December 31, 2017

Police Blotter for 1917

Professional safecrackers, burglary, found treasure, a 40-year-old murder solved, and a work-release program highlighted the police blotter in 1917.

Cleaners Get Cleaned-Out:
Early in the year, safecrackers, known then as yeggmen, plied their craft upon the businesses of Prescott and the surrounding area. The problem became so acute that businesses quit storing cash in their safes and attaching a note to the dial stating that there was no money inside!

The Prescott Journal-Miner reported that the safe in the office of the Prescott Steam Laundry was burgled February 19th. The rear door of the business was forced open and the safe was rolled from the office into the rear where the work was performed.

"The job was thoroughly and excellently done marking professional care throughout," the paper commended. Three or four quarter-inch holes were drilled through the thinest part of the door and the explosive known as "yellow soap" was inserted. The safe was then covered in blankets and the explosive ignited.

Harry Heap, owner, had been leaving only a few dollars in the safe and left a note on its door to would-be crooks that robbing the safe would not be worth the effort. However, Heap reported that the note had recently been lost.

The robbers seemed to be career professionals. "The yellow soap found adhering to the outside of the door is the sort prepared by professional cracksmen," the paper reported, "and had bits of paper sticking to it, showing it had been carried, wrapped in the pocket, for some time."

Because of a snowstorm, no tracks were left. For all their trouble, the bandits made off with only $7.


Cordes Safe Robbed:
In late March, the yeggmen had more success hitting the safe at Cordes Station.

The newspaper reported that $300 was taken from Charles Cordes' safe. "No clue was left by the robber or robbers."

It was the third attempt to rob a safe in a month; the other two attempts ending in failure. In this case, the safe did not need to be blown. "Either Cordes left the safe unlocked," or the thieves listened for the tumblers to fall.

People in Mayer and Cordes ceased leaving money in their safes "for fear of a repetition of the robbery."

The sherriff's office was unable to find a single clue on which to work. Still, it was thought that the culprits might be "the same man or men who (had) been working in this district for some weeks past."

In every instance, the safecrackers covered their tracks so well that they were never apprehended.


True Story of a mysterious body found in a crevice in Thumb Butte near Prescott, AZ in 1911.


Guilt Brings Confession to Murder:
A 40-year murder mystery was solved when Pete Lomax confessed to killing Daniel Buxworth while the former was on his deathbed.

In 1877 Lomax was angry and jealous of $1700 Buxworth had won gambling, $668 of which formally belonged to Lomax. While the two traveled to Camp Apache, Lomax robbed and murdered the unsuspecting Buxworth and buried him between two pine trees "near mile tree 46." Lomax then immediately fled to Canada living there for 40 years until he died of tuberculosis.

Lomax's confession was sent to specific people in this area who had known Buxworth. All the recipients were shocked, unaware that Buxworth was even murdered. "I am filled with remorse," Lomax said, "the deed has haunted me for 40 years."


Work Release Program:
In May, a dozen men, jailed for violating prohibition, were "tickled to death to be released into the free air" and build a portion of the Crown King road between the towns of Senator and Turkey (Cleator). This section of the roadway was dubbed "Bootleggers' Boulevard".


True crime stories of the murders of LD Yeager and Kid Kirby on May 9, 1911. Both suspects would face the gallows as Arizona grappled with the question of the death penalty.


Serial Burglar:
In April, a string of petty burglaries occurred in the city. Both houses and hotel rooms were ransacked. The bold thief victimized Ed Block's home while he and his sister were asleep inside.

Ed heard some commotion, but he thought it was his sister. The burglar even opened the sister's bedroom door and pointed his flashlight inside. She, likewise, thought it must have been her sibling. The next morning the two awoke to the house being in shambles.

Shortly thereafter, a 19 year-old young man named Leonard Houck was arrested after he had been "caught inspecting the interior of the Walter Hill home. A bunch of skeleton keys found in (the thief's) possession convinced the officers that the boy (knew) more about the other little lootings than he cared to say. It was thought he might have been identified with the entering of rooms in the Brinkmeyer hotel" the day previous.

When taken before the City Magistrate, Houck insisted that he had merely been looking for food. When asked "why he had looked for food in all the dresser drawers and closets," he had no satisfactory answer. He was sentenced to "30 days service with the King's street gang."


Lost Booty Found:
While exploring the old Moscow mine with a view to reopen it, George P. Steinway found an old, decaying gunny sack in which he "found many articles which had been used in the long ago."

He brought them into Prescott for display and they appeared to be the long lost booty of a stagecoach robber. Fifty-nine articles were contained in the sack.

There were silver watches, two gold rings, two pairs of glasses, small combs, three pocket knives, sewing articles, miscellaneous jewelry, pocketbooks, "and many articles of personal use."

The last time the mine had been worked was 1870 when A.H. Peeples (of Peeples Valley fame) ran it.

"Where they came from or what prompted the person to store them away at that point, caused great speculation among the old-time residents who viewed the collection and revived many criminal deeds of the long ago..."

For Steinway, it was finders keepers.


The true tale of the 1959 crash of a Lockheed "Super Constellation" near Prescott, AZ and the mystery that lingers.


In November, a telephone call from Camp Baumann brought great concern when the voice on the other end only shrilled screams for help. "Deputy Sherriff Seaser and a posse of 30 citizens mounted horses and arming themselves, rushed to the rescue."

Was a child in desperate trouble? Was a woman being attacked?

The posse stopped short of the building in which the phone was located and "held a council of war." They did not tarry long, however. Hearing the continued cries for help, they simply and quickly barged into the building. One man testified later that they entered with "Winchesters in our hands and blood in our hearts."

When the door flew open, they found the phone's receiver dangling on the floor having fallen from its cradle. Close by was the source of the pleading cries for help.....the camp's PET PARROT!


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Prescott Steam Laundry safe blown: 
Prescott Journal-Miner; 2/20/1917, Pg. 3, Col. 4.
Cordes Station safe robbed:
Weekly Journal-Miner; 4/4/1917, Pg. 4, Col 5. 
40-year-old murder confession: 
Prescott Journal-Miner; 2/18/1917, Pg. 6, Col. 4. 
Bootleggers' Boulevard: 
Weekly Journal-Miner; 5/9/1917, Pg. 1, Col. 1.
Houck burglaries: 
Weekly Journal-Miner; 4/4/1917, Pg. 3, Col. 5 & Pg. 4, Col. 4.
Lost Booty Found:
Prescott Journal-Miner; 2/13/1917, Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Parrot crank call: 
Weekly Journal-Miner; 11/14/1917, Pg. 3, Col. 3. 

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