Family reacts to parole denial of convicted killer Frank Dryman - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Family reacts to parole denial of convicted killer Frank Dryman

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Frank Dryman was convicted of homicide more than 60 years ago and then spent four decades as a fugitive (MTN News photo) Frank Dryman was convicted of homicide more than 60 years ago and then spent four decades as a fugitive (MTN News photo)
Clarence Pellett was killed by Dryman in 1951 Clarence Pellett was killed by Dryman in 1951
Clem Pellett attended the parole hearing in Lewistown (MTN News photo) Clem Pellett attended the parole hearing in Lewistown (MTN News photo)
GREAT FALLS - On Tuesday in Lewistown, parole was denied for 84-year old Frank Dryman, who was convicted of killing Clarence Pellett of Shelby more than 60 years ago. 

Dryman was sentenced to life in the Montana State Prison in 1955, but was released on parole in 1969. 

A few years later he disappeared and remained a fugitive until his victim's grandson, Clem Pellett, tracked him down in 2010.  

Dryman was arrested when he was found living in a small Arizona town and placed back behind bars. 

On Tuesday, eight members of the Pellett family attended the parole hearing of their grandfather's killer. What they saw was a man who felt he had done no wrong. 

"He was just so angry that he was still in prison," said Clem. "He had no remorse."  

As members of the Pellet family testified to the Montana Board of Pardons & Parole, some expressed forgiveness, but those who were closest to the crime hoped that Dryman would never be free again. 

After the murder, the Pellet family fragmented and Clem grew up knowing nothing about his extended family and the tragedy that tore them apart.  

"Because I didn't live it my whole life I was fine, and I've always had full confidence in what the parole board decided what they felt was just," said Clem.  

Following the family testimony, the board quickly denied Dryman's parole. 

While Clem says he would accept Dryman's release he feels it is his duty to be present at every dryman hearing. 

Clem's father was the lone Pellett to attend and testify at every Dryman hearing until his death. 

Dryman will be up for parole again next year but at least for now the Pellett family is satisfied. 

"We thought it was just," said Clem. "It was clear he just didn't think it was right, he doesn't think he deserves any more punishment for murdering my grandfather, he just doesn't see it. In his eyes, it's unjust." 

(April 2014) Frank Dryman, who killed a Shelby man nearly 60 years ago, spent nearly four decades on the run. He was found through efforts of the victim's grandson, Clem Pellet.

Dryman, then 19-years old, was hitchhiking near Shelby on April 4, 1951, in a blizzard when Clarence Pellett stopped to pick up the drifter from California. But Pellet didn't know his passenger was carrying a gun.

Dryman, who later admitted to fatally shooting Pellett, took his victim's car and drove into Canada where he was arrested by police.

After being convicted of murder, Dryman was sentenced in 1955 to life in Montana State Prison. He was paroled in 1969 and then disappeared in March 1972.

Dryman, now 82, was arrested by a Pinal County sheriff's detective in Arizona in 2010. He had been operating a wedding chapel and notary business in Arizona City, AZ, under the alias Victor Houston.

Dryman was tracked down by a private investigator hired by Pellett's grandson, Clem, an oral surgeon who lives in Washington.

Dr. Pellett said his father had always warned him against picking up hitchhikers, telling him that one had killed his grandfather many years before. But he knew nothing else about the crime until he was rummaging through a box of his mother's belongings in February 2009. There he found old newspaper clippings about the crime and the trial.

The discovery prompted the younger Pellett to begin a quest to learn more about incident and to find the man who killed his grandfather, who he remembers as someone who lived in Shelby and worked on oil rigs before opening a café shortly before his death.

Montana corrections officials supplied Dr. Pellett with copies of Dryman's files to aid him in his search and maintained frequent contact with him during the past year.

"I was just trying to fill a hole in my family's memory," he said of his quest.

Dr. Pellett managed to track Dryman to Glendale, Arizona, but there the trail went cold. He then hired a private investigator to take over the search that eventually led to Arizona City and the Cactus Rose Wedding Chapel.

Patrick Cote, the investigator, went to the chapel and said he was looking for Frank Valentine, an alias once used by Dryman. Cote noted Houston's birthdate and Dryman's were two days apart and that Houston sported faded tattoos on his hands that appeared to coincide with those Dryman once had.

"It appears that Victor H. Houston and Frank Dryman are one and the same," Cote reported to Pellett.

Pellett informed Montana corrections officials of the discovery and they contacted local law enforcement in Arizona to authorize the arrest. Dryman later admitted his identity to officers.

As of April 2014, Dryman is in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections at the prison infirmary in Lewistown.
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