Tuesday, December 11, 2012


12/30/1933 - The honeymoon of Wilbur Underhill, known as the "Tri-State Terror" and "Mad Dog" to authorities, comes to an abrupt and bloody end when a posse made up of federal, county, and city law officers finds the robber and multiple murderer enjoying newly married bliss at a rented cottage in Shawnee, Oklahoma (paid for by loot the outlaw has robbed on his November 18th wedding day from a bank in Frankfort, Kentucky, and a Coalgate, Oklahoma bank plundered on December 13th).


Tipped off that Underhill, his new bride Hazel Jarrett Hudson (a sister of the outlaw Jarrett Brothers), bandit Ralph Roe, and Roe's girlfriend Eva May Nichols are staying in the small house located at 606 West Dewey Street, an arrest party led by Federal Special Agent Ralph Colvin takes up positions around the clapboard structure in the foggy dark of cold early winter morning ... a raiding party of fifteen men heavily armed with shot guns, machine guns, tear gas rifles, and pistols.  Sneaking up to a bedroom window at the back of the building to determine if their quarry is present, the team of Colvin and Oklahoma City Detective Clarence Hurt spot Underhill in long underwear standing at the foot of a bed his wife is sitting upon just as a neighborhood dog begins barking, causing the outlaw to look out the window.  "This is the law Wilbur.  Stick 'em up!" Hurt yells, and for a moment it appears the bandit is going to comply, but as he begins to raise his arms, Underhill instead quickly whirls around and grabs a specially modified automatic Luger pistol attached to a 31-slug magazine from a nightstand ... then all hell breaks loose.

Hurt responds by firing a tear gas canister into Underhill's chest, knocking the bandit down for a moment, Colvin follows that action up as chemical fumes cloud the room by emptying the clip of his machine gun through the window in three bursts of bullets that hole walls, destroy furniture, shatter a mirror, and chase the outlaw into the bathroom where he returns fire as his wife lies screaming on the floor.  Better safe than sorry, the other officers about the building hear the crash of gunfire and also trigger their own weapons at the house, causing the cottage to shake (over two hundred rounds will smash into the fragile building).  In the barrage that takes place, Roe, sleeping in an adjacent bedroom to Underhill is hit by wounding .45 rounds in his left arm and shoulder, but his girlfriend Nichols is hit even harder.  Jumping out of bed screaming hysterically, the crazed women runs toward the front door and is hit twice in the stomach by machine gun slugs, falls, gets up, runs out the door and goes down again in the muddy front yard when another burst of gunfire hits her in the foot.  She does not get up from her second fall and will eventually die from her wounds at the town's nearby Municipal Hospital.

                                                         Ralph Roe

The next to tempt Fate going out the front door is Underhill who is equally unlucky.  Hit by numerous rounds fired by the four officers watching the front of the property, the outlaw, wearing only socks and his underwear, crashes to the ground in puddle of mud making his exit.  Prey down, the men move warily forward to place their victim in custody ... but are shocked anyway when the bandit suddenly leaps up and runs into the darkness between two neighboring houses.  Meanwhile, responding to the firing at the front of the house, Colvin and Shawnee Night Chief Frank Byrant leave the backyard and almost run into Underhill as the outlaw makes his exit ... and are surprised that he does not go down when they empty their machine guns at the fleeing killer.

                                 Underhill after an earlier encounter with the law

Gunfire over, Roe surrenders, crawling out of the front door where Oklahoma County Deputy Sheriff George Kerr handcuffs the wounded desperado and then arranges for his transportation to same hospital to which his girlfriend has been taken (Underhill's wife is arrested too, somehow managing to survive the gun battle unscathed).  But it is Tri-State Terror that the posse really wants and soon a house-to-house sweep of Shawnee begins with an additional twenty-four law officers joining in the search for the outlaw, along with bloodhounds from the state prison at McAlester.  The animals however are not needed, for shortly after 7:00 in the morning, R. A. Owens, the manager of a second hand furniture store, calls police headquarters to tell the authorities that a man in only his underwear has broken into the business at 509 East Main Street.  Target located once more, in two cars a six-man posse rushes to the store and finds Underhill laying helpless on a blood-soaked bed, his empty Luger on the floor beside him ... despite suffering from shotgun wounds peppering his body and .45 slugs hitting him in the head, right arm, back, and right leg, with the top of his left ear shot off, the almost naked outlaw has run sixteen blocks through the night's cold in a desperate, but vain attempt to escape his pursuers.  Another temporary patient for the hospital, Underhill is too far gone to save and finally succumbs to his many wounds on the 6th of January at 11:42 in the evening ... his last words are alleged to be, "Tell the boys I'm coming home."

                               "Mad Dog" Underhill

Back at the scene of the gun battle, law enforcement agents find $5,300 in negotiable bonds from Underhill's Frankfort bank job, enough ammunition to start a small war, a Luger with a folding stock, two .45 automatic Colt pistols, a .38 revolver, and in the car parked in the cottage's garage, a .30-.30 rifle, a sawed off Winchester .12 gauge pump action shotgun, a double-barreled shotgun pistol, and a tin pail full of roofing nails suitable for giving flat tires to any pursuit vehicles that might be chasing the bandit ... evidence that a true "mad dog" criminal has finally been put down!

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