Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Manzo Shepherd Case: Murder and Mayhem in Bloody Harlan


The Manzo Shepherd Case
“Murder and Mayhem in Bloody Harlan”
Story by  Tony Felosi

The story of Manzo Shepherd and the events that spawned one of the most infamous trials in Harlan County history started on Black Mountain. At 4,145ft it is the tallest peak in Kentucky and one evening in late April 1942, was the location of a brutal murder.

Within one month of the murder of Joe Christian, a taxi cab driver, Shepherd  would be shot in a crowded courtroom of 300 people and his accomplices, Sherman Clouse and Howard Hensley, would both eventually get life sentences to avoid the death penalty.

Shepherd was killed By Jack Heaton nephew of the murder victim who within 9 months would be set free. Here is a short article describing the events in the courtroom when Shepherd was shot.



As you can tell from the article Judge Forester ordered the jury to render a verdict on a dead man. This is just the first of many unusual and shocking events that I uncovered in over 3 years of research on the Shepherd case.

My interest in this subject started around late 2013 or early 2014. I was having a conversation with a gentleman while standing in the Old Harlan County Courtroom about the History of the building. He related a story of a man that was shot in the courtroom during his trial. As with most stories through the years of telling from generation to generation many facts were lost. But the one thing that was right was the most important, The name  “Manzo Shepherd”.

I started with a internet search and found a few articles, I could not believe what I was reading. This was a unbelievable story of Murder, Revenge and Mountain justice that could only be handed out in Harlan County at a time of great labor violence just after the beginning of WW2.
I then went to the library and spent hours searching the archives; the story just kept getting more interesting. I decided to do a paranormal investigation in the old courtroom where Shepherd was shot.

The results were phenomenal, I got several EVPs that I’m positive were from Shepherd wanting to tell his story. (These will be shared in upcoming projects)

With this and several follow up investigations, I can tell you with certainty that we have made contact with Manzo Shepherd. I can also tell you that he is not the least bit remorseful for his deeds. In some of the EVPs he not only names the man that shot him but describes the location and what they did with the body of Joe Christian after they murdered him.

This story is now the subject of a documentary By Film maker and Paranormal Investigator Chris Maggard. The episode will be premiered In Harlan Ky. On Oct 7th 2017 at “Hauntfest”  a yearly local event .Chris and his crew brought Manzo to life with their exceptional film work and attention to detail. For more information on Harlan Hauntfest Click Here!

There will be more episodes coming soon about Manzo that will deal a little more with the Paranormal Investigations and the evidence caught. Also coming in 2018 will be a book series that will be about interesting Historical and Unexplained events in Harlan County.
So be looking for "Murder and Mayhem in Bloody Harlan ".  The first book will deal with The Manzo Shepherd case. It will be Co Authored by my good friend TJ Litafik, a talented writer and a Pikeville Ky. native.

Tony pointing out Manzo in a 2015 Presentation at Hauntfest. Photo by Belinda Taylor
In closing let me say that the Manzo Shepherd story is one of the most interesting that I have ever investigated. When we were in the courtroom and I asked the question – Do you know who shot you. Then the response – Yes……….. Jack.  It was a defining moment in my Para career, an intelligent response from an entity naming his killer in the location where it happened.



Shot a man that murdered his Uncle in front of 300 people. Harlan County Justice!

- Tony



With over 10 years in the paranormal field, Tony has proven himself many times over. His drive and dedication to the field of the paranormal is virtually unmatched. Tony also holds Black Belts in multiple Martial Arts, and he's not afraid to kick a little ghost or bigfoot butt!




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