Royal Samuel Hunt



November 24, 1941


Royal Hunt, a resident St. George who ran a ranch about twentyeight miles north in the Pine Valley Mountains near Central, met Vae Monroe Fenley, an eighteen-year-old ex-CCC member, on November 21, 1941, and offered him employment at his ranch. Fenley, who had been dishonorably discharged from the CCC for multiple thefts at his camp near Sacramento, worked on the ranch for two days, but on the third day he shot his boss through a window in the ranch house with a .22 caliber rifle and robbed him. While Fenley saddled a horse with the intention of riding to Nebraska, a trip of more than a thousand miles, Hunt revived enough to telephone the operator at Central to report he had been shot. Fenley subsequently reentered the house and shot the wounded rancher three more times, killing him.

Mrs. Mahalia Bracken, the telephone operator, had already called Sheriff Prince, who hurried to Hunt's ranch with his deputy Art Mitchell, Judge George Whitehead, and Royal Hunt's wife. He then organized a posse that searched all night for the fugitive. Early the next morning a government trapper captured Fenley, who was weakened from his nightlong wanderings in the severe cold. In his possession was Hunt's watch and $21.51 taken from Hunt's wallet. When taken into custody, Fenley initially denied any knowledge of Hunt's death, but with repeated prodding by Sheriff Prince he finally admitted that he knew Hunt had $15 in his possession and had killed him to steal the money. Justice was swift for the young man: Apprehended on November 25, 1941, he was arraigned on December 1; the jury was selected on January 6; on January 12, after three hours of deliberation, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty. Offered the choice of death by firing squad or hanging, Fenley chose the firing squad, and the execution was scheduled for March 10. Before the execution, however, his sentence was commuted to life in prison.


30th Juanita Brooks Lecture
By Stephen L. Prince
Pages 8-9 have an account of the murder.

Death Certificate for Royal Samuel Hunt

Trial Date Set In Royal Hunt Murder Case
Front page of the Iron County Record
Volume 47, Number 50, Thursday, December 4, 1941