A Red Ear Of Corn, A Kiss, And Mass Murder

1912. The good old days when life was slower. Families and neighbors were close, children were still innocent, and feuding was quite popular, especially so in Carroll County, Virginia…the tiny town Hillsville, to be precise. The place where a judge, the sheriff, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, jury members, and a witness were all gunned down. Murdered. Slaughtered. All because of a single kiss between two kids.

Like many killings that occur in our day, this whole ugly mess started when a guy kissed the girlfriend of another boy. The kiss was actually part of a longstanding tradition during the time of the annual corn-shucking. Tradition said that any boy who found a red ear of corn could kiss the girl of his choosing. Well, Wesley Edwards was the lucky boy that year. With the red ear in hand he planted a nice juicy kiss right on the lips of a girl who was currently being properly courted by another boy. And that just didn’t sit right with the betrayed boyfriend. Not at all. So he and a few friends caught up with Edwards and his brother as were leaving church the next day. And, as they say, it was on. Punches were exchanged, clothing was tattered and torn, but the Edwards boys came out on top and bested the boyfriend and his backup.

Here’s where things really begin to go downhill. The Edwards boys were arrested on charges stemming from the fight. But, as officers were hauling them to the Carroll County jail, their uncle, Floyd Allen, managed to set them free.

Of course, Allen was arrested for poking his nose in a place where it didn’t belong (cops tend to get a little irritated when you rough them up and turn their prisoners loose). Anyway, Allen eventually stood trial for his unlawful actions…obstructing justice, or something along those lines.

During the trial, emotions ran high. Judge Thorton Massie knew the possibility for trouble was imminent. The folks in his courtroom were like individual sticks of dynamite just waiting for their fuses to be lit. The Allens were a rowdy bunch, to say the least. They were moonshining feuding-democrats who blamed the republicans for all their troubles (sounds like folks from this day and age, huh?). Still, Sheriff Lewis Webb and his deputies took no extra precaution. Judge’s order.

Floyd Allen

When the verdict of guilty was finally announced to the court, defendant Floyd Allen stood and said, “Gentlemen, I just ain’t a goin’: That’s the moment when the gunplay started. And that’s when five people died and seven more were wounded. No one knows who fired the first shot, or the last.

Some accounts of the event say that the Commonwealth’s Attorney and court clerk, Dexter Goad, came to court armed on that day. Another writing states that Allen fired in self defense. But where’d he get the gun?

What is clear, however, is that Allen and his son, Claude, were both executed for the murders. Sidna Allen, Floyd’s brother, received 35 years in prison for the part he played in the murders.

The courtroom killings made all the newspapers and generated buzz all over the country. In fact, the story remained on the front page of the papers until a story of equal interest broke. Something about a big boat sinking with a lot of people on board. I think the name was The Titanic. Yes, it took a story that huge to get this one off the front page.

The Carroll County Courthouse murder is still the center of controversy in the Hillsville area. The anniversary of the event is March 15, and some of the locals plan an hour-long presentation that’ll begin with the events leading up to the shooting. Organizers say they’ll wind up the presentation with lots of detail about the actual shooting. Many residents are already beating the war drums, saying their relatives (the Allen’s) got a bum rap. Others say the event could finally help the community begin to heal from its century-old wounds.

Either way, I’d certainly suggest using a metal detector at the entrance to the courthouse on the night of the presentation. Or, perhaps an off-duty TSA officer could spare a few moments of his time…

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Our web host will be conducting a bit of maintenance and upgrading today. Please bear with anything odd you may see here today. Well, other than the normal oddities…

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Weekend Road Trip: Oatland Island Cane Grinding and Harvest Fest…And Gators!

Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the fall cane harvest festival on Oatland Island in Savannah, Ga. After a nice trek through the woods we entered a clearing where the annual festivities were already underway. A log cabin was the focal point; however, the structure was not the center of attention.

The crowd was busy sampling the wares.

Sugar cane (bottom center in front of hay bales) was available for tasting.

A horse was the sole source of power used to operate the cane grinder. A long pole (a tree trunk) was attached to the grinder and to the horse’s back. The animal then walked in large circles, pulling the log as it went. The motion turned the grinder, which reduced the cane to sweet sugar.

A large vat was used to cook the ground cane sugar. I’ve since been topping my Sunday pancakes with fresh cane syrup.

Making homemade pumpkin soup.

Apple press for making homemade cider. Delicious!

Explaining her craft.

Even the little ones had a great time without a video game in sight. Click the link below for a very brief video.


We left the cabin area to explore. A stroll down this path revealed some pretty exciting sights and breathtaking scenery.

Standing at the edge of the marsh.

Three gray wolves.

A mud-covered alligator sunning itself on the bank of a creek.

Lazy gator floating.

This gator swam by our feet. I used the zoom for this shot. Believe me, I was NOT that close to this animal.

A cougar having a little snack of some sort of meat (another zoom shot).

A wild turkey contemplating the future. This photo was taken the first week in November.

*Due to the troubles with the site earlier this week we’ll be posting details on how to win The Closer 5th season DVD on Monday.

closer, Kyra Sedgwick, tnt

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the families of each of these brave officers.

Senior Corrections Officer John H. “Packy” Paskewicz, 58

Maine Department of Corrections

November 16, 2010 – Officer John “Packy” Paskewicz suffered a fatal heart while undergoing training against edged weapon attacks. He was a veteran of the Vietnam Nam war, serving in both the Army and Navy, and he’d served as a corrections officer for 20 years.

Deputy Sheriff Sam Brownlee, 43

Weld County Colorado Sheriff’s Office

November 23, 2010 –  Deputy Sam Brownlee was involved in a high speed pursuit (107mph) of a wanted suspect (a known gang member) when other officers deployed stop sticks. The suspect’s car was then disabled and Deputy Brownlee, along with officers from other departments, attempted to arrest him, an effort the suspect violently resisted. Officers then used a Taser but the probes didn’t stick so the scuffle continued. The man was somehow able to gain control of Deputy Brownlee’s service weapon, which he used to shoot Brownlee in the face and twice in the chest. An Evans PD officer returned fire, shooting the suspect. Both Deputy Brownlee and the suspect were transported to the local hospital where they both died as a result of their gunshot wounds.

Deputy Brownlee is survived by his wife.

Officer Patrick Sirois, 50

United States Department of Defense – Fort Hood Police Department

November 23, 2010 – Officer Patrick Sirois died doing exactly what he known for…helping others. He’d stopped to assist a stranded motorist when a car driven by a teenager struck the disabled pickup truck, pinning Officer Sirois against the guardrail. Moments before the crash, Sirois realized the approaching danger and managed to push the motorist to safety. He was unharmed. Officer Sirois was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. He is survived by his fiancee.

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A Cop’s Thanksgiving

A Cop’s Thanksgiving

Morning parade
Smiling faces
Squealing children
Marching bands
Families gather
Fire crackles
Turkey legs
Pumpkin pie
Football games
Pistol. Badge. Vest.
Kiss the kids, and please save a drumstick for me.
I’ll be home soon.

Family traveling
Smiling faces
Squealing children
Thoughts of
Grandmother’s cooking
Turkey legs
Pumpkin pie
Crackling fire
Football games.
Happy. Love. Joy.
Those poor kids.
They would’ve been home soon.

Drunk drivers
Speeding drivers
Texting drivers
Careless drivers
Aggressive drivers
Sleepy drivers
Depressed drivers
Distracted drivers
Reckless drivers
Road rage
A horrible collision.
An entire family, gone.

It’s awful.
Tangled metal.
Three little ones.
Mother and father, too.
I don’t know.
A couple hours, at least.
Yes, save a drumstick.
Hug our kids.
Tell them I love them.
I’ll be there soon.
Those poor children.
They’ll never go home again.

10-4. Send the coroner.

Yes, five victims.

Tell her there’s no rush.

I’ll be standing by.

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K-2 Revisited


Remember the article I posted about the synthetic drug K-2? No? Well, K-2 is the synthetic drug that produces a high nearly identical to that of marijuana by replicating the effects of THC, the high-producing chemical that’s found in pot. And, in the earlier article, I stated that there were no laws anywhere that regulate the manufacture, sale, or possession of the stuff.

Well, things have changed a bit since that article went online. So let’s revisit K-2, aka Spice, Space, Pep-Spice, K1, K3, K4, C1, Mr. Smiley, Genie, Smoke, Pot-pourri, Buzz, Mystery, Earthquake, Ocean Blue and Yucatan Fire.

To refresh your memory:

K2 was developed by one of Professor John Huffman’s students in a Clemson University chemistry laboratory. The student discovered the chemical while studying the effects of pharmaceuticals on the brain. The new chemical was named JWH-018 (JWH are Professor Huffman’s initials).

Professor Huffman collaborated with researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and began a study of the effects of K2 on laboratory mice. The scientists quickly noted that K2 is more potent than marijuana. However, human users say the effects, while slightly similar to marijuana, simply are not the same, nor are they as pleasant.

While routine drug tests do not screen for synthetic forms of cannabis, there are tests available for both urine and blood and they’re being used in many parts of the country to enforce DUI laws (yes, a person can be charged with DUI for driving while under the influence of K-2). It really doesn’t matter what substance impairs a person’s ability to drive. Impaired is impaired. And a person killed by someone under the influence of a legal or synthetic drug or chemical is just as dead.

At last reporting there were no laws governing K-2. Now, several states have outlawed the stuff with more set to do the same.

Alabama Illegal On April 22, 2010

Alaska Legislation proposed

Arkansas Illegal on October 26, 2010

Florida Legislation Proposed

Georgia Illegal K2 Spice is now illegal in Georgia. JWH-018 is illegal in Georgia as of July 15, 2010.

Hawaii Illegal possessing it in Hawaii became a felony on August 1, 2010

Idaho Illegal Added to controlled substances list for Idaho on 10/15/2010

Illinois Legislation Passed, Impending Enaction Date: January 1, 2011

Iowa Illegal As of July 21, 2010

Kansas Illegal In February 2010

Kentucky Illegal on April 13, 2010

Louisiana Illegal as of June 18, 2010

Maryland Illegal effective 19 November 2010

Michigan Illegal

Minnesota Municipal Restrictions Sale, possession and use is illegal or restricted in the cities of Duluth, Hermantown and Princeton.

Mississippi Illegal Bill passed by governor Hailey Barbour on September 3, 2010 banning sales and possession statewide.

Missouri Illegal As of March 28, 2010

New York Legislation Proposed

North Carolina Legislation Proposed Committee to report in 2011

North Dakota Illegal As of February 25, 2010

Oklahoma Illegal Illegal as of 11/1/2010

Oregon Illegal Illegal as of 10/15/2010

Pennsylvania Legislation Proposed The Pennsylvania House has passed a bill to ban synthetic cannabinoid chemicals

Tennessee Illegal

Texas Municipal Restrictions No state regulation, but possession and use is illegal or restricted in the cities of Allen, Cleburne, Commerce (Must be 21), Bryan, College Station, Caldwell, Kerrville, Conroe, Dallas, Denton (city, not county), Duncanville, Ennis, Frisco,Gladewater, Greenville, Irving, Kilgore, Longview, Mansfield, McKinney, Mineral Wells, Overton, Plano, Port Arthur, Troup, Tyler, Sulphur Springs, Van Alstyne, Watauga, Whitehouse and White Oak.
Utah Legislation Proposed As of March 28, 2010.

Virginia Legislation Proposed JWH-018 only.

Wisconsin Municipal Restrictions Sale, possession and use is illegal or restricted in the Cities of Eau Claire, La Crosse, Waukesha, and Milwaukee.

*Until this is sorted out, please be careful…

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Breaking News

The Drug Enforcement Administration announced today that it would use its emergency powers to ban synthetic marijuana (K-2) for one year (Huffington Post).

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Getting Hired: The Dreaded Background Investigation

The requirements and standards for new police officers are high. The hiring process is a grueling one. The tests are stressful. The interviews are like intense interrogations. But, perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the process is the background investigation.

The background investigation for potential police officers is not the normal “check a few references” type of poking around into your personal business. Not at all. Not even close. Those who want to become police officers had better be prepared to bare it all. Well, I guess it’s not as bad as going through a TSA security massage and virtual strip search, but it’s close.

Officer candidates must first complete a detailed application. The testing (written, oral, physical, psychological) is normally the next step. Then comes the wait while department investigators begin a detailed journey into your life.

The background investigation covers areas such as, education (including elementary school), employment history, credit scores and credit history, driving record, and how well you get along with others. Investigators will visit with family members, friends, teachers, neighbors, co-workers, landlords, church members, club members, etc. Basically, if you’ve had contact with someone the officers will want to speak with them. Investigators may also travel to former hometowns to speak with people there, including local law enforcement officers.

Now there’s a new aspect to background checks for new officers…social networking. That’s right, as part of the background checks, many police departments also include delving into a potential officer’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace accounts. And the candidates must sign waivers allowing access to those accounts.

Social media accounts offer views of people that are sometimes not very flattering. And it’s that side of someone that could be used to undermine their credibility when testifying in court. The networking sites may also reveal things a person does or has done that would not be consistent with working as a law enforcement officer.

So, you want to become a police officer, huh? Well, keep your Tweets clean. Don’t “Like” Meth Makers of America. And never, ever appear naked in a YouTube video when your co-star is the chief’s niece.

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In recent days The Graveyard Shift has been attacked by hackers who’ve used the site as part of a massive phishing scheme. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Our experts say they uncovered the malicious code and have now removed it. So we are once again safe. I do find it ironic that the phishers chose a site that has written about dangers of phishing. I guess we offered attractive bait…you.

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