Why was Juanita Marie “Sammie” Dean murdered in 1931? We revisit the Sammie Dean murder that was never solved to know the circumstances leading to her death.
On July 10, 1931, a beautiful woman by the name of Sammie Dean was found dead at one of the classy bordellos of Jerome, a mining town in Arizona. The Sammie Dean murder took the town of Jerome by storm, and no one could really guess the motive of the murder.
Sammie Dean had been a prostitute, and in Jerome this could be a dangerous thing. Women of the red light district lived apparently glamorous lives, but their lives were entwined with passion, crime and revenge as people from different walks of life frequented these bordellos.
At first, the police thought that the motive was robbery as Sammie Dean was known to possess a jewel box full of expensive jewelry. However, later it was found that the bordello’s riches were left untouched. The crime scene was in disarray, but none of the expensive items that Sammie had was stolen.
Therefore, many people thought that the murder was the result of passion and revenge. However, to this day, the Sammie Dean Murder remains to be a mystery as the true cause was never unearthed. The people who were connected to the beautiful prostitute are no more and have been lost in records and history.
Who was Sammie Dean?
Sammie Dean was born Marie Juanita Loveless in 1892 in Texas. Her parents were Oscar Loveless and Virginia Lee Ludwig, and Sammie was born to them after a year of marriage. The family was poor, and by the turn of the century, Sammie’s family was struggling to make a living.
By 1910, Sammie was working with her mother in a nearby factory in Dallas. Later on, she took up a clerical post with a firm in Dallas. But then something strange happens: Sammie disappears from the scene, and by 1914, it seems that Sammie had left Dallas altogether.
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She disappeared from the locality of Dallas for around a decade. It was during the 1910-the 1920s that Sammie fell in love and perhaps married the gambler and cigar store owner George Dean. The couple’s adventures are unknown but in the 1920s, Sammie and George Dean appeared again, living with his elder sister and her family in Dallas.
After the 1920s, Sammie Dean is said to have again left Dallas in search of a better life. During the late 1920s, she worked as a prostitute in Arizona and Colorado. What happened to her husband, George Dean, is not clear, but many people believe that he deserted her in Jerome and, stranded there, she stayed
Although she was a divorcee and a prostitute, she had been very well off with her own car and many jewels in her locker that was given to her by her admirers. For how long she was a resident of Jerome was not known. However, she became a well-known figure in what was called the wickedest city of America, and her quarters were visited by an elite clientele.
Sammie’s movements on July 10, 1931, are not clear. We know that a neighbor saw Sammie in the area of where she lived that day, but later, when her friends visited her quarters, she would not open the front door. However, when they checked the back door of the house, they found them wide open.
The scene inside the bordello astonished everyone in the neighborhood. The rooms were ransacked, and the body of Sammie Dean lay on the floor, mangled, bruised and with strangulation marks. At first, people thought that the motive of the murder was robbery as her purse was empty and her gun was missing.
However, the valuables of the house were left untouched. Moreover, it was unlikely that an unknown person had attacked Sammie. This was concluded from the behavior of the German Shepherd that lived with Sammie.
The fierce dog would have attacked a stranger or a robber in the blink of an eye. The German Shepherd had instead done nothing and remained sat on the floor, looking at the body and whimpering. Therefore, police suspected that the act must have been committed by someone who was a frequent visitor.
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From the circumstances, it was then thought that the act was one of passion and revenge. Sammie Dean had many visitors and admirers in town. The list of suspects could be narrowed down, but the culprit was never found.
The most likely suspect was the mayor’s son, who had asked Sammie to marry him but, when she declined the offer, threatened her. However, these were only speculations as the mayor’s sons were much younger than Sammie, who was aged thirty when she died.
She also had a boyfriend who could also have committed the crime. However, the man was never questioned. Her ex-husband’s whereabouts were also not traced during the time. Moreover, there was a lot of misinformation around Sammie Dean’s death as her own family changed her birthplace in the death certificate to save the family’s reputation in Dallas.
The Case Runs Cold
The death certificate was signed by her elder sister Virginia, and her body was taken to Dallas for burial. However, the murder of Sammie Dean was never solved. Many people think that the murderer was never convicted because he had a strong political background and was an important person.
The police investigated the case but might have overlooked some crucial evidence that could have led to the true culprit. The list of suspects included Mayor Tom Miller, his son, the Sheriff’s son and Leo Portillo, Dean’s best friend and the person who discovered the body of the woman.
From the list, it is clear that nearly all the suspects were powerful people who could be protected by the law and their political standing. It is possible that Jerome’s political and legal circle hid the evidence of the case and ran the investigation cold to protect one of the young men of Jerome.
The Sammie Dean Murder is still one of the most intriguing crimes in American history. She was very young, and her passing was untimely. Even today, the city of Jerome holds a Ghost Walk to recreate the last days of Sammie Dean. The case is one that has hues of mystery, romance, passion and even an eerie tone of paranormal that makes it a very revisited case for crime historians.
Top Image: Sammie Dean was not robbed and her dog seemed to know who had attacked her. Was her murder covered up? Source: Kharchenkoirina / Adobe Stock.
By Bipin Dimri