Killers of the Flower Moon
David Grann
Contributed by Shemika Thormahlen
Chapter 7

In early February 1923, two men hunting four miles northwest of Fairfax spot a car at the bottom of a rocky swale. They inform the authorities, who head to the scene and find a dead man in the car. They identify the man as Henry Roan, a forty-year-old Osage Indian. Roan had been shot and left in the valley. He was friends with Hale, and the government controlled his finances since he was entirely Indian. Grann reveals that Roan had previously been married to Mollie according to the Osage Indian customs, but the marriage just ended without divorce, hate, or even love. However, Mollie has hidden the secret from Ernest — and for this reason, she fails to assist the authorities with the investigation for the sole purpose of keeping her past hidden.

The Osage people have become more cautious due to the murders. They use electric light bulbs, and have dogs watching over; however, they begin to die, and it seems as if they are being poisoned. Bill Smith believes that he is getting close where the investigation on the murders are concerned; but it appears that he and Rita are in danger considering the noises they keep hearing outside their house at night. They buy another home in Fairfax, but a bomb later destroys the home, killing Rita and Nettie, their white helper. Bill is severely injured and dies in the hospital before being able to reveal anything he knows about the murders.

After the bombing, Governor Jack C. Walton of Oklahoma sends his top state investigator, Herman Fox Davis, to Osage County so that he can solve the murder cases. However, because Davis regularly interacts with criminals, he later pleads guilty to bribery allegations. The governor is also impeached due to his abuse of power, and W. W. Vaughan, a fifty-four-year-old attorney, wants to help solve the cases. He gets a call about George Bigheart, who says he has valuable information — of which he did but dies shortly after from suspected poisoning. Vaughan is also murdered while traveling on a train to share his findings with the authorities. Mollie now lives in dread thinking that she is the next target considering her dead family members. Ernest comforts her, and Hale promises to avenge her family’s blood.

Finally, Mollie decides to stay in isolation after having pursued justice for so long. She skips her church attendances and stops entertaining visitors. Over time, her diabetes gets worse — but later, it becomes apparent that she is actually being poisoned.


The Osage people experience a brief period of peace before the death of Roan. This is an indication that the investigations were almost catching up with the assailants, resulting in their decision to temporarily stop their heinous acts to elude capture. The worry observed in Bill and Rita Smith indicate the true nature of danger and the imminence of the killing spree. Also, it seems that Bill Smith already has compelling information — and for this reason, they attempt to kill him by bombing his house. The choice of murder weapon shows that the assailants are taking precautions to avoid being caught, given that the people are introducing additional measures in an attempt to protect themselves. Furthermore, the deaths of Vaughan and Bigheart are the killers’ ways of eliminating anyone who has information about them.

Mollie, on the other hand, has stopped trusting people and choosing to isolate herself. However, her deteriorating health condition and the revelation of her being slowly poisoned shows that the killers have exclusive access into people’s lives, giving them the power to easily inflict death on their targets.

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