The assault and rape of Clara Rogers, 26, wife of Harry Rogers of
Winslow, Arkansas, has long been seen as the final act in the series
of events that began with the robbery of a grocery store in
Fayetteville, continued with a car wreck and shootout with two officers
near Alma, an escape in the lawmen's car, the abandonment of that car
and the hijacking of another at gunpoint, the abandonment of the second
car, and a chase through the woods on foot to Mrs. Rogers' house. After
the attack on the woman, the Barrows evade pursuit, make their way back
to the motel, and disappear.
This is the "Authorized Version". It is first found in the second
installment of the True Detective series "The Bloody Barrows" July,
1934. This series ran under the name of Ed Portley, Chief of Detectives,
Joplin, Missouri, and was probably ghost written by C.F Waers. The story
is picked up shortly after by Jan Fortune in "Fugitives". Strangely,
Fortune goes along with the whole story - almost. The only thing she
denies, is the actual attack (rape). She has Buck telling the family that
they were there, but the woman gave them the keys and there was no
trouble. She even adds a little tidbit about them catching a ride with a
farmer back to Fort Smith. In other words, they were there, but the rape
story was not true. Since they seem to have admitted they were at the
scene, if the attack can be shown to have really happened, this puts the
Barrows in a bad spot. Unfortunately for them, all the evidence says
that Clara Rogers was, indeed, attacked, beaten, stabbed and raped, so
where does that leave Clyde and Buck?
In 1933, Fort Smith had a morning and an evening paper, and they both
carried very detailed accounts over the five days of the manhunt. There
was also a Crawford County weekly and a Fayetteville paper.
Nobody I know of cites the Fort Smith Times Record. It was the evening paper
and has a lot of details found nowhere else.
With the newspaper coverage, you can see where the attack on Mrs. Rogers
falls in the sequence of events, which may be the single most important
You also need to know a little about the topography of Crawford County
Arkansas. So now, pull out your trusty road atlas, open it to northwest
Arkansas, and follow along as I walk you through the events of June
23-24, 1933. When I'm through, you can decide for yourself.
The first thing you need, is a good timeline of events. This keeps
everybody honest. It can tell you which stories are possible and which
are male bovine droppings. Let's start with Friday, June 23rd.
Two men from the party of six people occupying two cabins at the Dennis
Motel at the corner of Midland Blvd. and Waldron Rd. in Ft. Smith, are seen
leaving in a 1933 Ford V-8 Sedan.
Two men are observed "casing" several grocery stores in Fayetteville, 60
miles north of Ft. Smith. The owner of one of the stores takes down
their description and license number.
A young man walks into Brown's Grocery at 111 West Lafayette and demands
money. He gets $20 from the till and 35 cents from the bag boy. He
steals the delivery truck and drives two blocks where he abandons the
truck and gets in a Ford Sedan driven by another man. They are last seen
driving south out of town on Highway 71.
Just past 6:00pm:
A telephone call from the Fayetteville Police reaches Henry Humphrey,
Town Marshall of Alma, AR at his son's place of employment, the AHC
Garage. He is given the license number - Indiana 225-646 - and ask to
watch the highway as the bandits are headed his way. A friend, Ansel M.
Salyers, offers to go with the Marshall and suggests they take his car.
Salyers works for the electric company, but is also what we today would
call a "reserve" Deputy Sheriff.
Salyers and Humphrey leave the AHC driving north on Highway 71 in
3 miles north of Alma, the lawmen top a hill and meet a friend of theirs
driving south towards town.
As the lawmen continue north down the hill, a Ford Sedan blows by them
going south, tops the hill behind them, and rams into the rear of the
lawmen's friend's car. Salyers makes a "U" turn and rushes back to the
scene of the accident. Marshall Humphrey sees the license number on the
Ford and realizes that it is the car they are looking for. Buck and W.D.
Jones recover from the shock of the wreck and pick up guns as they see
the car approach. What follows is a two or three minute gunfight in
which Marshall Humphrey in mortally wounded and Salyers gives a decent
account of himself with a Winchester 30-30.
Buck and W.D. drive away in Salyer's car as he fires after them. They
drive north a few hundred yards and then turn west on a small country
lane. In a mile or so, they come to a slightly larger dirt road and turn
south towards the intersection of US 71 and US 64.
Buck and Jones reach US 64 and turn southwest towards Van Buren.
3 miles east of Van Buren, at the intersection of US 64 and Shibley
Road, Buck turns Salyer's car across the road and stops Mark Lofton who,
with his wife, are going the other way. With much shouting, swearing and
with many threats, Buck and W.D. commandeer Lofton's car and continue
towards Van Buren. The only way back to the Dennis Motel, for many miles
in any direction, is over the Arkansas River Bridge at Van Buren.
Buck and Jones discover that the Arkansas River Bridge is guarded.
Salyers has gotten to a phone and called ahead to the Sheriff's office
in Van Buren. They make a decision to turn north on Highway 59. This
highway immediately climbs several hundred feet to a bluff overlooking
the Arkansas River. This area is called Mt. Vista. On a back road on top
of this bluff, Buck and Jones abandon the Lofton car with a flat tire.
An ambulance with Marshall Humphrey inside crosses the Arkansas River
Bridge en route to St. John's Hospital in Ft. Smith. It drives by the
Later that evening:
The Lofton's car is found by officers on Skyline Drive on top of Mt.
Vista with a flat tire. Believing the outlaws are on foot in the wooded
area, they search all night from Mt. Vista west to the Oklahoma line
near the town of Dora. There is no sign of the men.
Early next morning
Saturday, June 24th:
Having decided that the men have gotten by them in the dark, the search
begins to shift to the east. Sheriff Albert Maxey, having arrived from Joplin
about 1:00am, takes over the manhunt from his Chief Deputy Bill Bushmier.
Crawford County Sheriff's Office receives a call stating that a woman
who lives three miles south of Winslow, AR has been assaulted by two men
who also attempted to steal her car. Since the lawmen have spent all
night searching for two men on foot who would very much want a car, this
sounds like just the break they needed. It doesn't seem to have occurred
to anyone that Winslow was at least 25 or 30 miles as the crow flies
from the last known position of the men across some of the roughest,
most mountainous terrain in the central United States. Daniel Boone
probably couldn't have made that trip on foot at night in the time
available. No matter. It was assumed to be the same men and the total
search effort was shifted northeast to the area around Winslow.
This is the time line from noon on June 23rd until the attack on Mrs
Rogers was reported about 11:00am the next day. With the evidence
available to the law at the time of Mrs. Rogers' attack, the last place
that Buck and Jones could be definitely placed was with the Lofton's car
on top of Mt. Vista shortly after 7:00pm Friday evening. Where had they
been during the 15 hours between then and the attack on Mrs. Rogers?
Nobody knew. What about Clyde and the women? At this point, the law had
no idea they were in the area. They didn't know the identity of the men
they were chasing either. It would be another day before the Barrows
were seriously considered as suspects.
The best way to answer the question of the whereabouts of Buck and W.D.
is to ask the question "How did Clyde find out about the shooting?"
There is no serious suggestion that Clyde found out about the situation
any other way than by a face to face talk when the two returned to the
motel (Ted Hinton was unable to reconcile the events, and, in
exasperation, suggested a phone call as the answer). Fugitives (p179-80)
claims the two men caught a ride with a farmer. W.D. Jones, in his later
statement to Dallas officers simply said that they left the car outside
of town and walked up to the rear of the motel. As for the escape,
Fugitives says that since they only had Buck's Ford Convertible Coupe,
Clyde took the women out into the woods first, while Buck and W.D.
stayed at the motel. Clyde returned as soon as he could and picked them
No matter what variations each author added to their account of the
shooting of Marshall Humphrey, Buck and W.D.'s getaway, and the attack
on Mrs. Rogers, everybody places the attack during the time Buck and
W.D. were evading the police and before they managed - by whatever means
- to get back to the motel and tell their sad story to Clyde. Once
reunited, the next time anybody suggests that they broke up (except for
the shuttle out to the woods) was when Clyde went to Enid, OK to steal a
car. That was on the following Monday, the 26th. If we can find any
evidence as to the time Clyde began taking the women out of town, we
will have a good idea of when Buck and W.D. got back to the motel. In
this, we are in luck.