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Channing Tatum’s Convicted Felon Doppelgänger Unveiled By Granddaughter

by : Julia Banim on : 17 May 2020 15:23
Channing Tatum's Convicted Felon Doppelgänger Unveiled By GranddaughterChanning Tatum's Convicted Felon Doppelgänger Unveiled By GranddaughterPA/Triangle News

It’s always interesting to look through photographs of your grandparents in their younger years, finding out more about who they were long before you came along.

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There’s always a story to uncover with such nostalgic pics, and some stories are more hair-raising than others, as discovered by one woman from Portland, Oregon.

While in lockdown, 38-year-old Valerie Paolini decided to delve into the past of her grandfather, Ocie Haskell Jones, who had passed away mere days before her birth. What she discovered would make for a cracking movie, not least because Channing Tatum could absolutely play Haskell Jones.

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The mum-of-four was surprised to say the least when her mother, Anita Jones-Smith, showed her a 1931 mugshot of Haskell Jones, taken while he was serving time in California’s infamous San Quentin State Prison.

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The black and white snapshot shows how the then 24-year-old Haskell Jones bore an uncanny resemblance to the Magic Mike heartthrob.

Realising she knew very little about her late granddad’s colourful life, Valerie decided to conduct some research, both through speaking with Anita and by trawling through newspaper archives.

Speaking about her motivations, Valerie explained:

My birth was traumatic for her [Anita] because she loved her dad so much, and he loved her. My birthday was always a constant reminder of his death.

There was always this ghost of a person hanging over it that I’d never met.

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What Valerie managed to uncover proved extraordinary, digging up details about Haskell Jones’s life that even Anita hadn’t been aware of.

Known to friends as ‘Hack’, Haskell Jones was born in Oklahoma back in 1907, where he grew up ‘dirt poor’ and helped out in the fields of Texas.

A self-educated man, Haskell Jones taught himself to read and write, moving to California in the 1920s.

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However, like many poor farmers, this proved to be a tough period for Haskell Jones, and in February 1931 Haskell Jones and two uncles committed a robbery at a store in Tulare County, where they stole $150, a $300 diamond and insurance papers.

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Valerie said:

He had just found out his wife was pregnant and he did not have two pennies to rub together.

Back then you had to pay the bill up front to get your wife and child out of the hospital, and he did not have that kind of money.

I think that is where the robbery came into play.

Haskell Jones went on to serve three years behind the walls of San Quentin, but this wasn’t the last dramatic episode in his life.

Following his stint in San Quentin (which Valerie believes ‘changed him’), Haskell Jones purchased a ranch before buying the Buckhorn bar in Visalia.

In 1962, after having ended up on bad terms with someone in the city, five men barged their way into the Buckhorn and began beating Haskell Jones in an incident the papers described as a ‘Wild West shootout’.

Defending himself, Haskell Jones grabbed a gun and blasted a water tank twice before his gun jammed. He ended up getting shot a total of five times but was still able to get to the other end of the bar, where he picked up another gun, firing off four rounds and leaving one of his attackers dead.

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While blood poured from his body, Haskell Jones whispered the code to his safe to a friend, instructing him to give all the cash to Anita.

Thankfully Haskell Jones survived this ordeal, spending five days in a coma and having two of the five bullets removed from his body. However, after waking up in hospital, he was horrified to learn he had been charged with murder.

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Ultimately, the truth of the incident came to light and Haskell Jones was let off, while the men who attacked him were put behind bars.

Valerie said:

My mom was four at the time of the shooting and she was told he was in a car accident. She always said she hated cars because she thought her dad was going to die.

It ruined multiple families that night, the gang who came round to attack my grandfather all ended up dead or in prison.

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Several years later, Haskell Jones closed the Buckhorn and moved back to Texas. He also ended up
receiving a pardon by the Governor of California for the robbery he had committed.

Despite a lack of formal education, Haskell Jones demonstrated great intelligence, and after losing his right index finger during an accident on an off-shore oil rig, he was able to teach himself to write using his left hand.

Recalling her mother’s memories of him, Valerie said:

She loved him, he would go to all her girl scout meetings and he would always give her money if she needed it.

But if he needed a favour you were expected to do that favour. People were scared of him, and he wasn’t afraid of anybody.

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Although Haskell Jones had survived the 1962 shooting, the three bullets had lodged in his body, and in 1981 he died from lead poisoning – just days before getting to meet his baby granddaughter.

According to Valerie, her four children have very much enjoyed learning about the fascinating great grandfather they never knew:

It’s not the sweetest family story by any means, but he was a cool guy. Somebody could write a movie about his life, and people would want to see it, because it was that interesting.

And I think it’s kind of cool to have a grandfather who has such an interesting story. If he hadn’t made those choices I wouldn’t even be here today.

By today’s standards what he did was horrible, but those times were different. He was a survivor, he didn’t have anything so I have to have respect for him for that.

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After sharing pictures of her felonious grandfather on a Facebook group, Valerie received a number of messages asking whether he was single, despite him having been dead for nearly 39 years.

One woman commented, ‘Go ahead and rob this bank …. with all due respect of course,’ while another swooned, ‘You’re definitely related to Channing Tatum.’

A very interesting story focusing on a character who would get pulses racing and people pouring into the cinema. Are any Hollywood directors out there reading this?

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Celebrity, California, Channing Tatum, Ocie Haskell Jones, San Quentin State Prison