Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gun Fight in Kentucky Death and Jail at Age 14

In 1977 I was involved in a gun battle and had to watch as my father died. I returned fire and on that same day I lost my father and went to jail for the first time. I was 14 years old. This is something that I have been wanting to write about for a long time. I have told this story to a few friends and relatives but this is the first time I have shared it with the "world".

My parents were separated and working on a divorce. They were living apart with my sisters and I being with our dad. Dad had decided to move us all from Wayland, Kentucky to Ohio. We loaded as much as we could into a big U-Haul and headed north. There were only a few things left in the house and dad said we would come back for it later.

I had visited Dayton many times but it had been a long time since I had actually lived there. All the time I was growing up we moved a lot. We were continually moving. New school, new neighborhood... Anyway, we got mostly settled in and I had went to the new school for a couple days. I hated it, of course. It is hard to change schools any time but especially in the middle of a school year. Everything, and everyone is different.

Finally dad told me that we were going to go to Kentucky to get the rest of our things. I looked forward to seeing the old place and maybe some of my friends. I doubted I would get to see my mother but I thought of it just the same. So it was just me and dad on a long road trip.

We got to the old house and found that whatever we had left was gone. Dad assumed that mom had gotten it. We drove down the road a short distance to where my grandmother and grandfather lived. This house was sitting next to the road. The only thing that separated the road from the house was the sidewalk. We were parked right next to the sidewalk so were only a few feet from the porch.

My cousin, Dwayne, was staying with our (maternal) grandparents and so he came out and talked with me for awhile while dad was talking to my grandmother. But she called him back into the house saying it was past his bedtime. Her and dad were talking and everything was calm. She was holding a baby girl, Melissa, I think around 2 years old at the time. Dad asked her if she could ride with us to where mom was staying and go give her a message. He said he didn't want to go to the house himself and didn't want any trouble. He asked her to be dropped at the end of the road and walk a short distance to the house.

Suddenly my grandfather rushed out of the house and yelled "She's not going anywhere with you!" and right away started shooting! Dad fell over on me and blood was everywhere. His foot released from the brake and the truck began to roll forward and finally stopped in the neighbors hedges. I tried to talk to dad but he only mumbled a few words. The only thing I could understand was "Jesus".

It is hard to describe how I felt. I pushed it away. It was as though I was in a movie. I reached under the seat of the truck and got the pistol, a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson with a long barrel. Yes, dad carried a gun in the truck and often more than one. Back then many people did, especially in southeastern Kentucky. I stepped out of the truck and walked toward the back of it to see the house. When I stepped out my grandfather fired more shots. I raised up that .38 and pulled the trigger as quickly as I could with it pointed at him. Normally, I was a good shot. We practiced a lot, but for some reason I didn't even take time to aim or to even think about what I was doing. It was more like I was watching it happen. One shot hit him in the knee and he dropped. Another shot hit him in the chest. Later I realized how amazing it was that my grandmother nor the baby she was holding were hurt.

About the time I heard a loud voice. It was the town cop, finally. He said "Throw down the gun!" I stood there with it in my hand but lowered. He shouted the command a couple more times. Very slowly and calmly I walked back to the pickup truck to the still open passenger door and laid the gun down in the seat next to dad. Dad would never have thrown down a gun and I sure wasn't going to either. I didn't care at the time and had no concern that the cop might shoot me.

That was how one young boy was transformed over night. One day it was homework, curfews, and chores and the next day it was death and jail. The fact that it was a family thing made it even worse. Each side of the family seemed to hate each other. I was in jail for a few days but it seemed like much longer for me. While the family were comforting each other and crying on each others shoulders I was laying in a jail cell.

Copyright 2010, David Slone

Added 9/27 - According to some of my family I refused to testify in court about any of this and the man who killed my father went free. THAT IS A LIE. I don't know where that came from but it is wrong. I was not permitted to testify nor was I even allowed to go into the actual court room. If you think I refused to testify voluntarily then adjust your thoughts because I did not.


  1. I am really very surprised that there havent been any comments left here. No one has even attempted to post a comment anonymously.

  2. well I'm surprised none of your family posted a comment.But when and if they do it will be o david we are sorry u had to go thru that!and besides one true story with "gory" details lead to another true story with gory details.Somethings are better left unsaid!I.m surprised and even turned off about them to leave you in jail.I hate that kind of "family mortality".the most hurtful things that was ever said to about being a victim of a violent crime was those actions and comments from my family!today I don't"flock"and I can love them all from a distance,may this memory rest in peace for you.

  3. I love you cuz none of this is your fault.Just live your life and be happy.

  4. I love you too Donna and thank you for your comment.

  5. I was told you were in jail for your own protection, if not then Why didn't your mother get you out of jail? I do not understand if she lived in Ky and your dad's family in Ohio. didn't she leave you in jail as well as your dad's family,
    Anonymous,do you know both families? Any 14 year old that watches his or her parent die is a "GORY" thing for a child to see and could have been shoot as well by his own grandfather.

  6. I was in jail because when the cop (Norman Thornsberry)came around I was in the street shooting a pistol at my grandfather. I dont understand why I was left in jail either.

    By the way, back in those days there were a lot of killings that happened in and around Wayland that were never punished or "solved".

  7. Anonymous tell me they are sorry :) Another Anonymous doesnt understand about what my mother did... I know its been awhile sonce the comments were posted but I dont understand why people have to be "anonymous" to apologize or judge....

  8. Well, I have been informed that my good ole Uncle Eddie took this gun because my dad owed him money. Great huh? Your brother owes you money, he gets killed and you take away your nephews possessions to try to make up for it.

    Thanks a lot Eddie, funny that you were always one of my most favorite people in the world. I looked up to you so much and really thought the world of you.

    I am wondering if all those years I grew up hating most of my family was all because of my Uncle Eddie. I am wondering if he was the one who took everything that I had and I mistakenly blamed it on the wrong people. If so then I owe a lot of people some apologies so deep that I will never be able to pay them back :O(

  9. All this time I was told that they took all our stuff because they had to sell it to pay for the funeral expenses.

    Now I hear this.




  11. David,
    Some people NEVER have enough...
    Some people NEVER acquire the rich's that you have...
    The self-respect, the respect of your friends.
    I believe that the people who love you, truly do!
    Whether they are family or friend....
    I know I'm learning.

  12. Thank you Kyfiddler, I appreciate that a lot. This is why, for most of my life, my friends have been my family and I have some very good friends.