The death of officer Lynn Dean
Lynn Dean grew up in a hardworking Mormon family. He did odd jobs and helped out with the family café and hotel. He had four sisters and three brothers. The Dean family ran the Mancos Hotel for 20 years. I well remember Lynn Dean's mother Dolores, his sister Vivian and two of his brothers, Adrian and Robert.
"Mom, I'd really like to become the marshal of this town."
"Why on earth would you want to be a marshal?"
"It's a quiet little town and it would be a respectful job."
"I guess you're right. At least it would be a full-time job." (Tom Fowler was marshal here for many years. His son, Ralph Fowler, followed in his footsteps and was also the local marshal for many years.)
A year later, the local police officer gave notice that he planned to retire. On Oct. 9, 1939, at the age of 26, Lynn Dean was sworn in as marshal. Five days later, he ate his last meal with his wife and two children and headed off to do what marshals do.
Jim Stevens, who was known locally as a drunk and a rough character, had not outgrown his reputation, even though he was 72 years old. A rather drunk, brash young man had given Stevens a tongue-lashing and after he made it home, he decided to take his loaded revolver with him and head back to town.
Stevens found the man had left the bar, but people would later testify that Stevens talked about having killed people and said he would kill that young man if it came to it.
As Stevens got up to leave the bar, someone notified Lynn Dean that Stevens was carrying a gun and was drunk and disorderly. Fred McGregor, the recently retired marshal, accompanied Dean and Stevens to the jail. As Dean was opening the jail door a scuffle ensued, and Stevens' gun discharged. McGregor found Mancos Jim under Lynn's body and was able to secure him in the jail.
Young Dean's funeral and escort to the Cedar Grove Cemetery was one of the largest ever held in the valley.
Even though people wanted a hasty death for Stevens, the procedures took two years. In June 1941, Mancos Jim was given a lethal injection and passed away at the age of 74. At that time, he was the oldest man ever executed in the state of Colorado.
Some years ago, Gwynne Spencer gave me a small pamphlet about Jim Stevens that said Stevens' gun had to have gone off accidentally. I mentioned that to Bobby Dean, Lynn's brother and bishop of the Mormon Church at the time. His face turned red before he emphatically said, "That good-for-nothing old man killed my brother!"