July 10, 2013

Man Kills School Teacher, Arrest Leads to Police Shootout, 1911

Previously:

Click here for a list of my other Pulaski/Rockcastle/Laurel County KY articles

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[August 11, 1911] -

SLAYER OF PULASKI TEACHER NOT CAUGHT

Sheriff Returns from Unsuccessful Search for J. A. Phelps

(Special to The Herald.)

SOMERSET, Ky., Aug 10--Sheriff J. M. Weddle returned at a late hour last night after an unsuccessful attempt to capture J. A. Phelps, who shot and killed Riley Price, a well-known school teacher and local politician, about fifteen miles east of Somerset.  Just after the killing Phelps went to a country store some distance from the scene and told the proprietor the store that he had just killed Price and told him where the shooting occurred, adding that Price started to draw a revolver when they met in the road, where the shooting was done.  Several men hurried to the place and found Price lying dead in the road near his horse, from which he had been shot, with a large number of No. 2 shot in his head.  No one was allowed to disturb the body or come around the place until Judge R. C. Tartar, acting in place of the coroner, who was out of the county, had reached the scene, he having gone at once from here as soon as the notice of the killing was given.

Judge Tartar said this morning that from all the surrounding conditions that all indications showed Price to have been shot with a double barrel shotgun from ambush.  He said just opposite where the dead body of Price lay there were tracks leading along a small path back from the road for some fifty feet or such a matter to a tree, behind which tracks were seen, and that along this path he found wads which had been fired from a shotgun, and that some small twigs had been clipped off between the tree and the road, where the body lay and looked as through the shots had cut them off.  He also said one large twig, which would have to some degree obscured the view between any object passing along the road from the point of the tree, had been broken and pulled aside so as to leave an open view with no obstruction of any kind to interfere with taking aim from the tree.

Officers are on the lookout for Phelps and it is believed he will soon be apprehended.  Price and Phelps had previously had trouble in which Price shot Phelps in the shoulder. [1]



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[October 21, 1912] -


ON MAN IS KILLED AND OTHERS HURT IN RUNNING FIGHT

Relatives and Friends Attempt to Take James Phelps from Chief and His Two Deputies

UNDER ARREST FOR SLAYING RILEY PRICE

Two Unsuccessful Efforts Made But Officers Land Prisoner in Jail


(Special to The Herald.)


SOMERSET, Ky., Oct 20-- A running fight between Chief of Police H. G. Waddle of Somerset, and two deputies on the one side, and a number of relatives of James Phelps, whom they had taken prisoner, took place about 10 o'clock this morning twelve miles east of Somerset, in Pulaski county.  Chief of Police Waddle thinks one man was probably killed or badly wounded, as he saw him fall, after he had fired, and while the exchange of shots between the Chief and his deputies and the relatives, who were trying to take the prisoner from the officers was in progress.


Killed Riley Price.

Phelps some months ago, shot and killed Riley Price, one of the most prominent teachers in the county, who also had served a term as assessor of Pulaski county, as Price was riding horseback on the way to the place where he was teaching.  The killing took place in a secluded spot, where the road skirted a clump of bushes, and the weapon was a shotgun loaded with buckshot.

Phelps at once left the country.  A reward was offered by Governor McCreary for his arrest.  Chief Waddle learned that Phelps had been seen around his old home and he left for there early this morning, finding him at home in company with some others.  They took him by surprise and arrested him.  He asked permission to telephone his girl, saying that he would then go to jail with them.

Phelps Gives Warning.

Evidently  he gave warning over the telephone, as they had not gone far with their prisoner when a brother and some other relatives, or friends, overtook the officers and demanded that the prisoner be released.  Chief Waddle says the firing began after one of the men had kicked him, and that a volley of shots were fired.  They then proceeded with their prisoner toward Somerset and stopped for a lunch several miles from the scene of the first trouble.

Here they received a telephone message from a friend warning them to hurry on, as a crowd was on their track to take the prisoner from them.  Waddle says they had not gone far when they were again overtaken and another battle occurred.  It was in this fight, he says, he saw one of the men fall, and he thinks he was killed, while he believes several others were wounded.  None of the officers was injured.  They arrived here with the prisoner this afternoon and placed him in jail.

The only statement the prisoner made with reference to the killing of Price was that he had to do it. [2]












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[October 22, 1912] -


PITCHED BATTLE FOUGHT OVER IN PULASKI

When Relatives Try to Take Alleged Murderer Away From Chief Of Police Henry Waddle

Somerset, Ky., Oct. 20-- A regular running pitched battle between Chief of Police H. G. Waddle, of Somerset, and two deputies of the one side, and a number of relatives of James Phelps, a prisoner, o[c]curred about 10 o'clock this morning, 12 miles east of Somerset, in Pulaski county.  Chief Waddle thinks one man was killed or at least badly wounded, as he saw him fall after he fired and during the exchange of shots between the chief and his deputies and relatives, who were trying to rescue the prisoner from the officers.

It is charged that Phelps some months ago shot and killed Riley Price, who was one of the most prominent teachers in the county, and who had served a term as assessor of Pulaski county, as the latter was riding horseback on his way to his school.  The killing took place in a secluded spot, where the road skirted a clump of bushes and the weapon was a shotgun loaded with buckshot.

Phelps left the country at the time, it is alleged and had not been heard of.  A reward was offered by Gov. McCreary for his arrest.  Chief Waddle got news of the fact that Phelps had been seen around his old home place and he left for there this morning, and found him at home in company with some others.

The officers took him by surprise and arrested him.  He asked permission to telephone his sweetheart saying he would come to Somerset to jail with them.  He evidently gave warning for they had not gotten far with their prisoner until a number of relatives and friends overtook the officers and demanded that the prisoner be release.

Chief Waddle says the firing began after one of the men had administered a hard kick to him and that a volley of shots was fired.  The officers then proceeded with the prisoner toward Somerset and stopped for lunch several miles from the scene of the first trouble, and here they received a telephone message from a friend, warning them to hurry on as a crowd was on their trail to retake the prisoner from them.

Chief Waddle says they had not gone far when they were again overtaken and another pitched battle occurred, and it was in this fight he saw one of the men fall, and he thinks he was killed, while he believes several others were wounded.  None of the officers was wounded.  They arrived at Somerset with the prisoner and placed him in jail.  The only statement the prisoner made with reference to the killing of Price was he had to do it. [3]



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[October 24, 1912] -

Chief of Police Waddle, of Somerset, believes one man either was killed or wounded in a running fight between his posse and friends of James Phelps, charged with the murder of Riley Price, in Pulaski county. [4]







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[1] "Slayer of Pulaski Teacher Not Caught." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. August 11, 1911.


[2] "One Man is Killed and Others Hurt in Running Fight." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. October 21, 1912. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[3] "Pitched Battle Fought Over In Pulaski." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 22, 1912. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052023/1912-10-22/ed-1/seq-1/

[4] Excerpt from Column 1. Licking Valley Courier, West Liberty, KY. October 24, 1912. Page 4. LOC.  http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069643/1912-10-24/ed-1/seq-4/

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