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Last Updated: 10/26/2012 11:16 AM CST


Murder Mystery

Robert E. Porth (ex-Kwajer, senior engineer, Western Electric Co.) never admits to killing his wife, Mrs. Hilda Porth.  Robert received life sentence for first degree murder and his sentencing began 03/03/1967 for life.

Mrs. Robert Porth's body was found down an embankment near the top of Draper's Mountain in Pulaski, VA.  She was a member of the Winston-Salem Symphony Association and the Red Cross. 

In memory of Kwaj, Mrs. Hilda Porth had a "Tiki Jo" room in her home decorated with mementos from Kwajalein, Nike missile test site.  Robert, Hilda and their late-daughter Kathy lived on Kwajalein for a two-year stay, around 1959.

Here are following paper article titles and some text posted relate to the mystery:
  • Report that Mrs. Porth ate at Radford, VA is Doubted
  • Mrs. Porth Poison Test is Negative  -  The Virginia authorities reported that all test for poisoning were negative leading them to conclude that she must have died from the blow on her head and shock.  The medical examiner said Mrs. Porth had been dead 24 hours before her body was found about 7:45 p.m. Aug. 14, 1965.
  • The Porth Case:  Five Agencies Struggling with the Mystery
  • Robert Porth to Plead Not Guilty
  • Brother of Victim Shocked at Charge  -  The brother of Mrs. Porth said he "just can't believe" his sister was killed by her husband.
  • Mrs. Porth Liked Night Driving  -  What kind of woman would leaver her home at 9:30 p.m. to drive alone for hundreds of miles?  What kind of woman would pick up a hitch-hiker (One theory is that Mrs. Robert Edward Porth was killed by a hitch-hiker.)  She was driving a 1956 Chrysler Imperial to Illnois to visit friends and to Milwaukee, Wis., to attend a wedding.
  • Victim's Brother May Come  -  If he comes, it will be "to bring out the truth"
  • Prot Enters Innocent Plea:  His Trial May Be in October  -  Robert Porth may be tried this month for the murder of his wife.
  • Robert E. Porth Charged with murder of His Wife
  • Car is Found in West Virginia
  • Son Says Porth Innocent
  • Porth's Attorney, Sheriff Prepare Cases for Court  -  September 8. 1965
  • Porth Trail Here Defended  -  The man who will shape the state's first-degree murder case against Robert E, Porth, being charged with murdering his wife on or about Aug. 13, 1965, said he felt defendant could get a fair trail in Forsyth County.
  • Porth Pass Time  - Porth asked friends for a paint-by-number set so he would "not sleep by day and stay awake all night."
  • Porth is Indicted in Death of Wife  -  Forsyth County grand jury decides that Robert E. Porth should be tried for the first-degree murder of his wife.
  • Porth Trial is Put Off  -  Additional time needed to prepare the defense of Robert Porth.
  • Evidence Lacking in Death  -  Autopsy report showed that the cause of death was a combination of a blow at the base of her skull and shock.
  • Mrs. Johnson says Porth called Death an Accident  -  Mrs. Nancy Johnson, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., witness against Robert Porth told her his wife's death was an accident.  "I was in Fort Lauderdale the day it happened," Mrs. Johnson told Whitman yesterday, "but I think it was an accident.  Bob said it was an accident, and I believe him."  Mrs. Johnson was brought up in Winston-Salem, was married and had four children, and divorced in 1959.  Her husband remarried and the children lived with him.  Mrs. Johnson lived in Fort Lauderdale for the past six months.  Porth told investigating officers something about the case and they charged him with murder.  To that, publicly and privately, Porth has had only two words, "Not Guilty."
  • 4 More Are Seated on Porth Case Jury; 3 to be Picked Today
  • A First for Two Lawyers
  • Final Juror Seated for Trial of Porth
  • 15 Witnesses Called on First Day
  • Courtroom Overflows on 3rd Day  -  February 17, 1965
  • Porth Knew of Death Scene, Says Witness; Several Praise Him
  • Woman's Fatal Route Retraced
  • Officers Will Tell of Quizzing Porth  -  Porth contends that his wife died after a fall down the stairs into a brick planter of the home they were building.  Color slides of body were shown to jury.  Sheriff's deputies deal with growing crowds at the courthouse.
  • Porth Good Neighbor
  • Porth of 'Nancy Type' is Read  -  A letter was written the night before Hilda underwent an operation which she and the family expected to prove fatal.  Mrs. Porth knew about his "relationship" with Mrs. Nancy Johnson written in her last letter to her husband, "Do not misled by the Nancy type, please my dear, since then i could not rest in my grave, Promise my memory that."
  • Defendant's Son Takes the Stand
  • Porth Said Wife Fell Accidentally
  • Physician says Mrs. Porth Died of Multiple injuries from 'a Blunt instrument'
  • Pathologist-Witness Seeks Objectivity
  • Jury Says Verdict Was Made With care, Prayer
  • Porth Is Found Guilty of 1st-Degree Murder  -  After five and one-half hours of deliberation.  Later sentenced to Central Prison "for the term of his natural life".

Other Articles Related to the case

  • Mrs. Porth Was Pleased by Kwajalein Experiences
  • State to Reveal Long-Guarded Porth Evidence

Spraying for Insects

I remember more than once during my stay on Kwajalein in 1956-1957 when I was 8 and 9 years old, the Navy sent a truck around the neighborhood spraying for insects.  I remember the clouds of insecticide, and we kids running around and playing in it like doubt in my mind it was DDT in those days!  I don't remember seeing many bugs there, that's for sure.  Steve Jameson, Kwaj Kid 1956-1957

The Atomic Bomb Blast

Then there was the day in 1956 my teacher in 4th grade at George Seitz Elementary School said "Good morning children!  Today we are all going outside and watch the Atomic Bomb blast" (atomic testing was being done at Bikini and Eniwetok in 1956).  Sure enough, at the scheduled time, the classrooms emptied out, and we all stood in line and looked toward the proper direction....but awhile later. Teacher said, "Never mind. It has been canceled for today."  I swear this actually happened. 
Steve Jameson, Kwaj Kid 1956-1957

Shermie's Place