Sunday, December 11, 2011

Murder (Pt.3) By Bureaucracy

"Insisting that he wanted “vindication,” Edward Black, convicted in 1929 of a slaying at Rookwood Pottery, Tuesday had turned down a parole which would have relieved him of serving 35 months more at the London Prison Farm.
An Associated Press dispatch reported that Black would have been granted a parole Tuesday had he not refused it at a hearing last week…Now 62, according to Cincinnati police records, Black...was convicted of manslaughter and given a ten to 20-year sentence…Commission records also showed that Black and Smith were attentive to the same woman.
Raymond Younger, commission chairman, said that Black “emphatically refused a parole.”
“We would have given him his parole without question,” Younger said, “but he insisted he wanted vindication. The commission could only accommodate him by continuing his case to the maximum, he had no previous criminal record and he had lost no time by bad behavior.”
Younger disclosed that somehow Black had gotten the idea that his sentence was three years and a day and that at the commission hearing he insisted that he had been “illegally held” since 1933…According to commission records, Black “became wild” at a previous hearing, but when a psychiatric test showed no serious derangement nothing further was done in his case.
Cincinnati police records listed Black with the aliases of Jesse Keith and Edward Keith."

--Cincinnati Times-Star, June 24, 1947

William "Foss" Hopkins, 1970

"William F. Hopkins, who defended Black in 1929, learned yesterday that the entry of sentence at Cincinnati showed only “10 years” for Black’s sentence. He said Black had not communicated with him since being admitted to the penitentiary, and that he had no knowledge of Black’s dealings with the Parole Board.
The whole case is confusing, judging by what information has reached me,” Hopkins said of the parole hearings. “I have not been in contact with it, but I think that to some extant [sic] it exemplifies the need for reform.”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, June 25, 1947

Images: Cincinnati Public Library, Ohio Historical Society, William F. Hopkins Collection of the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Museum, World Publishing Company

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Murder (Pt. 2) Most Obscure

"Cincinnati had the distinction of being referred to in the daily press and magazines as “corrupt and contented,” “the worst governed city in the United States”…The police were thoroughly demoralized:
Their connection with the depraved elements, streetwalkers and drug peddlers, bootleggers, and roughs was notorious. “Intercession” with judges and prosecutors occupied a large part of the bosses’ time. Bonds were signed and bail given for criminals.”

--Clara Longworth DeChambrun, Cincinnati, 1939

“Once, as a fledgling lawyer, I thought it would be nice to be a judge, so off I went to see Nicholas Longworth…and his associate Rudolph Hynicka, then Chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Central Committee. The interview lasted even less time than it takes me to write about it here. The men impressed me tremendously especially Mr. Longworth with his high, stiff collar and glistening bald dome…”Much too young,” they murmured politely, and there I was, back out on the street. I have since been offered certain political offices, but no. My association with politics was over.”

--William Foster Hopkins, Murder is my Business, 1970

The following documents were discovered together in an old, locked file in the archive of the Clerk of Courts at the Hamilton County Courthouse:

Witness affidavit signed one day after the shooting by the victim's wife, not recorded as present at the crime scene.

A blank murder arrest warrant...

“Edward Black….was bound over to the grand jury without bond by Municipal Court Judge Joseph H. Woeste yesterday. Black waived examination.”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, June 19, 1929

The grand jury finding, July 16, 1929

Black enters a 'not guilty' plea and is assigned Public Defenders L.P. Lake and W.F. Hopkins on September 21, 1929.

The indictment, September 23, 1929

Surprisingly, to a modern eye, Hopkins requests Judge Morrow subpoena character witnesses Joseph Henry Gest, president of the Rookwood Pottery, John D. Wareham, head of the pottery's decorating department and (possible Rookwood employee or friend to Black) Otto Metzner, son of Hamilton Tile Works legend Adolph Metzner one day before the trial date of November 21, 1929.

(No record of the trial proceedings exists according to the Hamilton County Clerk's office.)

“After four and a half hours’ deliberation a jury last night declared Edward Black, 45, former fireman and watchman at Rookwood Pottery, guilty of manslaughter…in self-defense, he said, he fired five shots from a .25 automatic. Two of them [bullets] entered Smith’s heart, two just above his heart and one entered his head…They found the package to contain cups and saucers belonging to the pottery.”
--Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, November 22, 1929

“He fired six shots into Smith’s body in self-defense, he insisted. According to the theory of the state, Black and Smith had an argument that morning and it was alleged Black waited for Smith and shot him. Black was defended by Attorney W.F. Hopkins, while Lewis Levy, Assistant County Prosecutor, handled the prosecution for the state.”
--Cincinnati Enquirer, November 22, 1929

“The two men had an argument following several thefts of vases from the plant.”
--Cincinnati Post, November 22, 1929

“Judge Thomas H. Morrow of Criminal Court will pass sentence, Saturday, on Edward Black…on the charge of manslaughter by a jury late Thursday.
Black had beem indicted on a second degree murder charge…Prosecutor Louis Levy charged that Black had waited for Smith, following and argument, and shot him five times. Black contended that he stopped Smith while the latter was carrying pottery out of the plant and then shot him in self-defense when Smith threatened him.”

--Cincinnati Times-Star, November 22, 1929

Note: The Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Division did not begin keeping records until January 1930.

Images: Cincinnati Public Library, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, Private Collection

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Murder at the Pottery

"In order to discourage employee pilferage, Edward Black, a fireman on the night shift, was stationed at the gate to inspect packages taken out by the workers.. On June 16, 1929, Charles Smith, an engineer at the pottery, came out carrying a suitcase and refused to open it."

--Herbert Peck, The Book of Rookwood Pottery, 1968

Edward Black, mugshot, against a tinted postcard view of 1920 era Cincinnati.
Pottery on the left atop hill in the background...

"Charles Smith, 50 years old, engineer, 3327 Hackberry Street, was shot and wounded fatally when in an argument with Edward Black, 40 years old, fireman, 500 East Fifth Street, at the Rookwood Pottery, Celestial and Ida Streets, early yesterday morning.
Black notified Lieutenant Christian Tuerck and Patrolman [Raymond] Lageman and surrendered immediately after the shooting. He said he fired in self-defense. When officers arrived Smith was unconscious. He was pronounced dead on arrival at General Hospital. Coroner Fred C. Swing reported three bullets had pierced Smith’s heart….Black said he was watchman on Sunday’s [sic] at the Rookwood Pottery and had noticed that each week-end Smith carried a package when he departed, He said that early yesterday when he called attention to the package Smith became enraged and approached him in a threatening manner. He said he backed away until he was against the wall of the building and when Smith continued to advance, he opened fire.
Police said the package Smith carried contained several pieces of Rookwood. The victim had been employed at the pottery for more than 15 years."

--The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 17, 1929

Raymond Lageman, one of the arresting officers.

"According to Black, and through information given by Detectives Henry Lowenstein and William Cleary, the shooting followed an argument…He said that Smith argued with him for locking the door to a room where the finished products are kept. Black told police he refused to open the door…Shortly after this Black said he saw Smith leaving the building with a package under his arm…Black told detectives that in the last several months a large quantity of merchandise had been missing from the pottery…Black said he feared a physical encounter with Smith, who was twice his size and weightIn the bundle police said they found three cups and five saucers, property of the pottery company…The weapon used was a .25 caliber automatic pistol. Another gun, a .38 caliber police special revolver…he also had on his person at the time of the shooting."

--The Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, June 17, 1929

A loot mystery solved, Rookwood 'Sailing Ship' cups and saucers...

"Smith, after arguing earlier in the day about shutting a door, left for home at noon with some saucers and cups wrapped in paper, it was said."

--The Cincinnati Post, June 17, 1929

"Detective Chief Emmett D. Kurgan and his men had five killings to investigate Monday. They occurred Saturday night and Sunday, the largest number of homicides in a 48-hour period in the history of the department…Black fired seven shots at Smith the police said…”I backed away until I bumped into a wall.” Black told police. “When I couldn’t go any further, and when Smith kept coming at me, I shot.”

--The Cincinnati Times-Star, June 17, 1929

Gun links are to types of weapons not actual ones from this crime.

Images: William F. Hopkins Collection of the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Museum, Cincinnati Police Department, Arcadia Publishing,