Criminal Activities

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Entries - Entry Category: Criminal Activities - Starting with M

Madden, Owen Vincent

Owen Vincent “Owney” Madden was a gangster and underworld boss in New York City in the 1920s who retired to Hot Springs (Garland County) in the 1930s. Though his role in Arkansas politics and history will forever remain enigmatic, he was a powerful figure (from about 1935 until his death) during the heyday of illegal gambling in Hot Springs and an emblem of the bad old days of machine politics. Owney Madden was born on December 18, 1891, in Leeds, England, to Irish parents, Francis and Mary Madden. He spent his early childhood in Wigan and Liverpool, where Francis worked in textile mill sweatshops until his death in 1902. Mary then took her family, including Madden and perhaps two siblings, …

Magee, Leach (Lynching of)

On June 4, 1887, an African-American man named Leach Magee (sometimes referred to as Zach Magee) was hanged in Clarendon (Monroe County) for allegedly assaulting a woman named Mrs. J. M. Park, a relative of Sheriff J. W. B. Robinson. Neither Mrs. Park nor Leach Magee appear in any public records for Monroe County. In 1880, a single man named James W. B. Robinson, age twenty-four, was farming in Pine Ridge Township. County records indicate that he was sheriff in Monroe County from 1886 until 1890. He apparently later moved to El Paso, Texas, where he died in 1928. The first account of the alleged assault appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on June 3. It said that, on June 2, …

Malpass, Charles (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1911, a white man named Charles Malpass Sr. was lynched in Desha County following a shootout in which his sons murdered two police officers. According to newspaper accounts, Charles Malpass was a descendent of early French settlers at Arkansas Post. In 1850, the Malpass family was living in nearby Red Fork Township. Farmer Rubin Malpass was living with his wife, Rebecca, and five children, including four-year-old Charles. The family was still in the area in 1860, but by this time there were eight children, among them sixteen-year-old Charles. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Charles began living with a mulatto woman named Bettie West in 1868. West had resources of her own, having inherited several thousand dollars when …

Marion Lynching of 1910

On March 18, 1910, two African-American men, Robert (Bob) Austin and Charles Richardson, were lynched in Marion (Crittenden County) for allegedly assisting in a jailbreak. The victims were taken from jail by a mob and hanged in front of the Crittenden County Courthouse. There is very little known about the two victims. At the time of the 1900 census, Bob Austin was living in Jasper Township with his stepfather, Bennie Ross, and his mother, Henriette. Bennie was a farmer who was renting his farm, and nineteen-year-old Bob was a farm laborer. The men could neither read nor write, although Henriette could do both. Census records provide no information about Charles Richardson. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a jailbreak occurred on …

Markle, John Lawrence

John Lawrence Markle was the perpetrator of a headline-grabbing crime in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in November 1987. The son of Academy Award–winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, Markle murdered his wife and two daughters before taking his own life on November 16, 1987. John Markle was born on December 25, 1941, in Hollywood, California, to Mercedes McCambridge and William Fifield. McCambridge was a radio actress who eventually moved into films, and Fifield was a writer. They divorced in 1946, and when McCambridge remarried in 1950, her second husband, film and television director Fletcher Markle, adopted the boy. John Markle was eight when his mother, who would become known to a later generation through her role as the voice of the demon …

Marmaduke-Walker Duel

aka: Walker-Marmaduke Duel
The Marmaduke-Walker Duel was fought during the Civil War between Confederate brigadier generals John Sappington Marmaduke and Lucius Marshall (Marsh) Walker. Marmaduke was originally from Missouri and was the son of a former governor. Walker was originally from Kentucky and nephew of President James K. Polk. Both graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. They made their way to Arkansas during the war; Marmaduke was stationed there, while Walker was granted a transfer to Arkansas due to trouble with superiors. Disagreement arose between the two in the summer of 1863 over military actions at Helena (Phillips County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County), where Walker failed to carry out operations as planned and exposed Marmaduke and his men to enemy troops. …

McClain, Doc (Lynching of)

Doc McClain (whose name is sometimes rendered Dock McLain or McLane) was lynched in Ashdown (Little River County) on May 13, 1910, for allegedly stabbing wealthy young farmer Ernest Hale. According to the 1900 census, farmer Doc McClain (whose age was not given) was living in a rented home in Franklin (Little River County) with his wife Mary (aged thirty) and their two children, Lizzie (seven) and Ezekil (three). They had been married for ten years. Neither Doc nor Mary could read or write. According to numerous accounts, Doc McClain stabbed Ernest Hale in a store sometime in April 1910. Hale survived the attack and was hospitalized. At the time, it was feared that he would die. Local citizens threatened …

McCool, John Thurman (Murder of)

John Thurman McCool, a prominent businessman of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was rebuilding his life after serving a prison sentence for forging state treasury warrants when he was shot to death outside Sheridan (Grant County) in 1962. McCool’s murder remains unsolved. The mystery surrounding the killing and the strange circumstances of his life in the six years prior to it made the murder a subject of rumors of a mob killing, of revenge, and of silencing a man who knew too much, although no evidence of any of those motives ever emerged. Thurman McCool was born in Sheridan on August 18, 1913. He grew up in Pine Bluff, married a Pine Bluff woman, and was prominent in the business and …

McGehee Lynching of 1894

On September 22, 1894, Luke Washington, Richard Washington, and Henry C. Robinson were lynched in McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly murdering local merchant H. C. Patton and robbing his store. One of the interesting aspects of this case is that the African-American population of McGehee (then known as McGehee Junction) reportedly took an active part in the three men’s lynching. On September 20, 1894, Patton locked his store, which was located on the edge of a cotton field some distance from the depot in McGehee, and proceeded along the walkway to his bedroom. There, Robinson and the two Washingtons allegedly killed him with a club. Although Patton was armed with a pistol, he was unable to use it in time. His attackers then …

McIntyre, Samuel (Lynching of)

On April 23, 1919, an African-American man named Sam McIntyre was hanged near Forrest City (St. Francis County) for allegedly murdering another black man, John Johnson, the previous February. According to the February 10, 1919, edition of the Arkansas Gazette, on February 6, Johnson was shot through the window while playing checkers with a friend at his home on the Graham farm. McIntyre was arrested after the killing, along with U. L. “Hub” Lancaster (a white man) and Rube McGee (a black man). According to the report, “Johnson was a witness against Lancaster and McIntyre in several liquor cases, one case of assault to kill and another case charging burglary and grand larceny.” He was to testify when the case …

Miller, James Brown (Jim)

James Brown (Jim) Miller was an Arkansas native but spent much of his life in Texas and Oklahoma, where he earned the reputation of a professional assassin, manipulating the court system to avoid prison. From his early years in Van Buren (Crawford County) to his death in Ada, Oklahoma, Miller proved to be a man to be feared. Jim Miller, the eighth of nine children of Jacob and Cynthia Miller, was born near Van Buren on October 25, 1861. His father was a miller and, at times, a stone mason by trade. Miller received the typical education of the times, and nothing stands out in his life until the family relocated to Coryell County, Texas. The exact year of this …

Mitchell, Charles (Lynching of)

On November 2, 1884, Charles Mitchell was murdered near Richmond (Little River County) for the alleged murder of a prominent farmer’s wife, Kate Waddell. The incident made news not only in Arkansas, but also in Texas, the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and Michigan. At the time of the 1880 census, forty-year-old Charley Mitchell—an African-American or biracial man—was living in Johnson Township of Little River County with his wife, Isabella, and their two sons, William (thirteen) and Mitchel (eleven). The census lists no occupation for Mitchell, but his two sons were working as servants. According to an October 31 article in the Arkansas Gazette, Mrs. Waddell, “an estimable woman,” was murdered on October 29 “by a notorious negro by the name …

Mitchell, Elton (Lynching of)

On June 13, 1918, an African-American farm worker named Elton Mitchell (referred to in some reports as Allen Mitchell) was hanged by a mob in Earle (Crittenden County). Newspaper reports give different dates for Mitchell’s murder, including June 22, June 13, and June 14, but the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic reported on June 14 that the murder took place on Thursday, June 13, so that is the most probable date. Mitchell’s personal history is a bit confusing, with public records placing him in several adjacent counties in northeastern Arkansas and northwestern Mississippi. At the time of the 1900 census there was an Etten Mitchell, age ten, living in Tyronza (Poinsett County) with his parents, Andrew and Parthenia Mitchell, and five …

Monroe County Lynching of 1893

In January 1893, five men were lynched in Monroe County near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) for allegedly murdering Reuben Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child, and then torching Atkinson’s house to cover up the crimes. Census and other public records yield no information on either Atkinson or his alleged murderers. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on January 7 a “prosperous farmer” named Rube Atkinson went to sell his cotton. He returned to his farm on January 8, and the following morning neighbors awoke to find that Atkinson’s house had burned down. When they went to inspect, they found three bodies in the ruins, which were later identified as those of Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child. Authorities arrested several African …

Monroe County Lynching of 1915

aka: H. M. Gandy (Lynching of)
aka: Jeff Mansell (Lynching of)
On February 27, 1915, two pearl fishermen—H. M. Gandy (sometimes referred to as Candy) and Jeff Mansell—were lynched near Indian Bay, located on the eastern bank of the White River in Monroe County. Both men were white. Most lynching victims in Arkansas’s history were black, but this incident is reminiscent of pre–Civil War days in Arkansas when vigilante justice was often meted out to white criminals. Records reveal nothing about either Gandy or Mansell. According to the Arkansas Gazette, they were fishermen and pearl hunters and lived in cabin boats on the river near Indian Bay. Although the killings occurred in Monroe County, the men’s boats were moored across the river near St. Charles (Arkansas County). They and their families …

Mosely, Julius (Lynching of)

On July 13, 1892, Julius Mosely, an African-American man accused of raping his stepdaughter, was lynched near Halley (Desha County) by a mob of fellow black residents. While the majority of lynchings in the South were perpetrated by white mobs against blacks, in a very small number of cases, lynchings were carried out either by mixed-race mobs or by mobs of African Americans. William Fitzhugh Brundage speculates that perhaps African Americans doubted that the all-white legal system would deal properly with crimes occurring within the black community. In addition, such lynchings often took place in cases of family-oriented crimes like incest. Interestingly, Brundage finds that such black-on-black violence was most prevalent in the Mississippi Delta regions in Mississippi, Arkansas, and …

Murray, James (Murder of)

On December 6, 1897, the dead body of Constable James Murray was found by the roadside near Bonanza (Sebastian County). His hands were tied, and he had an injury to his head and bruises around his neck. Lying nearby was the unconscious body of Grant McBroom, whom he had earlier arrested. Both Murray and McBroom were white. The case attracted national attention, with newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Herald speculating wildly and describing the murder as a “lynching” to showcase the apparent lawlessness of western Arkansas during this post-Reconstruction era. Bonanza and nearby Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) are located south of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and were centers for coal mining in the region. Bonanza enjoyed …

Murrell, John Andrews

Among legendary characters associated with nineteenth-century Arkansas, John Andrews Murrell occupies a prominent place. Counterfeiting and thieving along the Mississippi River, Murrell was only a petty outlaw in a time and place with little law enforcement. However, he became a greater figure in legend following his death. John A. Murrell was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in 1806. His father, Jeffrey Gilliam Murrell, was a respected farmer who, with his wife, Zilpha Murrell, raised eight children. Shortly after John was born, the Murrells and other relations moved to Williamson County, Tennessee. However, Murrell’s father fell on hard times, and his sons, who were wild and errant, began to have trouble with the law. At the age of sixteen, Murrell, along …