Grant Co. Sheriff I. John Wash
joins others in front of old brewery.
Grant County officially was carved out of Wasco and Umatilla counties in the fall of 1864. Deputy Sheriff Frank McDaniels was in charge of law enforcement in the sparsely-populated county in 1863 and was on hand for the first hanging in what was to become Grant County a year later.
The crime that led to the first hanging was an atrocious one. Miners in the county had not dealt with a murderer until Berry Wey killed a man named Gallagher somewhere between Currant Creek and Antelope Valley. The two men had been traveling together with pack animals between Canyon City and The Dalles.
The murder apparently happened while the men were camped one evening about 80 miles south of The Dalles. Wey supposedly killed his partner and then dragged the body to a wide-spreading juniper tree where he hid it by covering it with a few boughs of the tree.
Wey continued on his journey to The Dalles with his murdered companion's money and mules. He purchased some goods in the city along the Columbia River, loaded his mules and headed back to Canyon City. When he was questioned as to the whereabouts of his traveling companion, Wey said his former partner had sold him the mules and was headed for Portland over the Barlow Road.
Unfortunately for Wey, Gallagher's body was discovered in its hiding place by some persons who were traveling to Canyon City.
Wey was arrested and hauled off to jail but managed to escape from his guards and took off over the mountains. A short time later, he was captured in Boise City, Idaho and brought back to Canyon City. When Wey was taken back to the town that had been looking for him, he was forcibly taken by a committee of townspeople from the custody of McDaniels, the Deputy in charge.
The angry group was ready to lynch Wey and it likely would have happened had it not been for the efforts of lke Hare, a local man who was described as being a bold fearless man and a fine speaker. Hare had served as an officer in the Mexican War and later in the legislative halls of California.
To reach the group, Hare made a platform from a pile of whip-sawed lumber and made an eloquent plea, asking that the man be kept until the next day and then given a fair and impartial trial. "Yes, gentlemen," he said, "we will give him a fair and impartial trial. We know him to be guilty, and we will hang him anyway."
The next day a jury of 12 men was selected, counsel was provided the prisoner and a trial somewhat resembling a legal forum began. It didn't take long for the jury to convict the man and the following day Wey was taken outside the town and hanged. The sentence was considered a just one.
Deputy Sheriff McDaniels almost found himself hanged when residents of nearby Auburn learned from pony express rider Van Tichner that Wey had escaped from McDaniels' custody and had to be tracked down. McDaniels came through Auburn in search of Wey after the story of the escape was revealed and the towns folk were ready to hang him. A strong plea from McDaniels kept the mob from carrying out their threats.
The Deputy Sheriff was angry at Van Tichner for causing him so much trouble by revealing the escape story and he threatened to kill the expressman on sight. McDaniels probably had no intention of gunning down Van Tichner, but the express rider had heard the story and was ready. In time the two men met and Van Tichner got the drop on his adversary and McDaniels fell at the first shot.
Another person to die by hanging in Grant County was William Kane. Kane was convicted of shooting his boss for paying him in paper currency. At the time, paper currency, known as the "greenback," only was worth 40 cents on the dollar. The currency was not accepted in stores or saloons, which angered many persons. The paper money could not be traded for gold dust or coin. It angered Kane so much he shot his boss, who fell into a sluice box and floated away.
Kane was tried and convicted of the murder. He was described as being a "cool customer" right up until the last second before he was hanged. He was taken to the gallows on the east end of what is now the cemetery grounds. His hands were cuffed and his legs shackled and he was hauled up the hill on an old buckboard, with children of the community tagging along.
Kane, only slightly impressed by all the attention, calmly played solitaire along the route, handling the cards quite well despite his handcuffs. With some of the youngsters running alongside of the wagon and some moving ahead, Kane looked up from his game.
"Don't be in a hurry," he advised the youngsters. "There won't be anything doing until I get up there."
He then went back to playing cards.
The Miller Mountain Murders
Ira and Clara Martin rarely left their isolated Miller Mountain dairy ranch for anything. There was too much to do, keeping their stock fed and watered and trying to keep the ranch in order. That's what made their sudden disappearance in late fall of 1940 so peculiar.
True, the couple had two daughters - one in Portland, the other in Wallowa. But they always told friends and nearby neighbors when they were going away. One of their best friends, a man named Lawrence Roba who operated a quartz mine on Miller Mountain, hadn't seen the elderly couple in two weeks, the last time being Oct. 26. And he was beginning to worry.
Roba relayed his fears to Grant County Sheriff Irving Hazeltine on Nov. 14, 1940. The veteran Sheriff was equally perplexed when he heard the story. The Martins were well-liked and respected by folks in and around Canyon City, although they usually kept to themselves. They generally only drove the four miles into town to sell their milk to the local creamery and to pick up whatever food and supplies they needed to get by.
But Roba's concern convinced Hazeltine there might be something wrong. It wouldn't hurt to check, he figured. The following morning, Hazeltine and some of his deputies drove to the Martin ranch. Like Roba said, they were nowhere to be found. The small ranch house seemed reasonably clean and tidy, and nothing seemed out of place. Deputies found no blood stains and no signs of a struggle.
Hazeltine was a bit more mystified by what he found outside. All of the Martins' lifestock appeared well-fed and healthy. He found a small building that apparently was being used as living quarters by someone, but nobody was around. If the Martins had left and this unknown person was nowhere in sight, who was feeding and caring for the stock? Hazeltine wondered.
A neighbor woman supplied the answer: Charley King. King, an elderly man in his late 60s, had been hired on as a handy man by the Martins about three months earlier. The old guy was looking for work and a place to stay. The Martins gave him a chance, and they quickly became fast friends, the neighbor told Hazeltine.
But the woman told Hazeltine something else. She said she recently heard that a man who owned a ranch adjoining the Martin property had become embroiled in a bitter shouting match with Ira Martin. The man wanted to use a stream on the Martin property to water his stock, but Martin refused. The man left, muttering obscenities at Ira Martin and threatening to get even with him.
Just ask Charley King, she told Hazeltine. He was there. He heard everything, she said.
Hazeltine headed back to the Martin ranch, and this time found Charley King outside, tending to the stock. Yes, King said, Ira and the rancher did argue, but he didn't think the rancher was serious about the threat. King said he himself had been away the weekend of Oct. 26-27, helping a farmer on the other side of Miller Mountain build some chicken coops.
Hazeltine figured it was time to pay a visit to the angry rancher. But when he and his men arrived, the rancher's wife said he wasn't home. He had left two weeks ago, she told them tersely, and she didn't care if he ever came back home. He'd pulled this kind of stunt before, she said.
It wasn't until a few days later, however, that Hazeltine and his men learned the true story. They found the rancher in a nearby town and had local authorities arrest him as a material witness in the disappearance of Ira and Clara Martin.
But the man told them he had picked a fight with his wife deliberately so he could leave her and visit his girlfriend at Prairie City. To Hazeltine's chagrin, the man's story checked out. Witnesses confirmed his story that he was nowhere near the Martin ranch on the weekend of Oct. 26-27.
Hazeltine also put through telephone calls to the Martins' two daughters. Both told him they hadn't seen their parents in months.
Discouraged, but not defeated, Hazeltine and his men turned to a different angle: Robbery. Had someone found gold at the Martin ranch, stolen the gold from the couple -- or killed them for it -- the robber might have turned the gold into the local assay office. But the theory turned up no good leads or suspects.
Next, Hazeltine and his men decided to see if the Martins had an account at any of the local banks. They located the bank where the elderly couple did business and learned that two checks of $4.50 each, made out to Ira Martin, had been cashed Oct. 28 by Charley King.
King had insisted he did not return to the Martin ranch until late in the day Oct. 28. The work on the neighbor's chicken coops took longer than expected, he had told Hazeltine earlier, and he had decided not to return until Oct. 28.
But Hazeltine wanted to check out the old man's story. The neighbor King went to help told Hazeltine he sent King out to chop wood on the early morning of Oct. 27 and didn't seen him again until after noon.
When they contacted King at the Martin ranch, the elderly ranch hand admitted he went back to the Martin ranch Oct. 27 to see how they were doing. He claimed he heard arguing inside the house when he arrived, followed by the blast of a shotgun. When he hurried inside, King said he found Clara Martin stretched out on the floor with a bullet wound in her head. He said Ira Martin pointed the shotgun at him, but King said he wrestled it away. Martin then picked up a chair and was ready to hit King over the head when King shot Martin in self-defense. He said he buried them in a grove of trees not far from the house.
A Grant County Grand Jury indicted King of two counts of first-degree murder on Nov. 28, 1940. But fearing he would be sent to the gas chamber, King had his attorney petition the court to accept a plea of guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. He admitted sneaking up on the Martins while they were feeding the stock and shooting Ira Martin in the back of the head. When Clara Martin spun around, King said he shot her in the face. He said he thought the couple had gold hidden away somewhere on the ranch, but he could not find any.
King also admitted he had served 18 months in the Wyoming State Penitentiary for horse stealing under his real name -- Ray LeRoy Brown. On Dec. 3, Grant County Circuit Court Judge Robert Duncan sentenced the convicted killer to life in his new home -- the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
Murder in Granite
Residents of the tiny Grant County community of Granite had barely recovered from the shocking news that their mayor, Edward "Bud" Morrow, had been murdered when they learned his three alleged murderers were behind bars.
Pasquel "Pat" D'Onofrio, a 34-year-old man from West Palm Beach, Fla., who had been described by authorities as a Mafia-style hit man, was arrested March 7, 1982 - one day after Morrow had been found shot to death in his A-frame cabin.
Two days later, Oregon State Police, assisted by Grant County Sheriff's Deputies, arrested Nora Hollemon, 40, and her 65-year-old mother, Adeline Hollemon, as accomplices in Morrow's murder. The Hollemons lived across the street from Morrow and reportedly had been feuding with him for years.
Neighbors told authorities that the feud became so intense that Morrow, who also served as a reserve Grant County Sheriff's Deputy in Granite, began holding Granite City Council meetings in secret to prevent the Hollemons from disrupting the proceedings.
Authorities later learned that Morrow had made some disparaging remarks about the Hollemons at a bar in Sumpter where Nora and Adeline Hollemon had gone drinking with D'Onofrio on March 6, 1982, the night of the fatal shooting.
Nora Hollemon was tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit felony murder, felony murder and burglary on Aug. 25, 1982 in the Grant County Circuit Court. But the nine-woman, three man jury found her innocent of conspiring to commit aggravated murder against a police officer and of personally committing the murder. She was sentenced by Circuit Judge Thomas Mosgrove to life plus 20 years in the Oregon State Women's Correctional Institute.
D'Onofrio subsequently was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of only burglary. He was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison as a dangerous offender.
But the on-again, off-again trial of Adeline Elizabeth Hollemon dragged on for about four and one-half years while judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and psychiatrists haggled over the question of whether she was competent to stand trial.
During that time, Hollemon was shifted back and forth between the Grant County Jail in Canyon City, the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, the Crook County Jail in Prineville and the Deschutes County Jail in Bend. Her original trial, scheduled to begin in August, 1982, in Grant County, was transferred to Crook County in September of that year and then to Deschutes County in January, 1984, on change of venue motions filed by Hollemon's attorneys because of all the publicity generated by newspaper and television coverage of the murder case.
Adeline Holloman's trial finally began Oct. 9, 1986 in Deschutes County Circuit Court. Grant County District Attorney Foster Glass told jurors in his opening statements that testimony from the prosecution's witnesses would reveal Adeline Hollemon carried an intense hatred of Morrow for many years, that Morrow had no business being a Deputy Sheriff because he was dumb. She also allegedly told some persons that Morrow should be shot, although she later claimed she was only joking.
Robert Maddox, a detective with the Baker office of the Oregon State Police, testified Adeline Hollemon gave him conflicting information about D'Onofrio after his arrest. Maddox said Hollemon told him authorities had arrested the wrong man, but said she later told him she was glad D'Onofrio was arrested because she and her daughter feared D'Onofrio.
In fact, testifying in her own defense later, Hollemon claimed D'Onofrio had told both her and her daughter that he had hit contracts out on both of them. She testified on the night of the fatal shooting, D'Onofrio kept going in and out of the small house she shared with her daughter across from Morrow's house. She said she was afraid to leave. But Hollemon's story varied widely from the testimony of other witnesses. One female inmate who met Hollemon in the Crook County Jail in Prineville, testified that Hollemon, at the time of her booking in jail, told her "I killed one cop, and I'll kill another." The witness testified Hollemon told her she had killed Morrow because they had been having problems for years.
The woman also testified that Hollemon told her she and her daughter and D'Onofrio were drinking in a bar in Sumpter the night of the fatal shooting when Morrow came in and started saying bad things about them. The witness also testified that Hollemon told her that the three of them left the bar, drove home and waited for Morrow's return.
The woman went on to say that Hollemon informed her she had obtained a pass key to Morrow's home, and found a rifle resting next to the door. She testified that Hollemon told her she picked up the gun and shot Morrow in the upper torso. The slug which authorities were never able to recover was retrieved by D'Onofrio following the shooting, according to the story Hollemon told her, the witness testified.
This and other incriminating testimony was enough to convince the jury of Hollemon's guilt. The jury convicted her Oct. 22, 1986, of murder, but acquitted her of conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated murder, felony murder, robbery and burglary.
Deschutes County Circuit Judge Walter Edmonds sentenced Hollemon to life in prison on Dec. 29, 1986.
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