Since this story appeared in the Examiner Enterprise I have had many inquiries from readers both locally and from around the country.
Welcome back. Over the past ten years I have included many biographies in this column, some of famous people that many of you may have heard of and just as many about people I have known personally and think have special stories. This is about a person who falls into the second category and who recently passed away.
I first met Paul Kelly in the summer of 2006. At just over 6 feet tall and about 180 pounds he was in excellent shape. Easy going and frequently smiling, Paul had a disposition that reminded me of Andy Taylor from Mayberry in the old Andy Griffith TV show and from the beginning I found him extremely likeable. Paul had grown up in the small Osage County town of Grainola, Oklahoma which is northeast of Ponca City on the Kansas border. When he was a kid his mother worked as a cook on Boots Adams’ Foraker ranch which later became the Oklahoma Land and Cattle Company.
In 1969 Paul was 26 years old and had earned a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. In addition, growing up on a farm had given him plenty of practical experience in farming and livestock management. He had worked for several years at the Coddington Livestock Research Station before taking a position as a County Agent in Emporia and Chace counties in Kansas. This is where he was working when E.C. Mullendore III contacted him about running the farming operation on his massive Cross Bell Ranch. According to Paul “It was a good job and the Mullendores were good people to work for but it only lasted a year and a half.”
I knew from prior research that Paul had managed thousands of acres of farm land on the Cross Bell and had been responsible for all the men and machines required to make it productive. Over the course of several taped interviews Paul confirmed the details of his work on the ranch and what he thought was his small role in the dramatic events that took place there in 1970.
As an employee of the ranch he had been questioned in the initial investigation but heard nothing from law enforcement until 2010 when Osage County investigators asked him to come into the Sheriff’s office. Paul told me that during this meeting he was questioned for over an hour regarding the murder of E.C. Mullendore. At the time the investigators told him that the case was solved and arrest warrants had been written which were awaiting a judge’s signature.
Paul had a good memory and gave me a thorough account of this meeting with investigators which was confirmed during my subsequent visit the next day to the sheriff’s office.
It was after that when I told Paul that I had been subpoenaed by the Attorney General to appear before a multi county Grand Jury looking into the murder. I had also received an unauthorized visit from one of the grand jury members who told me that they had never received any of the documents or tape recording that I had been ordered to release to them. This gentleman wanted to review my information hoping that the case could be finally closed and justice done. This contact between a jury member and a witness was way out of bounds but soon after Paul and I discussed it, he discovered he had cancer. Although we stayed in touch his health became far more important than the unsolved murder from decades before.
All of this makes interesting reading but this small piece of history about a good man’s departure from life certainly does not tell the whole story of Paul Kelly, a man who I wish I’d more time with.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road………