News from Adair County


Transcribed from the Adair County News.


November 18, 1936

Unidentified Man Shot In Clash With Officers


Identify Of Man Still Enveloped In Mystery; Trip To Quiz Nelson Of No Avail.


Hold Body Until Monday.

Climaxing a three-hour 50-mile chase over back-country dirt roads, an unidentified white man was shot and killed late Thursday afternoon by bullets from the gun of City Patrolman and deputized sheriff George Simpson after the victim had fired three shots at Deputy Sheriff Martin Rowe and stolen his 1936 Dodge three miles from here on the Gradyville Road.

The slain man, whose identity has not yet been learned after a nation-wide search conducted since Thursday, was tentatively identified as Charley Nelson, alias Charley Stanley, Saturday by a woman in Hender-sonville, N.C., supposed to be his sister, but it was learned later that Nelson had been arrested in Newport, Ky., on charges of stealing a car.

All attempts to link Charley Nelson with the unidentified man slain near here Thursday failed yesterday when Nelson steadfastly refused to admit acquaintance with the mystery man.

Sheriff Bert Harper and Deputies Alfred Harper and Martin Rowe were in Newport Tuesday to talk to Nelson, who is being held in jail there on charges of stealing Joe Bishop's car.

Officers learned in a telephone conversation with Nelson's sister that she had become frantic upon hearing the name Charley Stanley, which he had agreed to use in case he had trouble, and identified the man killed here as her brother. Sunday, however, she received a telegraphed request for money from Nelson and denied her identification of the man here.

Nelson, who denied having ever gone under the alias of Charley Stanley, told his questioners yesterday that he had been an inmate in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan., and in Michigan and Colorado penitentiaries.

Local authorities were notified last night that the Ford V-8 abandoned here by the dead man, had been stolen in Forest City, N.C., November 7, from M.C. Loveless, of Spindale, N.C.

In response to a call that an officer investigate a man who had been loitering  all morning on the Old Glasgow Road in front of the home of Dunk Rodgers and near the residence of H.T. Baker, Mr. Rowe went there shortly before 1 o'clock Thursday afternoon. He introduced himself as a deputy sheriff and it was here that the man gave him the name of Charley Stanley. After a conversation lasting nearly twenty minutes, Mr. Rowe told the man that he would have to bring him to town for investigation and questioning.

At that, the man, who was sitting in his car, suddenly started the automobile and started toward the Burkesville Road. Making chase in his own automobile, Rowe overtook him three miles from Columbia, a short distance from Burkesville Road on the Gradyville Road, where the man's 1935 Ford V-8 had run out of gas.

Rowe, who was unarmed, got out of his car and the unknown man climbed from his. With his hand on his hip Rowe advanced toward the other with the order to "stick your hands up."

The man obeyed the order. Rowe asked Hollis Keltner, Gradyville mail carrier, who was passing, if he had a gun. The man, perceiving that the sheriff had no pistol, drew a German luger from under his cheap cotton sweater and fired at Rowe three times at a distance of between forty and fifty feet. The officer escaped being shot only by jumping for the scant shelter afforded by the ditch.

Still keeping his gun trained on Keltner and Rowe, the man ran to the sheriff's car, turned around, and drove toward Columbia, with Rowe in pursuit in the mail truck.

The unidentified man drove through Columbia and out Jamestown Street. It is believed that he would have taken Highway No. 80, had it not been that C.E. Keen's highway maintenance crew was at work where No. 80 enters town and had the road nearly blocked.

Continuing out Jamestown Road, he turned out the new W.P.A. Road to Fairplay at Dr. L.H. Jones. At Fairplay he inquired the way to a hard road and was directed to Glensfork by people who knew that a posse hastily organized by Sheriff Harper was already on the road behind. Arriving at Glensfork, where he cheerily greeted passersby with a jaunty wave of the hand, he continued on through there toward Crocus.

A short distance on the other side of Crocus the pursuing officers sighted the stolen car speeding down the road and shot at it with rifles and shotguns. A hole was torn in the windshield in front of the driver's face but the blast failed to halt him. The officers again gave chase, but did not sight the car again until they came upon it eight miles farther on, near Olga [in Russell County], against the side of a bank where it had been flung when it struck a log placed across the road by children as a Hallowe'en prank.

The driver had left the car and continued afoot to a house where he entered a car in the yard, backed into the road and was prevented from taking the car only by the fact that the gas had been cut off. he then ran down the road and off into a thicket, where he was discovered shortly afterward by Deputies Alfred Harper, Roy Stotts and Simpson.

Simpson was the first to see the man, who was hiding under a pile of leaves and grass, holding his gun, with only his head and arms exposed. Simpson ordered the partially hidden man to drop his gun and put up his hands. Receiving no response, Simpson repeated his order but the bandit continued to try to get one of the other officers between the sights.

After repeating his command a third, fourth and fifth time, Simpson finally shot about six times and two bullets found their mark. After being shot the man attempted to retrieve his gun which had fallen from his hands when he was first struck. "--------, if it hadn't jammed," he said, "it would have been you instead of me."

Other members of the posse soon came up and the injured man was placed in a car and returned to Columbia through Jamestown and Russell Springs. Refusing to divulge his true name, the man died near George Bailey's Store in Adair County, with the taunt, "find out (my name) for yourselves."

The body was taken to Patterson & Stotts, where it has been viewed by thousands since Thursday night.

Fingerprints were taken by Major M. Rey Yarberry, former Louisville Chief of Detectives, and Alfred Harper, and were forwarded immediately to Washington.

In the abandoned car, which bore North Carolina license plates 340-996, were found a lock pick bearing the initials C.T.R., a box of German luger cartridges, a dirty shirt, necktie, and flour sack made at Shelby, N.C., in which was wrapped a kit of tire tools.

Officers learned later that the license tags had been issued to Buford Vickers at Rutherfordtown, N.C., for a 1924 Ford.

Sheriff Harper received a telephone call from Chief of Police Otis Powers at Hendersonville [N.C.] Saturday, saying that a woman claiming to be the dead man's sister thought she might be able to identify him. The woman said that her brother, Charley Nelson, had left a note with her when he left Hendersonville November 3, saying that if was heard from, it would be as Charley Stanley. From this information, local authorities believed positive identification had been made.

Police struck a snag, however, when on Sunday it was learned that fingerprints of the dead man did not correspond with those of Nelson's at the Department of Justice in Washington. A wire Monday morning brought news from Hendersonville that "Man absolutely not Charley Nelson. Have heard from him." Hendersonville police later explained that Nelson had been arrested in Newport, Ky., for stealing the car and money of Joe Bishop, Hendersonville, with whom Nelson left the North Carolina city November 3.

Simpson was placed under a $5,000 bond and charged with murder by Russell County and his examining trial set for November 28. Practically every business man in Columbia on went his bond. Examining trial here set for November 21.

Mr. Rowe's car was damaged to a considerable extent and had to be returned here on a wrecker Friday morning.

* * * * * * *

December 2, 1936

Continue Examining Trial of Simpson to December 11

The examining trial for George Simpson, charged with wilful murder of an unidentified man slain near Jamestown November 12, was continued in Russell County Court last Saturday by Judge Cordell Lawrence to December 11. The trial had been set for November 28, but the Commonwealth announced "not ready" and moved for a continuance.

Lawrence instructed his brother, Dr. M.N. Lawrence, Jamestown, to make an examination of the dead man in Louisville in an attempt to determine how long he lived after having been shot.

* * * * * * *

December 16, 1936

Adair Officer Held To Russell County Grand Jury

George Simpson, Columbia City Patrolman, charged in Russell County with wilful murder of an unidentified man November 12, was held to the February term of the Russell County grand jury in a six-hour examining trial held at Jamestown Friday. Bond was continued at $5,000.

[Russell] County Attorney W.J. Chumbley attempted to prove that Simpson shot with malice, but was balked at every turn by Russell County witnesses whose feelings were obviously with the Adair officers.

* * * * * * *

February 24, 1937

Russell Jury Fails to Indict Slayer Of Bandit

Russell County grand jury met last week and failed to indict City Patrolman George Simpson for the slaying of an unidentified bandit last November. Circuit Judge J.C. Carter said in his instructions that if the man died in Adair County and that county was the first to bring him to trial, it had jurisdiction in the case. County Attorney Cordell Lawrence of Russell County had claimed jurisdiction.

Simpson shot the man, whose identity was never learned, after the bandit had stolen Deputy Sheriff Martin Rowe's car and failed to heed Simpson's much-repeated command to surrender. Simpson was a member of a deputized posse that chased the bandit into Russell County. The Russell grand jury called witnesses in the case before it, but did not return an indictment.

* * * * * * *


 Footnote: George Simpson, who was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting, went on to become sheriff of Adair County in 1949, winning the election by a landslide 43 votes out of nearly 5,700 ballots cast.