Sunday, June 05, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: One Bandit Is Removed To Pendleton

Kokomo Daily Tribune, undated


Harry Pierpont Taken to the State Reformatory for Safe Keeping


Step Taken Because Developments Showed Precautions Necessary.

An air of dense mystery surrounded the Howard county jail today.  It began to surround the antiquated bastille at an early hour and grew denser as the day proceeded.

The mystery deepened about 9 o'clock when a side door was opened and a party of eight or ten men emerged and walked hurriedly down to the alley that bounds the jail yard on the south side.

Here the party was quickly disposed in two automobiles, one of them being Willie Dye's Apperson sedan and the other the Ford sedan belonging to Sherriff Joe Lindley.

In the first car, driven by Mr. Dye, was Harry Pierpont, charged with participating in the robbery of the South Kokomo bank on March 27.  Pierpont was heavily manacled and guarded by Deputy Sheriff Ward Cooper and Officers Cherry and Jackson of the Kokomo police department.

Sheriff Lindley and Chief of Police A.E. Underwood rode in the former's car, which followed the Apperson as it drove away, headed south.

Ostensibly the destination of the party was Pendleton, but - There are so many contingenise [sic] and unexplained circumstances that follow, naturally after that word "but," that it is hard to make a beginning and keep them in proper sequence.

That Ted Skeer, also charged with participation in the robbery, was not spirited away at the same time caused considerable comment.  In fact, nothing definite could be ascertained touching Skeer's whereabouts.

Has he been similarly smuggled out of the jail and immured elsewhere?  Is he still in the jail?  Why wasn't he taken away at the same time Pierpont was removed?

There was no answer forthcoming to any of these questions.  All inquiries regarding Skeer were met with reticence.  Questioning led to a blank wall of silence.

Perhaps the finding of a number of saws in the jail Monday and the discovery that a window bar had been sawed half in two had something to do with the hurried disposal of Pierpont.

Sheriff Lindley declared positively Monday morning that his two notorious prisoners would not be taken to Pendleton or elsewhere for safe keeping; that he was capable of safeguarding them himself with the strong force of helpers he had pressed into service, and that when the law required them of him he would deliver them to the court.

The mysterious trip this morning indicates a reversal of this decision.  The finding of the saws in the jail was the result of forethought on the part of C.F. Huntington, operative of the Pinkerton detective agency who bethought him that a search of the cells occupied by the two prisoners, while they were in court Monday afternoon, would not be amiss.  That his forethought was justified was proved when no less than twelve saw blades were brought to light by the search - five of them were concealed in the cell occupied by Pierpont and six were hidden in various places around the jail to all of which Pierpont had access.  One blade was later found in Skeer's cell.

In addition the legs were found broken from a number of cots, as thought they had been got in readiness to be used as cudgels.  The mattresses of all the cots might yet be sprinkled with hacksaw blades, Huntington said today, adding that it was impracticable to search them all thoroughly.

That both Pierpont and Skeer had been working with saws on bars in the windows of their cells was manifest to the most cursory inspection, and if the saws had not been discovered when they were there might have been a jail delivery during the night.

How the saws were smuggled to the prisoners, considering the fact that they have been so closely guarded and no one allowed to come into contact with them, seems to be another mystery of the case.

Sheriff Lindley, Chief of Police Underwood and the other officers returned at 1:10 o'clock this afternoon, four hours being consumed in making the round trip, one of which was spent in looking over the new reformatory at Pendleton.  The trip both ways was uneventful.

A warden who met the party at the reformatory singled out Pierpont as the cars stopped.

"Hello, Pierpont!" the warden greeted him.  "You back again?"

"My name is not Pierpont," the prisoner returned.

"You certainly are." the warden insisted, but the prisoner continued to deny his identity.

What Pierpont hoped to gain by the denial is not manifest, in view of the fact that he has not only been repeatedly identified as Harry Pierpont, but his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Pierpont of Brazil, Ind., came to Kokomo Sunday and engaged attorneys to defend their son.

Inside the reformatory Pierpont told the sheriff: "Well, I guess I'll be riding back again soon," meaning to the preliminary hearing on Thursday.

The sheriff assured him that he was mistaken in the guess; that the hearing would not be held for two or three weeks at least.

The decision to remove the bandits to the reformatory was reached Monday night, after discovery a few hours before of eleven hack saws in the cells of the prisoners.  One cell bar had been sawed half in two when the fact that the prisoners had tools came to light.  A search of their cells while they were in city court Monday afternoon revealed they were in possession of saws.

  About twenty-five men attended this meeting, all the banks being represented by two or three members of their official staffs.  The bankers talked the situation over very frankly with Sheriff Lindley.  They told him they had the utmost confidence that he would exert every care to prevent the escape of the prisoners, but pointed out that the county jail is woefully inadequate as a place of detention for desperate men, such as Pierpont and Skeers undoubtedly are, and urged the sheriff to take them to the reformatory at Pendleton for temporary safe-keeping.  The bankers said that now that the local authorities have the two bandits, no chances whatever should be taken with them.  All should work, the bankers said, to the end that the prisoners be tried and disposed of in a way that will put them permanently where they will have no opportunity to be a further menace to society.

Sheriff Lindley was impressed by this argument, and it, taken in connection with the discovery of the saws, led him to decide not to keep them prisoners in the county jail another day unless it should be found absolutely necessary.  He telephoned Governor Ed Jackson for permission to place the two men in the reformatory.  The governor gave his consent immediately and sent word to the reformatory to prepare to receive them.

Miss Louise Brunner, 21, attractive and modishly garbed in a tan tailored suit with silk hose and pumps to match, was an interested spectator in all the proceedings about the jail today, in the residence portion of which she is awaiting the arrival of friends from Ft. Wayne who have signified their willingness to provide the $500 bond required to hold her as a material witness in the robbery case.  The girl is tall, browned eyed an possess a thick mane of wavy brown hair, bobbed, but giving evidence of careful attention.

Her loyalty to Thaddeus Skeer, the bandit suspect whom she expected to marry the Friday following the robbery here, is quite plain.  This morning she discussed their interrupted matrimonial plans, stating that she intended to wed Skeer, if possible, before he is sent to prison, in case he is convicted and sentenced.

She was expecting to return to Ft. Wayne today and resume her employment at the Wayne Knitting company's mill.

This undated article from the Kokomo Daily Tribune was found in the vertical file at the Kokomo-Howard County Library for my cousin Harry Pierpont (1902-1934).  Will need to verify, but would guess it was April 7, 1925 and a follow up to earlier article about the robbery of the South Kokomo bank.  

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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