D.C. “Pat” Oates, Deputy Warden
Oklahoma State Penitentiary
End of Watch: January 19, 1914
Deputy Warden D.C. “Pat” Oates, Day Sergeant Fred C. Godfrey, and Bertillon Officer Herman H. Drover were shot and killed on January 19, 1914 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary by three prisoners who were attempting to escape.
No one seemed to know exactly how, but each of the three prisoners had obtained a revolver. As they ran towards the front gate, they shot everyone they saw and begged other inmates to join them. Miraculously no other inmates did. The three inmates made their way down the administration corridor in pretext of seeing the parole officer. Deputy Warden Oates heard a turnkey yell, came out of his office, drew his handgun and emptied it at the inmates, wounding one in the chest, just as Officer Drover was exiting another room from developing photographs. Drover was killed by gunfire from one inmate.
Deputy Warden Oates ran down the hall to get another gun or more ammunition. As the inmates burst into the deputy warden’s office, they confronted several staff: stenographer, Mary Foster; Sergeant Godfrey; parole officer, Frank Rice; and attorney John H. Thomas who was at the prison to see a client. As the inmates told everyone to raise their hands, the elderly Thomas moved too slow to suit them, and one inmate shot him fatally. Sergeant Godfrey attacked the inmate who then shot Godfrey in the head, killing him instantly. The inmates then took Foster and Rice as hostages, and, shielding themselves behind their hostages, moved out of the office.
Deputy Warden Oates, who had rearmed himself with a shotgun, met them in the corridor. Oates ordered one inmate to drop his gun, but the inmate fired at Oates, killing him. Subsequently, all three inmates were killed during the escape attempt.
Oates had served three years as a deputy sheriff and four years as sheriff in Woods County before being appointed as deputy warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1909. Deputy Warden Oates was survived by his wife Beulah and two children Marjorie and William.