Man at the cafe counter
Editor’s note: This is part two of a three part series. Part three will be published in Thursday’s edition and part three in Saturday’s.
Retired Highway Patrolman Charles Hanna still remembers the excitement surrounding the double slaying east of Augusta over 50 years ago.
“My partner Jerry Wholer was working that case with the others, but I was asked to drive east out of town to try to find the man who was seen running from the scene. I hadn’t gotten too far out of town, when the individual approached me. He worked at the station and was working on a tire in the back part of the building and didn’t see the actual shooting, but he heard the shots and saw enough to want to flee from the scene. He was afraid of Hoover. When he saw him place the gun back on the shelf, he took off running.” Hanna recalled.
Butler County Sheriff Dallas Babcock told the Augusta Gazette the morning following the shooting that he nor his officers had actually spoken to any witnesses.
Babcock said, “We have talked to some who said they saw Hoover with the gun and some who said they heard the shots, but no one would say they actually saw the shooting.”
Sheriff Babcock did advise that he was going to Wichita later that morning to follow a tip on a man who might have seen the actual shooting of the Bohannans.
Meanwhile, Frank Hoover was being held in the Butler County jail and had been booked late the day before on two counts of first degree murder charges.
The accused reportedly told all of the law enforcement officers that he did indeed fire the shots that killed the Augusta couple. He also said that the shootings followed an argument that stemmed partly from earlier disagreements between himself as service station operator and Mrs. Bohannan, who operated the cafe in the same building. Mr. Bohannan operated a floor sanding service, while McKnight Oil Company was the owner of the station-cafe.
According to Hoover in his statement, he had entered into an agreement with another woman who subleased the restaurant from the Bohannans for dividing the cost of rest room supplies. Mrs. Bohannan resumed operation of the restaurant about two months before the shooting. Hoover had taken over the station earlier in the year.
He also stated that there had been differences over use of the drive outside the building and use of the only telephone in the building.
Sheriff Babcock said that Hoover had been calm throughout the time he had been in custody. He was offered the use of the telephone from the county jail and he called his wife Asked if he wanted to call an attorney, Hoover said that he would use a court appointed attorney to represent him.
Man at the cafe counter
Two days later the sheriff’s office reported that a man had been located who said he witnessed some of the shooting at the service station-cafe.
Sheriff Babcock and Court Reporter Krutsinger were in Wichita the day before obtaining information from a man who was an employee with an electrical company working on a missile base near Leon.
The man had been seated at the counter in the cafe when he heard three shots. He turned and saw a man leaning over the cafe counter, pointing a revolver at another man, then he saw him fire a shot at the man behind the counter.
The witness told that he ran out the entrance door at first opportunity and saw the woman’s body in the driveway. He rushed to the first house just east of the cafe and when he found no telephone available, he ran across the road and called the Augusta Department of Safety.
The witness identified the man who had the revolver as Frank Hoover.
Funeral services held for Bohannans
A joint funeral service was held for Mr. and Mrs. E.L. Bohannan at Dunsford Funeral Home in Augusta.
Dr. C.W. Nichols, pastor of the Augusta First Christian Church, officiated.
Mrs. Bohannan was buried at Augusta’s Elmwood Cemetery, and Mr. Bohannan was interred at the same cemetery where his parents would later be buried in Clifty, Arkansas.
Did Hoover get charged with two counts of first degree murder? Was the death penalty imposed? Find out in Saturday’s conclusion to the three part series.
Sources: Augusta Daily Gazette and The El Dorado Times, Regional Archives, Kansas City, Mo., Ancestry.com.