Griffith Kills Gassaway Police Chief in 1915


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 5/6/1915.

Griffith Causes Great Excitement

W.H. Griffith, alleged murderer of Constable Jeff Goff, of Creston, and writer of bad checks in several counties in this section of the state, has again sprung into great prominence by killing Chief of Police G.O. Thomas, of Gassaway, and seriously wounding Chas. Comer, of that place in a fight at Gassaway Friday.

After Griffith made his escape from the scene of his Wirt county crime, he made his way to Clarksburg, it is presumed.  His next appearance in the lime-light was at Sutton about two weeks ago when he went to the Home National Bank in that city and deposited a $500 check on a Clarksburg bank payable to the order of F.S. Rose which was the name he decided to operate under in Braxton county.  From the bank he went to several of the stores in Sutton making purchases and getting checks cashed, and then went on to Gassaway on a bicycle which he purchased with one of his checks.  In Gassaway he also made several purchases giving his check with reckless prodigality, and then went on to Charleston where he purchased a motor-boat paying for it with a $100 check.  About this time it was found out that the first check deposited by him in the Sutton bank was a forgery and that all of his checks were worthless.  The man who had sold Griffith the motor-boat followed him to Lock No. 10 on the Great Kanawha where he overtook him and regained possession of his property.  For some unexplained reason Griffith made his way back to Gassaway and as soon as it was known he was in town police officers attempted to arrest him.  Griffith was standing in a store when Chief G.O. Thompson and his assistant, Chas. Comer, walked in and grabbed him.  Griffith managed to pull his gun from his pocket and reaching behind him fired several shots, one of which was fatal to Chief Thompson, one wounding comer and yet another striking Griffith himself in the hand and inflicting an ugly wound.  The officers fired no shots, not being armed.  Griffith then made his escape and a posse with bloodhounds took up his trail.  That night one of the Coal & Coke stations was broken into and robbed and Griffith was charged with that crime.  Sunday night two stores in Gilmer and one at Truebada, were burglarized and a horse was stolen from one of the farmers residing near Truebada.  Monday morning a posse headed by Prosecuting Attorney Barnett, of Glenville started out after Griffith, at whose door all the above crimes were laid, and overtook him at Dekalb. Griffith opened fire on the crowd but no one was injured.  He then made his way to the woods north of the river in Tanner country.  A large crowd of men with bloodhounds is still in the woods hunting him, and many stories are afloat concerning him.  One that he was surrounded in the woods near Tanner and that he had cursed and fired several shots at trailers was being circulated here Tuesday.  As we go to press he is still at large and probably will not be captured as it is likely he has made his escape from the woods.  It was thought that he was trying to get back into the Leading Creek or Straight Creek country.  It will be a matter of gratification to Griffith's friends, if he has any, to know that he is being well cared for during the chase.  Tuesday he ate breakfast with fourteen different families; seven elegant luncheons were spread for him and he sumptiously dined at eighteen different and widely scattered places.  His wound was dressed eight different times and he slept in twenty-three different haystacks.