Walthall Family Victims of Kidnapping in 1957

The headlines of the July 12, 1957 issue of The Livingston Enterprise read: Two Desperados Captured After Armed Robbery Here.  The following gives the details of that story:

"Thomas Eugene Robinson, age 20, is in the Livingston jail charged with armed robbery, and Charles Ray Farra, age 22, is in the Clinton County jail at Albany, Kentucky, with armed robbery and kidnaping charges, after a bold armed robbery in Livingston early Monday morning.

"The two armed men drove up to Gene’s Service Station in west Livingston and ordered gas. After Dee Masters, the attendant at the station, had filled their tank, one of them drew a 45 revolver and after searching Masters, ordered him to give them the money from the cash register. Masters reports that the sum taken was between $100 and $300.

"Masters immediately notified the office of Ernest West, sheriff and other officers were notified and a large manhunt started. Officers were on the job immediately and chased the bandits to a point near Monroe where the two men stopped the car in the yard of a home and ran. The car was a 1955 Ford with Kentucky and West Virginia license plates. The car, stolen from Warren County, Ky., contained three guns - a 30-30 rifle, a 32 and a 22 revolver and plenty of ammunition.

"Sheriff West called a number of officers to assist him in apprehending the two men, including the three Livingston police, J.T. Poindexter, Devoe Parrott, and Glenn Matthews, Lt. Red Jared and Sgt. Bill Malone of the State Highway Patrol, and several deputy sheriffs, and also Silas Anderson with the FBI.

"Robinson was captured about 10:00 a.m. Monday near the Monroe Christian Church. He is reported to have surrendered without a fight, saying, "Don’t shoot, I am not a killer."

"A large manhunt for Farra was conducted Monday and Tuesday with a large number of officers in the search, and much excitement in the community. Tuesday night, Farra, who had been hiding nearby, went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Walthall and ordered them to feed him and give him a clear shirt. He then ordered Mr. Walthall and his daughter, Miss Juanita Walthall, who is an employee at the Livingston Shirt Corporation, to take him away. They pleaded with him to take the car and leave them alone, but he insisted Mr. Walthall and daughter go with him. He then made Mrs. Walthall promise not to call the law and she did not for fear of the lives of her husband and daughter. Miss Walthall described the harrowing experience in a radio interview as follows:

"She said that the bandit first insisted that she accompany him alone but after the plea of her mother to allow her father to go along, he agreed for Mr. Walthall to go. He had asked them to carry him to Byrdstown, but upon reaching that point, demanded Miss Walthall, who was driving, to keep going. Again, at the Kentucky-Tennessee line, she said they begged him to release them but he again ordered her to keep driving. At a point near Albany, Kentucky, he instructed her to stop and let her father out, saying he was going to take her with him and threatening to kill her if she resisted. It was at this time that Mr. Walthall made a vain attempt to grab the gun. A struggle ensued in which both men fell from the car and both the father and daughter, taking a desperate chance, ran away from the scene. Mr. Walthall said, "He was just more than I could handle. I would have killed him them and there if I could have gotten my hands of the gun." They ran to a nearby house and aroused the occupants who notified authorities.

"After escaping in the Walthall car, he sped along the highway which he apparently did not know dead-ended in the lake, for he drove into the water. He swam out and at gun point approached two Cincinnati men who were camping near the lake. After robbing them of $90 and taking their car, a 1953 Ford, he retraced his route back to Albany and left on Kentucky highway 734 which was also a dead-end. It was then he registered at the fishing camp where he was later captured. Farra was captured Wednesday afternoon at Grider Boat Dock just after finishing a steak dinner at the restaurant. Sheriff Ernest West, the Clinton County, Ky. sheriff and several other officers made the arrest. Farra offered no resistance at the time.

"Preliminary hearings for Robinson will be held in Livingston on Friday, July 19, at 10:00 a.m. and a similar hearing will be held for Farra in the Clinton County courthouse at the same time. Warrants have been issued for the wives of the bandits who are alleged to have been accomplices in the robbery here and who escaped in another car.

"Willis Turner, FBI agent of Murfreesboro, said the two had blazed a long and complicated trail of crime. He said his first knowledge of the case began early Sunday when the wives of the men challenged a Bowling Green, Ky. man to a drag race. After they were beaten, they stopped the man and stole the car from him. The men are reported to be from Nolan, West Virginia and the wives are believed to have returned there."

The July 26, 1957 issue of The Livingston Enterprise tells that Farra and Robinson were later taken to jail in Davidson County for safekeeping until time for the trial here in October. Sheriff West explained that they were taken to Nashville as it was thought that they would have a less chance to escape by breaking jail there than if they were in the jail in Livingston.

Even though Sheriff West made every effort to keep Farra in a more secure location, just one week before he was to be tried, Farra managed to escape from the maximum securing unit of Central State Hospital near Nashville where he had been sent for an evaluation. The newspaper article has these details:

"Raymond Farra, age 22, who was to face trial in Overton County next week on charges of armed robbery and kidnaping, escaped last week from the maximum security unit of the Central State Hospital near Nashville. Farra, with another prisoner, William Thompson, made their escape through a window in the hospital laundry which had been loosened by some carpenters while making some repairs. After they were through the window, they made their escape over a low wall and down a railroad track." Some believe that Farra may possibly have hitched a ride on the next train that passed by after he made his escape through the window.

Both Farra and Robinson were to face charges in both Kentucky and Tennessee that could have resulted in the death penalty. I’m sorry to say that the end of this story remains a complete mystery since I have yet to determine what happened to either one of these two desperados. One thing is for sure though, they certainly created quite a stir in the peaceful countryside of Livingston and the surrounding areas some 40 years ago. Many will remember that Mr. and Mrs. Henry Walthall were also the parents of Larry Walthall, a local businessman here in Livingston for many years.

Raymond Farra escaped shortly before going on trial in 1957 for robbery and kidnapping charges here in Overton County.

Raymond Farra escaped shortly before going on trial in 1957 for robbery and kidnapping charges here in Overton County.