Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Gang-Rape in North Georgia


[The Snodgrass home was used in 1863 as a medical facility during the Battle of Chickamauga.]

Krull Brothers Executed for Rape
by Robert A. Waters

On September 19th and 20th, 1863, a bloodbath occurred in northern Georgia. After the Battle of Chickamauga was over, 35,000 Union and Confederate casualties littered the field. Nearly 100 years later, history would be made again on that same battlefield. Two brothers, life-long criminals, would kidnap a woman off the streets of Chattanooga, Tennessee and drive her across state lines into the Chickamauga National Park in Georgia. There they would beat her nearly to death and rape her multiple times. Her life would be spared only because a park ranger happened upon the scene. On August 21, 1957, the brothers would be executed by the Federal government for the crime of rape even though the victim lived.

By all accounts, George Krull, 34, and his brother Michael, 32, of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, were thugs of the worst sort. Not overly bright, they’d been in and out of jails and prisons since their pre-teen years. Their mother had died when they were children. Wards of the state, they grew up stealing, robbing, and creating mayhem wherever they went.

Sunie Jones, 53, worked as a clerk in her brother’s drug store in downtown Chattanooga. Newspapers of the time described her variously as a businesswoman or a spinster. Regardless of the media’s portrayal, she would turn out to be a courageous woman who withstood what the FBI termed “vicious bestial indignities” and would later look her attackers in the eye and testify to the crimes they committed upon her.

And when, cowards to the end, they begged her to intervene and stop the government from executing them, Jones issued the following statement: “[George and Michael Krull] didn’t answer me when I pleaded with them that day in April of 1955. [So] when they begged me, I didn’t answer.”

On April 14, 1955, George, Michael, Edward Bice, and Paul Allen had been driving around Chattanooga all day drinking cheap wine. George and Michael were wanted by the law in several northeastern states and had decided to come south. Bice agreed to drive them to Chattanooga. Allen, who was Bice’s step-brother, was missing a leg. As they drove around getting drunk, the Krull brothers began bickering with each other.

Allen asked them to stop. According to an article in the Connorsville Daily Courier, “George put the blade of a knife to the leg of Allen, a paraplegic amputee, and told him he’d cut it off if he didn’t stay out of an argument brewing between George and Michael.”

Shortly after that, the brothers got out of the car. As Bice and Allen slowly followed, George and Michael walked along the 1200 block of Market Street until they noticed a parked car. Sunie Jones was getting out of the car when the brothers came up on either side. George put the blade of the knife against her throat and ordered her to move to the middle of the seat. He told Sunie that he would kill her if she screamed. Michael slid in on the passenger side, boxing her in.

With their victim between them, George began to drive aimlessly while Bice and Allen followed in the second car. The Jones car, which belonged to her brother, only had a front seat. The back seat had been removed, presumably to haul goods to and from the pharmacy.

The Krulls demanded money from their victim. She stated that she had none. Michael punched her in the face and again asked for money. Jones stated that she had none but that she knew a woman she could call who would give her a thousand dollars. That didn't impress the brothers. They hit the now-bloodied woman numerous times as they attempted to make her come up with some cash.

By that time, George had driven across the Tennessee state line into Georgia. He stopped at a grocery store and Bice pulled up behind. Michael got out of Sunie’s car and told Bice the woman had asked him to let her use a telephone so she could call her friend and get them the money. Bice wanted none of it. He told the brothers to get rid of the car and leave.

According to court records, “The two cars moved on and in the same direction. Bice and Allen, following [Sunie’s car], went on past Oglethorpe. Bice and Allen lost track of the other car which George Krull was still driving after it entered [Chickamauga Park].”

George drove to a secluded spot near Snodgrass Hill. Nearly a hundred years before, the Federals were ordered to hold that hill and the Rebels were ordered to take it. After three charges in which the Confederates were decimated, they finally struggled to the top, forcing the Federals to retreat to Rossville. The Snodgrass house, nearby, was used as a hospital for both sides. A soldier described amputated arms and legs being thrown out the window and forming a pyramid of bloody flesh on the ground.

Michael tore the bloodied Sunie Jones from the front seat and forced her to lie down in the back. According to her later testimony, Jones said, “He assaulted me for ever so long.” Then George took over. When he was done, Michael raped her again.

During this time, Bice and Allen, who had lost track of Sunie’s car, came up on it. At that time, as George was again raping Sunie, a park ranger who was patrolling the area saw the two cars and came to investigate. Leaving their battered victim, the four fled in Bice’s car.

George, Bice, and Allen were quickly captured. Michael Krull made his way to New York where he was arrested while trying to steal a car.

George and Michael were to be tried on Federal charges of kidnapping and transportation across state lines, rape, and interstate transportation of a vehicle across state lines. They were held in Rome, Georgia but quickly escaped. After they were re-captured, the trial was held in Atlanta due to the hostility of the Rome populace toward the suspects.

At trial, Sunie Jones described her ordeal in detail. Her testimony was so terrifying and so graphic that the suspects were quickly convicted. Both Bice, who received a five-year sentence as an accessory, and Allen testified against the brothers.

After numerous appeals, a fake suicide attempt by the prisoners, and an appeal to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (which he denied), the attackers wrote to Jones asking her to contact the parole board on their behalf. She refused and the Federal government rented the electric chair at Reidsville State Prison. On August 21, 1957, George was escorted to the chair by federal officers and two Catholic priests. He was pronounced dead at 11:34 a.m. Exactly twelve minutes later, Michael was pronounced dead.

Still refusing to accept responsibility to the very end, Michael Krull said, “It was all prejudice. When your local people commit rape they get just 10 or 20 years sometime.”

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