The Strange Case Of The DeAutremont Brothers

Here’s an interesting song we came across recently in the Ed Kahn Collection: “The Strange Case of the DeAutremont Brothers”, recorded in 1928 by banjo and guitar duo The Johnson Brothers. It dramatized a sensational train robbery that took place outside of Medford, Oregon in 1923. The would-be robbers (brothers Hugh, Ray, and Roy DeAutremont) badly botched the job, murdering four innocent men in the process. The DeAutremont brothers escaped the scene with their lives, leading authorities on a international manhunt until they were finally apprehended, tried, and sentenced to life in prison in 1927. The Johnson brothers recording no doubt sought to turn some of the recent trial publicity into record sales.

Listen to a clip of “The Strange Case of the DeAutremont Brothers”:

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Ray DeAutremont (L), with Gary Williams, 1973

Ray DeAutremont (L), with Gary Williams, 1973

The clip below is from a tape made in 1973 by Eugene area journalist Gary Williams (tape FT-12658, Ed Kahn Collection), including an interview with the by-then paroled Ray DeAutremont. Ray is reluctant to speak about the murders, but does offer a few interesting (though self-serving) words on the subject of regret.

Listen to Ray DeAutremont  in 1973:

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You can read more on the strange case of the DeAutremont Brothers in Oregon’s Great Train Holdup: The DeAutremont Case No. 57893-D.