CAPTURE OF THE YOUNG BROTHERS
The first clue of any real significance leading to the capture of Harry and Jennings Young came to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan M. Nee from Streetman, Texas. Preceding the wire that bore the first information of their whereabouts were many circumstances that prompted the sending of the telegram.
To begin with, two men driving at high speed on the U. S. 75 Highway wrecked their Ford coupe in a ditch near the town of Streetman. As they scrambled out somewhat cut and wrenched, another motorist slowed down to offer aid but they motioned him to continue on. They did the same to another who followed soon and then to several more, but when H. D. Carroll, a farmer living nearby, came riding by astride a horse they spoke, "Howdy, Mister, we're in a deuce of a fix, it looks like, but we ain't hurt bad. Is there a phone nearby where we can call a wrecker?"
(Acme photo) H. D. Carrol shown holding rifle and shotgun used by killers, pulled coupe behind him, in which Youngs fled to Texas, out of ditch near his farm at Streetman in Navarro County, Texas
"Well, I live right there," the farmer motioned to the nearest house, "and I got a phone, but there's no wreckers close around here. It'll take quite a spell to get one I guess but they can be got. You're welcome to use the phone."
The occupants of the car didn't want to wait because they'd better get to a doctor, they might be hurt. But, they didn't want to leave the car in the ditch, so what to do. In further hurried talk it was decided among them Mr. Carroll would pull the car out of the ditch and store it in a shed. The men would catch a ride to town and return as soon as possible with mechanics.
As per his word, Carroll hooked a team on the auto and towed it to his yard. Naturally he looked it over and wasn't much surprised to find two guns-a shot gun and rifle-cached inside. He felt they might be hunters. It didn't arouse his curiosity any either when he discovered a checkbook on a Parsons, Kansas, bank and other things that seemed appropriate. His curiosity was aroused, however, when he casually discovered that both license plates were missing from the car. His daughter then informed him she had seen one of the men tear something off the auto that was hurled into the nearby field. The farmer walked down to the scene of the wreck and there he found, where they had been tossed, the two Missouri license plates numbered 363-662.
He brought the plates back to the car and waited for the men to return. Later in the afternoon when they had not come back as promised with mechanics to repair the auto he went to the phone and put in a call through the Streetman exchange for the Navarro County Sheriff's Office at Corsicana. He related to officials there the circumstances surrounding his present possession of a Missouri car. They agreed to look into the matter at once.
Mrs. A. E. Gaddy, operator of the Streetman telephone exchange, overheard his conversation with Corsicana officials but said nothing then about it to her family. Later on her son, A. E. Gaddy, Jr., tuned their radio in on the program being broadcast from station KMOX of St. Louis, whence he heard much about the Springfield killing and a good description of Harry Young. He mentioned the matter and then Mrs. Gaddy told of what she overheard from Carroll. The son then called Mr. Carroll, to satisfy his own curiosity, about particulars of the wreck and for some description of the men. Instantly, he felt for certain the drivers of the Carroll car were Jennings and Harry Young. Quickly, he wired Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan M. Nee at Springfield, "T\VO MEN FITTING DESCRIPTION OF HARRY AND JENNINGS YOUNG WRECKED FORD CAR AT STREETMAN, TEXAS, TODAY STOP DISAPPEARED IMMEDIATELY GOING TOWARD HOUSTON STOP MISSOURI LICENSE 363662." At that very moment, approximately twenty-four hours after the fatal shooting. Prosecutor Nee, his assistant HornBostel, Federal Agents Burger and DeMoss, Messrs. Wilson, Nolan and Arndt of the Frisco Railway detective staff and several other Mid-western investigators, were grilling Mrs. Willie Florence Young and her two daughters, Lorena and Vinita.
Quickly, Nee got young Gaddy on the phone to get fuller details, and was convinced from his conversation the clue was worth going thoroughly into. Corsicana officials were phoned next and from them he learned serial numbers on the guns. Even though it was late when he received the last information, he sped word via wire and phone throughout southern Texas to be on the watch for Harry and Jennings Young.
Shortly before the sun came up Monday morning, Nee and his associates had learned in addition that the two occupants of the wrecked car had stopped E. C. Hogan, Ft. Worth drug salesman, near the wreck for a ride into town. On their way to Fairfield, a bearing on Hogan's car burned out near the Caney Creek bridge, so the hikers thanked him for their ride and stopped the next traveler, Isaac Levy of Corsicana, who was on the way himself to Fairfield. He took them in without suspicion, but grew worried when they insisted he, drive them all the way to Houston for any sum he might name. At their close approach to Fairfield, the guests changed their minds about visiting a doctor to dress their wounds on the pretense they were anxious to reach Houston that (Sunday) night. Levy let the hikers out at a filling station in Fairfield. They walked on but were picked up soon by another motorist who had not been identified.
And still more-Nee and HornBostel found out that the Texas farmer Carroll, who had talked to the boys for many minutes, and the drug salesman Hogan, who gave them their first lift, and the Mr. Levy from Corsicana, who carried them from Caney Creek bridge to Fairfield, were positive in their own minds that neither of the hikers had a single revolver or pistol upon their person and these people in Texas claimed too they were not in possession of any traveling bags. Each remembered that the older man had slight visible wounds on forehead and hand which apparently came in the wreck, and that his thigh must have been wrenched then also from the way he limped slightly and talked about it.
At Nee's behest, investigators found out through tracing the license plates found in Texas to several different owners since they had been issued in Missouri that they were on the Ford coupe reported stolen on the streets of Springfield at 8:50 p.m. on the (Saturday) night of the crime. Greene county officials felt certain now they were on the right track of Jennings and Harry Young, and again they bore down with all their might to have all Texas law enforcement officials bend every effort possible to apprehend them.
Monday morning when the Springfield Leader learned the serial numbers on the shot gun and rifle found by H. D. Carroll in the wrecked car they wired the manufacturer for the name of the wholesale dealer to whom they had been first consigned. Quickly through dealers and others they traced the guns to the ownership and recent possession of Oscar Young. He then admitted when grilled that he had loaned the guns to Harry and Jennings a day or two previous to the killing that they might hunt. With this information, investigators knew for certain that Harry and Jennings were the occupants of the Streetman auto.
Sometime Sunday night, Harry and Jennings made their way into the environs of Houston where they lay concealed even though police there kept a constant vigil over the premises of any and all who had ever been known to harbor or associate with the outlaw brothers. On Monday, a short time after lunch, one of Houston's best police officers had a fleeting glimpse of Harry, but in the flick of an eyelash he faded away into complete obscurity. This officer's past record for remembering faces made it an absolute fact, to police in Houston, that Harry and in all probability Jennings Young were in Houston at that time. The alarm was spread and every road out of town, every boat to foreign ports, every train that left was watched and spied upon to make their escape from the city impossible.
All of the known hangouts of the Youngs and their friends were raided and searched, but none revealed the killers. Nevertheless, against tall these odds, Jennings and Harry somehow, somewhere contrived Sunday night or Monday forenoon to get the bags and stolen guns they packed at the home of their mother, immediately after the massacre.
Monday night sometime before 12 p.m., as editions were coming off the press in the home of the Houston Post-Dispatch, Jim Hartfield, 56-year-old proof reader, strolled up the walk from lunch toward the main entrance. There on the threshold of his great daily paper, he met a man who said, "Say, I'm awfully anxious to read about those Missouri killers. Where can I get a late edition."
Proud to meet any man who sought his paper for the latest news, he glowed, "Why, Pard, I'11 get you one. Just wait where you are." Hart-field stepped inside and went to the press room where he secured the latest run. As he returned he saw his friend step up, push the door a little to peer within and then step back again. The stranger offered to pay. "That's alright, that's alright," the proof reader objected. "Just take it with you."
"Well, thanks," the stranger smiled. "That's fine." Sometime after midnight as the final run came scooting off the presses, Mr. Jim Hartfield saw a picture in his newspaper of the man he had not long since befriended. It was Harry Young.
Fairly early Tuesday morning J. F. Tomlinson, carpenter who lived at 4710 Walker Avenue, telephoned personally to Houston Chief of Police, Percy F. Heard, that in the (Tuesday) morning paper he had seen pictures of Harry and Jennings Young who resembled with striking likeness two men he had rented a room to the previous afternoon. And, he fearfully admitted, the men were at his home in bed right then.
Chief of Police Heard immediately got hold of Lieutenant Claude Beverly of the Magnolia Park sub-station and together they arranged for the pick of Houston's Police Department to hurry to a pre-arranged spot on McKinney Avenue near the Tomlinson cottage where a hurried consultation was held and specific duties were assigned to each of the detectives and patrolmen, called to aid in the capture, dead or alive, of the notorious Young brothers.
(Acme photo) Upper scene shows Harry Young being removed to hospital from Tomlinson cottage shown in inset
Shortly after 9 a. m., the carpenter's bunga-low, prettily landscaped with evergreens and shrubs, was completely surrounded by officers armed with every conceivable kind of weapon, including revolvers, shot guns, sub-machine guns, rifles, gas guns, bombs, gas grenades, and smoke screens.
Lieut. Claude Beverly mounted the steps, rattled the door, which swung open, and walked in; he was followed closely by Officers Peyton and Bradshaw. Through a rear window into the very bedroom where the outlaws were alleged to be, and then in the front room of the little home, gas bombs were hurled. Allowing time for them to fume, Lieut. Beverly walked down the hall upon a visitor to the house, who was handcuffed and removed to guards outside. Beverly and Peyton continued to the rear bedroom door, opened it and tip toed in. The occupants were not in bed and when they peeked they saw no one beneath the bed nor behind the open door. The officers then stepped to the door connecting the bath room, took hold of the knob and unlatched it. The door opened a little and three shots roared out barely missing the two officers. They jumped back into a kitchen across the hall from which position they had a view of the rear bedroom and another bath room door. Things were quiet for a moment. Chief of Police Heard rushed in the front door. The bath room door opened slightly, one of the Youngs peeked out.
Lieut. Beverly fired point-blank with a sawed-off shot gun. The door slammed shut and then within the bath room several shots were heard. Someone within yelled, "We're dead-come and get us." Fearing a ruse, Chief Heard and Lieut. Beverly kept their men back until another charge of gas had had time to be effective. Then, they unlatched the bath room door and pushed. It struck something that gave way slightly. They continued pushing to make a wider crack till they could see a man sprawled out upon the floor. They rushed into the bath room to find Jennings Young lying in a pool of blood. He was dead. By his side lay Harry Young-bleeding profusely, but still alive.
In the Tomlinson bath room, trapped like rattlesnakes, they spit their venom at the arm of the public law in their last demonstration of prowess with guns. Realizing now their game was played with just one ace in the hole, these gun-toting wise guys, who had been too lazy to make an honest living, these boasting, bragging smart alecks who filched and stole, robbed and plundered and killed-they faced each other and played the ace to cheat at last society and their God. What they thought cannot be written or told, but what they did is history-Harry and Jennings Young at bay at last to square accounts, spat their venom into each other and died.
The pistols, filched from dead officers near Springfield, with which the outlaws had snuffed out their lives, lay beside the head of Jennings Young. Harry was placed in an ambulance and rushed to the St. Joseph infirmary where he died shortly. He did not regain consciousness on the way to the hospital so Lieut. Margiotta and Detective Stinson, who accompanied him, obtained no death-bed statement.
Dead in Houston, Texas, but damned around the whole wide world, Jennings and Harry Young were laid out clammy with blood on a cold hard slab in a mortuary 800 miles from Springfield, where at that very hour a widow and her fatherless brood were convulsed with tears around the bier of their dear dad-72 hours previous, a victim of the killers' guns.
Editors throughout America sat with abated breath Tuesday forenoon early when the first flash about the Young brothers staccatoed on their wires. The messages were short and sharp.
FLASH: Young brothers located in Houston.
No rejoicing was heard in the Ozarks over the end of Harry and Jennings Young, but a great sigh of relief was heaved by many of the city and county officials in Springfield who had been up every hour since the terrible tragedy had catapulted them into feverish, nerve-racking activity. There had been no abatement till then. The world's greatest manhunt had come to an inglorious end for the two Young brothers who had been too selfish to let their rights end where other men's rights begin.
When W. L. Starne, Springfield mortician, went to Mrs. Young in Jail within the hour to make arrangements for the burial of her sons, she sobbed, "They carried out my wish to kill themselves. They were my own flesh and blood. I couldn't stand it to have them hung." According to her wishes and order Undertaker Starne left Tuesday night for Houston in his hearse, going by way of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Shreveport, Louisiana. He arrived in Houston at 1 a. m. Thursday morning, and started on his return trip that night at 6 p. m. Harry and Jennings were placed on cots in the hearse. All shades and blinds were drawn. At the first town where gas was taken on, the Missouri license plates gave the secret away and a great throng rushed around to get a peek at the cadavers. Starne then took all handles and knobs from the doors, and except for stops for gas and sandwiches, drove continuously until he reached Muskogee, Oklahoma. There he was stopped by police with reports he was to phone Springfield before driving further which he did to learn it was the wish of most civic leaders the bodies be kept away from Springfield until such time as the general feeling of hate did abate. Springfield did not want any cruelty visited upon kin of the killers at a burial place. Much less did they want any further ado with Harry and Jennings Young.
Undertaker Starne perturbed and undecided, drove on but he was stopped by Federal Agent DeMoss and deputies at Vinita, who offered help but suggested the dead be secreted there for a few hours till more could be heard from Springfield. Worn and tired the undertaker and his assistant agreed and went to bed. Saturday morning, he arose to find a bellhop had learned and spread the news - the Youngs are here, the Youngs are here-so, forsooth, he sped away even to another State. At Pittsburg, Kansas, the Springfield mortician found a friend who would store the cadavers in a wardroom. The boys were taken from the cots and laid in empty casket boxes. In death as they did in life, the boys were hiding, hiding. Starne returned to Springfield to make arrangements for their burial in the weed-littered McCauley cemetery where their father lay.
Kin of the Youngs dug a gaping grave near that of their Christian sire. It gaped and mawed and yawned for days, but never was fed with dead. The people of Springfield let it be known in understandable ways they did not relish the notion of having the killers lay so close to the victims of their bullets. Arrangements then were hastily made to cover the killers in a necropolis at Joplin.
On the thirteenth day of January, the Springfield mortician rushed the corpses of Jennings and Harry Young from Pittsburg, Kansas, to a prearranged spot on the U. S. 66 Highway, just within the Greene county line where in'a few seconds the bodies were identified as those of Harry and Jennings Young to comply with reward stipulations.
In a moment they were sped westward to Joplin where nearest kin, shackled to officers who took them there, saw their sons and brothers - murderers of each other-lowered into eternity beyond the law, beyond all hope and good, unless perchance their rainless end shall prove anew to others, there's no reward in selfishness and crime.
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