People say those who don’t remember history are bound to repeat it. But there is a counterpoint to it. History is often written by those in power. It is similarly erased, too. So, what are you going to believe, and whom are you going to trust? As per the official records, the Osage Reign of Terror lasted for four long years. It began with the brutal murder of Anna Brown and ended with the infamous trial of Ernest Burkhart and William Hale. It is a historical lie. As per the Killers of the Flower Moon book, Osage Indians were being wiped out three years prior to the death of Anna Brown, and her own sister, Minnie, was one of the victims of “wasting illness” spread by none other than William King Hale (as seen in the film). The White Americans had started plotting against the Osage Indians as soon as they learned about their oil rights, and the killings continued long after Hale’s arrest. In 1931, an Osage Indian was poisoned for his headright, but the death was never investigated because White man’s law was never interested in getting justice for the Indians.
It is said that you are only a robber if you are caught, and I believe Hale just happened to be the unlucky one. There were other murderers who lived their entire lives as free men because of the faulty justice system. In fact, the entire community of Whites in the region was somehow involved in the killing spree, but many of them were never convicted. It is further established by a cinematic scene in Martin Scorsese’s film where we see Hale’s lawyer and influential friends forcing Ernest to change his testimony. Even the town’s sheriff was standing among the group, and yes, that was the real truth. Many influential men had people in the system who helped them cover their tracks. They tampered with the evidence just like the Shoun brothers made the bullet disappear in Anna Brown’s case.
Why Did Hale Kill Mollie’s Entire Family?
One doesn’t murder an entire family for greed. They do it out of their own cruelty. William King Hale was a cruel person in that regard. He was convicted for the murders of Anna Brown and Henry Roan, but he had taken many more lives before and after that. One can notice that all the Osage Indians in Killers of the Flower Moon were suffering from a peculiar “wasting illness.” Mollie’s sister, Minnie, died of it, and later, it took away her own mother. Hale, with the help of the Shoun brothers, had been poisoning dozens of Indian families, because of which they had a shorter life as compared to White Americans in the regions.
Hale could be seen as a demon in a gentleman’s uniform. He always told the Osage Indians that he was their greatest benefactor, but that was all a big lie. He would never let the Osage practice their cultural ways of treatment because he knew it would become difficult for him to poison them. He donated to schools and hospitals only because he wanted to control the institutions that were socially and culturally significant. It was a strategic move, but who could have thought that he was a wolf in sheep’s skin?
Hale was killing Mollie’s entire family one by one so that he could accumulate the entire wealth for his puppet, Ernest Burkhart. He had orchestrated the deaths of Minnie, Rita, and Anna so that the family’s ancestral wealth went to Mollie, whose finances were under the control of her lecherous husband. Probably, for Hale, it was his own gentlemanly way of stealing and, in return, erasing an entire legacy. The thing is, the man never got his own hands dirty and always hired a henchman to carry out the job. When things went south, he didn’t even flinch before throwing his nephews on the tracks to save his own life. That was the uncle that Ernest respected.
Was Anna Pregnant With Hale’s Child?
In Anna’s case, Hale felt forced to take a drastic step, which wasn’t his usual pattern. Anna was a loud woman who spoke the truth without worrying about its consequences. Hale, on the other hand, had established his position as a respected individual who didn’t want to taint his image. He had been sleeping with Anna for some time and knew that Anna would someday spill the secrets—a revelation that Hale wouldn’t be able to afford. In haste, Hale ordered Kelsie Morrison to get rid of Anna Brown to hide his adultery from the world. Later, during the official investigation, some unsettling truths came to light. As per the reports, Anna was pregnant at the time of her murder. While there was no way to confirm, some people close to Anna suggested that the child belonged to William Hale. If the rumors were indeed true, then the man not only killed an innocent woman but also murdered his own unborn offspring.
Similarly, in Bill Smith’s case, the man had found out about Hale’s ulterior motive and would have loudly revealed his true nature to the world. Hale was terrified and had to shut him up before he could do any damage. For him, he chose the most violent and terrifying death of all. He bombed the entire house without thinking about what could have happened to other people in the vicinity. But why would he ever think of any of it? He lived on the outskirts of Fairfax, which he called his safe haven.
It is really disturbing to find out that the man had no remorse for any of it until the very end. He would joke about Anna’s character when he himself had been having an affair with another woman. I strongly believe that men like Hale should take a moment out of their lives to reflect on their actions before judging others. But maybe that was the entire flaw with this demonic human being. He was a blind narcissist who never really believed that he had done anything wrong. Till the very end, the cowboy claimed himself to be a hero of some sort, when in reality, he was just a greedy person who had been killing innocent individuals for his own means. But judge him not. Judge him not because of the color of his skin, as he said. Until the laws stop discriminating against people based on the color of their skin, their race, and their gender, there won’t be any real justice in the world. After finishing the book, we really asked ourselves: Why investigate only two murders when thousands of people were killed in cold blood? Unfortunately, we all know the answers but can’t do anything about it.