The Massie Trials: A Chronology

May 4, 1932: After the Governor's Commutation
(L to R: Clarence Darrow, Edward Lord, Deacon Jones, Sheriff Ross, Grace Fortescue, Thalia Massie, Thomas Massie, and George Leisure)
February 14, 1911
Grace and "Roly" Fortescue (Roly was the illegitimate son of Teddy Roosevelt's uncle) give birth to their first child, Thalia.
November 1927
Thalia marries Thomas Massie, a young naval cadet, in Washington D.C.
May 1930
Thomas Massie is assigned to the Submarine Squadron Four, based at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu.
Summer 1931
Thalia, pregnant, is diagnosed with preclamsia and loses her baby.  She seeks counseling from a psychologist.  The psychologist concludes that Thalia's "personal and emotional problems" are so serious as to require treatment by a psychiatrist.
September 12, 1931
Thalia and Thomas Massie attend a "Navy Night" Saturday dance at the Ala Wai Inn in the Waikiki District of Honolulu.  Thalia leaves the party without Thomas shortly before midnight.
September 13, 1931
Just before 1 a.m., Thalia stops a car on Ala Moana Boulevard.  She has a broken jaw and scuffed cheeks.  She is picked up and driven home.  Although Thalia first claims to have been assaulted, she later tells police she was gang-raped by four or five Hawaiians.  Honolulu police, following up on another police report, arrest and then interrogate five suspects.
September 15, 1931
The Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser, Honolulu's two leading newspapers, launch what will be a relentless front-page campaign for the conviction of the five alleged rapists.
Early October 1931
Thalia's mother, Grace Fortescue, arrives in Honolulu.
October 17, 1931
The five alleged rapists plead not guilty.
November 16, 1931
The rape trial, titled Territory of Hawaii v. Ben Ahakuelo et al., opens in Honolulu.
November 18, 1931
Thalia Massie testifies for the prosecution at the rape trial.
November 23, 1931
The prosecution rests in the rape case.
December 1, 1931
Closing arguments begin in the Massie rape trial.
December 6, 1931
Jury deliberations in the rape trial end without a verdict and a mistrial is declared.  The final vote is 6 for conviction and 6 for acquittal.  (Across most of the nation, the failure of the jury to convict is greeted with alarm.)
January 5, 1932
From Honolulu, Admiral Stirling sends an excited cable to Washington urging the naval fleet stay from Hawaii unless the governor takes certain  special steps to control the native population.  Governor Judd sends a cable to Washington suggesting the situation in the islands was not nearly so bad as reported in the press.  Grace Fortescue and Thomas Massie, meanwhile, begin acting on a plan to kidnap one of the alleged rapists and--they hope--extract a confession.
January 7, 1932
Grace, Thomas Massie, and two enlisted men (Deacon Jones and Edward Lord) work out the details of a plan to kidnap Joe Kahahawai after he completes his scheduled daily visit to his probation officer at the courthouse.
January 8, 1932
Shortly after 8 a.m., Kahahawai is kidnapped and taken Grace Fortescue's home.  Kahahawai is sharply questioned, and then shot and killed.  (It is not known who fired the gun.  The defense will suggest Thomas Massie, but other evidence suggests it was Deacon Jones.) Kahahawai's naked body is stuffed in a Buick and driven in the direction of the Halona Blowhole, a perfect place to dispose of bodies.  Police spot the car as it approaches the ocean and arrest the occupants: Grace Fortescue, Thomas Massie, and Edward Lord.  Deacon Jones is found at the murder scene and picked up for questioning.  The prisoners are housed in luxurious surroundings aboard a ship in dock at Pearl Harbor.
Soldiers and sailors are confined to posts as concerns of violence and rioting spread.
January 10, 1932
More Hawaiians turn out for the funeral of Joe Kahahawai than for any funeral since the death of the last queen of Hawaii in 1917.  Mainland newspapers began reporting stories on the killing; reports paint a picture of an island threatened by a race war.
January-February 1932
Congress holds hearings to address what is considered to be a national security emergency in the militarily important island of Hawaii.
January 21, 1932
A grand jury convenes to decide whether to issue indictments for the murder of Kahahawai.
January 26, 1932
On a 12 to 8 vote, after receiving pressure to act from Judge Albert Cristy, the grand jury returned an indictment for second degree murder against Grace Fortescue, Thomas Massie, Edward Lord, and Deacon Jones.
January 29, 1932
At the arraignment, Judge Cristy sets the bail for each defendant at $50,000.  He agrees to lower bail and allow the defendants to remain lodged in navy quarters after receiving assurance from the secretary of the navy that the arrangement won't be used to facilitate an escape.
February 28, 1932
Clarence Darrow, age 74 and retired for years, agrees to represent the murder defendants.
March 24, 1932
A large crowd turns out in Honolulu to welcome America's most celebrated defense attorney to the islands.
April 4, 1932
Jury selection begins in the Kahahawai murder trial opens in Honolulu .  The presiding judge is Charles Davis.  The prosecution is lead by John Kelley.  Few people want to serve as jurors in the highly controversial trial.
April 7, 1932
After over 100 prospective jurors are examined, a jury of  seven whites, three Chinese, and two Hawaiians is selected.
April 11, 1932
Prosecutor Kelley gives the state's opening argument.  The prosecution calls its first witnesses.
April 14, 1932
The prosecution rests after calling its final witness, Joe Kahahawai's mother.  After a recess, Darrow waives his opening statement and calls his first witness, Thomas Massie. It becomes apparent that Darrow is planning to make temporary insanity the defense.
April 15, 1932
Darrow is too hung over to attend court and the day's session is canceled.
April 16, 1932
Darrow announces that "evidence will show Massie...held the gun in his hand from which the fatal shot was fired."  (In fact, Deacon Jones was the more likely shooter.)  Massie testifies that after Kahahawai said (after intense questioning by him and other defendants) "Yes, we done it", he remembered nothing of what happened at the Fortescue house on the day of the murder.
April 19, 1932
Darrow calls the first of his two psychiatric witnesses.
April 20, 1932
The defense rests after dramatic testimony from Thalia Massie.
April 25, 1932
Rebuttal testimony (mostly from psychiatric witnesses) ends.
April 26, 1932
Closing arguments begin in the Kahahawai murder trial.
April 27, 1932
Clarence Darrow delivers the last closing argument of his half-century legal career.  The argument is carried live on radio stations across the country.  Jury deliberations begin.
April 29, 1932 
The jury finds the defendants guilty of manslaughter.  Almost immediately, calls for pardons begin reaching Governor Judd.
May 3, 1932
Judge Davis sentences the defendants to 10 years in prison, but Governor Judd commutes the sentence to one hour in the custody of the sheriff.  The defendants spend the night celebrating their freedom at a Chinese restaurant.
May 7, 1932
Grace Fortescue, Thomas and Thalia Massie, and Clarence and Ruby Darrow board an ocean liner for San Francisco.
October  3, 1932
A 273-page report from the Pinkerton Detective Agency on the Massie case is presented to Governor Judd.  The report concludes that Thalia Massie was not raped.
February 13, 1933
Prosecutor Kelley announces that all rape charges against those initially charged in the Thalia Massie case are being dropped.
February 23, 1934
Thalia Massie files for divorce in Reno.
July 2, 1963
Thalia Massie dies in Palm Beach from an overdose of barbiturates.
In a book (Something Terrible Has Happened) published by a writer for LOOK magazine, Deacon Jones admits that Joe Kahahawai never confessed to having raped Massie after his abduction.  Jones also admits that he shot "the black bastard" because he "had no use for him."  Jones said it was Darrow's idea to "let Tommie take the rap" for the killing.

Massie Trial Homepage