Wilber Underhill

Photo added by Ron Moody

Wilber Underhill

Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, USA
Death 6 Jan 1934 (aged 32)
McAlester, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA
Burial Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, USA
Memorial ID 11581897 · View Source
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Criminal. Infamous as the "Tri-State Terror." He was born in Joplin, Missouri, and turned to crime in his youth, becoming a burglar, car thief, and "lover's lane" robber. He served two terms in the state prison at Jefferson City and emerged as a small-time holdup man but endowed with a homicidal streak and an expert jailbreaker to boot. Convicted of an Oklahoma murder in 1927 and charged with another, Underhill was sentenced to life in the state prison at McAlester but escaped on July 14, 1931. One month later he murdered policeman Merle Colver at the Iris Hotel in Wichita, Kansas. Wounded and captured the same day, Underhill received another life term but escaped with master bank robber Harvey Bailey and nine others from the state prison at Lansing, Kansas on Memorial Day, 1933, using smuggled guns and taking the warden and two guards hostage. Underhill robbed several banks over the next few months, first with Bailey and fellow escapees Bob Brady, Jim Clark and Ed Davis and later with the Ford Bradshaw gang and former Barker gang member Elmer Inman. He was also sought by the Division of Investigation (future FBI) as a suspect in the Kansas City Union Station massacre. He gained the moniker "the Tri-State Terror" for operating principally in the states of Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas, though his crimes actually extended as far as Arkansas and Kentucky. On December 30, 1933, Underhill was tracked by federal agents and police to a house at 606 Dewey Street in Shawnee, Oklahoma and shot several times in a terrific gun battle. Fleeing the house in his underwear, Underhill ran down the street, broke into a furniture store at 509 East Main, and collapsed on a bed where he was found a few hours later by Sheriff Stanley Rogers. After a brief hospital stay Underhill was transferred to the state prison for safekeeping and died in the prison hospital.

Bio by: Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix

Gravesite Details Depression outlaw known as the "Tri-State Terror" and first criminal ever killed by the FBI.



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix
  • Added: 21 Aug 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11581897
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Wilber Underhill (16 Mar 1901–6 Jan 1934), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11581897, citing Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery, Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .