Judge Kirksey Nix Sr. of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals liked to vacation in Biloxi, Mississippi in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Judge Nix became close friends of the owners of strip clubs, nightclubs, and illegal gambling halls in Biloxi. Eventually, his name began appearing in Mississippi Highway Patrol intelligence reports as a friend of career criminals. His son, Kirksey Nix Jr., joined the Air National Guard and in 1961 was stationed for a one year tour of duty at Keesler Air Force Base outside of Biloxi. Nix Jr. was discharged after the one year of service. He quickly joined his father’s friends who were running the rackets in Biloxi. He became a member of a band of loosely associated traveling criminals who specialized in sophisticated burglaries and home invasion robberies. They preferred to operate in the rural areas of southern states where local law enforcement was unprepared to deal with that kind of criminal activity. Kirksey Nix Jr. became a leading member of what would become known as the Dixie Mafia or Little Dixie Mafia.
Federal authorities in Texas charged Clifford Henry Bowen and Jerry Ray James, among others, with conspiracy to violate federal statutes: “During the period from March 13, 1964 to about April 20, 1966, the jury found that appellants traveled about the country in groups of varying size committing a number of crimes, consisting primarily of robberies of federally insured banks. The modus operandi for each robbery was basically the same. Banks located in towns too small to have significant, if any at all, police protection were chosen. The safes were assaulted but, primarily those in which the currency was kept, without much success. The silver, however, was taken and safety deposit boxes were entered.” During the same time period, Kirksey Nix Jr. was arrested in Ft. Smith, Arkansas in December 1965 with illegal automatic weapons. Thomas Lester Pugh was arrested in July 1966 for a home invasion robbery in Ft. Payne, Alabama.
Also during this time period, a sheriff in rural Tennessee was waging a war with a gang operating on the state line between Tennessee and Mississippi: “Pusser served as the Adamsville police chief and constable from 1962 to 1964. He then ran for McNairy County, Tennessee, sheriff in 1964 and won, making him at the age of 26 the youngest Tennessee sheriff in state history………. As sheriff, Pusser targeted criminal elements of the Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob. A high-ranking member of the State Line Mob was Jack Hathcock. Hathcock ran The Shamrock, a restaurant, motel and dance hall near Corinth, Mississippi, which straddled the Mississippi/Tennessee state line. The restaurant had opened in 1950, with services including gambling and prostitution. The Shamrock had a reputation for violence towards any patron who complained about crooked games. The restaurant was also the focal point for organized crime, especially bootlegging. Public records show that Jack was killed by his wife, Louise, although it was rumored that the real killer was Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. White was the infamous leader of the State Line Mob. Louise successfully claimed self defense and eventually became White’s mistress. Pusser survived several assassination attempts. On February 1, 1966, Louise Hathcock attempted to kill Pusser during an on-site investigation of a robbery complaint at The Shamrock. Hathcock fired on Pusser with a concealed .38 pistol. Pusser returned fire and killed Hathcock.” Carl Douglas “Towhead” White was reported to be a close friend of Kirksey Nix Jr., the Oklahoma outlaw. White was in jail serving time for bootlegging. He allegedly phoned Nix Jr. from jail and hired him to kill Pusser.
Kirksey Nix Jr. and three other people checked into rooms at “Towhead” White’s Shamrock motel on August 11th, 1967. Early the next day: “On the pre-dawn morning of August 12, 1967, Pusser’s phone rang, informing him of a disturbance call on New Hope Road in McNairy County. He responded, with his wife Pauline joining him for this particular ride. Shortly after they passed the New Hope Methodist on New Hope Road, two cars came alongside Pusser’s; the occupants opened fire, killing his wife and leaving Pusser, who had suffered a shotgun wound to the face, for dead. He spent eighteen days in the hospital before returning home, and would need several surgeries to restore his appearance. Pusser vowed to bring all involved with his wife’s death to justice. He identified four assassins: Louise Hathcock’s former boyfriend, Carl Douglas “Towhead” White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix.” Pusser traveled to Oklahoma seeking information about Nix Jr. and his Dixie Mafia associates.
Oklahoma investigators were cooperating with Pusser and agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigating the murder of Pauline Pusser. In North Carolina, an Oklahoma outlaw named Arlis Delbert Self was cooperating with lawmen. On May 16th and 17th, 1968, Self was questioned by investigators, including OSBI Agent Jack Hill. Self told the lawmen:
* Self was involved in several burglaries with Thomas Lester Pugh. Sometimes they used walkie-talkies in the burglaries.
* “Lester Pugh knows Kirksey Nix real well.”
* Self heard that the Canadian Club was robbed by Donald Sparks, Lester Pugh, and possibly Jerry James.
* Self knew George Fuquay. Fuquay had robbed a club in Mississippi along with Jerry James and possibly Donald Sparks.
* Lester Pugh, Jerry James, and Donald Sparks pulled a robbery in the New Orleans area in which three people were shot.
* Self was told by Lester Pugh about the murder of John Dillon. Dillon was the passenger in the front seat of a car being driven by Ruby Charles “Bob” Jenkins, and riding in the back seat was the assassin, who crushed Dillon’s skull with a hammer.
* Self knew Al McDonald.
* Self was questioned about the killing of the sheriff’s wife in Tennessee.
* Self and Pugh suspected Cleo Epps of informing to the police. They obtained dynamite and planned to bomb the outside of her motel to “scare” her.
* Self was once offered $5000 by Cleo Epps to kill an eastern Oklahoma district attorney.
* Pugh once offered Self $5000 to kill a man in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.
Four days after the interview of Self, Oklahoma officials received a wake-up call in the form of an explosion.
May 21st, 1968
Kirksey Nix Jr. drove a Cadillac to Oklahoma and delivered it to his father, Judge Nix. Jailhouse rumors claimed this was the same Cadillac used in the ambush and shooting of Pusser and his wife. One informant claimed the Cadillac was partial payment for Nix Jr.’s role in the Pusser hit. Judge Nix drove the Cadillac to work on May 21st, 1968 and parked it in his assigned parking space in the parking lot at the state capitol building. Judge Nix had been in his office about an hour when the Cadillac exploded, sending wreckage flying in every direction. The car was completely demolished, but no one was hurt. The judge could offer no explanation for the incident. Arson investigators eventually ruled that the blast “was caused by an open valve on an acetylene tank, John Guest, assistant state fire marshal, ruled. It was theorized a spark from the closing of contact points on the car’s electric clock, set off the explosion.”