Cohen & Kerwin

It seems like a day doesn’t go by without someone asking me when my book about the life of Chub Anderson will be published and who killed E.C. Mullendore. As many of you may realize it is extremely hard to get a book published in the best of times and in today’s economy unless you are an established author like John Grisham it is even tougher. There are so-called “vanity presses” who will print your book for a fee but they usually do not provide the marketing and publicity necessary to make a book successful on a national scale. I believe in the potential of this story to appeal to people everywhere, not just in the southwest, and so I have been in contact with agents and publishers around the country such as the William Morris Agency in New York as well as several successful documentary film makers.

In the last month the project has captured the attention of a person who has the contacts to make the story into a movie and who is interested in doing just that. Negotiations are currently underway and look very hopeful. I’ll keep everyone in the loop via this website. Thanks for all your support!

This week I am bringing you the profiles of two other shady characters who played a role in this Oklahoma tragedy, the murder of E.C. Mullendore III.

Leon Cohen out of Atlanta and his partner Leroy Kerwin from Chicago were a pair of insurance swindlers who had set up a seemingly legitimate life insurance company based in Atlanta, Georgia. They started selling policies in 1969 and their client list included Mickey Mantle, Harry Belafonte, Cassius Clay and O.J. Simpson along with at least thirty-five others. They sold more than one hundred million dollars in insurance but E.C. Mullendore’s fifteen million dollar policy was by far the largest of all.

Cohen was also a convicted rapist and at the time when the Mullendore policy was issued, the Securities and Exchange Commission was already looking into his business affairs. Leroy Kerwin was  another “inventive” money maker who spent time in federal prison for fraud when in 1961 he was arrested for selling three hundred stolen cars.

The IRS was also investigating the “Bank of Sark”, a phony bank that Kerwin had created which he claimed was located on a tiny island off the coast of England and had assets of 72.5 million. Kerwin sold shares in the bank to investors who were unaware that it was actually a small room above a bar on the island without any assets whatsoever, a fact that was revealed by a local postal service investigator. When the scam was discovered the Wall Street Journal ran an article calling it the “greatest and neatest swindle of all time”.

Mafia king pin Carlos Marcello came into the picture during an investigation into the murder of Leroy Kerwin who was discovered in a shallow grave in Canada. Kerwin had disappeared on his way to meet with Oakland Raiders great Art Powell who was planning to buy life insurance from him.

As for Cohen, with both the feds and the mob after him and fearing for his life, he moved to Florida where he adopted a very low profile lifestyle.

In our internet age these two swindlers would have been easy to see through but back then it was easier for them to deceive a rancher from Oklahoma.

Next week: a filmed interview with another person who was working at the ranch and visited with Chub and E.C. on that fateful day forty years ago.

Kent Green

Kent Green

Dale Kuhrt mentioned last week that at four o’clock in the morning on the night of E.C.’s shooting; Kent Green had knocked on his door. Dale, who was shocked and frightened, just about shot him through the door. This is a brief history of Kent Green’s criminal life.

Kent Green was born in Burns, Kansas on August 12, 1927 into a well respected and successful family. An only child who was given every advantage, he should have had no trouble staying on the right of the law but that is not how things worked out.

On June 2, 1949 when Green was twenty-two years old he stole 14 head of cattle in Chase County, Kansas. He was arrested almost immediately afterwards and sentenced to one to five years in the state penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas. While out on bond waiting to be taken to prison, Green committed Grand Larceny when he stole a metal building.

This crime resulted in another sentence of one to seven years which was to be served consecutively. After his parents spent a considerable amount of money on lawyers, Governor Fred Hall granted him a Citizenship Pardon. In all he had served three years, six months and twenty-seven days. Then in 1956 Green was rebooked for fraud and parole violations by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and returned to Lansing Prison.

According to a letter sent to the prison warden from county attorney Morris Moon:

“This fellow (Green) is probably moderately fixed in his own right having inherited quite a large amount of property from his father. His folks were prominent residents of Butler and Chase counties and they also enjoyed a good reputation. There is undoubtedly a psychological quirk in this man’s nature because of a divided household and because of the indulgence shown to him as a youth.”

Green was paroled again on April 1, 1957 and as soon as he was released he went to work on a scam that involved advertising for Golden Glove Boxing Tournaments.

This lasted until 1959 when Kansas Parole Agent Carroll Way issued a warrant for his arrest for parole violation. While he was awaiting sentence on that charge, the U.S. attorney found Green guilty of wire fraud. This conviction was brought about when Green and accomplice Don Bender called TWA with a bomb threat targeting an in-flight plane in an attempt to extort the company.

When he was released again in 1960, Agent Wray attempted unsuccessfully to locate him once more for parole violations and sent out warrants stating that Green was a smooth operator and was quite possibly  working a scam out of state. Green was finally captured in Wichita, Kansas in 1961 and pled guilty to inter-state car theft. After this arrest Judge Delmas C. Hill sent him to federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas with orders that when this sentence was served he would do his state time.

After claiming criminal insanity Green was moved to a mental institution which he escaped from a month later.  FBI warrants were sent out across the country and he was quickly arrested in Jackson, Mississippi. However through a bureaucratic mistake, he made bond and was never seen in the area again. Now the United States Marshals, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the FBI were all on his trail.

Green was captured again in May of 1962 for hijacking “swinging beef” or beef carcasses from semi trucks. Once again he was also charged with multiple parole violations.

Upon his release Green got involved in several more scams, always reporting to his parole officer that he was working for Green Oil and Production Company, a fictional business with no credible assets.

After E.C. Mullendore’s murder Green did more time in jail on various charges but was always paroled. In 1983 Green and his new partner Bud Carmichael had been going to gun shows selling zip guns, an illegal two piece contraption that fired a single shot. The pair would set up two different booths and sell the guns separately, then move on to another show before local law enforcement caught on. They had just wrapped up a show in Austin and were traveling to San Antonio on I-35 when Green suddenly grabbed his chest. Carmichael pulled over and Green lay down in the back of their van and died.  When emergency personnel arrived they took his body to the Brackenridge Hospital Morgue in Austin until it was claimed by his family back in Kansas.

Green had been questioned several times by Osage County law enforcement while he was in prison and his widow told me recently that Green had told her that he did not believe that any criminal elements had been involved in the death of E.C. Mullendore.

Green was buried in the Burns, Kansas Cemetery.

Dale Kurtz knew nothing of Green’s criminal past the night he knocked on Dale’s door or he would have shot him for sure.

Dale Kurht Interview

Thirty-nine year old Dale Kuhrt came from four generations of farmers and ranchers and his great-grandfather had homesteaded the land Dale was born on. Kuhrt was a respected stockman in the American Hereford Association and a long time 4-H judge. He had been moving up the ladder, managing one large ranch after another, each one bigger than the one before. Kuhrt had also worked at several big spreads outside of Oklahoma including the Milky Way Hereford Ranch in Phoenix, the Lucky ranch in Loyalton, California and the Baca Grant Ranch in Moffat, Colorado. He was managing the Codding Cattle Research Station near Foraker, Oklahoma when E.C. contacted him about the job in August 1969.

Prologue to Footprints in the Dew

Footprints in the Dew is the true story of the life of Damon Tucker “Chub” Anderson as told in his own words on film and audiotape. There are people who don’t want this story to be told for many reasons but the ones who want to learn the truth far outnumber them.

Why was E.C. Mullendore murdered and who did it?

Why is the murder still unsolved after 40 years even though a deal had been worked out a few weeks after the murder which would have closed the case?

And why was the Grand Jury that most recently reviewed the case (in 2010), never told of new evidence provided by a private investigator in the case by the Attorney General’s office and the past Osage County D.A. and why was a gag order placed on me immediately after my appearance before that Grand Jury?

Although I fully expect another order to be forthcoming, restricting my comments and some parts of the book, until that happens we will forward and now the prologue to:

“Footprints in the Dew, the Chub Anderson Story”

Osage County is the biggest county in Oklahoma, covering an area as large as Rhode Island and encompassing world-renowned grasslands that have been a Mecca for cattle ranchers for two centuries. Osage County is also famous (or infamous) for the many outlaws who sought refuge in its hills and draws including Pretty Boy Floyd, the Dalton Brothers and Ethan Allen “Al” Spencer, the last of the train robbers in Oklahoma. The Osage is marked both by its majestic beauty and the frequently hostile climate and geography. Savage storms spring up without warning and thickets of scrub oak and rocky slopes make for perilous travel.

In this setting many great fortunes began and several family dynasties were founded. The Phillips brothers of Phillips Petroleum Company (now ConocoPhillips) started their company with oil leases in the Osage alongside the Gettys and the Sinclairs. The early oil boom briefly made the members of the Osage Tribe the richest people in the United States at the time because they controlled the mineral rights throughout the county. Big ranching empires like the 101 and the Chapman-Barnard Ranch flourished and made movie stars out of cowboys like Tom Mix and Ben Johnson, Jr.

At the heart of the Osage lies the Cross Bell Ranch which has been operated by the Mullendore family for over 100 years. In its heyday it is estimated that well over three hundred thousand acres were under the Cross Bell brand and the ranch was completely self-sufficient with its own mills, rich farmland and an independent water supply. The spread was created through the determination, hard work and devotion of the family. Family loyalty came first back in a day when it was hard to tell friends from enemies and the Mullendores took pride in their tight knit clan.

In 1968 nearby Bartlesville, Oklahoma was still a wild and wooly place and just a few miles outside of the city a “might makes right” attitude prevailed. There was a lot of oil underground and the grass on the surface had the perfect nutrients for cattle. The Embers Steakhouse was considered top of the line for excellent food and fine service and most of the “society folks” in this wealthy community were regulars. As the Mullendore family, Gene, Kathleen, E.C. and Linda, dined with their friends movie legend John Wayne and his friend Louis Johnson the mood was festive with talk of cattle prices and land acquisitions. Johnson and Wayne were partners in a cattle buying operation in Stanfield, Arizona called the “26 Bar” and they had been buying some of the Mullendores’ best young steers for years. The two men loved being around Gene and E.C. whom they considered “real cowboys” who were living the ranch life everyday. Little did these friends know that within two years E.C. would be tragically murdered and that Gene would also be dead shortly after the murder.

Oklahoma was growing and the state had seen it all in a hurry: boom and bust in the oil patch, great ranches come and gone, the dustbowl, rags to riches and then back to rags for the Osage Tribe and the transition to statehood. Then on September 26, 1970 the state was rocked when E.C. Mullendore III, the heir to the vast Mullendore ranching empire, was shot to death in his own home on the ranch. After a brief and most would say botched investigation the Osage County District Attorney stated that “we have no suspects in custody or in view.” Mullendore employee Damon “Chub” Anderson described the murder as an “ambush by unknown assassins” after he and E.C. returned to the ranch late that night. In an unsigned statement Chub claimed to have been shot in the back by fleeing assailants when he came to E.C.’s aid. At the time E.C. held the largest life insurance policy in the United States.

Over the years Bartlesville’s fortunes rose and fell, usually in tandem with the fortunes of Phillips Petroleum. The Embers closed and management of the Cross Bell Ranch was passed to a new generation of Mullendores. E.C.’s murder remained unsolved and the stories surrounding the shooting became local legends. Speculation only grew when the reclusive Chub Anderson skipped bond in 1990 on a marijuana bust and disappeared. Anderson ended up on Kansas’ 10 Most Wanted list and Chub sightings placed him in Europe one month and South America the next, then back in Oklahoma after that. Then came news that made headlines across Oklahoma and even drew the interest of television host Bill Kurtis.  Chub had been captured in Helena, Montana and was near death. Speaking briefly with reporters Anderson mentioned cowboying in the high country of Montana and working on Ted Turner’s ranch there. His transfer back to Kansas and eventual incarceration at Lansing State Penitentiary opened a new chapter in this story.

Chub Anderson and Sheriff Wayman, 2009, Part 9

Chub and Sheriff Wayman- Part Nine

This is the final video clip from the last conversation between Chub and Sheriff Wayman and there was a lot going on behind the scenes that the two men didn’t know about. At the time this was supposed to be a secret meeting but an informant in the Osage County D.A.’s office alerted private investigator Gary Glanz to what was going on and told him that fresh evidence was being retrieved by the current sheriff’s office. Secret deals, offers of money and an operative in the D.A.’s office! George was unaware of all this and at 83, many years retired and 40 years after the murder, he was convinced that his theory of the murder was the only way it could have happened.

George urges Chub to come clean about the murder and promises him that he won’t spend any time in jail. He even tells him that I (Dale) can bring him in and take him home the same day.

Chub knows his health is failing and that he probably doesn’t have long to live. He listens politely to the old sheriff encouraging him to get right with God and says that he believes that the sheriff is being truthful and not trying to trick him. Afterwards however Chub told me what he really thought and over the next few weeks he told me the true story and gave me proof of what really happened on the night of September 26, 1970.

Next week I will be posting the beginning of Footsteps in the Dew: The Chub Anderson Story, the book I have spent the past four years writing with Chub’s cooperation and signed consent.