KENTUCKY: Bloody Breathitt

To the people in "Bloody Breathitt" (pronounced breath-it) County, Ky., homicide has a purely clinical interest. They ask: How big was the gun? How big a hole was blowed in him? There is also a certain social distinction ("There goes the man who killed Little Jack Combs. He did it with a big, shiny .44. It made a big, round hole in Little Jack's belly. And Little Jack laid there on the ground, talkin' before he died").

One August afternoon in 1938, two brothers named Lewis and Lee Combs went to a political meeting in Breathitt County. Sheriff Walter...

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