Stephenville, Texas 1974

Another story of murder and mayhem from Stephenville, Texas. Stay turned for more on Footprints in the Dew….

Welcome back. This week I’m taking you back in time again. It’s late August 1974, the year in which Patty Hearst was kidnapped and Oklahoma was NCAA Football Champions. 1974 was also the year in which Richard Nixon became the first President in our history to resign. Chub was dodging subpoenas and living in rural Caney, Kansas.

In Stephenville, Texas one of the largest manhunts in the history of the state was underway. Residents in the area had been in a state of terror ever since Richard Mangum, Dalton Williams and Jerry Ulmer escaped from the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City, a small town just over the border from Oklahoma.

According to the Stephenville Empire Tribune, after the trio had stuffed pillows under the covers of their beds to make them look occupied, they had hidden in a tool shed, climbed over three prison walls and stolen a car. They planned to rob a bank and flee to Mexico but first they had a few scores to settle.

First the escapees went to Roswell, New Mexico where they stole two rifles and a gas station and robbed a gas station. They hid during the day and then headed out for Las Vegas, New Mexico. Along the way they kidnapped two young women whom they raped repeatedly during their travels. In Rotan, New Mexico they murdered rancher R.L. Baker whose testimony had put Williams in prison.

The three then came to the Stephenville area hunting for Mrs. Ray Ott who had testified against Ulmer. When they found Mrs. Ott they killed her also.  After both murders there were wounded witnesses left alive and instructed to tell everyone in the country that they were back.

Over the next two days the three convicts engaged in running gun battles with over 200 state police, Texas Rangers and local authorities when it was discovered that they were just right outside of town. Investigators assumed that their next target would be D.A. Bob Glasgow who had prosecuted them. Jury members and other local officials were also considered to be in danger.

On Wednesday August 26th, the three stole another car and then wrecked it, leaving them on foot. Residents throughout the county were either evacuated or told to barricade themselves in their homes as the manhunt intensified.

After raping the two young women several more times, in a rare act of humanity the convicts released them. The three made their way to a nearby creek bed where they attempted to elude law enforcement and shot several dogs who barked as they crawled by. Now they were literally running from hedgerow to hedgerow, crossing through yards as the police closed in. It was then that Officers Richard Trail, Jim Ellmore, Freddie McDonald and Larry Brandenburg fired several times at the fleeing men. Richard Magnum was shot once in the jaw and died on the scene. The other two men threw themselves to the ground in surrender and their vendetta was over. Hundreds of residents came back to their homes and normalcy returned to this quiet community which had been in the national spotlight for several tense days in 1974.

Stephenville, Texas faded from national awareness until two years ago when Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were murdered there. The town has remained the focus of attention again throughout the arrest and trial of their now convicted murderer, Eddie Ray Routh.

Moving forward, this past Sunday marked the end of my experiment in social media, namely my kickstarter campaign. This has been an interesting experience which I will be writing more about soon.

Thank you all very much for your great support and interest in my project.

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road……

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Travels to Oklahoma City and the Man of the Year Awards

The kickstarter campaign has just ended and it has been an interesting experience to say the least. Thank you to everyone who supported the project. Stay tuned for the next developments.

Welcome back. Although I’m currently back in Stephenville, Texas to continue covering the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, I’m starting this week with Oklahoma State’s basketball team. On Wednesday my travels took me to Stillwater the game against Iowa. Henry Iba brought big time basketball to this town and unbelievably you can still see a game there for just fifteen dollars. I started off sitting in the nose bleed seats but when I caught my breath after the climb I really enjoyed the view. During the second quarter I was able to move down to the dead center of the court, just a few rows back from the floor. It’s hard to figure out why attendance wasn’t better that night because when you have two ranked teams playing you know you’re going to see a good game and I did. Another highlight of a visit to the university is seeing all the student life on campus. When you are far beyond your college years like I am, it’s fun to see all the energy and enthusiasm these kids have.

After spending the night in Stillwater, and with basketball still on my mind, I headed down the highway another two hours to Oklahoma City where I knew the Oklahoma City Thunder would be playing at Chesapeake Arena. As we now know, it would be the last scheduled game for two members of the team. Here’s a tip if you plan to catch a game. There’s lots of street parking right next to the arena and if you arrive a couple of hours early you can park practically right in front of the building. While you’re waiting, Bricktown is just a couple of blocks away which is an area that is full of great restaurants. The Oklahoma City Bombing memorial and Museum is also close by and if you haven’t been there I highly recommend a visit.

My next stop in town was the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club where IMPACT OKC Magazine was honoring their “Man of the Year”. You regular readers know that I learned about this person about five years ago and I have written about him and his generosity several times since then. However for you new followers, I will start from scratch with some of the information that was included in his recent interview in the magazine.

“For over thirty years Robert “Bob” Funk has built Express Employment Professionals into the leading employment solutions company in the United States with over 700 franchisees in the United States and in multiple countries. In 2012 Express had 2.3 billion in sales and found work for over 367,000 people.  Bob has also developed Express Ranches into the number one breeder of Angus cattle in the United States with four ranches in Oklahoma and a 167,000 acre ranch in New Mexico… Despite his great success and the wealth he has earned, Bob has become best known for his generosity to many different causes and he says that his greatest joy comes from giving his money away.”  These are just a few of the many organizations he supports: Children’s Miracle Network, Youth Expo, The Western Heritage Center and Cowboy Hall of Fame and right here in Bartlesville, the #1 Not for Profit Organization in the State of Oklahoma for 2014, Elder Care.

Wrapping up a quick two day trip, I was able to get over to the Oklahoma City fairgrounds where one of the largest sales of its kind was in progress. The Leake Auto Auction is celebrating fifty years of selling rare, collectible cars and their expertise was on display at this sale. With close to five hundred cars to sell, they used two sale rings, bringing in one high dollar car after another. I have no idea how they sold them all in just a few hours but everything worked like a finely tuned watch as they say.

The auction is coming to the Tulsa fairgrounds in June and even if you’re not in the market for this type of car, it is fun just to be a spectator.

Till next week when I’ll be bringing you more from the courtroom in Stephenville, I’ll see ya down the road…

P.S. If you want more on these stories visit my website for daily updates: www.originalbuffalodale.com

 

 

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On Location in Stephenville,Texas

The jury in the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh went into deliberations at 6:30 p.m. While waiting for the verdict these are a few things I learned around the courthouse:

An assistant Pastor told me that Routh had been baptized in jail by the senior Minister of the local Church of Christ, John Parker, who has been visiting him regularly.

It also came out during the testimony that a bible had been found by Routh’s bed after the shootings.

The third witness today was Howard Ryan, a blood stain expert, who testified that Kyle was shot first at close range. Littlefield was shot next, falling to his knees before being shot a second time in the head.

The defense’s argument is that Routh is insane and has been traumatized by his combat experience. During the closing arguments for the defense Taya Kyle got up and ran from the room, followed by other family members.

In their closing statements,the prosecution contended that Routh is faking mental illness and is playing a game he has played his whole life.

It’s a toss-up as to when the jury will have a decision.

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Report from the American Sniper Trial

This is my report from last week and now I am on the road back to Stephenville, TX to catch the rest of the trial. Stay tuned for more and don’t forget that time is short for  the rest of the kickstarter campaign!

Welcome back.  On location in Stephenville, Texas which is just an hour and a half southwest of Fort Worth. When I arrived last Monday, I found that all the major networks had sent news trucks to cover the trial. Over the following days I met many nice local people and other reporters including AP correspondent Jamie Stengle, Dianna Hunt from the Dallas News and Autumn Owens from the Stephenville Empire Tribune whom I want to thank for their assistance.

As I am sure you all know by now, the trial of the accused killer of Chris Kyle, Eddie Ray Routh, is in full swing and moving fast. For the first four days, from my seat in the second row, Routh was just about twelve feet to the left and Chris Kyle’s widow Taya was directly behind me. During my brief conversations with her I found Taya quite pleasant and easy to talk to despite her ordeal.

Chad Littlefield’s was killed with Kyle and his mother was sitting behind Taya along with around thirty other friends and family members. Security is extremely tight and only thirty-five people are allowed in the courtroom each day besides the family. After talking with the D.A. it appears that all the evidence will have been presented by both sides by the end of this week and then the case will go to jury deliberations.

Taya was the first to testify, followed by Chad’s mom, who said it would have been her son’s birthday. During the testimony of seven other witnesses, the prosecution showed a series of ghastly photos of the crime scene as well as autopsy photos of both men. Many people in the courtroom cried during this presentation. As for Eddie Ray Routh, he showed no emotion, scribbling on a notepad throughout most of the proceedings.

On the second day of the trial, four witnesses were called including a crime scene specialist from the Texas Rangers and a Lancaster police officer along with Lt. Michael Smith who was the first officer to talk to Routh after the shootings and finally the Medical Examiner from Dallas County who showed more photos. The Medical Examiner described the shootings in great detail saying that both victims has been shot numerous times and also stating that neither man had drugs or alcohol in his system.

On day three Routh’s uncle was the first witness and testified that he and Routh had smoked marijuana together on the morning of the shooting and may have drunk whiskey as well. Then James Jeffries, a ballistics expert, gave his findings followed by police officer Jena Cole who quoted Routh as saying “I feel bad about it but they wouldn’t talk to me. I’m sure they’ve forgiven me.”

I am running short on space but here are a few other highlights from the testimony:

Taya Kyle testified that her husband didn’t sound like himself when she spoke with him on the phone before the murders; he sounded irritated and short.

Receipts found in Kyle’s stolen truck showed that a short time after the killings Routh stopped at Taco bell and bought two burritos.

Routh led police on a high speed chase that only ended when after a few miles they rammed his truck and disabled it.

After he was arrested Routh asked one of the detectives “Is the apocalypse on us right now? I can feel everybody feeding on my soul.”

A question that has been frequently asked but we will never know the answer to, is how Eddie Ray Routh got the jump on Kyle and Littlefield when they were both found to be carrying loaded handguns.

In text messages exchanged between Kyle and Littlefield while they were driving with Routh who was in the back seat of the truck, Kyle said that “this dude (Routh) is straight up nuts.” Kyle and Littlefield had never met Routh before and these are Kyle’s last known words.

On a similar note, on September 26, 1970 E.C. Mullendore’s last known words were “Chub stays in the truck like I told him to. He’ll do what I say.” You can learn more on my website www.originalbuffalodale.com.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………

 

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Footprints in the Dew-Now is the time!

I know that many of you out there have been visiting the kickstarter page and learning about the project. Thank you to everyone for your interest and especially thank you to those of you who have made a pledge. To those of you still on the sidelines if you think the book is interesting and you’d like to read it, now is the time to commit. There are only 8 days left in the campaign and a long way to go to raise the funds that are needed to get the book in everyone’s hands. Help me make Footprints in the Dew a reality!

Back in the Rialta

I’m re-fueling the motorhome in anticipation of another road trip to spread the word about the project. I hope to catch a big crowd at the OSU vs.,Iowa game tomorrow night and then on to OKC to see the Thunder Thursday night. I might possibly drive on to Stephenville for more of the American Sniper trial.

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Stephenville, Texas

Hello to all my new friends in Stephenville, Texas. The motor home is snowed in right now but maybe I’ll see you toward the end of the week. Thanks again to everyone from CBS, the Dallas Morning News and the Stephenville Empire Tribune for taking time out to visit with me. To the residents of Stephenville, you have a truly great all American town. And lastly thanks to the dozens of law enforcement personnel from every branch who are doing a wonderful job with the security at the trial. I wish everyone there well.

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American Sniper Trial- The End of The First Week

Stephenville, Texas:

In anticipation of a lengthy day of testimony  Monday, court recessed early on Friday. The first witness is expected to be Officer Brown who videoed Routh’s statement. He may be followed by Jen Weed who had become engaged to Routh the night before the murder. Additional photos and video remain to be shown and then it is possible that the case will go to the jury by Friday.

As for my project, Footprints in the Dew, there is only a short time left if you want to get involved and learn what happened to E.C. Mullendore on the night of September 26, 1970. Please don’t wait!

American Sniper Trial- Day Two

For the past two days Chris Kyle’s widow has been sitting directly behind me and I have had the opportunity to speak with her briefly.

It is hard to sit through the testimony I am about to describe without thinking about how it is impacting her and the rest of the families of both Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

The first person to testify was crime scene specialist and Texas Ranger Michael Adcock who described the crime scene in detail. The next witness was the Lancaster police  officer who initially secured the crime scene and who confirmed details about what he observed.

Their testimony was followed by a thirty minute dash cam video of the police chasing Eddie Ray Routh, eventually ramming his truck and Routh continuing to flee until his damaged truck gave out. In the course of the day several other videos of this chase were shown.

The most disturbing testimony thus far came from Dr. Jeffrey Banard who is the Chief Medical Examiner in Dallas. He described the height and weight of both victims, the number of gunshot wounds they received and testified that there was no way either man could have survived,even with immediate medical care. Banard also testified that neither victim had alcohol or drugs in his system. Banard’s testimony was accompanied by many photos of the bodies.

For the past two days Routh has been writing continually in a notebook and today he only looked up when photos of the bodies were shown on the wide screen monitor.