Rockdale Police Officer Marion R. Caywood
Date of Birth: September 27, 1902
End of Watch: February 14, 1954
Burial: Sandy Creek Cemetery, Rockdale, Texas
Rockdale Reporter, Feb 15, 1954 – One police officer was killed and another was seriously
injured late Sunday night (February 14) in a wild car chase of two youths spotted near
the scene of a Saturday night (February 13) burglary.
Dead was Reuben Caywood, 53, (actually 51) auxiliary policeman from the Rockdale Fire
Department. Rockdale Police Chief Fred Trammell was in Richards Clinic and Hospital,
suffering from a lacerated head, a severely bruised right shoulder and general shock.
Attendants described his condition as “fair” Monday morning.
Thomas Henderson Black, 18, of Cameron and Thomas Wayne Betchan, 20, of Milano were
arrested by the State Highway Patrol about 3 a.m. Monday. They were charged in Justice of
the Peace E. G. Crane’s court with speeding and Black was charged with driving without an
operator’s license. Both were freed on bond later Monday morning.
Trammel said the accident occurred when his car was forced off the road by the two youths
about two and a half miles southeast of Rockdale.
A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday in Crane’s court.
As told by Crane, this is the sequence of events: Trammel and Caywood were sitting at a
drive-in café about 10:30 p.m. Sunday observing Miller’s Minimax about a block away,
scene of a $1,000 cigarette burglary Saturday night. They saw a car pulling in behind the
store, and drove up to investigate. The car hurriedly departed, and Trammel, who was
driving his own car, immediately gave chase. Trammel said that about 2-1/2 miles from
town, on a stretch of dirt road, he tried to get the other car to pull over, but instead
he was forced off the road. Trammel’s car overturned, and Caywood was pinned under the
vehicle. Trammel got out and despite his injuries, managed to walk and crawl a little
over a mile to the nearest farmhouse to report the accident.
The call was received in the Rockdale police office about 11:20 p.m. He reported the
license number of the car, and a statewide alarm was sounded.
By the time the ambulance reached the wreck, Caywood was dead. His body was badly
mangled, and it was believed he died from loss of blood.
Two girls reportedly were in the car with Black and Betchan. One has been identified by
police, but her name has not been released.
Crane estimated that the speed of the two cars in the chase must have reached at times
100 miles an hour. He said Black and Betchan under questioning, first denied they knew
were being pursued by police, but later admitted that they did, and said they continued
because they were scared.
Caywood is survived by his mother and several brothers and sisters. He was employed at
odd jobs around Rockdale and had been with the Volunteer Fire Department 14 years.
Marion Reuben Caywood was a chauffeur by trade. He also served as an auxiliary officer
which would be known today as a reserve officer. He had been a member of the Rockdale
Volunteer Fire Department for 14 years.
He was born on September 27, 1902 in Milam County to W. I. Caywood and Miranda Frances
Lowe. He was a veteran of World War II. He never married. He was 51 years of age at the
time of his death.
He was survived by his mother Mrs. W. I. Caywood of Rockdale; six brothers, Will, Lee,
Edgar, Jim and Louis Caywood all of Rockdale and George Caywood of Silsbee; and by two
sisters, Mrs. Tom Cotton, Milano, and Mrs. Arthur Davis, Wichita Falls. He was buried in
the Sandy Creek Cemetery outside of Rockdale on Highway 79 in Milam County.
His name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC.