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Columbia City Police solve Mammoth Crime - 16 Jun 1970

As noted in the byline, this classic came from the pen and nimble mind of the inimitable Pete Walker. It appeared well above the fold on page one of the Tuesday, June 16, 1970 edition of the Adair County News - JDGee (a Waggener-Walker Newspapers, Inc publication)
Click on headline for this story written almost half-a-century ago, re-discovered by JDGee.
Related: Wooden creature seen in woods: Alligator/croc or elephant

by Pete Walker, Statesman Newspapers Crime Reporter-at-large

The Columbia City Police solved a baffling crime and captured the largest criminal to date on Tuesday morning about daybreak.

The culprit was a two-ton elephant that had escaped from the Clark and Walter Circus at the fairground. His crime was eating up and trampling down Marvin Downey's garden. To add insult to injury, he turned on the water, took an elephant bath, and then wallowed on the rest of the garden.



During the night, Mr. and Mrs. Downey heard water running and what they thought was a cow bellowing. Checking all of the water outlets in the house they could find nothing running nor could they see a cow in the yard.

Come day, they went out to look around further and discovered footprints as big as a lardcan top all over the garden. Mr. Downey called the city police.

Officer Conover sped to the scene and using up-to-date crime detection methods ruled out the possibility a cow had wreaked such havoc. While officer Conover and the Downeys were studying the footprints, the brazen Pachyderm came ambling across the yard headed for another snack of tender garden truck.

The elephant was taken into custody, charged with maliciously eating up Mr. Downey's cabbages, green beans, and cucumbers, trampling down the green onions, pulling up pepper plants which he did not eat, and taking an uninvited bath after which he did not turn off the water.

Officer Conover got together with Sheriff Joe England for the purpose of deciding what to do with the culprit as John H. Neagle showed no disposition to board him at the jail. One witness said that Deputy "Big Six" Ballou rode the beast back to his home. After a conference of top law officials, Sheriff England notified the circus that neither they nor the elephant could leave town until the damage to the garden had been paid for. In other words, the elephant was held for ransom which the circus paid, leaving town with the elephant in two about noon, realizing that they could not trifle with the law in Columbia and not be brought to justice.

As in the past when crime rears its ugly head, many rumors made the rounds in Columbia as to where the elephant visited on his night of freedom. One courthouse official reported a set of elephant tracks going into and out of the jail yard. This gives some substance to the story that after the elephant was booked by police, he was brought back to jail where it was found none of the cells were big enough to hold him, whereupon City Judge Elmer Rubarts ruled that he be taken back to the fairgrounds to await trial later that morning.


This story was posted on 2018-03-03 13:37:04
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The elephant in the garden visual with Walker's crime report



2018-03-04 - Columbia, KY - Photo from JIM -- with many thanks for the gift of the old newspaper copy! .
The late Pete Walker, partner, developer, fearless guide at Waggener-Walker Newspapers, Inc., contributed an article as 'Statesman Newspapers Crime Reporter-at-large' that chronicled the Columbia City Police solving a baffling crime where they captured the largest criminal to date in 1970. Looking back, it may be the largest criminal caught by the CPD to date, even now in 2018. The culprit was a two-ton elephant that had escaped from the Clark and Walter Circus at the fairgrounds. The elephant's crime was eating up and trampling down Marvin Downey's garden. To add insult to injury, he turned on the water, took an elephant bath, and then wallowed on the rest of the garden. During the night, Mr. and Mrs. Downey reported having heard water running and what they thought was a cow bellowing. Clicking 'read more' goes to the full story. (The accompanying pretty poor art was mine, done at Pete's and my husband Ed's insistence that there should be a visual. - LW)

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