Three Indicted in Maddox Case

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: The Tuscaloosa News
Place of publication: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Date of publication: 06-25-1933

Three Indicted in Maddox Case

Grand Jury Also Bills Three For Jail Gathering

Junior Pippen, Harden Youth and Elmore Clark Accused of Slaying Vaudine Maddox; One Testifies Before Grand Jury

Harden Gives Evidence, Says He Only Watched

Pippen Blames Clark Who Was Located Late Friday Under Big Sandy Bridge; Group at Jail Charged with Conspiracy

Three Negroes, aged 15, 18, and 28, were indicted Saturday night for first degree murder in connection with the criminal assault and slaying of Vaudine Maddox, 21-year old white girl in the Big Sandy neighborhood on Monday, June 12.

The grand jury, speeding through investigation of 32 cases in a single day, also indicted three white persons for conspiracy to commit a felony, as parties in the gathering of a large crowd at the county jail Wednesday night, seeking the negroes held as suspects in the murder case. This investigation was also continued with other indictments probable later.

Twenty other true bills in other investigations were returned by the jury in its report at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Clark Found in Hiding

Indictment of the three negroes followed an intensive investigation by the sheriff’s office, resulting in capture late Friday of Elmore (Honey) Clark as a third negro in the murder case. Clark was located in hiding under the Big Sandy bridge. Testimony given by both A. T. Harden, 15, and Dan Pippen, Jr., 18, in Jefferson County jail led to arrest of Clark.

Harden was brought to Tuscaloosa Saturday afternoon to testify before the grand jury, after an indictment had already been returned against him. Harden is understood to have testified that he saw Pippen and Clark seize Miss Maddox while she was walking along a country road toward a neighbor’s house.

The two negroes dragged the girl into the bushes and Pippen came out half an hour later, Harden said. The youth said he did not see the attack but saw by the roadside and heard sounds of the assault. This story is identical with one given by Harden last Monday, but repudiated on Tuesday except that he did not mention Clark in the earlier version. He had been threatened by the negro.    

Pippen, who denied for a week that he knew anything about the case, is reliably reported to have given information Friday that led to Clark’s arrest. He is said to accused Clark of having ravished and killed the girl with two rocks but claims that he himself did not take part, only watched the attack.

Clark, who has one withered arm, attempts to establish an alibi to the effect that he was at home at the time. Clark was taken to Birmingham Saturday and Harden was returned to Jefferson County after testifying. Pippen has not been brought back here. Several negroes from Big Sandy, including Dan Pippen, Sr., were held in county jail as witnesses Saturday.

Confession Rumors Denied

Officials Saturday denied that any of the negroes had confessed to having anything directly to do with the murder. Widespread rumors were that the two youths had confessed actual commission of the crime. It is the belief of investigators that Clark and Pippen negroes actually took part in the deed and that the Harden boy served as a watcher by the roadside.

One of the white witnesses from the Big Sandy section showed the sheriff a threatening letter, apparently from a negro, left in the man’s mail box. The letter is said to have threatened to “gut” the white man if he gave information in the case. The grand jury investigated the letter report along with other phases of the inquiry.  

The three persons indicted for the gathering at the jail were booked on charges of unlawful assembly and rout, misdemeanors subject to six months sentence, and for attempting to commit a felony, punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison. Names of the indicted individuals were not discussed as warrants have not yet been served upon them.

In connection with the jail gathering the grand jury report read, “We are unable to complete our entire investigation in regard to the personnel of the unlawful assembly recently held at or near the jail, but we have returned several true bills in this matter.

The jail assembly was peacefully dispersed by Judge Foster and Sheriff Shamblin after two youths who said they knew the Harden and Pippen negroes had been taken through the jail to convince the crowd that the negroes had been sent elsewhere.

Judge Charges Jury

The grand jury began its investigations at 10 a.m. Saturday after receiving a brief but vigorous charge from Judge Henry B. Foster.

He called on the body to take prompt action to bring the guilty party to justice but at the same time not to be carried away with any feeling to do anything not justified by the evidence and the law in the case. He characterized the Maddox girl’s murder as a heinous crime abhorred by all good citizens as one of the most dastardly committed in this county in recent years.

However, he pointed out, the good citizens of this county want the accused persons to receive a fair and impartial trial with only the guilty punished.

Lawless Element Cited

He called upon the jury to return indictments against anyone whom it found to have taken an active part in the fathering at the jail Wednesday night with the apparent intention of doing harm to the negroes held as suspects in the case. The court pointed out that he understood a few of those prominent in the gathering were men who had already served prison terms and represented a lawless element in this county.

“Can it be that the good citizens of this county will permit the lawless ones to take charge?” he continued. “Let them know that it is the duty of the sheriff and his deputies to protect a prisoner in their charge at the risk of their own lives if necessary. Can it be that the lawless element has any greater horror of this sort of crime than law-abiding citizens feel?

“It is a violation of state and federal laws to make a demonstration of this kind and I charge you to indict those you find engaged in the offense. I understand that many of those gathered here Wednesday night were merely spectators who did not intend to take part in any violence.

“The people active in that crowd didn’t know what they were up against. Sheriff Shamblin is just as conscientious and kind a man as ever held the sheriff’s office in this county but I know he was determined that no lawless crowd could take a prisoner from him.

“I also knew gentlemen that although the sheriff would do all he could to prevent harm to anybody, he would nevertheless protect his prisoner. If that crowd had attempted to climb those jail stairs in defiance of the sheriff’s order they would have been shot down.

Must Be Protected

“If you find it proper to return indictments in the murder case, the prisoners will be given a reasonable time to prepare their cases. In the meantime, while they are in jail, protection will be given them regardless of anything and everything. If necessary the resources of the entire state are at our disposal to keep order.

“That gathering at the jail Wednesday greatly delayed the case and tangled it up temporarily after investigators had been working night and day to complete it. That crowd did a great deal of harm and the courts and good citizens of this county must make it clear to the elements that it must stop right now.” he concluded.

The grand jury is composed of W. H. Nichol, foreman, James E. Hayes, William R. Jones, William J. Archibald, Alfred O. Robertson, Jr., Ed E. Jacobs, Norris R. Bell, Ellison A. Pate, Charles Skelton, and Burton L. Lancaster, all of Tuscaloosa city; B. Rufus Johns, Berry Route 1; James E. Sutton, Northport; Archie G. Kitchings, Kaulton; Marvin Park, Ralph; Monroe J. Lewis, Echols; A. Lee Hall, Tuscalosoa Route 2; and W. Claud Parker, Tuscaloosa Route 1. Circuit Solicitor Edward deGraffenriad and County Solicitor Wm. J. Foster directed the grand jury investigation.