Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fortune's End: The Mysterious Murder of Sir Harry Oakes

Discovery

Sir Harry Oakes
Sir Harry Oakes

In the early morning hours of July 8, 1943, a rainstorm raged on the small island of Nassau in the Bahamas. The rain pelted through the open window and doused the flames that engulfed the body of millionaire Sir Harry Oakes as he lay in his bed. Around 7 a.m. that morning, Sir Harry Oakes' friend, Harold Christie, discovered his half-charred remains. His corpse had been saturated with gasoline, along with areas of his home, and set afire. A partially-burned lacquered Chinese screen near the bed was covered in blood and smudged handprints, wrote James Leasor in Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes? Feathers from Oakes' pillow partially concealed his blackened, heat-blistered body. However, the feathers failed to obscure the congealed blood on his face and head, which led to Christie's discovery of four small indentations on the left side of his skull. There was no doubt that generous and beloved self-made Harry Oakes was savagely murdered, but by whom?

His mysterious death fueled rumors that implicated some of Nassau's richest and most powerful citizens, including the Governor of the Bahamas, the Duke of Windsor, the man who gave up the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson. The potpourri of suspects included the notorious mob boss Charles 'Lucky' Luciano and the flamboyant playboy Count Marie Alfred Fouquereaux de Marigny.

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