Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Famous Trials In History: The Massie Affair

No trials ever had a more significant effect on a state's history than those that shocked and shook Hawaii in 1931 and 1932.

The "Massie Affair" consisted of 2 dramatic criminal trials, one for rape and one for murder and both involving multiple defendants, forever changed the nature of Hawaiian race relations and politics.  Filled with twists and turns and unanswered questions, the trials have all the elements of a good mystery. 

Saturday September 12, 1931, Thalia Massie, a sofisticated blueblood planned a relctant evening with her husband, naval officer Thomas Massie at a nightclub on the outskirts of Honolulu's Waikiki district.

Their marriage was on the rocks. Not only did Thalia not want to go out that night but she would go out only after drinking heavily at home. When they were in the club, she slapped another Navy officer when all he wanted was his seat back after going to the bathroom. Her husband calmed her down and sent her home. That was at 11:30 p.m. that night.

Flash to 1:00 am, she is picked up on the side of the road by a car full of people who stated that her face was beaten and bruised but her clothes in perfect condition. She refused to go to the hospital.

A few minutes later, Thalia answered the phone.  It was Tommie calling from a friend's home.  "Something awful has happened," Thalia told her husband.  "Come home."  When Tommie arrived, Thalia related a shocking story.  Crying, she told Tommie that she had been gang-raped by a group of Hawaiians. 

About the same time that Thalia Massie jumped in front of the headlights of the car on Ala Moana Road, Agnes Peeples appeared at Honolulu's downtown police headquarters to report an assault on her at a nearby intersection.  Peeples reported that after a near accident, a young Hawaiian man shoved and hit her, leaving her with a bleeding ear.  The license plate of the touring car that nearly hit her, Peeples told police, was 58-985. 

One hour after Peeples filed her report, police got another call.  It was Tommie Massie reporting that his wife had been assaulted.  Two investigators were dispatched to the Massie house.  When they arrived, they listened--stunned--to Thalia's story of having been attacked by four or five Hawaiians, dragged to some bushes, and raped six or seven times.  Thalia described the car as old and dark-colored.  She said she could not read the license plate.

Two alleged attacks on women by Hawaiians within a very short time frame: detectives took this to be strong evidence that both attacks were carried out by the same gang. [Read More]

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