January 5

This Day in History

Crime

Jan 5, 1970:

The United Mine Workers Killings

The bodies of dissident union leader Jock Yablonski, his wife, and daughter are discovered in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania, farmhouse by Yablonski's son Kenneth. The family had been dead for nearly a week, killed on New Year's Eve by killers hired by the United Mine Workers (UMW) union leadership. Yablonski's murder eventually brought down the whole union leadership and ended the widespread corruption of the union under UMW President Tony Boyle.

Jock Yablonski ran against Boyle in the 1969 election for the leadership of the UMW. He accused Boyle of nepotism and misuse of union funds, while also pushing for greater voting rights for rank-and-file members. On December 9, 1969, Boyle won the election but Yablonski asked the U.S. Labor Department to investigate the election for possible fraud.

At that point, Boyle sought to have Yablonski killed. Paul Gilly and Claude Vealey were hired by a UMW leader, Albert Pass, to carry out the murder. In mid-December, Gilly and Vealey went to Yablonski's house but lost their nerve at the last moment. When they returned two weeks later with Buddy Martin, they shot Yablonski, his wife, Margaret, and 25-year-old daughter, Charlotte.

Eventually, an investigation into the murders exposed the conspiracy and nine people were convicted for their involvement, including Tony Boyle, who died in prison.  Fortunately, the scandal prompted serious reform of the UMW union.

Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

What Happened on Your Birthday?

Pick a Date

Shop HISTORY