The following articles were transcribed
by Rita O'Brien and Nyla CREED DePauk.
The Evening Post, Beckley, W. Va.
Wednesday, December 10, 1924
ALLEGED INFORMANT ON MOONSHINERS
SHOT DOWN IN SANDLICK SECTION
Officers with Bloodhounds in Mountains
Trailing the Would-Be Assassins of Holly Linkus,
Who Is in Beckley Hospital with Bullet Thru Lung
Holly Linkus, a young man of about thirty-five years of age from the Sand
Lick section of Raleigh county, is in the Beckley Hospital with a Winchester
rifle bullet thru his body, fired from ambush by unknown parties who waylayed
him on a mountain road near his home about 1:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon.
messenger ploughed its way through his left lung and, lying on the mountain
road where he was shot and bleeding for hours before he was discovered and
brought to the hospital, his condition is considered critical.
R. Brockus, at the head of the state police force stationed in Beckley, and
a posse from the sheriff's office took to the mountains about 11:30 o'clock
last night with bloodhounds in the hope of picking up the trail of the would
instance of Capt. Brockus, bloodhounds, in charge of Constable Hickman were
brought here from East Bank by automobile, arriving here about 10:30 o'clock,
and loading up in automobiles the officers headed for the Sand Lick country,
which is described as a wild mountainous section that is overrun by moonshiners,
in the hope of immediately picking up the tracks of the fugitives.
was to have appeared in the Raleigh county criminal court today as a witness
in some liquor cases in which J. Hugh Dickens and his two sons, Millard and
Hearn, were defendants. The Sand Lick section of the county being a
rendezvous for moonshiners. Linkus had been accused for some months
past, it is said, of having been an informant on the whiskey people and it
is the belief of the authorities that he was shot by persons engaged in the
The state troopers
and the posse from the sheriff's office went into that section of the country
last night armed with high-powered guns prepared to raid the entire Sand
Lick section of the county.
is that if the men who shot Linkus are caught they will be brought in to
the county seat by one or two officers, the rest of them remaining in that
territory to make a round-up of stills? and whiskey runners.
told the officers that he had been shucking corn for his father-in-law, Jerry
Daniels, and had started home early in the afternoon in order to make ready
to come to the county seat to attend court as a witness. As he topped
the mountain on the road between Sweenyburg and Sand Lick he was fired upon
from both sides of the road, one bullet striking him in the back and passing
through the lung directly below the heart, while another bullet grazed his
leg below the knee. He was for a moment the target for a fusillade
of bullets, he said, but he was mistaken for dead when he fell and the gunmen
the road that was but little traveled and seeing that he was doomed to die
from loss of blood if he did not soon get medical attention, he crawled down
the mountain side for a distance of several hundred yards to where some men
were shucking corn and made known his plight. Some of the mountain
dwellers then picked him up and rushed him to a hospital.
The Evening Post, Beckley, W. Va.
Thursday, December 11, 1924
Four Members of Gang Implicated
In Shooting Holly Linkus Under Arrest
Detail of State Policemen Find Empty Shells
Where Sand Lick Man Was Shot and
Trail Footprints to Home of Man Who Is
Alleged to Have Threatened His Life
Four farmers of the Sand Lick neighborhood of Raleigh county are in the Beckley
jail charged with conspiracy to murder Holly Linkus who was shot down from
ambush with a Winchester rifle Tuesday afternoon on a lonely mountain road
along which he was walking from his father-in-law's to his home.
the men arrested was J. Hugh Dickens, who together with two of his sons,
was to have been tried in the criminal court here yesterday on a whiskey
charge and in which Linkus was to have been a witness against the defendants.
The other three men are Haven Dickens, Grady Dickens and Luther Williams,
who were taken into custody by state troopers and a sheriff's posse who went
into the Sand Lick country Tuesday night with bloodhounds to trail down Linkus'
troopers, headed by Capt. J. R. Brockus, and the sheriff's force returned
at an early hour yesterday morning with J. Hugh Dickens, Haven Dickens and
Grady Dickens, and on a second round-up conducted by Troopers W. G. ___ers?
and Charles Dick and Probation? Officers W. F. Toney and W. J. Wills,
the fourth member of the gang was taken captive this prisoner being Luther
man hunt that was conducted Tuesday night the bloodhounds, in charge of Constable
H. C. Hickman, of East Bank, led the officers to the home of J. Hugh Dickens,
but the officers who went on the second raid brought back with them four
empty shells which they reported finding behind a tree scattered over the
ground near where Linkus was shot.
"range" from the tree to the point where it was pointed out to them that
Linkus fell they said they found a broken twig, which had evidently been
clipped in two by bullets, right in line with Linkus' position. Down
the hillside below Linkus, they said they found where a bullet had thrown
up the dirt and recovering the lead they found blood on it.
reported that they began a search for a man's tracks, which they found and
followed out to the doorstep of the home of Grady Dickens, who lived with
his mother and who is said to be a nephew of J. Hugh Dickens. They
brought back with them a .25 calibre Winchester which they reported finding
inside the house on a gun rack which but a comparatively short time before
had been fired, having but two cartridges left in the magazine. The
stock of the gun had mud on it, they said, as though it had been spiked against
a tree. The officers estimated that Linkus had been shot at a distance
of about forty or fifty yards from the tree, Linkus' position further up
the road being such that he was shot at an almost direct range in the back.
the four shells back with them to state police headquarters, they tried them
in the rifle they confiscated at Grady Dickens' home and they said that the
rifle and shells were of the same calibre. It was also recalled that
Linkus reported having been fired upon four times.
had learned from the natives of Sand Lick section that Linkus and Grady Dickens
had some words at Harper a few weeks back and the Dickens had threatened
to kill Linkus. For that matter, though, Linkus' life is said to have
been threatened many times by old grisly moonshiners of the Sand Lick section,
Linkus having been suspicioned by them to be an informant on them in their
shells were found on the Sand Lick road, followed by the seizure of the rifle,
Grady Dickens was already in jail here, having been brought in with the first
members of the gang taken prisoner.
Daniels, Andrew Daniels, and Claude Newman had also been brought to the county
seat to be held as material witnesses but they were later released to appear
here when a preliminary hearing is given the four men being held in jail.
It will probably be a week it was stated, before the hearing is held.
Williams, who was brought in on the second raid, was reported by the officers
to have been the man who first came upon Linkus after he had been shot and
who spread the news throughout the neighborhood of the occurrence.
implicated Williams with the conspiracy, the officer said, by reason of the
fact that just after noon (Linkus being shot about 1:30 o'clock) he had been
at the home of J. Hugh Dickens ostensibly for the purpose of trading a watch
to him for a shotgun. He had ridden horseback to Dickens' home, and
after the "swap" was riding to his home along the mountain road Linkus traveled
when he came upon the wounded man and hastily rode back to J. Hugh Dickens
home to convey the news to him. An incident that is thought to be significant
is the fact that when he went back to Dickens' home with the report of the
shooting, he left the shotgun there, riding from there on to the home of
Jerry Daniels, father-in-law of the wounded man, who had heard of the shooting
and was coming to Linkus' aid.
claims that he was on his way to Daniels' home to notify him of the fact
that his son-in-law had been shot.
expressed themselves as skeptical as to whether the watch and shotgun trade
actually took place, and whether it was not an excuse for Williams' presence
at the Dickens' home about the time the shooting took place. This phase
of the affair will more than likely play an important part in the conspiracy
the Sand Lick country that day, however, appear from reports not to have
been anything like a novelty, for messengers who Tuesday night brought reports
to the county seat of the shooting remarked that firearms were cracking through
the mountains that afternoon like firecrackers.
rifles, since Linkus was shot by this sort of firearm, will likely play any
part in the testimony, except the one belonging to Williams that accounted
for this presence at the Dickens' home.
Dickens in fact had a rifle, the officers reported, and it was confiscated
the night of the first raid, being held as evidence at state police headquarters.
It had been fired only a few hours before, they said, and so it was brought
along with the old man.
learned yesterday that after Linkus was shot clear through the body, the
bullet penetrating the lung directly below the heart, he crawled and staggered
up the mountain road until he topped it on the other side for a distance
of nearly a mile before he found help. It appears that none of the
Dickenses that Luther Williams had informed of the shooting came to his rescue.
behind him a trail of blood that gushed from his wound, and only superhuman
nerve and willpower sustaining him until he could find others who might render
him assistance, Linkus, upon arriving alongside a cornfield where some men
were shucking corn, fired a shotgun which he himself was carrying.
Getting the attention of the cornhuskers, by the report of the gun, he then
called out to them that he had been shot and was desperately wounded.
Andy Daniels and a son, first thought that he was "kidding" with them, the
officers learned, but suspecting that something was wrong they went on to
their home and from there went to the home of Jerry Daniels and told him
of the shooting. Jerry Daniels and neighbors with an automobile went
to the aid of the injured man, and after he had lain on the ground from 1:30
until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, was brought to a Beckley hospital.
of Linkus' exposure after suffering such a dangerous wound and the large
quantity of blood he lost, he is reported from the hospital to be in a hopeful
condition and, unless complications set up, his attendants feel confident
from present indications of his recovery.
The Evening Post, Beckley, W. Va.
Friday, December 12, 1924
Enraged Outlaw Attempts to Kill State Policeman
Who was Quizzing Him on Shooting
Grady Dickens, Held in Connection with Murder of Holly Linkus,
Seizes Rifle in State Police Headquarters
and Trains It on Lieut. Layman
While Lieutenant Lloyd Layman was questioning Grady Dickens at state police
headquarters this morning with reference to the shooting of Holly Linkus,
who died yesterday afternoon from his wound, and in connection with whose
death Dickens, with three others, is being held in the county jail for investigation,
the prisoner became desperate after repudiating a sworn statement he had
made last night and springing from his chair to one corner of the office
he grabbed a Winchester undoubtedly for the purpose of shooting the Lieutenant
and it was only at the point of another Winchester in the hands of Capt.
Brockus that the infuriated man turned loose of it.
Layman, instantly realizing what was taking place, had almost at the same
instant also seized the rifle, but it not until Capt. Brockus "fouled" him
with another gun that he relinquished his struggle for possession of the
and the newspaper The Evening Post had just stepped into another office room
when the struggle was heard and when the Captain stepped through the door
with a Winchester in his hand it was then that the prisoner surrendered the
and a reporter had taken their hats with them, when they stepped out of the
office in which Lieutenant Layman was questioning Dickens, who evidently
thought that the two men had left the building and that he was left alone
with the Lieutenant.
Layman, in fact, had also stepped from the room where the prisoner was being
quizzed to call for a drink of water for him, and hearing a gun click he
sprang back into the room and saw Dickens injecting cartridges out of the
magazine into the chamber of the rifle. It was, in fact, the same rifle
that had been taken from Dickens' home on Sand Lick the next day after the
shooting, although Dickens had already been taken prisoner and lodged in
the county jail. And this was also the same rifle, a .25 calibre Winchester,
to which four empty shells found at a big chestnut tree on top of the mountain
near where Linkus was shot that were found to fit. Troopers reported
trailing footprints from this tree to Grady Dickens' home the next day after
is understood to have admitted to Lieutenant Layman this morning that he
was up on top of the mountain at the big chestnut tree referred to, about
the time of the shooting but denied having fired the shots.
at this juncture of the questioning that Dickens seized his opportunity to
possess himself of the Winchester. Lieutenant Layman said that Dickens
had asked him to bring him a drink of water, evidently for the purpose of
getting hold of the firearm.
is regarded as a dangerous man and the jailor has been warned to keep him
in solitary confinement.
he probably has no equal in this section of the state. He is six feet
ten inches in height and weighs 250 pounds, wearing a no. 11 shoe, although
he is but twenty-three years of age.
mountaineer seen on the streets of the city under the guard of officers has
attracted the amazement of crowds at the huge proportions of his build, and
Lieutenant Layman, although a six-footer himself looked like a stripling
of a boy struggling within the embrace of his great, muscular arms for the
possession of the gun.
who was shot Tuesday afternoon in the Sand Lick country, in connection with
which four men are being held in the county jail pending an investigation,
died in the Beckley Hospital at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon.
with a Winchester rifle that sent a bullet clear through his body, passing
through the left lung directly below the heart, the nature of the wound was
such that the hospital surgeons did not dare to undertake an operation to
bind up the lacerations, it was learned, and after it was thought that he
had fighting chance for life, his pulse beating stronger and the patient
appearing to have gained strength, he took a sudden change for the worse
and died in a few hours period.
is understood to have given out a statement the night before his death in
which he gave the authorities some valuable information in their effort to
round up the party or parties who waylayed and shot him. He is reported
to have revealed to the officers the name of the last man he saw before passing
out of sight of the cabins that nestled in the foothills as he wended his
way up the lonely mountain road, and it is learned that the deathbed statement
made by Linkus dovetailed with circumstances and particles of evidence that
the officers had already gleaned.
the four men held in the county jail for a preliminary hearing is J. Hugh
Dickens, who, together with two of his sons, had a whisky case that was due
to have come up in the criminal court here Wednesday in which Linkus was
a witness against the defendant. The other three prisoners are Haven
Dickens, Grady Dickens and Luther Williams.
was said to have been accused by the moonshining element of Sand Lick country
of informing on them to the state and county authorities and many threats
are said to have been made against his life.
troopers, under the direction of Capt. Brockus, have been working on the
case and it is understood that they have thoroughly satisfied themselves
as to the identity of Linkus' murderers. It is understood that warrants
following Linkus' death will be sworn out this morning for the arrest of
was of about thirty-five years of age and had been married, his wife having
died sometime ago. He had no children.
Thursday, 29 Jan 1925
GRADY DICKENS CASE BEFORE COURT TODAY
Alleged to Have Shot Holly Linkus
on Lonely Mountain Highway
of Grady Dickens, the Sand Lick mountaineer who stands charged with the murder
of Holly Lnikus (sic) a few weeks ago, waylaying him and shooting him down
while walking along a lonely highway, it is alleged, comes up for trial in
the Raleigh county criminal court today. Linkus was to have appeared
in court here the day following his assassination to testify against Dickens’
uncle on a whiskey charge.
to be tried is Cloud Daniel, charged with killing Milton Clay at Eccles a
short time ago, this case also being up on the calendar for today, but if
the Dickens case goes to trial the latter will possibly not be reached for
the next day or two.
D. E. Ellis,
a former deputy sheriff, is scheduled to go on trial this week on an indictment
charging him with the robbery of a local coal company payroll at Leville,
the amount stolen, according to reports being $3,000. Ellis claims
that he himself was robbed of the payroll by two highwaymen.
of John Borden, charged with the murder at Raleigh during the Christmas holidays
of Bob Peters, a hotel proprietor, was continued yesterday on account of
the absence of two material witnesses. The prisoner is a colored man,
as well as the man he is alleged to have slain.
pleaded guilty to murdering Osie Billings, near Sophia, and was sentenced
to five years to the penitentiary at Moundsville.
of Roscoe Cook, indicted on three counts on felony charges, was continued
until the first day of the March term of court.
took under consideration until February 2 a verdict of the jury finding Wesley
Porter guilty of a felony.
T. J. Houston,
of Bluefield, was admitted at yesterday’s session of court to practice at
the Raleigh county bar.
Saturday, 31 Jan 1925
GRADY DICKENS ON TRIAL FOR MURDER
Grady Dickens went on trial in the Raleigh criminal court yesterday
afternoon on an indictment charging him with the murder of Holly Linkus,
of Sand Lick, who was shot on the afternoon of December 9, his death following
a few days later in a Beckley hospital. When court took adjournment
for the day some half a dozen witnesses had testified for the state and it
is thought that the close of today will see the case in the hands of the
who, at the age of twenty three years is said to measure six feet ten inches
standing flatfooted, and weighing 250 pounds without carrying a pound of
surplus flesh, has been the enyosure of all eyes.
Monday, 2 Feb 1925
DICKENS IS FREED ON MURDER CHARGE
Grady Dickens, charged with shooting Holly Linkus from ambush on a
lonely mountain road in the Sand Lick section of the county on the afternoon
of December 9, inflicting gunshot wounds from which Linkus died a few days
later in a Beckley hospital, was acquitted by a verdict of the jury in the
criminal court here Saturday afternoon.
was to have appeared in court here against Hugh Dickens, an uncle of the
prisoner, the next day after he was shot as a witness in a liquor case, and
the night of the shooting young Dickens was arrested by the state police
and lodged in the county jail for investigation concerning the shooting.
Linkus’ death, and after the prisoner had been quizzed by the state police
department, a warrant was sworn out for him formally charging him with the
murder of Linkus.
no eye witness to the shooting, the evidence against the prisoner being circumstantial,
and Dickens bringing in evidence to show that he was elsewhere at the time
of the shooting, the jury was out only a short time until it brought in a
verdict of not guilty.