Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thriller Thursday - Home Invasion Circa 1934

Home invasion, as we call it today, is not a new thing. In fact, I have two instances it recorded in my family histories. This, the second one, I note because of the number of the victims involved.

Taken from The Lexington Herald, August 2, 1934, p1 c8.



Prominent Landowner is Killed After Opening Safe Upon Demand of Two Masked Thugs


Car Used in Crime Found Abandoned on West High Viaduct Here


F. D. "Dixie" Knight, 68 years old, Jessamine county land owner and farmer, was shot and killed at his residence 11 miles form Lexington on the Harrodsburg pike last night shortly after 6 o'clock by two bandits, one of whom was a cripple, who robbed him of jewelry valued at $1,500.  Before slaying Mr. Knight, the robbers took possession of the residence of half an hour and tied four persons with adhesive tape and wire.

Mr. Knight was shot twice in the chest with .38 caliber steel jacket bullets. He died 15 minutes later with his wife, nephew and niece, Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn Knight of Lexington, and the family cook within easy hearing distance of his pitiful calls for assistance, but powerless to go to his aid.

The bandits escaped in an automobile they stole from Blackburn Knight. The car later was found abandoned on the West High street viaduct in Lexington by Motorcycle Patrolman A. F. Yates, and the clothing used by the thugs in the shooting and robbery were found in a road leading to Lincoln school by patrolman John T. Dickey.

The clothing consisted of a pair of blue denim overalls, with a deputy sheriff's badge pinned to it, and a pair of striped coveralls. The clothing was taken to police headquarters and held for evidence.

A broadcast of the slaying and robbery was made from WPET, Lexington police radio, and officers in surrounding counties late last night were scouring their territories for a trace of the bandits. However, it is believed the men, after abandoning the car and discarding the clothing they wore in the robbery, boarded a freight train headed for Ludlow in the Southern railroad yards.

Auto is Recovered.

The automobile used by the bandits in their escape from the scene was taken to the city plant on West Second street. Lieut. Dudley McCloy, in charge of the bureau of investigation of the Lexington Police department, went to the garage late last night and examined it for fingerprints.

It is considered unlikely, however, that the machine will reveal any prints of value, as both of the bandits wore rubber gloves during the time they were in the Knight residence and also, when they commandeered the machine of Blackburn Knight. The gloves and covering the thugs wore over their shoes, obviously for the purpose of throwing off any scent in the event bloodhounds were pressed into use, were found near the clothing.

Threw Clothing Away

Two men were seen to drive the automobile of Mr. Knight onto the viaduct, get out, throw the clothing over the side of the viaduct and then start running toward the bottom of the passage way and head in the direction of Valley avenue and the railroad tracks.

Although there was no apparent reason for the killing of Mr. Knight by the bandits-he had told them they were welcome to anything in the house and had even opened his safe and given them the jewelry-Jessamine and Fayette county officers were working on the theory that at least one of the pair of bandits was recognized by Mr. Knight and that he was slain to prevent possible future detection.

Carrie Ross, 31, negro, of 185 North Eastern avenue, Lexington, the cook, was the first person on the farm to see the robbers. Carrie was in the kitchen of the home preparing supper about 5:30 o'clock. She said she heard someone in the room and, turning around, saw a pair of feet covered with a cloth. Carrie said she looked up and straight into the muzzle of a gun and a man told her: "Stand still and do what you are told and you won't get hurt."

Carrie said the man, who was tall, heavy and had a thin face walked toward her, grabbed her by the arm and asked where Mrs. Knight was. Carrie replied that Mrs. Knight was out in the yard feeding the chickens.

She said the man walked her to the kitchen door, looked out and said: "Sure enough, there is Mrs. Knight." Carrie broke away from the man and ran toward the chicken house, with him giving chase. She reached the chicken house and saw the man running toward her. (continued page 2 column 1)


Prominent Landowner is Killed After Opening Safe Upon Demand of Tow Masked Thugs.


Carrie said he ran with a decided limp.

She said that he reached into the chicken house and seized her and that Mrs. Knight, attracted by the commotion looked up and then started making outcries. Then Carrie said, the second bandit covered Mrs. Knight with a pistol. The two bandits marched Mrs. Knight and Carrie into the house, where Carrie broke loose and started running toward a side entrance. Carrie gained the side porch and was starting to a large bell which is used to call in Mr. Knight and farm hands and which can be heard for a distance of two miles, when the crippled bandit grabbed her and, twisting her arm hard, cautioned her: "Don't do that."

Wife, Cook Are Bound

The bandit then returned to the house with Carrie and she and Mrs. Knight were taken to an upstairs room, where the bandits produced a large roll of adhesive tape. One thug taped Carrie's wrists and placed adhesive tape over her mouth and nose. Mrs. Knight asked the bandits not to bind Carrie too tightly, as she suffered from heart trouble and had difficulty in breathing. Then the bandit took the tape from Carrie's nose, but left her mouth sealed with the tape. The other bandit then taped the wrists of Mrs. Knight and also placed a strip of tape over her mouth.

From the time the bandits captured Carrie and Mrs. Knight, they continually asked where Mr. Knight was and when he would return. Mrs. Knight told them he was out on the farm and would return to the house about 6 o'clock. They also asked Mrs. Knight where her diamonds were kept, and she told them they were in a Nicholasville bank.

Carrie said that when the crippled man came to the door he wore no mask, but that the first time she saw the second bandit, he had a cap pulled down over his forehead and was wearing a large handkerchief over the lower half of his face. She said the crippled man placed a handkerchief over the lower part of his face after he had been about the house for approximately 15 minutes.

After taping Mrs. Knight and the cook and leaving them on a bed upstairs, the crippled bandit went down to the first floor, while the other remained in the room with Mrs. Knight and Carrie.  In a few minutes the second bandit came to the first floor and he and the crippled robber started conversing.

At this point, Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn Knight knocked on the front door of the residence and, not getting any response started walking around the side of the house. About halfway around, they saw two men in the house. One of the men called out: "Come on in and keep your mouth shut, this is a holdup."

Nephew, Niece Held

Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn Knight went into the kitchen through a side door and were faced by pistols in the hands of each of the bandits. The thugs escorted them to a room on the first floor, where they ordered them to sit upon the bed. Then both Mr. and Mrs. Knight's wrists were bound tightly with wire and they were forced to lay upon the bed.

The bandits then left the room, "Crip" remaining downstairs and the other thug returned to the room where Mrs. Knight and Carrie were held prisoners.

In a few moments, Mr. Knight came in off the farm, walked in the kitchen and, after drinking a glass of water, called out, as had been his custom for years: "Hello cook, here I am ready for supper."

"Crip" then stepped into the kitchen and, covering Mr. Knight with his pistol, said: "This is a holdup."

Mr. Knight replied that he knew what the robber was there for and that he could have anything in the house. When he heard Mr. Knight enter the house, the bandit upstairs called out: "Hey, 'Crip,' is it all right for me to come down now?"

"Crip" replied in the affirmative. The bandit came down, and together they escorted Mr. Knight to a room in which a small iron safe is kept. Mr. Knight did not that his wife, Carrie, and Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn Knight were being held prisoners in the house.

Agreed to Open Safe.

Reaching the room in which the safe stood, the bandits asked what the safe contained and Mr. Knight told them it contained only a few insurance papers. Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn Knight could hear plainly all of the conversation between Mr. Knight and the bandits from the room in which they were held captive.

Mr. Knight told the bandits he could not see how to open the safe without his spectacles and also would have to obtain the combination. They allowed him to get his spectacles and the combination and stood over him while he opened the safe. When the safe door swung upon, Mr. Knight brought out the insurance papers and told the bandits the papers were of no value to them and asked them not to disturb them.

Then the robbers spied a diamond stud and ring in safe and said: "Let's have those." Mr. Knight reached into the safe and got the stud and ring and handed them to the bandits.

Then Mrs. Blackburn Knight said she heard one of the bandits say: "Let him have it." Two shots followed the sentence in quick succession. Mrs. Knight said "Following the shots, the bandits returned to the room in which Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn Knight were prisoners, robbed Mr. Knight of $4 in cash and his automobile keys.

Captives Warned

"Remain still for 30 minutes," the bandits told them, "and when the police come tell them we are negroes, or we will come back later and finish both of you. We have a man stationed in the kitchen who will stand guard for a few minutes until we are safely away."

Then the bandits went outside, ripped and cut all of the telephone wires leading into the house, got into Blackburn Knight's automobile, and drove toward Lexington.

At 6:30 o'clock Clyde Moore, 42, an employee on the farm, came in from milking and found Mr. Knight lying on the floor, dead. He searched the house and found and liberated Mr. and Mrs. Knight and Mrs. "Dixie" Knight and Carrie.

From a nearby residence, Jessamine county officers were called by telephone and Lexington police were notified. When an account of the shooting and a description of the man was dispatched from WPET, officers of the Fayette county patrol went to the Knight residence and made an investigation.

Mr. Knight at one time was one of the leading thoroughbred breeders in the state. It was on his farm that Exterminator, one of the country's greatest handicap horses and winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby was foaled. Brown Bud, a stake winner of more recent years, also was foaled there. George Smith, 1916 Kentucky Derby winner, stood at Mr. Knight's 600 acre farm for several years after being retired to the stud.

Mr. Knight is survived by his wife, Mrs. Lydia Todhunter Knight; one brother, G. L. Knight, Nicholasville; eight nephews, Henry Knight, Chicago; Joseph and William Knight, Nicholasville; Blackburn and Grant Knight, Versailles; M. L. Knight, Portland, Ore.; and Lucien Knight, Lexington; and one niece, Mrs. Howard Smith, Lexington.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

1 comment:

  1. Hello: My name is Daniel Knight Prater. I am the grandson of Grant Knight mentioned above as one of the nephews of Dixie Knight. Blackburn Knight was my uncle. I thank you for publishing this. When I was a child, I often heard my relatives talking about the murder, but never knew the details. According to my family, they always thought it was a relative of Dixie. If memory serves, they thought it was a nephew because he had a limp like one of the robbers. Thanks for this interesting read.