Oklahoma's Atticus


Oklahoma's Atticus

An Innocent Man and the Lawyer Who Fought for Him

Hunter Howe Cates

240 pages
25 photographs


November 2019


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2019


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2019


$27.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

An Oklahoma Bestseller

Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1953: an impoverished Cherokee named Buster Youngwolfe confesses to brutally raping and murdering his eleven-year-old female relative. When Youngwolfe recants his confession, saying he was forced to confess by the authorities, his city condemns him, except for one man—public defender and Creek Indian Elliott Howe. Recognizing in Youngwolfe the life that could have been his if not for a few lucky breaks, Howe risks his career to defend Youngwolfe against the powerful county attorney’s office. Forgotten today, the sensational story of the murder, investigation, and trial made headlines nationwide.

Oklahoma’s Atticus is a tale of two cities—oil-rich downtown Tulsa and the dirt-poor slums of north Tulsa; of two newspapers—each taking different sides in the trial; and of two men both born poor Native Americans, but whose lives took drastically different paths.

Hunter Howe Cates explores his grandfather’s story, both a true-crime murder mystery and a legal thriller. Oklahoma’s Atticus is full of colorful characters, from the seventy-two-year-old mystic who correctly predicted where the body was buried, to the Kansas City police sergeant who founded one of America’s most advanced forensics labs and pioneered the use of lie detector evidence, to the ambitious assistant county attorney who would rise to become the future governor of Oklahoma. At the same time, it is a story that explores issues that still divide our nation: police brutality and corruption; the effects of poverty, inequality, and racism in criminal justice; the power of the media to drive and shape public opinion; and the primacy of the presumption of innocence. Oklahoma’s Atticus is an inspiring true underdog story of unity, courage, and justice that invites readers to confront their own preconceived notions of guilt and innocence.

Author Bio

Hunter Howe Cates is a journalist, author, filmmaker, and creative marketing professional. He is principal and writer for Cates Creates, a copy and content marketing firm. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.


“In this haunting story of his courageous grandfather’s successful defense of a young Cherokee man wrongfully accused of the brutal murder of an eleven-year-old girl, Hunter Howe Cates delivers a powerful book that makes true-crime fiction seem tame and predictable. Oklahoma’s Atticus does not sensationalize violence and human suffering but offers context and depth to a horrific crime that remains unsolved.”—Michael Wallis, bestselling author of The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny


Oklahoma’s Atticus is a book that readers will not want to put down until they find out who wins, the young public defender or the experienced prosecutor, and which prevails, manipulation of the law or the rule of law.”—Daniel Littlefield, director of the Sequoyah National Research Center

“What an eye-opener! I was born and raised in Bartlesville and am a Cherokee Nation citizen, yet I had never heard of Phyllis Jean Warren or Buster Youngwolfe. Hunter’s book intersperses the story of this tragic murder with the tainted and intriguing history of Tulsa. I couldn’t stop reading this book. It has ‘movie’ written all over it!”—Becky Hobbs, singer, songwriter, and playwright

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. The Forgotten City
2. Magic City
3. Little Girl Lost
4. Manhunt
5. Killer
6. Confession
7. The Believer
8. Boyhood
9. A Line in the Sand
10. Changing the Conversation
11. The Strain
12. A Fishing Expedition
13. The Alibi
14. The Lie Detector
15. A Jury of His Peers
16. The Prosecution
17. The Defense
18. The Final Testimony
19. The Verdict
Afterword: Who Killed Phyllis Jean Warren?
Note on Sources

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