Alexander Apgriffeth "Griff" Anderson
Information Taken from Official Detective Stories with original story by Fred Covert Alexander Apgriffeth (Griff) Anderson Born: May 08, 1884 Died: December 03, 1925
" Griff " Was the Town Marshall of Verden Oklahoma. On the morning of December 3, 1925 he was found in a railroad boxcar by some boys from the local cotton gin just down the tracks from the cotton gin where they worked. The summoned the Sheriff, Horace Crisp and the former town Marshall George Smith who found a grisly scene within the boxcar. Griff, it appeared, had been killed else where or at least the killing had started somewhere else since they noticed blood stains on the door to the boxcar where the body had been dragged across it. After being placed in the boxcar it appeared that the job had been finished with blows to the head.
The Sheriff noted that Griff's pants had stains of grease on them. It was known that he carried keys to many of the local businesses and would on occasion help people late at night with emergencies such as gas or oil at the local filling station.
On arriving at the filling station, they spoke to the proprietor who stated that he went to bed about 9pm and, being somewhat deaf, was often very hard to arouse at night. He stated that he had not seen Griff the night before. Outside at the filling station they noted stains of oil and the proprietor stated that the oil had not been left out last night and that probably Griff had been there and put it out.
Back at the boxcar, the coroner stated he thought that Griff had been killed at about 4AM.
At about this time, two men came over to see what was going on and stated they had been sleeping in another boxcar nearby. They had been awakened during the night by some noise and assumed that it was a couple of drunks. All they could see were two men who appeared drunk and seemed almost unable to walk. They also stated that they did not recognize the men. Sheriff Crisp stated he felt Griff had been jumped at the station and then brought to the box car to finish the job in hopes the boxcar would be long gone by the time anyone noticed a problem.
Several men in the community told the Sheriff they had seen Griff arguing with Walter Swigart. Walter Swigart was a local man that was known to be somewhat quarrelsome and was given to drinking. That night he had drunk too much liquor and the Marshall told him to get off the street. He shouted that he would get even with the Marshall.
At Swigart's home, they found him asleep in bed, fully clothed. His trousers and shirt were splattered with blood. The Sheriff asked Swinger where he had gotten the blood all over his clothes but he could not remember anything about the night before. Swigart stated something like, "I can't remember anything about last night." When asked if he had fought with Griff, he stated again that he did not remember, and then said "he should have tossed me in the clink, he knows I wouldn't fight with him when I'm sober." The Sheriff told him, " I think you did worse than that", at that time the Sheriff told him that Griff was dead. Swigert replied, " Drunk or sober I could never kill anyone".
A local chemist indicated the bloodstains on Swigert's clothing were human blood.
Other people in the area remembered seeing Swigert's car on the street late that night. Swigert was arrested and given a preliminary hearing, which bound him over for District court in the spring. He was released on bond, Sheriff Crisp stating that he was sure Swigert would not run away since he felt himself to be innocent.
Three months after Swigert's release, he police of the near by town of Carnegie notified Sheriff Crisp they had found Swigerts body by the railroad tracks outside of town. He had been shot several times. There were no leads as to the killer.
Sheriff Crisp didn't think this was the end of the investigation and felt there was more to the death of Griff Anderson. He enlisted the help of the former town Marshall George Smith. Smith was familiar with the local bootleggers and since Griff was so completely against liquor, he felt this might have something to do with the killing. The Sheriff and Smith went out to see a local lady bootlegger who lived outside of town, down a long dark road. After talking to the woman who refused to give them any information, they asked if her friend, another bootlegger, had been upset lately. She told them that if he were, he wouldn't tell her why. As they left, they felt she would go straight to her friend about what she had heard.
They left and headed back to town. About half way to the county road a lone gunman ambushed them. After returning to town, they decided to give the lady one more try. Sheriff Crisp returned alone to talk to her. The lady informed him she was afraid of Smith and was glad he did not come back with him. She stated she was sick and tired of taking orders from Smith, the former Marshall, and that he would as soon shoot you as look at you. After being reassured she would be protected, she declared she knew that George Smith had killed Marshall Griff Anderson. She also stated that Marshall Anderson was going to turn Smith in to the Sheriff, and if they didn't help cover it up the killing he would find a way to get us involved in it. She also said she didn't know if Swigart was involved in the killing of Marshall Griff Anderson.
Sheriff Crisp returned to town and confronted George Smith. The sheriff stated he had evidence and Smith could either confess or wait for the trial. Smith asked what difference did it make now. He then stated that he had killed Marshall Griff Anderson since he wouldn't tend to the marshal's job and leave others alone. Marshall Anderson had previously told Smith if he did not stop blackmailing the bootleggers he was going to turn him over to the Sheriff. He said that night he just pretended he wanted some oil, then hit him on the head with a bar out of the case. He put him in the boxcar figuring that by morning the car would be far away and probably not be found for many days.
Smith entered a plea of guilty to first-degree murder. He denied knowledge of Swigarts death. He also refused to reveal whether any of the local bootleggers were involved in the attempted ambush of the Sheriff. On May 25, 1931 he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. No charges were filed against any of the others.