowers break and their petals flutter away, and before long they are buried underground. This is why the Osage Indians refer to May as the time of the flower-­killing moon. On May 24, 1921, Mollie Burkhart, a resident of the Osage settlement town of Gray Horse, Oklahoma, began to fear that something had happened to one of her three sisters, Anna Brown. Thirty-­four, and less than a year older than Mollie, Anna had disappeared three days earlier. She had often gone on "sprees," as her family disparagingly called them: dancing and drinking with friends until dawn. But this time one night had passed, and then another, and Anna had not shown up on Mollie's front stoop as she usually did, with her long black hair slightly frayed and her dark eyes shining like glass. When Anna came inside, she liked to slip off her shoes, and Mollie missed the comforting sound of her moving, unhurried, through the house. Instead, there was a silence as still as the plains. Mollie had already lost her sister Minnie nearly three years earlier. Her death had come with shocking speed, and though doctors had attributed it to a "peculiar wasting illness," Mollie harbored doubts: Minnie had been only twenty-­seven and had always been in perfect health. Like their parents, Mollie and her sisters had their names inscribed on the Osage Roll, which meant that they were among the registered members of the tribe. It also meant that they possessed a fortune. In the early 1870s, the Osage had been driven from their lands in Kansas onto a rocky, presumably worthless reservation in northeastern Oklahoma, only to discover, decades later, that this land was sitting above some of the largest oil deposits in the United States. To obtain that oil, prospectors had to pay the Osage for leases and royalties. In the early twentieth century, each person on the tribal roll began receiving a quarterly check. The amount was initially for only a few dollars, but over time, as more oil was tapped, the dividends grew into the hundreds, then the thousands. And virtually every year the payments increased, like the prairie creeks that joined to form the wide, muddy Cimarron, until the tribe members had collectively accumulated millions and millions of dollars. (In 1923 alone, the tribe took in more than $30 million, the equivalent today of more than $400 million.) The Osage were considered the wealthiest people per capita in the world. "Lo and behold!" the New York weekly Outlook exclaimed. "The Indian, instead of starving to death . . . ​enjoys a steady income that turns bankers green with envy." The public had become transfixed by the tribe's prosperity, which belied the images of American Indians that could be traced back to the brutal first contact with whites--­the original sin from which the country was born. Reporters tantalized their readers with stories about the "plutocratic Osage" and the "red millionaires," with their brick-­and-­terra-­cotta mansions and chandeliers, with their diamond rings and fur coats and chauffeured cars. One writer marveled at Osage girls who attended the best boarding schools and wore sumptuous French clothing, as if "une très jolie demoiselle of the Paris boulevards had inadvertently strayed into this little reservation town." At the same time, reporters seized upon any signs of the traditional Osage way of life, which seemed to stir in the public's mind visions of "wild" Indians. One article noted a "circle of expensive automobiles surrounding an open campfire, where the bronzed and brightly blanketed owners are cooking meat in the primitive style." Another documented a party of Osage arriving at a ceremony for their dances in a private airplane--­a scene that "outrivals the ability of the fictionist to portray." Summing up the public's attitude toward the Osage, the Washington Star said, "That lament, 'Lo the poor Indian,' might appropriately be revised to, 'Ho, the rich redskin.' " Gray Horse was one of the reservation's older settlements. These outposts--­including Fairfax, a larger, neighboring town of nearly fifteen hundred people, and Pawhuska, the Osage capital, with a population of more than six thousand--­seemed like fevered visions. The streets clamored with cowboys, fortune seekers, bootleggers, soothsayers, medicine men, outlaws, U.S. marshals, New York financiers, and oil magnates. Automobiles sped along paved horse trails, the smell of fuel overwhelming the scent of the prairies. Juries of crows peered down from telephone wires. There were restaurants, advertised as cafés, and opera houses and polo grounds. Although Mollie didn't spend as lavishly as some of her neighbors did, she had built a beautiful, rambling wooden house in Gray Horse near her family's old lodge of lashed poles, woven mats, and bark. She owned several cars and had a staff of servants--­the Indians' pot-­lickers, as many settlers derided these migrant workers. The servants were often black or Mexican, and in the early 1920s a visitor to the reservation expressed contempt at the sight of "even whites" performing "all the menial tasks about the house to which no Osage will stoop." Mollie was one of the last people to see Anna before she vanished. That day, May 21, Mollie had risen close to dawn, a habit ingrained from when her father used to pray every morning to the sun. She was accustomed to the chorus of meadowlarks and sandpipers and prairie chickens, now overlaid with the pock-­pocking of drills pounding the earth. Unlike many of her friends, who shunned Osage clothing, Mollie wrapped an Indian blanket around her shoulders. She also didn't style her hair in a flapper bob, and instead let her long, black hair flow over her back, revealing her striking face, with its high cheekbones and big brown eyes. Her husband, Ernest Burkhart, rose with her. A twenty-­eight-­year-­old white man, he had the stock handsomeness of an extra in a Western picture show: short brown hair, slate-­blue eyes, square chin. Only his nose disturbed the portrait; it looked as if it had taken a barroom punch or two. Growing up in Texas, the son of a poor cotton farmer, he'd been enchanted by tales of the Osage Hills--­that vestige of the American frontier where cowboys and Indians were said to still roam. In 1912, at nineteen, he'd packed a bag, like Huck Finn lighting out for the Territory, and gone to live with his uncle, a domineering cattleman named William K. Hale, in Fairfax. "He was not the kind of a man to ask you to do something--­he told you," Ernest once said of Hale, who became his surrogate father. Though Ernest mostly ran errands for Hale, he sometimes worked as a livery driver, which is how he met Mollie, chauffeuring her around town. Ernest had a tendency to drink moonshine and play Indian stud poker with men of ill repute, but beneath his roughness there seemed to be a tenderness and a trace of insecurity, and Mollie fell in love with him. Born a speaker of Osage, Mollie had learned some English in school; nevertheless, Ernest studied her native language until he could talk with her in it. She suffered from diabetes, and he cared for her when her joints ached and her stomach burned with hunger. After he heard that another man had affections for her, he muttered that he couldn't live without her. It wasn't easy for them to marry. Ernest's roughneck friends ridiculed him for being a "squaw man." And though Mollie's three sisters had wed white men, she felt a responsibility to have an arranged Osage marriage, the way her parents had. Still, Mollie, whose family practiced a mixture of Osage and Catholic beliefs, couldn't understand why God would let her find love, only to then take it away from her. So, in 1917, she and Ernest exchanged rings, vowing to love each other till eternity. By 1921, they had a daughter, Elizabeth, who was two years old, and a son, James, who was eight months old and nicknamed Cowboy. Mollie also tended to her aging mother, Lizzie, who had moved in to the house after Mollie's father passed away. Because of Mollie's diabetes, Lizzie once feared that she would die young, and beseeched her other children to take care of her. In truth, Mollie was the one who looked after all of them. May 21 was supposed to be a delightful day for Mollie. She liked to entertain guests and was hosting a small luncheon. After getting dressed, she fed the children. Cowboy often had terrible earaches, and she'd blow in his ears until he stopped crying. Mollie kept her home in meticulous order, and she issued instructions to her servants as the house stirred, everyone bustling about--­except Lizzie, who'd fallen ill and stayed in bed. Mollie asked Ernest to ring Anna and see if, for a change, she'd come over to help tend to Lizzie. Anna, as the oldest child in the family, held a special status in their mother's eyes, and even though Mollie took care of Lizzie, Anna, in spite of her tempestuousness, was the one her mother spoiled. When Ernest told Anna that her mama needed her, she promised to take a taxi straight there, and she arrived shortly afterward, dressed in bright red shoes, a skirt, and a matching Indian blanket; in her hand was an alligator purse. Before entering, she'd hastily combed her windblown hair and powdered her face. Mollie noticed, however, that her gait was unsteady, her words slurred. Anna was drunk. Mollie couldn't hide her displeasure. Some of the guests had already arrived. Among them were two of Ernest's brothers, Bryan and Horace Burkhart, who, lured by black gold, had moved to Osage County, often assisting Hale on his ranch. One of Ernest's aunts, who spewed racist notions about Indians, was also visiting, and the last thing Mollie needed was for Anna to stir up the old goat. Anna slipped off her shoes and began to make a scene. She took a flask from her bag and opened it, releasing the pungent smell of bootleg whiskey. Insisting that she needed to drain the flask before the authorities caught her--­it was a year into nationwide Prohibition--­she offered the guests a swig of what she called the best white mule. Mollie knew that Anna had been very troubled of late. She'd recently divorced her husband, a settler named Oda Brown, who owned a livery business. Since then, she'd spent more and more time in the reservation's tumultuous boomtowns, which had sprung up to house and entertain oil workers--­towns like Whizbang, where, it was said, people whizzed all day and banged all night. "All the forces of dissipation and evil are here found," a U.S. government official reported. "Gambling, drinking, adultery, lying, thieving, murdering." Anna had become entranced by the places at the dark ends of the streets: the establishments that seemed proper on the exterior but contained hidden rooms filled with glittering bottles of moonshine. One of Anna's servants later told the authorities that Anna was someone who drank a lot of whiskey and had "very loose morals with white men." At Mollie's house, Anna began to flirt with Ernest's younger brother, Bryan, whom she'd sometimes dated. He was more brooding than Ernest and had inscrutable yellow-­flecked eyes and thinning hair that he wore slicked back. A lawman who knew him described him as a little roustabout. When Bryan asked one of the servants at the luncheon if she'd go to a dance with him that night, Anna said that if he fooled around with another woman, she'd kill him. Meanwhile, Ernest's aunt was muttering, loud enough for all to hear, about how mortified she was that her nephew had married a redskin. It was easy for Mollie to subtly strike back because as one of the servants attending to the aunt was white--­a blunt reminder of the town's social order. Anna continued raising Cain. She fought with the guests, fought with her mother, fought with Mollie. "She was drinking and quarreling," a servant later told authorities. "I couldn't understand her language, but they were quarreling." The servant added, "They had an awful time with Anna, and I was afraid." That evening, Mollie planned to look after her mother, while Ernest took the guests into Fairfax, five miles to the northwest, to meet Hale and see Bringing Up Father, a touring musical about a poor Irish immigrant who wins a million-­dollar sweepstakes and struggles to assimilate into high society. Bryan, who'd put on a cowboy hat, his catlike eyes peering out from under the brim, offered to drop Anna off at her house. Before they left, Mollie washed Anna's clothes, gave her some food to eat, and made sure that she'd sobered up enough that Mollie could glimpse her sister as her usual self, bright and charming. They lingered together, sharing a moment of calm and reconciliation. Then Anna said good-­bye, a gold filling flashing through her smile. With each passing night, Mollie grew more anxious. Bryan insisted that he'd taken Anna straight home and dropped her off before heading to the show. After the third night, Mollie, in her quiet but forceful way, pressed everyone into action. She dispatched Ernest to check on Anna's house. Ernest jiggled the knob to her front door--it was locked. From the window, the rooms inside appeared dark and deserted. Ernest stood there alone in the heat. A few days earlier, a cool rain shower had dusted the earth, but afterward the sun's rays beat down mercilessly through the blackjack trees. This time of year, heat blurred the prairies and made the tall grass creak underfoot. In the distance, through the shimmering light, one could see the skeletal frames of derricks. Anna's head servant, who lived next door, came out, and Ernest asked her, "Do you know where Anna is?" Before the shower, the servant said, she'd stopped by Anna's house to close any open windows. "I thought the rain would blow in," she explained. But the door was locked, and there was no sign of Anna. She was gone. News of her absence coursed through the boomtowns, traveling from porch to porch, from store to store. Fueling the unease were reports that another Osage, Charles Whitehorn, had vanished a week before Anna had. Genial and witty, the thirty-­year-­old Whitehorn was married to a woman who was part white, part Cheyenne. A local newspaper noted that he was "popular among both the whites and the members of his own tribe." On May 14, he'd left his home, in the southwestern part of the reservation, for Pawhuska. He never returned. Excerpted from Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.