Dale Kuhrt Passed Away Thursday June 23, 2011

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.

View my interview with Dale:

Chub Anderson and Sheriff Wayman Interview: The Complete Series (Video)

For new visitors to the site, we have put together the complete 9-part series of video clips from a meeting that took place in Chub’s apartment in Caney, Kansas, in February 2009. It was only the second time in over forty years that Chub Anderson and Sheriff George Wayman were face to face.

Jump directly to the complete 9-part series.

Here is Part 1 of that interview:

View the complete 9-part series here.

Chub in Prison Part #3

This article was written for my weekly column in 2006 just two weeks before Chub’s and my first visit while he was in Lansing Prison. The true story of his life was still unknown to me at the time this piece went to press.

Welcome back to Part Three of “Buffalo Dale Behind The Walls…”.

Before I get to the scoop I want to lay out the time frame I will be referring to for those of you who haven’t read In Cold Blood or seen the movie. On November 15, 1959 Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Clutter, along with their son Kenyon and their daughter Nancy were found bound, gagged and shot in the head in Gardner City, KS. Robbery appeared to be the motive although only a little over $40 was missing. A massive manhunt began but with few clues it quickly proved fruitless. Then on Friday, December 30,1959 31 year old Perry Smith and 28-year-old Richard Hickock were arrested in Las Vegas for passing bad checks. After their arrest they were implicated in the robbery and murder of the Clutter family by a cellmate of Hickock’s. The gun and knife used in the murders was found at Hickock’s parents’ home and  the pair was sent back to Kansas. Truman Capote was already a well-known author when he learned about this story and it captured his imagination. It had all the elements of a great whodunit: innocent victims, hard working lawmen, colorful townspeople and two bad guys. Capote turned this story into the most famous non-fiction book of the 1960s and some would say permanently changed the style of non-fiction reporting . A stick to the facts movie starring Robert Blake quickly followed and in 2005 the Oscar winning Capote was released which focuses on Truman Capote’s experiences while writing the book . I could go on and on but space is limited so here are a few things that aren’t in any movie that Warden McKune passed along to me from the Kansas City Star. According to The Star quote “Capote and Perry Smith became lovers in the penitentiary.  I can’t prove it but they spent a lot of time up there in the cell and Capote spent a considerable amount of money bribing the guard to go around the corner. They were both homosexual and that is what happened.” KBI Agent Harold Nye as told to George Plimpston in his 1997 book Truman Capote.

Capote himself said that as the rope was slipped over his head Smith’s last words were directed to him: “Good-bye, I love you and I always have”. You won’t see this in the movies but that’s the scoop.

I may have more reports from Lansing,KS. As I pursue my visits with Chub Anderson I find it is a fascinating little corner of the world. But let’s get back to some closer soil north of Dewey where I had the chance to visit the site of Chub’s 1980s garden.

On Friday I toured the area where the largest cultivated marijuana field in Oklahoma (at the time) was discovered. The crop was estimated at 2 tons and it was growing in a field as big as a football field that is watered by a tributary of Coon Creek. In the mid 1970s I worked on this ranch myself along with a good friend, horse trainer Steve Milligan. As young boys we fed cattle and horses, fixed fence and did all the other things that need done very day on a large ranch. Chub was living there at the time and I was always told to keep my distance from his house , which I did.

Chub was a good welder and the pipe corrals and out buildings he built are still standing along with the electric pole that powered the mobile room where he lived with his family: his second wife and his son from his first marriage. Chub and his second wife were married from 1972 to 1981. I’ve visited with her on two occasions and found her quite charming. She was a local girl who fell in love with the handsome and charismatic cowboy and wanted to make a family. When I mentioned that my adventures were taking me out to her old home her first thought  was her old fruit trees and the garden she had kept. She was wondering if any of it still survived.  As the granddaughter of US Marshall Charles Johnson from Indian Territory days I could tell she is embarrassed by her involvement with this notorious case.  She had never been in any trouble before this and has led a model life afterwards.

I’ve heard the field was discovered by a young man fishing along the creek who filled his pockets with his “catch” only to get busted a few days later. He told law enforcement officials the location of the field. This boy may have been a friend of Chub’s son but whatever the case on August 6, 1980 Chub was arrested and his troubles with the law continued with another bust in Sedan in the 1980s at which  time he decided to run.

Today the land has been returned to Bermuda grass and there is not a pot plant in sight. It is hard to imagine that day in 1980 with news crews and photographers buzzing around- I wonder how many went home with full pockets themselves.

Next week:  a few little known facts about Chub including my friend Mike Proctor’s connection to the investigation. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…

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Chub in Prison Part #2

As promised, here is the second installment in my series about Chub Anderson during the time he was incarcerated at Lansing Prison

Around Town with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back to Part II of “Buffalo Dale Behind The Walls…”  Before we get to “D” block I want to remind you that my paperwork hasn’t been processed yet and there’s a few more hoops to jump through before I get my second interview with Mr. Anderson. Also at this point in time I had not read In Cold Blood or seen the new movie about Truman Capote and these things will have some meaning as we continue our tour.

“D” block is where the mules used to be housed back in 1879 when the inmates started mining for coal on the 2,538-acre prison property. Today there are around thirty miles of mine tunnels under the city of Lansing from this period. This section of the prison was later converted to inmate housing with wire mesh doors and block walls but you canstill imagine the mules and coal mining prisoners who once occupied this area.

“H” block is our next stop where there is dormitory style housing and this is where Brett tells me about the Safe Harbor prison dogs. The inmates here all have a dog assigned to them from the local pound  and they train them to sit, come, and stay. They housebreak, or in this case prison break the dogs and then adopt them out. At the present time 1,250 I must say very well trained dogs have been adopted. I was very impressed with all the inmates here and if you’re interested in adopting a dog from their program here is their website: www.safeharborprisondogs.com You’ll get a great dog and what a story to tell your friends. You can also call my new friend Laura Phillippi for more info at (913) 250-0203.

My blood pressure takes an upward spike here as Brett’s radio started getting some chatter going and before you know it all the cell doors close, guards are scrambling and I am locked in. There’s been a security breach and I’m thinking about an inmate takeover but wait- I’ve been watching too many movies. It’s a false alarm and before you know it things are back to normal. Brett doesn’t blink an eye and we move on.

As we walk toward the clinic, Brett is telling me more about the notorious Hickock and Smith story and about Truman Capote. The clinic provides dental & optical care, physical therapy, x-ray and laboratory work along with mental health crisis intervention counseling and psychological evaluations of the inmates. This is very good care for men that are in a bad situation in life.

As we near the maximum security “B” block I want to mention that neither Brett nor the warden know who Chub Anderson is. To them he is just another man doing his time.

With that in mind this is where a strange thing happened.

I was following Brett into “B’ block and listening to his Hickock and Smith stories when we stopped about 20 cells down the corridor . This is where Hickock and Smith must have been held before they were hung in 1965. Over the P.A. I hear “mess call, mess call”. It is 12:30 PM and time for the prisoners in this section to be released for lunch. As I listen to the click,click,click,click of automatic locks opening, men start leaving their cells. They are putting on their clothes as they come out because its over 100 degrees in the prison – no a.c. here and its hot! As Brett continues to talk, the door to one of these cells opens and a thin older man with a shaved head steps right out in front of me. I have to take a second and a third look to believe my eyes but yes it is Chub Anderson pulling on his clothes less than 10 feet from me! I  don’t think he recognizes me and I interrupt Brett’s story to mention that this is the man I’m trying to see. Brett is also quite amazed and he reminds me that I haven’t been cleared for any conversation so I just watch Chub walk down to the cafeteria for lunch. His condition looks about the same as a couple of weeks ago as he walks away without speaking to anyone. Now the odds against my stopping at his cell at that time had to be astronomical- that out of 2,400 men I would run into Chub this way. It must have been fate. But in any event I obeyed the rules and Warden McKune appreciated it.

I am about out of space so the information that Warden McKune copied me on about Hickock and Smith and how Truman Capote was granted access to these two killers will have to wait until next week. But before I go here are a few quick facts about the Kansas State Penitentiary:

The prison was founded in 1859 and it is the largest and oldest prison in the state.

Until 1909 the prison also housed inmates from Oklahoma.

The prison has provided $1,098,680 in free community labor for many different state projects.

The ethnic breakdown of the prison population is as follows:

Caucasian                                 59%

African American                38%

Native American                    2.2%

Asian                                            .5%

The age breakdown of the prison population is:

19 and under                                .2%

20-29                                         29%

30-39                                         34%

40-49                                         25%

50-59                                           .8%

over 60                                        .3%

The average age for a prisoner is 36 years old. The oldest inmate is 86 and the youngest is 16. Mr. Anderson will soon be 65.

Next week: they lived together, killed together, were hung together and they’re buried together. Dick Hickock and Perry Smith- my behind the walls’ scoop. Also coming up 20 tons of pot northeast of Dewey and my connection to landowner Pat Scudder.

Until then, released on good behavior at 2:10 PM July 27, 2006 one Original Buffalo Dale and I’ll see ya down the road.