DCOatesDeath 20jan1914 by PN90n70X

VIEWS: 12 PAGES: 4

									Daily Oklahoman –
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday January 20, 1914 – frontpage

Seven Killed, Four Injured In Convict Battle At State Prison

Escaping Prisoners, Trio of Guards and Visitor In Death List After Fight

Deputy Warden D. C. Oates, Day Sergeant F. C. Godfrey, Bertillon Expert H. H. Drover,
Attorney J. R. Thomas Dead

Desperadoes Utilize Two For Shields

Miss Foster, Stenographer, Struck in Leg By Bullet During Fusillade; Parole Clerk Frank
Rice Slightly Injured.

        McAlester, Okla., Jan. 19. (Special.) – Three state penitentiary officials, a Muskogee lawyer
and three convicts are dead and three other persons are suffering from bullet wounds as a result
of a break for liberty made by the three convicts who were killed, at 4:30 o’clock Monday
afternoon.

The dead are:
D. C. Oates, assistant deputy warden.
F. C. Godfrey, day sergeant.
H. H. Drover, bertillon expert and photographer.
Judge J. R. Thomas, Muskogee lawyer, former United States judge.
Tom Lane, convict.
Chiney Reed, convict.
Charles Kuntz, convict.

The injured:
Miss Mary Foster, stenographer, shot in leg.
J. W. Martin, turnkey, shot in cheek.
C. B. Woods, guard, shot in arm, flesh wound.
Frank Rice parole clerk, bruised.

        Oates, Godfrey and Drover each leave a wife and two children. Reed was sent up from
Pittsburg county two years for larceny, his time would have expired in February, 1915. Lane,
serving six years from Garvin county for forgery, had one year and six months yet to serve.
Kuntz, from Roger Mills count, was up fifty years for bank robbery.
        Land and Reed both had made escapes before and were recaptured. They were serving
additional sentences for stealing a horse on which they escaped.
        It was in the inner offices of the prison that the first shooting occurred, although the
running fight that followed did not end until all three fugitive convicts had been killed, a half
mile out on the farm.
        The three men gained entrance to the front offices by asking to see Frank H. Rice, parole
officer. They had obtained a revolver in some way and, immediately upon entering the prison
lobby, demanded the keys to the prison. Jack Martin, turnkey, was the only prison official there.
Although unarmed, he grappled with the men, hoping thus to gain time. Lane, throwing the gun
to Martin’s check, fired, inflicting a flesh wound, and obtained the keys to the front door. Not
daring to leave in the face of armed guards outside, however, they entered the deputy warden’s
office to seize Miss Foster and use her as a protection.

In the Warden’s Office…
         In the warden’s office were Godfrey, Judge Thomas and Miss Foster, the warden’s
stenographer. Almost the first shot fired from the inner office penetrated two doors and killed
Drover on the opposite side of the hall. He had been developing photographs and was shot
through the heart just as he emerged from the vault. Oates was sitting in the room where Drover
was killed. A boy rushed to the door and shouted, “They are taking the keys fro the turnkey,”
adding when Oates started for the inner door, “don’t go in there; they’ve got guns.” “I have too,”
replied Oates, and as the men, after a struggle with the turnkey, started to close the door leading
to the inner offices, Oates fired, but missed.
         The return fire instantly killed Mr. Drover in the rear of the building. Kuntz fired at
Godfrey, killing him instantly. Judge Thomas, who had been sitting in the warden’s office, rose
and was shot and instantly killed by Reed.
         Oates ran into the Bertillon room, after exchanging five shots through the door, to reload
his pistol. He started to leave to enter the office again and left his pistol lying on the table, which
was handed to him before he had gained the door. Telephones were not working and Oates
called through the door and summoned guards, but the prisoners having the key, he was unable
to admit them. He was handed a shotgun from the arsenal, but it was empty. He stood in the
direct line of fire and called for cartridges and received them.
         J. W. Casteel, a prisoner, stood at the door and notified Oates they were coming. Oates
stood in front of the door with his gun leveled, but the turnkey grabbed the shotgun, telling him
they had the woman in front of them. Oates then left and ran down the hallway to the side door
and entrance and met Reed almost at the door. Willing to give the man, then a murderer, a
chance for his life, and having the drop on him, Oates told him, “Reed, you drop that gun.” The
prisoner, looking over Oates’ shoulder saw the turnkey standing with a gun leveled at the hip and
just turned his head and fired, killing Oates instantly.

Use Two As Shields…

        The prisoners then came out the front door and Lane and Reed, brandishing a gun, held
before them Miss Mary Foster Kuntz, unarmed, held Frank H. rice, the parole officer, who had
both hands tied up. His hands were behind him. C. B. Woods, guard, rushed up to them as they
unlocked the gate and stood a few feet from the men and fired two shots, which were returned
instantly by both men, one shot striking the officer in the right arm, the other in the left shoulder.
        Kuntz had been wounded in the fight in the inner office, presumably by Deputy Oates,
but assisted by the others, all three passed out the gate and leveled a revolver at two guards in the
elevated tower in front of the penitentiary, used as an arsenal. Both men threw up their hands,
being unable to fire on account of the girl and parole officer, both of whom were being held in
front of the convicts, and were forced, to jump to the pavement, leaving their guns in the tower.
        The prisoners, still using the girl as a protection, got in the buggy and drove off across the
prison farm. It was a half-mile from the prison that the three keeper of bloodhounds, mounted,
was convicts were killed. R. J. Ritchie the first to overtake them. A crack marksman, he shot
Reed in the forehead, as the he looked back around the body of Miss Foster. The shot barely
missed the girl’s cheek, but was dead in its aim, and she and Reed fell from the buggy together.
Two more shots in quick succession finished Kuntz, who was already wounded, and killed Lane.
Ritchie was not even wounded.
        Warden R. W. Dick, with Paul H. Jones, member of the prison board, were out on the
farm when the trouble occurred. Deputy Warden E. M. Fry was out in the lawn in front of the
prison. Seizing a gun from the guards at the arsenal, he rushed to the prison door at the first
sound of shooting, but being warned by guards above that the convicts themselves had charge of
the keys, with doors locked, he ran around to the side entrance, only to arrive after the convicts
had gone. During the time between the going of the convicts and the arrival of Frick from the
inner entrance the entire prison was open for all convicts to pass out, but not another attempt to
escape was made. Several of the convicts, in fact, assisted the officers at critical periods.
        Judge Thomas was here to confer with a client, Frank Halkey, charged with murder. He
was a former federal judge at Muskogee, former congressman from Illinois, and a member of the
Oklahoma code commission, which assisted in preparing the Harris-Day code of laws.
        How the convicts secured their gun is a mystery. They had it when they first entered the
main corridor. Inner guards at the prison are not allowed to wear arms, so oates, who had been
given a gun by an outside guard after the fight started, was the only officer armed. Things were
unusually quiet at the prison Monday night. No general mutiny seems to have been
contemplated.
        Warden Dick in a statement, said that no other prisoners were interested in the riot and he
expressed the belief that no bad effects would result. Mr. Dick thinks the prisoners had but one
revolver and that had been slipped in by outside friends. A second revolver was obtained from
Oates, after he was shot down, said Dick, but Rice, the parole officer, said the men never had
more than one gun.

Judge John R. Thomas…
        Judge John R. Thomas was about 70 years old and a native of Illinois. He served several
terms as a congressman from a southern Illinois district. While a member of congress he was
chairman of the naval committee and because of that post during the period when the American
navy first developed into a modern fighting arm he was known as the “father of the American
Navy.”
        Judge Thomas came to Oklahoma in 1897 as federal judge for the eastern isdtrict. About
1901 he was succeeded by Judge Raymond and since has been practicing law in Muskogee. At
the time of his death he was a visitor at the state penitentiary.
        Two children survive. The daughter is the wife of Attorney Grant Foreman, Judge
Thomas’ law partner. The son is an officer in the Untied States army and served with distinction
in the Cuban campaigns.

Oates Well Known…
       D. C, Oates, known over the state as “Pat” Oates, came to Oklahoma at the opening of
the Cherokee Strip in 1891 and established a store at Roscoe, now Major county, but at that time
within Woods county. He served four years as deputy sheriff under Clay McGrath, sheriff of
Woods county, and alter served two terms as sheriff.
        “Pat” Oates became known to the people of the southwest as a brave, efficient peace
officer. He devoted a good deal of his terms as sheriff to the running down and capture of horse
thieves. He was seriously shot in one fight at Roscoe and later killed three horse thieves in a
single-handed battle.
        At the convening of the second legislature Oates was appointed assistant sergeant-at-
arms. When Warden Dick was appointed, Oates became first deputy warden.”
        At the time of his death he was 43 years old. A wife and two children survive him.

Board To Make Probe…
       The state board of prison control will meet in McAlester Tuesday morning for the
purpose of making a thorough investigation of the causes which led up to the riot in the
penitentiary. Dr. A. K. West of Oklahoma City, chairman of the board, left for McAlester
Monday night and will meet A. V. Skelton of Okemah and Paul Jones of McAlester there. “We
propose to stay in McAlester and investigate every angle of this occurrence until we are satisfied
where to place the blame,” said Dr. West Monday night. “Until I make a personal inquiry I do
not wish to make any statement.”

								
To top