Sunday, January 07, 2007

Maybes and What ifs

So Spanish and I disagree to an extent about Harry Pierpont.

I think these guys were bound together by friendship and their choice of occupation. But I don't think that Harry's reputation is wholly made up by sensationalist journalist. I don't think he is the psychopathic killer they like to make him out to be. He was schizophrenic yes; no disagreement there. But let's face it; he wasn't the menace he was made out to be. That said I don't want anybody to think that I think he was a good guy. He was a good con. He chose a life of crime. In the course of those crimes people got hurt and he was directly responsible for the death of Jess Sarber. I think that he was a leader of the group, but among friends everyone leads sometimes.

Spanish thinks that the Sept 1933 wasn't Harry's Plan. She thinks that it was primarily Detrich who planned it and Harry signed on for it. She also thinks that Van Meter was the outside contact and not Dillinger. She's really going to need to do some convincing for me to buy that one! It goes against everything everyone else has ever written and if she finds documentation for it then she will create a huge stir.

I tried to get in contact with Lori Hyde who has been researching Pierpont for sometime now. No success. I was wondering if she ever found out information about Harry as a child. Simply because I want to know if his delinquent tendencies ever surfaced prior his schizophrenia.

Did you know that if a person is diagnosed with schizophrenia then the probability of that person going to jail rise exponentially! Maybe I want to blame everything on his illness or maybe I just want to understand him better. Why is it the things we can't answer are so more tantalizing than the things we can?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Harry Pierpont wants Parole

Spanish sent me some letters that were written on Harry's behalf for parole. One letter was from Harry. They are fascinating and get me to wondering. His mother, Lena, did a whole letter writing campaign about how much he was needed on their large farm and so forth. Which is to be expected. He was also having Jesse Levy take care of getting letters from the judge and prosecuting attorney from his bank robbery case. The more information I get; the more I begin to wonder. It's a pity Harry didn't write down his memoirs at his death!

Reading Lena's letters I wonder how much is fact and how much is fiction? On the one hand I see a definite attempt to manipulate the system on the other I understand that she wants her son home with her. So it is hard and I think it is because I don't have all the pieces of the puzzle. With just the pieces that I have; I think Harry was tasking his Mom to do the letter writing campaign. Just as he had Levy broker the letters from the prosecutor and such.

I wonder if his Dad had TB and I wonder if Harry also suffered from it like Lena writes in her letters. I know that soon after the trial Lena brought a bar-b-cue stand. So maybe her husband was as ill as she writes he was and he and passed away soon after the trial. But I don't think she ever honestly believed Harry would come home to work on that farm. Those days left when he woke up from that baseball bat incident. But I think she wanted him home.

She alludes to something about Claudy. Supposedly he was obsessed with Harry. Was it because Harry was so defiant? Or was he sexually obsessed with him? Which would have made Harry really defiant! As much as people write that Harry was intolerant of homosexuals; sometimes I think maybe it was more he was intolerant of any man who had a sexual interest in him. That's why he allowed Dillinger in his gang (Dillinger didn't go for blonds. Also, James Jenkins was in with the Dec 1929 escape attempt. Jenkins was notorious from all accounts but Harry still let him in the group.

Again, I wonder too about the timing for the escape attempt. Harry had been planning that escape for a long time. Even while he was doing his parole campaign. I wonder when he made friends with Detrich. Detrich's having that job in the receiving department was key to the whole thing. Makley had it before but lost it for a discipline reason.

Just a bunch of musing on the puzzle.

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.