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Law Officers Killed by the Barrow Gang: Henry D. Humphrey (Victim Number 5)

17 Oct

The fifth law officer to be killed by the Barrow Gang was Town Marshal Henry D. Humphrey on June 22, 1933.  On July 30, 1933, the Sedalia (Missouri) Democrat and Capital ran an Associated Press article that began as follows, “Hubert Bleigh, 26, alias Herbert Blythe, of Tulsa, faced murder charges at Van Buren, Ark, five miles from here, tonight after he was brought to Van Buren by Sheriff Albert Maxey of Crawford County, from Oklahoma City.  Bleigh waived extradition.”  Bleigh was charged with the slaying of town marshal Henry G. Humphrey of Alma, Arkansas on the night of June 23, 1933.

The incident began on the night of June 22, 1933 when Marshal Humphrey was walking his beat.  As he passed outside the Commercial Bank Building in Alma, he was captured by two men who tied him up with baling wire, stole his handgun and flashlight and broke into the bank to steal the safe.  The burglary of the bank resulted in the theft of a large safe, later recovered intact with all the money still inside.  The identity of the two burglars was never known.

The following day, Marshal Humphrey took a call reporting a grocery store that had been robbed in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  A vehicle had been stolen and they were given the description and license number.  At the time, Humphrey was with Deputy Sheriff Ansel Salyers of Crawford County, Arkansas.  The two officers left in the deputy’s car for the scene of the accident.  As they neared the location, a Ford sedan passed them in the opposite direction at a high rate of speed.  A few moments later they heard the sound of a wreck over the crest of a just hill behind them.  The officers turned around and headed for the wreck.

When they arrived, they realized that the Ford matched the description of the stolen vehicle in the Fort Smith robbery.  The officers blocked the road with Salyer’s car and got out with their weapons drawn.  Humphrey was using a borrowed revolver, his own weapon having been stolen the night before during the bank job.  Right away, Humphrey was shot in the chest with a shotgun.  The shooter was later assumed to be Buck Barrow.  Before Buck passed away in Iowa on July 21, 1933 from wounds he received in a gunfight in Dexfield Park, Iowa, Buck had confessed to a sheriff that he and another man (at the  time, presumed to be Bleigh) had shot and killed the marshal on the rural road out of  Alma.  It was determined that Clyde Barrow was not with them at the time of the Arkansas incident.  Clyde had been spotted in another state around the time that the shooting occurred.

The incident played out with the two outlaws escaping after more gunfire was exchanged.  They took Salyer’s vehicle and left the scene.  Marshal Humphrey was transported to St. Johns Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  He survived several days before finally succumbing to his wounds on June 26, 1933.  The suspect Bleigh was given a preliminary hearing on August 10, 1933.  Eventually it was determined that it was not Bleigh who was one of the shooters, but rather was W. D. Jones who may have also used Bleigh’s name as an alias from time to time.  Blanche Barrow is said to have also given the authorities the name of Hubert Blythe or Bleigh rather than to name Jones as the other shooter.  Also, Bleigh is said to have somewhat resembled Jones.  While Bleigh was not tried for the murder of Humphrey, he was eventually tried for other crimes.  It is unclear whether Bleigh had ever been closely associated with the Barrow Gang, but one would assume so, since they knew his name.

Humphrey’s service revolver was not found, but his borrowed weapon was located with the Barrow Gang’s materials after they left Dexfield Park in the later incident.  Jones would later state that it was the deceased Buck Barrow who actually killed Humphrey, so at this point, the various accounts conflict.

humphrey

(Image credit: Findagrave.com)

Marshal Humphrey was born in 1882, making him 51 years old at the time of his death.  He was a farmer and handyman in Alma and had just been elected city marshal of the town on May 1, 1933, a few weeks before he was killed.  Marshal Humphrey was survived by his wife and children and was buried in Alma City Cemetery in Alma, Arkansas.

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Posted by on October 17, 2019 in bonnie and clyde, outlaws and crimes

 

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