The fog was slowly burning off along the Chattahoochee River as the two fox hunters and their dogs made their way along the riverbank towards the Campbellton Ferry that April morning of 1918.

The two men, J.N. Cochran and Oscar Wingo, actually lived in McCollum, Georgia — midway between Palmetto and Newnan along Roosevelt Highway, but had decided to see how the hunting might be on the Douglas County side of the Chattahoochee River.

They were hopeful for a good fox chase, but so far, the scent hounds hadn’t picked up a thing.

It looked like the hunt that day would be a bust.

They reached the dirt road that served as the approach to the ferry and crossed it to reach the high grass on the opposite side.

Once there Cochran tripped and exclaimed, “What the… Well, I’ll be danged!”

Wingo stopped, turned, and walked over to where Cochran had crouched down. The dogs had taken notice and were sniffing around.

A whitish round object was lying in the grass. When Cochran turned it over the men instantly saw the holes for eyes and a nose as well as the intact rows of teeth.

“It appears some guy has lost his head,” said Cochran.

“How do you know it was a feller?” Wingo asked.

“Cause the dang thing is heavy. You see that slope of the forehead. Female skulls aren’t like that. One thing is certain. It’s been here a long time to be that clean. Not a bit of flesh left on it.”

Cochran slung the skull into his sack and said, “I’ll let the sheriff know about this later. Let’s see if we can bag that fox first.

The men would later recount how the head was just there in the grass. It wasn’t concealed but was back far enough off the well-traveled dirt road that it might be missed by a wagon or one of the few autos in the area.

The fox hunters might have missed it had Cochran not tripped over the skull.

A couple of days later Cochran penned a letter to the sheriff of Douglas County, Alfred Seawright Baggett saying, “While out hunting in Douglas County on last Saturday, Mr. Oscar Wingo and myself found a man’s head just across the river from Campbellton’s Ferry, and, not thinking, brought it away with me. I decided it was best to report it to you. If you wish to make an investigation we are at your service. Yours respectfully…”

Can you imagine the outcry and what would happen today if you found a skull, took it home with you, and then later dropped the current sheriff a Facebook message or email about it?

Alfred Seawright Baggett was Douglas County’s sheriff from 1911 to 1932, and while he primarily dealt with moonshiners, an occasional robbery or murder was thrown into the mix. An honest-to-goodness murder mystery was most certainly a change of pace.

Where was the rest of the skeleton?

Was there foul play involved?

Could there be some sort of innocent explanation regarding the skull and how it came to be lying on the side of the road?

Sheriff Baggett forwarded Cochran’s letter to Chief Beavers of the city of Atlanta and inquired about any missing people. “The Atlanta Constitution” picked up the story and printed the letter in their May 1st issue.

By the following Tuesday on May 7th “The Atlanta Constitution” was able to report a resolution to the “murder” mystery.

It seems Dr. James Thomas “Jimmie” Henley had seen the first article regarding the skull and had contacted Chief Beavers. Dr. Henley, a College Park resident, maintained a study at his country home near Campbellton.

The doctor claimed he had owned the skull for twenty years and used it for reference when making dissections. He claimed he had lost the skull a month earlier and believed someone had carried it off as a practical joke.

So, there you go. Murder mystery solved.

I know. This all started off as a spooky Halloween treat, and ended up being a plausible trick, of sorts.

They don’t call it Trick or Treat for nothing you know?

This column ran in the Douglas County Sentinel in October 2015. Lisa’s books “Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County, Volume 1,” “Douglasville,” a pictorial history, and “Georgia on My Mind: True Tales from Around the State”, are available at Amazon, The Farmers Table, Douglasville Welcome Center, and the Douglas County Museum of History and Art.

This column ran in the Douglas County Sentinel in October 2015. Lisa’s books “Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County, Volume 1,” “Douglasville,” a pictorial history, and “Georgia on My Mind: True Tales from Around the State”, are available at Amazon, The Farmers Table, Douglasville Welcome Center, and the Douglas County Museum of History and Art.