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."
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