The cemetery is desolate, quiet. The inscription on the headstone reads "Murdered By Human Wolves." Human wolves? What could that possibly mean? Werewolves? Vampires? The story has been told and heard by many. Some say the victim was only 8 years old. Some say she was 18. Others say her stone stands in Sacred Heart Cemetery. But what is the real truth behind the human wolf murder?

Katherine Cross was born March 13, 1899, to J.T. and M.K. Cross. She died Oct. 10, 1917. She was 18 years old. Her infamous headstone is located in Konawa-Violet Cemetery, Konawa.

According to the Seminole County News, Cross died from an "illegal operation." Unrestricted abortion was not legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court until 1973. In 1917 it was a crime. Dr. A.H. Yates and his assistant, a schoolteacher by the name of Fredrick O'Neal, were charged with the murder of Cross, according to the Seminole County News, though the outcome of the case is unknown at this time.

Another death is linked to this murder, that of one Elise Stone. Stone was admitted to the office of Dr. Yates on Aug. 15, 1917, where she stayed for four days. She was then released to her home where she died, less than two months before the death of Cross. Her death certificate noted the cause of death as a "congestive chill." A complaint was filed by curious residents to A.G. Nichols, county attorney. After an autopsy was ordered, Stone's cause of death had a new listing: "criminal operation."

Pregnancy among young, unmarried women in the early 1900s was extremely frowned upon and a very shameful experience. It was unheard of for a young woman to raise a child without a father. For some women like Cross and Stone, it may have seemed like the sensible thing to abort the child and perhaps no one would know. But also at that time, these procedures were done in secrecy because of the laws. These procedures were often done with unsanitary instruments which could lead to infection, or worse yet, hemorrhaging due to lack of care or proper and safe instruments, often ending in death. The doctors that performed these surgeries were often referred to as "human wolves."

It is unknown if abortion was the "illegal operation" performed on Katherine Cross, but due to the location and time, it is most probable. At any rate, this story is intriguing. So much so that a 76-page book was written about it by Steven E. Wedel in 2004. Wedel, a native Oklahoman, tells the story of Katherine Cross and her friend, Elise Stone, who died at the hands of a doctor performing an "illegal operation." Although the book is purely fictional prose and a chilling tale, it tells a story of a happening nearly a century ago in a small community near Ada.

Konawa-Violet Cemetery is open to the public. The headstone of Katherine Cross stands there today. It reads "Murdered By Human Wolves." A human wolf may not be the same as a werewolf or vampire. However, as legend has it, there may be some truth behind the story.

This Week's Circulars