A Killing In Success


In the Oct. 22, 1959 edition of the Houston Herald a headline reads, "Thomas Richards Charged in Fatal Shooting Of Success Man". Seems it all started over a missing minnow trap. A few months earlier the victim, Homer Herring, had used his truck to move some belongings for Thomas Richards from Boiling Springs to Success. Afterwards, Richards accused Herring of taking his minnow trap. That led to bad blood between the two that eventually culminated in the shooting on Mon., Oct. 19 in front of Creason's Service Station. Richards was there and, by his own admission, had been drinking. Herring pulled up in his truck and had a .22 rifle laying on the seat. Richards himself was armed with a .22 revolver. So here we have two armed men who don't get along and one has been drinking. Not the best of circumstances to say the least. The two began to argue and later Richards said that Herring grabbed the hat off his head claiming that it was his and that Richards had stolen it. Well, one thing led to another and Richards later claimed that Herring grabbed for his rifle and so he shot him. Richards told the sheriff, "I shot him then reached in and got my cap". He then walked next door to Pinkston's Store and asked Charlie Pinkston to call the sheriff because he had just shot a man. A coroner later stated that the .22 bullet fired by Richards struck Herring in the heart and he died within minutes. 

Richards was subsequently sentenced to 6 years in prison on the charge of manslaughter. He went to prison in March 1960 and was released on Nov. 30, 1963 under commutation of sentence by Gov. Dalton.

Thomas Richards was my great-uncle and a long time alcoholic. After a failed marriage he moved in with his mother and half-sister near Success sometime in the 30's and was still living there at the time of the shooting. A touch of irony, Homer Herring is buried in Liberty Cemetery, not far from the grave of Thomas Richards' father, Clinton Richards. Thomas himself is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, MO with his half-sister Elsie. Thomas' mother, Mary, died the year he went to prison and is buried in Mt. Pisgah Cemetery near Roby, TX Co., MO with her second husband, Dr. Jonathan Pittman.

Submitted by Wes Tate of Union, MO

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2007-2008 Rhonda Darnell