On January 2, 1932, near Springfield, Missouri, ten poorly armed law enforcement officers set out to arrest two local farm boys for auto theft. A few minutes later, six of the officers lay dead and three were wounded, setting a record that stands to this day for the greatest number of police officers killed in one incident in the history of the United States. This is the story of how it happened and of the unlikely people whose lives were forever changed.
The two killers, Jennings and Harry Young, were from a peaceful, tiny community named Brookline in central Greene County, Missouri. The "massacre" itself took place at the quiet orderly farm home of the J. D. Young family. Paul and Mary Barrett trace the personalities of those involved in the incident, describe the events of the fateful day, and examine the aftermath of the killings, detailing what was called "the greatest man hunt in the history of Texas," which culminated in the brothers' deaths in Houston.
Paul W. Barrett is a retired senior judge of the Missouri Supreme Court. In childhood, he was a neighbor and friend of the Young family. In 1929, as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, he became intimately acquainted with all the Springfield people mentioned in the narrative, and he has studied the court records and conducted extensive correspondence and personal interviews to fill in all the details of the case. Mary H. Barrett, a short-story writer, a feature writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and an editor of books and encyclopedias, is currently editor of Mills College alumnae publications.