of '52 murders at Crater Lake near finish
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
January 30, 2000
By JOE CARAHER
been a long story and it isn't finished yet. This is the
unsolved mystery. The one where two men were murdered in Crater
Lake National Park, July 13, 1952.
The pair, Charles Culhane and Albert Jones, were waiting at
Annie Creek to meet Frank Eberlein and his associate, Jack
Vaughn. They had a fishing trip planned. The campground in the
park was their pre-planned meeting place. Then they would go on
to Union Creek, location of an Eberlein family cabin.
Checking the Annie Creek area, Eberlein and Vaughn found the
Young Eberlein told me that just before the discovery of their
murdered friends, he had returned to Klamath Falls. "I was a
high school kid at the time."
men found the two bodies where they expected to meet. Their
friends had been shot dead.
At one time pressure was put on the writers of TV's "Unsolved
Mysteries" but the producers finally stayed clear of it.
Over the years, Jones' granddaughter, Alice Simms of Santa
Maria, Calif., has conducted a long, arduous search to find who
did the murdering.
Alice has spent untiring years trying to find out who killed her
The case has been one of the major unsolved mysteries in the
I have come to know Alice through mail and telephone
conversations. She brings me up to date about new angles.
Our first column appeared after we read George Bell's story in
the Seattle P-I, published in the Sunday, Aug. 25, 1963,
At the time of the murders, Bell was working as a reporter for
the Herald and News, a local boy who went on to work for
Southern Oregon University.
Frank Eberlein and Jack Vaughn died just a year or so ago. Frank
had told me he hoped the Alice would continue her search and
also urged me to stay with the story.
* * *
Just the other day, I called Alice in Santa Maria to see if
there had been any new developments regarding her search for her
grandfather's murderer. Her determination to find the whole,
true story of the happening brought me up to date in the letter
received this week (Jan. 22, 2000).
It reads as follows:
"Thank you so much for taking the time once again to assist me
with this 'mystery.' I find it hard to believe but it's almost
six years since I began my search for the individuals who killed
my grandfather, Albert J. Jones, and his business associate,
Charles P. Culhane. As you know they were murdered
execution-style on July 19, 1952, at Crater Lake National Park
and to date these murders remain unsolved.
"Most families spend as much time accumulating information for
their family genealogy. I, on the other hand, have spent
countless time and energy researching these unsolved murders. I
am now 99.9 percent certain that I know who killed my
grandfather and Mr. Culhane. Now the most difficult task remains
in trying to convince the FBI that my evidence, albeit
circumstantial, is sufficient to at least review the case once
again. I remain hesitant to publish the names of the individuals
who I suspect murdered my grandfather as I have recently found
one of their family members and they reside in Oregon. However,
the name of the gang is 'The Mountain Mob.'
"I know that I also shared with you that your two previous
articles did generate some interest from a couple of your
readers. They both called with information regarding The
Mountain Mob. The possibility that this gang could have anything
to do with the murders of my grandfather and Mr. Culhane gave me
the impetus to continue my research. I am certain in your years
as a journalist you have heard some rather amazing stories. The
information I received from these individuals was indeed
amazing, and sad. This gang was vicious.
"They murdered a man in northern California in his own home. The
man was part of their gang and they had suspected that he was
'holding out on them.' They went to his house, confronted him,
didn't like his answers, and shot him.
"A few months later, as I 'theorize,' they were in Medford and
from there went to Crater Lake. Once there they saw two
well-dressed businessmen, and later robbed and murdered them. Of
course the men were my grandfather and Mr. Culhane. Three months
later they robbed and murdered a man and three of the four
children who were with him.
"Five months later they murdered a woman in Long Beach, Calif.
They believed she was hiding money for one of her relatives who
was a gangster.
"A movie was made of their last 'escapade.' It is titled 'I Want
to Live,' and starred Susan Hayworth. In this movie a reporter
sympathizes with the girlfriend of one of the gang members. The
girlfriend was involved in two of the murders but always claimed
her innocence, even to her death in the electric chair in June
of 1955. In fact, the two men who I suspect had something to do
with the murders of my grandfather and Mr. Culhane were also
executed at that time.
"Over the years many people have asked me if the individuals who
murdered my grandfather are dead then why would I even want to
continue searching for more answers? I think you probably could
have answered them better than I. There is just something inside
of me that pushes me to continue until I am positive I have all
of the answers. It's like reading a good mystery and not being
able to finish it for several days.
"You're more than curious to know who killed whom. This is where
I am at right now. I'm almost to the last page of that novel but
I want to see the final exclamation point!
"Late last year I finally received the FBI file on my
grandfather from Washington, DC. It's seven volumes, and 1,400
pages long. Your next question: if I can anticipate just a
little here. ...
"Does the FBI file confirm or reject my theory? Actually, in my
mind the file does neither. So where does this leave me?
Certainly further ahead than square one ... I am very satisfied
with my progress and have been extremely fortunate to have met
so many wonderful people, such as you.
"Thank you again and I will continue to keep in touch ..."
Sincerely, Alice Simms
* * *
The late Frank Eberlein sent us a copy of his story about the
Crater Lake Mystery which he wrote for the Shaw Library. It's a
great accounting of his memory in connection with a chapter in
our Klamath history.
Maybe, after all these years, justice will be served.
Related Crater Lake News Stories
3 Suspects Taken In Oregon Killings
- September 19, 1952
Youth Questioned in Double Killing
July 31, 1952
Executives Found Shot to Death
- July 23, 1952
Seek Woodsman, Believed Slayer of Two GM Executives
July 22, 1952