Night Watchman Elijah Columbus Smith

Night Watchman Elijah Columbus Smith

Byars Police Department, Oklahoma

End of Watch Sunday, June 27, 1937

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Elijah Columbus Smith

Watchman Elijah Smith was shot and killed when he interrupted a robbery at a local hardware store.

The suspect, who was an escaped convict from a Texas prison, was apprehended by officers in Blytheville, Arkansas, a week later while trying to rob a beer truck. He was convicted of Watchman Smith's murder and sentenced to life.

On October 8, 1941, he and three inmates attempted to escape from the Oklahoma Penitentiary. His three inmate companions, Warden Jess Dunn, and Deputy Sheriff William A. Ford of the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office were shot and killed. He was convicted of Warden Dunn's murder and executed in the electric chair July 14, 1943.


  • Age 68
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 6 Reflections

This is probably less of a reflection, but more a notation. In the research I have compiled on the life of Mr. Bybee it was reported there were two men surprised by Mr. Smith mid robbery at the Milford Hardware Store June 27, 1937; 1) William Hilton Bybee (My Great-Great Uncle) and 2) Hiriam Prather. Hilton Bybee's fingerprints were found on the flashlight of Mr. Smith.

Elijah Columbas "Bill" Smith, Night Officer
Byars Police Department

About 6 a.m. on Sunday, June 27,1937, the body of Elijah Columbas “Bill” Smith, night officer at Byars, was discovered in the rear of the Milford Hardware store. Smith had apparently surprised two robbers who had entered the store and stolen several guns. Smith was shot twice from behind and beaten to death. An investigation determined that the murder occurred at approximately 2:30 A.M. Two suspects were identified, W.H. Bybee, an escapee from Texas, and Hiram Prather. Bybee’s fingerprints were found on Smith’s flashlight. Bybee was killed in a gunfight with Arkansas State Police near Monticello on July 20th. Hiram Prather, while attempting an escape from the McAlester State Penitentary in August of 1941, caused the death of Warden Jess Dunn. He was executed in July of 1943 for Dunn’s death. Elijah Columbas Smith, a single man, had been the night police officer for about one month. He was a carpenter by trade.

Patricia Allen, Registered Nurse
Great Great Niece of W. H Bybee.

July 7, 2020

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