Durant Daily Democrat, Various Dates in Late May and June, 1978

Letters to the Editor:

Following are portions of many letters received and published by the Durant Daily Democrat, starting the day of the shooting and running through most of the month of June. Some have been edited for brevity.

To the Editor:
I laid awake every night, as I'm sure many people did, wondering if they were headed my way. Now it's all over. Since I can't thank you in person I would like to say to all the officers, for so bravely putting your lives on the line to protect the citizens in the surrounding community and never giving up, my hat's off to you. I know in my heart that every one else feels the same. To the families who lost someone, I would like to express my deepest sympathy. I write this in appreciation to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and all others involved in the apprehension of
those two convicts. Thank you for putting an end to our restless nights.
                                                                                                        Kim Tidwell, Bokchito

To the Editor:
Recently It's been popular to criticize law enforcement. In the days to come, hindsighted armchair ideologists will be busily hashing and rehashing the manhunt and its sad outcome. The police, sheriff and deputies will be under fire for what they did or didn't do. There will even be a few high-minded individuals who will condemn the "law," who will think that Dennis and Lancaster could have, should have, been taken alive. But Lake Texoma residents will be raising their voices, publicly, in praise of the men who risked their lives for us. During the long hot hours they manned the road blocks, they were unfailingly polite, reassuring, apologetic for the inconvenience. In a very frightening situation, the performed their duty in the deepest sense of protective tradition. No one was inconvenienced. Rather, we were grateful for their presence. And we feel a deep personal sense of loss whether or not we knew the slain officers. Every resident will view law enforcement in a new keener sense of appreciation. To the men who survived, to the families of those who laid their lives down for us, I want to say-THANK YOU. Thank You for being there, Thank You for caring, Thank You for the willingness with which you performed, Thank You for your love.
                                                                                                   Rocky Davis, Rt. 1, Mead

To the Editor:
This is my first letter to you so forgive me if there are too many errors to print. I hope to sleep well after I write it. Since the multiple deaths of the officers and the prison escapees, and reading, watching and listening to the news, as well as the comments of people on the streets, I'm thankful I do not have the monumental task of rearing and helping the three young, innocent children of Claude Dennis, deal with the facts of this tragedy and sort out the sometime cruelty of unkind people. Words can hurt and leave deep scars on the minds of children of this age. My teenage son and I would like to begin an educational fund for Dale, Tammy and Shana Dennis. I believe it is better to help a child by loving, teaching, training and listening to him, than to give our tax money to pay or his or her keep in prison for 25 or 30 years. This mother can do all she can do, but at their age she must have the help of their classmates, neighbors, teachers, the community, church and the love of God to grow into a normal healthy adult and to become a good citizen. Love and kindness is what this world needs more of. If we were more generous with this there would be little need for law officers giving their lives for our protection. When I do not give love and assistance where their is need, then I am guilty for not becoming involved.

                                                                                                            Reda Taylor, Mead

To the Editor:
I don't have words to express the sorrow I have for the three officers who gave their lives for their state and for all U. S. citizens. My little donation of $100 is all I can afford, but I sincerely hope everyone who is living today also will share their appreciation for the families of those men who gave their lives that we can live in peace and without fear. I am not forgetting the other brave and strong men who helped tirelessly in the search. For the fourth trooper who was wounded, we pray for his speedy recovery--and we thank God for all of them.

                                                                                                             Millie Pulis, Durant

To the Editor:
On behalf of the people of the Silo community I write this note of thanks and appreciation to the law enforcement officers who patrolled our area, as well as many other places, during this past week. Words cannot express our gratitude for your continued watch by day and by night. We had a roadblock set up right inside our little community band because of this we felt much safer, knowing you were there for our protection. From this particular incident we have been made to appreciate our law enforcement personnel more fully, realizing we, too, could have been a victim as each of the of those whose lives were taken. We will always be grateful for your care. Thanks so much.

                                                                                                            Lillie Atkinson, Silo

To the Editor:
In regard to the terrible tragedy that occurred last Friday in Caddo, I feel there is something we need to stop and think about. The fine Oklahoma troopers gave their lives to make us safe and secure. Their families are prayed for, memorial funds are being given of which they are very deserving. Their children can go through life with their heads held high because their dads died a heroic death. But what about Claude Dennis' children? I listened to the prayers and not once did anyone mention them. I am just as guilty as anyone. I was so filled with fear I wished their father and the other convict dead. I never once thought of Dennis as a father but as a murderer, with no respect for human life. His children will have a more difficult time holding their heads up because their dad was not a hero, but a murderer. Not even stop there. He lost his life in the town where they live, go to school and, thank, God, go to church. So let us remember those precious children. They are individuals in our prayers and our giving, so through their terrible stigma in life they may grow up to be fine God-fearing citizens, which they can be by God's help and our caring.

                                                                                                          Iris J. Norris, Durant

To the Editor:
It is a pleasure for me to express my thanks to you for the assistance rendered to us by Lieutenant John Haynie of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Doug Clark, Undersheriff of Bryan County. Their knowledge of Lancaster and Dennis were a great asset to me and my department. I would like to commend Undersheriff Clark and Lieutenant Haynie for their unceasing efforts in the search. As spokesman for my department and the citizens of Choctaw County, I would like to express our gratitude for their help that was rendered to us during the manhunt. I can assure that the people of Choctaw County and everybody in the State of Alabama extend their sympathy to the families of the three men who lost their lives in the final confrontation of Lancaster and Dennis.

                                                             Donald Lolley, Sheriff, Choctaw County, Alabama

(Editor's Note: Sheriff Lolley learned Clark's expenses were turned down by the DA's office and county commissioners as illegal under Oklahoma law, so he's raising money in his home town of Butler to cover Clark's plane ticket and other costs. Clark got home by driving the pickup truck Dennis and Lancaster stole near Ada).

To the Editor:
It  has concerned me for the past few days about the funds, benefits, etc., for the three troopers. I think it was a fine thing they did and we all are grateful. They were killed in the line of duty, with knowledge and training for the life they chose. My concern includes the families of the other victims who also should have our prayers and concern--the ones now without husbands, mothers and fathers, plus the physical and financial burdens brought to them. May God bless each one who has given money and prayers for the troopers' families, but let us not forget the others involved.

                                                                                                    Barbara Corbett, Durant

To the Editor:
I don't want to offend anyone but I felt I had to write this letter and hope it is published. First, the children and I want to thank each and everyone. We have been shown love, kindness and consideration. We are so thankful! It is so good to know that people DO CARE! They have called, written letters to newspapers, written personal letters which the children and I will treasure and keep always. There have been funds started for the children for their future schooling, contributions given, and people have just talked up and said, "HOLD YOUR HEADS UP HIGH, KEEP ON TRYING, YOU CAN MAKE IT." For this we are thankful. This has been a terrible experience for the children and myself. I don't envy anyone who as had to live through any situation where their lives were torn apart. Thanks to some mighty fine people. We are trying to get our lives together again. This had been made possible only through their kindness and generosity, for this we will be forever thankful. This Dale, Tammy, Shana and I will hold in our hearts and memories always. Thanks to everyone once again. Yours Truly,

                                                            Katherine Dennis and Children, Caddo, Oklahoma