|March 31, 1999
(NOTE: I first met Roger Springer in March of 1995 while visiting the Nashville area. Our conversation turned to his native Caddo and the 1978 shootout. A few months ago I asked Roger to write this story of his experience that fateful day).
By ROGER SPRINGER
As fate would have it, Dennis's ex-wife lived on the outskirts of Caddo. So, no matter where their murdering spree took them they were always in and out of the area. This brought terror to our small town. Everybody who was old enough to pull a trigger was carrying a gun. Because everyone knew a run in with these two would mean certain death to the unarmed. Rumor had it that Dennis was such a crack-shot you probably wouldn't have a chance anyway, but never the less you just felt a little safer with some bullets and some powder. For weeks they seemed to be nowhere and everywhere.
My Granddad Springer had a station wagon pull up to his house about sundown one evening. He sold vegetables from his house, and figured it was a customer. He said his dog was going crazy, and about the time he got his shoes on to go outside they where driving off. He said he didn't think too much about it until he got the next days newspaper, and there was the station wagon on the front page. Dennis and Lancaster had abandoned the car not far from his house. They had killed a woman in Alabama for this same car. My granddad credited his extended life from then on to his dog Hoss.
There is something else I will never forget as long as I live, that is May 26,
1978. It started off like any summer day, but by dark would prove to change many lives
It just so happened the stretch of woods we were hunting ran right into Caddo. I can't remember how long we hunted or if we even killed any squirrels, because the explosion of gunfire that broke out less than a quarter of a mile from us erased all things that didn't matter. We didn't stand there wondering what was happening. The chill that ran through our bodies told the whole story. We knew Dennis and Lancaster were in town.
We didn't take the woods home, we took a shortcut across an open
pasture. We were running as fast as a boy and a man could, loaded down with guns.
About half way across the field we saw a plane coming straight at us flying low. It flew
right over us and made a big circle, and started coming back. This time there were
two planes coming our way.
As soon as we got there the preacher's wife pulled in to tell us what we
already knew. There had just been a shootout between the Highway Patrol and the
convicts. We tossed our guns behind the seat of Don's truck and headed to town. We
knew the shootout was over and wanted to see what had happened. It wasn't hard to
find the location in such a small town, especially with all the law officers at the
scene. We couldn't get as close as we wanted, but we did get close enough to see what
had happened. We stayed there until we heard all about the terrible tragedy, and I'm
not referring to the death of Dennis and Lancaster. I'm talking about the death of
three Highway Patrolmen; two just outside of town, one less than a hundred yards from
where we stood and one
At that moment in my fifteen years of living, I learned exactly the meaning of