TURMOIL IN WAKE OF KILLERS' ESCAPE
What newspapers generally called "The Greatest Man-hunt in History" started immediately after it was learned at Police Headquarters in Springfield, there had been no arrests at the Young farm home. Doctor Murray C. Stone, Greene County Coroner, automatically became Sheriff and he cooperated with the Police Departments of cities everywhere, with Constables, Railroad Detectives, the Missouri National Guard, the Missouri State Highway Police, the American Legion, and all others who could and would lend any aid in the search for the then unidentified murderers who brutally slew six of the very best law enforcement officers in the land.
The Springfield papers rushed to the streets with extras upon receiving any tip of interest to the public. And the public that night was available to newshawks in great excited throngs at the Police Station, Court House, jail, hospitals and undertaking establishments. Thousands upon thousands of cars plowed through the dust on roads that led anywhere near the Young home.
But, where were the killers? Where were the Young brothers? No one knew, and it looked for a time like no one ever would. Mrs. Albert Conley (Lorena Young), and Vinita Young were together in a cell at the Police Station. Their mother, Mrs. Willie Florence Young was at the county jail. Albert Conley and Oscar Young were in the city jail. Mrs. Oscar Young was in another spot detained by county authorities. Still others were held here and there separately till a complete check-up could be made of any and all who were suspicioned in this nation's worst peace officer massacre.
Freak tips, sure bets, positive inside stuff, the low down, hot shots, new dope, the latest yet, and a million theories of how it happened and who did it were hurled at the county and city officials who were trying every hour of the day to catch Harry and Jennings Young alive. It was known definitely as fast as they could spread the fact everywhere, that Greene County authorities wanted Harry and Jennings Young for the murder of six peace officers, and that they wanted Paul Young for investigation in connection with it, and that they wanted a score of other notorious criminals who were known at one time or another to have been associated with the Young brothers in their nefarious acts, for investigation also in connection with the killing.
Many interesting things happened in the next few days after the killing, none of which have but passing interest now, but they were thrilling then. Saturday night about 9 p. m., officers raided the Oscar Young house. They made a thorough search but found nothing of worth as evidence. Sometime after midnight they raided again, and on the dining room table in plain view they saw a bunch of keys and near it was an envelope on the back of which was penciled, "Give these keys to Lorena and tell her to move the cars at once." This evidence sent new legions into every field and woods near the Young home.
Five cars were recovered from possession of the Youngs. Four of them were stolen in Houston. In Houston, when Federal agent John Burger began to check, he found several cars that had been stolen in Springfield and nearby towns.
Investigators found a gas mask hanging in a closet at the Young home, but it didn't appear to have been used. They also found considerable merchandise that had been stolen recently from a town near Springfield.
A farmer was said to have visited the Youngs on Friday to get some part for a plow. On the front porch he saw a man, not one of the Youngs, cleaning a peculiar looking gun. It had something on it that looked like a tomato can to him.
An elderly lady awoke Sunday morning to find two strange men at her door who ordered breakfast, which they gulped nervously and hungrily. She was sure from descriptions they were the Youngs. Near the Young farm at a filling station, next day or so after the tragedy, two men who claimed they were Paul Young and Pretty Boy Floyd on the way to Houston, had some work done on their car. The attendant claimed he knew Paul, and that he was sure it was Paul who had been there for a half-hour or so, but afterwards when he notified the police, their dragnet over south Missouri brought no such car or two such men to bay.
Three acquaintances of the Youngs, and responsible people, too, who live on the same thoroughfare but separated some, claimed they saw two of the Young brothers riding in a dirty Buick coupe at terrific speed on Saturday afternoon late toward downtown Springfield but they didn't recognize the driver or the car.
The captive Youngs were not mistreated in the least. Taking advantage of the knowledge they would not be roughly grilled, they said but little that was of consequence in the investigation. Each and every one seemed grossly ignorant of everything that in any way concerned the boys, and they made so few statements other than "I don't know" they were not caught in much fabrication. They divulged nothing that incriminated each other in anything, nor did they reveal a clue that would identify anyone else with the Young desperadoes in their most heinous crime.
A prominent Springfield lady, who had recently had her fortune told, rushed to a public official and related that during the week previous to the killing, a palmist and card reading psychic foretold there would be much blood shed in Springfield soon. It was to be in all probability a shooting and cutting scrape. So, excitedly she told the official she just knew for certain this fortune teller could reveal much about the whereabouts of the Young brothers. The public official earnestly advised her to go and learn what she could from the psychic. She reported back that whoever did the shooting was close at hand. This renewed efforts on the part of a very few on Sunday night to locate the Young brothers in south Missouri. Later when they were captured in Houston, the prominent lady returned to her fortune teller to learn this time, the brothers would never be brought back to Greene County without first being removed from the hearse and mutilated.
Nervous, excited and shocked over the tragedy and fear for her boys, Mrs. Willie Florence Young, their mother, cried out while being grilled, that she hoped they'd kill themselves if they were ever cornered alive. She didn't want them mobbed and hanged.
For several days after the tragedy, dozens and scores of braggards who were not even near the Young farm house until after the rescue of the officers had been effected, were heard in little knots and larger groups to dwell upon their own bravery in being first to do this brave thing or act in that heroic role. Several pot-valored citizens made the mistake of saying they were actually present while the shooting was going on, and then, of course, they were scooped into police headquarters for grilling. In some instances they had to cool their heels in jail for days.
Mrs. Maude Hendrix, widow of the slain Sheriff, was appointed to the office, to which her husband had been elected, by the Greene County Court. She was to serve under this appointment until a special election could be held.
A public funeral in which nearly all of the civic and political leaders, and church dignitaries had a part, was held for the slain officers, but they were buried at different times following private funerals. Sheriff Hendrix, Deputy Sheriff Wiley Mashburn, Detective Sid Meadows, and Chief of Detectives Tony Oliver were laid to rest in Springfield cemeteries. Deputy Sheriff Ollie Crosswhite was buried in the cemetery of a small town near Springfield. Patrol Driver Charlie Houser was interred at another city where he formerly lived.
Paul Young surrendered to Houston authorities, without having established his whereabouts during the few days prior to or immediately after the massacre at Springfield. He was held by Houston authorities for violations of the Dyer act. His mother, Mrs. Willie Florence Young, was charged at Springfield in her preliminary hearing with violations of the Dyer act also. Her daughters, Lorena (Mrs. Conley), and Vinita were charged at Springfield with violation of the Dyer Act by Federal authorities. Albert Conley, son-in-law of Mrs. Willie Florence Young, at his preliminary hearing was charged with violation of the Dyer Act and held by Federal authorities. Oscar Young, at his preliminary hearing was charged with being an accessory before the fact in connection with the killing of the six Springfield police officers. All of the captives were held under heavy bond. In the succeeding term of Federal Court held at Springfield, with District Judge Albert Reeves sitting, the Young family pleaded guilty to violations of the Dyer Act. Paul drew four years at Leavenworth prison and Albert Conley drew four months in a county jail. Mrs. Young and her two daughters, Lorena and Vinita, were put on probation for the period of one year.