Submitted By: Garry L. Bell
Source: Casey County News; Liberty, Kentucky;
Thursday, 13 May 1954
Taylor Martin Takes Life After
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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