Charles O. SHAMBLEN 2
- Born: 30 Sep 1886, Tabor, Fremont Co, IA 3 4
- Marriage (1): May E. MOSS on 12 Nov 1911 in probably Mills Co, IA 1
- Died: 12 Dec 1936, Malvern, Silver Creek Twp, Mills Co, IA at age 50 4 5
- Buried: 17 Dec 1936, Malvern Cem, Silver Creek Twp, Mills Co, IA 4 6
PHOTO: from Iowa Cold Cases website, submitted by Nancy Bowers
1910 IA CENSUS, Mills Co., Deer Creek Twp: Charles Shamblen, 23, single, b. IA, father b. OH, mother b. IL, farmer, rent.
1915 IA STATE CENSUS, Mills Co, Deer Creek Twp, Imogene P.O.: Charles D. Shamblen, 28, married, farmer, 8th grade education, b. IA, father b. OH, mother b. IL; May E. Shamblen, 47, married, b. IA, father's birthplace unknown, mother b. PA, Christian.
WWI DRAFT REGISTRATION CARDS, 1917-1918: Charles D. Shamblen of Imogene, Mills Co, IA; b. Sep 30, 1886 at Tabor, IA; self-employed farmer at Imogene; married, wife & 1 child; tall, slender, light brown eyes, dark brown hair.
1920 IA CENSUS, Mills Co, Deer Creek Twp: Charles D. (or O?) Shamblen, 33, b. IA, father b. OH, mother b. IL, farmer, general farming; wife Mary E., 52, b. IA, father b. MA, mother b. PA; step-dau. Cleva G. Francis, 19, b. IA; step-son Lavern H. Francis, 15, b. IA, step-dau. Ila Francis, 12, b. CO. The parents of all children were b. IA.
1930 IA CENSUS, Mills Co, White Cloud Twp: Charles "Shamblin", boarder, 45, wd, b. US, parnets b. US, farm labor, gen farming. He was living with the Elmer Collier family.
MILLS CO, IA DEATHS: Shamblen, Charles O., died Malvern, Silver Creek Twp, Dec 12, 1936, age 50; head cut off by C.B. & I. train.
OBIT: Glenwood Opinion-Tribune, Monday, December 21, 1936:
Funeral service for Charles Shamblen, 57, of Malvern were held in the Mansfield Funeral Home Thursday afternoon, with Rev. Calkins of the Methodist church in charge of service.
The lifeless body of Mr. Shamblen was found on Sunday morning, Dec. 13, just west of the Burlington depot at Malvern. The head had been severed from the body and annihilated by the wheels of passing trains. Coroner Raynor was called from Glenwood and he summoned Sheriff DeMoss before the body was removed. Officers are working on the theory that Shamblen, who had the week previous disposed of his interests in a Malvern filling station expecting to leave within a few days for Oregon, had been murdered, robbed and his lifeless body placed on the railroad track in an attempt to make it appear that suicide was the motive of death.
Mr. Shamblen is survived by the following brothers and sisters: Fred and George of Los Angeles, Cal., Earl of Henderson, Merrill of Tabor, and Lester of Strahan, and two sisters, Mrs. Ed Peterson of Hastings, and Mrs. Clyde Gailord of Prescott, survive. The body was laid to rest in the Malvern cemetery.
IOWA COLD CASES (Internet):
West of Burlington Depot
By Nancy Bowers
About 10:00 on the morning of Sunday, December 12, 1936, a Burlington Railroad freight train headed west out of Malvern through the snow-covered landscape. Not far from the depot, the crew saw a body lying along the tracks and wired back to Malvern Station Agent William A. Caldwell, who in turn called Mills County Coroner Frank Raynor, a local funeral director.
When Raynor arrived at the scene, he found a man's body on the tracks with the head completely severed by train wheels. As Coroner, Raynor knew death by train is not uncommon near railroad tracks. Victims are killed when they fail to get out of the way, fall from moving cars, or intentionally step into the path of a train. None of these scenarios seemed to fit.
Also, Raynor spotted something suspicious: north of the rails in the snow, he saw tracks of two men walking a few feet apart to and from the body. The prints led to car tracks where an automobile drove off the highway near the depot.
Raynor called Mills County Sheriff William S. DeMoss, who began an investigation.
The victim was identified as 50-year-old Charles Shamblen, a well-known Malvern resident who until recently operated the town's Standard Oil Station. Family and friends told Sheriff DeMoss that Shamblen had 90 dollars in his possession on Saturday. Only a few coins were in his pockets when his body was found.
Coroner Raynor classified the death as foul play because there was no disturbance in the snow, as there would have been if Shamblen were hit by a train. He concluded that Shamblen was knocked unconscious, robbed, and placed on the tracks so the death looked like an accident or suicide.
Charles Shamblen, a widower, sold his service station to Lester Spencer two weeks before his death and told friends he was moving to Oregon and that two men were riding with him. Sheriff DeMoss investigated the presence of two strangers in Malvern, one a former convict recently released from a Nebraska prison. The men were not seen after Shamblen's body was discovered.
The Life of Charles Shamblen
Charles "Charlie" Shamblen was born September 30, 1886 at Tabor to Anna Eliza Merrill and Thomas Jefferson Shamblen. He had six brothers \emdash Roy William Shamblen, John Frederick Shamblen, Earl Leon Shamblen, Merrill Jesse Shamblen, Harry W. Shamblen, and Lester L. Shamblen \emdash as well as four sisters: Etta Pearl Shamblen Hummel, Nellie Jeanette Shamblen Peterson, Velma Iona Shamblen Funder, and Anna Elisa Shamblen Gailord.
In 1910, he married May E. Moss Francis, who had four children from her previous marriage to Frank D. Francis: Chester Simion Francis, Cleva G. Francis Juelke, LaVerne Francis, and Ila Francis. Charlie regarded them as his own children. May passed away in October of 1924, and Charlie did not remarry. After farming for a number of years in Deer Creek Township, he operated the Standard Oil Station in Malvern.
On December 17, Charlie Shamblen's funeral was conducted by Methodist minister Rev. C.A. Calkins at the Mansfield Funeral Home and he was buried in the Malvern Cemetery beside his parents.
Questions and information about the unsolved 1936 homicide of Charles Shamblen should be directed to the Mills County Sheriff's Office at 712-527-4337.
"Believed Robbed And Murdered," Oelwein Daily Register, December 14, 1936.
"Charles Shamblen Met Tragic Death Here Early Sunday," Malvern Leader, December 17, 1936.
"Funeral Rites for Victim of Tragedy," Malvern Leader, December 24, 1936.
Glenwood Opinion-Tribune, December 21, 1936.
Melissa Hillstrom, Personal Correspondence, July 2011.
Roy Shamblen, Personal Correspondence, September 2011.
FIND A GRAVE - Malvern Cem, Malvern, Mills Co, IA
Sept 30, 1886
Dec 12, 1936
May 25, 1860
Sep 20, 1924
Sep 6, 1852
Oct 18, 1930
Charles married May E. MOSS on 12 Nov 1911 in probably Mills Co, IA.1 (May E. MOSS was born on 17 Aug 1867 near Oskaloosa, Mahaska Co, IA,1 died on 24 Oct 1924 near Red Oak, Montgomery Co, IA 1 and was buried on 27 Oct 1924 in East Liberty Cem, Glenwood, Mills Co, IA 1.)