Trail of Shadows

The Unsolved Murders of Prohibition Agents Dale Kearney and Ray Sutton

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About the Book

In the summer of 1930, two federal prohibition agents were murdered. The first died in a hail of buckshot on a dark street in Aguilar, Colorado. Six weeks later, the second agent and his vehicle disappeared on a sunny afternoon along a New Mexico state highway south of Raton. During their fifty-year search, the authors sought answers to why no one was ever prosecuted for these crimes. This is the first book to correlate the two murders, identify how and why they occurred, and name the parties involved and the roles they played.
Drawing from first-hand interviews and National Archives files, this book lifts the shadows along the trail as the light of truth is shown upon this mystery. Two federal agents can now rest in peace.

About the Author(s)

Chuck Hornung was a member of the founding board of directors and vice president of the Wild West History Association. He is past president of the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association and president of the New Mexico Mounted Police Historical Society.
B. Lee Charlton is a retired law enforcement agent. He was a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a senior intelligence specialist with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California.

Bibliographic Details

Chuck Hornung and B. Lee Charlton
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 245
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7756-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3588-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 2
Part I. The Gathering Storm
1. The Murders of Dale F. Kearney and Ray Sutton 5
2. Prohibition: The Noble Experiment 14
3. “Revenooers”: America’s New Enforcers with Limitations 30
4. The Lawless Years 36
5. Dale F. Kearney: Prohibition Agent, Badge 1422 42
6. Ray Sutton: Prohibition Agent, Badge 2400 50
Part II. Booze, Bootleggers,
Blood and Seeking Justice
7. John F. Vivian, Ralph L. Carr and the Kearney
Investigation Task Force 62
8. The Buccaneers 73
9. Family, Leads and Plans 99
10. You Shall Know the Truth … 107
11. The Forged Check—A Funeral—An Arrest 121
12. The Jack Dionisio Matter 144
13. Valentines—Gangster War—New Plans 156
14. Star Power Visitors—Cornucopia—Vivian’s Dismissal 163
Part III. The Trail Markers Grow Dim
15. Reassignments 178
16. Conspiracy of Silence 188
17. The Final Trail Markers 200
Conclusion 207
Chapter Notes 213
Bibliography 222
Index 229

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Original photographs and illustrations help bring intimacy to the primary characters…. Hornung and Charlton left no stone unturned in their half-century investigation. In their pursuit of the truth, and hopefully justice, the authors were able to interview individuals significant to the cases, unearth forgotten documents, and developed solid leads and hypotheses as to why and how the agents were murdered–and by whom.”—Wild West History Association Journal