The Downfall of A Dixie Mafia Kingpin – Kirksey Nix, Jr. Arrested

kirksey nix jr Photo courtesy of The Alexandria Daily Town Talk Newspaper

Kirksey Nix, Jr. survived the Revenge of Buford Pusser, but his freedom would be short-lived. Within a couple of years, a judge’s Cadillac explodes in front of the state capitol, a man dies on Easter morning defending his home against invaders, and one shot to the chest finally brings the Dixie Mafia Kingpin to his knees.

Kirksey McCord Nix, Jr. was the son of a prominent judge in Oklahoma, but that didn’t stop his life of crime. It probably encouraged it. Nix had been on law enforcement radar for a decade, but no charges would stick. After ambushing Sheriff Pusser on New Hope Road, everyone involved felt the wrath of the disfigured lawman. Somehow, Nix would escape, but his freedom wouldn’t last long.

The ambush and killing of Pauline Pusser wasn’t Kirksey’s first slaying. His group of rogues was accused of several home invasions and murders across four different states. It seemed as if nothing could stop this group of murderous thieves. A series of events would lead to Junior’s downfall, and it would start shortly after the death of Pauline Pusser.

The year before the ambush on Pusser, Junior was arrested on felony accounts of burglary and grand larceny. December 29, 1965, Nix and his little gang broke into a boy’s summer camp near Mount Ida, Arkansas. They stole ten rifles, a movie projector, and sporting equipment according to the the Daily Oklahoman’s article on January 22, 1966.

He was in trouble in April of 1966 for passing bad checks and then again in August for using illegal license plates. After paying fines, Nix kicks off a robbery spree that would span several states, and some of these cases would end up in murder. Somehow Junior’s name stays out of the newspapers until the ambush of Sheriff Pusser on August 12, 1967.

Buford Pusser named Kirksey Nix, Jr. and a few others as the shooters who ambushed him on that fateful day in August. After spending hours combing through newspaper archives, I found Junior didn’t make headlines again until 1968 that’s not to say he was laying low.

March 19, 1968, The Daily Oklahoman reported that Kirksey Nix, Jr. pled guilty to some minor charges including reckless driving and the unlawful use of a radio. It seemed Junior had been monitoring the police radio frequencies. Perhaps he was trying to watch out for Pusser. Who knows?

April 30, 1968, Junior is jailed after his gang unsuccessfully tried to rob the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Atlanta, GA. This time his crew consisted of four men and one unnamed woman. During the robbery attempt, the thieves were disturbed by a guard named Robert P. Fouche. He was wounded in the robbery, but after a brief hospital stay, he made a full recovery.

May 21, 1968, Junior’s father, Judge Kirksey Nix, drove a dark-colored 1967 Cadillac to work and parked in front of the State Capitol. An hour after arriving, the car explodes throwing metal shards all over the area. Luckily no one was hurt in the explosion. Authorities quickly conclude the blast was not caused by a bomb, so what made it erupt into a ball of flames? Supposedly there were a couple of oxygen tanks in the trunk of the car that caused the explosion, but no one knows for sure.

The car had been included in a robbery investigation only four months before it’s explosion. Then it was supposedly owned by Junior. The Lawton Constitution reported on May 24, 1968, that the car had Mississippi license plates and it was registered to Doris D’ Angelo.

This is where the theories start to creep in…

If we take the “other” story of the ambush as fact, then we may know precisely where that dark-colored Cadillac came from and what it was used for.

Lt. Dan Anderson had a dark-colored Cadillac that suddenly disappeared after the death of his son. His family wondered why he got rid of it, and no one really got an explanation.

Was this the car used in the ambush on Buford Pusser?

Who is Doris D’ Angelo?

Doris was married to a local club owner named Dewey D’Angelo. This big-time Dixie Mafia member sheltered Junior and ran his prostitution house in Mississippi. Dan Anderson and a man named Hobbs frequented this local hang out often. Without warning, Dan and Hobbs show up in the back room of the club, and a deal is made for the Cadillac. (There’s never any paperwork on this transaction. This information was passed down by the rumor mill.) A short time later it is blown up in front of the Oklahoma State Capital. Why would it be blown up unless it held vital evidence? A simple defunct robbery wouldn’t warrant such drastic action. I contend that it was the car that Ronnie Anderson borrowed from his dad so he could go out with the guys.

Now that the car is gone, what’s next for Junior? Well, more robberies and murder, of course. During the 1969 Mardi Gras celebrations a group of heavily armed men raids a camp of carnival workers near Lake Pontchartrain. 44-year-old carnival worker Margie George was shot and killed during the raid.

Easter morning in 1971, Nix and his gang break into the home of a wealthy grocer named Frank Corso. Corso is awakened by his wife and grabs a gun. He fires upon the thieves, and they retreat, but not before shooting the homeowner. He dies in his wife’s arms, but his bullet had found its mark. Kirksey Nix, Jr. was hit square in the chest, and the bullet lodged in his abdomen. The next day Junior shos up at St. Paul’s hospital in Dallas where he received treatment before being arrested by Dallas authorities. In 1972, Nix and his cohorts would be convicted of the murder of Corso and received life in prison. The king of the Dixie Mafia had fallen, but it wouldn’t be the last time his name made headlines. Come back next week, and you’ll hear how the king’s reign faired behind bars.

All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.

If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.



Sources for this article have been linked directly into the text of the article.

Synova’s Youtube Video

This week’s recommended Dixie Mafia Books include:

Timeless Classics: True Crime

Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia

kirksey nix jr

Dixie Mafia Bloodbath: The Revenge of Buford Pusser


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

They killed his wife and took his face. Now he was out for blood. Someone would have to pay for the death of Pauline Pusser. Hollywood loves the tale of a vigilante seeking justice, but the facts don’t line up with “Walking Tall.”

After the ambush on New Hope Road on August 12, 1967, Sheriff Buford Pusser supposedly named four suspects in the death of his wife, Pauline. When asked again while being wheeled out of surgery, he wearily replied that he didn’t know who shot them. Carl Douglas “Towhead” White was apparently the man who ordered the hit from prison and his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr. was the one to carry out the hit. The names Carmine Raymond Gagliardi, Gary Elbert McDaniel, and George Albert McGann were also mentioned.

Legend says the officer went rogue and got revenge on everyone who killed his wife except for Kirksey Nix.

Hollywood loves to spin tails, and this one is no exception. Keep this in mind if you watch the various versions of “Walking Tall.” There is so much fiction woven into the stories that minimal facts remain. Buford Pusser was a sheriff, and Pauline his wife was killed. All of this happened along the state border of Tennessee and Mississippi. The other characters like Towhead White, Louise Hathcock, and Kirksey Nix, were real outlaws, but other than that, not much else is true.

Let’s Investigate!

According to the book Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Mississippi Mud, the first three ambush suspects all died mysteriously, and they say Nix voluntarily went to prison to avoid Pusser. We will see. First up is Carmine R. Gagliardi. They say his body was found riddled with bullets floating in the Boston Harbor in 1969. I dove into this case, thinking I should be able to find at least one newspaper article on this guy in the harbor. There were none. Absolutely zero. I did find a guy that fit the description of a mafia hitman named CARMEN R. Gagliardi, but he was not found floating in the harbor.

Carmen Gagliardi was in prison for killing Joe Lanza, a local bartender. It is said Gagliardi could be tied to up to fifty different mafia hits in and around Boston. At one time he was on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List, but there’s no evidence he was ever on the state border between Tennessee and Mississippi. In January 1975, Gagliardi died in prison of a drug overdose. Nowhere does it say anything about a Gagliardi male being found in the Boston Harbor.

Mr. Gags may have put bodies in the harbor, but it appears this is just another tall tale.

There is a chance that it’s two different guys, but I tend to doubt it. Either way, I find it hard to believe that Sheriff Pusser went 2,400 miles to kill a mob hitman and no one noticed him missing. The big man was too busy raising Cain at the state line to take a road trip, in my opinion.

Gary Elbert McDaniel was found floating in the Sabine River in Texas on February 8, 1969. Some detractors claim the vindictive lawman killed him, I beg to differ. What they fail to mention is the fact that McDaniel was neck-deep in trouble after trying to kill a Mississippi prosecutor. Some of his Dixie Mafia buddies were afraid he was turning state’s evidence. This is most likely the cause of his death, and again other than being loosely tied to the Dixie Mafia and Kirksey Nix there’s no definitive link to Buford Pusser.

Legend tells the tale of how Buford Pusser wrought with grief killed all of his attackers, but again, this one leaves more questions than answers.

The next man on the list was George Albert McGann. He was supposedly shot by Buford Pusser in Lubbock, Texas. McGann was a big-time gambler. He was killed during a poker game on September 30, 1970. Somehow his death was tied to the legend of Buford Pusser anyways.

Now Towhead White is an entirely different story. White and the sheriff were mortal enemies. The entire state line shook with the rumblings of their warfare. Around midnight on April 2, 1969, Towhead pulled up in front of the El-Ray motel. The girl in the front seat with him was the estranged wife of the motel’s owner. Berry Smith, known as Junior, watched them pull into the driveway and stepped outside to meet them.

A verbal altercation ensued followed by gunfire. When the sun rose on April 3, 1969, Carl Douglas “Towhead” White was gone. Shirley Smith had somehow slipped from the passenger side of the car without injury, but White was shot in the forehead. Some say his gun was still in his right hand when the police pulled his body from the car.

Junior was arrested for murder, but the charges were later dropped, and the death ruled as self-defense. According to the bullet’s trajectory, it seemed as if Towhead was actually shot by someone on the roof of the motel. Rumors immediately named the sheriff, but no evidence was ever found. No one put much effort into the investigation. The locals were documented, saying, “Good Riddance.” We may never know who killed Towhead White.

An entirely different story:

Fifty years after the story began, an anonymous witness has come forward claiming to know who was involved in the ambush on New Hope Rd. and it’s not who you think.

Kirksey Nix is believed to have gathered a crew from his friends in Gulfport, Mississippi. The local police department was corrupt at the time and one small time deputy was named Dan Anderson. Several of the Dixie Mafia members played cards at his kitchen table, and it’s believed that his crew came from this core group. Allegedly, this is where they found the dark-colored Cadillac as well.


Photo courtesy of the family – Towhead White on the right, Dan Anderson in the front

When the men asked the impressionable young Ronnie Anderson if he wanted to ride along for a night on the town, he had no idea what was about to go down. He was just glad to be invited. His father, Dan, had gotten in over his head with this group, and now it would cost him dearly. His precious boy would return home, but six weeks later, he would be silenced forever.

The last man on Buford’s list was Kirksey Nix, Jr. Legend says he voluntarily went to prison to avoid the sheriff. Actually, Nix was convicted of murdering Frank Corso in 1972. There is no evidence he voluntarily jumped ship to avoid Buford Pusser.

So who was killed to avenge the blood of Pauline Pusser?


Maybe Towhead White…maybe not. But Hollywood rarely cares about the facts.

All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the copyright on photos. Pictures are displayed under the fair use act. All photos are for informational purposes only. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.

If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.



Further Reading:

Memphis Flyer

Giants of Tennessee

Learning History

View From A Hearse

TN Valley Talks

Buford Pusser Museum

Synova’s Youtube Video

Recommended Books on the Dixie Mafia:

Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Texas by Ron Franscell

1960’s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime that Rocked the Capital By JEsse Sublett

Mississippi Mud by Edward Humes