Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Harry Pierpont's First Case

My friend V.C. sent me a news article on Harry Pierpont's first conviction. I enjoy the tale because it makes me laugh. It's funny enough to have been in a situation comedy, but it really happened.

V.C. had been searching for the article because a certain author (who I won't name) did a piss-poor job citing his Dillinger book. It wouldn't have been so bad if the book had been from the 1940's through 1960's; however, the book is recently published. I'm going to stop writing about it because it's upsetting how poor scholarship makes it in print.

Anyway, Harry's first big bust was for assault&battery, that's what his intake papers for Indiana State Prison state; however, they don't give the details. It's a great story and I was thrilled to get a copy of a contemporary account. Here goes my synopsis of events as related in the January 9, 1922 Indianapolis Star:

Harry Pierpont decided to go to Indianapolis for reasons known only to him. First he stops in Greencastle and steels a car from Ora Chileon. Next because )as his mother said in his mental competency inquest)he has a mania for guns, he breaks into Cooks Hardware store in Greencastle and steals nine guns. He made his way to Terre Haute IN then went to Indianapolis where he ditched the stolen car. He decided he needed another car. In the middle of Indianapolis during the rush hour home Harry spots just the right car parked in front of the Indianapolis Water Company. He hops in and commences to start the car. The owners of the car, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Devine, leave the butcher shop and return to their car. Seeing Harry in the car Mr. Devine rushes to the drivers side and attempts to dislodge Harry. Harry tells him to let him go since "he's out of work". Harry and Mr. Devine struggle; Harry whips out one of the four guns he is carrying at the time and aims for Mr. Devine's stomach; Mr. Devine forces
Harry's aim to lower and Harry shoots at him three times hitting him once in the leg. Mrs. Devine then hits Harry over the head with the roast just purchased from the butcher shop. A Mr. Sartell comes to Mrs. Devine's aid with his help she is able to hold Harry until the police arrive.

She hit him over the head with a roast! LOVE It! So begins the career of one of the most notorious criminals during the Mid-west crime wave. The guy Dillinger looked up to! Hey we all have to start somewhere.

On a more serious note, what is really interesting is that Harry was so forthcoming after his arrest. He told the police everything. Now you have to remember, Pierpont gained a reputation for not cooperating even under coercion (beatings from guards) so I think his talking now is interesting.

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