In its May 10, 1934 edition, The Mountain Eagle carried the news that Denver Tolliver of Neon had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Boy Scout Clyde Quillen and shooting and blinding Quillen’s scoutleader uncle, Cossie Quillen.
On January 1, 1938, Cossie Quillen received national attention after being elected county clerk even though he was blind. He won the November 1937 general election over incumbent clerk Cro Caudill, who had one arm.
Cossie Quillen later owned and operated Quillen Drug in Whitesburg for many years.
Following is an Associated Press report from May 4, 1934, concerning the trial of Denver Tolliver in Pikeville:
Denver Tolliver, a 25- year- old Letcher County farmer, tonight was under life sentence for murder in the slaying of Clyde Qullen, 18-year-old Boy Scout. It took a Pike County jury, who received the case on a change of venue, only 30 minutes to reach its verdict today.
Whether the conviction would be appealed to the court of appeals, and whether the state would press charges against Tolliver in the shooting of Scoutmaster Cossie Quillen, Clyde’s cousin who was blinded by a shotgun charge shortly before Clyde was fatally wounded on the night of March 16, were not definitely announced.
Indications were that unless the circuit court should be reversed, the Cossie Quillen case would not be pressed.
Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney J. E. Childers and Defense Attorney W. A. Daugherty in their final arguments to the jury today agreed on one point, criticism of Governor Ruby Laffoon for his action in sending state troops to Letcher County for an investigation after the shooting. The troops were requested by the American Legion post at Whitesburg and by other Letcher County residents.
The attorneys said outside aid was not needed in the case. Childers also criticized the attorney general’s office for sending Assistant Attorney General Ray Murphy here to aid the prosecution.
Self Defense Plea
Tolliver pleaded self defense, testifying he fired at Clyde Quillen because he mistook him for an enemy. Tolliver told of trouble he had had with neighbors, and said he thought one of them had come to kill him. He said he had no objection to the party of Boy Scouts, to which Clyde and Cossie Quillen belonged, camping on his land.