Law Officers Killed By The Barrow Gang: Cal Campbell (Victim 9)

Constable Cal Campbell was the last lawman to be killed by the Barrow gang.  The list of law officers who were victims of the gang is as follows:

Eugene Moore, Atoka, OK, 8/5/1932
Malcolm Davis, Dallas, TX 1/6/1933
Harry McGinnis, Joplin, MO 4/13/1933
Wes Harryman, Joplin, MO 4/13/1933
Henry D. Humphrey, Alma, AR 6/26/1933
Major Crowson, Huntsville, TX 1/16/1934
E. B. Wheeler, Grapevine, TX 4/1/1934
H. D. Murphy, Grapevine, TX 4/1/1934
Cal Campbell, Commerce, OK, 4/6/1934

The bold headline on April 6, 1934 in the Miami (Oklahoma) Daily News Record read “Posse Trails Killers Believed to Include Barrow and His ‘Moll.'”  Campbell and another officer had gone out to the location of a mine to investigate a stalled car stuck in the mud.  That area of Oklahoma had experienced considerable rainfall in the recent days.  Another headline out of Elk City, Olahoma in the same newspaper referred to twelve individuals having died from flooding with another five being unaccounted for from the same storm system.


(Image credit: Officer Down Memorial Page)

Campbell and other officer, Marshal Percy Boyd also of Commerce had driven out to investigate the apparent stalled car a short distance outside Commerce on Highway 66.  When they found the car and stopped at the scene, the suspect’s vehicle backed up about one hundred yards into a ditch, stuck in the mud.  Campbell started to follow the car, but returned to his own vehicle.  An individual then exited the suspect car while holding a Browning automatic rifle as another individual got out and began shooting at the officers.  Boyd was immediately wounded in the head and Campbell was shot in his midsection, likely dying instantly or very soon thereafter.  Witnesses said that two bullet holes were seen in the windshield of the Barrow car and three were noticed in Boyd’s car.  Campbell’s revolver had three empty shells and both his and Boyd’s weapons were found at the scene along with a spent clip from the suspect’s rifle.

The shooters were later identified to have been Barrow and Henry Methvin.  Campbell is believed to have died from his wounds, but Boyd survived.  Boyd testified that the shooters then approached him and ordered him to get up and come with them, first saying that they were going to take Boyd with them.  Boyd put his hands in the air and complied.  When Boyd got close enough, he could see Bonnie Parker in the driver’s seat.

Barrow secured another vehicle from across the road at the residence of Clarence Robinson and attempted to pull their stalled car out of the ditch, but the tow rope he was using broke.  A truck later came by.  Barrow ordered the driver, C. M. Dodson who had approached the area after hearing the gunfire, to attach a chain to the stalled car and pull it from the ditch, and was successful.  The suspects then ordered Boyd into the back seat.  A short distance away, the bandits and Boyd came across another car owned by Commerce farmer A. N. Butterfield, stalled in the middle of the road.  According to the newspaper article, the bandits told Butterfield that they had just killed two men and were in a hurry, that “the law” was after them.  The bandits, Butterfield and his brother were able to move Butterfield’s disabled car out of the road, allowing the bandits to speed away.  Various individuals identified members of the gang as they exited the area, including mail carriers and others.  A manhunt was organized, but the suspects escaped.

Boyd later testified that the group then drove away to Fort Scott, Kansas where after stopping several times for supplies, Boyd was released about eight miles out of town.  Boyd eventually made his way back home.

Campbell’s body was taken to the Mitchelson Undertaking company. The victim was said to have been shot on the left side. Campbell was survived by his two sons and five daughters. He was buried in the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Cemetery in Commerce.  He was sixty years old at the time of his death.  This was in an old cemetery built in 1899 by the G.A.R., formerly a fraternal organization made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.  Other people buried at this site include the parents of former New York Yankee baseball player, Mickey Mantle.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not brought to trial in this case, since the pair were killed a month and a half later in Louisiana by a posse of lawmen.  Methvin was eventually tried and convicted of homicide for his role in aiding and abetting the killing of Campbell.  Under the law, he was guilty as a principal in the crime, regardless of whether he, Barrow or someone else did the killing. In his trial, the clarification was made that it did not matter if the defendant acted under thread of death from other defendant and that such coercion would not necessarily eliminate the existence of malice or premeditation.  It was further stated in Methvin’s appeal that a law officer did not require a warrant to attempt to arrest a fugitive.  However, Methvin originally received the death penalty, but his sentence was reduced to life in prison.  Methvin was unable to pay for his defense, and made an agreement with his lawyer, giving the lawyer the right to write a book about the case, after its conclusion.

Parker and Barrow were killed by the posse on May 23, 1934.  Methvin died under the wheels of a train on April 19, 1948. Boyd recovered from his wounds and became Police Chief of Miami, Oklahoma.  He died in 1940 of a heart attack at the age of forty-one and is also buried in the G.A.R. cemetery.

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10 thoughts on “Law Officers Killed By The Barrow Gang: Cal Campbell (Victim 9)”

  1. While researching some Eastland County history, I read that the national guard armory was robbed in Ranger in the early 30’s. Mostly guns were taken. Some suspected Bonnie and Clyde, though the article didn’t give a good reason for the suspicion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you recall the date of the theft? There are a lot of gaps, but it would not be too hard to try and match it up with the overall time line for the gang. I reckon that’s probably been done already, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. According to a Texas Monthly article, it would have been early 1934, just after the raid at the Eastham unit which took place in mid-January. The TM article states it as fact, but I don’t think anyone knew for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

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