Henry Choate Identified by Fingerprints, 1938, Article Reprint

When Henry Choate, with aliases, a negro, was thirteen years of age he was sentenced to the Pikeville Reform School at Pikeville, Tennessee, to serve a sentence of one year for attempted manslaughter. The criminal career of this individual had its inception with this serious offense.

On July 24, 1535, the fingerprint card of this individual was forwarded to the FBI for search when he had been arrested by the Constable at Columbia, Tennessee, on gambling charges. Less than five months later, namely, on December 10, 1935, Choate was received at the State Penitentiary at Nashville, Tennessee, to serve a sentence of one year for petty larceny. After serving this latter sentence no further data were received concerning this individual until September 3, 1937, when a communication was received from the Constable at Columbia, Tennessee, advising the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was desirous of securing the custody of Henry Choate, with aliases, for the crime of first degree murder. This negro now using the alias Henry Shoate, according to information received from Columbia, Tennessee, had murdered a young girl named Helen Thompson, while she slept.

Upon the receipt of this information in the Identification Division of the Bureau a wanted notice was posted in the files providing that upon receipt of any information concerning the whereabouts of this individual this law enforcement official be immediately notified. The fugitive status of this wanted murderer was published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin for the month of November, 1937.

The Southern Railway Police Department on November 11, 1937, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, took into custody on larceny charges an individual who informed that his name was James Price. This individual, a negro, informed the arresting officials that his residence was 122 Wheeler Street, Louisville, Kentucky. He denied the existence of a prior criminal record. The fingerprint card of this individual, arrested by the Southern Railway Police Department, was received in the Federal Bureau of Investigation on November 15, 1937, and upon search in the technical files of the Identification Division it was ascertained that Price was none other than Henry Choate, with aliases, who was wanted in Columbia, Tennessee, for murder.

When this identification was effected at the FBI a wire was immediately transmitted to the Constable at Columbia, Tennessee, informing him of the present whereabouts of this negro wanted by him for murder. On November 19, 1937, information was received at the Federal Bureau of Investigation from the Constable at Columbia, Tennessee, informing that this murderer had been returned to his custody and had thereafter been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Tennessee State Penitentiary. On November 26, 1937, a fingerprint card was received from the Tennessee State Penitentiary at Nashville, Tennessee, advising the Federal Bureau of Investigation that on November 22, 1937, Henry Choate had been received at that institution to serve a life sentence. Choate's utilization of the name of James Price was ineffective in defeating identification and when the identification was made the FBI was able to assist in causing this murderer to pay the debt he justly owed to society for his crime.

1. "MURDERER WHO KILLED SLEEPING GIRL IDENTIFIED BY FINGERPRINTS", FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 2, February 1, 1938, Washington D. C., page 28.

Are you looking for CHOATE ancestors? If so, we suggest posting a query to our Community Message Board to get assistance from other researchers.

This wiki article is locked. If you have additional information (or a correction) that you would like to share, please send us a note.

<< Archived Materials

What's New in Genealogy ... Today!
click to view original photo