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. These events occurred during the era when the government legislated a ban on alcohol manufacture, distribution, and sales within the United States. During their 50-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, name the parties involved and the roles they played. The authors interviewed many individuals associated with the events and discovered a trove of National Archives files containing incident reports, suspect interview notes, the dead agents’ daily activity logs and their personnel files. Building upon this base, they located the remaining documents generated by state and local law enforcement officers and additionally data mined private and public contemporary newspaper collections. The shadows along the trail lift 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 a member of the Historical Society of New Mexico, the English Westerners Society, the Western Writers of America, past president of the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association and president of the New Mexico Mounted Police Historical Society.
B. Lee Charlton is retired after five decades of law enforcement with local, state, and federal agencies. He was a special agent with 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