I recently came across this article which ran in September 2010 shortly before Chub’s death and I found it very interesting to look back in time from my current perspective. There were two photos that accompanied the article, one of me shaking hands with Chub which is on this website (Chub Anderson Photo Galleries) and one of the bullet holes in the sliding glass doors at E.C.’s Mullendore’s house which is on file at the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise.
Today (Sept. 26, 2010) marks the 40th anniversary of the night that prominent rancher E.C. Mullendore III was murdered at his home northwest of Copan. As yet, the killing is unsolved, but renewed interest in the case this year may lead to an arrest or arrests.
In January, a multi-county grand jury in Oklahoma City convened and is investigating the 40-year-old murder. In addition, the Osage County Sheriff’s department launched their own investigation this year.
While many people speculate on the circumstances of that fateful night, a lot of fingers point to Damon “Chub” Anderson, who was with Mullendore that evening. Anderson, who is still alive but gravely ill in a Kansas nursing home, worked at the Mullendore ranch and also was Mullendore’s bodyguard. Since the murder, Anderson has maintained that two unknown assailants killed Mullendore and shot Anderson in the back. According to news reports, Anderson said he shot at the men as they fled through glass doors. No evidence of the two men has been reported. After an investigation following the Sept. 26, 1970 beating and shooting, no arrests were made.
Just over four years ago, local Examiner-Enterprise columnist Dale Lewis contacted Anderson for a story about his run from the law on an unrelated case. Anderson and Lewis became fast friends and Anderson agreed to tell Lewis the story of his life, including the events of the Mullendore case. Lewis said he has video and audio documentation of pertinent facts that occurred that night, along with many other facets of Anderson’s storied life. Lewis was subpoenaed to testify before the multi-county grand jury earlier this year and is still under a gag order.
Lewis spent the last few years researching the information Anderson told him, talking with law enforcement and others that were involved in the Mullendore investigation. Lewis even visited Montana where Anderson spent 17 years as a fugitive, part of the time working for Ted Turner building bison pens on his ranch. Lewis compiled all his research into a manuscript called, Footprints in the Dew, which is as yet unpublished. To help publicize his impending book, Lewis created a website, www.originalbuffalodale.com.
“I started the website because Chub wants his story told “said Lewis. “His life has been so colorful and he has done so many things and its been such a big story in this part of the country.””It got my interest when I went up to see him when he was captured four years ago. I visited him every week for three months while he was in Lansing Prison. He said he wanted me to do this and he would cooperate with me for a book.” The title of the book refers to the footprints that could be seen in the dew the morning after the murder. The only footprints found were Chub’s showing his path to Dale Kuhrt’s house for help.
Kuhrt worked as ranch manager for two years for the Mullendores. On the night of the murder, Kuhrt, who now is retired and living in Arkansas, said in a phone interview that he opened the door and Anderson was holding onto his bleeding right arm while sobbing. He said E.C. had been shot and needed help.
Kuhrt, reluctant to leave his wife and new baby alone with a shooter on the loose, handed his wife a gun and told her to shoot anyone who came to the door. They ran back to E.C.’s house, and Kuhrt said he was shocked at the amount of blood at the grisly scene. Mullendore had been bludgeoned on top of his head and shot between the eyes. He said Anderson wanted to take Mullendore to the hospital, but Kuhrt convinced him not to move the body.
The phone had been pulled out of the wall so Kuhrt left to find a working phone and Anderson headed to the hospital to get patched up. “The county sheriff really screwed that up,”said Kuhrt. “They took E.C. to the hospital and cleaned him up. That just ruined the whole case right away. The body shouldn’t have been moved that night.”
According to Kuhrt there had been a lot of moneyfinders around the ranch in the months leading up to the murder. “A bunch of scum is what they were” he said. Kuhrt said he never thought Anderson did it. He attributed the murderer(s) to those involved with a $15 million insurance policy that E.C. carried.
Another ranch employee at that time was Paul Kelly, who now lives outside of Pawhuska, running cattle. In September 1970, Kelly worked as farm manager for the Mullendores in charge of the crop farming on the different ranches in Fairfax, Pawhuska, Hulah, Caney and near Copan.
He said during a phone interview last week that he was playing cards the night of the murder and got a call about midnight or 1 a.m. saying Mullendore had been killed. They came home but he said he didn’t go near the house till the next morning. The police were there and escorted he and others to Pawhuska to go through an affidavit process.
“There was a lot of things going on about money and a lot of questionable people dealing with E.C.” said Kelly.” To this day I think they are the culprits that had him killed. Everyone thinks something different. A lot of people think Chub did it. I run around with Chub and E.C. too many hours to think something like that happened. In spite of everything, Chub is a pretty good kind of a fellow.” However, he thinks Anderson could identify who did commit the murder. Kelly also said the police work was the most unprofessional handling of any murder case in the world. He said a couple months ago, he spoke to the Osage County Sheriff’s Department who were reinvestigating the case. “And I indicated my opinions,” said Kelly. “They said they were going to solve it and I said, “You weren’t even born then. It will never be solved completely. Too many people are dead. When Chub dies, it will be over,” said Kelly.
Lewis said he will periodically update his website with more tidbits from his book, although he’d really like to see a movie made of the story. He recently attended the Telluride film festival in Colorado to rub elbows with those in the business.
Lewis isn’t the first one to write a book about the murder. Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny also penned the story in 1974, detailing the lifestyle of Mullendore and his whole family in The Mullendore Murder Case. Osage County District Attorney Larry Stuart and Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch did not return calls by press time.