Funny, Funny Stories From my days at Eden, P.D.

By Michael D. Martin, E.C.P.D. Retired

About the author...Michael Martin (pictured front row, far right in the 1981 photo) is a retired veteran of 25 years on the Eden City Police Department, and has penned a number of anecdotal writings recalling his experiences.

XXXVII. The Builder's Mart Burglary

I believe this was '72 or 73. Our Chief was Marshall Owen Clark, the toughest "street cop in America" and a better than average detective. We affectionately called him Mo. Marshall taught me the way to deal with informants and I learned well. At this time, Mo had an informant named Bobby Ray (last name omitted) Bobby Ray was supposed to be a real criminal and Mo had a case hanging over his head and Bobby offered to trade the case for a bigger one. Bobby Ray told Mo that he had spoken to some little thugs that were planning to burglarize the old Builder's Mart on Bridge Street and steal all the guns.


     Back then, the Builder's Mart was owned by John Smith and Rick Orrell ran the store part and Melvin Orrell supervised the shop, "Coonie Bowers" was the main carpenter and all Eden construction men knew that the "Builder's Mart" was the place to go to get all their building needs. Because of Rick, the "Builder's Mart also carried a complete line of hunting and fishing supplies, this included a cabinet of fine hunting rifles.


     Bobby Ray told Mo Clark that he was supposed to meet these thugs on an early Sunday morning and buy the guns from the thugs.


     Eden PD went into a planning mode and I was supposed to enter the shop across the railroad tracks and monitor the rear door of the Builder's Mart. At ten o'clock, John Smith III and went to the shop and sneaked in and he was to show me, in pitch black dark, where I could observe, once in, we heard a noise and it came from behind a door. I opened the door and saw a person standing there, I snatched him out of the room and heard John's big automatic pistol being cocked near my head. The fella said "uh...uh...I just came in to use the phone!  Before our operation had even begun, we had captured a burglar not associated to our operation. John and I arrested him and took him to Eden, PD and hurried back to the mart. We went in again and John Showed me a place where there was a BB sized hole in the glass, that had been painted on the outside. This hole overlooked the railroad track and by peering thru the hole, a man could see the back door of the store. I had a walkie talkie and John left to join the command group at the Eden, PD offices.  Officers Frankie Ray Watkins and Wayne Carter were in place, hidden, or moving very little in the Leaksville business section.

     Very late in the night, I heard a noise and peered out and saw two young men running down the railroad track from the area of Raymond Martin's Insurance Office. They came to the rear door, about five foot from me. Rick Orrell had left the bar off the rear door in anticipation of the burglary so there would not be too much damage. When the burglars hit the door, it came open easily and the burglars laughed and said "the fools forgot to bar the door, lucky for us." and they went in...I hit the carrier on my walkie and told Mo Clark that the burglars were here and they were in. I listened to the breaking of the gun case and watched thru my peephole as the two burglars came out the back door, each carrying several guns, in each hand, by the barrels. Frankie Ray Watkins and Wayne Carter eased out and began to close the distance.


     Then, the unexpected happened, the greedy fellows came back for a second trip, I watched them enter the store a second time and when they were in, I advised Mo Clark what was going on and Frank and Wayne slowed a bit and waited...They came out with of the last of the guns and ran to the waiting car in Raymond Martin's parking lot, they threw the guns in the back seat and piled in and as they left the parking lot, Frankie Ray Watkins and Wayne Carter made a routine stop on the car and asked the driver, a female, what they were doing in the parking lot so late at night?? Then they shined their flashlights in the car and saw numerous weapons.....This whole gang went to prison for years and never knew Bobby Ray had set them up.

Michael D. Martin

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