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DID HE KILL HER, TOO?: An Alabama-related mystery, Part 1


The Greenville Standard


Oak Hill is a small community in Wilcox County only fifteen miles from the Butler County line.

Most people only stop in Oak Hill because there is a literal stop sign at the intersection of Alabama Highways 10 and 21. Usually, people are on their way to somewhere else. Oak Hill is not their final destination.

In Oak Hill, there is a small cemetery named Ebenezer Methodist Cemetery, though it is often just called Oak Hill Cemetery.

The cemetery contains only 30 or so marked graves, and it is unassuming. Yet, within its confines, a mystery exists.

Found in the cemetery is a marker for Sarah White McClurkin.

The marker states, “Dedicate to the Memory of Sarah White McClurkin. Librarian Civil Servant. Born Neenah, Ala., January 15, 1919. Died Washington, D.C., November 7, 1953. Graduated University of Alabama 1943. Brief, brave, and courageous was her life and career.”

When looking at the Find A Grave entry for Sarah McClurkin, one finds out a little more about her.

Her parents were John Marvin McClurkin and Sarah Olivia Watson McClurkin. She had at least one sibling, a brother named John Braxton McClurkin. She was married to Larry Lord Motherwell in 1949.

There is also a black and white photo of a newspaper article.

The headline of the article states, “Husband Finds Wife Drowned in Bathtub.”

That article relates how Mrs. Sarah Motherwell, aged 34, was found dead in her apartment bathtub by her husband Larry L. Motherwell.

“Mr. Motherwell found his wife lying face up and submerged in the bath water on his return from an errand which had kept him away from home about two hours,” states the article. “He summoned an ambulance.”

Sarah Motherwell was pronounced dead, and the report states that an autopsy would be performed.

The article also states that Sarah was from Canoe, Alabama, but that is most likely an error for Camden. There is an unincorporated community known as Canoe in Escambia County near Atmore, though.

The article reports that Sarah was the cataloging librarian for the Navy’s Bureau of Ships in D.C. Her husband worked as a superintendent for a building firm.

That is all the information that is given.

Although one may begin to wonder if Sarah’s drowning was accidental, or perhaps if she took her own life, only assumptions can be made.

That is until the viewer takes a closer look at the picture listed with her husband’s information.

In that thumbnail image, Larry L. Motherwell appears to be behind bars.

With one quick click, the reader can be taken to Larry’s Find A Grave profile as well.

And what the reader will see next will leave him or her wondering whether Sarah’s death was murder instead.

Next week, a look at Larry L. Motherwell, his career as a conman and murderer, and a body in a pet cemetery.

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