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The story of the deadliest shootout in American history involving law officers has been put to music. Mike Smith has the story:
On January 2nd 1932, at a farm house on the outskirts of Springfield, six law enforcement officers were killed when they and three others tried to make an arrest for car theft. The tragedy, known locally as the "Young Brothers Massacre", represents the deadliest shooting incident involving law officers in American history, and the story of the massacre has been put to music, and recorded on a CD produced by Ruell Chappell and Lori Locke. Chappell says he first became interested in the story after hearing his father talk about how he almost became part of the event. At the age of 15, Chappell's father was tending bar at an establishment in Springfield when one of the officers who was there and was later killed, took a call ordering him to help arrest Harry and Jennings Young at their family farm in Brookline. The officer asked Chappell's father if he wanted to ride along, but the young bartender could not, and Ruell Chappell that decision probably saved his life.
The Young brothers were well known to local law officers as they were suspected of numerous burglaries and car thefts in the area. Ruell Chappell says the
First song on the CD, "Shine", gives a picture of the brothers previous to the killings.
After the officers were shot to death, the Young brothers escaped to Springfield where they stole a car and made their way to Houston Texas where once discovered, killed themselves in the bathroom of the bungalow where they were holed up. Chappell says the song "Pale Horse" tells of the how the brothers took the "last hurrah" away from the police by killing themselves.
Lori Locke says working on the research and music for the CD has changed her life, and using a form of empathy, became a better song writer. She says when writing, she would (in effect) ask the question: "What would I do or be thinking if I were in that persons position". That approach worked well she says when writing the song "Keep Drivin'", which was about the hearse driver dispatched from Springfield to Houston to pick up the bodies of the Young brothers. The driver had to keep the bodies in the hearse for 10 days while driving around waiting for instructions as no one wanted him to bring the Young's back to Springfield. The brothers were eventually buried side by side in Joplin.
The "Young Brothers Massacre" CD is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders Books and Music, Springfield Music, Caveman, and Mrs. Brown's.
For KSMU News, I'm Mike Smith.