Casey  County News

Submitted By:  Garry L. Bell

Source:  Casey County News; Liberty, Kentucky; Thursday, 13 May 1954


Taylor Martin Takes Life After Two Days


   ďI canít walk much,Ē were the only words Taylor Martin left.  They were carved into the 27-inch stick with which he undoubtedly pushed off the trigger of his 12 gauge single barrel shotgun. 

   It brought to an end a 48-hour search for the 55 year old resident of Salem vicinity who had shot his neighbor, Clell Ellis, and undoubtedly taken the life of his wife, Mrs. Ada Martin.

   State Police were stationed at the home and county officers were handy when the shot was fired about 10:30 Friday morning.  Nobody could tell the direction the shot came from.   

   Clarence Lawhorn was coming up the hill from the Elmer Allen Farm on Route 2 accompanied by his wife.  They saw a body lying about 10 feet off the road in a driveway leading up to an abandoned house.  Lawhorn immediately notified a state policeman.  The 2-way radio on the police car soon sent the news to Liberty. 

   A coronerís jury found that Martin had shot himself in the left chest with his shotgun as close to the body as the gun could be pressed.  The charge made a perfectly round hole no larger than the gun barrel itself.

   The gun was lying almost with armís reach on his left and the forked stick and the forked stick about the same distance on the right.  His hat was hardly off his head indicating he might have been lying down when the shot was fired.  He died instantly.

   The coronerís jury found he had $4.93 in money, an uncashed government check for $63.00, a pocket knife, matches, his glasses.  He still had 13 shotgun shells three of which were loaded with buckshot.  He used a No. 5 or No. 6 shot on himself judging from the fired shell in the gun.

   Thus ended one of the wildest man-hunts the county has seen in many years.

   Search parties had looked in the woods behind his house where it was believed he had gone.  Parties who went out first used caution, and not too many ventured out.  State police combed a lot of the timber and thickets between the Martin home and that of Alfred Garrett.  They worked east to the home of Clell Ellis.

   Bloodhounds were brought in Wednesday night, but were unable to do much of a job.  At one time they cornered a cat under a house.  A ring of firearms surrounded the house until the cat made her appearance.

   Speculation ran high after he could not be found.  Some believed he was hiding in a dense pine thicket near his home.  Others believed he had entirely left the country.  A search was made of Indian Cave.  By Wednesday morning it had become a matter of waiting for developments.  A skeleton force remained behind to watch around the home.

   What the man had probably done was to cross the road near the Clell Ellis home near the Green River Valley Church and head northeast Ė a direction nobody gave much consideration to.

   From the 10X10 foot chicken house with the leaking roof and large cracks in the framing it would have been easy for him to watch the funeral procession pass within 150 feet of where he was staying.  He probably watched the Gosser-Smith hearse make the return trip by the same road.

   He was still wearing his heavy back brace when found.  He had left another brace at the home along with a set of crutches.  This first gave the impression he had left without either crutches or brace. 

   Actually, he probably never traveled more than a mile and a half or two miles all told.  If he had anything to eat in more than 50 hours there was no indication of it.

   Many of the above statements are facts and some are pure speculation.  What actually happened will never be known.  It is not known why he killed his good wife whom he had married when she was 19 and he was 19 and who had lived a normal life for 37 years with the exception of little more than a week some time last year when she briefly went to live with one of her daughters.

   He had been a blacksmith and a good one.  In the last year or perhaps over a considerable longer time he had become morose.  His war record showed he suffered from at least three other ailments other than a painful back injury. 

 Two photos accompanied the story in the paper.  One was of the chicken house that he had hidden in.  Following is the caption under the photo.

    This is the little chicken house near the highway on top of the Elmer Allen Hill on Route 2, Liberty, in which Taylor Martin spent at least one night.  Through the wide cracks he could see what went on along the county road most used in getting to the home which was about a half mile away as the crow flies.  The split board roof was badly rotted and cracked.  He had made a pallet of some old quilt and other used clothing believed to have come from another barn.  The low bushes which covered the doorway would have given him cover for a retreat into the underbrush behind the house and more than 1,000 acres of dense woodland.  Search parties had been working the territory behind his house and had given scant consideration to the little chicken house beside the highway in what was considered the wrong direction.

 The second photo is that of Sheriff and State Trooper holding Martinís shotgun.  Following is the caption under that photo.

   Sheriff John D. Watson and State Policeman Olen Withers examine the 12 gauge shotgun Taylor Martin is believed to have used on himself and his neighbor, Clell Ellis, last week.  Trooper Withers holds the 27-inch forked stick which Martin used to push the trigger on the shotgun in his self-inflicted death and upon which he had carved the words, ďI canít walk much.Ē


*The editorial for that issue was on why/what may have caused Taylor Martin to behave as he did.  The editor spoke about the issue of mental illness and paranoia. It is interesting to note that he was sympathetic to Martin in that his actions were directed by his mental condition before and during the events.