The Sentinel offers “Graves in the Valley” throughout September, looking at some of the famous and infamous people buried in cemeteries of the Cumberland Valley:
Three Babes in the Woods
HISTORY: The Babes in the Woods murders took place near Pine Grove Furnace on Nov. 24, 1934. The bodies of Norma Sedgwick, 12, Dewilla Noakes, 10, and Cordelia Noakes, 8, were found under a blanket in the woods along Centerville Road.
Investigators believed the three girls were suffocated by Elmo Noakes (father of Dewilla and Cordelia, and stepfather of Norma). The following day Elmo continued his killing spree by killing his niece Winifred Pierce and then himself with a .22 rifle. Their bodies were found at a station on the Hollidaysburg Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Blair County about the same time the bodies of the three girls were spotted in the woods in Cumberland County.
HOW THEY DIED: A preliminary autopsy on Nov. 24, 1934, revealed no apparent cause of death. Later it was determined the girls died from either strangulation or suffocation and that the murder weapon may have been a soft cloth, a pillow or a blanket. Investigators believe they were suffocated by Elmo Noakes and their bodies placed in the woods along Centerville Road. Another theory says the girls died from inhaling exhaust fumes in the car.
A publication of the Noakes family history states that Winifred Pierce died at the age of 18 and that “Elmo J. Noakes and his children died in an auto accident.”
GRAVESITE: Westminster Cemetery, 1159 Newville Road, Carlisle.