Friday, March 18, 2016

The Coca Cola Heir's Butler Did It

The young couple, Joe Cruz and Gladys Frix, planned a date to meet up with her cousin and a group of friends in Atlanta in the afternoon of January 18th.  They had lunch and shared a lively conversation.  Joe and Gladys bid farewell to the group, with Gladys stating that they would meet up with the group later at the same street corner.  But that was not the plan that Joe had for the evening. The couple sped away in his automobile.  The fateful evening had only just begun.

Joe Cruz was 30, and was employed as a butler to  Asa G. Candler, Jr., heir to the Coca Cola empire.  Asa's father was the founder of the soft drink company. Born in Manila, Cruz traveled to the United States to seek his fortune.  He had developed a talent as an amateur magician, and he performed in many small venues....until Candler saw him, that is.  Candler had an interest in magic and was very intrigued by Joe's magic act.  He introduced himself after a performance and talked with Cruz awhile, finding that Cruz was hardly making enough money to pay his bills.  Candler asked Cruz if he was interested in becoming his butler.  He also wanted Cruz to teach him some of those slight-of-hand tricks that he enjoyed so much.  Cruz cheerfully accepted the position and moved into the Candler estate.  He lived there for about eight years.

Gladys Frix attended a magic show with her friends one weekend, and caught the eye of the magician, Joe Cruz.  She smiled at him and liked his performance...and his smile.  They met after the show was over and talked for hours.  She told him where she lived  and he planned to visit her.

Mr and Mrs Frix were not very happy with Joe Cruz as a suitor for their daughter.  After all, she was only 19, and employed as a stenographer.  They felt that he was not the sort of man that they had envisioned as a mate for Gladys.  After several unfriendly discussions, they asked that Joe refrain from coming to their home, and furthermore, they asked that the couple break off their relationship.

After six months of hiding their meetings, Joe and Gladys planned to stand up to her parents.  She, however, was afraid of what might happen and told Joe that she was really frightened.  He knew that there was only one way that they could be together....forever and ever.

Springfield Republican, 19 January 1931, page 3,

It was early in the morning on the 19th of January, 1931.  The gardener at the Candler estate began his chores for the day when he happened upon the car belonging to Cruz.  He thought he saw someone in the car, so he approached it, thinking Joe had awakened early that morning.  The horror that he found could not have been more frightening.  The couple were seated in the car, Gladys sitting on the lap of Joe....both of them dead and covered with their blood.

The gardener ran to the house and awakened Mr. Candler.  They phoned the police department and the officers swarmed the estate within the hour.  Upon approaching the bodies, it was clear that Gladys had been shot in the stomach and Joe was shot in the head.  A pearl-handled pistol lay on the front seat of the car, the obvious weapon used in this gruesome scene.

Augusta Chronicle, 19 January 1931, Section A, page 1,

Asa Candler identified the pistol as being his own.  He told the police chief that he did not know that Joe Cruz had taken his gun.  There was a note laying on the chest of Joe's body.  It was written in his handwriting.  After reviewing the note, the police released the script to the press.  The note mentioned that the couple had been distraught over the disapproval of Gladys' parents.  They knew no other way that they could be together.  Ending their lives was the only way that they would forever be bound.

The police asked to inspect the room where Cruz had stayed in the Candler estate.  In his room they found a child sized slate on which Cruz had written, " This is my last trick, and I hope you'll enjoy the performance".

The coroner performed the autopsy later that day, finding that he believed that Cruz shot Gladys first, and then himself.  The note found on his body appeared to written only in his handwriting, and that Gladys had not written on the paper.  The coroner statement concluded that Gladys had no intention of ending her life.  They placed the blame solely on Joe Cruz.....The Butler Did It.

More articles about this horrible event can be found in various newspapers.  Might I suggest :


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi, Sharon. I was wondering if I could ask you where you got some of the details in this post. I'm currently working on a research project that's relevant to this case, and I'd love to validate your version of events with source material. Specifically, I was wondering where you found the detail about Gladys being shot in the stomach. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.