BY MOLLIE S. WATERS
The Greenville Standard
After Larry Lord Motherwell’s first wife divorced him for abandoning her and their, now, three children in 1948, he moved to Washington, D.C., which is where he met his second wife, Sarah McClurkin from Wilcox County, Alabama.
According to the book “Chronicle of a Crime: The Larry Lord Motherwell Story” by Eleanor Dabrohua, Motherwell married Sarah in 1949 in Alabama, and when they returned to D.C. after their marriage, they sublet an apartment in the building where a woman named Pearl Putney, a widow, and her mother lived.
Motherwell struck up such a friendly acquaintance with the two women that he began to refer to them as “Sis” and “Mom,” respectively.
When Sarah suspiciously drowned, the two women offered comfort to Motherwell, and when he became engaged to the woman who would become his third wife, Josephine, he took her by to meet the older ladies and to get their approval. All four were on good terms.
When Pearl’s mother passed away on June 17, 1957, Motherwell made himself invaluable to Pearl.
He ingratiated himself so much into her life that Pearl, who had been widowed for more than 30 years at that point and who had spent those intervening years taking care of her tyrant of a mother, began to develop deep feelings for the man, though he was more than 30 years younger than she was.
Realizing an opportunity to capitalize on the wealthy widow’s substantial inheritance, properties, and holdings, Motherwell bamboozled Pearl.
He spent months convincing her that he was in love with her. The culmination of his plan was getting Pearl to go on a cross-country trip with him, during which she disappeared and was never seen alive again.
Pearl had one sibling, a brother named Castro Dabrohua who went by “Cass.” Pearl was particularly close to her brother and his wife, Eleanor, who is the author of the book about Motherwell.
Pearl would talk by phone with Cass several times a week, and on other days, she would write to him. She also had a wide circle of friends with whom she kept up a lengthy correspondence.
As Eleanor Dabrohua points out in her book, when Pearl let them know that she had gone on the trip and fully expected to get married to an unnamed man she had known for a long time during it, Eleanor, Cass, and Pearl’s friends were all more than a little shocked.
The unnamed man turned out to be none other than Larry Lord Motherwell, still married to Josephine at the time, but it would be a long time before Pearl’s family knew those details.
When Pearl’s postcards stopped coming altogether, everyone who knew her grew even more concerned.
Eleanor Dabrohua chronicled the challenge to find Pearl in her book, which is an account of Motherwell’s life-long deceits and duality of character.
Ultimately, the book reveals that nearly eight months after the communication from Pearl stopped, her body was found in Turner Canyon in Sierra County in California near a city named Marysville, from where Pearl’s last communication to the family came.
The main suspect in Pearl’s disappearance was Motherwell, who was eventually brought up on charges of killing Pearl and convicted of the crime.