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.________________________________________________________________________
The death 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.
Capt. J. 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 be assassins.
At the 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.
Linkus 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 liquor traffic.
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.
The probability 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.
Linkus 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 fled.
Being on 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.________________________________________________________________________
One of 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' would-be assassins.
The state 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 Williams.
On the 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.
Then taking "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.
The officers 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.
Bringing 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.
They, furthermore, 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 moonshining activities.
When the 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.
Nelson 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.
Luther 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.
Suspicion 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.
Williams claims that he was on his way to Daniels' home to notify him of the fact that his son-in-law had been shot.
The officers 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 charge.
Guns in 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.
Only Winchester 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.
J. Hugh 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.
The officers 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.
Leaving 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.
The cornhuskers, 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.
In spite 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._____________________________________________________________
Lieutenant 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 firearm.
Capt. Brockus 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 gun.
Capt. Brockus 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.
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 the shooting.
Dickens 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.
It was 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.
Dickens is regarded as a dangerous man and the jailor has been warned to keep him in solitary confinement.
In physique 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.
The giant 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.
Holly Linkus, 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.
Being shot 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.
Linkus 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.
One of 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.
Linkus 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.
The state 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 the suspects.
Linkus 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
The case 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._____________________________________________________________
The next 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.
The case 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.
Jesse Nichols, pleaded guilty to murdering Osie Billings, near Sophia, and was sentenced to five years to the penitentiary at Moundsville.
The case of Roscoe Cook, indicted on three counts on felony charges, was continued until the first day of the March term of court.
The 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 jury.
The prisoner, 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._____________________________________________________________
Linkus 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.
Following 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.
There being 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.
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