Mullendore book slated for September release

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Mullendore book slated for September release

Pre-order sales are reported to be “brisk” for a soon-to-be-published book about the 1970 murder of Osage County rancher E.C. Mullendore III.

The book, which has been titled “Footprints in the Dew,” is being written by area author Dale Lewis. According to Lewis, the release is scheduled Sept. 26, which would be the 45th anniversary of Mullendore’s death.

Lewis has been at work on the book for almost a decade. His major entry to the Mullendore case came in 2006 when he established a relationship with former Mullendore associate Damon “Chub” Anderson — who died in 2010.

Anderson had been with his boss at Mullendore’s Hulah-area home on the night the 32-year-old rancher was slain. Due largely to some early breaches involving the crime scene, the case has remained unsolved. In statements to authorities, Anderson claimed he had been upstairs at the residence when Mullendore was beaten and shot by two men who entered the house. (Anderson also had sustained a gunshot wound.)

Lewis first met Anderson after the ex-Mullendore bodyguard arrived at the Kansas State Penetentiary following 17 years as a fugitive from justice on charges unrelated to the murder. Longtime Osage County Sheriff George Wayman had long considered Anderson to be the prime suspect in the case.

Mullendore’s death drew national attention due to a large life insurance policy that ultimately resulted in the largest payout (over $8 million) in the history of U.S. underwriting. Lewis said preliminary orders for his book have come from over a dozen states.

“There is widespread interest in the case,” the writer said. “It is a fascinating true story — with real people who lived real lives.”

Official announcement of the publication plan was made June 25 during an event held at the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville. Lewis, a self-styled private investigator, calls himself “The Original Buffalo Dale” in a weekly column he writes for the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise.

While the book is essentially being self-published by the author, Lewis pointed out that a larger “team effort” is responsible for finally putting the story in print. He said first-edition copies of the book are assured on all pre-orders. (For more, see his website: originalbuffalodale.com).

The title of the book, “Footprints in the Dew,” is in reference to an incident that occurred during the initial investigation at the Mullendore crime scene. Lewis calls the Mullendore case “the most famous unsolved murder” in the American Southwest.

“This Oklahoma tragedy has kept people talking for 45 years, as no-one has ever been charged,” said Lewis, who added “theories about the crime abound.”

As the subject of numerous other books and documentary programs, the case has drawn worldwide attention from law enforcement officials and private investigators who have attempted to solve it. That provides a backdrop for his book about Chub Anderson and the unsolved Mullendore murder.

In 2010, Lewis was placed under a “gag order” after he testified about the then-40-year-old case before a multi-county grand jury in Oklahoma City. Only recently has that order of silence been lifted.

“That’s why I am now able to release the book,” Lewis said.

“While many people speculate on the circumstances of that fateful night, a lot of fingers point to Damon “Chub” Anderson, who was with Mullendore that evening,” the author has previously written. “According to news reports, Anderson said he shot at the men as they fled through glass doors. No evidence of the two men has been reported.

Lewis has spent years researching information he was given by Anderson and talking with law enforcement and others who were involved in the investigation. The book’s title refers to footprints that were seen in the dew on the morning after the murder.

The only footprints were the ones left by Chub Anderson as he exited the rancher’s house to call for an ambulance.