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Walter Earl DURAND

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Escape - Bank robbery
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: March 16-24, 1939
Date of birth: January 9, 1913
Victims profile: Deputy Sheriff D. M. Baker, 69, and Town Marshal Chuck Lewis, 44 / O.H. Linabary and Art Argento / Johnny Gawthrop (bank teller)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Park County, Wyoming, USA
Status: Killed during a bank robbery on March 24, 1939
 
 
 
 
 
 

Walter Earl Durand (1913-1939) was a mountain man who lived off the land in the mountains of Wyoming during the years following the Depression. From an early age he taught himself to live with ease in the wilderness. He was a crack shot and with a variety of weapons could hit almost any target.

One spring morning in 1939 he was arrested and jailed for poaching elk, resisting arrest, and for killing a rancher's calf. He was sentenced to six months in jail for the poaching and awaited sentencing for the theft of the calf.

Two days later he escaped the Cody jail by assaulting a deputy with the milk bottle off of a dinner tray which the deputy was bringing him. He forced the deputy to drive him to his parents' home in nearby Powell. Durand shot and killed a deputy sheriff and a Town Marshal in the driveway of his parents' home.

For ten days Durand eluded arrest by fleeing to the mountains. He killed two members of the sheriff's posse tracking him. Montana mobilized its National Guard armed with a mortar and a howitzer as Durand's escape neared the Wyoming/Montana border. The sheriff's posse attempted to drop teargas from a plane on his last known position but failed to flush him out of hiding. He had already escaped by carjacking the posse's radio operator and forcing him to drive him back to Powell.

Once in Powell he went to the First National Bank to rob it. During the course of the robbery he began to shoot out the windows of the bank which alerted the local residents who took up armed positions outside the bank.

Durand tied up the bank president and two other bank employees and forced them to walk out of the bank in front of him. One of the three hostages was shot and killed by the volley of bullets which met them at the door. Durand returned their fire.

In the door of a gas station cross the street from the bank, a seventeen year old high school student named Tip Cox was skipping his afternoon classes, and was handed a rifle by the gas station manager. The teenager fired on Durand when Durand levelled his rifle at him. The bullet hit Durand in the chest and knocked him off his feet. He crawled back into the lobby of the bank where he managed to shoot himself once in the neck. Within moments the bank president was able to free himself and picked up Durand's own rifle and walked into the bank and shot Durand once in the head.

Durand has enjoyed some benefit of his own legend. A 1974 Hollywood movie showed Durand in a more romantic light, portraying him as a mountain man intent on securing his own freedom from an oppressive and unfair local sheriff {a co-star was Martin Sheen}. When the movie was shown in Powell most of the movie patrons walked out.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

The Legendary Earl Durand

LillianTurner
Director of Public Programs

For nine days in March of 1939, the nation was intrigued by the daily unfolding of the story of a "true woodsman" from a remote corner of the West. As Time magazine described him, he was the "huge, shaggy, young Earl Durand" who "was something of a hero, something of a joke in the country around Powell, Wyoming." Just who was this "Tarzan of the Tetons"? Why was so much attention being given to his story?

He was Walter Earl Durand, born on January 9, 1913, a few months before his parents Walter W. and Effie Durand moved from Rockville, Missouri, to Powell, Wyoming. Earl was their only son. He had two older sisters, Laura and Ina Mae. There would also be a younger sister, Mildred.

The Durand's were ranchers/farmers who lived northeast of Powell. Earl's childhood was typical of farm children of that period. He played the usual games - and performed the necessary chores: gardening, feeding, milking cows, and working in the fields.

He loved books - books on folk stories, wildlife, camping, woodcraft, and nature. His interest grew to include books on history. And he read the Bible - five times through - according to his family. He was particularly fond of a small Bible that had been given to his Aunt Emily in 1872; she had given it to Earl in 1917; it was always with him.

Durand was a remarkable physical specimen - six feet two inches tall, blond and blue-eyed; he weighed close to 250 pounds, none of which was fat. He ran miles every day and reportedly could cover 40 miles a night at a lope. He lived in a wall tent behind his parents' home.

Quitting school after the eighth grade, he devoted himself to a life in the outdoors. His sister Mildred told of his working on farms haying and taking care of cattle on the range to earn money for the things he needed. He'd spend weeks at a time in the Absaroka Mountains west and north of Cody. He fought forest fires in Oregon and traveled on horseback and foot to Mexico and back.

According to his sister Mildred, he had a natural talent for hunting and trapping and became quite expert at both. A family friend stated, "No one could exaggerate what a good shot he was." It was said he was able to put four rifle bullets through a thrown baseball before it hit the earth. When the rifle ceased to be a challenge, he began to use a bow and arrow.

It was a hunting escapade which began the series of events that led to his death. On March 13, 1939, Durand and three companions, Gus Knopp and two teenage boys, killed four elk out of season up the north fork of the Shoshone River, west of the town of Cody, Wyoming, on the road to Yellowstone Park.

A resident of the area reportedly notified the authorities. Two game wardens, Dwight King and Boyd Bennion, began an investigation that ended with their waiting at Wylie Sherwin's Trail Shop at the Shoshone Forest boundary for the hunters to return with the evidence.

To quote the Cody Enterprise: "Finally in pitch darkness, a car came roaring down the highway. The two wardens tried to halt it by standing in its way. Slowing down only slightly, it missed Warden King by only a few inches. Warden Bennion sprang onto the running board, whereupon the occupants tried to throw him off until he poked his gat [pistol] into the driver's ribs, saying, 'Stop, or I'll stop you!'"

Durand, carrying his rifle, jumped from the car on the passenger side and disappeared into the darkness.

He game wardens brought Knopp, the two boys, and the portions of the elk found in the trunk of the car into Cody to the jail. In the absence of Sheriff Frank Blackburn who was in California, his daughter Janet admitted the three culprits. The ten pieces of elk were to be sold at auction three days later.

The next morning a North Fork rancher, Johnny Yeates, found two of his cattle shot. One was dead and missing a single hunk of meat from its flank. He telephoned Undersheriff Noah Riley who, supposing Durand to be responsible, joined the two game wardens in their search. Rancher Leonard Morris and former Game Warden Tex Kennedy added themselves to the party as they tracked Durand eastward down the North Fork highway in the snow. They came into the Shoshone River Canyon just west of Cody where about a half-mile above Hayden Arch they found Durand. Accounts vary, but either Morris or Kennedy was able to get the drop on him, disarming him and bringing him into Cody.

The four were brought before Judge W. S. Owens who sentenced Knopp to two months in jail and a $100 fine for having two elk in his possession. The two youths were paroled after what was described as a blistering lecture by Judge Owens.

Durand pleaded guilty to killing two elk and was sentenced to six months in jail and a $100 fine. The ten pieces of elk salvaged from the four that were killed were auctioned on the post office steps Thursday afternoon for $31.75.

Late in the afternoon on that Thursday, March 16, about 5:30 pm, Undersheriff Noah Riley brought the prisoners their evening meal. When he opened Durand's cell, Durand grabbed the milk bottle, hit Riley over the head, took his revolver and an additional rifle, and prepared to escape. With Riley as a hostage, Durand forced him to drive him to his parents' home near Powell, a distance of approximately 25 miles, presumably to get provisions and gear.

A VERY SERIOUS TURN

By now word of his escape complete with the description of the commandeered car had reached Powell. A car fitting that description was reported to have been seen approaching the Durand home. Deputy Sheriff D. M. Baker, age 69, of Powell, and Town Marshal Chuck Lewis, age 44, reportedly a friend of Durand's, went to the Durand farmhouse to take him into custody. Durand shot them both. Baker died at the scene. In the commotion, Riley escaped. Durand fled. Durand's parents took Chuck Lewis to the hospital where he died later that night.

With Undersheriff Riley injured, Sheriff Blackburn in California, and Lewis and Baker dead, a question arose as to who was in charge. Oliver Steadman, the county attorney, knowing that Riley was injured, asked former Game Warden Tex Kennedy to take charge. Riley meanwhile had called Big Horn County Sheriff Don Parkins to take over. A conference of sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and undersheriffs took place in Powell.

By 3:30 a.m., a posse of nearly 50 men under Kennedy left Cody in a snowstorm with orders to shoot to kill. Eventually, four groups totaling approximately 100 men were deployed to patrol the nearby hills and the area around the Durand home.

By daylight on Friday, local pilot Bill Monday was searching from the air for tracks in the snow. Neither he nor the posse found any sign of Durand. By Saturday when Sheriff Blackburn arrived from California to take charge, various places around the Powell flat were searched with no results. Sheriff Blackburn requested the use of bloodhounds from the Colorado State Penitentiary at Canyon City.

From Thursday the 16th until Tuesday the 21st, Durand was able to elude the posse - was actually in hiding along Bitter Creek not far from his parents' home.

The people of Powell panicked. Doors were bolted. Folks went about carrying rifles. The entire area was emotionally high strung - a fact that should not be overlooked.

On Tuesday, March 21, Durand appeared at the Herf Graham home where he took a rifle and left a letter to Sheriff Blackburn. The letter ended with this statement: "Of course I know that I'm done for and when you kill me I suggest you have my head mounted and hang it up in the courthouse for the sake of law and order. Your beloved enemy, Earl Durand." The return address on the envelope was Earl Durand, Undertaker's Office, Powell, Wyoming.

It was also believed that he made appearances at the Harley Jones' place and Bill Croft's home the same night. His parents were staying with the Croft family.

Later that night - close to morning - about 4:00 or 4:30 a.m., he came into the Art Thornburg home - people he knew - and awakened them. Mrs. Thornburg offered to fix him breakfast - all the while with no lights on. He wanted them to drive him somewhere. Since there was not enough gas in the car, he siphoned some from their truck. They drove him to a place called Little Rocky Creek near the mouth of the Clark's Fork Canyon, north of Cody near the Montana-Wyoming line.

Although the Thornburgs passed telephones at Clark and Badger Basin, it was not until they returned to Powell about 8:00 in the morning that they informed the posse of Durand's location. The posse quickly departed for Little Rocky Creek where headquarters were set up at the Jim Owens ranch about noon.

To establish communications with town, Dave Carlson and assistant forest supervisor Carl Krueger were stationed at the ranch with a short wave radio. They kept in contact with Harry Moore who had a short wave set located at the Hopkins ranch on the Clark's Fork. From there phone calls could be made to Cody for necessary supplies. And requests did go out for flashlight batteries, gasoline, and horses. Telephone calls were made to people throughout the surrounding Sunlight Basin and Clark's Fork areas to alert them to be on their guard.

Because the canyon extended across the Montana border, Montana governor Roy Ayres directed his adjutant general to give all necessary assistance. Captain Charles Wheat and an eight-man detachment from Howitzer Company, 163rd Infantry of the Montana National Guard were dispatched from Livingston, Montana, with a 37mm howitzer, range 1800 yards, and 360 rounds, and a 3-inch Stokes trench mortar, range 800 yards, and 100 rounds. Wyoming's governor Nels H. Smith authorized the Montana National Guard to enter Wyoming.

he Wyoming National Guard could not be used for criminal cases, but the governor sent a trench mortar, dynamite, and tear gas bombs. Pilot Bill Monday flew to Casper, Wyoming, to pick up the supplies and returned, landing as close as possible to posse headquarters. It was to be his task to drop the tear gas bombs when Durand was located.

A request by Wyoming's Senator, Joseph O'Mahoney, to General Malin Craig, U. S. Army Chief of Staff, for a howitzer and troops to be sent from Fort Francis E. Warren, was refused on the grounds that it was contrary to law.

The bloodhounds had now arrived from the Colorado State Penitentiary. They were of no help.

Durand was sighted in an inaccessible rocky fortress up the side of a cliff between Little Rocky Creek and the mouth of the canyon. To reach him from above was virtually impossible. To storm his location was suicide. Despite warnings not to try it, Arthur Argento (age 50), a Meeteetse, Wyoming resident and an expert in blasting powders and dynamite, and Orville Linaberry (age 40), a former Montana cowboy and rodeo rider then of Cody, started up the hill. Refusing to listen to warnings from Durand himself, they were both killed.

At this point, afraid even to retrieve the bodies, the posse withdrew to their headquarters at the Owens ranch, three miles from the canyon. Here Sheriff Blackburn, in reply to an inquiry by a newspaperman as to whether they had Durand cornered, stated: "We haven't got him cornered by any means. He's got us cornered."

Only later was it learned that Durand had slipped from his perch in the night, taken Linaberry's shoes, the laces from Argento's boots, Argento's deputy badge, their weapons, and disappeared. He followed the posse down to the ranch, unnoticed by them, in hopes of taking Sheriff Blackburn's car to make his escape. However, there were too many men in the vicinity of the car.

Durand proceeded on down the stream at the bottom of the canyon almost to the spot where the Thornburgs had left him originally. There he hid himself in a thicket near the road waiting for a single car to come along. Wednesday night - all day Thursday - Thursday night he waited. Cars came but always in groups of two or three.

During this time the posse discovered Durand was no longer in his fortress. Knowing the survival skills of this man of the mountains, the posse never dreamed he would head in any direction other than deeper into the mountains. Sheriff Blackburn selected 12 top riflemen and headed up into the hills.

On Friday morning, March 24, Harry Moore, the radio operator stationed at the Hopkins ranch, accompanied by John Simpson who was running the Hopkins ranch, and Simpson's 86-year-old father Peter, was driving toward the posse's base camp. A man was seen sitting on a boulder by the road. He had a rifle and wore a deputy's badge. He flagged down the car.

Identifying himself as a posse member, he requested a ride to the base camp, asking that they stop down the road where he had left his bedroll. After placing his bedroll in the trunk of the car, Durand identified himself to Harry Moore and requested that the car be turned around and headed toward Powell.

The route from Clark went through Badger Basin along the Sand Coulee route to Ralston. From there they skirted the business district of Powell, driving through the south outskirts on to Deaver, 16 miles away, to the railroad depot where Durand reportedly picked up 300 rounds of ammunition he had previously ordered. He took Harry Moore into the depot with him, leaving the Simpsons in the car.

At Deaver, Durand noticed the car was low on gas and filled it up - paid $2.70 which he told Moore was only right under the circumstances. They then returned to Powell where Durand stopped at his parents' home to pick up some belongings from the tent in which he lived behind their house. He told his parents good-bye.

Durand next directed Harry Moore to drive north of Powell toward the Pine Bluffs coal mine where they arrived about 12:30 PM He told the men he was taking the car and that they could walk the three miles to the nearest ranch. He asked Harry Moore if the car was insured and seemed pleased to find that it was covered by theft insurance. As Durand drove away, he called out, "Come to my funeral, boys," and honked the horn as he disappeared over the hill.

The three men walked to the nearest ranch. From there they were driven to the closest telephone. By the time they called Powell, Durand was dead.

Just what Durand did during the hour after he left, no one knows. It is believed he visited the site of his hideout on Bitter Creek. At 1:30, however, he parked Harry Moore's Buick 100 feet east of the First National Bank in Powell, and with a pack on his back and carrying a .30-.30 rifle, he made his way hurriedly to the bank.

He approached the bank president Bob Nelson and announced he was robbing the bank. There were nine people in the bank at the time - five of them were customers. Armed with the Winchester and with a revolver in a holster on his belt, Durand ordered the employees and customers to line up facing the wall. Convinced by cashier Maurice Knutson that the safe could not be opened because of a time lock, Durand emptied out the cash drawers, taking between $2000 and $3000.

Then the unexplainable happened. Here was Durand with ample funds to finance his getaway, a car waiting outside the bank, nearly all the law enforcement officers in the region 40 miles away at the Clark's Fork Canyon still convinced he was deep in the mountains, no one aware that he was even in town - and he suddenly opened fire inside the bank. An estimated 40-60 rounds hit walls, windows, ceiling - even windows in nearby buildings - for ten minutes or so.

The alarmed citizens of Powell were convinced that gangsters were robbing the bank. They, too, still believed that Durand was in the Beartooth Mountains.

George Blevins, a local correspondent for the Billings Gazette, worked part time in a drugstore across the street from the bank. He called George Beebe, his editor in Billings, to report the bank robbery. The news was also relayed to Billings radio station KGHL. Powell residents listening to their radios that afternoon soon heard what very well may have been the first live coverage of a bank robbery in progress.

Armed citizens converged on the bank - seeking shelter in doorways - some on the roofs of buildings nearby - waiting for the robber or robbers to appear. Finally, four men stepped into the doorway - Bob Nelson, Maurice Knutson, and the young teller, Johnny Gawthrop - their hands tied together with a leather thong. Durand was behind his human shield.

Directly in front of the bank was Otis Roulette's Texaco station. Among the men inside was a 17-year-old Powell high school junior who was skipping school that warm, sunny, Friday afternoon. Tipton Cox had wandered into the gas station as the robbery was in progress and hit the floor along with the others when the shooting began. For some reason, Roulette gave Tip Cox a rifle just as Durand and the men left the bank. Guns were fired at the men from all directions in the panic that ensued. Unfortunately, Johnny Gawthrop was mortally wounded.

Tip Cox stood in the doorway of the gas station. As he related the story, he fired on Durand only when Gawthrop fell and he realized that Earl was aiming his rifle at him - and he could not be sure that Earl did not mean to shoot. The bullet felled Durand but did not kill him. He crawled back into the bank where he took his own life.

People poured into the streets. Many were still not aware that the bank robber was Durand. George Blevins, at the request of the Billings editor, took pictures of Durand and the gathering crowds. He then rushed the film to Billings, aboard his brother-in-law's motorcycle, in time for the Saturday newspaper.

Durand's body was taken to Easton's Funeral Home. There was such a demand from the gathering crowd to see him that once his body had been prepared, Durand was placed on a couch in the foyer so that people could file by. Hour after hour they came; some even flew into Powell to see him. By 2:00 a.m., the Eastons had to get some rest. A colleague volunteered to sit up the remainder of the night.

On Sunday afternoon at 4:00, a private funeral was held. After a brief service, a short procession of cars escorted Earl Durand to the Crown Hill Cemetery east of Powell. But only Durand's body was buried.

THE LEGEND BEGINS

As one journalist stated in 1973: "Many here profess admiration for Durand. Others seem to be attempting to bury Durand's memory. If that is the case their efforts are in vain. The legend of Earl Durand is buried in fertile soil. It continues to grow."

The legend began before Earl Durand died. Newspaper reporters camped out in Cody during the manhunt sent out releases portraying him as a raw-meat eating wild man of the mountains. He reminded them of Tarzan and "Tarzan of the Tetons" he became, although the title was geographically inaccurate.

It was an era of bank robberies and gangsters and movies that told their stories on every small town movie screen in the country. But here was the same story with an Old West twist . . . a mountain man Robin Hood bank robber who poached elk and deer to feed those in need.

On the day of the bank robbery, young Tipton Cox was mobbed by reporters and press photographers asking him to re-enact the shooting scene at the gas station. By Saturday morning he was being flown to Denver to make an appearance on radio station KLZ. Directors of the national radio program "We the People," through their Denver representative Charles Inglis, approached Cox's parents with a proposition that they fly him to New York to appear on their Tuesday night program. During the four days he was in New York, newsreel footage was made of him that would be shown in theaters nationwide.

Within three months after Durand's death, more than newsreel footage was available to local theaters across the country. Republic Studios released one of John Wayne's last B westerns on June 29, 1939. The film's title was Wyoming Outlaw. Although there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the film that it does not represent any person living or dead, the film's title and content clearly indicate that the screenwriters were drawing from newspaper accounts of Durand's story. "Tarzan of the Tetons" became Wild Man Parker for the movie. Already he was acquiring superhuman abilities as can be noted at the beginning of the film when Parker/Durand picks up and carries off not just a portion of meat as Earl had done but an entire steer that he has killed.

Available on the newsstands at the same time the film was released was the July issue of Inside Detective magazine containing Tipton Cox's own story, "I Bagged Wyoming's Terror of the Tetons." Also, in the same month, the magazine Official Detective Stories carried Al Totten's article, "Wyoming's One-Man Reign of Terror," the only article officially sanctioned by the Park County peace officers.

Although the story was told and retold in the communities most affected by the events of that March in 1939, it only occasionally reached a major publication such as the February 1950 issue of True, the Man's Magazine, which carried Donald Hough's story, "The 11 Days of Earl Durand."

But Durand's legend continued to grow. The accounts usually described him as a young giant who was not only the biggest but also the best - the best marksman, runner, outdoorsman. He was credited as being an Olympic class skater. So strong was the memory of his story, that whenever a manhunt or jailbreak occurred in that part of the West associated with him, the story of Earl Durand often surfaced again in the newspapers.

For twenty years little was written about Earl Durand. Then in the 1970s he re-emerged. Chet Huntley, noted television newscaster, was planning to write a book about Durand when he retired. Hollywood decided again to portray him in film. This time, as with the 1939 Wyoming Outlaw, it is evident that the screenwriters at least familiarized themselves with his story, even using as dialogue verbatim quotes from newspaper accounts of the events surrounding Durand's escapades. But the screenwriters were apparently more intrigued by the fiction than the facts.

The result was The Legend of Earl Durand, which premiered at the Teton Theatre in Powell, Wyoming, on October 8, 1974. Upset by the film's failure to tell the real story of Durand, some Cody and Powell residents walked out on the film.

But then that has always been the problem with Durand. What is the real story? Even 62 years after it all happened there is just as much division over who was this Earl Durand - Robin Hood hero or cold-blooded killer. His legend is a product of over sixty years of media attention. It is as difficult to sift through these contradictory accounts of his life to find the truth as it has been with other legendary westerners such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, or Butch Cassidy. Therein lies the dilemma - print the truth or print the legend?

 
 

Earl Durand

from First National Bank of Powell: The History of a Bank, a Community, and a Family

© First National Bank of Powell. Reprinted by permission.

Jesse James was showing at the Teton Theater in Powell on Sunday and Monday, February 19 and 20, 1939. There was a matinee at 2:30 Sunday afternoon and evening showings both days at 7:00 and 9:00. The cinema played a large role in the social life of Powell in those days, and the Tribune regularly ran articles on upcoming movies.

Tyrone Power was the star of Jesse James, and the Tribune article on the upcoming film contained the following remarks: "Perhaps the best picture of this good bad man is contained in the words of the mayor of his hometown of Sedalia, uttered months after Jesse James had died in the arms of his beloved bride. . . . 'Jesse was an outlaw, a bandit, a criminal,' said the mayor, 'but we aren't ashamed of him. Maybe it's because we understand a little that he wasn't to blame for what his times made him. All I know is, he was the doggonedest, dadblamedest buckaroo that ever rode across the United States of America.'"

Buzz Morris, the theater manager, would later note Earl Durand sat through the movie three times.

Westerns and gangster films were standard fare at the time. Crime Takes a Holiday, advertised as "Unmasking the Most Ruthless Criminal Who Ever Held a City in Bondage," was showing at the  Teton Theater in Powell on Thursday and Friday of March 9 and 10, 1939. It is a curious coincidence, for in less than a week the citizens of Powell would find themselves entangled in a drama more bizarre than the films they watched. Their community would be on front pages and in newsreels around the world and they would become the subject of two Hollywood films.

The events of those nine days in March, starting with Durand's escape from jail and ending with his death while robbing First National Bank, touched everyone in the community. Swirls of rumors, hearsay, and speculation have developed around Earl Durand over the years. At some point the account of his last days became known as The Legend of Earl Durand. In some ways it is an appropriate phrase, for typically legends are composed of more myth than fact.

Durand's actions set off a media feeding frenzy impressive even by modern standards. Contemporary news reports often presented rumor as fact or distorted fact for the sake of sensationalism. Eyewitness accounts differ. Later articles which tell Durand's story frequently present contradictory information. Determining what actually happened is difficult, and understanding why it happened is even harder.

The Earl Durand story which survives in the folklore of Powell is often partial and fragmented. As the tale has been told and retold, some events have disappeared and others presented without a context. Errors have become fact and taken on a life of their own. For all the attention it attracted, the story of Earl Durand is still frequently garbled.

The following chronology is a basic account of the events of that March, although questions remain about many details. It is based on contemporary news stories in the Powell Tribune, which provided calm and careful reporting. Indeed, as the Tribune wrapped up its reporting of the Durand story, an editorial stated, "The Tribune's aim has been to carry a complete and truthful account of just what happened in the eight-day flight of the notorious Earl Durand from the clutches of the law."

A few additional details here come from the July 1939 issue of Official Detective magazine. Oddly enough, the article "Wyoming's One-Man Reign of Terror" by Al Totten presents one of the better narratives of Durand's escape and death, at least as far as providing details of actual events, although it does seem likely some of the dialogue in the article is fabricated. Its accuracy is endorsed by Frank Blackburn, the Cody sheriff who coordinated the pursuit of Durand.

Monday Evening, March 13

Shortly after dusk on Monday evening, game wardens Boyd Bennion and Dwight King, suspecting a case of poaching, flag down a car in a canyon twenty-six miles west of Cody. The car is driven by Gust Knopp of Powell, and the Tribune reports he "refused to stop when ordered to do so until Bennion jumped to the running board with a drawn gun." As the car comes to a halt, one of the rear doors opens and a figure carrying a rifle disappears into the darkness. Two boys, one fifteen and one sixteen, are in the car with Knopp. One is his son, Rienald, and the other is Reinald's friend, Tom Spint. Two elk are found in the trunk; the figure which has fled into the darkness is identified as Earl Durand.

The trio is arrested and taken to Cody.

Tuesday, March 14

Earl Durand has walked some twenty miles down the North Fork since eluding the game wardens. Along the way he kills a cow, and the Tribune later reports, "Officers said he sliced a small piece of meat from the animal, supposedly for food." Rancher John Yeats discovers the dead cow and reports one of his cattle has been shot. Cody Undersheriff Noah Riley drives up the North Fork, deputizes two ranchers and manages to arrest Durand in the Shoshone Canyon six miles west of Cody.

Wednesday, March 15

Knopp, Durand, and the boys plead guilty in justice court to charges of killing elk out of season. Judge Walter S. Owens fines Gust Knopp $100 and sentences him to sixty days in the county jail on a charge of unlawful possession of two elk. Earl Durand is fined $100 and sentenced to serve six months in jail on charges of unlawful hunting, killing, and possession of two elk. Rienald Knopp and Tom Spint receive a lecture from the judge and are released on their promise of good behavior.

Oliver Steadman, Park County prosecuting attorney, also files a felony charge against Durand, charging him with killing a cow belonging to John Yost.

Oral tradition holds Durand, an eccentric loner who normally has a beard and long hair, is ridiculed while in jail. Another report says Durand's father, after talking to Steadman about the felony cattle killing charge, tells Durand he's going to be locked up for twenty years. Yet another report says he is teased by Noah Riley, who tells him he will be sentenced to jail for twenty years.

The Tribune reports, "Wednesday afternoon, his parents, . . . highly respected pioneer residents of the Powell community, went to Cody to visit him at the county jail. They report he appeared in a moderately complacent mood, and they had not thought of his attempting to break out."

Thursday, March 16

At about five o'clock Undersheriff Riley takes Durand his supper. As Riley enters the cell, Durand grabs the bottle of milk which comes with his supper and strikes Riley on the head. The blow opens a gash on Riley's head and gives him a partial concussion. Durand takes Riley's gun and they go outside and get into Riley's car. Dazed though he is, Riley is forced to drive. One of Riley's friends sees Riley driving off and follows the car for a short period before he is waved back by Durand. Returning to town, the friend calls County Attorney Oliver Steadman.

Cody Sheriff Frank Blackburn is in Los Angeles picking up a prisoner. Steadman goes to the jail, locks up the other prisoners, who are milling about outside the jail, and alerts police in Meeteetse, Greybull, and Powell. Neither Cody nor Powell has a radio station. Steadman calls KGHL in Billings and, according to the Tribune, has them "Broadcast a warning to all citizens to be on the lookout for a dangerous fugitive, Earl Durand, who was then thought to be on his way to his home northwest of Powell."

Powell Undersheriff D. M. Baker has blocked Highway 14A and "more customary" approaches into town. Durand has Riley turn onto the Willwood Highway at Eagle's nest. Durand makes his way to his home northeast of Powell via the Willwood Highway, which has not been blocked.

As he is leaving his barn after chores, George Burke sees Durand and Riley drive past. Thinking the car matches the description which is being broadcast on KGHL, he follows the car for a short distance before pulling in at Frank Bovee's farm to call Deputy Sheriff D.M. Baker and tell him he has spotted Durand.

Durand, meanwhile, arrives home. The Tribune reports Durand, "in an abnormal overwrought state of mind, forced his own father, along with Undersheriff Riley, into the house, where he proceeded to pack a sack full of his belongings he would need to escape. He brooked no interference and was deaf to the pleadings of his parents to quiet down and submit to arrest." While Durand is packing, Mrs. Jack Turner, a neighbor, drives up to the house. Once he recognizes her, Durand allows her to enter, but continues packing.

Burke, along with Frank Bovee, meets the police officers, who have responded quickly. Burke later tells the Tribune, "I tried to explain to them the danger of making an arrest." Chuck Lewis replies "What about Noah Riley?" Burke thinks Riley will remain safe as long as no one interferes; Lewis says it is his duty to arrest Durand. Lewis and Baker continue to drive to the Durand farm. Bovee and Burke, in their car, follow the officers.

They reach the Durand place at dusk--around 6:00 p.m. Lewis and Baker get out of the car and approach the Durand house. Burke reports hearing a shot, immediately followed by three more shots. They can see the red flame from each shot and little more. After the shots stop, they see a shadowy figure running east from the house.

Figuring the fleeing figure is Durand, Burke and Bovee drive into the driveway of the house. They see Baker's body in the driveway, but by then it is dark enough that they don't know who it is. Nor can they see Lewis' body. Unarmed, and uncertain of Durand's whereabouts, they return to Powell.

Durand's parents come out of the house shortly after Durand leaves. Hearing moaning, they discover Charley Lewis and take him to the Powell Hospital. At 11:00 p.m. Charley Lewis dies. The Tribune reports, "The bullet that killed him pierced his side, beneath his heart, and shattered on the backbone, cutting the spinal cord."

Riley, who had left the house with Durand, hides behind a tree during the shooting. After Durand stops firing, he works his way across a field to the Otto F. Smith place. Riley is still disoriented from his concussion. The Smiths take Riley to the Powell Hospital. The Tribune reports that "later on, when seen at the hospital by a Tribune representative, he was unable to give a very clear and connected version of the shooting."

Riley is treated for a brain concussion and ordered to rest. By this point he is the only law officer left alive in Park County. Riley starts making calls from the hospital. Sheriff Jack McFate of Red Lodge and his undersheriff Bill Moore come to Powell that night, as do Undersheriff Eddie O'Donnell of Billings and Sheriff Don Parkin of Big Horn County.

For several hours no one can summon the nerve to return to the Durand place for Baker's body. The concern is Durand is hiding somewhere near by. "Finally," the Tribune reports, "there came a report from the Arthur Glasgow place, four miles north of town, to the effect that young Earl Durand had just been there and at the point of a gun had taken possession of a rifle at that place, and had gone with it, together with all available ammunition." Assured Durand has left the area of his home, a group of men retrieve Baker's body.

Friday, March 17

Durand has disappeared, and a posse is organized to search for him. The Tribune reports, "It was the general belief with the members of the posse that Durand was hiding somewhere in the general region of his home neighborhood, but the crafty fugitive outsmarted all efforts to bring him into custody." Steadman hires Bill Monday to fly over the Durand farm, searching for Durand. He can spot no tracks in the fresh snow.

Saturday, March 18

Sheriff Blackburn arrives back in Cody at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and takes over the search. There is still no sign of Durand.

Sunday, March 19

Charley Lewis, age 44, is buried on Sunday morning. He is survived by a wife and two daughters, ages 14 and 16. A popular veteran of World War I, Lewis had served in seven major offensive engagements in World War I, including the Champagne, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. He had been gassed several times and the sight in one eye was affected by shrapnel wounds. He is one of the founders of the Powell American Legion, and 400 veterans from northwest Wyoming gather for his funeral. It is the largest funeral ever held in the area, with somewhere between two and three thousand people attending.

The search for Durand continues.

Monday, March 20

On Monday afternoon, D. M. Baker, age 70, is buried. He is survived by his wife and three grown children. A longtime and respected member of the community, Baker's deposit at First National in 1924 had helped calm fears and prevent a run on the bank.

Sheriff Blackburn finds police-trained bloodhounds in Canon City, Colorado, at the Colorado State Penitentiary. The warden immediately sends a guard and a trusty to Powell with two bloodhounds.

Reinald Knopp and Tom Spint, the two teenagers who were initially arrested with Durand, attempt to purchase a hunting knife and .30-.30 cartridges in Powell. Concerned they are trying to help Durand, Blackburn has them arrested.

Tuesday, March 21

Bloodhounds arrive and Blackburn takes them out to the Durand farm. They are not successful. Their handler suspects they can't track Durand because he is wearing rubber boots. Durand later says he spent the time hiding "in the willows along Bitter creek," which is approximately a mile and a half north of Powell.

At 8:30 Tuesday evening Durand shows up at the Herf Graham farm northeast of Powell. Herf and his wife are at home. Herf's sick father is in a bedroom. The Tribune later reports the encounter in detail. "Neither Herf nor his wife gave their visitor any sign of fear or apprehension. It seemed more like a casual visit of a neighbor, who introduced the conversation with the information he was after their son, Verne Graham's practically new .30-.30 rifle."

Durand insists Glasgow's gun be returned. He has Herf write down the serial number of Vern's gun so Herf can "later recover it from the sheriff." In walking around the house, Durand almost enters the room where the father lies ill. Herf tells him "in a commanding voice" to stay out of the room--he doesn't want his father disturbed. "Durand politely obeyed, and while doing so inquired in a neighborly way about the old gentleman's health, not knowing that he had been ill."

During his brief stay, which only lasts about ten minutes, "Durand was polite and considerate of the Grahams in his conversation with them, assuring them that he meant them no harm. He took one of the two six-shooters from his holster and, laying it upon his lap as he reclined in the rocking chair said, in making demands of Herf, that he was using the gun merely to relieve them of any charge of having assisted him voluntarily. Mr. and Mrs. Graham felt it smart judgment not to argue the point."

The Tribune reports as Durand leaves he says "he expected to have to shoot it out with his pursuers and that 'they will eventually get me.'" His parting words are "Don't suppose I'll see you again, so goodbye and good luck."

Durand also leaves a letter for Blackburn. It is obvious he has had contact with someone, for he knows about the Monday arrest of the two boys.

The Tribune reprints Durand's letter, although it corrects his spelling and punctuation errors. The original letter follows:

My Dear Mr. Blackburn:

That was one dirty trick for you to jail those 2 boys just because I got away. If you send them over the road I will kill you and that blankety blank district attorney if I live long enough and possibly can.

Tell King and Kennedy to always carry a pistol. If I ever meet them I will give them a chance for an even draw--something I would give you if you put up those boys.

Tell the man whose beef I killed that if I live long enough to get back in the mts. that he has nothing to fear from me. I hope I never see him again.

When you get after me better take about 20 men? for your body guard and put braces on their knees.

Of coarse I know that I'm done for and when you kill me I sugest you have my head mounted and hang it up in the court house for the sake of law and order.

Your beloved enemy,

Earl Durand.

p.s. I know where King lives, so he may expect me around any time to shake hands.

Durand lists his return address as the county morgue.

After Durand leaves the Graham farm, he goes to the Harley Jones farm "across the field, where he demanded several rounds of ammunition which would fit the Graham rifle from Earl and Harley Lee Jones, the parents not being at home." The Tribune observes, "Earl Durand . . . seems the most calm and least excited person concerned."

Wednesday, March 22

Mrs. Art Thornberg is awakened at the sound of "someone opening a window and entering their house on the north side" at about 4:00 a.m. Durand, according to the Tribune,"cooly and in a kindly and gentlemanly way informed them that they were to take him in their car to a point thirty-five miles northwest of Powell in the vicinity of the Clarks Fork Canyon." He tells the Thornbergs, "I know that they will get me in time, but I want to get out in the open country where I can fight."

They leave the Thornberg's place, which is located on land which will later become Homesteader Park, about 4:30 a.m. and drive west along the fairgrounds, avoiding town. Durand is "very considerate of their comfort in every way." He tells them "he did not know who the men were who were shot at the time Deputy Sheriff Baker and officer Charley Lewis lost their lives at the home of his parents last Thursday night, but he expressed himself as sorry that it occurred. He was not bitter against anyone." He tells the Thornbergs he has spent most of his time hiding in the willows by Bitter Creek.

At dawn the Thornberg's leave Durand near Little Rocky Creek just north of the Clarks Fork Canyon. The Thornbergs drive back to Powell and alert Sheriff Blackburn, who takes approximately sixty-five men and heads for Clark. The posse arrives at their base camp around noon. They are divided into groups of five and spread out to search for Durand's trail.

At dusk on Wednesday evening a party of five men led by Game Warden Boyd Bennion discover Durand's position "On a high ridge or hogback, half way between Little Rocky Creek and the mouth of Clark Fork canyon."

Against the advice of Bennion, O.H. Linabary, a South Fork ranch laborer and rodeo cowboy, and Art Argento of Meeteetse, try to rush Durand's position. They are shot and killed when they are about forty yards away from Durand. It is an indication of the intensity of the news coverage that Argento's brother in Michigan hears the news of Art's death before his wife in Meeteetse hears of it. Argento is survived by his wife and four children ranging in age from six to twenty-four. Linabary has two sons, age seven and eleven.

An attempt to reach the bodies, after nightfall, is met with "a shower of rifle shots." Not wishing to risk more lives, Blackburn leaves the bodies where they are for the night and returns to the base camp. Durand follows the posse back down the mountain and beds down about a mile from the camp.

Blackburn returns to Cody that evening. He contacts Montana Governor Roy Ayers in Helena and asks for the loan of a trench mortar and a howitzer to help dislodge Durand. Ayers sends the weapons, along with a unit of the Montana National Guard from Livingston.

Thursday, March 23

Pilot Bill Monday flies to Casper and obtains two tear gas guns and tear gas grenades to fit them. Accompanied by posse member Harold Evans, who had been a member of Bennion's group when the shootings occurred, Monday takes up the tear gas grenades and Evans attempts to use them to bomb Durand's position. They cannot spot Durand's position. About noon, when ravens began to circle the bodies of Argento and Linabary, Blackburn decides to retrieve the men before the crows get to them.

Under covering fire, Blackburn and a small group of men recover the bodies. The guns of Linabary and Argento have been broken; Linabary's shoes are gone, as are the leather laces from Argento's boots. Their six-shooters and ammunition are gone.

During this time covering fire has continued from below. Blackburn waves for the men to stop firing, and he and three others quickly make it around the rocks which Durand has used for cover. He is gone. Durand has spent the day bedded down near the base camp.

Blackburn and his men return to base camp and discover the howitzer, trench mortar, and Montana National Guardsmen have arrived.

Friday, March 24

Blackburn picks a group of twelve men to pursue Durand; each carries 100 rounds of ammunition. They head back up the mountain and plan on following Durand into the mountains.

Durand has spent the morning in the brush near the road about a mile from the posse's main camp, watching cars go by. He later says he had intended to kidnap one of the cars, but they kept coming by in clusters of two or three. Around 9:00 a.m. a single car comes along. It is driven by Harry Moore, an amateur radio operator of Cody. He has with him John Simpson and his eighty-six-year-old father Peter Simpson, who is along for the ride.

Moore notices a man sitting by the road with a rifle in his lap. "He motioned for them to stop; said he was a posse member patrolling the road, and wanted a ride up to camp. He wore an undersheriff's badge, pinned to his shirt," the Tribune later reports.

Durand asks for a ride to camp, but first asks them to take him to his camping spot near the creek so he can pick up his bedroll. When they get to the camping spot, Durand orders Simpson to get his bedroll and put it in the trunk. Simpson gets irritated, "cussed the stranger out with the plain meaning of the range vernacular," and tells Durand he doesn't look much like a sheriff to him. Durand says, "if that's the way you feel about it, all right" and puts the bedroll in the trunk himself.

After Durand gets back in the car, he tells Moore to drive away from the camp, and at this point he pulls out his pistol and identifies himself. "Why didn't you say so before?" Simpson asks.Durand directs Moore to drive back to Powell. "The much hunted Durand was neither abusive nor commanding to the occupants of the car he had commandeered," the Tribune reports. Durand has them drive back though Powell to Deaver, where "he was looking for a package, but he didn't know for sure whether it was there or not."

During the ride Simpson points out Moore would be missed at camp. Durand thinks about this for a few moments and then "advised his three companions that if they were stopped they were to remain in the car and he would get out to shoot it out with any posse members."

In Deaver, Durand goes to the depot for what he says is 300 rounds of 30-30 ammunition that he has previously ordered under a false name. After picking up the ammunition, he has Moore drive to a gas station where he purchases $2.70 worth of gas. Durand pays for it himself, saying "he wouldn't under such circumstances expect Moore to pay for the gas."

After that he returns to the family farm. The elder Durand is shocked when he sees the car. The Tribune reports Durand says, "Well, they've got me dad." He tells his dad he needs to pick up some things, adding "Shall I take what I want, or do I get it at the point of a gun?" After getting his gear, Durand has Moore drive north toward the direction of the Pine Bluffs Coal Mine. They arrive at about 12:30. He has the men get out, telling them they will need to walk the three miles to the nearest farm house.

The Tribune notes, "He said he would have to take the car and expressed pleasure that Moore carried theft insurance, so that his taking the car would cause him no loss." As he drives away, Durand calls out to the three men, "Come to my funeral boys." None of the three have any idea Durand intends to rob First National Bank.

The elder Simpson, who sat in the back seat with Durand, would later say, "I had a good visit all the way with Durand. I sat close beside him on the back seat; offered him a chew of tobacco, but he said he didn't use tobacco." John Simpson spoke at length with Durand, who said he killed the two posse members in the mountains because they came within forty feet of him and "were beginning to crowd him."

Durand drives to Powell and parks near First National. At that time the main entrance to the bank faces south. R. A. Nelson is sitting at his desk when Durand walks in. There are four employees in the bank: R. A. Nelson, Vice President Edgar Swallow, Maury Knutson, and teller Johnny Gawthrop. There are also five customers in the bank: Dr. J.C. Stahn, Harry Hecht, E. P. Guenther, Mrs. Jimmie Dunton, and her mother, Mrs. Laura Dooley.

"Hello, Nelson," Durand says.

Everyone in town was on edge because of the murders and because of the posse's inability to catch Durand. National media exposure had exploited the dramatic events of the last week . The Denver Post, whose journalistic style was on par with the sleaziest supermarket tabloids of today, gave Durand the name "Tarzan of the Tetons." Evidently alliteration was more appealing to the Post than accuracy, since none of Durand's movements had taken him out of the Powell area. The name stuck, reinforced by sensational news stories of Durand's taste for raw meat, which supposedly included beef, a bobcat, and chickens on the family farm.

Twenty-one year old teller Johnny Gawthrop was particularly uneasy that morning. "I asked Johnny Gawthrop, who was my good friend and a teller and wonderful man, how he had gotten through the night." Maury recalls. "He said, 'Terrible. I even imagined that Earl Durand would come into the bank. I spent a horrible night.' I said, 'There is no possibility of that. The posse is out looking for him.'"

What happens next is best told in the words of Maury Knutson. Because of the way in which events unfolded, Knutson was the only person to witness everything which happened; for much of the time the others were lined up facing the wall.

That same day, at about 1:30 p.m., Durand appeared. The first thing I recall was hearing this shot. The shot hit the vault. I was standing near the vault, and plaster and concrete fell down. Then he yelled and screamed that this was a holdup, and he proceeded to shoot out the windows. He also yelled for all of us in the bank, including the customers, to line up against the east wall of the bank.

As we lined up against the wall with our hands in the air, he kept on shooting out the windows. He shot out many windows up and down main street, including the bank windows. With each shot I heard, I could only think he was shooting at someone in the line I was in. The only thing I could think of was that he probably had started at the other end of the line. There was no way we could see what was going on because the line was rather long; there were quite a few people in this group.

At each shot we all simultaneously got weak kneed, and the entire line sagged so that it became like a calisthenics exercise. The line was going up and down with each shot because we never knew whether he was shooting at us or at the window. With all the yelling and screaming he was doing, he had us all terrified.

He got all the money from the teller cages as we were lined up against the wall. Then he decided he wanted more money, so he asked me to open the safe. The safe had a time lock on it. It couldn't be opened until after 3:00 p.m. I knew this, but he didn't understand what time locks were. All I could think of was to haul out silver dollars, which we had many of. He refused to take these. He said they were too heavy.

He said, ‘I want more money from the safe.' I tried to explain the fact that it had a time lock and could not be opened. He did not understand this. In order to demonstrate this, I went to the safe with his gun on my back. He was probably three to four feet away. Then he stood in the door of the bank vault with his gun pointed toward me and alternately took it away from me to shoot out the windows of the bank.

While he was doing this, I naturally was trying to work the combination. I clicked it the first time. Because of the time-lock situation, of course, the safe would not open. I turned around and told him it couldn't be opened. He called me a liar. I looked at this gun. His finger was tightening on the trigger of this gun, so I just knew I was as good as dead. When this was about to happen, Johnny Gawthrop spoke up in the calmest voice I have ever heard and said that he had set the time lock and that it couldn't open until after 3:00.

I saw very, very little chance of getting out of this. There was no possibility. I went through great anguish about my wife and two little girls and my mother and father and what I would have done differently had I been able to relive my life. I was mostly concerned about some of the things that I hadn't done that I should have done--how I wanted to tell them how I felt about them. My wife and I had quarreled during the lunch hour on that day, and I wanted so much to tell her that it was all right and that I was not angry.

But I couldn't call anyone, couldn't write, couldn't do anything except listen to this horrible cannon going off all the time. It was very, very frustrating. Besides that, I was utterly terrified by this man who had killed four people. I didn't see where he should have any sympathy for me. As far as I could tell from the way he was yelling and screaming, he was a maniac. His mouth was distorted. He actually bared his teeth like a mad, vicious dog. He reminded me of a cornered animal in many ways. I despised the man right then and there. I have not gotten over it.

Earl Durand said, 'I want more money just the same.' I knew there was money in the safe deposit box which we kept as a reserve in case there were unusual cash withdrawals during bank hours. I said I would try to get more money for him. So he followed me around to the vault door. The reason I had not mentioned this before was because I had never been able to open this combination the first time. I figured that if I did not get it the first time I would not be alive. With his screaming and yelling and maniac approach to everything, there was no way could I survive if I could not get that vault door open.

With his gun on my back and the yelling and screaming and shooting, I proceeded to try to open the vault. I opened the vault door the first time I tried the combination. This was the first time this had happened in my experience at the bank. It was one of these sensitive combinations. I still remember that moment as something of a miracle.

At any rate, after opening the vault I got into the safe deposit box. There was about $2,000 in the box, as I recall. We went back, and Durand asked me to put my hands through the teller cage. I was now in the lobby, and he was on the teller side. I did this. He put his rifle down because it was too hot for him to hold because of his constant firing. He also put two six-shooters down on the counter, one on each side of him. He tied my hands, and I pulled them back. He asked me to stand in the lobby, which I did.

Then he asked another person to come forward. Edgar Swallow came forward, but Durand said, "No, I don't want you. You get back in line. I want this man." That was Johnny Gawthrop. He did the same thing to Johnny Gawthrop. Johnny Gawthrop came back and stood to my right. The next person who had to go through the same procedure was Bob Nelson. He tied us around the wrists very tightly, and we had really no movement. This was all preplanned because he had proper size rope. He tied Bob, as I recall, with some of the leather thongs from the boots of one of the fellows killed up in the mountains, which was horrible -- eerie.

He came around and continued to shoot.

He came around to the lobby and had a long rope and tied us all together with his rope. He put his rope through our wrists and tied that tightly. He then led us out of the bank. Because of the narrowness of the door, we could only go one one at a time, Bob Nelson being to my left and Johnny to my right. He pulled Johnny out first; Johnny went ahead. Then there was an onslaught of firing of guns by the townspeople; the amount and noise were unbelievable.

Durand stood there in front of me and opened up with his rifle again--wherever. Then two shots came from on top the roof between Durand and me, which was a distance of two feet. I stepped out from the bank into the sidewalk right then, or I would have gotten killed. I was splattered with concrete. About the same time Johnny was shot, and he fell down. I was still tied to him, so I fell down also.

I didn't have much movement but I managed to get inside the door with my hands sticking out, and just at that time Johnny got shot from the other direction with a shotgun. I saw the marks on him. Had I been standing next to him, I probably would have been pretty badly wounded, if not killed. Event though I was not hit, the trauma of experiencing all this is difficult to describe.

As I tried to get back into the bank, Earl Durand dashed back into the bank with his rifle--obviously staggering--and got on the other side of the vestibule two to three feet from me and pulled out one of his six-shooters and killed himself. Bob Nelson, who had not gotten out the door, managed to get loose from his ropes and picked up the rifle. He did not seem to know whether Durand was dead or not and gave him another shot, as I recall it.

After they cut me loose from Johnny, there was bedlam. I remember standing there in a crowd of people--all with guns--and somebody had a gun which went off right in the crowd. Fortunately, it was pointed toward the sky. It hit a brick, and the brick came falling down. I screamed at the person to put his gun down. From then on I was interviewed by reporters and surrounded by photographers and newsreel cameramen.

In the confusion of everything I had been extremely concerned about my parents, who lived in Wisconsin, so I managed to get to a phone and send a telegram to them that I was all right. They had heard over the radio that I had been killed, so it was very, very fortunate that I had gotten to the phone and gotten a line to send that telegram.

Durand's initial shots, after he had entered the bank, had alerted the town. Ironically, townspeople they had no idea that it was Durand who was robbing the bank; because of the sheer volume of gunfire coming from inside the bank, most thought that a group of robbers had decided to rob the bank because all of the local law officers were in Clark after Durand. They grabbed their weapons and stationed themselves on roofs and behind windows around the bank. They did not realize it was Durand until he stepped from the door, shielding himself behind Johnny Gawthrop.

When the shooting started, George Blevins, who wrote for the Billings Gazette, was in St. John's drug store across the street. Blevins called the Gazette to report the robbery in progress. The people at the Gazette offices could hear the shots in the background. Realizing that this was a unique opportunity, the Gazette patched the call through to radio station KGHL, which immediately broadcast Blevin's report of the robbery as it was happening. Much of northern Wyoming and southern Montana listened to the robbery on the radio. Newsflashes went out to the rest of the country.

Durand had been shielded by his hostages when he had stepped from the bank. When Johnny Gawthrop fell, Durand was exposed. Tipton Cox, a seventeen year old senior at Powell High School, was across the street at a gas station. Grabbing a rifle which stood near him, Cox fired at Durand. Although he had little experience with guns other than occasional target practice with a twenty-two, Cox's shot struck Durand in the chest, causing him to drop his rifle, stagger back into the bank, and shoot himself with his pistol.

The crowd rushed to Maury and Gawthrop, who still lay on the sidewalk. Gawthrop was barely alive, and the Tribune reports he said "I'm glad it was me, and not one of the married men." He was rushed to the Powell hospital, but he died before they arrived.

The Thermopolis Independent Record reported that, because of the broadcast, "When Durand's death came, the news was on the air as soon as he fell. People rushed to Powell from Billings, Thermopolis, and all intervening towns. It is estimated that 5,000 filed through the morgue that afternoon to view the dead ‘Tarzan of the Tetons.'"

A carnival atmosphere descended upon Powell as the town filled with curiosity seekers. The Denver Post reported that hotels were full, sidewalks were packed, and "restaurants did more business than during county fair week." Crowds streamed into Easton's mortuary to view the body and it was after midnight before the crowds thinned out. Several hundred people congregated around the bank, and stores which had been hit by bullets were packed. "Powell was having a holiday," the Post concluded.

Tipton Cox was flown to Denver where he was interview on air, and then he was flown to New York for more interviews. The Powell Tribune lamented that "Throughout the land the name of Powell, Wyoming, has been broadcast. Powell's place in the radio programs ranks next in importance to the antics of Adolph Hitler of Germany."

It was anything but a holiday for those who had been in the bank. Mrs. Dooley, who had spent her time during the robbery praying aloud, discovered a bullet hole in the rim of her hat. The bullet had likely been fired by Durand when he first entered the bank. R. A. collapsed that night and took some time to recover. Maury couldn't sleep at night. "Al Fryer, the druggist, got me sleeping pills that really worked, but they were deadly." Maury says. "I was just groggy all day. And we had to run a bank. We had to board up all the broken windows, and the beautiful walnut trim in the bank was all shot up. Security Bank in Billings offered to help, but we managed to get through it, although it was just terrible."

Earl Durand was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery by his family. About fifty family friends gathered for the private ceremony. The Tribune's March 30 editorial acknowledged the town's anguish over the whole matter:

Powell people were horror-stricken with the painful realities; outsiders looked on and awaited the frequent radio bulletins much in the same manner as though sitting at a theater to watch a Jesse James Picture screened. Here at Powell with the homefolks there was the shedding of human blood, tears and wrecked home.

It was Powell people, more particularly who mourned the loss of three of its fine citizens--their lives snuffed out in a most regrettable affair. It was a Powell bank that was robbed. Powell men by the dozens volunteered along with brave men from other localities in the man hunt.

And besides, it is a highly respected Powell family, suffering under the humiliation of this terrible strain that their son, whether deranged, frenzied or cold-bloodedly brutal, as you may choose to analyze his action, has brought to their doorstep."

Then the editorial observed, "The Problem locally is to heal the wounds." That healing would be slow in coming.

Eventually, the Durands moved away from the community. In 1940, Maury's mother-in-law died and his father-in-law wanted his daughter and Maury to return to Big Timber and help on the ranch. In large part because of the trauma of the bank robbery, Maury sold his stock in the bank back to R. A. and left. Later he would return to Powell and run an implement dealership for some years before becoming active in helping Lutheran colleges which were in financial difficulties. In 1946 he repurchased his bank stock and once again became a director.

It was perhaps inevitable that the national attention focused on Earl Durand would attract Hollywood's notice. It was still 1939 when Republic features released Wyoming Outlaw, starring John Wayne. Although the film creates its own plot and cast of characters, it does have elements which parallel what newspapers were saying about Durand.

In 1974, The Legend of Earl Durand had its world opening in Powell. The film starred Peter Haskell as Earl Durand, and Slim Pickens, Martin Sheen and Keenan Wynn were in the supporting cast. A synopsis of the film describes the plot as follows: "a ‘man on the run' story that begins when a young boy is locked away by his parents because they believe he has a deadly contagious disease. When he escapes he begins a struggle to remain free for the rest of his life."

It is perhaps most accurate to say that while each films may have been influenced by real events, neither was a documentary, and neither was interested in limiting itself to what actually occurred that cool Wyoming March.
 


 

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: CE

MO: Poacher; killed two officers in jailbreak, two more in ambush of posse, and one bank teller in abortive robbery.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers

 

 

 
 
 
 
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