Frost Gun Battle, 1935
Navarro County, Texas


Law and Order Index || Corsicana Daily Sun


An unidentified man, about 35, is dead, and Will E. Melton, 54, nightwatchman at Frost, is in a critical condition at the Navarro Clinic here as a result of an encounter near the Citizens State Bank, Frost, Texas, 24 miles northwest of Corsicana, shortly after midnight Wednesday morning. Sheriff Rufus Pevehouse stated Wednesday morning that the night watchman was ordered to “stick up his hands” by the slain man and Melton’s answer was: “I don’t do that for anybody.”
Guns blazed and the officer was wounded in both hands and a steel-jacket .38 caliber bullet penetrated his body, entering below the left armpit and emerging near the right hip.
Sheriff Pevehouse said that the report to him was that the first bullet fired by the slain man hit the hand of Melton and the stock of his .41 caliber pistol and the second hit the other hand with the third striking him in the body.

Kills Assailant.
Melton finally managed to fire his own pistol by holding it in both hands, the one shot striking the slain man in the chest killing him instantly. Melton’s assailant fired five times, Sheriff Pevehouse stated.
Pevehouse, Jack Floyd, deputy, and Jack Mergenthaler, finger print expert of the Corsicana police department, hurried to Frost soon after the gun battle and fingerprints of the dead man were taken, but no record of the prints were fount in the local files. Pevehouse was advised by the Frost officers that Cap. Will Fritz of the Dallas detective forces, tentatively identified the man as a Dallas resident from a description furnished the Dallas officer by Frost and Corsicana officers.

Accosted by Lone Man.
According to the story told by Frost residents who tumbled from their beds when the shooting occurred, and reported to a Daily Sun reporter by W. E. Harrington, official of the Frost National Bank, Melton was making his rounds and was in front of the Citizens State Bank when he was accosted. The shooting occurred near the telephone exchange and the operator took the shots for a fire alarm and started the siren calling members of the volunteer fire department and a large crowd collected within a few minutes, Melton was rushed to the clinic here at once.

Reported Seen Earlier.
Other resident of Frost reported seeing the dead man walk into town earlier in the night with a bundle over his shoulders. Sheriff Pevehouse reported the man had a quilt in front of him when he accosted the nightwatchman, and voiced the opinion that there may have been confederates nearby, and had the nightwatchman submitted, would have been tied-up
or kidnapped and several places might have been ransacked and robbed.
The slain man, Pevehouse stated, was 30 or 35 years of age, about five feet, eight inches in height, and weighted about 140 pounds.
Melton is the son of a former Texas ranger.

Car Sped From Town.
Two men were reported to have sped out of Frost at a high rate of speed shortly after the shooting in a Ford V-8 toward Italy, Ellis County, Sheriff Pevehouse said, after two women awakened by the fire siren had queried the pair relative to what had happened. The car was said to have been parked in a filling station at the time.
The sheriff said several cards, bearing the name of a representative of a sewing machine company, were found in the dead man’s pockets. Two representatives of the company, the officer reported, said such a person had been employed by the company and that the description given of the man tallied with that of the man connected with the machine company.

Improvement Shown.
Attending physicians are reported to have stated shortly afternoon that Melton had shown considerable improvement during the morning and that unless unforeseen complications result, he has an even chance for recovery.
The slain man’s body is being held in the McCormick Funeral parlors at Frost, pending positive identification and the making of burial arrangements.
Sheriff Pevehouse and Deputy Sheriff Jack Floyd left Corsicana shortly after noon Wednesday for Frost to continue their investigations of conditions and incidents surrounding the shooting affair.

The Corsicana Daily Sun - Wednesday, August 14, 1935



The slain man being held in the McCormick Funeral Parlors at Frost was identified as David Stone, formerly of New York, late of Dallas, aged 31 years, Thursday afternoon by Capt. Will Fritz of the Dallas detective department, Mayor E. D. McCormick of Frost announced following a telephone conversation with the Dallas officer.
A telegram was dispatched to a sister, Ann Stone, in Washington, Thursday afternoon but the woman could not be immediately located although she resides at the address given, Sheriff Rufus Pevehouse said Friday morning after a conversation with the Frost mayor, and also that another telegram was sent to Stone's father in a Middlewestern state by Frost officials.
The slain man was instantly killed at an early hour Wednesday morning in a mortal gun battle near the Citizens State Bank at Frost with Nightwatchman Will Melton, who lies critically wounded in the Navarro Clinic.
Pistol Purchased.
Mayor McCormick stated that he had been advised by Capt. Fritz that Fritz had found where a pistol answering the identical description of the one found near the body of the dead man was purchased at a filling station in Dallas early Tuesday night by a man said to be David Stone of Dallas who answers the description of the man in the Frost morgue.
The detective also advised the Frost mayor that, David Stone served in the U S. Marine Corps from 1923 to 1927. The dead man has the marine insignia and the letters, U. S. M. C. tattooed on his back between bis shoulders.
Sheriff Pevehouse and Jack Mergenthaler, fingerprint expert of the Corsicana police department, telegraphed the fingerprints classifications of the man to the department of justice and received a reply that the department did not have such a classification.
Fingerprints were dispatched by local officers to the war department late Thursday afternoon via airmail.
Same Make Automobile.
David Stone of Dallas, the man believed to be the one slain, was reported driving a Pierce-Arrow automobile by Dallas officers. A Pierce-Arrow automobile, occupied by two men, was reported seen late
Tuesday, night several miles south of Frost, and a filling station attendant said he-had seen the car in Frost late Sunday afternoon.
Hundreds of Frost and Navarro county citizens and officers from surrounding counties, including Waco, have viewed the body in a futile attempt to identify the man. No funeral arrangements have been made pending the outcome of the efforts to locate relatives.
Mr. Melton was reported some-what improved at the Clinic early Friday afternoon and is believed have a chance to recover, although his condition is still regarded as extremely critical.

The Corsicana Daily Sun - Friday, August 16, 1935

FROST, Aug. 20.—(AP)—David Stone, 31, slain in a gun battle here last Wednesday morning in which Nightwatchman Will Melton received serious gun wounds, was buried in the local cemetery Monday afternoon after advices from relatives in the North to bury the body here were received by the McCormick Funeral Home where the remains had been kept since Wednesday.
The battle occurred, according to the wounded officer, when he (the officer) was ordered to stick
up his hands while making his rounds. Stone was instantly killed when a bullet struck, him in the chest after Melton had been shot in both hands and once through the body.
Melton was rushed to the Navarro Clinic in Corsicana and his recovery was doubtful for several days. He is reported doing fairly well and has an excellent chance for recovery.

The Corsicana Daily Sun - Tuesday, August 20, 1935

A man, officers say, has admitted being in Frost on the night Will Melton, nightwatchman was seriously wounded, and David Stone of Dallas, 31, was slain in a gun battle when Melton was ordered to stick his hands up, was arrested late Tuesday by Van Zandt officers at Canton and was brought to the Navarro county jail by Sheriff Rufus Pevehouse and Deputy Sheriff Jack Floyd.
The officers took the suspect to Frost Wednesday morning and Sheriff Pevehouse said that the suspect showed him where he was during the night and also where he and Stone parked their automobile, intending to burglarize several places In the West Navarro community.
No formal complaints had been filed at noon Wednesday but John R. Curington, criminal district attorney, said assault with intent to murder and robbery with firearms charges would be filed in the case during the afternoon.
Curington said a statement was being made by the accused man at noon.
Stone was buried in the Frost cemetery several days ago when relatives in the North declined to authorize the body to be forwarded to them.
Melton was discharged from a local hospital Sunday and was returned to his home in Frost.
He is apparently well on the road to recovery. Immediately following the shooting, little hope was held for Melton's recovery.

Corsicana Daily Sun - Wednesday, August 28,


Robert Guy Phillips, 28, of Dallas, was named in eight complaints Thursday morning filed before Judge W. T. McFadden by Deputy Sheriff Jack Floyd as a result of the gun battle at Frost, August 14, when David Stone 31, of Dallas, was slain and Nightwatchman Will Melton of Frost, received three pistol wounds when Melton failed to comply with an order to stick his hands up while making his rounds.
Phillips was arrested Tuesday by Van Zandt officers near Ben Wheeler and later was taken to Dallas and was brought to Corsicana by Sheriff Rufus Pevehouse and Deputy Floyd.
The eight complaints were accepted by C. L. Knox, assistant criminal district attorney, Wednesday afternoon and are as follows:
Robbery with firearms, assault to murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit theft, conspiracy to commit theft from Citizens State Bank and conspiracy to commit burglary at Citizens State Bank.
Stone was buried in the Frost cemetery several days after the shooting when relatives advised Frost funeral directors they could not send for the body. Melton remained in a local clinic in a serious condition for several days but has recovered sufficiently to be taken to his home in Frost. Melton was shot in both hands and once through the body, the bullet entering the left side and emerging near the right hip.
No time for the holding of an examining trial on the cases has been announced.

The Corsicana Daily Sun - Thursday, August 29, 1935


Robert Guy Phillips of Dallas entered a plea of guilty as an accomplice in an assault with intent to murder indictment in connection with a gun-battle in Frost, Aug. 14. in which W. E. Melton, Frost nightwatchman was wounded three times, and David Stone of Dallas was slain, and was given three years by the jury.
Nightwatchman Melton testified that Phillips was not present at the time of the shooting. He said Stone talked to him (Melton) about a drink of water and later pulled a pistol and ordered him (Melton) to “Stick ‘em Up,” Melton declined and Stone started shooting, Melton testified, and as he (Melton) went down, pulled his own pistol dispite wounds in both hands and in the body, and fatally shot, Stone. He said he saw a car nearby but did not know who was in it and did not know what kind of car it was.
A statement taken by W. S. Knight, chief of the Corsicana police department, from Phillips was read the jury, in which it was stated that the defendant, W. W. Weimer, Jimmie Breazeale and David Stone had planned to seize the nightwatchman and burglarize a number of stores in the West Navarro community.
Mrs. Robert Guy Phillips, wife of the defendant, testified that she and her husband had been married six years and that they had three children, one aged five years, another three years of age, and the other 18 months of age.
She said her husband had worked steadily for several years as a delivery truck driver for a grocery concern, but had been out of steady employment for some time prior to the trouble in Frost. She said
he had not been in any previous trouble.

The Corsicana Daily Sun - Wednesday, November 13, 1935


Submitted by Diane Richards


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