I am not usually an advocate for criminals who commit heinous crimes but lets look at the now famous and then famous Frank Dryman.
Frank Dryman was hitch hiking In Montana in 1951 it was cold and snowy. A man who felt in the snowstorm he would be a Good Samaritan stopped to offer a ride to Frank Dryman, his name was Clarence Pellett. Clarence Pellett was the owner of Shelby Café and we assume was just trying to be kind to his fellow man. That is where Clarence Pellets life ended, that cold stormy night at the side of the road because it is said that Frank Dryman stepped up and demanded that Clarence Pellett get out of his vehicle. When Clarence did as he was ask Frank Dryman shot him several times in the back, keep in mind he was shot in the back not facing his killer.
Frank Dryman was tried for his crime, found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. During this era in time in Montana citizens fought hard to abolish the death penalty and Frank Dryman’s sentence was revoked and resentencing gave him life in prison. Frank Dryman served his time and was released on parole. After being released Frank Dryman violated his parole by leaving and not going through the remainder of his time under the parole boards supervision.
Recently in Arizona City, Arizona Frank Dryman was found not by the police because the parole board was looking for him, not by the FBI because he skipped parole, no Frank Dryman was found by a Grandson of Clarence Pellett who just became curious one day while looking at old papers. Clem Pellett, a dentist in Seattle Washington, is the grandson who became curious about the old family murder. While reading the old newsprints he found that Frank Dryman had actually run from his parole in 1951 from California where he and his then wife lived. Never to be found again nor hunted, as one would think the parole system would do for a confessed murderer.
Clem Pellett discovered that Frank Dryman had not only killed his grandfather but had threatened to kill the judge, jury and family members at his trial. An angry young man who had been released from the Navy in 1948 with mental issues Frank Dryman states now that he walked away and never thought about the past, the crime, the scared family he changed forever. He began a new life in Arizona painting signs and running a wedding chapel under the name of Victor Houston, Frank Pellett also in the past used the name of Frank Valentine, which was the name Frank used at the time of the murder.
Frank says once he left his life under parole that he never looked back, he lived a good life and was a good person. Here is where this becomes difficult for me. Frank Dryman committed a terrible crime, was sentenced and served his time (less than 20 years) was paroled, and did not follow his parole restrictions. Created a new life never thinking of the crime he committed. Here in Oregon if a criminal violates his parole and is caught he is taken back to jail for a period of 30 days. Frank Dryman is being returned to Montana to serve the remainder of his life sentence, at the age of 79 this means a short term behind bars.
My dilemma with this is, Frank committed a heinous crime, a family has lived in fear for years, he avoided hanging only because of the death penalty fights that ensued during his time in prison, he served his time and was paroled, does he now deserve a life sentence or should he only be sentenced to a few months/years for parole violation.
I understand the families fear; don’t get me wrong on that, I think it is horrible that Clarence Pellett did not enjoy a life he should have had. I believe that the man was let off a bit easy for his crime with being let out on parole. I think it is horrible that he lived a good life in light of what he put an entire family through. The question clearly is did Clarence Pellett change his ways because he wanted to repent for his crime and live a good life in memory of Clarence Pellett? We know from Frank’s own mouth that this isn’t what he tried to do, he states clearly and without any emotion that he never looked back. He states, “That kid, Frank Valentine, he just exploded. I didn’t shoot that man in the back.” That man – that man, come on Frank no matter if you use your true name or the one you made up that man has a name, a family that loved him, a life he should have been free to live and guess what Frank Dryman you took that away from Clarence Pellett and his family in the dark on a cold stormy night.
Perhaps if Frank Dryman were just a bit repentant for his crime of long ago he would not be spending his final days in a prison. But his cold demeanor regarding the life he took makes me feel as if he is not a changed man, nor a good man.
Another thing that I am curious about is, since Frank Dryman was a minister using a fake name of Victor Houston are the marriages he performed in his chapel really legal. A question I am sure some of the men and women he tied the knot for are asking themselves after all these years. What do you my readers feel would be the best way for the legal system to handle Frank Dryman is? Are you torn with the knowledge that this man even applied for his Veteran’s Benefits and no one in the legal system had any idea that he was a wanted man? Do you feel safe in the walls of your own home? I know that I for some reason do not feel as safe as I did yesterday.