The Devoted Toni Jo is Deserted
After arriving at the police station she discovered that he was on vacation, but his colleague Sergeant Dave Walker would be more than happy to assist. Toni Jo’s aunt unwittingly told Sergeant Walker her niece’s fragmented story, and he agreed to accompany her back to her home to interview Toni Jo. By this time, Calloway had been reported missing, failing to deliver the car to Jennings, Louisiana, as promised. The officer was unprepared for the truth about what had happened to the unsuspecting Calloway.
Toni Jo quickly came clean. She told Sergeant Walker how she and an accomplice scouted out their victim, hitched a ride with him under false pretenses, and ultimately murdered him. Initially, Walker wasn’t buying her story, as no car or body had been found and tied to the disappearance.
But when Toni Jo handed over the revolver she shot Calloway with, her tale became more convincing. Sure enough, the pistol had one round fired and five still in the chamber. Toni Jo was arrested and turned over to the Lake Charles Police.
With the young female murderer in tow, the police traversed the countryside attempting to find Calloway’s body. Eventually, Toni Jo successfully led them to the field, where found they his body behind a hay bale, just as it had fallen when Toni Jo delivered the fatal shot.
An autopsy revealed that the bullet recovered matched the revolver given up by the murderess. During her trial, newspapers would run stories claiming that Calloway’s body revealed signs of torture as well; suggesting he had been led around by a plier-welding Toni Jo by his nether regions while naked.
Headlines dubbed her the “torture-murderer.” Not long after his body was found, the Coupe was also discovered. Just like she had said, it contained Calloway’s clothes as well as a handful of cigarettes with lipstick marks.
Toni Jo was formally charged with the murder of Joseph P. Calloway. The media rapidly picked up the story of the pretty prostitute who killed in cold blood, renaming Toni Jo “The Tigress.” Because of the way the news
was treating her, she refused to give authorities any details about Arkie.
Eventually, Toni Jo changed her tune, and by the time she gave up Arkie, she was adamant that he was the one who had pulled the trigger. He was apprehended and charged, and both defendants were placed on trial; though separately.
Arkie maintained that he’d had nothing to do with the murder or even the jailbreak scheme. He told the jury that he was simply looking to get back to Arkansas and figured his chances of hitching a ride were much better with a pretty girl like Toni Jo by his side. He agreed to her harebrained plan as long as it would get him to where he needed to go; he never intended to see it through.
During her March 27, 1940, trial, Toni Jo, depicted as a “sultry brunette,” swore up and down that it was all Arkie’s plan. The media did her no favors, illustrating her as the picture of sin rather than innocence.
After just seven hours, the jury returned a guilty verdict that sentenced her to death.