80 years ago Austin Cox murdered five people, including Judge Lewis Trueman, who granted a divorce to his ex-wife.
Hi. This is Kim, and welcome back to Weber County's greatest generation. So for those of you who aren't from Utah, you need to know that July 24th is holiday. On July twenty fourth eighteen forty seven, Brigham Young got to the Wasatch Mountains and Seth, this is the place. Since then July twenty fourth is celebrated with parades, rodeos, and fireworks, and Ogden is no exception. And the celebration starts a week before the actual July twenty fourth holiday. So there's always a lot of things going on. But eighty years ago, in nineteen forty three, during the rodeo on July twenty third, there was a mass murder in Ogden when Us and Cox killed five people, including the judge that handled his divorce and ordered him to pay alimony. I did a podcast earlier on this story. When I told the story of private Dale Nelson, who was killed in action in Germany on December eighteenth, nineteen forty four, about fourteen months from now. One of the victims in the shooting is his father, Sam, And in another ironic twist, another victim, Betsy Brooks, had a brother, lieutenant Robert Blakely, who had recently been declared as missing in action in Africa. His status will later be changed to killed in action. So here is the whole story. On July twenty fourth nineteen forty three, the evening edition of the Acton Standard Examiner, had the headline midnight gunmen placed five in Ogden. Judge Truman among the victims, killer is seized. So just to let you know, Truman is spelled t r u e m a n and not like Harry Truman. Gun victims include Sam Nelson fifty, missus t Burton, Everett, the Idaho, Bessie Brooks thirty, and James Stauffer twenty nine. Second district judge Louis b Truman fifty two, was shot and killed together with four other persons and two others are in the D hospital today with wounds received when Austin Cox thirty eight of one thirty three Willow, which I looked it up in its actually Wilson Lane, ran a Mc Friday night with a twelve gauge shock Ken, Anne Nelson, thirty eight fifty six Harrison, Bessie Brooks, twenty two thirty eight Lincoln, about thirty, Jane Stauffer twenty nine and missus t Burton of Ricky Idaho, all of twenty two forty Lincoln. The Injured are T. B. St.ffer thirty five and Dale Brooks twenty nine f twenty two thirty eight Lincoln. Stopper is in critical condition with severe head and shoulder wounds, and Brooks has a hand wound. So this all happened around twenty second in Lincoln, which, ironically, is where the Acton police station is located today. I'm always amazing how fast news travel back then. On July twenty fifth, the South Lake Tribune had almost a full page article with a map and pictures of all of the victims. So just a warning, this article is pretty graphic. I was kind of shocked at how graphic it is. So This is how the Tribune told the story. So shortly before eleven PM, Friday, Mister and missus Stauffer and missus Burton arrived at their modest home located in the rear lot after a day of picking apricots. The family had scarcely entered the house when caught stocking through the yard knocked on the back door. Neighbors in distinctly heard missus Stauffer who answered the door deny that such a party lived there. Cox immediately fired point blank at missus Stauffer she fell in theSpeaker 2:
porch. Her mother, missus Burton, and her husband came running from inside the house at the sound of the shooting as they appeared cuts. Shut down both down. Missus Burton, her head partly blown off by the backshot, fell to the floor within inches of where Beverly Jane, their four year old daughter had crawled underneath the washing machine when she heard the shots and screams. The hysterical child blood spattered and staring at her murder grandmother remained under the washing machine for almost forty five minutes. Later, police, lieutenant Eyal Shah, investigating the killings, heard the youngster sobbing, he could find no sign of the child, and thought he had heard a neighbor's infant. It was almost fifteen minutes later when he again entered the back porch. Tiny Beverly Jane was crying loudly. He quickly found her underneath the washing machine. Out of her senses with fright, the exter screamed and held out her arms to the officer who moved her over her grandmother's body to get to the girl. Later, she was taken to the home of relatives, mister and missus j Bert Dana at sixteen nineteen Keesle. After the staff are killings, mister Bert a neighbor said he walked out on his back porch to investigate the shots. I just walked out on the porch. He told officers, and this bird let me have it. The shot struck him in the arm and hand, attending physician said mister Brooks may lose his hand. As he stumbled to the ground, his wife apparently witnessing the entire episode treat and race for the front of the house intent on calling for help. But Cox too ran around the house and as she stepped onto her front porch, she was stressed squarely by a blast of backshot.Speaker 1:
Mr. Samuel Nelson's survivor said mister Nelson, his wife, his mother, and sister, were visiting at the home of his brother Theodore at three thirty one twenty second adjacent to the Stougher property. Hearing a series of blasts from the killer shotgun, mister Nelson commented It sounds as if someone is celebrating, let's go out. He stepped out the rear door, seeing the killer, and still believing it was a holiday celebration, He created the gunman, why don't you do some of your celebrating over here? The killer turned to mister Nelson and said maybe you'd like some of it. Yes, mister Nelson responded. With that, the gunman turned the shotgun on mister Nelson at close range. He fell and a slayer ran through an alleyway to his awaiting automobile to speed away. From the Grizzly scene at Lincoln Avenue, sheriff John Watson said Cox drove to the treatment residence The crazed gunman parked in front of the darkened house approximately two miles from the Lincoln address. Judge and missus Truman were both in bed. Walking to the east side of the house, Cox placed his gun close to the kitchen window and fired once. The reverberating crash awakened the treatments Judge Truman climbed from his bed on the second floor of his home, ran downstairs, saw the damage caused by the shot, and immediately telephoned the sheriff's office. So just to note, I'm not sure why he tele from the sheriff's office since, technically, he should have called the Ogden Police. Going back upstairs, he started to dress. He heard a noise on his front lawn. His wife told the officers, and he walked toward a front window. With missus Truman Following him. Glancing down on the dark line, he saw the shadowy figure f cox.Speaker 2:
What in the world are you doing here? He shouted get off the lawn. The echo of a shotgun blast aimed at his face, drowned out his next words. The judge slumped over three backshot in his forehead. Neighbors including doctor Frank Kate Bartlett heard the shots and screams. They ran over to help and doctor Bartlett saw cops climbing to his decrepa, light colored automobile, and drive off to the police station. Well, police, sheriff's officers, state chumming and even military police read throughout the city as a general, alarm was broadcast for the killer. Cox unobtrusively drove up behind this police station. So just another note. The police station was in the back of the city county building between twenty fifth and twenty sixth of Washington Boulevard.Speaker 1:
Handed the building through a door used to admit prisoners to the jail and opening into the death sergeant quarters. Across the hall was a smaller, short hall, leading to an office. Sitting in the office was W Wilson Cliff, Salt Lake Tribune reporter, So, now we know how they got the big scoop. In plain view of the Tall Goodman, he was talking to N. L. Critell and Ross Olson, the Octant City Auditor, Clarence Deb, the city and county building engineer, FD Thompson, the police radio technician, and police chauffeur, which I'm not sure what that is. Fred and Gail were standing in the office or the adjacent hall. Suddenly, Gail blurted out. Deck everybody there's that crazy bird with the shotgun. It seems like bird was the slang of the day. Cox, throwing a shell into the gun, was aiming his weapon at state patrol in Merlin Brown and Kim Ward, who were standing in the outer hallway nearby were lieutenant Smith and sergeant Schneider. It was then the two soldiers exploded into action ending the bloody trail of the crime that Cox had left in Ogden as police began weaving together the gruesome crime wave officers said that among those whom Cox was apparently seeking to, quote, unquote, get was deputy sheriff, George e Weather and one or two other officers. Deputy Weatherston had arrested Cox previously when the gunman was beating his wife, At that time, Cox told the deputy that he would, quote, unquote, get you for this. When Judge Truman granted missus Cox a divorce, he ordered mister Cox to pay your alimony partly to the freighter's expenses of their then unborn child. Sheriff Watson said that Cox considered this an unjust assessment. Although missus Cox said her former husband had been paying promptly, The divorce was granted in February and the child was born in May. Cox was also apparently guiding for justice at the peace Alfred Gladwell of Birch Creek, who found him guilty of the assault upon his wife. Formerly, a guard at Clearfield naval ply depo, Cox had been discharged following the trouble with his wife. So also on that day in the Salt Lake Tribune was a big map showing where the crime took place in Ogden and pictures and obituaries at the victims. Josh Lewis Vernon Truman was born October tenth eighteen ninety one in Ronok, Virginia, a son of James Washington, and Alameda Coleman Truman. On July twenty first nineteen eighteen, he married ORAB Johnson, Avernote, Virginia. Dutch Truman served in the Florida House of Representatives in nineteen twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven, and in nineteen twenty nine, He served on the staff of the governor of Florida as a lieutenant colonel. In nineteen thirty eight, he was appointed a judge of the Second District Court So remember second district, to fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Eugene E Pratt to the state Supreme Court bench He was elected to the same position in nineteen forty. Prior to this appointment, Judge Truman was deputy Weber County attorney. Cases disposed of in his court which drew special attention as a district judge or a controversial Ogden pioneer day suit of nineteen thirty nine In which Ogden Pioneer Days Inc. Was dissolved and directors were ordered to refund more than seventeen thousand dollars or two hundred and fifty seven thousand in today's money to the city of Ogden and of the trial of Walter, Robert Avery, who was convicted and executed for the slaying of police detective Hoye l Gates on February eleventh nineteen forty one. Surviving are his widow of Ogden, his father of Roanoke, Virginia, two half sisters, missus Lloyd'sy boss and Bertha Truman, both Fronok, Virginia. Funeral services have been tentatively set for Monday with the time and place to be announced. Additional services and burial will be in remote. SamuelSpeaker 2:
Lewis Nelson, thirty eight fifty six Harrison Boulevard, was born November twenty ninth eighteen ninety three in New England, Pennsylvania, a Senate Victor and Eliza Braddock Nelson. He worked in the Pennsylvania coal fields when a young man and moved for his family to Salt Lake City in nineteen fourteen. He entered the US army in nineteen seventeen and went overseas where he participated in a number of major battles in World War one. After receiving this discharge on March first nineteen nineteen, he returned to Utah coming to Ogden where he has since resided being engaged in farming and working on the railroad. He married Juliette Hughes in the Salt Lake LVS Temple on June twenty eight nineteen twenty two. He was an elder in the Ogden LVS fourteenth board and a member of the veterans of foreign wars at the United States.Speaker 1:
Surviving are his widow of Ogden, two cents Private Delby Nelson of Fort Knox, Kentucky and Rabe Nelson of Ogden. Two daughters, Ruth and Eugene Nelson of Ogden, His mother, missus Elizabeth B pack of Ogden, three brothers and two sisters. Funeral arrangements are awaiting word from the sun in the military service. The body is at the ULTORIS March worry. Bessie Allison, Blakely Brooks, twenty nine, wife of Dale Brooks, of twenty two thirty eight Lincoln Avenue, was born October fifteenth nineteen thirteen in Ogden, a daughter of Matthew and Artis Simpson Blakely. She was married to mister Brooks on July since nineteen thirty five. She was a member of the Ogden third LDS ward and a teacher in the ward Sunday school. Surviving are her husband, one son, Kent, Blakely Brooks, her parents of Ogden, one brother, lieutenant Robert s Blakely, who was recently reported as missing an action in North Africa, and a grandmother, missus Marker Blakely Abakken, funeral services will be made by Larkin and Sons of Octan. Missus Eliza Week Spartan, the wife of William Burton of Swan Valley, Idaho, had arrived in Ogden in the spring of nineteen forty three to help tender granddaughter everly while her daughter Jane worked in the Ogden War industry. Missus Burton was born in Smithfield that had resided in Swan Valley for the past fifty years. She was a member of the LES Church. Survivors include her husband, six sons and daughters, Charles and David Burton, S1 Valley William, with the US Army in Australia, missus Belva, Allan, and missus Hanaebicker of Shashon. She is also survived by six brothers and sisters. Jane B stopper was born in Swan Valley. She attended primary schools there and graduated from Idaho Falls High School. Her husband worked for several years for her father in Swan Valley. The family came to Ogden two years ago. Funeral arrangements for those two will be announced soon. In the September eighth nineteen forty three, Salt Lake Tribune, another article reads Cox gets death penalty for Ogden's Lane. Usen Cox thirty eight convicted of the murder of former district judge Lewis Truman. Wednesday afternoon stood before judge Glen w Adams of the second district So this is the same district court that Judge Truman worked in to hear the sentence of death pronounced and the date of s kitchen set as October fifteenth. So remember, this is less than three months after the murders, so justice was certainly swift in nineteen forty three. As by the court if he had a choice between the statutory provision of hanging and shooting, Cox in a voice cell inaudible that Simon Barlow, the court reporter, fell to hear it. I'll take the firing squad. Austin Cox, you have been convicted by a jury duly in panel to try your case at the crime of murder in the first degree without a recommendation of leniency. The court judges you to be guilty of crime murder in the first degree. So another interesting thing about this is he was only tried for the murder of Judge treatment he was not tried for the for other murders. It is the judgment of this court and the sentence of the law that you us and Cox for your set offense be conveyed forth with into the custody of the warden of the Utah state prison. They are within the exterior walls of the said prison will be shot until dead on October fifteenth nineteen forty three, our our Hackett attorney for Cox began to argue for a delay in imposition of the sentence for at least thirty days because of the motion for a new trial. He had filed earlier in the day declaring the filing of the motion delays of proceedings. Remember, this is September third, and they just set the execution date for October fifteenth. However, the court ruled that setting the date for October fifteenth will give the defense that required thirty days to file its affidavits in support of a new trial and be heard and also to file an appeal to the state supreme court. The defense did file an appeal with the Utah State supreme court and on April eighteenth nineteen forty four, they had reached a ruling. Their basis for an appeal was that that defendant was insane and unable to proceed to trial. They are upon the court appointed two alienists not sure what that is, to examine the defendant as to a sanity and on their opinion found that the defendant was saying. The defendant now claims that the finding was contrary to evidence. The court determined, quote, without the evidence taken on that hearing, the court cannot determine whether the finding of the court was supported, but by the evidence submitted at the trial, there is certainly sufficient evidence to support a finding that the defendant is saying. The defense also raised as an error the testimony of its former wife, and they dismissed that because they did not object at the time that she testified. They also raised the issue of whether or not the court had the jurisdiction to try the case. And finally, defense argued that it was an heir that the court refused to give proposed instruction number three on insanity. All claims were dismissed and the judgment of the court was affirmed. So that takes us to February ninth of nineteen forty four when we go to the Desert News and the headline reads, Italk killers escape mint. Guards catch us and Cox in plan to dick his way out, quote a long planned daring escape attempt from the Utah State prison by us and cops of Ogden. Murder of five persons was thwarted by two guards and a prison official last Thursday it was brought to light today. Cox who had been living in a special dormitory assigned to him along with long term prisoners was consigned to the quote unquote hole, Thursday, because of being constantly quirrellsome with the guards. Cox, himself, was awaiting a hearing from the state Supreme Court concerning the death penalty, which had been needed. Upon his conviction for the brutal killings last July.Speaker 2:
So the Desert News stated apparently under the impression that only one guard would escort him to the prison dungeon. Yes. They actually used the word dungeon. Cox took along with him some fancy work. Consisted of two long sections of rope, woven from his blankets, two of his bed braces, and a handmade weapon of two sharp razor blades wired onto a wooden handle. Instead of Wengard, however, he was sent with an escort and a deputy when he was searched the escape paraphernalia and the vicious weapon were found. Upon being questioned, Cox said that he expected to dig out of the dungeon and make his escape using force and the razor weapon if necessary. So all of his appeals were dismissed And on June nineteenth nineteen forty four, about eleven months after the murders, he became a thirty six man executed in Utah. And in another irony, the last person to be executed in Utah was Walter, Robert Avery, Hello, Judge Lewis Truman, had sentenced to the death penalty and was carried out on February fifth nineteen forty three. So the execution in nineteen forty three, Judge Truman had ordered and the execution of us and Cox. In nineteen forty four was for the murder of Judge Truman. I find that really ironic. In the standard examination of July twenty third nineteen forty seven, there is an in memoriam. In memoriam to the loving memory of my husband, Judge Lewis V. Truman, who passed away to life eternal on July twenty third nineteen forty three. That was by his wife. There were similar notices in the nineteen forty eight, which was the fifth anniversary, the nineteen fifty, and the nineteen fifty three, the tenth anniversary, also in the paper. In nineteen sixty five, Her obituary appeared in the standard, announcing her funeral in Pensacola, Florida. She died in sacred heart, hospital after an extended illness at the age of seventy one. It also says she moved to Pensacola sixteen years ago, which would have been nineteen forty nine, that had been a frequent visitor to Ogden, and she was survived by seven nieces and nephews. As I said, private jail knelt and the senate Sam Nelson will be killed in action on December eighteenth nineteen forty four in Germany, which means that the Nelson family lost their father and their brother within about a year and a half. The status of Lieutenant Robert Blakely, Bonnie Brooks brother missing in North Africa since April eighteenth nineteen forty three would be changed to killed in action.Speaker 1:
I didn't find any more information on t Burton and his daughter Beverly, and it looks like that they moved away from Utah shortly after the murders. So one of the worst tragedies of this if a tragedy can be worse than another is that She Wanda Cox had no relationship to anybody on the Lincoln Avenue address. We don't know where he got that information, but he went there and killed four innocent people. So when I was doing research on this, this is quite a famous case and there are a lot of crime podcasts about this. There is even a police comic book about this murder these murders that was in nineteen fifty one, and it's a comic book called A Night of horror. And it is still out there if you want to Google it. So there you have it, eighty years ago, on July twenty third nineteen forty three, these five murders took place in Acton. One of the things I forgot to mention was when the people at the rodeo grounds heard about this. They all rushed down to the Lincoln address to see what was going on. And then when they heard there had been another murder, they all rushed up to twenty seventh Street. So in the middle of all of this, all of these people leaving the rodeo grounds, all of this traffic, you had people running between both addresses trying to find out what happened. I don't think things have changed that much. Although we do have social media now, it would have been all over social media. So thank you for joining. This is really to an untold tragedy of of domestic violence, really, and how it impacted Ogden and five families. You can find a podcast available on my website, weber counties greatest generation dot com or on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for joining.