My first inkling about this crime got here after I was the chief deputy sheriff. One in every of my interns, a younger man named Ron Boden (who grew to become a veteran deputy sheriff), had been performing some analysis on Lancaster County’s solely identified lynching, in 1884. I got here throughout a reference within the biography of the sheriff on the time, Sam Melick, to the homicide of the Nebraska Penitentiary warden and subsequent jail break. Melick had been appointed interim warden after the homicide and instituted a number of reforms.
A number of years later, a colleague, Sgt. Geoff Marti, loaned me an ideal ebook, Gale Christianson’s “Final Posse,” that advised the story of the 1912 jail break in gory, haunting and wonderful element.
To make a protracted story quick, convict Shorty Grey and his co-conspirators shot and killed Warden James Delahunty, a deputy warden and a guard on Wednesday, March 13, 1912. They then made their break — proper into the enamel of a brutal Nebraska spring blizzard. Over the course to the subsequent few days, a posse pursued. Through the pursuit, the escapees carjacked a younger farmer along with his crew and wagon. Because the posse closed in, a gunfight broke out and the hostage was shot and killed within the trade, together with two of the three escapees.
There was loads of anger among the many locals within the Gretna-Springfield neighborhood in regards to the demise of their native son, and an issue raged over the regulation enforcement ways that caused his demise. Lancaster County Sheriff Gus Hyers was not unsullied by the inquiry, though it seems from my prospect a century later that the fog of conflict led to the tragedy.
Christianson, a professor of historical past at Indiana State College who died earlier this 12 months, notes the next on the flyleaf:
“For anybody residing west of the Mississippi in 1912, the largest information that fateful 12 months was a violent escape from the Nebraska state penitentiary deliberate and carried out by a trio of infamous robbers and protected blowers.”
Larger information on half the continent than the sinking of the Titanic throughout the identical 12 months will surely qualify this murder-escape as one of the crucial notorious Lincoln crimes in historical past.