Welcome back. Legends and heroes. Yes, my friends, with the passing of sheriff, war hero, cowboy and plain good guy, George Wayman fit the bill when he was inducted into the Osage County Hall of Fame. Born August 5, 1923 George started off working as a cowboy and as a roughneck in the oil field. He joined the army during World War II, becoming a tank commander under General Patton. He earned a bronze star for valor and more awards would follow for his service in the Korean War where he fought in the famous Pork Chop Hill battle.
After leaving the military he began a twenty-four-year career in law enforcement. I visited with the sheriff at his home in Fairfax, Oklahoma many times over a sixteen-year period up until his death, capturing interviews about many of his most famous cases on film. There where good stories about times when he and his staff broke a case and bad ones
when murder was involved. One case that stuck out was the murders of Buck and Maudie Cheshewalla in 1988. The pair were killed on Osage land for just a couple of dollars and although that area was out of his jurisdiction the sheriff helped solve the case.
The Dixie Mafia in Tulsa was also dumping bodies in Osage County on a regular basis and George’s role in investigating these cases was so critical that his office was recognized as the best Sheriff’s Department in the state by both the Professional Policeman’s Association and the State Legislature. This honor even drew the attention of President Jimmy Carter who invited George to come to the White House for a day.
During our visits George also told me about the cases he couldn’t forget, the ones that were never solved. The disappearance of Cindy Kinney was one of these. A good student, a cheerleader and beloved by her family, when the sheriff was called to the crime scene all he found was a half-eaten sandwich and her purse. Although a new bank was under construction right across the street from the laundromat where she was last seen, there were no witnesses. All of the leads that came into the sheriff’s office were pursued but still nothing he told me. She had vanished right on Main Street in Pawhuska in broad daylight with dozens of people around and I could tell by talking with him that George was still replaying the scene in his mind.
Of course, another unsolved murder I’ve written about is the shooting of prominent rancher E.C. Mullendore III on September 26, 1970. The sheriff and I talked about that case along with his relationship with Jonathan Kwitney who wrote the first book about the shooting, The Mullendore Murder Case.
When he came to Bartlesville back in 1974 Kwitney was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal covering mostly organized crime stories. He had convinced his bosses in New York that the story of the murder would make a great book but George told me Kwitney had not interviewed many of the local people involved with the case. Not Dale Kuhrt, the ranch manager and the first on the scene. Not Mike Burkhardt or his wife Rubyanne who lived on the ranch and were the last people to talk to E.C. before his death. George said he had spoken briefly with Kwitney but knew of few others who had.
I have put my interviews with George into a film and when we are all safe from the coronavirus, I hope to show the film at several locations including the Bartlesville library so stay tuned for that.
As for George, his funeral was held last Thursday in Fairfax and unfortunately, I was still on the road so I missed it. I must say it was a true honor to have known him.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….