The Murder Of  Kanawha County Deputy Roy Shamblin

The most famous shootout of its day.

Kanawha County Deputy Murder

Kanawha County Deputy Murder

Kanawha County Deputy

Deputy Sheriff Roy L. Shamblin

Grandfather of Judge Patrick Casey, killed in gangland style shootout

Kanawha County Murder

Front view of Deputy Shamblin's 1928 Whippet with shot out front windshield and fender damage


ON the 25th day of July, 1933, at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon Deputy Sheriffs Roy L. Shamblin and George Dudley left the Kanawha County jail in Charleston en route to Moundsville, 'West Virginia, carrying a prisoner, Ralph Harper, to the penitentiary to serve a sentence of 25 years for armed robbery.

About 25 miles out of Charleston on the state highway route No. 2L, between Sissonville and Kenna in Jackson County, they were attacked by mashed gunmen, who had followed them out of Charleston and forced them out of the highway into the guard rail and firing into the car.... had killed Shamblin and his prisoner and wounded Dudley.

After the shooting was over they took the body of Ralph Harper from the car and placed it in their ear and fled in the direction of Charleston. The driver had turned the car around while the other two were getting Harper's body from the car. About two hours later the body was found in an abandoned automobile in an alley a block from his parent's home in Huntington.

The driver of this ear was Charles Harper, a brother of the slain prisoner and his companions were Leo Fraser and Henry Cano. On their arrival in Charleston, they crossed the Patrick Street bridge,  turned to the left going over the hill to Ferry Branch,  where Cano left the car and crossed the C. & O. bridge and came back to Charleston,  while Leo Fraser and Charles Harper continued over the Davis Creek road,  by way of Hamlin to Huntington, where they abandoned the car and notified the parents of the death of Ralph. They then went over on the hill on the South Side and kept in hiding until dark, after which they started back to Charleston, over State highway route 60, walking and hitch-hiking,  arriving in Charleston some time before daylight, they got a ride up Elk River and on to New York, arriving there on the fifth day after the murder.  While loitering at a filling station they were arrested and were found to be carrying guns, and afterwards one proved to be the one taken from Deputy Dudley at the time of the shooting.  A telegram came to Sheriff Andrews from New Rochelle, N. Y. The message read  "I have Leo Fraser and Charles Harper under arrest, charged with carrying guns, wanted by you for murder". The message€ was signed by the Chief of Police of New Rochelle, N. Y.

Sheriff Andrews and several deputies and Mr. J. Blackburn 'Watts' prosecuting attorney, left immediately for New York and returned the pair to the Kanawha County jail in Charleston.


A few years ago pretty Louise Floyd, with light brown hair, rosy cheeks and hazel eyes, came to Charleston, West Virginia to visit her sister. At this time she met Leo Fraser. A short romance followed and she became his wife.  They started, life in the New River coal fields around Glen Rogers. Leo worked in the mines. A year later Leo, Jr.,  came to bless their home, and peace and harmony reigned within, and showed no signs of the cloud that was later to darken their lives.  Leo became engaged in "rum running" and gambling, to which Louise
bitterly opposed and when he refused to give it up for a legitimate means of livelihood,  she left him and returned to Charleston.  She found work in a laundry which position she held for two years being - forced to give it up on account of failing health.  At the persuasion of Leo's parents she decided to try life again with him,  this time living in their home in Charleston.

For a time it seemed that the happiness of their first year of married bliss had returned but it was of short duration.  Leo soon fell in company with his former associates in the rum running business, and it was at this time that Louise and Ralph Harper met.  Ralph was associated with Leo and was frequently in their home. Louise admired him they became friends. Louise was in poor health and Ralph suggested that he send her to a sanitarium, his generosity accepted, and he secured a place for her in a Virginia institution.

As time went on Leo and Ralph continued their rum running activities and were quite successful. Ralph made frequent trips to see Louise and in time the thing happened that has often happened. before, love replaced the friendship in these two hearts and thus, the beginning of their illicit love affair that had a tragic ending. After a short time in the sanitarium her health improved. and she went home to her parents.  Ralph joined her there and they took up life together in  Virginia.

Later they came€ to Huntington, then Charleston.   Louise is quoted as as saying, "I never knew real happiness and true love until I met Ralph."  Ralph Harper become equally attached to the heart strings of Louise Fraser.  Her activities that had its part in the tragedy that brought about his death attests this fact.  As she had once tried to get Leo to give up his unlawful career,  she also tried to reform Ralph Harper, but the environment of the past year had embedded itself and,  instead of reforming him, he dragged Louise into his life of crime which cost him his life.  In company with John Newall, he held up and robbed a store in Charleston for which he was arrested. and lodged in the Kanawha County jail. 'While awaiting trial he escaped., fleeing to Virginia, to the home of Louise's parents. She immediately joined him there.  It was through her movements that he was apprehended and brought back to Charleston. She returned also to be near her lover, visiting him often while in jail.

The days that followed were filled with anxiety and hope for the release of her lover. He was indicted and the day of his trial arrived, and he was convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for a period of twenty five years. Throughout the morning of his trial Louise sat in the court room, and as he was returned to the jail she met him in the hall and kissed him good-bye, not knowing that it was for the last time. She didn't see him again. She learned that he would leave immediately for Moundsville,  and she hurried to the home of Henry Cano, picking him up in her car and they drove to the home of another friend where they found Charles Harper,  a brother of Ralph, and her husband Leo Fraser, telling them of the conviction of Ralph and his departure for prison,  and imploring them to go and rescue him from the law.  They responded to her pleading and hurried away in pursuit of the car that was carrying her lover away while she waited in silence for his return. That, evening as she sat h the home of Leo's sister waiting for his return, his lifeless body was carried by within a stones throw of her.  For was at this time that Henry Cano, came and related. the tragic story of how they had overtaken the deputies' ear and in trying to rescue him had killed one deputy and wounded  another and in the barrage of gunfire had also killed Ralph. She buried her face in her hands and wept.   In a distant city as the body of her lover was being lowered in the grave,  Louise Fraser sat alone in a cell of the Kanawha County jail thinking of her lover whose body lies cold in death, and weeping at times over the days when she done wrong.

Kanawha County Murder

Kanawha County Murder

Kanawha County Murder

The map below shows the approximate location of the shootout

Deputy Murder

Kanawha County Murder

Deputy murder

The trial was held in the Jackson County Courthouse in Ripley

Leo Frazier was sentenced to hang.
Louise Frazier was sentenced to 15 years
Henry Cano was sentenced to life in prison
Charles was sentenced to life imprisonment

Interesting Note:

Kanawha County Murder

Deputy Shamblin's son was made Deputy almost immediately.

Photos courtesy of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department

Articles courtesy Charleston Gazette and  Thos. B. Hamrick

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