Rejected by Sweetheart Caused Girl To Take Life

Discover that Lover was “Double-Crossing” Her Led Ruby Clampitt to Jump to Death

STERLING, July 7 – It was the discovery that her sweetheart had gone back on her, and had given information to the officers leading to her arrest, that caused Ruby Clampitt, 24 years old, formerly of Sterling, to leap to death from Santa Fe train No. 11 between Nickerson and Sterling, as the train was running 60 miles an hour Saturday morning.

Heart-stricken over the discovery that the man she loved was a traitor to her, Ruby determined to die, and first swallowing poison, she then plunged from the train, her neck and back being broken in the fall.

Brothers In Jail

Today the body of the unfortunate girl lies in an undertaking room here; her twin brothers, Jess and Les Clampitt are in the county jail at Lyons; and a friend, George Thornton, a former employe of the Weld-It-All shop here is in jail at Kinsley.

Thornton and the two twin brothers of the dead girl are all charged with conspiracy to aid the girl in breaking from the jail at Great Bend, where she recently made a sensational escape.

A Tragic End

This is the tragic end of a girl’s career in crime, starting with the passing of a bad check on a merchant in Little River about three months ago.

Ruby Clampitt came to this country about six years ago with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Clampitt, Sr., it is thought from the vicinity of Richmond, Mo. They lived at intervals at Sterling and Lyons. Ruby Clampitt had been married and her right name was Mrs. Ruby Lawson. Her husband had procured a divorce from her in the courts some time ago.

Her Bad Check Operations

Her first serious infraction of the law came to notice about three months ago when she was arrested by City Marshal Fox for passing bad checks on merchandise at Little River. Afterwards this form of crime seemed to become an obsession with her. A druggist at Nickerson named Hamilton said from the description that had been given of her that he was confident she was the woman who had succeeded in passing a bad check on him for a considerable sum some weeks before.

Later she carried on her operations on a large scale at Ellinwood, Great Bend and elsewhere, was finally arrested, broke from jail, and was recaptured at Kansas City.

Aided In Escape

Ruby’s mother, who was working in Gensler’s restaurant at Great Bend, and Les Clampitt assisted Ruby in making her escape from the Barton county jail last Saturday night. Les had his car located close to the jail when the girl obtained her freedom and took her to Alden. There he placed her on a train bound for Kansas City and furnished her with money for her expenses.

After Sheriff Stanley had arrested Jess and Ruby Clampitt at Kansas City, he boarded the Santa Fe train with them handcuffed together. Shortly after the train had left Newton, Ruby asked the sheriff to take the handcuffs off her as she desired to go to the toilet. She appeared tired out and Mr. Stanley said to her: “Ruby, I will leave the handcuffs off until we get close to Great Bend if you will promise me that you will make no move to escape.”

“You know you can trust me, sheriff,” she replied. “I know there’s no chance and I will be good.”

Had “Double-Crossed” Her

The girl was quiet for a time, then she noticed that her sweetheart, Raymond Kelley, of Lyons, was with Sheriff Stanley. The sheriff had taken him to Kansas City to help in locating the girl.

A conversation was then overheard between the girl and her brother by the sheriff. “What is Raymond doing with the sheriff?” asked Ruby. “He’s double crossing you,” was the reply, “and the quicker you can shake him the better off you will be.”

The girl then hid her face in her hands and seemed to sob for a few moments. She took out a handkerchief and wiped the tears from her face and then exclaimed: “Well, if he’s gone back on me it’s all off.”

After this she sat quietly and stolidly in her seat until the train passed through Hutchinson. But she kept watching the sheriff all the time.

She Took Poison

At Hutchinson some Ellinwood people got on the train and they sat in the seat with Sheriff Stanley and began talking to him. While he was engaged in this conversation Ruby got up and approaching the sheriff asked him if he would loan her his cup as she was thirsty and wanted a drink. He opened his grip, got the cup out ad handed it to her, keeping an eye on the girl as she was at the water cooler. She seemed to take something else with the drink of water that she swallowed and there is a suspicion that it was poison or a narcotic.

After taking the drink she returned to the sheriff and then sat down again. In a few minutes she was up and went to the toilet, shutting the door and locked it. A lady passenger a few moments afterward tried to obtain access to the compartment and found that it was locked on the inside.

Sheriff Stanley at once got the car porter to unlock the door and when they stepped inside they found that the girl had jumped from the open window of the train while it was speeding at the rate of 60 miles an hour.

Found Her Broken Body

The point where the girl had made her suicidal leap was about three miles west of Nickerson. The conductor was notified and pulling the air to signal the engineer to stop but while the latter slowed down for a moment the train did not stop and proceeded to Sterling before it came to a full stop.

There Sheriff Stanley roused the section foreman. The latter got out a gasoline speedster and hastened back up the track. The body was missed on the backward journey by the party but on the return trip to Sterling the girl was found, a huddled heap, lying face downward about six feet from the rail on the north side of the roadbed.

It is thought that she was unconscious from the moment that her body, catapaulting from a window of the flying train, hit the ground with the force of a bullet. Her desperate act was out of suicide.  The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kansas. Monday, July 7, 1924. Page 9. © Transcribed by Darren McMannis for the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies, Inc.