Burial Set For Tomorrow

Fugitives Dies In Shootout

    A tragic end was written last Monday night to the life story of Franklin N. Stevens, 34, of St. Charles. He died in a gun battle with Lee County Deputies, after a wild chase that extended from Chestnut Ridge, east of Jonesville, on U.S. 58, to some ten miles west of Jonesville, where he wrecked the car. Lee County Deputies overtook him at this point where a shootout ended his life.

    An extensive search had been underway by Virginia and Kentucky law enforcement officers since Stevens had allegedly gunned down, Harlan County Deputy Officer, Wilson McLain, 53, in the Cold Spring Market, north of Pennington Gap, on U.S. route 421, last Saturday afternoon.

    Funeral services for Franklin M. Stevens will be held Friday at one p.m. in the Free Pentacostal Holiness Church at Smith, Kentucky, with the Reverends Deuner Short and Henry Long officiating. Burial will follow in the Middleton Cemetery, also in Kentucky.

    The body will be taken to the home of a brother, Jack Stevens, Pennington Gap, where the family will receive friends Thursday evening between the hours of seven and nine o'clock.

    He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Roxie Stevens of St. Charles; five brothers, Ford, Worchester, Mass.; Labourn, Crockett and Rodney all of St. Charles and Jack of Pennington Gap; three sisters, Janette Petersons, sonata, California, Bonnie White, Chicago, Ill., Rose Marindino, Louisville, Ky.

    Province Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

    Events that eventually led to the death of Franklin M. Stevens were put in motion last Saturday afternoon when he allegedly walked into the Cold Spring Market, approaching Harlan County Deputy Sheriff Wilson McLain from behind; pulled his (McLain's) gun from the holster and shot him four or five times. McLain was dead when the Lee County Rescue Squad reached the scene.

    Stevens, according to police immediately forced one of the clerks in the store to drive him in a store vehicle some three miles, where he entered the woods.

    The shooting immediately set in motion a massive man hunt which involved Lee County and Harlan County Law enforcement officers as well as State Police from both states. The search continued along the Virginia-Kentucky border, on the ground and from the air.

    Police surmised that the shooting of McLain may have been tied in with the fact that two of Stevens brothers were recently imprisoned for a Harlan County murder in 1975.

    A recent Harlan County robbery may also have been a factor in the shooting, police surmised. McLain, police said, had been in search of Stevens for questioning about this break-in.

    Sheriff Paul T. Harber said that he had received a letter late Saturday afternoon from Virginia parole authorities instructing him to arrest Stevens who had been granted parole five weeks ago after serving time in a Kentucky state prison.

    Lee County Sheriff's deputies, Harber said, had seen Stevens early last Saturday morning, adding " if the letter from the parole officials had just come one day sooner McLain would possibly not have died."

    Events that led to Stevens death got underway Monday afternoon when a taxi driver in Pennington Gap, got a call to come to the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, in Pennington Gap according to a spokesman for the Sheriff's office. Once the fare had been picked up, the driver recognized Stevens. He was was instructed to take him (Stevens) to Jonesville. Enroute to Jonesville, according to a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, Stevens instructed him to stop at Ben Hur "for something to drink." While there, the driver urged someone to call the Sheriff. This was done and the Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched in that direction, meeting the car carrying Stevens. Turning, they gave chase. At the foot of Chestnut Ridge, Stevens ordered the driver to stop the car at a high rate of speed, almost colliding with cars as he sped through Jonesville.

    A roadblock was set up by Sheriff's Deputies west of Jonesville, near the Friendship Baptist Church. "How he got around our cars, I'll never know," a Deputy said. Once around the roadblock the chase continued to a point some ten miles west of Jonesville, at an ever increasing rate of speed. Finally Stevens car went out of control. First into the ditch on one side of the road and finally the car came to rest on the left side. Stevens, the spokesman said, came out of the car on the right hand side, with a .38 police special.

    The shootout was short. A shotgun blast brought the episode to an end. When the Ambulance Service personnel arrived, Stevens was thought to be dead. County Coroner H.A. Kinser was called to the scene where he officially pronounced Stevens dead. An autopsy was performed as in such cases.

Powell Valley News 22 Apr 1976


Found this link below.  

Frank James STEVENS, Defendant- Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee. No. 20488. United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. March 22, 1971