The day after Christmas not a cop was stirring in Tomahawk, Kentucky
TOMAHAWK, Kentucky––“SHARK investigators spent Christmas Day traveling to Kentucky, to be at a cockfight location today that is holding a cockfight now!” emailed Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi from Tomahawk, Martin County, Kentucky, at 10:06 a.m. eastern standard time on December 26, 2021––Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.
“We flew our drones over this cockfight located at the very end of Lower Wolf Branch Road,” Hindi continued, giving the GPS coordinates, “to confirm that the cockfight is currently in progress. This is an active cockfight that started about an hour ago and will be going for a while unless we can pressure Kentucky State Police Post 9 to do their job and shut it down!”
That did not happen. Kentucky State Police Post 9 demonstrated no more urgency about responding to repeated calls about the alleged cockfight underway at the place Hindi identified as “Charlie’s Pit” than Post 9 has in the past to calls about other alleged cockfights in progress at sites identified as “Hawk’s Nest” in Pinsonfork, Pike County, and “Blackberry Pits,” in Blackberry, Pike County, just south of Martin County.
These are the pits
But Post 9 has scarcely been alone in indifference toward cockfights in Kentucky, even cockfights that SHARK has documented with on-site undercover video.
Also still operating with apparent impunity within other Kentucky State Police posts’ jurisdiction are locations identified by SHARK at “Shaker Hill Pits” in Butler County, “Honest Abe’s” in Pine Knot, McCreary County, “Bald Rock Pits” and “CJ’s Pit” in Laurel County, “Congelton Hollow Road” in McKee, Jackson County, and the “Pine Mountain Game Club” in Harlan, Kentucky
. (See Cockfights: Laurel County, KY Sheriff John Root avows he won’t do his job; Rare busts hit cockfighting, dog torture, & other Appalachian pastimes; Rare busts hit cockfighting, dog torture, & other Appalachian pastimes; Cockfighting in Kentucky: SHARK promises Fourth of July fireworks; Cockfighting in Kentucky: showdown on January 2, 2021; and Enforcing anti-cruelty laws proves harder than passing them.)
Lower Wolf Branch Road
Lower Wolf Branch Road is a muddy cul-de-sac that runs past and once served the old Tomahawk Schoolhouse.
Access to Lower Wolf Branch Road comes from Rockhouse Road, which also provides access from Tomahawk, an unincorporated hamlet of about 400, to a parallel cul-de-sac called Upper Wolf Branch Road.
Both roads are named for Wolf Branch, the creek running between them.
Lynching in Wolf Branch Hollow
Unknown to SHARK and Steve Hindi at the time, the Wolf Branch neighborhood, site of the alleged “Charlie’s Pit” Boxing Day cockfight, may have first figured in history, in the 1969 typewritten recollection of an elderly Tomahawk man named Homer Marcum, as the site of the lynching circa 1850 of an African-American man known only as “Jim.”
Accused of raping a white woman, “Jim” was skinned alive.
Law enforcement, such as it was, obviously did not intervene. There appears to have been no news coverage of the killing.
The Cult of the Unknown Tongues
Law enforcement also did not intervene during the several days preceding February 8, 1933, when the Wolf Creek neighborhood made national headlines as the scene of a purported sacrificial murder, the precise details of which occasion heated dispute among elderly Tomahawk residents to this day.
The incident recounted by Southern Mysteries podcast creator Shannon Ballard as Episode 98: The Cult of the Unknown Tongues (https://southernmysteries.com/2021/10/11/lucindamills/) began with Rockhouse Road and Lower Wolf Branch Road residents desperately trying to get help from Martin County sheriff Harry Horne in Inez, eight miles east by road but only five miles east as the crow flies over the rugged terrain.
According to Appalachian Project page on Facebook, summarizing from newspaper accounts and court records, “The events leading up to Lucinda Mills murder began the week prior with the family,” or some of them, anyhow, including at least eight adults and six children, “engaging in prayer, fasting and speaking in tongues.”
This eventually became alarming to several neighbors, including Rhoda Mills, star witness at the ensuing trial, who became worried about the children, investigated, and was among those to whom Sheriff Horne finally listened, and Sam Porter, who was reportedly present for a time at the crime scene, but fled and also called Sheriff Horne.
Said a Facebook poster identifying herself as Sharyn T. in April 2011, “My mother Alma Lee Mills (Porter) is a granddaughter of Lucinda Mills. Mom was living with Molly, Blaine, Ballard & Roy McGinnis. Ballard was Molly and Blaine’s nephew, Roy their son. Mom was 11 when her grandmom was killed and remembers them having a meeting in the house she was living in a few days before the murder.
“She was awakened in the night by the group and Ballard hollered at her ‘You ain’t got all that’s coming to you yet.’ She got scared, jumped out of bed, and ran across the creek to Molly’s son’s house. They were Elmer & Ethel McGinnis. They were not in the group. The murder took place at Lucinda’s daughter Talitha’s house.”
Grandparents tried to have them all arrested”
Testified Diana Lynn Mallory to the Appalachian Project page in 2014, “I am the great granddaughter of Lucinda,” the murder victim. “My grandparents tried to have them all arrested the day before this happened.”
Added Rick Thompson, also in 2014, “I’ve heard this story all my life from my grandmother, Alma Lee Mills. She is still alive at 93, and when she talks about her grandmother, she’ll say ‘poor old lady’ as if it just happened. I never heard her say her grandmother was a willing sacrifice.
“She also said it was a small group, not the whole family, who did this. She saw them when they were on the way to Lucinda’s, and one of the group said ‘You ain’t got all that’s coming to you girl’.
“She was a little girl when it happened. She was born in 1921. She said she was terrified that night, and her mother heard about the event and sent her uncles to get her on horseback to get her away from them. She was living with an aunt and uncle, I believe, who were involved in the killing.”
Choked with a chain
Summarized the Appalachian Project, “On February 8, 1933,” apparently several days after first being alerted, “local law enforcement heard concerns from neighbors of screaming and other loud noises coming from a nearby residence. The responding officers broke into a barred-up cabin,” belonging to the victim’s son-in-law Tom Boyd,” with wife Talitha Mills Boyd, “and discovered the body of 72-year-old Lucinda Mills.”
The responding officers testified in court that they found son John Hammond Mills, 38, astride his mother, Lucinda Mills, strangling her with a chain.
Her legs had apparently also been chained.
Other witnesses testified that Lucinda Mills, apparently not a participant in the earlier dancing, singing, and “speaking in tongues,” had come to the cabin and gone to bed with a severe headache.
Tried to sacrifice girls & sister-in-law first
John H, Mills, according to testimony, before strangling Lucinda Mills, tried to “sacrifice” four girls in their early teens who had followed the adults to the scene with two smaller children. The girls resisted and escaped into another room with the two younger children.
The four girls––Nellie, Louella, Alice, and Attie Boyd––testified at the ensuing trial.
John H. Mills then choked his sister-in-law, Trixie Mills, into unconsciousness, but she was revived.
John H. Mills turned finally on his bedridden mother, supposedly as a sacrifice meant to deliver another of his brothers, Leonard Mills, from incarceration in the Kentucky state asylum for the insane.
“The family was planning to put the body of Mrs. Mills on a cross-shaped altar then set on fire to have it presented as a ‘burnt offering’ to God,” recounted the Appalachian Project.
“Dancing & singing”
Sheriff’s deputies B.J. ‘Boss’ Wells, Harrison Hinkle, and Buck Neely struggled to pull John H. Mills off of his mother and subdue him, while deputy Rafe Mollett held another ritual participant, Blaine McGinnis, back at gunpoint.
Son Fred Mills, 34, husband of Trixie, stood “at the foot of the bed reading the Bible,” with “Lucinda’s two daughters dancing and singing on a nearby table,” the Appalachian Project said.
“Upon questioning, the family members claimed to have the ability to perform miracles – from converting water into wine to turning sticks into snakes (similar to what took place in Exodus 7:8-13 in the Bible.) They further stated that they were obeying a “divine command” to offer someone up as a human sacrifice. The family members chanted and prayed for deliverance while in custody, but that was a prayer that wasn’t answered.”
Crime & punishment
Arrested and charged with murder were John H. Mills, Fred Mills, Blaine McGinnis, and Tom Boyd; the two daughters of Lucinda Mills, Mollie McGinnis and Ora Mills; Lucinda Mills’ daughter-in-law Alma Mills (mother of Alma Lee Mills); and Lucinda Mills’ grandson Ballard Mills, 25.
Two months later the prosecution dropped the charges against Alma and Trixie Mills.
Convicted were John H. Mills, who drew a life sentence; and Ballard and Blaine Mills, who were each sentenced to serve 21 years in prison. Blaine Mills, however, was pardoned later in the year by Kentucky governor Ruby Laffoon. Mollie McGinnis and Ora Mills were acquitted.
Circuit judge J.F. Bailey dismissed the charges against Fred Mills and Tommy Boyd.
The scene of the crime today
The approximate scene of the Lucinda Mills murder apparently passed eventually to Edzal and Jewel Mills Horn of Tomahawk, not yet born when Lucinda Mills was killed, and then to their daughter Kathie Glispy, who died there on July 5, 2019.
Her husband, Charles Glispy Sr., 65, still lives there, along with his son Charles Glispy Jr., who according to Hindi together operate “Charlie’s Pit.”
The younger Charles Glispy and his wife Alica Glispy were in August 2021 indicted by the Martin County Grand Jury on charges of having “acting alone or in complicity” with each other, to commit “the offense of false/misinterpretation statements to obtain welfare benefits” in the amount of $16,126, and Medicaid benefits in the amount of $34,065.