Claude Dallas

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Claude Lafayette Dallas, Jr. (born March 11, 1950) was a self-styled mountain man. The son of a dairy farmer, he spent his early years in Luce County, Michigan, later moving to rural Morrow County, Ohio where he liked to trap and hunt game. Dallas graduated from Mount Gilead High School in 1967. During the Vietnam War, he dodged the draft and fled west, earning a living as a ranch hand and trapper. Dallas was eventually charged with killing two game wardens in remote Owyhee County, Idaho, in January 1981. He eluded capture for over 15 months, until found in nearby northern Nevada in April 1982, north of Winnemucca.[1][2] Convicted that October,[3] Dallas escaped from prison in 1986 on Easter Sunday (March 30)[4] and eluded law enforcement officials for nearly a year; he was apprehended outside a convenience store in suburban southern California in March 1987.[5][6]

Dallas attracted national media attention after both incidents, becoming a particularly controversial figure in Idaho. Some Idahoans saw him as a folk hero, defying the government by defending his right to live off the land; many others, however, were shocked and disgusted. After manslaughter convictions in 1982, his prison escape trial ended in acquittal in 1987.[6] Dallas served 22 years of a 30-year sentence and was released in February 2005.


The incident

Two officers, Conley Elms and Bill Pogue of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, approached Dallas regarding the numerous obvious poaching infringements in his camp in southern Idaho. During his murder trial, Dallas testified that while Elms was inside a tent containing poached bobcats, Pogue drew his weapon, although there was no evidence to support this claim. Dallas reacted by shooting Pogue with his own 357 caliber Ruger Security-Six handgun, which he habitually wore concealed. When Elms exited the tent, Dallas shot him too. Conley Elms was not armed at any point during the encounter.

After the initial gunfire, Dallas used his .22 caliber lever action rifle to shoot both officers execution style, once each in the head. He then threw Elms' body in a nearby river and, with the reluctant assistance of a friend, Jim Stevens, transported Pogue's body to a distant location, where he hid it in a coyote's den. Stevens, who happened to be visiting the trapper's camp that day, did not witness the first shots, although they occurred only 15 feet from where he stood, facing the river; however, he did see Dallas shoot Elms and Pogue in the head as they lay on the ground. The Ruger Sercurity-Six handgun was recovered by a local Idaho man using a metal detector in December 2008. Dallas fled the scene of the killings and was found after a 15-month manhunt.

The trial

Dallas was charged with two counts of first degree murder,[7] but the trial quickly shifted focus to the alleged aggressiveness of one of the victims, Officer Pogue. The issue did sway the jury to convict Dallas of lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.[8] At least one juror cited concern that Dallas was acting in self-defense when he shot Pogue.

Many were dismayed at the verdict, especially in light of the execution-style shots to both officer's heads. The judge apparently shared these sentiments: he sentenced Dallas to 30 years, the maximum for this offense. He lost an appeal to the state supreme court in 1985.[9]

Prison and afterwards

Dallas escaped from the Idaho State Penitentiary east of Kuna in 1986 and was on the run for almost a year. His escape enlarged the legend that he was a nomadic trapper whose life conflicted with the government. Dallas was captured outside a 7-Eleven convenience store in Riverside, California, in March 1987. Following his 1987 trial, he was placed in prisons in Nebraska and New Mexico, and then to a higher security state prison in Kansas in July 1989. [10] He completed the final three weeks[11] of his sentence back in Idaho at Orofino in 2005.[12] Dallas served 22 years in prison, his sentence was reduced by eight years for good behavior. He was released in February 2005, and has been sighted living in Grouse Creek, Utah.

Claude Dallas in popular culture


  1. ^ "FBI, deputies grab suspect in game wardens' slayings". Spokane Chronicle. Associated Press. April 19, 1982. p. 2. 
  2. ^ "Dallas spends quiet day in jail". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. April 26, 1982. p. 8C. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, John (October 21, 1982). "Dallas convicted of manslaughter". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. p. 1A. 
  4. ^ Sher, Jeff (April 1, 1986). "Dallas escapes; woman denies assisting him". Spokesman-Review. p. A1. 
  5. ^ "Claude Dallas recaptured in California". (Moscow) Idahonian. Associated Press. March 9, 1987. p. 1. 
  6. ^ a b "Jury acquits escapee Dallas". The (Bend, OR) Bulletin. UPI. September 6, 1987. p. A-3. 
  7. ^ "Dallas pleads innocent; trial set Sept. 7". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. May 18, 1982. p. 1B. 
  8. ^ Robert F. Jones (1986). "An Angry Rebel's Paradise Lost". People 26 (12).,,20094573,00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  9. ^ Kenyon, Quane (November 21, 1985). "Caluade Dallas Jr.'s appeal rejected". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. p. A6. 
  10. ^ "Killer Claude Dallas moved to prison facility in Kansas". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. July 19, 1989. p. B3. 
  11. ^ "Claude Dallas, who killed 2 officers in '81, to be freed". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. January 24, 2005. p. A6. 
  12. ^ Johnson, David (January 25, 2005). "Convicted killer ClaudeDallas will be released next month". Lewiston Tribune. p. 1A. 
  13. ^ IMDB's entry for the made-for-TV movie: "Manhunt for Claude Dallas (1986)

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