Genealogy and History
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ARMED BANDITS - PEARL CITY IL
Pearl City Has Bank Hold Up! Robbers Caught
Since our last issue - armed bandits struck the Pearl City and Kent banks in a daring daylight robbery (Friday morning July 25th) that netted about $12,000 in cash and other bank deposits. The local bank was robbed of $1,800, and 30 minutes later the Kent bank of $11,000. The unmasked pair however were arrested by the FBI Tuesday at Madison, Wis., and yesterday were identified by Cashiers John Taylor of Pearl City, David Carpenter of Kent and Howard Wysong of a Rockford motor concern who sold the $50 get away car to the bandits. Both robberies were made at gunpoint. The men came here in a 1934 Pontiac coupe and parked the same in front of the Koertner and Brinkmeier Hardware. At the Pearl City bank the pair forced Mr. Taylor and the assistant cashier Mrs. Myrtle Schroer into the vault while they escaped. The vault door was not securely locked. Mrs. Schroer had tactfully insisted that the vault time lock was still on and it could not be opened. In the course of the robbery Jack Schofield strolled into the bank. The robber on the outside of the cage ordered Schofield against the wall and to toss his billfold over. Jack asked for his identification papers and made reply there was only $2 in it. The desperadoes kick the wallet back to the owner. The robbers remained very calm and cool, warning that no one was to move. They jumped in the car brought to the bank door by the younger thief and sped north Truckers reported the burglars stopped briefly at the Yellow Creek Bridge near the old Dunkard church where they apparently refilled a radiator which was boiling over. At Kent, the old car pulled up directly in front of the bank and the men left the motor running. Cashier Carpenter was warned not to say the time lock was in effect. He and his helper, Mrs. Forrest Slick were covered by guns. Miss Sadie Brunner R. N. who walked into the bank was forced to lie on the floor. The men gathered up their loot jumped in the car and sped north. A couple of miles south of Sunnyside Store on route 20 a third party came out of the woods and the three transferred to a parked Packard. An alert was sounded and roads blocked. The chief of police at Argyle, Wis., chased the fleeing car 13 miles and then lost the trail. He was able to get the clues to numbers which led to the identity of the robbers. The Stephenson county sheriff's department also worked hard on the case in connection with the FBI. Arrested are two Chilton, Wis., brothers; Raymond Hephner 26 and Ralph Hephner 23. Raymond's wife Virginia 26, was also arrested as the home was surrounded. She (the mother of four children and a fifth child expected) said she was an unwilling accessory to the crime. The men readily admitted the hold-ups and also confessed to a stick-up of the Farmer's State Bank in Edmumd, Wis., last Jan. 21, Guns were retrieved and some of the money hidden in a cabin. Deposits in both banks were insured. The Hephner Brothes, made a living catching and peddling fish. In the previous Wisconsin bank hold-up they obtained $9,769.25. They will be charged with the Pearl City and Kent crimes today. [unknown newspaper/c. 1952 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Paris IL Feb. 5 - Deputy Sheriff Brown admitted yesterday he shot and killed Doug Dwyer, notorious in Illinois and western Indiana as a gambler and gunman after Dwyer had knocked him down and fired a bullet into his face as he lay on the floor of a saloon in Jacksonville Indiana, Tuesday. Brown is suffering from a gunshot wound in his jaw and neck. Dwyer was known as a politician and was alleged to have caused the death of Sam Hybarger, who was slain here several years ago. [Thursday, February 5, 1925; Daily Register Gazette (Rockford, IL) Page: 9]
Widow Beats Off Attacker
Efforts to assault Mrs. George Chaney, 70 year old widow who lives alone in a small home on the Oneco-Winslow road, about midway between the two villages, were frustrated early this morning after a struggle between the intended victim and her assailant, according to Sheriff Harry Yde, who was summoned to the Chaney home today to investigate the affair. Despite her advanced years, Mrs. Chaney told authorities, she finally succeeded in chasing the unidentified man from her home after battling with him for several minutes, throwing various articles of furniture and other objects at him and engaging in a hand to hand struggle for several minutes. She was in an almost exhausted condition when she arrived at the home of a neighbor about 4:30 this morning to summon aid. Numerous bruises about her hands, arms and bodies gave evidence of the struggle in which she engaged with the assailant. On ariving at the neighbors she asked that the authorities be notified and Deputy Sheriff Harry Fryer, Winslow, was summoned and he in turn notified Sheriff Yde, who with Deputy Jerry Plowman, hurried to the scene to take part in the investigation. No trace of the man was found although it appeared that he had walked down the road leading to the home. The assailant broke into the home by tearing tar paper off a rear screen door, cutting the screen and unlocking it and then kicking the bottom panel out of a wooden door. Mrs. Chaney is deaf and did not hear the man making his entrance. Her first knowledge that anyone was in the house came when she felt someone tugging at her bed clothing. She jumped from the bed but was knocked backward. However, she again jumped and engaged in a struggle with the man. Investigation disclosed the telephone wires leading to the home had been cut and that an effort had been made to gain entrance through another door. It appears certain that the assailant knew of Mrs. Chaney's deafness knowing that she would not hear the noise made by his breaking into the home. In the combat Mrs. Chaney was knocked down several times and suffered numerous bruises and today was also suffering somewhat from shock. [Unknown newspaper/date]
Chas. Chapin, city editor of a New York newspaper, who killed his wife and yesterday was indicted, was in his youth a resident of Freeport. A schoolmate of Chapin's at Freeport high school in 1878 described him as a very prepossessing young man and an exceptionally bright student. He had a sister, Fanny, and a brother, Frank, attending Freeport high school in 1878 also. (Unknown newspaper, 21 September 1918; contributed by Karen Fyock)
John Daughenbaugh, 109 East Jackson St. who operates the cigar and news stand in the post office lobby reported to the police that when he came into the building at 7 a.m. this morning he found that the case in which his merchandise is displayed had been opened and that candy bars, 20 packages of chewing gum and 7 packs of cigarettes had been stolen, presumably on Sunday. It is believed that a wire was used to unlock the case. [06 March 1939 - Freeport Journal Standard]
Henry Dreyer, 30, of 944 East Clinton street, was arrested yesterday by Police Officers Walter Marsh and Robert Eberle, and held for investigation on a larceny charge which conceerned the theft of six pairs of work pants, stolen from the Montgomery Ward store Monday afternoon. The goods were sold at a second hand store and later recovered. Warden fred Manthel stated that Dreyer, a former city fireman, admitted, under questioning, that he had taken the merchandise. He will be given a hearing later.
Freeport Journal the next day: Henry Dreyer, Freeport, who was taken into custody on a charge of stealing several pairs of trousers from the Montgomery Ward store was sentenced to nine months on the state farm at Vandalia when he pleaded guilty in county court before Judge E.J. Sullivan yesterday. [22 June 1938 - Freeport Journal Standard]
When arraigned in the court of Justice Albert Lindsey yesterday afternoon, Lloyd Hasselmann 28, Freeport WPA worker was granted a continuance of 10 days. Bond was fixed at $2000 and being unable to furnish bond he was returned to jail. Hasselmann is charged with grand larceny it being alleged that he stole a calf from the August Cabot farm in Harlem Twp. He admitted his guilt. [11 August 1938 Freeport Journal Standard]
Lloyd Hasselman charged with burglary and larceny withdrew his petition for probation and pleaded guilty to the larceny charges. He was sentenced to one year on the State farm at Vandalia. The probation officer yesterday recommended that Hasselmans petition for probation be denied. He was represented by Att. Wesley Eberle. [13 September 1938, Freeport Journal Standard 1938]
Paris IL Dec 1 -- Charles Hitch, United States marshal for the southern IL district was made the defendant in criminal proceedings today when two indictments were filed charging him with selling liquor in anti-saloon territory and maintaining a nuisance. Mr. Hitch is a stockholder and manager of an amusement resort north of Paris. The refreshment stand privileges were leased to S. Hybarger, who was arrested for selling liquor. It is claimed that hitch as manager of the park club obtained a percent of the stand sales and is therefore liable. Mr. Hitch said that he ascribed the charges to political animus. [Tuesday, December 2, 1913; Morning Star (Rockford, IL) Page: 2]
April 22, 1940 Trial Date: People vs. J.F. Homan. Harold Armstrong. Marie Raders and O.C. Kisor, violation of medical practice act.
Lena: Mrs. Nora Lawhorn, residing near Lena, was arrested by Deputy Sheriffs Ray Mead and Walter Krell on complaint made by her husband, William, who alleged assault and battery. The husband is 73 years old. He charged that his wife stood over his bed with a loaded revolver and threatened him and also that she pilfered $140 from his trousers pocket. She was scheduled for a hearing before Justice of the Peace M.L. Karels late today. [Freeport Journal-Standard, December 11, 1939]
Roy S. and Irl F. McNutt Beaten and Murdered
Twin brothers Roy S. McNutt and Irl F. McNutt, 79, of 802 S. Benton Ave., were found dead following a fire at their home on Saturday afternoon, January 9, 1988. For several years they owned and operated McNutt Bros. Grocery Store on the corner of Cherry Avenue and Pleasant Street. They were members of the Church of the Brethren for more than 50 years. Until retiring they were employed by Pinkerton Security Company. Roy and Irl McNutt were born February 16, 1908 in Shannon, sons of Will and Carrie (Zuck) McNutt. There are no immediate survivors. Memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Burke-Tubbs Funeral Home. The Rev. Paul Haworth, pastor of the Church of the Brethren, will officiate. Private burial will be in Shannon Cemetery. A memorial fund has been established in their names. [From the Freeport Journal Standard, Freeport, Illinois January 11, 1988; Contributed by Alice Horner]
Murder Victims Bound and Beaten
Twin brothers found dead in their home last weekend in the wake of a fire set to cover up their murder apparently had been bound by tape and beaten to death, authorities reported today. In an Associated Press report on today’s news wire, Freeport Fire Chief Tom Anderson was quoted as saying “they were taped and we know now they were apparently beaten to death before the fire.” The information concerning the brothers having been bound by tape was contained in initial police report; however, Freeport police officials had requested that the Journal Standard withhold the information because it might impede the local investigation. The newspaper honored the request on condition no other media be given the information. Roy and Irl McNutt, 79, were found dead in their home at 802 S. Benton Saturday following a fire there. The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the blaze, which caused $25,000 in structural damage. An autopsy revealed that the twins died of blunt trauma to the head, according to Stephenson County Coroner Dick Cramer. There were no indications from the autopsy that the twins had been beaten elsewhere on their bodies. Lt. Tom McIntyre of the Freeport police said there were some signs of violence to the twins before their death. When the bodies were discovered, the twins were taped about their heads, according to the police reports. In today’s wire service report, Anderson said the fire was used to cover up the murder and the motive remains unknown. McIntyre also said the police are still searching for a motive, according to the report. There have been a number of neighborhood robberies in the past six months, but he refused to speculate on whether robbery was a factor, the report said. (undated Journal Standard clipping)
Autopsies will be conducted today on elderly twin brothers, the third and fourth murder victims in Stephenson County in the past seven months. A forensic pathologist will conduct the autopsies to determine the cause and time of death of Roy and Irl McNutt both 79, according to Stephenson County Coroner Dick Cramer. The bodies of the McNutt twins were found Saturday night in their trash-filled, burned-out home at 802 S. Benton Ave. Cramer said that as soon as foul play was suspected, a more complete examination of the bodies was conducted. He would not disclose whether any visible wounds were detected or whether the bodies had been burned. Investigators for the Freeport Police Department, Illinois Department of Criminal Investigation, the state fire marshall and state's attorney and technicians from the state crime lab sifted through the home's trash and fire debris looking for clues in subzero temperatures Neither motive nor suspects have been found, according to police Lt Thomas Mclntyre. He said investigators are looking for anyone who might have heard or seen anything around the house Saturday. "If anyone has information, they are asked to contact the Police Department," Mclntyre said. State's Attorney Charles Hartman said the two-story home of the reclusive brothers was filled with trash, which complicated the search for evidence, especially amid the fire damage. He said debris was piled 2 feet high in some sections of the house. Hartman said it appears the fire was started to hide the crime, but investigators don't know if the brothers were dead before the fire started. The fire was discovered by a neighbor who saw smoke coming from the first floor shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday. When firefighters arrived, the first floor was mostly engulfed in flames, according to the Freeport Fire Department report; Firefighters found the bodies in a middle room on the first floor after the fire had been extinguished. The interior of the frame resident received heavy fire damage. Several cats and a dog also died in the fire. Neither Hartman nor Mclntyre would speculate whether there is any connection between the slayings of the McNutt twins and two other unsolved murders in Stephenson County.
On June 22, Sheryll Snyder, 38, was found dead in her fire-ravaged restaurant in Pearl City. An autopsy later revealed that she had been shot in the head, and the fire was apparently started to cover the crime. There are no suspects in the crime.
On Nov. 15, Hugh Plata, 60, was found dead in his home at 728 E. Stephenson St. He had been stabbed repeatedly. Investigators have said that because of Plata's background - he was a convicted loan shark - there are numerous suspects.
The Snyder killing was the first in Stephenson County since 1984. [Monday, January 11, 1988 Register Star (Rockford, IL) By Sue Gorman]
Rich Brewer's Son to Prison.
Freeport, Ill., July 6.-- Elmer Ohlendorf of Freeport, a son of a wealthy brewer, today was sentenced by Federal Judge Landis to serve a year in prison on a charge of bootlegging. He also was fined $200. Ohlendorf's father agreed to support his son's family while he is in prison. (Elmer Douglas Ohlendorf was the son of William and Louisa Koehler Ohlendorf) Chicago Daily News 7 July 1917 (Submitted by Ida Maac Recu)
Eugene Rosenstiel Murdered
Eugene Rosenstiel, 29, nephew of Otis Rosenstiel, 234 West John street, and a relative of other Rosenstiel's in and about Freeport, was murdered some time during the latter part of last July or the first part of August while prospecting for gold in Spanish Gulch in the eastern part of Oregon, it was revealed here today as relatives of the slain man received copies of Portland, Ore., newspapers sent them by other relatives in Portland. Rosenstiel was one of two men slain while prospecting in the gulch, the other being George Ghetty, 35, a native of Xenia, Ohio. Claude E. Cline, 46, a transient gold seeker and a native of Huntsville, Ark., is quoted by authorities of Wheeler county, Oregon, as having confessed to both murders with robbery as the motive. Rosenstiel, whose father was George Rosenstiel, a former resident of Damascus and Freeport had gone into the mountains in Eastern Oregon last summer to prospect for gold. Suddenly his mother, Mrs. J. A. Cobean, who married again after the death of her husband, failed to receive letters regularly. She heard nothing more from her son after last summer until she read of the murder confession in the Portland newspapers about a month. Rosenstiel went to the gulch last July to seek gold. One day, according to word authorities received later, Rosenstiel and Cline went off into the mountains. Later Cline returned and informed persons in the area that Rosenstiel had gone to Alaska in search of gold. Cline said he had bought Rosenstiel's car and other belongings which he had. Later Cline wrote back to Ohio to his old friend, Ghetty, and urged him to come on to Oregon to prospect for gold. Ghetty arrived in eastern Oregon on May 1, and on May 2 he disappeared. Cline told friends Ghetty, too, had gone to Alaska. Sheriff E. J. Kelsay, Oregon's youngest sheriff, learned of Ghetty's disappearance, and the subsequent disappearance of Cline. Cline was captured in a post office in Seattle as he was preparing to leave for Alaska with his wife, having been trapped by a post card he sent his wife asking her to dispose of a gun and other belongings and to come to Alaska. Cline now faces the two murder charges. Rosenstiel's father, the late George Rosenstiel, went to Oregon more than thirty years ago and died out there some twenty years ago. The murdered Rosenstiel was also the nephew of the late Stanley Rosenstiel, of Freeport, who was asphyxiated in a trailer while working with the E. M. Rocho construction concern at Oregon in January, 1936. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - 14 Jun 1940 Clipping]
The Chicken Thieves
Three young chicken thieves led Illinois and Wisconsin peace officers a merry chase last night but were finally arrested and returned to Freeport by Sheriff Harry Yde and a group of local, county and Wisconsin deputies and police at 10:30 last night, the arrest in Rockford of the third member of the trio also took place. The youths held in the county jail and charged with larceny are Raymond Workinger 19, Winslow Township; Alvin Miller 18, Martintown Wisc; and John Leverington 16, Winslow Township. States Attorney Robert J. Ellis and Sheriff Yde obtained confessions from the youths and the story of their robberies and subsequent acts reads like a dime novel. One week ago Sunday Sept. 29, 1940 Workinger and Leverington visited the farm of Arthur Ellis near South Wayne Wisc. and stole 10 chickens which they sold at Warren for $4.50. The next day they were joined by Miller and that night stole 25 fowls east of Freeport, the location of which they could not identify and sold the chickens at Lena for $4.00. Tuesday night they went to the William Kundert farm near Winslow and obtained 23 Leghorn chickens which they sold in Freeport. Wednesday night they stole 20 chickens from the McKnight farm near South Wayne which were sold at Warren. To keep their car supplied with gas and oil the trio on Monday and Wednesday nights broke open pumps at a station in Martintown and also broke into a tool house and stole 10 quarts of oil. The return robbery was so easy they said that they used a crowbar and obtained what they needed. [Freeport Journal Standard October 7-8, 1940]
At a preliminary hearing before Justice of the Peace M.L. Karels the three youths were charged with Grand Larceny held to the Grand Jury under bonds of $2,500 which they were unable to pay and they were remanded into custody. Sheriff Yde said that in additon to the previously mentioned thefts the youths have admitted that two of them - Miller & Leverington continued their spree - Sunday Afternoon they visited the farm house of Roman Staderman near Winslow, and after partaking of a meal, while the family was absent, stole $9.00 in cash, a flashlight and stick pins, all of which loot, except for the cash was recovered. Robert Noble, marshal at Lena who assisted in the arrest of the pair, while detective in Rockford were taking Workinger, found a note on the door of his home which read - "If you will go to the house of Ralph Price Fair Oak Farm at West Chicago you can find the fellows you're hunting for". The youths stated, after their capture, that they had intended to meet Workinger in Chicago after they had separated and the later had gone to Rockford for the purpose of stealing a car in which to make the trip to Chicago. [8 October 1940 - Follow up Workinger, Leverington & Miller]
Rockford: Without having regained consciousness long enough to tell her story of the events leading up to the tragedy, Miss Helen Wilson died of a bullet wound inflicted by a rejected suitor, who fatally wounded himself after shooting the young woman as she was leaving an interurban car. The man was Arthur Bauscher, a wealthy Freeport florist. He died two hours after the double shooting. [Chicago Eagle. (Chicago, Ill.), 26 March 1921; tr. by KT]
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