Murder in Little Egypt

O'Brien, Darcy

Running Press, 2002

p. 108

Once, Dale Cavaness’ wife Marian said something Dale didn’t like. “She had always spoken her mind to him, had prided herself on that, on not being like so many of the women she knew in southern Illinois, silent and obedient. But Dale had reacted like a typical down-home son-of-a-bitch, grabbing her thumb and bending it back until she could hear the bones cracking. ‘We better get that x-rayed’ was all he had said the next morning, without apology….” “One night they were home from a party, standing in the kitchen, when Dale opened the refrigerator to see what there was to eat. A bowl of gravy fell out and broke on the floor. ‘Damn,’ said Marian. ‘I’ll clean it up. Leave it alone.’ ‘Is this all there is to eat?’ Dale asked, and he bent down and scooped up a handful of the gravy and threw it in her face. When she shouted and cursed him he punched her in the eye, knocking her to the floor. There were no apologies.”

p. 129

Dr. Dale Cavaness, married to a beautiful and vital woman, collected others, many in connection with his medical practice. He committed “crimes against the human heart.” One married nurse became a Demerol addict after Dr. Cavaness rejected her. Her moods rocketed from euphoria to depression until she lost muscle coordination and collapsed in fits of vomiting. Dr. Cavaness fired her. “He was adept at finding a weakness and exploiting it. He won over a married patient whose child had died, inching his way in, commiserating with her, until she divorced her husband in anticipation, it seemed obvious, of the doctor’s divorcing his wife and marrying her. Her husband took her back after the doctor dumped her. One time after another, the story repeated itself. He would flatter the women, send them gifts of cash or, sometimes, cheap jewelry or perfume, seduce them, and cut them off.”

pp. 281-82

Why had Dale Cavaness killed two of his four sons? 1) Greed. He was a business failure and wanted the insurance money! 2) Hatred. He held his two least successful sons in contempt and regarded them as an embarrassment to his own elevated status. 3) Revenge. His contemptible behavior had driven away a lovely wife, Marian. She left him. He had to get back at her. So he killed two of their sons—a deed he knew would cause her unrelenting pain. “No matter that Dale had brought the divorce on himself by his behavior: No woman was going to rebuff Dale Cavaness and get away with it.”