It was about 12:45 a.m. on Friday, April 4, 1961, when Harmon Cooper, a senior detective with the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, was awakened at his Bakersfield home by a startling telephone call from Thomas Shuell, commander of the Mojave substation.
Shuell had received a call from a doctor at the Tehachapi Hospital who had pronounced dead a severely beaten woman. The woman was Ella Mae Cooley, the wife of the country western star Spade Cooley.
Shuell told Cooper that he talked briefly to Cooley, who had accompanied his wife to the hospital. Clad in his traditional Western outfit and cowboy boots, Cooley was sitting in the hospital’s waiting room. He was willing to talk some more.
Cooper hung up and called Loren Fote, the chief of detectives, and the pair drove out together to meet with Cooley at the hospital. The discussion with Cooley was moved to the Mojave substation, where there was recording equipment.
What followed was an hourlong interrogation of Cooley just hours after he brutally tortured and murdered his wife at their eastern Kern County ranch. The tape recording of the interrogation was included in the files of the late Leonard Winters, a longtime Bakersfield private detective, who was a member of Cooley’s defense team.
Cooper, a large man over 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, was a grizzled veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and a no-nonsense cop. The Cooley interrogation is basically a verbal dance between the two men who were extraordinarily polite to one another under the circumstances. Cooper wanted to get to the bottom of the situation, but Cooley wanted to tell the story of how Ella Mae died – the way he interpreted the situation.
Cooley’s contention was that Ella Mae’s injuries resulted from a fall in the shower. In his tape recorded interrogation, he also tells a rambling story of how Ella Mae was unfaithful with numerous men.
While the interrogation was under way, a team including representatives of the District Attorney, Coroner’s and Sheriff’s offices was combing the Cooley ranch. At the conclusion of the interrogation and search, Cooley was booked on suspicion of murdering Ella Mae.
The tape recording made early that morning is the foundation of a case that would evolve into Bakersfield’s “trial of the century.”
The recording is included below (there is silence for the first 5 seconds), along with the written transcript.
THE INTERROGATION OF SPADE COOLEY, APRIL 4, 1961, 3:00 A.M.,
KERN COUNTY SHERIFF’S SUBSTATION, MOJAVE, CA.
At 3:00 a.m. on April 4, 1961 in a small room of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department substation in Mojave, California, Spade Cooley was interviewed by Harman Cooper, a Kern County Sheriff’s Department detective. Also present was Sergeant Thomas Shuell. The statement lasted for one hour or until 4:10 a.m. Only excerpts are recorded here as the statement is long and very detailed.
Q: Your name, sir, is Spade Cooley, is that correct?
A: Spade Cooley, correct.
Q: What was the last name?
A: My legal name is Donnell, Donnell Clyde Cooley.
Q: How old are you, Mr. Cooley?
A: I am 50.
Q: Mr. Cooley [by Harman Cooper], at the present time you are sitting in front of a
recording machine. It can hear everything said by me and by Sgt. Shuell here, and that
will be recorded on this tape. The instrument in front of you is the microphone. You
understand that, Mr. Cooley, you do?
A: I do, sir.
Q: When we arrived in Tehachapi tonight, Mr. Cooley, you informed me that you had not
talked to your attorney, that you were willing to tell us voluntarily to the best of your
recollection what happened this evening and prior to this evening and you were advised
of your legal rights at the time.
A: I was advised but I told you that I would speak freely without attorney’s advice.
Q: At this time it’s still your free and voluntary frame of mind to talk to us, is that not
A: I would like to say this; that I am not in the best of form as you can now understand.
Q: That’s still your answer.
A: That I will be happy to make the tape recording.
Q: Fine. And we are now in Mojave and it’s now 3:05 a.m. on Tuesday morning, April 4th.
You are well aware of that?
A: Yes I am.
Q: All right, Mr. Cooley, you told us briefly in Tehachapi that you and your wife were
having marital troubles in the past several months.
A: Well, not several months, it’s just been in the last thirty days I believe.
Q: Fine, and your wife, I believe you stated was in a hospital in Lancaster for treatment.
A: She had a nervous breakdown.
Q: And Mr. Cooley, to the best of your recollection you told me that after she got out of the
hospital you went back to the ranch at Willow Springs.
A: The very first thing we did was to go on a vacation. We wanted to get away from the
crowds and the people. I did not tell you this in the interview, but it comes to me now
that we went on a vacation. It was not the most pleasant vacation but we were trying to
get back together.
A: Yes, trying very desperately.
A: We came home from the vacation and went to Bobbi Bennett’s, my manager, to get away
from the crowds that were always at my ranch.
Q: Mr. Cooley, that is Mrs. Bobbi Bennett in Hollywood, is that correct?
A: That’s correct, yes.
Q: You and your wife Ella Mae left in your Cadillac from Los Angeles areas en route to
your ranch in Willow Springs.
A: Yes, true. We came over Bouquet Canyon to the cutoff at K Street and went to 90th. At
90th to Hamilton Road, turned to the right or left on Hamilton Road, went to the end of the
pavement and turned up the road. A few blocks from there my wife jumped out of the
car and I attempted and did grab her hair and pulled some of her hair out when she
jumped but she got away. I let go.
Q: Was there any conversation between the two of you at the time that you recall?
A: She said “I want to die.”
Q: She said she wanted to die?
A: She said “I want to die.” She said “I’m so ashamed.”
Q: And from there where did you proceed to.
A: We went to the ranch.
Q: Then you and your wife were having a little dispute or argument during this period?
A: We were discussing continuously the divorce - whether to get the divorce or whether not
to. It was a hot and cold affair as to whether we would or we wouldn’t. I had not
previously stated but that without my knowledge my wife had three times phoned an
attorney in the San Fernando Valley planning to divorce me for this other man.
Q: [by Sgt. Shuell]: What other man was that, sir?
A: His name is Clifton Davenport.
Q: Clifton Davenport? He’s a medical research technician or something at UCLA.
A: I believe UCLA.
Q: Did she tell you at any time that she was going to divorce you for this man.
Q: She had never told you that?
A: Never. My first knowledge of this is when I called her prior to her release from the
hospital the night before, because we were planning the vacation that I told you we went
on. We both needed a rest; we had worked so hard at the Water Wonderland and with the
children and the ranch - I called her at night; I called her eight or nine times and I believe
I timed it around 45 minutes that she was talking to a man. I asked the nurse on the third
floor to go and see what was going on and the nurse came back and said she is still
talking. So after she got off the phone I finally reached her and I said ......
Q: Harman: Go ahead and light your cigarette.
A: May I? I said “Ella Mae, did your mother call you today?” And she said “No.” I said
“many people call you today or something like that” just trying to find out some
information because I was shocked that she would talk to someone for that long. It must
have been her mother. She said “I talked to someone who is a mutual friend” which
didn’t bother me at all, and I said “Ella Mae, I happen to have monitored your whole
telephone conversation and I heard every word.” She said “well, I believe” she said “so
now you know, so what” and I said I was shocked. I remember my exact words. I said
“good night Ella Mae” and they tell me at the hospital that she jumped out of her bed and
said “he will kill me.”
Q: Sgt. Shuell: Would you like to have a cup of coffee, Mr. Cooley?
A: I would like one, sir.
Shuell: I’ll see if its ready yet.
Cooley: Is that a reporter?
Q: No, that man at the door there is one of the other men just up from Bakersfield. He’s
actually my partner in Bakersfield, Mr. Cooley, he is Mr. Leo Blair.
A: I see.
Q: And you saw him when Mr. Shuell opened the door to go get us a cup of coffee. There
is just the two of us here now, Mr. Cooley, and Mr. Shuell just left the room to get us a
cup of coffee where the tape machine is going so we’ll carry on. After this, did you know
that your wife was talking to Clifton Davenport from Lancaster from the hospital?
A: I did not.
Q: You did not, and you just told your wife that, in other words.
A: I told her “yes I didn’t know.”
Q: But did you have a suspicion that that’s who she was talking to at the time.
A: Not the slightest.
Q: Not the slightest. Did she tell you at the time that she was talking to Clifton Davenport?
A: No she didn’t.
Q: When was the first time you recall either coming in contact with the name of Clifton
Davenport or Luther Jackson, Mr. Cooley?
A: They came to my ranch and purchased some land from me and resold it, And they were
frequent visitors - they were welcome there and they came on Thanksgiving for
Thanksgiving dinner along with twenty or thirty or forty other people.
Q: Oh, so then my recollection is now that you knew Clifton Davenport and you knew
Luther Jackson and you knew that they lived together; however you didn’t know that
your wife was having an affair with Clifton Davenport.
A: I did not.
Q: When was the first time you found out, Mr. Cooley, that your wife was having an affair
with Clifton Davenport?
A: That same day.
Q: Mr. Shuell has now brought us our coffee and he is again in the room. Mr. Cooley, we
have to put this on the tape.
A: I do understand.
Q: Well, there’s your coffee, sir, and the same day as she was out of the hospital?
A: No. The same day that she received or made the long telephone call - that night I found
Q: That she was having an affair with Clifton Davenport?
Q: But when was the first time you found out, I mean I might be wrong but it’s my
understanding you told me the truth that she was having an affair with Clifton Davenport
and had spent several occasions in a motel with him; am I correct in stating that?
A: I have a written confession to this effect and I believe that I can, my statement, can be
proven by several people.
Q: It isn’t that I don’t want your statement proven right now, Mr. Cooley, I don’t want to
inject anything in there.
Q: That, I don’t think you’ve already told me.
A: Cooley: If this is not to get to the newspapers I will tell you definitely that she was
having an affair with Clifton Davenport.
Q: That’s what you told me earlier but I didn’t want to inject it in the tape without you
knowing that you told me that prior.
A: Yes, I understand.
Q: Fine. All right, then, let’s get back to the ranch and the facts at hand earlier on Monday,
April 3rd, which would have been yesterday, Mr. Cooley.
A: The next day after we came home we decided to go back to her parents. Is that where
you want me to take up from, sir?
Q: That’s fine.
A: We decided to go back to her parents. Before we even got off the ranch she jumped out
of the car again and was not hurt I don’t think seriously.
Q: Yes, was she hurt seriously the first time?
A: Yes, I think her tailbone was bruised pretty badly and she walked with difficulty and she
was scratched up pretty bad and bruised because I believe at that speed that she would
have been hurt quite seriously but she didn’t appear, she didn’t want a doctor; she made
the remark that she didn’t want a doctor because we had enough scandal through the
hospital which you will find out about.
Q: Fine. Now let’s go back - she jumped out of the car the second time you took her back to
the ranch again, am I correct in saying that?
A: That is true.
Q: And then that brings us up to Monday which was just yesterday.
Q: Did you and your wife have any trouble yesterday?
A: We did have some trouble.
Q: Did that start in the morning or the afternoon, or can you recall?
A: I think in the afternoon because I kept her sleeping all morning. She slept and slept very
soundly. I was worried about it because she would not eat.
Q: Have you done any drinking up there for the last several days yesterday?
A: I did some drinking yesterday but not heavily.
Q: How about your wife, sir.
A: My wife does not drink; she does not drink.
Q: She does not drink?
Q: What time did she wake up?
A: I cannot recall, sir, but I believe around 3:00 o’clock.
Q: In the afternoon?
Q: Was there any trouble arguing or anything about your marital status, your divorce status.
A: We didn’t argue; we discussed it.
Q: You discussed it?
A: She told me that I was better off without her; she confessed that day to me that a previous
affair with my best friend, ex-best friend Roy Rogers, was in fact the truth and that he
came to my home on Saturdays while I was at rehearsal and while I was on my show to
be sure that they knew where I was. And I took her back from that time and I drove it out
of my mind because I was never sure that she told me at the time, she told me that she
wanted to get away from me and wanted a divorce.
Q: And the purpose of your understanding now would be to tie it in with Clifton Davenport,
is that correct.
A: I believe this to be the truth.
A: She admitted this much; that she was leaving me and leaving my children; that she was
giving up the children, giving up our property. I believe she told her attorney that she
didn’t want any money at all, and that Clifton Davenport pitched a real big fit and said
she was very silly and that she should have the money. I previously stated to you before
this recording that she had given him sums of money - I will never know how much; but
we do know that she gave him $800.00.
Q: All right, then getting back to the ranch again on Monday, April 3rd, was anyone else at
A: I think that Melody was there at one time.
Q: That is your fourteen year old daughter?
Q: But she wasn’t there later in the evening?
A: Yes I believe she was there about dusk.
Q: Did she see her mother at the time?
A: She did see her.
Q: Did she talk to her at the time?
A: We were fighting.
Q: You and your mother, your mother were fighting, or you and Melody?
A: No, no, my wife and I were fighting.
Q: When you say fighting what do you mean; would you explain that to me?
A: Arguing. It had been at the time that I told you that I slapped her. She just told me prior
to Melody’s entrance into the house that she had not only gone to bed with Clifton
Davenport but had gone to bed with both of them in a motel that had palm trees in
Palmdale; I mean, just outside of Rosamond, right in my home town.
Q: I see. Now then that was this evening that you say you slapped her.
A: Yes I did, sir.
Q: And that was around dusk when Melody was there?
Q: So that would probably be 6:30, 7:00 o’clock, I would assume?
Q: Would that be dusk; I don’t know what time it is over here on the desert.
Shuell: It might be a little earlier than that, maybe 6:00 or 6:30, maybe just a little earlier.
Cooper: Well then Melody left, is that correct?
A: Cooley: Yes she did.
Q: Was she by herself or with somebody?
A: Yes, she was by herself.
Q: Was there anyone else there?
Q: All right, then, after your daughter Melody left, Mr. Cooley, you and your wife continued
having trouble, is that true?
A: We didn’t; we had some trouble but most of it was just conversation at that point.
Q: At that point?
A: She said, when she told me this, she said to me “you don’t think I love you, let me show
you” and I had a cigarette in my hand and she took it and burned both of her breasts
briefly. I don’t know how bad but she just touched them.
Q: With a . . . .?
A: Lighted cigarette. “Does this prove how much I love you” she said.
Q: And that was where in your house?
A: In the bedroom.
Q: And there was just you and your wife there?
A: We call it the den but it’s the largest room.
Q: Was she clothed at the time?
A: No she wasn’t. She had a blouse on that she pulled open.
Q: Then what happened after the burnings?
A: She went to the shower.
A: She staggered when she walked because she was weak. She had not eaten as I told you
for days; she got to the shower and she slipped on the floor. The door opened when she
opened the door and I heard her head hit a glass container or something in there; I never
did look to see what was broken but she landed flat on her face and there was quite a
crack. I would say to you that I believe that the autopsy will prove that she did die of a
Q: Well tell me this; as you stated to me earlier and I don’t want to inject anything here that
you haven’t told me, but my understanding was in Tehachapi you told me you struck
your wife three or four times to the best of your recollection.
A: I think I struck her three times.
Q: Three times?
Q: And that was all at one time?
A: Yes it was.
Q: Just before Melody got there?
A: I don’t know that it was. I don’t know. I don’t think I would have struck her when
Melody was there but I might have.
Q: When Melody was there?
A: I was enraged.
Q: Was Melody upset when she left or crying because you and your wife were . . . . .
A: Yes I took her in my arms and kissed her and told her that everything would be all right.
Q: Where did she go?
A: She went with the McWhorters or some neighbors.
Q: When your wife went to the shower do you recall what time it was?
A: I do not recall but it was quite late. I picked her up and put her on the bed. I wiped her
first and put water on her face.
Q: Was she bleeding?
A: She was bleeding on the forehead and on the nose.
Q: Uh huh?
A: Not out of the nose but she had broken her nose.
Q: She had broken her nose?
A: I believe she had.
Q: And was this in the shower, you say, when she slipped and fell on her face in the shower?
A: She did not fall completely in the shower - part of her body was outside and part of it was
Q: Was there blood in the shower?
A: There was blood, yes.
Q: In the shower?
Q: And that has been cleaned up?
A: It has.
Q: Who cleaned it up?
A: I’m sorry, sir, but I did.
Q: You did?
Q: And do you recall when that was?
A: Probably thirty minutes after she was hurt.
Q: And when she was hurt you took her from the bathroom to the bedroom and laid her on
the bed, is that right?
A: No, the bedroom is right adjacent to the bathroom and I took her out of the shower and
put her on the bed and covered her up and rubbed her hands because she just laid there.
Q: What was her state?
A: I thought she was unhurt but I had no idea; I never at any time had any idea that she was
near death because she was breathing. I then called my manager, Bobbi Bennett in Los
Angeles, to come.
Q: What did you tell Ms. Bennett at the time?
A: Well, I would like to retract a statement because I had called Bobbi prior to that time to
do some business, some land contracts and things, but the one I meant to tell you that I
called was the nurse Dorothy Davis.
Q: A nurse Dorothy Davis in Hollywood?
A: Yes, no in the San Fernando Valley.
Q: And what did you tell Mrs. Davis?
A: I told her that Ella Mae was in bad shape and I needed her very badly, to get off her job
and come immediately.
Q: Did she?
A: She did.
Q: And what did she do when she got to the ranch?
A: When she got to the ranch she told me she thought Ella Mae was gone and I wouldn’t
believe it, and I rubbed her wrist; I rubbed her hands, I rubbed her body; I breathed in her
mouth; I did everything in the world to try to save her.
Q: Uh huh?
A: I prayed, my manager prayed.
Q: Was your manager there at the time?
A: My manager had arrived shortly before that.
Q: Who arrived first, the nurse or the manager?
A: I believe the manager did.
Q: You called the manager first?
Q: Then you called the nurse?
A: I had no need of the manager to help with a sick woman.
Q: That’s right if you say so; I wouldn’t know whether she could help her or couldn’t at the
time, Mr. Cooley, but then what happened after the nurse got there?
A: I would like to tell you but I don’t know.
Q: Mr. Cooley, let me ask you this. After you took your wife out of the bathroom and put
her on the bed approximately how long after that did you clean up the shower or the
A: I would say thirty minutes.
Q: Thirty minutes?
A: Only because I walked in there and there was blood all over.
Q: There was blood all over the shower?
A: All over. Where I picked her up to pull out of there, there was blood on the walls and she
was bleeding quite badly from the forehead.
Q: On the walls of what, sir, the shower or the bathroom?
A: No, as I raised her up she probably touched the walls with either side.
Q: Was there blood on the floor?
A: There was blood on the floor.
Q: How about the bed?
A: There was blood on the bed after I put her on the bed.
Q: Has that been changed?
A: Not, no it has not. I left her just like she was and the ambulance driver found her.
Q: How long prior to burning herself, if you can recall, did she go into the bathroom?
A: I cannot recall.
Q: You don’t recall how long?
A: No I don’t.
Q: It was after she burned herself - whether it was a matter of, what did she say?
A: She said “I want to show you how much I love you in so many words.”
Q: She didn’t say anything else as far as she was hurting?
A: She said “now you see how much I love you.”
Q: And what did you say, do you recall?
A: I said “you must love me.”
Q: Well, then, . . . .
A: Can I say, sir, that we desperately wanted to get back together; we wanted to get back
together, both of us.
Q: Is that right?
A: I was under the impression that she wanted to get back with me.
Q: Why were you going to take her back?
A: Well, at the time, the second day we discussed this half the night and decided it would be
better. She kept saying “I’m a horrible woman; I’m not good for you; I shouldn’t be with
you; I’m not good for the children.”
Q: What happened after the nurse and the manager came?
A: Well, the manager wanted to call an ambulance but I didn’t want to because I didn’t think
at the time she was badly hurt. I had no idea.
Q: Was she breathing at the time?
A: Yes, she was breathing. My manager pleaded with me to call an ambulance and instead I
called the nurse, who’s a very fine nurse, and a dear friend of Ella Mae’s, and a dear
friend of mine, a personal friend who has lived with us and who has been with us through
the Rogers episode.
Q: Well what happened then finally. Who called the ambulance, do you recall?
A: When Dorothy said she believed that Ella Mae was dead I couldn’t believe and I said
“Dorothy, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” She said “Spade, I’m not wrong” and she
sobbed and cried because she loved her; and then we immediately called the ambulance.
The ambulance came and the man said “where do you want to go?” I said “I want to go
to the closest hospital.” He said “that would be Tehachapi” and I said “all right” and I sat
with her and I held her head and I kept my hand on her forehead and I still didn’t believe
she was dead. I prayed all the way.
Q: When did you first find out definitely that she was dead?
A: I went to the hospital and the nurse told me that she had gone; and I didn’t believe the
nurse. The doctor came and told me that she was dead and then I accepted it.
Q: I want to ask you something, and you feel free not to answer if you wish.
A: I certainly will.
Q: Cause I want you to feel free, I don’t want you to say anything that didn’t happen. I’d
like to know. I see both of your hands are swollen, swollen and bruised, and as I told you
before, an autopsy will show if it’s fist marks on your wife or not.
Q: We know that and you know that, sir.
Q: And your hands are awfully swollen and bruised.
A: May I say that I did not hit her with my fist. I did not hit her with my fist.
Q: How do you account for both your hands being bruised and swollen, the back side, sir?
A: Both of my hands? Well, this hand I hit a car with.
Q: And when was that, sir?
A: While we were on our vacation. I hit a car; I hit a car with my hand as hard as I could. I
did it like this, and I thought I had broken it and it was all swollen. I went to a place and
had an x-ray, two x-rays made. I can give you the place where I had the second x-rays in
Hollywood on Melrose. Either Vine Street or Melrose.
Q: How do you account for the left hand being swollen, sir?
A: Well, . . . . . .
Q: And marked up, I mean, I can plainly see it.
Q: The knuckles are all bruised.
A: Yes, I can plainly see it too.
Q: And black and blue in fact; they’re turning since I first saw them.
A: Yes I believe they are. I believe they are.
Q: I mean when I first saw you in Tehachapi they weren’t turning like that and now they’re
A: The hand has been swollen and has been black and blue for some time.
Q: Well, it’s been black and blue since I saw you, Mr. Cooley.
A: Ah, they even wanted to make an x-ray of my other hand in one place.
Q: The only thing I can say, Mr. Cooley, is that when I first saw you at Tehachapi two and
one-half hours ago, I noticed your hand since that time is becoming more bruised down to
the fingers there. That’s the first thing I noticed when I walked in. We, both of your
hands and this hand here is all bruised; in fact there’s a big bruise on the middle finger
clear down to the other one. Am I correct in saying that?
A: I think you are, sir.
Q: And it’s turning bluer all the time?
A: I believe it is.
Q: All right, and I’d like to know what your explanation for it is, if you care to tell me.
A: Well, I would like to have an answer for you and tell you, but I did not hit my wife with
Q: Your right hand, sir, is in pretty bad shape to hit anybody unless it was that way prior to
A: Very well, it was.
Q: I’m not trying to put words in your mouth; I’d just like to have an explanation for your
hands. It would be hard to convince me that those hands weren’t the hands that beat her
just looking at it. I could be wrong. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.
A: Well I think you are, sir.
Q: Well, that very well could be.
A: And I hope you are. I mean, I hope you know you are.
Q: I don’t know that.
A: I could have hurt my hand, I could have hurt my hand when I tried to get her out of the
shower. She was wedged in the door of the shower and I could have very well hurt it. I
can’t tell you how I hurt my hand.
Q: I don’t think you’re going to bruise a hand and knuckles like that, Mr. Cooley, unless you
hit something with them. I’m no authority, believe me, but I’ve seen quite a few of them
in my day and that’s . . . . I’m not wrong in describing your hand, am I sir?
A: No, sir.
Q: Am I correct in describing that both of them are swollen to a great degree and turning
black and blue?
A: May I say, sir, that they have been swollen for some time and certainly not beating her,
because she’s been with people all the time that know she was not beaten.
Q: She wasn’t with anybody this afternoon outside of your daughter Melody.
A: Yes, that’s true, but both my hands were swollen before that.
Q: Well, ah, I don’t know when she was beaten or when she wasn’t beaten, Mr. Cooley. I
wasn’t there, I don’t know, but from the indications and appearances of those hands you
may have got them like you say - the right hand from hitting the car; the left hand is what
I was interested in because I can see that it’s started to turn and it is a great degree more
swollen and more bruised in the last two hours that I’ve been with you.
A: May I say this?
A: Sometimes when I’m hurt I’m completely hopelessly lost in some situation I hit things -
not people. I never hit people. I hit one man recently but I’d like to say this. That
sometimes I hit things. After I knew my wife was gone I could have hit anything.
Q: Could you have hit her with your fist instead of your open hand like you told me.
A: I believe not, sir. I believe not, sir.
Q: Could anyone else hit her? Did anyone else hit her with their fist?
A: Nobody touched her; nobody hit her with their fist. I think the autopsy will show that she
was not hit with a fist.
Q: I just want an explanation of your hands the way they are, sir.
A: I gave you the best one I know, sir.
Q: Was your left hand like that yesterday morning, bruised like that yesterday morning?
A: My left hand was bruised and it has been bruised for some time but it was not bruised
from hitting her. I told you that tonight. I hit her with my left hand and I must have hit
something but I didn’t hit my wife.
Q: But your left hand has been injured tonight, to the best of your recollection, now looking
A: I don’t think
Q: That, or this morning?
A: No, no, sir, it has been hurt tonight.
Q: It has been hurt tonight?
Q: It would be Monday sometime, it was injured sometime Monday evening?
Q: On April 4th, it seems to be considerably getting bluer now since we’ve been talking to
you or have you noticed it since you’ve been in Tehachapi and even now.
A: I haven’t noticed; I haven’t noticed much of anything, sir.
Q: Well, would you notice it now and let me describe it for you. It was very swollen and
very bruised, is that - is it sore now?
A: It isn’t sore.
Q: But you can see how discolored and swollen?
A: It’s discolored some.
Q: And it’s swollen some, is that not true?
A: Yes, it’s swollen some.
Q: How about the right one, sir?
A: The right one has
Q: Is really swollen.
A: I can’t even close the right one.
Q: You can’t even close the right one?
A: So when I told you I slapped my wife I did slap her, I slapped her with my right hand.
Q: You slapped her with your right hand?
Q: You slapped her three times as near as you can recall?
A: As near as I can recall.
Q: But you have a vile temper, you say, is that correct?
A: When did I say that?
Q: Well, I don’t know, but you say you usually hit things. What would make you hit things,
if you don’t remember hitting them?
A: I said when I’m completely at road’s end.
Q: Is that a temper tantrum or is it just
A: No, it isn’t; I don’t think so. It’s just a release of emotion. I’m not a psycho.
Q: I didn’t say that, Mr. Cooley.
A: Some people tear their hair; some people kick things; some people stomp their hat.
Q: Yours is hitting some object?
A: I hit something; I’m stupid to do it.
Q: Evidently, if that’s what caused the swelling in your hands, I would say. Can you think
of anything else we’d like to ask Mr. Cooley at all, Sgt. Shuell.
Shuell: Yeah, there were two things I thought of while getting the coffee.
Cooley: Uh huh.
Shuell: The shower at your home.
Q: At Willow Springs, is that a stall shower or a tub shower.
A: It’s a stall shower but it has a tile floor.
Q: A tile floor?
Q: And was the water running in the shower when you went into the bathroom and saw your
wife lying on the floor?
A: Yes it was.
Q: The water was running?
Q: Did you notice whether the water was hot, cold, the temperature that you would
ordinarily take. . . .
A: It was bath water.
Q: Did you have to get any part of your body in the shower to retrieve her from the stall? I
mean did you have to go inside.
A: I turned the water off first.
Q: You turned the water off first and then you heard glass break in the shower.
Q: I understand you were in the bedroom, is that right?
A: I was, uh huh.
Q: Did you get up immediately and go in there?
A: I immediately went in there yes.
Q: Did you call her first and receive no answer?
A: No, no. I went in immediately because the door was open, the sliding door into the
bathroom was open; the shower door was open; her head and shoulders were in the
shower; he head straight down, flat on the floor of the shower, and there was glass. As a
matter of fact I picked up, I cut my hand in several pieces - you see my hand?
Cooper: Yes, uh huh.
A: I cut my hand when I picked her up from the glass in the shower. It was a bottle, I
believe. But I don’t know; I never inspected it. I didn’t do anything other than run the
water as I mentioned about thirty minutes later and clean up the blood.
Cooper: Was she wet, Mr. Cooley. You say she was part in the shower and part out of the
shower. Part of her was probably wet, then, was it not?
A: Oh yes, she was wet, very wet and the top of her body, her hair was wet, sir.
Q: Her hair was wet?
A: Yes and her shoulders up to her waist.
Q: I see.
A: Almost to the waist.
Q: And she burned herself prior to that?
A: That’s true.
Q: Did she say anything to you before she was going to take a shower?
Q: Can you recall?
A: She said “I feel so faint, I feel weak, I think I’ll take a shower.” I had slapped her, you
know, as I told you. She had just told me - I didn’t tell you what she told me, did I.
Cooper: I don’t recall. You can tell us again if you wish.
A: Well, she told me she’d slept with Luther Jackson and they had a three-way deal in a
motel with palm trees. I’m not certain which one but Luther Jackson and Clifton
Davenport in Rosamond.
Q: By a three-way deal, you mean all three of them in the bed at the same time, sir?
A: This is my understanding.
Q: You mean, ah, a homosexual affair, is that what your
Q: Your understanding of it?
Q: Putting words in your mouth?
A: I would not make that implication, I would not, but it was not certainly a normal thing.
Q: Do you have the suspicion that Davenport and Jackson may be homosexual. That’s what
you stated earlier this evening, I believe.
A: Ah, I don’t know. Those things are hard to prove.
Q: But you didn’t make the statement to me in Tehachapi that it was your opinion that they
A: They brought some boys up to my ranch that were completely on the limp list side and I
told my wife that we couldn’t sell them land, the others, because it would not be a good
thing for our project.
Shuell: By that you mean from their actions you assumed that they may be
A: Well, I assumed this.
A: When two men live together and constantly moving from place to place as they do.
Q: Would that indicate that possibly they were?
A: Is this information strictly confidential?
Q: Yes sir.
A: Absolutely, sir.
A: And this is police and
Q: Confidential report.
A: You understand the implications of saying someone is a homosexual and he could sue
you for the rest of your life and you would never be able to prove that he wasn’t.
Cooper: Well, that’s very true.
Shuell: That’s true.
A: But I will say this; that I am of the opinion that they are.
Cooper: Well, that’s what you. . . .
A: I think they’re bisexuals.
Q: That’s what you told me earlier up in Tehachapi. Actually, Mr. Cooley, is why I brought
it up. From talking to you, Mr. Cooley, I like to sum this deal up. I could be very wrong,
we do make mistakes. We weren’t there or anything. I’d like to believe what you’re
A: Appreciate that you do.
Q: But it’s pretty hard for me to do in the line of work I do and working these homicides and
stuff. I think, Mr. Cooley, cause if I were there I would probably find a slightly different
story than you told us tonight. In my personal opinion - no reflection on you - or
anything, I mean that’s your problem. Ah, you know, what happened we’d like to
believe what you tell us is the truth. With your hands the way they are and the story I
would be inclined to think from the evidence I’ve seen, not being at the place or anything
else, that it was probably a little bit more severe than you’re trying to tell us, and trying to
cover up with the shower deal, Mr. Cooley. I mean that’s what it appears to me; I could
be very wrong. I work these deals; we are entitled to our opinion.
Q: Same as anyone else.
A: I can understand, yes.
Q: And there’s no use of me telling Joe Blow my opinion. I’d just as soon tell you. It’s up
to us to try to prove, we’re going to try to prove what happened as facts; that’s what
we’re all interested in, the facts that happened.
A: I understand, sir.
Q: We’re not going to try to put any words in your mouth; I’d like to have strictly the truth
from you. As we told you before, free and voluntary on your part. I can see your
position, but it’s pretty tough for us to believe the story. I mean, it’s hard; I don’t know
how Mr. Shuell feels about it; the way I feel about it I think the beating was probably a
little more severe than you would like to have us know about and I think that the fists
were involved, possibly, and I think that probably the shower or shower episode was
probably after the deal happened, Mr. Cooley - probably tried to clean it up. I could be
very wrong but that’s what it sound like, Mr. Cooley.
Q: Whether it is or whether it isn’t
A: I think
Q: Remains to be seen.
A: I think the autopsy will prove that I am telling the truth.
Q: Well, I hope you are, Mr. Cooley.
A: I would
Q: There’s no offense, I mean, I don’t want to say you’re telling us an untruth, but I just, I’m
just telling you that we look at it from a different angle. I can see your position as well.
A: I would like to say one thing. That when a wife that you love more than you love your
life itself, even more than you love your children, more than you love anything in the
world, tells you she sleeps with two men
Q: It sure puts you in a rage, Mr. Cooley.
A: I might have gone in a rage but I’ll tell you this - that I did not beat my wife to death,
believe me, sir. I did not beat my wife.
Q: If you may have went in a rage could you have done it and not known it?
A: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s a possibility because I heard the glass break; I
heard her head hit the shower, the floor.
Q: Well, Mr. Cooley, if that was the situation why go and clean up the shower? Why do
everything that’s kind of a blow to the alibi.
A: The reason I did it is because I didn’t think she was as seriously hurt as she was. I did not
and I told you this before, I thought that she’d cut her head, I know that her nose was
Q: Mr. Cooley, if what you say and she was, of course, the autopsy again will show how
long she was injured before she expired.
Q: To a degree, I mean; I don’t think they can say she was injured at such-and-such time and
expired at such-and-such time.
A: Well, now, I
Q: That’s impossible; however they can come up with a fairly good conclusion.
A: Would you say this, if the last thing that happened to her was the blow to her head that I
described in the shower, would that prove that I am telling the truth?
Q: I don’t know, sir.
A: I know but
Q: Let me tell you this, Mr. Cooley. I told you my opinion of it and I could be wrong, but
then you again state you don’t know. You could have gone into a rage. From the looks
of your hands I think you did, but I wasn’t there. I haven’t seen your wife. I think Mr.
Shuell has been there. I haven’t even seen her. I wouldn’t know what she looked like or
anything else. I mean, when I came in here you were sitting in the front office. I started
talking to you. We went to the doctor’s office. I talked to you and I’ve been your
constant companion since that time.
Q: Since I walked up in here so I haven’t seen her. I believe Mr. Shuell has seen her and
seen the injuries, or the superficial injuries, and if he could explain those to you you can
explain how she got them; I don’t know.
Shuell: Spade, is it all right to call you Spade, is that all right?
A: I wish you would, sir.
Q: All right, Spade. Your wife’s left eye is completely black. It’s black all the way around.
A: I told you I slapped her.
Q: You slapped her?
A: I slapped her hard.
Q: Now that’s her left eye. Would this be the right eye here?
A: No I believe you’re wrong; it’s her right eye that’s black.
A: You can check it. I know it’s her right eye.
Q: Possibly both of them are black.
A: It’s her right eye, sir.
A: Now when I tell you something I tell you that I know what I am telling you it’s her right
Q: All right, we’ll assume it is her right eye for the time being, but her face and the top of
the feet are just a mass of bruises - black and blue; they’re purple; they’re green.
A: This girl fell out of a car twice.
Q: Uh huh.
A: She didn’t fall out; she jumped out.
Q: There are skin marks on her knees like the kind of small abrasions a child gets when they
fall on the sand. And also on her chin there is what looks like a fall, the way you say,
from a car.
A: The abrasion on her chin she did not get from the fall in the car.
Q: How did she?
A: She got it in the shower.
Q: Oh, I see.
A: I am quite sure.
Q: Well, that’s possible now. . . . .
A: I am quite sure because she didn’t have it before.
Q: She does have the cut on her head up here like you described, a fresh cut.
Q: Up here by the top of the hairline.
Q: But her knees, her thighs, her stomach, all around her face is just a mass of bruises.
A: I know.
Q: Now, were they like that this evening, or this morning; were there bruises like that this
A: She was bruised very badly.
Q: And you
A: She did not have a black eye.
Q: Well she has one now.
A: I know she has.
Q: She has a dandy now; it’s real purple black eye.
Cooper: Mr. Cooley, isn’t it true that when you came right down to talking facts and stuff
that this probably isn’t the first one, if the bruises were that way before; that you
have been handling the last several days or early yesterday and had another battle
and you beat her.
A: No, we’ve had tiffs but no battles.
Q: You’ve had tiffs but no battles?
A: No, she was my manager; she was on the road with me on vacation, with her father and
Q: I’m talking about since you were at Willow Springs, the last several days over the Easter
A: Yes, but we were only there two days.
Q: How many times did you strike her in those two days with your fists or beat her prior to
A: I did not.
Q: You did not?
A: I did not.
Q: Did anyone?
A: No, sir.
Q: All the bruises on her body she sustained from falling out of the car?
A: I believe she must have.
Q: Well, can you definitely say that?
A: Well, I’d like to have to say that. I can say that she may have got some cuts, fresh cuts
from the fall tonight.
Q: I haven’t seen the lady or examined her but I understand she’s quite badly bruised up all
over and it appears from a beating rather than falling out of a car, according to the doctor
up there, or according to the telephone call I got at home this morning before I left.
A: Which doctor told you that?
Q: I got it through our office that she was beat awfully bad, her whole body was just beat -
that’s what the office told me when they called, Mr. Cooley. Somebody evidently told
them that from the Tehachapi Hospital when she was brought in there.
A: You were told from your office?
Q: Yes, I better get up there because a woman was beat awful bad and had taken a real
beating and you don’t do that with just slapping a person, Mr. Cooley. Understand, Mr.
Cooley, if that is the truth you’re the one that has to live with it, your conscience, not me.
A: I understand, sir.
Q: You understand what I mean?
A: I do understand.
Q: And it’s your problem and not mine; if that’s what happened you might feel relieved to
tell us about it, I don’t know.
A: I have nothing further to say, sir.
Q: You have nothing further to say?
A: Unless you want to ask me some more questions.
A: I have done without advice of my attorney.
Q: That’s right.
A: I considered that I needed no attorney because I’m telling the truth, sir.
Q: Fine. Well, Mr. Cooley, again like I say, we could be wrong. I haven’t seen her; I’m
making an opinion from looking at your hands and stuff, from what I’ve been told, from
what you’ve told me here about the shower and everything else, but I am still entitled to
A: You said
Q: There’s no hard feelings about it, I don’t feel harsh towards you. After all if you’re
telling us the truth fine. If you’re telling us an untruth, it’s you who has to live with it;
it’s self preservation to a degree.
A: Actually, do you want to know the truth?
Q: Yeah, that’s all I want to know, the truth.
A: I have no more use to live than anything in the world.
Q: Who do you have? You have a couple.
A: My children. My children are the only things that I would want to live for but without
my wife I know they would be better off without me because without her I am nothing. I
worship my wife; you understand that when I tell you about how much
Q: And then when she told you this deal here happened, Mr. Cooley, isn’t it true you
probably went in a rage and beat her.
A: I went in a rage, I slapped her. I told you I slapped her.
Shuell: Mr. Cooley, when this occurred why did you slap her? Did she say anything?
Did she fight back? Did she cry?
A: No, sir, she cried out that she deserved it “I deserve it, I deserve it, I deserve it” that and
Cooper: And all this time you were slapping her?
A: Yeah, there are witnesses who know how humiliated and how sick.
Q: Mr. Cooley, what leads up to it doesn’t enter into the fact. What happened there tonight
there are no witnesses there tonight outside your daughter Melody, who came in prior to
A: That’s true.
Q: So the only thing we’re interested in is what happened tonight.
A: I think
Q: Because the expiration of your wife
A: Sir, I’ve told you everything that I know about it.
Q: Uh huh. And as far as you’re concerned it’s the absolute truth. You’re not certain
whether you couldn’t have fallen into a rage then worked her over.
A: I don’t
Q: You don’t think so but you’re not positive?
A: I don’t think so. I’ll tell you why I don’t think so because I couldn’t have hit her with my
fist; I don’t think.
Q: Well, Mr. Cooley, if you tell me you were so madly in love with your wife, the way it is,
and she was sleeping with some two homosexuals, ah, you are certain were homosexuals.
A: I’m not certain but I didn’t say that, sir.
Q: Well it was your opinion that they are, ah, they are - I’ll put it that way. I’m sorry, it’s my
mistake, it’s your opinion they were homosexuals anyhow, there was three of them
having a triangle deal in that motel in Rosamond with palm trees on it and that was told
to you. Don’t you think you could have possibly gone into a rage, is that so impossible
thinking of it?
A: It is an impossible question.
Q: It isn’t impossible?
A: It is not impossible.
Q: But you don’t remember?
A: I do not remember.
Q: You do not remember, you do not remember striking your wife?
A: I do not.
Q: With your fist?
A: No I do not, but I remember slapping her.
Q: You remember slapping her?
Q: And slapping her hard?
A: I slapped her hard.
Q: And if you slapped her to cause that black eye you slapped her awful hard.
A: I slapped her hard.
Q: I see.
A: I wished to God that it were me that’s gone instead of her.
Q: Well, that might be the way.
Shuell: There’s one thing I’d like to ask before I forget, Spade. When this slapping
occurred your wife was standing or were you sitting on the bed, or where were
you in the room?
A: In the same room.
Q: In the bedroom?
Q: You refer to that as a den occasionally.
Q: Was your wife standing or were you both seated at a table or on the bed or something?
A: I believe she was seated and I believe I was standing.
Q: I see. She was on the bed or in a chair.
A: On the bed.
Q: On the bed? And was she clothed at the time?
A: I believe she was.
Q: Do you remember what type of clothing she had on?
A: I believe pajamas of some sort.
Q: She was ready for bed then?
A: I believe so; I’m not sure. Gentlemen, I’m very confused tonight.
Cooper: I understand, Mr. Cooley.
A: I’m very confused.
Q: You’re under a grave strain but answer me this, Mr. Cooley. Isn’t it a fact that you hurt
your wife, or that you burnt your wife on the breast instead of her.
A: I did not.
Q: You did not.
A: I did not, sir.
Q: Fine. There’s going to be some questions I’m going to ask you and I want a point
answer. If you feel like answering fine; and if you don’t
A: Yeah, I want you to.
A: I did not.
Q: We’re not trying to be cruel or anything else, I mean, you were in a rage.
A: This did hurt me.
Q: A lot of things can happen.
Q: I’m just wondering if
A: No, I did not.
Q: Couldn’t it be possible she did not burn herself?
A: She burnt herself.
Q: But you did slap her, you slapped her hard enough to give her a black eye and you
couldn’t beat her without knowing it, I mean, to your knowledge right now you didn’t
A: To my knowledge I did not beat her.
Q: With your fists.
A: No, sir.
Cooper: Since you mentioned it before, even on the tape, it’s still getting darker, isn’t it.
A: I believe so.
Shuell: I mean, do you see that Spade?
A: Yes I do see.
Q: Can you see that it is?
A: I do see what you’re talking about.
Q: Getting darker. Will you put it up again and let me see it. We’re not trying to make a
spectacle out of your fist or anything. As you can see down here this bruise right on your
second knuckle is down right down to the middle knuckle.
Q: Your middle finger here.
Q: The second knuckle of your middle finger. And you know, from my experience, if I was
hit hard enough to be bruised it usually won’t show up for the next day or so.
A: Uh huh.
Q: I’m pretty fair complected and I bruise pretty easily.
Q: Possibly you do but if it has become progressively worse since I first saw you at
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When I first saw you up there I think you were probably an hour before Sgt. Cooper went
A: This is true.
Q: You can see why we wonder why we ask you questions coming to our mind and we have
to have an answer for them.
A: Well, certainly I can see, gentlemen, I do see. I have no explanation for it other than I
could have hit something as I say. I could have hit her but I don’t believe I did.
Cooper: You could have hit her with your fist though?
A: I say I could have but I don’t believe I did.
Q: You don’t believe but right now you don’t believe you did, but possibly you could have.
A: No, I don’t believe I did.
Q: Uh huh? Well,
A: I told you before I didn’t believe I did.
Q: Mr. Cooley, like I told you in talking to you then coming up with the shower and that, we
kind work things from the reverse angle, in all angles. And all we want out of you is the
truth. I don’t ask for anything else but the truth.
A: That’s true.
Q: If you told me what’s true I’m wrong and it’s hard for me to admit I’m wrong. Seeing
you and hearing about the description of your wife I don’t think it’s possible that she
could have fallen out of the car twice, falling in the shower and come up the way she is.
Now I’m no authority on it - it sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus to me and as I said
before in talking to you, I’m entitled to an opinion.
A: May I say, sir, that she even admitted jumping out of the car.
Cooper: Oh, I didn’t say that.
Shuell: It’s possible, Spade, as you said.
Cooley: But you said I don’t believe it.
Cooper: Oh, I didn’t say that. I don’t say that. I say, no I say that she couldn’t have
jumped out of the car; I say that the injuries that were described to me, I don’t think she
could have sustained those injuries on a dirt road, falling out of a car. However maybe
she could. The doctor might say that’s how it happened, I don’t know.
Cooper: It doesn’t seem to be possible looking at your hand the way it started swelling;
it’s my belief that you possibly could have just worked her over but good.
A: No, sir, I didn’t.
Shuell: Spade, did your wife fall on the floor when you hit her?
A: No, sir, she was sitting on the bed.
Q: Oh, she was sitting?
A: Yes, she didn’t
Q: Did she fall over?
A: She never fell once.
Q: She didn’t fall?
A: She fell to the right side.
Q: I hate to ask these questions, I know it sounds kind of cruel.
A: I know.
Q: But I’m going to have to ask it anyway. Did you, did you kick your wife with your
A: I did not kick my wife.
Q: You didn’t kick her; I mean you’re sure of that?
A: I’m positive.
Q: It sounds like a pretty cruel thing but it’s one of those things we hate to keep bringing it
A: I did not kick my wife.
Q: You know the bruises on her shins?
Q: Or the calves of her legs.
Q: Things like that, we’re just trying to pick up an explanation for these bruises.
Q: And it looked like it could have been possibly made from a shoe.
A: You know, when you fall out of a car going as fast as we were, you’ve seen wrecks
before and you’ve seen people who have fallen. This girl was hurt pretty bad.
Q: Uh huh, well I can
A: But only bruises.
Q: I can certainly say that I left a car at and skidded about forty feet to a standstill.
Q: I still got a scar or a stripe on my back where it just peeled the hide and all right off.
A: Well, it is
Q: There doesn’t seem to be any marks like that on your wife.
A: Yes there is.
Q: Other than that on the knees that I could see. Now, we didn’t like I say we didn’t turn the
body over. There’s on her knees. You say she had no abrasions on her chin, she got that
in the shower.
Q: And I believe there were two other small abrasions, Spade. Not any bigger than my
lighter here, this Zippo lighter here. They’re small.
Q: Right on her knee cap.
A: Uh huh.
Q: And if she would have fallen from your car, even landing on her knees it probably would
have just shattered both knees; so it looks like she slid on something to make those
abrasions; possibly she did do that when she fell from the car.
A: I believe you’ll find that she did, sir.
Q: Well, uh, I can visualize that prettily readily but the bruises, if she would have fallen hard
enough why wouldn’t there be a mass of this abrasion instead of just one or two.
A: She had a large one on her elbow as you saw.
Q: You’re right. The elbows were skinned, you’re right. Now that you mention it I recall
seeing that abrasion.
A: She had several on her tailbone; her back was hurt pretty bad; she had difficulty in
Cooper: But again, let me I ask you this, Mr. Cooley. Getting back to, I hate to be coming
back to it, but do you think that possibly you could have been in a rage and beat
her and not know it.
A: I don’t think that, I don’t think so; I don’t think there is a chance.
Q: Well you definitely you told me a while ago that it, that I could be right.
A: I said I don’t think there’s a chance but there’s a possibility.
Q: Well, you don’t think there’s a chance but there is a possibility. That you feel that the
cause of your wife’s death right now was due to her falling in the shower.
A: I am as positive as you are sitting there. I am as positive and I think the autopsy will
Q: Did she go into the shower under her own power, Mr. Cooley?
A: Yes she did.
Q: Are you certain of that?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Did she go into the shower at all, Mr. Cooley?
A: Yes she did.
Q: You’re certain of that?
A: She went into the door of the shower and fell.
Q: You’re certain of that?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Did you see her?
A: I saw her when she was in the shower. I didn’t see her go in but when I went in there,
when I heard the bottle break and heard her fall I went to the door and there she was.
Q: Let me ask you this, Mr. Cooley. You just got through stating that you saw her go to the
door of the shower.
A: The door to the shower is in our bedroom.
Q: Did you see her go to the door of the shower?
A: No, I did not sir.
Q: Did you see her go?
Q: To the door?
A: No, I did not see her go to the door but I was
Q: You were in the bedroom when she went to the bathroom area?
Q: The shower?
A: Yes I was.
Q: You were in the bedroom?
Q: Did you hear her turn the water on?
A: Yes I did.
Q: How long was the water on before you heard the fall and the glass break?
A: I believe just long enough for the water to get the proper temperature.
Q: What were you doing at the time, sir?
A: Sitting on the bed.
Q: Had you been arguing when she went into the shower?
A: We had just made up.
Q: You had just made up?
A: Again. Uh huh.
Q: When she went to the shower you had made up?
Q: After slapping her around and cutting her around?
A: Yes, yes.
Q: The prior deals of taking her back.
Q: You made up.
Q: You were the best of friends when she went to the shower or the best of relations between
husband and wife?
A: I felt very bad about slapping her. Then she wanted to go to the shower to take a bath.
Q: Isn’t it true, Mr. Cooley, that you feel very sorry now that you beat your wife.
A: I wouldn’t ask a question like that. I didn’t beat my wife.
Q: I asked it.
A: I’m very sorry but I slapped my wife; I’m very sorry I slapped her.
Q: You slapped her hard?
A: I slapped her hard.
Q: Mr. Cooley, now it’s ten minutes after four.
Shuell: I have one more question.
Cooper: Oh, pardon me.
Shuell: Would you describe your wife for me, Spade. About how tall is she, about how
much does she weigh.
A: Normally she’s about 110 lbs., but I don’t think she weighs very much now. I think she’s
lost quite a bit of weight because she wouldn’t eat; she wouldn’t eat anything. And
neither of us had eaten very much at all. We ate a little bit but not much. She’s about 5
foot 2 or 3.
Q: Uh huh.
A: And she’s blond.
Q: Her full name is Ella Mae?
A: Ella Mae.
A: Yes, sir.
Q: She’s 37 years?
A: I believe 37.
Q: Okay and would you describe yourself for me, Spade. How tall are you.
A: I’m five foot seven and a half.
Q: And your weight?
A: Around 150 lbs. I believe.
Q: About 150 lbs? Okay, I don’t have any further questions.
Cooper: Mr. Cooley, as you can see and I said before we close this off. It’s now 11
minutes after four on April 4, 1961. The tape recorder is still going; all of our
conversations we had are on this tape. It’s still a voluntary statement on your
part; we didn’t threaten you. I did express an opinion or so but we decided that
we’re entitled to that and you say you were truthful with us; as far as I’m
concerned I have no ill feelings towards you. I hope you don’t to me.
A: I do not, sir.
Q: I think that under the circumstances and I hope you feel the same way that Mr. Shuell,
myself and anyone that has talked to you this evening or this morning is that we treated
you with due respect but it is a very serious matter. Once in a while we have an opinion
that we’d like to find out but you tell us you are telling the truth and we’d like to believe
A: I hope you do.
Q: There’s some discrepancies I think in your story but we’re going to have to look into the
whole thing. I’ll probably talk to you again later.
A: Yes, sir.
Q: But as far as you’re concerned everything went on tape and since we’ve been talking to
you have you been treated the same as if I was sitting over there and you were sitting
over here. You feel that you would treat me the same as I treated you which is good
A: I have been treated nicely.
Q: You have been treated nicely? Mr. Shuell has done the same thing.
A: Yes, sir.
Q: I think we got along pretty good.
A: Some day.
Q: Don’t have anything else you’d care to tell us about the deal? And we don’t have
anything else we want to ask you right now. I would like to photograph your hands.
A: If you like.
Q: I don’t know whether our bureau man is up here now or not; I’d like to photograph them.
I’ll probably photograph them in color and I’ll probably photograph them again
A: Uh huh.
Q: The difference in them, but that’s our business and we’re going to do things like that.
Q: Mr. Cooley, we appreciate you talking to us and we’re very sorry about the unfortunate
circumstances that happened tonight. We don’t like it any better than you do.
A: I’m heartbroken.
Q: I know you are and we don’t relish going out on these deals ourself; it’s about 13 minutes
after four and we’ll shut the tape off.
A: May I.
Q: Alright with you.
A: May I call my attorney now?
Q: You may call your attorney but again I want to ask you, you knew at the time that you
were giving this and you told us on tape that you would do it without the advice of your
attorney. You didn’t want your attorney then; you wanted to tell us what you knew and
be glad to, and then call your attorney, isn’t that correct?
A: That’s true. I did ask you prior to making the tape if I could call my attorney but I’m not
retracting any statement; I told you that I was speaking freely here and I would speak
Q: But I told you if you insisted you could call your attorney but we were in Tehachapi at
the time and at the doctor’s office.
A: I asked if
A: I could call there if you remember, but may I say this?
A: I, that I had made no statements on tape that I would not make again.
Q: Well, fine, fine. You can call your attorney but nobody forced you about it being
voluntary and we advised you of your legal rights before we put this on tape.
Q: Is that true?
A: That’s very true.
Q: Very true. Okay. It’s now 14 minutes after 4 on April 4th. The people present are the
same that started - Spade Cooley, Thomas Shuell and myself, H.E. Cooper.