Manhunt Near Toquerville
On September 26, 1944, Patrolman Loren Squire attempted to stop a vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour through Toquerville. It was almost 10:00 p.m. and the red spotlight of his patrol car completely illuminated the interior of the speeding vehicle; however, the driver did not slow. Patrolman Squire then activated the siren and still the driver did not respond. Pulling alongside the vehicle, Patrolman Squire crowded the vehicle off the oil and onto the gravel shoulder of the road. The vehicle began to slow, so Patrolman Squires dropped back to approach from behind. Immediately the driver stepped on the gas and whirled onto a side alley near the old rock building at the south end of Toquerville. Coming to the end of the road, the vehicle crashed into a fence before it could stop.
Patrolman Squire had already drawn his revolver and took cover across the hood of his vehicle. The suspect vehicle was still running, but with the lights out. Patrolman Squire could barely make out the face of the suspect. Patrolman Squire said, “What are you doing there, Bud?” Almost immediately Loren saw a flash and heard the thud of a bullet next to his head. Less than 30 feet separated Patrolman Squire from his attacker. Immediately after the shot, Loren heard the wires on a barb wire fence squeaking as if someone was crawling through them. Loren ran to the north corner of the rock building, but was unable to see anyone. Suddenly the hair on the back of his neck began to rise. Loren did not know exactly where the suspect was hiding. He would later recall, “For the first time I felt a chill of fright.” He looked quickly over his shoulder, but could not hear or see anyone.
Within minutes, several town members arrived to see what all the noise was about. Harvey Theobald, who lived a block west of the scene, had witnessed the chase through town, had heard the crash and then a shot fired. Right after the shot, he heard someone crashing through the orchard behind his house. Fearing that someone had shot Patrolman Squire, he ran to his car and started it. Just as he turned on the lights, a man hit the fence with such force that it tore out the staples on several posts in both directions. The man flipped head over heels, through the fence and into a ditch of water. Harvey watched him climb out of the ditch, cross a street, go over another fence, and continue running through another orchard.
Patrolman Squire went to a neighbor’s house and phoned Washington County Sheriff Antone Prince and Utah Highway Patrolman “Blondie” Porter. A search of the suspect’s vehicle revealed two canvas bags, each packed with canned tuna, crackers, candy bars and a loaded pistol. There was also a loaded revolver in the glove compartment. In the back seat was a shoe box with $180 in silver coins. Evidently, the suspect had broken into a clothing store, because there were several new suits with the tags still on them, extra coats, several pairs of shoes, and fifty pair of socks, as well as other clothing.
The vehicle was later determined to have been stolen on September 20, 1944, from John Day, Oregon, where a bank had been robbed that same day. The Oregon plates were under the rear seat and the plates on the car had been stolen from a police car in northern Nevada.
Officers from several counties responded. They set up roadblocks and patrolled the entire area throughout the night. By daylight, many volunteers were scouting the area on horses and some on foot. Near the scene of the shooting, officers located the suspect’s footprints which showed a bell in the heel of his shoes. Also found was the shell of the 32 caliber semi-automatic pistol which had been fired at Patrolman Squire.
On the second day of the manhunt, local officers were joined by 13 FBI agents. During the previous night, a light had been seen west of the highway about one mile north of Leeds. When investigating the area, shoe tracks with a bell in the heels were located.
On the morning of the third day, a chicken farmer northwest of St. George went to investigate the barking of his dogs. Seeing a man walking on the road to Enterprise and thinking that it may be someone who had run out of gas, the farmer called to him. The man immediately took off on the run and went into some brush. The Sheriff was called and soon discovered the same bell imprint in the footprints.
The search continued without any further sightings. On September 30, 1944, Deputy Sheriff Carl Caldwell again found tracks with bell heels. Tracking was very difficult, due to the brush and rock, and was a slow process. At 1:30 p.m., Deputy Caldwell, along with two FBI agents, approached Quail or Leeds Creek. This area was covered with a heavy growth of Box Elder and Birch trees, and had several intersecting trails. As they approached within a few feet of the creek, a man was seen climbing the bank on the opposite side. The sound of running water had prevented him from hearing the approach of the officers. The officers called to the man to put up his hands and give up. Instead, the suspect reached into a shoulder holster, drew a gun and fired twice at the agents. Immediately, the two agents dropped prone on the ground. Instinctively, Deputy Caldwell stepped behind a fallen tree. The agents fired twice at the suspect. The suspect jumped back into the stream and began wading downstream, toward the agents. The suspect had not seen the deputy and was concentrating on firing at the agents.
Deputy Caldwell saw the suspect raise his weapon to fire and immediately returned fire, striking the bank in front of the suspect and showering him with dirt. The suspect again ducked behind the bank and moved further downstream. Deputy Caldwell also moved from his location. When the suspect peered over the bank, he could not locate the deputy. Not more than ten feet from the suspect, Deputy Caldwell fired, striking the bandit near the temple, killing him instantly.
A search of the body revealed a second loaded revolver in a shoulder holster. He was wearing a homemade vest with many pockets containing burglar tools, candy bars, fishing line and hooks. He also had a money belt containing $2,000 in currency. The money was later confirmed stolen from the bank in John Day, Oregon.
There was no identification on the suspect’s body.
Fingerprints later identified him as Joe Lewis, age 44, New Jersey. He had escaped from the Texas State Prison in January, where he was serving a fifteen year sentence. He had escaped from the Ohio State Prison before being sent to the Texas Prison.