This story is about the most famous unsolved murder in the southwest and the life of the man who still holds the key to that murder. On September 20, 1970, E.C. Mullendore III, the heir to the three hundred thousand acre Cross Bell Ranch empire in Oklahoma was murdered in his own home. The only other person with him was ranch employee Damon ‘Chub’ Anderson who was also shot. At the time of his death Mr. Mullendore held the largest life insurance policy in the United States. As the result of mistakes made during the investigation no one has ever been charged in the murder despite the involvement of numerous law enforcement officials, lawyers, investigators and TV personalities.
After the murder articles appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, The Daily Oklahoman, The Tulsa World and The Tulsa Tribune as well as in all the local papers. Television stations across the region also sent investigate reporters to the area but with little result. Through the years the story has continued to fascinate the public and both the national and the regional media have covered possible new leads in great detail. Most recently the murder has become the topic of several internet blogs with people from across the country logging on and offering their theories of the crime.
Chub Anderson’s life in the years following the murder became a legend of its own. In 1980 he was arrested for growing the largest marijuana crop in Oklahoma history and this arrest was followed by a string of indictments involving other crimes. Then in 1990 when he was arrested for cultivation in Kansas, Anderson became a fugitive from justice and eluded capture for 17 years. He was on the Ten Most Wanted list in the State of Kansas and was also frequently mentioned as a prime suspect in the Mullendore murder although no charges were ever filed. In June 2006 a sick and penniless Anderson was apprehended in Helena, Montana where he had been living under the name of Jack Evert, a deceased World War II veteran.
I am a columnist for a local newspaper in Oklahoma and when Anderson was arrested I decided to follow the case. After a fluke introduction in the judge’s chambers during his sentencing I began visiting him on a weekly basis in Lansing State Prison forming a bond that has strengthened since his release in early 2007. Together we have been working on a book which focuses on his experiences and the pivotal unsolved murder of E.C. Mullendore –- an event that has shaped his life for the past 41 years.