The Final Days of Pearchmouth Stanton

During the years of the Great Depression (1929-1940) a number of outlaw gangs roamed around West Texas and eastern New Mexico. Noted killers and bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow hid in Carlsbad for a time in 1932 and there was a major gunfight at Bluitt, in Roosevelt County, which resulted in the death of Texas officer Harve Bolin and the severe wounding of Roosevelt County Deputy R. L. Hollis, also in 1932. In July of the following year, another shootout occurred in eastern New Mexico which resulted in two deaths.

Toward the middle of the month, Lincoln County Sheriff A. S. McCamant got word that Texas killers and robbers, Ed “Pearchmouth” Stanton, 45, and Glen Hunsucker, 21, were hiding on a dry-land homestead farm between Corona and Ramon. It was alleged that Stanton’s brother, Will, lived in the area. Along with deputies Tom Jones, Jack Davidson, and Hubert Reynolds, the sheriff visited the farm in question on Saturday, and found no evidence that the outlaws were there. The posse went back on Sunday, however, and observed tire tracks in the barnyard. Since Will Stanton did not own a motor vehicle, the conclusion was quickly drawn that Perchmouth and his partner had visited during the night.

The posse took up pursuit to the west, toward Corona. An earlier rain made the car easy to follow. After a few miles, the tracks turned away from the dirt road and onto a little-used trail into an open area dotted with scrub brush and a wooded area toward one end. That bosque is where Stanton and Hunsucker had hidden themselves and their car. Without warning they opened fire on the posse. Tom Jones was killed almost instantly by a bullet to the head. Hunsucker left his hiding place and advanced on the posse firing as he went. He too was soon dead with eight bullets in his body. Stanton abandoned his car and escaped on foot as the officers attended to Jones’ body. No one else was injured in the fight but Sheriff McCamant and Deputy Davidson remained on the scene while Reynolds took the bodies of Deputy Jones and Hunsucker to Corona.

Ken Fuller, who lived in Corona at the time, was present when Hunsucker’s body was dumped on the driveway of local gasoline station. He said the body had so many bullet holes in it that it looked like a sieve.

Word of the Jones’ killing spread rapidly around Lincoln County and southeastern New Mexico and by Monday morning Sheriff McCamant had help from Capitan and Hondo, as well as other jurisdictions. His posse grew to more than 20 men and they scoured the area. In the afternoon, one of the searchers spotted Stanton, not far from the village of Ramon. He acted as if he intended to shoot it out, but when he realized that he was surrounded, he surrendered. He was armed with two .45 caliber pistols and a rifle at the time. One of the handguns was pos   itively identified as the weapon used to kill Swisher County Sheriff Moseley at Tulia, Texas. Pearchmouth was taken to jail in Carrizozo and kept there under heavy guard. A witness positively identified Hunsucker as the other participant in the Moseley murder.

By Tuesday morning, officers from Tulia and Silverton in the Texas Panhandle arrived in Carrizozo. They positively identified Stanton and Hunsucker as the bandits who had shot and killed Sheriff John Moseley after they had robbed a gasoline station in Tulia on January 23, 1933. Hunsucker was believed to have participated in a bank robbery at Olton, Texas, and to have participated in the Bluitt gunfight mentioned above. The two of them may have also participated in the killing of deputy sheriff Joe Brown at Rhome, Texas, soon after the killing of Sheriff Moseley. Between January and June of 1933 there was what was called by some a crime wave in West Texas, and most lawmen believed that Stanton and Hunsucker, along with several others, were responsible for it.

It came as no surprise that Stanton denied culpability in any of the killings and blamed them all on Hunsucker. He went on trial at Tulia, Texas, in September 1933 and testimony during that event proved conclusively that he was in fact Sheriff Moseley’s killer. Stanton was found guilty and sentenced to death in Huntsville prison’s electric chair. He was not tried for the killings of deputies Brown in Texas and Jones in New Mexico (and neither was anyone else).

The story did not end there, though. Appeals are automatic in capital crime convictions, and the Stanton case made its way through the court system before the conviction was upheld in January 1934. He was removed from Huntsville and transported back to Tulia where he was to be resentenced. Some glitch in the proceedings occurred and Pearchmouth was moved to the jail in Lubbock for safe-keeping. His first attempt at escape failed but in June of 1934 he and two other inmates managed to get away from jail in a stolen car.

It is indicative of Stanton’s imagination that he could think of no other place to hide but New Mexico and soon enough a forest ranger spotted the fugitive and reported the sighting to Texas authorities. Officers from both states scoured all of eastern New Mexico and lost his trail until late August 1934. Sheriff G. R. “Boots” Fletcher of Colfax County, and his deputies, arrested Stanton at a dance in the town of Therma (now Eagle Nest). Quickly returned to Huntsville, authorities there wasted no time in ridding the world of Edward “Pearchmouth” Stanton. Upon his return to the prison he was immediately placed on death row and was executed by electrocution on September 28, 1934, only a month later.

To his executioners, Stanton bemoaned the fact that he would not be able to participate in the prison rodeo scheduled for a few days after his death. 

By Don Bullis . . . Don Bullis is the author of ten books on New Mexico. Go to www.DonBullis.biz for more info.