Toni Jo Henrys gravestone on the northwest side of Orange Grove Cemetery on Broad St. in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Early life-Born near Shreveport, Louisiana, she was the third of five children. Her mother died while she was a child. She worked in a factory, but later found her way into the employment of a local brothel as a prostitute. Petite, young and very attractive, she was very popular with many men. She soon became a regular user of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
Claude "Cowboy" Henry-In 1939, she met Cowboy Henry in the brothel where she worked. A down-on-his-luck prize fighter, Cowboy fell in love with the young prostitute. Married on November 25, 1939, the couple honeymooned in Southern California. During this time, Cowboy was able to wean his young bride off her various drug addictions.
Upon returning from California, Claude Henry was arrested for the murder of a Texas man prior to their marriage. He was found guilty in January 1940 and sentenced to 50 years in the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.
Murder of Joseph P. Calloway-Toni Jo Henry then began contemplating plans to break her husband out of Huntsville Prison. She and Finnon Burks murdered Joseph P. Calloway after he offered to give the two a ride, apparently believing that the victim's Ford V8 Coupe would make a suitable get-away car.
As they passed Lake Charles, Louisiana, Toni Jo pulled out a 32 caliber pistol and ordered Mr. Calloway to drive down a country road. She then ordered him out of the car and to undress. After Finnon collected the clothes, she told the victim to kneel down and say his prayers, then shot him in the head.
She later was interviewed by a Shreveport police officer, where she confessed and tendered over the murder weapon.
Trials and appeals-Her first trial occurred the week of March 27, 1940. After the deliberating for 7 hours, the jury convicted her and sentenced her to death. Her accomplice was later convicted and sentenced to death. She appealed and was granted a new trial.
The second trial occurred February 1941. After an hour of deliberations, she was again convicted and sentenced to death--and again appealed and was granted a new trial.
The third trial occurred January 1942. Again convicted and sentenced to death, she appealed--but this time her appeal was denied.
Execution-While pending her trials, Louisiana changed its method of execution from hanging to death by electrocution. Toni Jo Henry was executed on November 28, 1942.