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Toni Jo in jail

A Courthouse Ghost: Toni Jo Henry

Toni Jo in jailToni Jo Henry, born Annie McQuiston in 1916, was a drug addict, alcoholic and prostitute. Toni would probably have been long forgotten by now if it were not for the fact that she was the first woman to be executed in the Louisiana electric chair. While the thousands of volts of electricity sent through her body were quite effective in killing her, some who work at the Calcasieu Courthouse in Lake Charles, Louisiana, claim that Toni’s ghost haunts the courthouse to this day.

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In 1939, while working as a prostitute in Shreveport, Louisiana, Toni Jo met a man named Claude “Cowboy” Henry. The two were soon married and living in California, things seemed to be looking up for Toni as she reportedly kicked her drug addiction with her new husbands help.

But, Cowboy’s past caught up with him when the couple returned to Louisiana and he was charged with a murder in Texas. It was hard for Toni to be alone and she was soon back on drugs and working as a prostitute to pay the bills. Toni Jo eventually reached the point that she just could not stand to be without Cowboy any longer and hatched a plan to help him escape from the Texas jail where he was being held awaiting trial.

As part of her plan she enlisted the help of a man named Harold Burks and the two set off for Texas. Not having a car, Toni Jo and Burks began hitchhiking and were picked up by a man named Joseph Calloway, the two returned the man’s kindness by murdering him, shooting him in the head, right between the eyes.

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Their crime would not stay secret for long as Toni Jo and Burks began drinking and speaking freely about what they had done. What exactly happened depends on who you believe as Toni Jo and Harold Burks accused each other of killing Calloway. Ultimately, Toni Jo was charged with the murder.

Toni Jo Henry was tried for the killing at the Calcasieu Courthouse and found guilty. Her legal battle was for from over however as she appealed the guilty verdict and won a retrial. The second trial did not set her free, as she was again found guilty of the Calloway murder. Incredibly, Toni Jo and her attorneys again appealed the verdict and once again were granted a new trial.

The verdict in Toni Jo’s third trial was the same as the first two, guilty, this time she would not be saved by an appeals court and her execution was scheduled. Toni Jo had originally been sentenced to death by hanging, but by the time the execution was carried out Louisiana had begun to execute prisoners in the electric chair, and Toni Jo Henry was the first woman to take a seat, on November 28th, 1942.

There is a variety of purported paranormal activity at the Calcasieu Courthouse that is attributed Toni Jo’s ghost. Most of the activity centers around malfunctioning office equipment which often turn themselves on and off. There are also reports of disembodied footsteps and the ghostly voice of a woman as well as the smell of the perfume that Toni Jo was known to wear.

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Perhaps the strangest phenomena is the smell of burning hair which has been reported in several areas of the courthouse. If the phenomena is real, it may be that Toni Jo Henry is not the only phantom in the Calcasieu Courthouse.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood.

He is not afraid to challenge the official narratives and expose the cover-ups and lies that keep us in the dark. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.


  1. I don’t know why people got to stretch someone story and add in their own idea of what really happened with Toni Jo Henry I happen to be a great niece of Toni Jo Henry and there is some truth to the way this was written but there’s quite a few things wrote on here that was not true Al all and if you gave any questions and want the honest truth you can email me my name is Susanne m maquiston padilka I’m the daughter of Toni Jo’s nephew James mcquiston my father was born the year she died but my family oftenn spoke of this incident my grandfather George mcquiston is the police man state trooper that had to arrest her on the charges my email is message me if you want answers or need the truth about her story thank you

    • This is very interesting…here I am, reading a post by the great niece of Toni Jo Henry, regarding the murder of Joseph P Calloway, my Grandfather!! Small world! I am the last surviving descendent of Joe Calloway. I discovered this ‘movie’ The Pardon, several years ago, and as you probably do, constantly peeling back layers of this ‘story’, today, I find your post! Some things I thought I knew are a little different from what this production shows, but not too much from what I had been told. Someday, I plan to visit the courthouse, just to see what history they have remaining on this story. How about you? Have you ever visited the last place your great aunt lived??

  2. I don’t know why anyone would associate the smell of burning hair with the “ghost” of Toni Jo Henry-her head was shaved before her execution.

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