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What’s the story behind cop killer and fugitive Jesse Walker?

Scott Nunn

On Nov. 30, 1908, Brunswick County Sheriff Jackson Stanland was shot and killed as he and a posse tried to arrest Jesse Walker on a warrant for breaking into a Shallotte store.

Members of the posse apprehended Walker and he was held in the Southport Jail to await trial.

On Jan. 29, 1909, Walker overpowered a jail guard and escaped. He was pursued for several weeks but the trail went cold and he was thought to have hopped a southbound train.

The Wilmington Star (a predecessor of the StarNews) reported on June 2, 1909, that it had seen copy of an autobiography written by Walker, who apparently penned a crude piece as he sat in the Southport jail. According to the article, Walker dropped the 231-page manuscript while been chased through the swamps of Brunswick and Columbus counties after his escape.

The narrative described a life spent mostly as a hobo, with a short stint in the Army.

Almost six years later, on March 7, 1915, Walker was recaptured in Brunswick County when he tried to sneak back home to see his wife and child. He was convicted of Stanland’s murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Once again, though, Walker escaped. He broke out of Central Prison in Raleigh in 1919.

Oddly, in 1935, he walked back into the prison, told the warden that God had forgiven him, and that he was ready to settle his debt with the state. On June 6, 1936, Walker was paroled.

But, just as he was about to leave the prison, an order was received to hold him for Oklahoma officials, who wanted him for a murder committed in 1909, shortly after he escaped in Southport.

Apparently, Walker had been arrested, convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to 30 years, but had escaped in from the Oklahoma Penitentiary in 1914.

What happens next? So far, our research has petered out. But we’re still looking. If you have leads, let us know. And, we’ll add to this post if we learn more.

User-contributed question by:
David Ford

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2 Responses to “ What’s the story behind cop killer and fugitive Jesse Walker?”

  1. On May 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm Margarete O'Brien wrote:

    My husband is a grandson of Jackson Stanland. I just don’t quite believe the story that he walked back into prison. In newspaper articles from 1919 it was already known that Walker had killed a Sheriff in Oklahoma and that he had escaped prison there. Therefore it is unlikely that he would get paroled, I think. I too would like to know what happened to him.

    Margarete O’Brien

  2. On May 4, 2015 at 9:33 pm Elizabeth A All wrote:

    I am the great- grand daughter of Jackson Stanland. My son is named after him. I would love to have any pictures or information.

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