Roy Renegar of south Market Street was shot through the head while watching a game of craps near the Acme School house on the Oklahoma City road on the night of September 30, 1921, by an unknown hi-jacker. He was in a dying condition as he was rushed to the Shawnee Hospital.
ROY RENEGAR FATALLY SHOT BY UNKNOWN HI-JACKER
Roy Renegar of south Market Street was shot through the head while watching a game of craps near the Acme School house on the Oklahoma City road on the night of September 30, 1921, by an unknown hi-jacker. He was in a dying condition as he was rushed to the Shawnee Hospital. There were about 10 others in the game and the hi-jackers were said to have got about $200 in loot from the game.
His wound was dressed at the hospital and it was found that the bullet had penetrated the brain. The shooting occurred about 9 P.M., and at 1 A.M., he was still alive. Hospital attendants did not see hope for his survival.
There were at least four men in the hi-jacking gang, according to the best information that officers could get. About 10 or 12 men had gathered earlier in the night to shoot dice and the game was going on when the hi-jackers stepped out of the dark and demanded the men in the ring to hold up their hands.
Almost before the men got their hands up, one of the hi-jackers shot Renegar in the top of the head. Renegar was standing on the outer edge of the ring, watching the game and was stooped over. He was shot while in this stooping posture.
After Renegar was shot, one of the robbers shoved a gun in the breast of Robert Renegar and made him search some of the men in the game. Robert was the brother of Roy. As soon as the participants in the game were searched, the hi-jackers got in a car and headed back toward Shawnee.
CLAY EPPERSON CHARGED WITH RENEGAR SHOOTING
Clay Epperson was arrested on October 2, and a formal complaint of murder was filed against him by Assistant County Attorney W.S. Pendleton. The charge was the shooting of Roy Renegar, which resulted in his death on that same day.
Epperson was arraigned before Justice Edwin Moore and through his attorneys, entered a plea of not guilty. His attorneys requested that he be allowed to make bond, but Pendleton objected and Justice Moore announced that he would not be allowed to make bond.
Epperson was reported as “looking nervous” when he was arraigned. He kept picking lint from and brushing his clothes. He was still very little part of the time and kept shifting from one position to another. On the lapel of his coat he wore an American Legion button and said that he served with the 42nd Division for almost two years overseas in the Great War.
The talk on the street was that Renegar recognized the man who shot him and started to call his name. The name of the person he started to call could not be learned earlier, and officers were guarding this as a most important piece of evidence.
It was also thought that several of the police characters in Shawnee would be questioned in the murder mystery. A thorough investigation was underway by the city and county officers.
SEVEN MORE MEN ARRESTED IN RENEGAR MURDER CASE
Seven more men were arrested on October 6 and arraigned before Justice Edwin Moore on the Renegar murder charges. They all pled not guilty and were remanded to jail without being allowed to post bond. Those arrested and arraigned were: Murt Anderson, Jim Nix, Claude McCannon, Joe Skeen, Earnest Williams, Homer Jordan, and John Fuller.
Like the character “Desdemonia” in the Shakespearean play, “Othello,” one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragic plays, who carried the handkerchief in her hand that told the story of the murder of Othello. A handkerchief played a part in the connecting link in evidence that would send someone to the penitentiary for life, or to be electrocuted in the Renegar murder case.
Desdemonia carried the bloody handkerchief that told the story of the murder and a handkerchief was found near where the Renegar murder took place. The handkerchief bore a laundry mark and through an investigation at the laundry, officers said they found the man who they believed wore the handkerchief about his face on the night of the murder. However, officers were withholding public information on whose initials were on the handkerchief.
The word around town was that Jim Nix was the “stool pigeon” for the hi-jackers. Nix was the only man arrested that was participating in the game at the time the fatal shot was fired. County Attorney Claude Hendon said Nix was placed there for seeing that everything was ready for the robbery. He was to tip off the other robbers as to the proper time to stage the hold up.
An attempt was made to show that Earnest Williams and Homer Jordan were the “east end lookouts.” It was also believed that the other two men were placed in the road west of the game for the same purpose. This left three men to do the robbing.
EPPERSON HELD OVER ON MURDER CHARGE
“Did you see the man who fired the shot?”
“Yes sir, I did.”
“Well Sam, did you know any of the men in the gang that was doing the hi-jacking?”
“Well, what were their names?”
“Clay Epperson was the only one that I know and he was the one that did the shooting.”
“How did you know it was Clay Epperson?”
“Because I recognized his voice. As soon as I heard him say ‘Stick ‘em up,’ I knew it was Clay Epperson. I started to speak to him, and I guess it was a good thing I did not for I might not have been here today.”
These were the questions asked by County Attorney Claude Hendon and answered by Sam Musson at the preliminary hearing of six men charged with the murder of Roy Renegar on October 8.
“Are you positive in your own conscience that you would swear this man into the electric chair?” Joe Adams, attorney for Epperson asked Musson on cross examination.
“Yes sir, I am,” he firmly replied.
Before a crowd of more than 1,000, the testimony was given in the hearing, in which Epperson was charged with the murder of Renegar at the crap game near the Acme School on September 30. In the Convention Hall setting, Judge Moore bound him over to the district court without bail.
The others charged with conspiring to commit the robbery, which resulted in the death of Renegar, were released when the eight attorneys demurred to the evidence after the state had finished its testimony.
The evidence of Sam Musson was corroborated by O.I. King, who also stated that he recognized Epperson by his voice and his action, and although he was put through a grueling cross examination by the eight attorneys for the defense, he varied little in his story.
Renegar’s brother, Robert (Bob) was the next witness called by the state. He said he saw only three men doing the robbery, and only two were armed. He said the shooting was done with a .32 caliber automatic pistol. He said two of the men held guns on the crowd while one man went through their pockets.
When asked whether he knew any of the men, he replied that he believed that he did. Attorneys for the defendants objected when he was asked to tell who he thought they were. However, he stated who he believed they were to the best of his knowledge.
“I think the man who “shook” us down was Murt Anderson. He was about the same size.
According to the testimony of several witnesses, there were anywhere from 15 to 20 men engaged in the dice game. Jim Nix took nine of the men out in his car and charged them a dollar each, several witnesses testified. Just before the shooting, Bob Renegar testified that Nix asked him for 50 cents to pay for the lights that he was furnishing for the players. Renegar said that Nix was not playing. Just before the shooting, Renegar said that he heard someone slam the door to Nix’s car and then the hi-jackers appeared.
(These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. It can be purchased for $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. They may be obtained as a package for $60. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is coming sometime before Christmas. All three volumes are slightly over 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. They are fully-indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volumes four and five are scheduled in the next two to three years, bringing the history up to the current time of publication.)
Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.