The Slayer

“Slayer of Two Hunted by Wolcott Posse”. The headline washed black letters across the white face of the newspaper. Stanley had called me from California to tell me to search thru the Waterbury Republican’s archives in the library. Stan had been told that I had begun to search back into the family story. That’s what comes after retiring from teaching. I had become a family genealogist and had done a lot on Pop’s side already. Now it was the Mom’s side. The Lithuanian side. Mom had never spoken much about her family. But here I was digging and Stan said turn to June 25, 1934 and read for yourself. I did.

Uncle George and Aunt Ursula and son, Clarence and daughters, Mildred and Violet all lived way out in Wolcott on a small farm. He and his were much older than I since I wasn’t to be born until 1935. And Ma never talked about them and now I knew why.

With the next phone call from cousin Stanley, he begins to search his memories. In his 80’s Stan is firm about what he knew. I hear about Uncle George and his son Clarence had a feud going on with his closest neighbor, “Crazy” John Crowe. Stan said Crowe ran a still and had a good business going. He had been laid-off by the brass factory that he had worked in for years as a caster. The spelter-shakes do evil things to a man’s body and mind and to a man’s life. The only income to Crowe was the still.

Crowe wandered time to time into George’s front yard or to his barnyard across the road, Wolcott Road. Usually Crowe was drunk and carried on to the embarrassment of George, or Ursula, or Clarence or the two younger girls. They argued endlessly and nothing changed. Drunkenness was nothing new at the close of Prohibition.

Clarence and the handyman, Julius had had enough and the 2 conspired to end it and drive off Crowe. And so when Julius saw that Crowe had left his shack and wouldn’t return for hours, they smiled and moved. Both headed down the road for Crowe’s place and began smashing and crashing what they got hold of, destroyed Crowe’s still and his bottled booze. Both went back to George’s place confident in their success, probably believing that Crowe would move on to better climes. They forgot the obvious fact that Crowe was crazy!

Sunday June 25th dawned a beautiful summer Sunday. George and Julius went to their usual chores with the animals and the crop. Clarence decided to change his clothes and go for a swim in the lake down the road. He had forgotten about Crowe and hoped he’d seen the last of him. Crowe came home in the morning and found the destruction of all he held important. He knew immediately who had done it. He grabbed his rifle and his revolver and headed to George’s place. His life had fallen apart many, many times and this was the last straw.

“I’ll Cut The Heart Out Of The World - Maniac Threatened That” headlined the next story that day. Crowe pulled in behind Clarence’s car with the young man sitting dressed for a swim. Clarence expected the usual verbal fight. Not Crowe! He grabbed his rifle and without a word he shot Clarence thru the heart. Instant death, but Crowe’s madness had him smashing Clarence’s shoulder when trying for his head. This broke the rifle butt. John C. then took out his pistol as Ursula came around the corner. Crowe shot her a glancing shot but she fell and Crowe thought her dead. Her screams had brought Julius from his chores and Crowe had a new target. He shot Julius many times. The luck of the time had George way across the road behind the barn. When he got there Crowe had taken off in his coupe.

George found his wife alive and bleeding as was Julius. They told their story to him, and he grabbed his phone and called the Waterbury police. They were just over the town line. Waterbury police called the State police and these 2 forces would gather 35 troopers and 15 Waterbury cops to this murder. This single murder would become multiple with Julius’ death on the way to the hospital, and the attempted murder of Ursula. They wait and the scream of the sirens tell them that help has come.

The State police and locals know where Crowe lives. They gather their forces with rifles, pistols and machine guns and move down the road to Crowe’s place. They find his coupe abandoned – no gas. Moving down the wooded path, they surround the shack and call him out. There’s no response.

The shooting begins and continues and continues until the shack is cut in 2. They now throw in tear gas bombs. And then slowly they move toward the place. Empty! He’s not there. Darkness stops everything and Monday the search continues with many calls to the police saying Crowe was here, there and everywhere. Crowe disappears and is never found. This is not an episode of “Law and Order”. Reality has its own rules.

Robert Blake
Waterbury, CT ©2012

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