Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Deputy Sheriff Oliver Rufus Crosswhite

Greene County Sheriff's Office, Missouri

End of Watch Saturday, January 2, 1932

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Deputy Sheriff Oliver Rufus Crosswhite

JUSTICE STORY: Cop killing brothers’ reign of terror
MAR 12, 2022

Sheriff Marcell Hendrix was first to die.
“They’ve got me,” he called out to his men as a shotgun blast ripped into his chest. “You’d better run.”

Another volley hit deputy sheriff Wiley Mashburn, splitting his face.
Within minutes, four more Springfield, Mo., officers lay dying. Three others were wounded.

Their deaths on the cold, gray afternoon of Jan. 2, 1932 became known as the Young Brothers Massacre. It conferred a measure of immortality upon a pair of lowlifes.
That day, the brothers — career criminals Harry, 27, and Jennings, 35 — made it into the record books of American crime. Their shootout is said to be the largest single mass killing of police officers in the United States until the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The police bloodbath was the culmination of lengthy criminal careers. The three delinquents were among the 11 children of James David Young and his wife, Willie, who settled in 1918 on a Missouri farm with nearly 99-acres, a barn, and a big two-story white house, wrote Paul W. Barrett and Mary H. Barrett in their 1988 book, “Young Brothers Massacre.”
James died in 1921, leaving the farm and family in the hands of his wife. She managed to keep things going but she could do little to rein in her three bad seeds.

Her sons Paul, Jennings, and Harry decided that burglary and later a car theft ring beat farming as a way to make a living. Around the time World War I ended, Paul and Jennings had criminal records and multiple prison stays. Hot-tempered Harry soon joined them.

By the dawn of 1932, Harry had been a fugitive for two and a half years, wanted in connection with the June 1929 shooting death of another law enforcement officer — Marshal Mark Noe, of Republic, a town about 14 miles from Springfield.

Harry and a buddy had been drinking and roaring wildly around in their Ford coupe. Noe tried to arrest them for drunken, disorderly conduct. Instead, he ended up in a ditch outside of town, two bullets in his brain. Harry vanished that night.

On New Year’s Day 1932, two young women drove a Ford into a Springfield used-car dealership. They asked the dealer for $250. He told them he had no cash and that they should come back the next day. When they left, he immediately called police and said he suspected the car was hot.
The women were Vinita Young and Mrs. Lorena Conley, the brothers’ pretty little sisters. The Ford was reported stolen in Houston, Texas, where police believed Harry had been hiding for more than two years. Photos of the girls in the Daily News on Jan. 6, 1932 showed two young lovelies, smiling at the camera.

They told police that Harry and Jennings were out at the family farm. No one else was there, not even their mother, who was staying at the home of a friend in town.

Toting pistols and tear gas, Sheriff Hendrix and a crew of nine lawmen and one civilian sped out to the farm and surrounded the house. The place was silent, and seemed deserted, until Hendrix decided to kick in a door. It was last thing he would ever do.
In seconds, Hendrix and Mashburn were mortally wounded and the other men ran for cover. Rifle shots felled Patrolman Charles Houser, Deputy Ollie Crosswhite, and Detectives Sid Meadows and Tony Oliver.

Bullets grazed city Detective Frank Pike as he dashed away from the farmhouse, zig zagging through a field. “You ever watch a jackrabbit run from a hound? That’s the way I ran,” he would later recall. Harry and Jennings had reputations throughout the region as crack shots, but Pike somehow managed to get away. Another officer made it to the police car parked at the gate and sped off for help.

It was dark by the time a posse arrived, but the killers were long gone. They managed to elude police, civilians, bloodhounds, and surveillance from planes.
In Texas a day later, a local farmer helped two men who had driven a Ford into a ditch, wrecking the car, which they abandoned. The farmer looked inside, found two rifles, and brought the Ford to the attention of authorities. Through a plate check, they discovered it was in Springfield the day of the massacre.
The searchers turned their attentions toward Houston.
A day after they fled, newspapers carried their mother’s prayers for her boys.

“I hope they will kill themselves,” Willie said. “I’d rather they would do that than have the law kill them. I can’t bear to think of them hanging. I hope they shoot themselves.”

Her prayers were answered on Jan. 5. Houston police traced the desperados to a rented room on the east end of the city, and lobbed tear gas shells into the house.
“We’re dead. Come and get us,” came a voice from the room where the two outlaw brothers were hiding. Then there were three shots, a pause, three more shots, and silence.

Inside, lay the body of Jennings Young. The next day, The Springfield News-Leader carried pictures of his bloodied, glassy-eyed corpse, a pistol still in his hand.

Harry, with bullets in his heart and head, would die later at a hospital. Their deaths were ruled a double suicide.
“The Young brothers, Jennings and Harry,” noted the Associated Press, “closed the case against themselves with their own pistols today.”

Retired Police Officer
NYPD 005

March 12, 2022

Rest in peace Deputy Sheriff Crosswhite.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

August 22, 2020

Ollie Crosswhite was the cousin of my grandfather. He is buried in the Brighton Cemetery and every year my daughter and I put an American flag and flowers on his grave. Ours are the only decorations every year. I would like his family to know he is not forgotten.

Nancy Ellis
Second cousin

July 31, 2019

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9

Marshal Chris Di Gerolamo
Federal Air Marshal Service

September 8, 2018

Your service and dedication are remembered some 80 years after. The sacrifice you made will not be forgotten. I grew up with stories about you my grandmothers uncle who gave his life doing his job. It inspired me to take the same path. One day on the other side maybe we will compare stories. RIP

Corporal John Krempa
Boise County Sheriff's Office (great great nephew)

January 5, 2012

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 80th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect, not even 80 years.

Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
Mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg PD, eow 4/24/05

January 2, 2012

We were asked for school to interview an elder for a story about history. I asked my family who I should interview. My parents told me about my great great grandfather. It's sad that my great grandpa or my poppy Keith(my grandfather) have all passed away and couldn't be the ones to tell me our families stories. I am proud of my great great grandfather Ollie and the sacrifice he made for our community. He left behind 6 children and a wife that day, to insure the safety of others.
I also think it is funny to hear others that I have never met talk about the Crosswhite nose lol but am glad that it has been passed on (skipping me and my siblings). Who knew there were so many Crosswhites...My great grandfather had the nose, my poppy Keith had the nose. My father Troy has the nose and so does his brother and sister..
I love you great great grandpa Ollie RIP and thanks again for serving our community.

Morgan Danielle Crosswhite
great great grandaughter

September 13, 2010

This was my great great grandfather also. I think it is great what he did, and am proud to call him family. Thanks to everyone leaving comments on this. It means a lot to the family.

L. Dilley
Great Great Grandaughter

March 17, 2010

I heard the stories of my Great Great Grandfather and I am so proud to call him part of my family. My family members always talk about the "Crosswhite nose" well seeing him and looking at my mother, aunts and grandmother I see the beautiful relation in bone structure and the look of strength in their faces.

N Brown
Great great Grand Daughter

February 8, 2008

May you always rest in peace knowing that you will always be remembered, just as a true hero should be.

Cpl/1 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police

January 2, 2008



December 30, 2007

The Ozarks has not forgotten despite the long span of years since your death nor will we.


Vanessa Foster
Springfield Resident

April 8, 2007

Your valiant and courageous efforts are not forgotten. Thank you for your bravery and commitment to the badge. You are truly a hero.

A Relative of Officer Robert Stanze

January 2, 2007

It is wonderful to know that there is a page like this to pay respects to our heroes. As the great-grandaughter of Ollie Crosswhite and the wife of a police officer, I am proud to see our law enforcement officers honored and remembered.

Carrie B.
great grandaughter

July 10, 2006

God bless you and your family at your sacrfice and dedication.

St. Louis City Police

August 8, 2004


Each day I try to read the ODMP. Today I read your story. Any officer who dies in the line of duty will always be remembered for his sacrafice. You died a hero. Rest in peace sir.

Captain Robert W Cannon, Ret.
Vermilion Co, Il. Sheriff's Dept.

May 10, 2004


I had a chance to meet your son, Freddie Joe, a few months ago.

The calaboose -- the city lockup where you took prisoners, now houses a Community Oriented Policing substation and department history museum.

Your son and some friends came to tour the calaboose. I recognized him as soon as he walked in because he looks just like pictures I've seen of you.

Joe is 72 now. Although he was only two when you were killed, your family and friends obviously made sure he knew his father, if only through their memories of you. And he was kind enough to share those memories with me. By the time he left, it was almost as if you had visited yourself. I think you'd be proud of the man I met that day.

Gail DeGeorge, Volunteer
Springfield Police Department

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.