Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, June 18, 1978

OHP Making Documentary On Caddo Shoot-Out

OHP Making Documentary On Caddo Shoot-Out

By Carl Hill

Oklahoma Highway Patrolmen were busy this week making a training film on the final day of a five-week manhunt for escaped convicts Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster.

The fugitives left three troopers – Houston (Pappy) Summers, Bill Young and Pat Grimes – dead in their wake May 26 before they were killed in a shootout at Caddo.

Four offices of the OHP training division in Oklahoma City directed the documentary – Lt. Larry Owens, Lt. Larry Rutherford, Bob Carlton and Don Stockton. They arrived in Durant Wednesday, but had been working on it almost from the day the manhunt ended in Caddo.

Owens was in charge of the operation. He said the purpose of the film was two-fold.

"Our primary purpose is to use it for training," Owens said. "But it also will allow us to tell the story of that day to all the men on the force in a video structure – based on evidence found and eyewitness statements."

In the film, accounts are given by OHP officers directly involved in the Caddo shootout, the officer in charge of the Kenefic shooting scene, pilot Lloyd Basinger, who directed operations from the air, and several others.

The OHP film crew arrived Wednesday, quickly checked with the Durant patrol headquarters, and started to work.

First stop was Russell Washington's home, near Kenefic, where they taped an interview with the local farmer-rancher and borrowed his pickup for more filming.

It was a phone call from Washington that set into motion the final minutes of the manhunt for Lancaster and Dennis.

Washington and G. D. Busby were tied up by the escapees, and Washington's pickup stolen by the fugitives.

Nearly five minutes after Lancaster and Dennis left the rural home, Washington had worked himself loose and was talking to the OHP.

He said he hung up the phone at nearly the same time he saw his blue Ford pickup turn east on SH 22.

Summers and Young are believed to have been killed while he was talking to the OHP. Witnesses that saw parts of the shootout between the troopers and the convicts on the county road between Washington's house and SH 22 were interviewed next.

The troopers used a patrol car similar to the one driven by the two slain troopers and Washington's pickup to reenact the incident for the film.

Evidence found at the shooting scene was relocated where it was found the day of the shootings, and OHP officer in charge of the scene – John Haynie, formerly of Durant – described the incident based on the evidence found. Eyewitnesses also gave their account of the story.

Interviewing and filming there was completed Thursday, and the officers moved into the Caddo area Friday.

Films were made of Washington's pickup traveling the route from the Kenefic shooting scene to the home of Ernest Slack in Caddo, where the five-week killing and kidnap spree of the convicts ended.

More footage and still photos were taken at the Caddo scene. There the pickup was filmed from front to back. Close-ups were taken of bullet holes in the windshield, left door, hood and other parts of the truck. A bloodstained spot in the left seat of the truck also was filmed.

"We believe Pappy Summers may have hit Dennis in the arm at Kenefic," Owens said. "There is no evidence we know of to indicate the men returned to the truck after the shooting began at Caddo, and Dennis had a flesh wound."

Bullet holes in the houses and other places around the scene also were filmed and some of the officers involved in the Caddo shootout made reports of their involvement.

Lt. Pat Grimes was killed by the convicts at Caddo and Lt. Hoyt Hughes was wounded. They were the first to arrive.

Hughes was not in Caddo for the filming, but OHP officials said an interview would be made with him before film was completed.

Lt. Mike Williams, Durant, and Paul Johnson were at the scene and told of their involvement and recollections of the final gun battle.

They said Lancaster fell first. Williams said he recalls Hughes walking back up the road firing after he had driven his grey unmarked patrol car out of the line of fire when Grimes was hit.

Officers said Grimes and Hughes had returned fire at the two fugitives before Grimes was fatally wounded, Grimes from behind the right door of the patrol car; Hughes from across the trunk of the car.

Dennis was reportedly shot after he moved to look at his wounded comrade, stood up, appeared to spot other officers, and raised his rifle.

Williams walked through the events that followed the final volley of fire for the cameramen to demonstrate the technique used to approach the scene. He said both men were down when the troopers worked their way to the site.

Williams said Lancaster was still alive and seemed to be trying to raise one of his hands – as if to surrender. He said weapons were removed from the men and they were handcuffed.

Basinger was filmed at the Durant patrol headquarters. He told of first spotting a blue pickup from his airplane with a white top, dropping down to check it out, finding it was the wrong truck, moving on to find the correct truck moments later, and following it to the Caddo scene while he radioed information to troopers on the ground.

Owens said his group was not conducting an investigation. "We are not trying to draw any conclusions with the film. It is designed to be a factual report of what took place that day, as well as we can determine it from the evidence and reports."

Capt. H. D. VanArsdell, who directed the 15 mile radius manhunt, was commended by Owens for the hunt. "Van is one of the most – if not the most – experienced commanders in manhunt situations I know," he said. "It appears to have been well organized, and all the proper patrol
procedures followed.

"I've been with the patrol for 30 years, and directed many hunts during that time, but we have never been after a pair like this. They did not intend to be taken alive," he said.

He said the official report of the incident is expected to be completed soon. Information from the report, drawings, maps and other information will be added to the film documentary before it is finished. The patrol is being assisted by the OSBI and Texas Rangers with the report. Grimes
and Hughes reportedly would have headed the follow-up investigation if they had not been shot.