Skip to comments.Infamous Idaho Killer Claude Dallas to Be Released From Prison After Nearly Two Decades
Posted on 02/05/2005 4:19:04 AM PST by foolscap
OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho (AP) - Idaho's most infamous outlaw, Claude Dallas, killed two state officers in a remote desert 24 years ago in a crime that brought him notoriety as both a callous criminal and a modern-day mountain man at odds with the government. Now a bespectacled 54-year-old, Dallas is to be released from prison Sunday after serving nearly 22 years for the execution-style slayings of Conley Elms and Bill Pogue, officers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The case has been among the most polarizing in Idaho history, with some expressing disgust at how Dallas has gained a measure of folk-hero status among those who rally against the establishment.
Some compared him to Gordon Kahl, a tax-evader killed by U.S. marshals in North Dakota in 1983; to Randy Weaver, the protagonist in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff; or even to Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.
"Those cases always end up getting connected after the fact," said Jess Walter, the Spokane, Wash.-based author of a book about Weaver. "But at the time, they were just having trouble with law enforcement."
Dallas' 1986 jailbreak only heightened the legend perpetuated by his friends, that his rugged lifestyle got crossways with a heavy-handed U.S. government. Dallas hid for nearly a year before he was caught and sent back to prison.
"It's sure an emotional issue, and his release has heightened those emotions," said Jon Heggen, head of the Fish and Game Department's enforcement bureau. "There's been a lot of tears shed the last two weeks."
Dallas' 30-year sentence was cut by eight years for good behavior.
He was convicted of manslaughter in 1982 for shooting the officers, who had entered his winter camp on the South Fork of the Owyhee River, one of the West's least-populated regions, to investigate reports of illegal trapping.
Jim Stevens, a friend of Dallas who was visiting the camp, witnessed the killings.
According to evidence at the trial, Pogue, who had drawn his own weapon, was hit first with a shot from Dallas' handgun. Dallas then shot Elms two times in the chest as the warden emerged from the trapper's tent, where he'd found poached bobcats.
Dallas then used a rifle to fire one round into each man's head.
The 28-day trial made national headlines, with Dallas claiming the game wardens were out to get him. A group of women - who became known as the "Dallas Cheerleaders" - gathered daily to support him.
A jury of 10 women and two men acquitted Dallas of murder, finding him guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter instead.
"We remain horrified somebody could have gotten manslaughter for cruelly killing our people, and then following it up with shots from a .22 rifle," said former Fish and Game Director Jerry Conley, who testified at Dallas' sentencing.
But one of Dallas' lawyers, Bill Mauk, still sees Dallas as a victim: He fired on the officers after his privacy had been violated and after he was threatened by government agents enforcing game laws he didn't believe applied to him.
Jury foreman Milo M. Moore, a retired shopkeeper, said Dallas might have been freed outright if he hadn't used his .22 caliber rifle. Moore said testimony about Pogue's reputation as a tough-guy lawman influenced the verdict.
"We felt it was self-defense up to a certain point," Moore said in a recent interview. "Had he not shot them in the head, it would have been a different verdict."
Moore said Pogue had come "gunning" for the poacher, and said Pogue was on trial in some jurors' minds more than Dallas.
Dallas' story inspired a television movie, and writer Jack Olsen chronicled the crime in a book called "Give a Boy a Gun."
"Claude Dallas," a ballad written by singer-songwriters Ian Tyson and Tom Russell, and sung by Tyson, romanticizes Dallas' lifestyle and life on the lam, saying: "It took 18 men and 15 months to finally run Claude down. In the sage outside of paradise, they drove him to the ground."
Kevin Kempf, the warden at the Idaho Correctional Institution at Orofino, where Dallas has been since Jan. 15 when he was moved from a Kansas prison, won't say where Dallas will be released.
"He's prepared," Kempf said. "It doesn't appear he's going to be leaving our facility without any direction or without a plan."
Dallas did not respond to interview requests from The Associated Press.
(Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, 1986.)
In a land the Spanish once had
Called the Northern Mystery,
Where rivers run and disappear
And the Mustang still lives free,
By the Devil's wash and the coyote hole
In the wild Owyee Range,
Somewhere in the sage tonight
The wind calls out his name.
Aye, aye, aye.
Come gather round me, buckaroos,
And the story I will tell:
The fugitive Claude Dallas
Who just broke out jail.
You might think this tale is history
From before the West was won,
But the events that I'll describe took place
He was born out in Virginia,
Left home when school was through.
In the deserts of Nevada,
He became a buckaroo.
He learned the ways of cattle.
He learned to sit a horse.
He always packed a pistol
And he practiced deadly force.
Then Claude he became a trapper.
He dreamed of the bygone days.
He studied bobcat logic
In the wild and silent ways,
In the bloody runs near paradise,
In the monitors down south,
Trapping cats and coyotes,
Living hand and mouth.
Aye, aye, aye.
Then Claude took to living all alone
Out many miles from town.
A friend, Jim Stevens, brought supplies
And he stayed to hang around.
That day two wardens, Pogue and Elms,
Drove in to check Claude out.
They were seeking violations
And to see what Claude's about.
Now Claude had hung some venison,
Had a bobcat pelt or two.
Pogue claimed they were out of season.
He says, "Dallas, you're all through."
But Dallas would not leave his camp.
He refused to go to town.
As the wind howled through the bull camp,
They stared each other down.
It's hard to say what happened next.
Perhaps we'll never know.
They were going to take Claude in to jail,
And he'd vowed he'd never go.
Jim Stevens heard the gunfire,
And when he turned around,
Bill Pogue was fallin' backwards.
Conley Elms, he fell face-down.
Aye, aye, aye.
Jim Stevens walked on over.
There was a gun near Bill Pogue's hand.
It's hard to say who'd drawn his first,
But Claude had made his stand.
Claude said, "I'm justified, Jim.
They were going to cut me down.
A man's got a right to hang some meat
When he's livin' this far from town."
It took eighteen men and fifteen months
To finally run Claude down.
In the sage outside of paradise,
They drove him to the ground.
Convicted up in Idaho,
Manslaughter by decree,
Thirty years at maximum,
But soon Claude would break free.
There's two sides to this story.
There may be no right or wrong.
The lawman and the renegade
Have graced a thousand songs.
So the story is an old one.
Conclusion's hard to draw.
But Claude's out in the sage tonight.
He may be the last outlaw.
Aye, aye, aye.
Dallas has chosen to decide for himself what laws to obey and what laws not to obey. Maybe when he's released, he'll run into somebody else who's chosen similarly.
Could this be a reason why he is seeing daylight so soon?
Agreed. Poetic justice would be for him to be attacked by the animals he poached..
The NRA should lease this guy a house right next door to Sarah Brady. I'd love to see how quickly she'd change her tune on handgun control.
" Idaho Killer Claude Dallas "
Lt. Frank Drebin: Hector Savage. From Detroit. Ex-boxer. His real name was Joey Chicago.
Ed Hocken: Oh, yeah. He fought under the name of 'Kid Minneapolis'.
Nordberg: I saw 'Kid Minneapolis' fight once. In Cincinnati.
Lt. Frank Drebin: No you're thinking of 'Kid New York'. He fought out of Philly.
Ed Hocken: He was killed in the ring in Houston. By Tex Colorado. You know, the 'Arizona Assassin'.
Nordberg: Yeah, from Dakota. I don't remember it was North or South.
Lt. Frank Drebin: North. South Dakota was his brother. From West Virginia.
Hey, San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom does the same thing only he imposes his decisions on the populace.
Sometimes justice gets done.
Yeah, but last I heard, Newsom wasn't shooting law officers in the head in order to finish them off.
Isnt that the guy who was killed in small town with witnesses, but "No one saw a thing"?
I sure hope any family they had has come to terms with this and don't personally own any firearms and can't be bothered to keep tabs on this vermin for a few weeks. That'd be a shame.
That's the one. Skidmore was in the news a couple months ago when a young pregnant lady was murdered and her baby cut out of her womb.
Any morning that has Frank Drebin in it is a good one. Thanks for the early laugh.
The jury was outraged at the sentence that was given to him. They thought it was far too severe. He has served much more time in jail than many who committed much nastier crimes.
Dallas had a reputation in the community as a man of integrity who could be counted on to do his job. Pogue had a reputation of someone who tended to ride a little roughshod over the people he confronted.
I worked with game wardens in two states, and was one for a while, and in my experience, they, as a group, were more unreasonable and obsessed with their "power" than most other peace officers.
Dallas wasn't willing to leave his animals without making arrangements, and was willing to give his word to turn himself in if he were just given a little time to make arrangements.
It was a tragedy all around, that could have been averted if either one of the parties involved had been willing to bend a little more.
From reading about the incident, my speculation is that the actual shooting occurred when Pogue noticed that Dallas was wearing a pistol, and quick drew his own in a panic. Then Dallas thought he was going to be shot, and drew his own weapon. He was just a faster and better shot than the wardens.
"Dallas' 30-year sentence was cut by eight years for good behavior."
Um, that doesn't look right. How many jailbreaks are allowed before its considered "bad" behavior?
When his Jacoby's have to spin up statements like this one...I gotta think he was guilty as sin.
Granted I wasn't there...and I can't imagine what was going on in everyone's minds at that camp.
Maybe you are right about game wardens...maybe they do have "heavy hands"...but I've not read about them shooting and killing too many people.
I remember the Skidmore town cop commenting on the McElroy case where Ken Rex died in his pickup from a hail of gunfire unleashed by townspeople. "Too bad about the Silverado."
Your version doesn't make sense logically. Especially in the light of two rounds to the head.
In other jurisdictions, he'd be sitting on death row.
I wasn't there, but it makes sense to me. The two rounds to the head were fired after the gunfight was finished. It is not hard for me to see that how Dallas saw it as the only way "cleaning up" the situation as reaction to what had happened set in.
BTW, if he had not fired those shots, it is likely he would have been acquitted. They were a big mistake. He should have just submitted to the officers and paid his fine, instead of worrying about his livestock.
You seldom have upstanding members of the community involved in cases such as this, which is what ties Gordon Kahl, Claude Dallas, and Randy Weaver all together. They were all well thought of in their communities, which is why the cases became controversial.
I am not celebrating anything..I posted what I did so all of my fellow freepers could see what has been written about this individual before.
I rather doubt this is a self-defense matter. Police routinely draw their weapons especially when it was obvious that the suspect was wearing a pistol while being guilty of a crime.
Except for that teeny little detail of the finishing-off shot.
Correct. See post 23.
"Will those servants treat the value of your life so vainly on the day that you really need them".
Not to sound vain but..my life is not protected by game wardens on a day to day basis....or any other day for that matter...are you talking about the LE community as a whole?
I made the mistake of posting a response before reading all the way down. Mea culpa. :)
Self-defense depends in large part on what the perceptions of the people involved were, and whether a jury finds those perceptions and the consequent actions to be reasonable.
It was not obvious that Dallas had the pistol; they had been talking for several minutes at Dallas' camp before the shooting occurred. Pogue had made several references saying that Dallas could come in "easy" or "hard".
From comments that the jury made after the trial, it was clear to me that if Dallas had not finished off the wardens with shots to the head, they would probably have acquitted him.
The crime that you are talking about is hardly robbery or murder, and tended to be viewed by the law and the community as an offense punishable by fine, similar to a traffic ticket.
While it is true that officers often draw their weapons, it is not common for them to draw them quickly after they have been talking to a suspect for some time.
Dallas did not have a reputation as a hot head or someone who was violent. That is much of what makes this case so unusual.
It is my opinion that this is one of the rare cases where people of generally good will became involved in a series of unusual events that lead to tragic results, and I believe that is the conclusion that the jury came to.
Anyway, the guy that had him sent to an out of state prison is a little worried, since Dallas threatened revenge for that. Dallas is no hero, just another psycho.
Because most of the time these days they are not "serving the public." They are unionized gun grabbing, child grabbing, property grabbing thugs. Frankly, the more of them go home in bags the better.
That's a hard line, but look at the state of police corruption these days. 88% of CHP are retireing on disability. One year of that fraud is probably worth more than all the property crime CHP has ever solved in it entire history. Frauds, liars, thieves, and murderers.
And that's only on the margins because the odds af getting caught are so low. Being able to take some meat is part of the natural order of the universe and laws apply to those who are guided by rules and regulations for everything that they do. If you are outside of that mainstream, you do things outside of that mainstream. If you get caught, you pay. It's a cost of dong business.
Dallas became a folk hero to every manjack who could see himself, through an unfortunate series of happenstance, in the same position. Relations with the government are tenuous at best in the backcountry. Throw in an overbearing Warden and it's explosive.
If I was faced with two opponents who almost certianly are carrying hidden weapons, two in the hat, from a distance, with a rifle, seems prudent.
The two rounds to the head lead me to believe he wanted to keep the lawmen from testifying as to what happened. How any jury could label two rounds to the head as manslaughter is beyond rational thought.
Anyway, the guy that had him sent to an out of state prison is a little worried, since Dallas threatened revenge for that. Dallas is no hero, just another psycho.
He shot them with a .357 magnum, then delivered coup de gras with a .22 rifle.
The community did not think he was a psycho, and he had ample opportunities to kill peace officers when he was captured, but he chose not to.
As I have repeatedly written, what it unusual about this case is the high regard that the community had for Claude Dallas.
And the dead are still dead. I will never understand how a murderer can ever go free. Actually how they are allowed to live.
He didn't receive any time for his prison break. That came about when,at a jury trial I believe,it was determined he escaped to avoid being murdered by prison guards.
<< "Dallas has chosen to decide for himself what laws to obey and what laws not to obey. "
Hey, San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom does the same thing only he imposes his decisions on the populace. >>
As, to the supreme court, does the occupant of every state and feral-court bench.
I will never understand how a murderer can ever go free.
As noted above, the jury did not find him guilty of murder. As I stated earlier, the jury was appalled at the severity of the sentence that the judge gave him.
I find that juries almost always do quite well. Obviously, this is not absolute, especially in cases where the Judge withholds important information from the Jury. But, from everything I have read about this case, the Jury made an informed decision.
Marktwain: one of the best accounts of this incident was "Give a Boy a Gun" by Jack Olsen. Olsen is good at digging up facts. The "community" was basically Paradise Hill and to learn about it, read the book. This "mountain man" crap is just that, crap.
Olsen's book also puts human faces on wardens Pogue and Elms. At the time, I was co-editing "The Texas Game Warden", a TX game warden association magazine and had close contact w/Owyhee County prosecutors who predicted that the "mountain man" would eventually be captured and that it would most likely be in a city where he had support, a place to live and convenient food and that's exactly what happened.
After pursuing and capturing all sorts of poachers for 31 years I can tell you that it's no joke going up alone (usually) against serveral (usually) violators who are into their cups (usually) and feeling pretty macho. Overbearing game wardens? I dunno, I've experienced some pretty overbearing poachers myself. After it's all over, you are usually battling the lies of several individuals in court.
I'm out of it now and while there are some officers who no doubt use bad judgement, it sure feels great not being slammed and insulted and that includes my family too, especially in the tiny rural towns that we usually live in. Oh yes, we do have great support, mainly by sportsmen, true sportsmen that is, and I say that loud and clear, God bless 'em.
We had a ride-out system and sometimes I would take the loudest mouth I could find for a night patrol and by the time it was over I would find that he sucked up half his seatcover and really nothing happened on most of those patrols, it was the realization that one had to be ready for anything and self-reliant because help was not going to get to you in time, regardless.
The community seemed to have a bead on the respective characters of the players involved. The community showed an empathy for Dallas' actions, but did not opt for complete exoneration.
Quite often in these types of stories, the MSM does not work very hard to get the complete story out for us to study and digest. There's a mix of good and bad people who work in law enforcement, just like there are good and bad people in the general population.
I think it is obvious that the one Game Officer's history gave the jury serious thoughts as to how they may have reacted if placed in Mr. Dallas' shoes.
Is "conservative" ID another one of those unexpectedly "soft-on-crime" states?
I wonder the same thing every time I see a thread on Michael Shiavo and Judge Greer down in Florida.
Mercy shots you don't leave things to suffer when you are in the out back and no help is near by.
Thank you for your suggestion. I have already read the book.
I am not saying that Pogue acted illegitimately, or that Dallas did not make mistakes.
I have said that I think this was a tragic situation that resulted from both sides not being willing to bend a little more. I believe that if things had been handled just a little differently, Dallas would have been fined and released, and Pogue and Elms would be alive and well.
It seems to me that Elms was the most innocent victim in this case.
Weird things do happen, and wardens occasionally get shot. Considering that they are very often dealing with armed people in the middle of nowhere, the rarity of this occurrence is a tribute to the self control of most hunters.
I can not talk to your 31 years of experience, but from my personal experience a great number of the wardens that I dealt with had little sense of proportion, and were quite willing to violate the law in small ways that they were willing to arrest and fine people for who were not wardens.
I remember one sanctimonious warden who told me how important it was to be above reproach, who routinely sold confiscated game and fish to the DA, judges, and other warden's wives at below market prices. This same guy went to the trouble of having a state empoyee smoke confiscated sturgeon for the local judge, because, as he told me, "it just might make the difference in a close case".
So, perhaps you can see why I am willing to entertain the possibility that Pogue could have acted in a way that was not the most prudent.
There has always been tension between the people of the west and the law. That is what the Sagebrush Rebellion was all about. That didn't happen without some justification.
Like I said the other day, Dallas could drink himself from Sweetgrass to Nogales and never spend a dime of his own money. It's not that anyone wanted something like this to happen and most wish it hadn't, but it did. Every man who ever jacklighted a deer in hard times can see himself in Dallas' shoes.
Randy Weaver, the protagonist in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff. I've met Randy Weaver. I found him to be a very down to earth guy. He was set up in a serious FBI/ATF/LEO bungle that quickly escalated into hysteria. Research the history of the "Ruby Ridge" incident.
Dallas has chosen to decide for himself what laws to obey and what laws not to obey. Maybe when he's released, he'll run into somebody else who's chosen similarly. Didn't Clinton do the same during his administration?
Hey, San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom does the same thing only he imposes his decisions on the populace. This is typical of all government officials. They are only deprived of their position of office(i.e. they are peaceably removed), the rest of us are deprived of life, liberty, and property.
I'm all for freedom too but you can't kill cops just because they're doing their job. This heavy-handedness is NOT a part of the job of Fish and Game. Commercial poachers are one issue, a man attempting to feed himself is another. This individual was apparently not on Welfare Roles, nor collecting any type of government handouts. He was just trying to survive.
Too bad this outlaw you are celebrating did not go after your kinfolks, or steal property you are concerned about...I doubt you would be so jubilant as to post the songs of misguided and fame seeking poets...but then again it is free speech isn't it. He did not go after anyone's kinfolks. He was only trying to put meat on his table. Yes, it is "Freedom Of Speech"!
I wonder why it is so easy for some to take for granted the life of those who serve the public? Will those servants treat the value of your life so vainly on the day that you really need them. I hope not. Yes, they will. Read about the "Assault on Ruby Ridge". Better yet, read about the travesties of your local SWAT teams or LEO's.
We would be far better served to pull together against evil in what ever form it appears. If you don't like the law, work to change it for the common good. Don't support the killing of men and women who do the job so many others won't. That is a simplistic view of today's government, where anyone can be found guilty of a meaningless crime and sentenced to jail. Watch your daily local MSM.
I rather doubt this is a self-defense matter. Police routinely draw their weapons especially when it was obvious that the suspect was wearing a pistol while being guilty of a crime. Uhhhh, ever hear of the Second Amendment??? "According to evidence at the trial, Pogue, who had drawn his own weapon, was hit first with a shot from Dallas' handgun. Dallas then shot Elms two times in the chest as the warden emerged from the trapper's tent". Was a search warrant presented? Why did the LEO's "draw first?" Y'know, if I wear a pistol while owning more than 4 adult animals without a permit in the city of San Antonio, I am guilty of a similar offense. Stupid, isn't it?
Because most of the time these days they are not "serving the public." They are unionized gun grabbing, child grabbing, property grabbing thugs. Frankly, the more of them go home in bags the better. I must agree with your assessment. I have seen too many issues of LEO's who want nothing more than to take down a "suspect" in order to impound and sell his property for their personal gain. Let us not be too hasty though. There are still those out there who WILL "Serve and Protect".
Dallas became a folk hero to every manjack who could see himself, through an unfortunate series of happenstance, in the same position. Relations with the government are tenuous at best in the backcountry. Throw in an overbearing Warden and it's explosive., Absolutely!
I will state, here and now, that the execution method of placing two shots into the heads of the LEO's was extreme. The issue of the LEO who attempted to cower a "suspect" through the use of violence is also extreme. By reading the article, the "accused" was not a dangerous suspect who warranted the tactics as described.
I believe in the motto "To Serve and Protect", yet there are many in the echelons of government and law enforcement who would twist this motto to fulfill their own gains.
foolscap, this rant is not directed at you as the poster of this article
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