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Police Capture 2 Suspects in Tennessee Police Deaths

June 19, 1986|Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Police acting on a tip from a driving license examiner captured two men wanted in the 1968 slayings of two Tennessee police officers, authorities said Wednesday.

Charles Lee Herron, who was on the FBI's most wanted list longer than anyone else, surrendered peacefully at dawn Wednesday as he walked from a house into a police stakeout that was set following the arrest the day before of his companion, prison escapee William Garrin Allen II.

Allen, who was arrested after presenting false credentials to the license examiner, walked away from a Tennessee prison after serving six years of a 99-year sentence in the January, 1968, slayings of the Nashville officers.

Black-Power Advocates

News accounts during the racially tense time--less than three months before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.--said the two fugitives and other suspects in the case were black-power advocates.

Allen, 40, was one of four men convicted in the slayings. The fifth suspect, Herron, 49, was never tried.

Although all five men were described by Nashville police at that time as black militants, they were never directly linked to any political activism. News stories described them variously as "anti-poverty workers" and "black-power advocates."

Allen and Herron were being held without bond in Duval County Jail pending extradition to Tennessee.

Officers Shot

The officers, Thomas Johnson and Charles Thomasson, were fatally wounded by a high-powered rifle on Jan. 16, 1968, when they approached a car parked on a dead-end street in Nashville. Authorities said Allen, Herron and three other men were in the car.

Allen and two of the convicted men escaped from the main Tennessee prison in Nashville in May, 1974, by dressing in street clothes and walking out with a group of visitors.

One of the escapees, Steve Parker, remains at large. The other, Ralph Canady, 46, was arrested on drug-related charges April 1 in Baltimore, but hanged himself in his jail cell before he could be questioned by police.

The fourth man convicted in the slayings, John William Alexander Jr., served his term.

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