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March 25, 2013
Roger Caryl aka Tex McCord
Roger Caryl was a tragedy in the making. Bullied in high school, he set off after graduation to become a cowboy in the Wild West. In short order he was broke and on the verge of being fired from the only ranch where he ever worked when he gunned down four people. A massive manhunt pursued him from Montana to Florida.
by Kim Walker
Let me tell you the story of Tex McCord. He began life as Roger Caryl and early on became a denizen of Mount Zion, Illinois. The welcome sign at the village limits promised “a glowing past and a brighter future,” but not for Roger.
It was the same setting where nearly every day of high school Roger suffered the indignity of his books being jerked, thrown and kicked from his hands. Papers floated down three flights of stairs, sent careening kung-fu style, just like our TV hero, David Carradine.
Roger Caryl’s one yee-haw happy hey-day each year was the annual Fall Festival, where he insisted people call him “Tex” and he became sheriff for a day. He wore a badge and boots and had the power to arrest people and put them in a phony hoosegow. Tex quickly made up for lost time and exacted vendettas worthy of a Louis L’Amour novel.
The night he graduated high school, Roger Caryl told his parents he was going camping in southern Illinois. Instead, “Tex” followed his life-long dream and moved west.
There he would re-invent himself on a dude ranch in Montana as Tex McCord, after a fabled 19th-century bandit. Seventeen-year old Caryl told people he was a Vietnam vet and a U.S. Marine. He claimed to be an experienced cowhand from a large ranching family in Texas.