THE MULLENDORE MURDERWritten By Mike Easterling
A Closer Look
If not for the circumstances, it could have been a perfectly enjoyable Sunday drive. Gary Glanz, a 30-year-old private investigator from Tulsa, found himself headed north on U.S. Highway 75 through the Oklahoma countryside on the morning of September 26, 1970, a warm, clear day that still felt more like summer than early fall.
But the idyllic scene was spoiled by the solemn, even fearful, mood in the car. Glanz was traveling with a woman named Linda Mullendore and one of her attorneys, John Arrington, who had awakened Glanz early that morning with a phone call and retained his services on his client’s behalf. The woman had learned hours earlier that her estranged husband of 11 years, millionaire E.C. Mullendore III, had been shot dead the night before on his ranch while his parents lay sleeping in their mansion a few hundred yards away.
Arrington had explained to Glanz that E.C. Mullendore had been insured for $16 million but was heavily in debt and had become involved with unsavory characters from the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. Glanz was summoned to provide security for the woman and her children. The investigator moved quickly, calling his contacts at the Tulsa Police Department and asking to have officers sent to Linda Mullendore’s home.
Now, with that issue addressed, he found himself escorting the woman and her lawyer to the scene of the crime – the Cross Bell Ranch, tucked away in a remote corner of sprawling Osage County in northern Oklahoma. At approximately 42,000 acres, it was one of the largest spreads in Oklahoma and home to thousands of head of cattle, bison and quarter horses.
Everything about the Cross Bell was well kept and first class, illustrating the Mullendore’s fondness for life’s finer things. Glanz soaked it all in as the car rolled past the gates for four miles until it reached the family compound.
The Cross Bell had been, until a few days earlier, home to Linda Mullendore and her four children. The 33-year-old native of nearby Pawhuska – a statuesque, dark-haired beauty with a regal air who bore more than a passing resemblance to Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor – had become E.C. Mullendore’s sweetheart when they were both in their early teens, marrying him in 1959.
But their relationship became strained as E.C.’s financial difficulties multiplied and his drinking increased. Relatively small in stature, the feisty E.C. nevertheless was no stranger to brawling, particularly after he’d been emboldened by a few hours of drinking. Linda watched his boozing with dismay and noted how it had transformed her formerly even-tempered and highly focused husband into a mercurial, paunchy loudmouth. After the two had engaged in an intense verbal exchange a week earlier, Linda decided she had had enough.
She gathered up the children and fled the ranch, moving to Tulsa and filing for divorce on September 23. But an unknown assailant, or assailants, rendered that consideration moot a little more than 48 hours later by firing a shot into E.C. Mullendore’s forehead.
Even at this early stage, Glanz already realized he was fascinated with the case, which drew considerable media attention. What he didn’t know that morning was that his investigation into the crime would come to consume him for much of the rest of his life, requiring 40 years of detective work before the mystery would come fully unraveled.
Professionalism was lacking
The scene at the compound, as Glanz recalled, was like a circus. Along with the representatives of the Osage County Sheriff’s Department and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation who were working the crime scene, there were officials from the nearby Washington County Sheriff’s Department and the Bartlesville Police Department present — mostly in the capacity of sightseers, Glanz said.
Glanz himself found it difficult to keep his curiosity in check as the day progressed, as he was aching to get a look at the crime scene. He also recalled being struck by the rawness of the young Osage County deputies. It was clear, he thought, that many of them had no idea what they were doing – a disturbing prospect, considering the gravity of what had occurred.
That lack of professionalism bothered Glanz, a former decorated Tulsa police detective. But since he was not at the ranch in an official capacity, he had no access to the crime scene — the basement of the co-called Little House, a smaller residence where E.C. had lived, until recently, with his wife and kids. The rancher had been reported shot the night before by his driver, a horse rustler-gone-straight named Damon Tucker “Chub” Anderson.
Anderson said he was upstairs at the residence when he heard a shot. He claimed he raced downstairs to find his employer on the floor and was trying to examine him when he was shot from behind in the right shoulder. Anderson said he saw two stocky young men in suits race up the stairs behind him. Despite his injury, he said, he gave chase, squeezing off five or six rounds from the .25-caliber handgun he carried as the men escaped through a sliding glass door.
Anderson told authorities he then staggered to the nearby residence of ranch manager Dale Kuhrt, alerting him to the crime. While Anderson climbed into his car and set out for the hospital to be treated for his wound, Kuhrt summoned the neighboring Washington County Sheriff’s Department, though the incident had taken place in Osage County.
A deputy and a pair of ambulance attendants responded, deciding after a brief discussion to load Mullendore into an ambulance. They sped back to the hospital in Bartlesville, but it was an unnecessary trip. Mullendore was dead, all right. He had been shot in the forehead after apparently having been involved in a pitched physical battle, as evidenced by the lacerations to his scalp, the contusions to his face and some loosened teeth.
The next day, while Linda Mullendore met with her in-laws, Glanz engaged the deputies in conversation and began piecing together the situation. An experienced interrogator with a gift for putting people at ease, Glanz learned that the Cross Bell had fallen on hard times after E.C. initiated a series of expensive improvements and went on a land- and livestock-buying spree. All told, he owed nearly $10 million.
In an effort to stave off his creditors, E.C. had been trying to solicit a sizable loan from reputed organized crime figures, who had become a regular presence at the Cross Bell. That led to speculation among lawmen and local residents alike that E.C.’s murder was a mob hit. Anderson’s description of the previous night’s events seemed to support that version of events.
Glanz wasn’t buying it. He quickly deduced the prime suspect was the 29-year-old Anderson, who had worked at the Cross Bell for approximately four and a half years as a driver, babysitter, handyman, ranch hand and, by some accounts, E.C.’s bodyguard.
Even as he arranged for around-the-clock security for Linda Mullendore and her children, it was becoming increasingly apparent to Glanz that the mob had nothing to do with E.C. Mullendore’s death and that his widow was in no danger. He dismissed Anderson’s tale, labeling it as a “John Wayne story” too heroic to be true. Glanz would return to the ranch by himself a day before the September 29 funeral and engineer his first meeting with Anderson, fresh out of the hospital. Despite his suspicions, Glanz liked the handyman immediately, recalling that Anderson had a mischievous smile to go with his habit of looking people directly in the eye.
Anderson and Glanz hit if off immediately, leading to several more meetings between the two. Glanz’s official involvement would last for about a year and a half, evolving into a full-fledged investigation of the killing and leading him to pursue leads in Kansas City, New Orleans and Seattle. But the message from those paying his fee was clear, Glanz said: “Let’s get the insurance money, then we’ll worry about solving the crime.”
Hinting at something more
Meanwhile, Glanz felt himself moving into the role of adviser/confidant for the handyman. The private investigator recalled getting a call from a worried Anderson two weeks after the incident when media reports surfaced indicating that an arrest in the case was imminent. Anderson phoned Glanz that morning, asking him to meet him to discuss the situation.
Glanz invited the man to join him in his car outside a restaurant in nearby Skiatook that afternoon, where they could speak privately. Unbeknownst to Anderson, Glanz was recording their conversation with a state-of-the-art, reel-to-reel tape recorder hidden in the trunk of his car, a microphone embedded in the dome light. Once Anderson got in, Glanz activated the recorder by discreetly flipping a toggle switch under the dash.
The private investigator spoke frankly, explaining he didn’t believe Anderson’s story. Glanz not only had gotten in to sketch the crime scene – an examination that shot several holes in Anderson’s version of events – he had informants on the inside of the investigation who were passing him information.
That led him to the conclusion that Anderson had killed his employer, likely in self-defense after Mullendore had shot him, Glanz told his passenger. The investigator revealed that his study of the blood splatters made it clear that Anderson had stopped at the top of the stairs and placed the shots at the door. Law enforcement officials should have figured that out, too, Glanz told him. But they had botched their investigation, and much physical evidence that could have been used against Anderson was not collected.
“They might charge you with the crime, but I don’t see how there’s any way they can prove it,” Glanz says on the tape.
The detective advised Anderson to get an attorney. Glanz told Anderson that if he turned himself in and explained that he killed his boss in self-defense, he likely would be exonerated.
“I just guarantee you could walk out of that courtroom,” he tells Anderson on the recording.
Anderson mostly sat and listened, neither confirming nor disputing Glanz’s version of events. Finally, he was moved to wonder about his chances.
“How would a case look against me, the way it stands?” he asks on the recording.
“It looks like you’re guilty,” Glanz shoots back, then adding a touch more gently, “It looks like you’re lying, definitely.”
Glanz and Anderson would meet again on January 12, 1971, at a Tulsa eatery. The mood this time was lighter, as Glanz recalled, with the two men sitting for three and a half hours, drinking coffee, laughing and chatting.
By that point, Glanz knew the crime scene had been hopelessly contaminated. Mullendore’s body had been removed before any photos could be taken, no scrapings were taken from his fingernails, and his hands were scrubbed by funeral home attendants before a paraffin test could be conducted that would have detected the presence of gunpowder, an indication that he might have fired a gun.
Additionally, little, if any, physical evidence had been collected. Few fingerprints had been lifted, and no hair or blood samples were collected – all standard procedure. Worst of all, the body had been embalmed before an autopsy could be performed.
Glanz had one more meeting with Anderson on June 1, 1971, at a Bartlesville nightclub. The two met inside for a drink, then retired to Glanz’s car to speak privately. Again, Glanz recorded their talk.
Inside the club, Anderson had told Glanz that only three people really knew what happened the night of the murder. The investigator seized on that revelation when they got in the car, asking Anderson if he was opposed to taking a lie detector test.
“No, I’m not opposed to it. I’d like to clear myself,” he says on the tape before backing away from that pronouncement, explaining he no longer appeared in danger of being arrested. “On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to stir it up again.”
The two chatted for a few more minutes. Then, for the first time, Anderson let slip a hint that he was not being completely forthright.
“I’m not hiding nothing from myself or nobody else,” he says on the recording. “I might know something I’m not telling, but I’m not going to tell it in New York if I don’t tell it here.”
Glanz steered the talk back to the murder, hinting that only Anderson could solve the mystery.
“I’ve told you way more than I’ve told anybody else,” Anderson says before offering another observation that came perilously close to the truth from Glanz’s perspective. “You may have the best tape recorder in the world going.”
Anderson joked that he would reveal the whole story on his death bed.
“If I got shot through the heart, Gary, come see me quick,” he says on the tape, chuckling.
Glanz reluctantly let the conversation draw to a close. The two parted ways warmly, not realizing it would be 37 years before their paths crossed again.
Fading into the background
Public fascination with the case eventually waned, returning only with the resolution of the insurance claim in December 1971 for $8 million – enough to stave off the creditors and save the ranch from foreclosure. Glanz would recall seeing that sum listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest claim ever paid on an individual death in the history of the U.S. insurance industry.
The murder investigation expired with a whimper. In February 1972, a grand jury was convened to look into the killing, but it ended its term without issuing any indictments. Anderson had escaped testifying by moving to Kansas and refusing to answer his subpoena.
By then, Glanz had lost touch with the ranch hand. Periodically, he would hear snippets of information about him, especially after Anderson was convicted in a marijuana-growing scheme by Kansas officials in 1990 and jumped bail, disappearing without a trace.
Still, Glanz never stopped thinking about what really might have taken place the night of the killing – even when he was informed by Linda Mullendore’s attorneys after the settlement was reached that his services were no longer required. In spite of his dismissal, he was convinced he could get Anderson to relate to him the true story of the rancher’s killer and put the mystery to rest – for the sake of history, if nothing else.
While the private detective’s career would thrive, Anderson’s scrapes with the law continued until, in 1990, staring down a lengthy jail sentence because of that pot-growing conviction, he went on the lam. He slipped across the border to Mexico, then headed north to Montana, where he took on an assumed identity and found work on a bison ranch owned by media mogul Ted Turner.
That may have marked the end of the two men’s history together if destiny had not brought them back together in 2008. This time, they would, as Glanz long had hoped, sit down and have an honest conversation about the circumstances of E.C. Mullendore’s death. It was, as Anderson would reveal, a story that included a twist no one had envisioned.
By the summer of 2008, E.C. Mullendore had been dead for nearly 40 years. Mired in financial problems and estranged from his wife, the millionaire rancher had been shot dead in his home outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma, on September 25, 1970, by an unknown assailant or assailants. The precise circumstances of Mullendore’s death had never been worked out, despite the efforts of dozens of law enforcement officials to unravel the mystery and the attention of a media horde that covered the aftermath of the crime in a breathless fashion, soon elevating it to one of the great unsolved killings in Oklahoma history.
All that was known for certain about the incident was what was apparent in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder. On that early fall Saturday night, someone had entered the two-story house that Mullendore lived in on his family’s 42,000-acre Cross Bell Ranch in sprawling Osage County, Oklahoma, beaten the 32-year-old rancher savagely, then finished him off with a gunshot to the forehead. That’s what the physical evidence at the crime scene plainly revealed.
From there, well, things got a little hinky.
The only other person known to be present that fateful night was Damon “Chub” Anderson, Mullendore’s driver and ranch handyman. Anderson claimed he was upstairs in the house drawing a bath when he heard a gunshot from the basement. He raced downstairs to find his employer on the floor. Anderson said he was leaning down to examine Mullendore when he was shot from behind in the right shoulder. He turned to see two stocky men in suits race up the stairs. In spite of his wound, Anderson claimed he pursued the men, managing to fire several rounds from a handgun he carried before the men escaped out a sliding patio door into the night. The details offered by Anderson seemed to support the developing narrative that the killing was a mob hit, a crime somehow tied into Mullendore’s well-known money problems and his recent frenzied efforts to secure sizable loans from underworld figures to save the ranch from foreclosure.
Even so, it was a thin story, and not many folks believed Anderson. But because the official investigation into Mullendore’s murder had been badly bungled, with vital evidence failing to be collected and proper investigative procedure being ignored, it had managed to hold up for almost four decades. Officially, the crime was never solved, and Anderson, the prime suspect, was never charged with anything.
By 2008, hardly anybody gave a damn anymore about who had killed E.C. Mullendore, or why. The crime had faded into the pages of history, becoming part of local lore in Osage County and being forgotten almost everywhere else.
But one man hadn’t forgotten. Gary Glanz, a young private investigator from Tulsa — a 90-minute drive southeast of Mullendore’s ranch — had gotten involved in the case almost immediately back in 1970, being summoned to provide security for Mullendore’s estranged widow, Linda, and the couple’s children.
Glanz had no role in the official investigation, but as an accomplished and highly decorated former Tulsa Police Department detective, he took a natural and intense interest in the crime. He had befriended Anderson in the aftermath of the shooting and met with him several times to discuss what had happened.
On a couple of those occasions, Glanz — whose own examination of the crime scene had quickly exposed sizable holes in Anderson’s version of events — thought he was very close to getting the handyman to tell him the truth about Mullendore’s murder.
But lacking any legal authority, he knew he could only push Anderson so far, especially as the law enforcement officials handling the case lost interest over time, sandbagged by their own incompetence. By the time the Mullendore family secured an $8 million life insurance settlement in December 1971 to save the ranch from its creditors, thus ending Glanz’s work for Linda Mullendore, he and Anderson had lost touch, and the trail had gone cold.
It was a loose end that gnawed at Glanz, a man unused to leaving a job unfinished. He was convinced that Anderson had manufactured the story about the two assassins and most likely had gotten into a brawl with his notoriously hot-tempered boss. Glanz deduced that Anderson had beaten Mullendore up, then shot and killed him. Glanz also figured that Anderson had actually shot himself, but he couldn’t figure out how the handyman had managed to do that. He puzzled over the details of the crime, turning it over in his mind repeatedly as the years flew by. In that time, Glanz had built a lofty reputation as one of the nation’s premier private detectives, earning a front-page write-up in The Wall Street Journal and resolving a slew of high-profile cases, many of them for Fortune 500 clients.
So it was easy to see why the Mullendore case ate at him. If he ever had the chance to sit down alone with Anderson again, Glanz told himself, he was sure he could get to the bottom of the story.
A familiar voice on the phone
That chance finally came in 2008. On September 5, Glanz was sitting at the desk in his office when his phone rang. Glanz answered it, and to his enormous surprise and delight, Chub Anderson was on the other end, greeting Glanz like an old friend.
The ensuing years had not been kind to Anderson, who had endured several scrapes with the law unrelated to the Mullendore case. Facing prison time over drug charges in Oklahoma and Kansas, he had skipped bail and fled, winding up in Montana, living under an assumed identity and working on a ranch owned by media magnate Ted Turner. It wasn’t until he sought help for a kidney ailment in 2006 that his real identity was discovered and he was arrested and extradited to Kansas to face the music.
Anderson had been facing a lengthy sentence, but because of his declining health, he served only seven months before being released.
The two men spoke for approximately 15 minutes, making plans to meet for breakfast that weekend. As he bid Anderson goodbye, Glanz felt a twinge of excitement: Here, finally, was his long-awaited chance to pry the truth from the one man who knew exactly how E.C. Mullendore had been killed. The chance to solve a 38-year-old murder was the sort of thing Glanz lived for, filling him with anticipation.
The private detective arose early on September 7, 2008, bounding out of bed and hitting the road by 6 a.m. so he could meet Anderson at a restaurant in Caney, Kansas, by 8 a.m., as they had agreed. They finished their catching up over their meal. Glanz filled Anderson in on his career, then the former handyman described how he was receiving dialysis treatments several times a week and had only one functioning kidney left. He was living on $700 a month in Social Security.
After breakfast, the two men agreed to reconvene at Anderson’s apartment, where they briefly discussed the Mullendore case. It was apparent that Anderson had a habit of repeating himself and that his mind had a tendency to drift unless he was prodded to return to the subject at hand. Anderson did acknowledge to Glanz that he had not had a problem keeping his secrets about the shooting and that he and E.C. had gotten into many physical altercations over time.
Glanz finally headed out the door at 1 p.m., assuring Anderson he would be back in touch soon.
Over the next several months, Glanz became a regular visitor to Anderson’s Caney apartment as the suspect’s health continued to deteriorate. Sensing Anderson was ready to unburden himself after so many years, the investigator would gently steer their conversations back to the night of the murder, and Anderson slowly but steadily began to fill in the details, acknowledging he was ready to see the case officially resolved with Glanz’s help.
Anderson must have realized he didn’t have long to live, and his willingness to finally reveal the truth – albeit in fits and starts – perhaps demonstrated that he didn’t want to take the weight of this enormous secret with him to the grave.
During an October 29 meeting that was tape recorded by Glanz, Anderson casually dropped a bombshell, admitting he had lied about the presence of the two burly, well-dressed men and that he had staged the shooting at the patio door. Glanz listened carefully, wondering how Anderson had managed to get shot in the back, if not by the two supposed mafia suspects?
It was then that Anderson dropped the biggest surprise, revealing with a mischievous grin that another man — a ranch hand who had been terminated that day — had been hiding outside the house that night, waiting for a ride home from Anderson as soon as E.C. Mullendore went to bed.
As Glanz sat listening, the long-jumbled pieces of the puzzle suddenly clicked into place in his mind.
“I just couldn’t believe,” he would say years later, reflecting on his reaction. “I was sort of stunned. Now, it all made sense.”
Anderson claimed during that conversation the second man never entered the house that night, but during a subsequent meeting with Glanz on November 5 that also was recorded, he confessed that he had enlisted the ranch hand’s help in concealing the true nature of Mullendore’s death.
During that meeting, Anderson told Glanz that he and his boss had — as Glanz long suspected — gotten into a fistfight that night. He could not recall what sparked the altercation, but he recalled the young rancher’s toughness, adding, “That little —— could sure take a good punch.” Anderson said Mullendore then pulled a gun on him, and Anderson took it away, striking Mullendore in the face with it. At some point, he said, the weapon went off, with a slug striking Mullendore in the forehead and killing him.
Anderson said he formulated the cover-up on the fly, going outside to retrieve the ranch hand from a children’s playhouse where he was hiding. He fired the shots through the patio door, then had his co-conspirator shoot him in the back of the shoulder to lend credence to his tale about the two assassins.
Glanz interjected, marveling at what it must have been like for Anderson to calmly stand with his back to the second man, knowing he was about to be shot.
“It makes your ass draw up,” Anderson said matter of factly in his Kansas drawl.
Glanz observed that by shooting Anderson, the second man, who had not been present when Anderson shot Mullendore, had now involved himself in the crime by becoming an accessory after the fact.
“He done that out of friendship for me,” Anderson said, adding moments later, “And I really admired him for it, you know.”
Glanz and Anderson spoke for a while longer, strategizing about how to present the new evidence to authorities and wondering whether Anderson’s co-conspirator, who still lived nearby, would be willing to cooperate with Glanz’s investigation and corroborate Anderson’s new account.
As he drove back to Tulsa that afternoon, Glanz allowed himself the luxury of feeling some satisfaction, though he realized his work was only beginning.
Finally, after nearly 40 years and with Anderson’s confession, he had unlocked the mysterious circumstances surrounding one of the greatest unsolved crimes in Oklahoma history. His plan was to finish his investigation by enlisting the cooperation of Anderson’s co-conspirator, secure legal representation for Anderson and the second man, then present his findings to the Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch and the District Attorney’s Office so that the case could be resolved.
Stonewalled on all fronts
But as with the other elements of the Mullendore murder case, nothing went according to plan. Despite numerous attempts, Glanz – who, as a private investigator, lacked any official authority — was never able to arrange a conversation with Anderson’s co-conspirator, as the man obviously feared his actions back in 1970 might land him in prison.
Stymied on that front, Glanz took his evidence, including his recordings, to Sheriff’s Office investigator Bart Perrier and District Attorney Larry Stuart, who initially was enthusiastic about resolving the case. But Anderson’s rapidly failing health complicated that effort, especially when he was moved to a nursing home and many people close to him succeeded in keeping him isolated from Glanz and the authorities.
At the same time, Anderson’s co-conspirator steadfastly refused to respond to all attempts by the Sheriff’s Office to question him. An arrest warrant affidavit for Anderson had been filed by the sheriff in July 2010, based on his statements to Glanz, but the DA declined to act on it.
Once again, progress on the case had come to a standstill despite Anderson’s startling admissions to Glanz. And when the former fugitive finally succumbed to his numerous health problems on Nov. 24, 2010, before he could provide official testimony about his role in the killing of the rancher, Glanz realized with enormous disappointment that their last, best chance to officially close the case probably had evaporated.
He was not mistaken. Anderson was dead, leaving only his recorded conversations with Glanz as evidence of how E.C. Mullendore had really died.
By the spring of 2011, the focus of local law enforcement officials had turned to charging Anderson’s co-conspirator for his role in the case, and Rex Duncan, the new DA, told Glanz in April he planned to do just that. But the months flew by, and nothing happened. Duncan, an officer in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, was called up to active duty in the Middle East, effectively sidelining him from the investigation. Finally, Glanz heard from law enforcement officials that they had determined that it was impossible to charge the co-conspirator because state statutes in 1970 provided him with a legal loophole. Once again, the investigation was closed.
Officially, the murder of E.C. Mullendore remains an open case after almost a half century, despite Glanz’s best efforts and his conviction that Anderson told him the truth in the fall of 2008. While he admits to being somewhat frustrated by that, Glanz had adopted a philosophical approach to the case.
“I don’t really dwell on that part of it (the open status of the crime) at all,” he said, explaining that he prefers to focus on the final conversation he had with Anderson in November 2008 after the suspect finally admitted the truth to him.
Glanz said he looked at Anderson and smiled, explaining that by shooting and killing the deeply-in-debt rancher, he had allowed Mullendore’s family to collect on a significant chunk of his multimillion-dollar life insurance policy.
“If it hadn’t been for you shooting him, they wouldn’t have gotten that,” Glanz said. “You saved the ranch.”
Anderson, by then just a shell of the man he was when he worked for Mullendore, grinned back at him as he realized the truth of Glanz’s statement. “I guess I did save the ranch,” he said, smiling.
About The Firm
The Wall Street Journal calls him “The Super Sleuth” —and with good reason. For more than 50 years, Tulsa private investigator Gary Glanz has been solving major crimes, locating missing people, recovering tens of millions of dollars in cash and other valuable materials and securing priceless art collections—all with a flair, and a sense of professionalism and discretion that have earned him an international reputation. Originally making a name for himself as one of the youngest detectives in the history of the Tulsa Police Department, where he received numerous awards and citations, Glanz left the police department in 1967 to establish his own private investigative firm. Gary G...
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