Archives of Appalachia

A Unit of the Center for Appalachian Studies & Services at East Tennessee State University

Scene of the Crime

One of our unidentified pictures from the James Agee Film Project Photographs, 1875-1956 has been identified!

Here is the picture:

Every time I view this photograph, I can’t help but wonder if the robbers really thought they could get the safe into the car. And I’ve also wondered where or what actually happened before the cops showed up.

And now, we know a little bit more.

While answering a reference request regarding genealogy, I found a photocopied newspaper article featuring the same safe and car in the Range Family Papers.

Here are some clues from the newspaper article, which does not mention if anyone confessed to the almost theft.

Time: Approximately 8:30pm (date not included in article).

Scene: “Range Motor Company, South Road Street, near the intersection of Jobe Street.”

What: Range Motor Company’s display Buick station wagon & safe.

Suspects: Two individuals who escaped from building – possibly youths.

Tools: Car jacks to lift safe into vehicle.

Damage: Broken window in rear of building, pried open basement door.

Witnesses: Harry G. Range, Jr. (company official) and wife who drove by the building and noticed that some of the lights, which should have been left on (presumably for security), were off. Mrs. Range drove to find a policeman while Mr. Range entered the building from the rear entrance.

Additional Facts: Officers attributed crime to understaffed police force.

Officers Involved: Captain Buford Tunnell, Sergeant Frank Hicks, and Sergeant Harold Milhorn.

Unfortunately, the newspaper clipping is undated. However, since the article indicates it is a new display vehicle, it is possible that we could get a year by identifying the Buick. Can anyone identify the vehicle? Another clue that might help is that the photograph is from the Agee Collection, which has a date span from 1880-1956.

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About Laura Smith

I'm the Education & Outreach Archivist for the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University. Please contact me if you have any questions about the collections or visiting the Archives.

2 comments on “Scene of the Crime

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2012 by in 20th Century, Appalachian History, From Our Collection, Mysteries, Photographs.
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