Saturday, October 28, 2006

OK, I have finished studying for the day and have ordered dinner. I love those estimates about how well you do based on the amount of studying you do. I don't believe they take into consideration the total lack of comprehension that is going on!'s a miracle if anything sticks in my brain.

Here's my latest obsession about the Midwest crime wave during the 1930's: Did Russel Clark actually participate in freeing John Dillinger from the Lima Jail and the subsequent killing of Sheriff Jess Sarber? Here's a look at both of these men:

I'm sure that if I were to see these two close up I could clearly tell them apart; however, no one ever got a close up view of the third person involved in the escape attempt. Initial reports listed Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley, and Harry Copeland as the perpetrators. Copeland is listed in all news articles and in the Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports. It isn't until the the "terror gang" is captured in Tuscon, AZ several months later that Russel Clark is identified as involved.

Now, Copeland had been sent back to Michigan City prison for violating his parole by the time Clark was named. He admitted to a number of robberies done at the time of the murder. Because this murder was definately a death penalty case being a defendent in the Sarber killing probably sounded like a much worse deal than copping to a few more robberies!

Clark on the otherhand, of course maintained his innocence (as did Pierpont and Makley), but he also acted strangely when he was recaptured. He was morose and uncharacteristicly quiet. Depressed. Now a person on trial for his life has a right to be depressed. But Clark's demeanor was commented on that he appeared in a "stupor" and only showed any signs of life when he didn't get the chair, as Pierpont and Makley did, but received a life sentence instead.

Historians typically attribute Clark's depression as deriving from his responsibility for the gangs capture in Tuscon. Firefighters were tipped off to the gangs identity after Clark and Makley tipped them a large sum to carry down heavy bags (loaded with weapons). When one of the firefighters was looking through a detective magazine and saw wanted photographs of the gang it was like "Hey! that's the guy who gave me that big tip". Well maybe that was not the cause of his depression. I think it was because he was on trial for a crime he didn't commit. Not only that, I think he was sure that he was going to get the chair. The publicity of the trial made conviction a sure thing. During the trial, potential jurors were asked if they were pro death penalty and anyone who was not was excluded. I really think Clark believed he was gonna die for nothing.


Denise said...

I think you are close about the Sarber murder. Pierpont and Copeland were probably two out of the three. But from the newspaper clippings from the time of the murder, I think that Clark was the third. Makley was the one who was set-up.

bestyegg said...

I'll have to disagree with you. During the trial and when interviewed by the FBI Mrs. Sarber Identified Makley as the man who pistol whipped Sheriff Sarber after Pierpont shot him. BTW it was the pistol whipping that the medical examiner surmised that caused Sarber's death. While Clark was no stranger to violence, I honestly think that he wasn't there for the Sarber slayin.

Denise said...

Well we will have to agree to disagree on this one and here's why...
#1. At the time of the murder, two of the three eyewitnesses could not identify all of the three. This is based on local newspaper clippings of interviews taken right after. In fact even when the grand jury was convened, neither Deputy Sharp nor Mrs. Sarber could id. Makley. Pierpont was the only one.

#2. Makley supposedly walked with a slight limp. This was never noted in a description at the time of the perps or mentioned at the trial by any of the eyewitnesses.

#3. Mrs. Sarber finally decided that it was Charles Makley after Harry Pierpont's brother Fred was found innocent of participating in the St. Mary's bank job (November 1933, statement to newspaper). Deputy Sharp only after the three (Pierpont, Makley, and Clark) were returned to Lima to stand trial. (Febuary 1934, statement to newspaper). I believe that Sharp was being leaned on to make the id because he forgot to lock the door that Pierpont and company came through that night. It was a way to keep his job since he had worked for Sarber previously to that in the used car business.

#4. In October and November 1933, the local newspapers reported/quoted Ernest Botkin, the Allen County prosecuting attorney, as saying that Harry Copeland was one of the three and would be extradited to stand trial.

#5. This prosecuting attorney, Ernest Botkin, disregarded all three men's right to a fair trial. He suverted the law by manipulating things so that the trials were rushed through and the transcripts from one trial (the first being Harry Pierpont's were not available for the second, Charles Makley's trial). Botkin made sure that the lawyer who was originally hired to represent at least Harry Pierpont (and probably all three) was stopped a couple of days before the trial was to begin. This was a competent city attorney who had beaten Botkin in criminal murder cases before. Makley's second choice of an attorney also quit although I've never been able to find out way. The three defense attorneys that did try the case came on board late and were disorganized. (There's a lot more about each of the trials but I don't want to write a book). By the way, Ernest Botkin was disbarred in 1936 for embezzling money.

#6. Remember good old Ed Shouse? He was happy to come testify at Pierpont and Clark's trials. But he wouldn't come for Charles Makley. I really don't buy his excuse that they were such best buds.

#7.The third eyewitness to the event, whose testimony did in fact make it into Harry Pierpont's trial, said that they were "all big men". Pierpont, Clark, and Copeland all stood at 5'11" or over. Charles Makley was much shorter. Look at the pictures when the gang was arraigned in Tucson with Makley standing between Pierpont and Clark. A big difference in height. So who was this third eyewitness? Sheriff Jesse Sarber gave a statement to his son, Don prior to his death. I believe him. He had the best view (facing all three men). Based on the testimony given at the trials (transcripts) from the ambulance driver who took him to the hospital and his own son, Sheriff Sarber was in great pain but was cognizant of what had happened to him.

#8. As for the actual cause of Sheriff Jesse Sarber's death, it depended on what trial you were at (again according to the transcripts). The Allen County Medical Examiner changed his testimony at each trial. So???

Unfortunately, prior to John Dillinger being held in Lima, Sheriff Sarber and Ernest Botkin were getting lot's of flack from the public and press for a double homicide that they just couldn't seem to pin on anybody. This was the Quarry Murders. In my opinion, Sarber's back was against the wall. That might have been a reason behind why he gambled on a quick draw with Harry Pierpont. In Botkin's case, whichever three he was able to get to Lima to try were the three that murdered Sheriff Sarber. He (as history shows prior and post Pierpont, Makley, and Clark trials) badly needed convictions to save his career. Which in the end , it didn't do.

I was born and raised around there. My grandmother (God bless her) lived in Lima at the time. When I was a kid, she told me about those trials. As I got older, I managed to get my hands some of the transcripts, etc. (good luck now). I'd just like to see the record set straight for Makley. He was no angel but I also believe he wasn't one of the three in the sheriff's office that night.


bestyegg said...

We will have to agree to disagree; I will keep an open mind. I've learned the hard way not to trust anything as gospel about the "terror gang". Since you would like to set the record strait perhaps you would consider writing an article on the subject with corresponding sources? I agree with you that the three didn't receive a fair trial. They were convicted in the press long before the final verdict.

Denise said...

Sure I'd like to, where would you suggest?