Howard
M.
Smith


HOWARD MASON SMITH had a long and honorable  career in law enforcement with both the Camden Police department and the Camden County Prosecutor's office.

Howard Mason Smith was born in Camden, New Jersey on August 20, 1874 to William Henry Smith and his wife the former Harriet C. Stewart. He was the seventh of eleven children, The Smiths had come to Camden, with their five living children, shortly after the April 1873 birth of daughter Sue. Two more sons were born after Howard Smith and the 1880 Census enumeration, Clarence Smith and Walter H. Smith. The 1880 Census shows the family at 726 Federal Street, with children William H. Jr., Virginia C., Augustus D., Sue G., Howard M., Clarence S., and Walter H. Smith. Two more sons came in the early 1880s, Crawford M. Smith and Roy A. Smith. William H. Smith died in 1886. 

Known in Camden as "Policy Bill", William H. Smith had become notorious for running a "policy game"- an illegal lotttery, in modern times is called the "numbers racket". His widow, Mrs. Harriet Smith, with five children at 

home under the age of 12, kept the "family business" going. She had a number of brushes with the law between 1886 and 1898, and at one time or another the Smith brothers and sister Sue did as well.

The Smith family was living at 14 South 8th Street by 1890. By that summer they had moved to 741 Carman Street. The oldest son, William H. Smith Jr., popularly best known as W. Harry Smith, was already working, and by 1890 second son Augustus D. Smith found work as a blacksmith. W. Harry Smith began involving himself in local politics in Camden's 9th Ward as a Republican, and over the years this served him and the Smith family well. 

The 1894 Directory has the family at 758 Federal Street, the 1895 edition has them at 750 Federal Street. On July 15, 1895 Howard Smith married Helen Goldy Penn. A son, Howard K. Smith, was born in June of 1896, another son, George, in April of 1899. The Smiths and the Penns were living at  822 Kimber Street by the middle of 1896, where they would stay in to 1916. A daughter, Laura V. Smith, was born in 1902, another, Elsie Janice Smith, would arrive in 1908. There was another daughter, Dorothy Smith, who died at the age of seven months in February of 1906.

Howard Smith's sister, Sue, was married to Harry J. Wagner Sr., who was politically active. Possibly due to his influence and possibly due to the fact that the Camden Police Department's baseball team needed a pitcher, Howard Smith was appointed to the Camden Police Department on March 20, 1906. He was a very active policeman from the beginning. His courage and skills were recognized and he was promoted to detective on January 1, 1918. He served in this capacity until his retirement on January 1, 1933, much of the time spent being on loan to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office where he investigated and solved many homicide cases.

Howard Smith's brother, Walter Smith, was appointed to the Camden Police Department on April 30, 1914. By 1925 he too had been promoted to Detective, and was still serving in that capacity as late as 1933. The youngest brother, Roy A. Smith, served as a member of the Camden Fire Department from 1910 to 1933, before retiring on disability. Howard Smith's older sister, Sue Smith, married Harry J. Wagner Sr., who served with the Camden Fire Department from November 24, 1899 through January 1, 1900 and then for many years worked for Camden's Water Department. Their son, Harry J. Wagner Jr., served as a member of the Camden Fire Department for 39 years and 8 months, reaching the rank of Acting Chief of Department. 

By the time the 1917 City Directory was compiled, Howard Smith and family, which by now included two daughters, Laura and Elsie, had moved to 933 Penn Street. Howard K. Smith married Anna Duffy and was working at the Penn Shipbuilding shipyard  in Gloucester City when he registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. The young couple lived at the Penn Street address. Sadly, three weeks later he fell victim to the influenza pandemic took so many lives in the fall of 1918, dying at home on October 3, 1918.

Howard M. Smith died at his home on Penn Street on November 30, 1953. He was survived by his wife, daughters, son George, and six grandchildren. Howard M. Smith was buried at Harleigh Cemetery on December 3, 1953. Mrs. Smith died in 1975 at the age of 98, her last years a resident of Wildwood, New Jersey. 

Laura Smith married Harry A. Crane in the 1920s. Her son, J. Kenneth Crane went on to become the Chief of Police in Collingswood, New Jersey. Elsie Smith was briefly married to William Howell Tatem Jr., the son of Camden Fire Department member William Howell Tatem, and the nephew of Camden's Chief of Police, James E. Tatem. She eventually remarried and lived out her days in Wildwood with her second husband, Magnus Ekstrom. 

Howard Smith's nephew, Edward Baker Smith, the son of  Crawford M. Smith, retired in 1981 as an investigator with the Camden County Prosecutor's office. 

Camden Daily Telegram
August 2, 1890

Harriet Smith
Howard Smith
Gus Smith
Frank Miles
Gilbert Boulton
William Fogarty
Frank Skalla
Josiah Freeman
Pennsylvania Avenue
Benjamin Braker

Camden Post
October 12, 1898

John L. Semple
Harriet Smith
Charles Gilbert
Wm. Harry Smith  - Crawford Smith
Clarence Smith - Howard Smith - Walter Smith
Andrew Collins - Theodore Laferta
Dyke O'Brien - Jonathan Cox
Robert Nichols - Robert Nevil
William Parker - George Dace
Sarah Brown - Lavinia Fussell

Camden Evening Courier
February 9, 1906

Kimber Street


Camden Post-Telegram * March 26, 1906
...continued...
Harry Selby - Harry Holmes - Howard Smith -  Larry Rhoades - O. Glen Stackhouse

Camden Daily Courier
April 9, 1906

A. Lincoln James
Elbridge B. McClong
William Horner
William Hill
Howard Smith
Howard McPherson
Lewis H. Stehr Jr.
William Miles

Marmaduke W. Taylor

 

 


Camden Daily Courier * April 9, 1906

Federal Street - Federal Street - M.W. Taylor


Camden Post-Telegram
April 18, 1906

Kimber Street

Philadelphia Inquirer
August 28, 1908

Harry L. Jones - George Horner
Howard Smith - Fred Lenz - Henry Miller
Edmund E. Read -
Cooper Street
Thomas Guthridge - O. Glen Stackhouse
Dr. Paul Mecray - John E. Rossell

North 2nd Street - North 4th Street

Click on Images for Complete Article

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 14, 1910
J. Oscar Weaver - George W. Anderson - James Clay - Edward S. Hyde
James E. Tatem - Charles Whaland - Howard Smith - George Cooper 
Albert Shaw - Harry Mines -
Elbridge B. McClong

Philadelphia Inquirer - August 28, 1910
Click on Images for Complete Article

Frank Eldridge - Thomas Guthridge - Howard Smith - John Painter 

CAMDEN POST TELEGRAM * July 18, 1916

MURDERER AND FORGER ESCAPE JAIL AFTER SHOOTING KEEPERS, KILLING ONE
Wilson Ashbridge, Who Shot and Killed Mrs. Elizabeth Dunbar and George E. Thompson, Check Swindler, Trap Jailor Hibbs by a Ruse and After Slaying Him Shoot Joe Ellis Who Intercepted Them in Flight. Used Revolver Smuggled Into Prison by Confederates and Leave Jail Wide Open in Their Flight, a General Delivery Being Averted by Police Who Were Summoned by the Wounded Men.
WILSON ASHBRIDGE GEORGE E. THOMPSON

Murdering one jailor and wounding another with a revolver that had been smuggled into them by outside confederates, Wilson T. Ashbridge, slayer of Mrs. Elizabeth Dunbar, and Francis Murphy, alias George E. Thompson, a check forger, made their escape from the county jail a few minutes before seven o'clock last night.

Ashbridge with his wife was caught at noon in the Keystone Hotel in Chester PA where they registered at one o'clock this morning.

Thompson is still at liberty but from the confident manner of Prosecutor Kraft his early arrest seems assured.

The murdered jailor was Isaac Hibbs, aged 65 years of 913 South 8th Street. The wounded keeper is Joseph Ellis, aged 45 years, of 416 Carteret Street. Shot twice, he is in Cooper Hospital. His condition today is very satisfactory.

Thompson, who is 41 years old, forged a check for $650 which he gave to V.M. Fulton as part of the purchase price of an automobile. The forgery was discovered before the deal was completed and his arrest followed on June 8. he also passed a forged check for $15 on State Motor Vehicle Agent Kraft. He, too, was awaiting trial. In spite of the positive evidence against him Thompson had spurned all efforts to have him plead guilty and it is now believed that he was sparring for time while hatching a plan to escape. He s no doubt the master mind.

R.L. Hunter, a farmer of Bensalem Township, Bucks County PA, about four miles above Torres dale, reported to the Philadelphia police the morning that he had seen a man answering Ashbridge's description on the Bucks Road at daylight. The man asked the way to Riegelsville.

According to Hunter, the man was dressed in a dark suit, and had no hat. His clothing was wet. Hunter did not see anything suspicious in his actions, and after giving him directions, they parted.

Upon seeing the paper with a picture of Ashbridge, the farmer was struck by its resemblance to the man with whom he had talked. He hurried to Tacony and notified the police.

The State police, who patrol that section of the county, and who have an office at Langhorne, were immediately notified as were the surrounding towns.

The shootings took place in different parts of the jail. Hibbs was murdered in the exercise room just outside the cell room on the Sixth and Arch corner of the building. Ellis was shot down in the corridor just outside the Market Street end of the building when he heroically grappled with Ashbridge after the latter had pointed a gun at his head. In spite of his wounds Ellis dragged himself to a telephone and after notifying Police Headquarters of what had happened he collapsed.

Only one of the two bullets is still in Ellis. It entered the groin on the right side and is buried in the muscles of the leg, having taken a downward course for seven or eight inches. The other bullet struck Ellis in the right breast and came out in the left breast, traversing the upper fleshy parts of the body.

Hibbs was almost instantaneously killed by a bullet that went within an inch of his heart, producing a hemorrhage. The bullet was extracted this morning from the body early this morning in an autopsy performed at the morgue by County Physician Stem. In spite of the fact that it is pretty well established that three shots were fires in the attack on Hibbs, only one of the bullets took effect.

"But it makes little difference which of the two men handled the gun" said Prosecutor Kraft this morning. "Both are equally guilty of this murder and what we are concerned about now is the recapture of the gunmen." Mr. Kraft added that it his purpose to examine all of the prisoners in that part of the jail where Hibbs was murdered to determine fully who fired the fatal shot.

The escape had been carefully planned and timed to the minute. Of course the desperate prisoners were aided by confederates on the outside and it is the general belief that a high powered motor car was in waiting for them not far from the jail. They are known to have been in possession of money and openly boasted yesterday that it was their intention to leave the prison last night. These boasts were made to two young ladies connected with a religious organization who called on the tom men yesterday to offer spiritual reconciliation. The girls are frequent visitors to the jail and naturally their efforts at evangelization were directed in the main toward Ashbridge, because of the fact that he was accused of murder. These girls, whose identity officials will not disclose, were closeted with Prosecutor Kraft until one o'clock this morning. Both declared that on their visit yesterday they were told by Ashbridge and Thompson that it was the last day they expected to spend in jail.

"We are going to get away from here tonight and we've got money to help us after we are out " said Ashbridge, who further told the girls he had considerable cash sewed up in the waistband of his trousers. The girls begged the prisoners not to do anything that would  cause them more trouble and they told the Prosecutor that Ashbridge and Thompson promised them that they would not make any effort to escape. In their talks with the girls neither of the prisoners said a word that would indicate that they would kill if necessary to escape. The full force of their boast did not dawn on the religious workers and for this reason it never occurred tot hem to inform the Sheriff of what the prisoners had in said.

A general jail delivery of at least all the men confined in hat is known as the untried department, where the two were held, was only averted by the prompt arrival of the police on their beat, which was made easy by means of the keys taken from the prostrate body of Hibbs. Ashbridge and Thompson left all of the doors open and the vanguard of the inrushing police found the prisoners swarming all over the corridors on the east side of the prison. In the wild excitement following the double shooting and escape none else thought of freedom and a checking up of the inmates after they had been herded in the exercise room of the untried department accounted accounted for all but the fugitive slayers.

The department, in which the two men were confined is the same one which William Brown and Charles Berger made their sensational escape several years ago by sawing away the bars on the Federal Street front of the jail. Thrilling as it was, the former escape was insignificant in comparison with last night's tragic event.

With the full force of the keepers out of the way- one dead and the other suffering from gunshot wounds at first supposed to have been fatal- Ashbridge and Thompson had nothing between them and freedom but the door entering from the spiral stairway leading to the narrow entrance of the Sixth and Market Streets end of the Court House, With the keys taken from Hibbs they opened the door and in a few seconds were breathing the free air. It was still daylight when the daring murderers walked from the building and although they were no doubt seen by some of the scores of persons passing it is certain that they managed to control themselves to such an extent as not to arouse any undue suspicion. The exit they used to escape is that used by the general public and therefore persons passing calmly in and out of the door would not in any manner be thought to have been connected with a jail delivery. However the shots which had laid low the keepers had been plainly heard on all four sides of the building and it is strange that no one has yet been found who can give positive information as to what course the fleeing men took and whether they were aided in their flight by an automobile.

While the police and detectives of Camden and all other cities in the East are watching railroad terminals, steamship lines, and all other avenues of travel in response t the general alarm sent out last night, Prosecutor Kraft is bending all his energies to learn who smuggled in the revolver which the fugitives used. Thus far this feature of the case is as complete a mystery as it was last night. Mr. Kraft and Sheriff Haines are satisfied, however, that only one gun was used for both shootings. It was at first thought that each man had a pistol when they left the jail; that one of them armed himself with the gun that Hibbs was supposed to have carried, but it was determined that Hibbs was not armed when he went into the jail last night. There was no occasion for him to come in contact with any of the prisoners and for that reason he left his revolver in his desk in the office. even had he carried it he would have little chance to use it, so cold-bloodedly was he slain as he unsuspectingly fell into the trap laid for him by the desperate gunmen. There is also some conflict as to how at least one of the fugitives was dressed. Alfred Williams, who witnessed the murder of Hibbs, said that Ashbridge was without coat or ha when he dashed out of the cell-room, and that Thompson carried his coat and hat under his arm. However in a description of the two men given at the Prosecutor's office it was set forth that Ashbridge wore a bue serge suit and a checkered cap. The coat that he is supposed to have taken bore the mark of "Tull- the Tailor," of Jacksonville, Florida. ad had been borrowed by him from another prisoner. He wore tan shoes. Ashbridge is 27 years old, 5 feet 7-1/2 inches in height and weighs 137 pounds. He has brown hair, smooth face and is of light complexion.

Thompson wore a brown suit and a Panama hat. He is 41 years old 5 feet seven inches in height, and weighs 175 pounds. He has brown bushy hair, is minus one of the fingers on his left hand, and is light complexioned.    

The tan shoes worn by Ashbridge were also borrowed from one of the prisoners. He got them on Saturday and remarked that he wanted to look neat.

Keepers Ellis and Hibbs were reading in the prison office last evening when Hibbs glanced up at the clock and noticed that it was a few minutes of seven. "Joe, I'm going back and out the boys in their cells," he said to Ellis and with his keys in his hand he started for the cell room in the untried department. A thirty foot long corridor runs from the office to the barred and grated door opening into the department in which the cells are situated. This department is about the size of three ordinary school rooms and in the southeastern corner of the jail are the cells, in two tiers.

Around the cells is a three foot corridor into which all the cells doors open and in which all the prisoners are permitted to walk when they are not allowed out in the main room. When the inmates are ordered into their cells and their doors closed the doors are locked from the outside of the steel cage by means of a lever worked by the jailor. Thus every cell door can be made secure without the keepers coming into actual contact with the prisoners. In addition to the bars around the corridor fronting on the double tier of cells there is a fine mesh heavy wire screening.

As Hibbs approached the lever which is operated to shut the cell doors after the prisoners have retired from the corridors, Ashbridge was leaning against the grating of his cell, Number 18. Thompson was lounging a few feet away.

"Daddy, open the door, I want you to see this note," said Ashbridge to the keeper, at the same time displaying a piece of paper which he had in his hand. Never giving a thought that he was about to perform an act that which was absolutely necessary for the carrying-out of the well laid plot, or that he was going to his doom, or was even in danger, "Daddy", as the aged keeper was known to all the prisoners, opened the door without hesitation.

As he swung wide the big steel frame, Ashbridge quickly stepped out and the next instant was pressing a gun against the abdomen of the jailor.

"Throw up your hands, you ___ ___ ___" he commanded.

"What are you up to, what's this mean, asked the keeper, apparently not realizing he had been trapped.

For reply Thompson jumped out the door, wrenched the gun from Ashbridge's grasp and with an oath began firing at Hibbs, who sank to the floor at the first shot. Only a few feet away and the only other person in the exercise room, although the shooting could have been seen by any other prisoners who had not retired to their cells, Alfred Williams, trusty, is emphatic in his assertion that Thompson fired the shot that killed Hibbs and that he fired three times.

"It's a wonder they did not get me," said Williams. "Ashbridge and I could not hit it and in his desperate mood I am surprised he didn't kill me, too." Williams, who has just completed a six months' sentence for obtaining money from Italian grocers by falsely representing himself as an agent for a wholesale house in Chicago and who is wanted in the Windy City for the same offense, says the whole transaction took less than a minute and that the moves came so fast he and the other prisoners were powerless to aid.

"It was like a flash of lightning" said Williams, "and before I could fully understand what had happened Ashbridge had grabbed Daddy's keys' which had fallen to the floor, and was off like a deer for the barred door. Ashbridge had taken the smoking gun from Thompson, who had his hat and coat under his arm and who was right behind the other one.

"As they hurried through the door after Ashbridge had opened it with Daddy's keys Daddy called to me to raise him. I put my arm under his head and lifted him slightly from the floor. 'Hold my hands' he sad to me. I took hold of his hands and the next minute he died in my arms. Then I heard two more shots and I knew they got Joe Ellis."

Startled by the shots, and he is emphatic there were three in rapid succession, Ellis leaped to his feet and without taking the time to arm himself ran from the office and turned into the corridor just as Ashbridge, wild-eyed and gun in his hand, came running toward him. Halting three yards away Ashbridge pointed the revolver at Ellis' head and ordered him to throw up his hands.

For reply and without fear of himself the keeper dashed at the murderer and the next instant they wee locked in each others embrace. Working loose the hand which held the gun, Ashbridge pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Ellis in the breast, but the wound was not sufficient to render him helpless. However, before he could grip the pistol arm, Ashbridge fired again and the keeper fell back with a bullet in his groin.

"The second shot got me," said Ellis to Prosecutor Kraft and Assistant Prosecutor Butler at the hospital. "The first one wasn't bad but my strength left me when the second bullet struck. Ashbridge was the only one I saw. I did not see Thompson."

"Dragging himself to the office Ellis managed to reach a telephone and called up the police.

"This is Ellis at the county jail; come quick. Ashbridge has shot me" he weakly said over the phone to Captain Hyde. Then the receiver fell from his hand and he dropped to the floor, but after a minute or two managed to climb into chair.

 While patrol loads of policemen where being hurried to the Court House from the First and Second District station houses, Reserve Officer Charles Hose, on duty at Broadway and Federal Street, who had heard the shots, ran to the Court House and from the office of Assistant Custodian John Lack phoned up to the jail. Ellis managed to answer and in a few word told what had happened. They ran up to the jail and were admitted by Ellis, who was rapidly growing weaker from loss of blood, the trail of which plainly showed just where the injured keeper had moved.

"I guess Ashbridge got away and the jail is all open, you had better take care of the rest of the prisoners," said Ellis to Hose and Lack. The fugitive-murderers had left all doors open and the other occupants of the untried department were swarming through the corridors. Their curses and yells and the shrieks and cries of the female prisoners had turned the place into a perfect bedlam. With the aid of other policemen who swarmed into the Court House like bees, the prisoners were soon herded into the exercise room, where Trusty Williams checked the up and accounted for all but Ashbridge and Thompson.

With the faint hope that the missing pair had not risked leaving the building but had secreted themselves in the structure, the courthouse was searched from pit to dome, but no trace of the men were found.

Detective Doran was the first of the Prosecutor's staff to reach the scene. Mr. Kraft and the balance of the staff soon followed. In the lower end of the county, on official business, Sheriff Haines was reached by phone and Under Sheriff Hewitt was summoned from Pitman and until an early hour this morning the officials were is conference and examining numerous prisoners.

State Detective Walter LeTorneau furnished Prosecutor Kraft with a promising "tip" this morning when he learned that Thompson gave a letter to Freeholder Howard Marshall, of the Eighth Ward, to mail on Sunday. Mr. Marshall states that the letter was addressed to a woman by the name or Mrs. Shelton, in Baltimore MD.

Marshall was attending religious service in the jail when Thompson approached him.

"Put this is your pocket and mail it it for me when you go out," said Thompson to Mr. Marshall, who agreed to carry out the request. Dropping the letter in the mail box Marshall allowed the incident to pass without further notice.

Detective LeTorneau learned this morning that Marshall had spoken to the incident to a friend and the sleuth notified the Prosecutor, The tip will be run down the Prosecutor stated.

Funeral services for Hibbs will be held on Thursday from his late residence. The body will be taken to Langhorne PA where interment will be made in the Friends' Cemetery under the direction of the Schroeder-Kephart Company. Services will be conducted Wednesday evening by Reverend Henry Bradway, pastor of the Eighth Street Methodist Episcopal Church.

POLICE QUICKLY AT WORK

Although the murderous prisoners made their escape, it was no fault of the local police department, which threw out a "dragnet system" that covered practically every outlet fropm the city. as soon as the call reached headquarters the red lights were flashing and every officer and detective who could be reached was sent out on the "man hunt" which was pursued with vigor.

Passing automobiles were pressed into service by the detectives and officers and all haste was made for the ferries, railroad yards, terminals, and trolley points. Citizens cooperated with the police in their efforts to run down the escaping prisoners.

Assistant Chief Hyde received the call from Jailor Ellis, who though wounded himself summoned strength enough to reach the phone.

"This is Jailor Ellis. Hibbs and me have been shot  by that man Ashbridge and help quick!" was the startling message which came over the phone to Chief Hyde about one minute past seven.

It was just at the time the shifts were going on and off at the local station houses. Chief Hyde lost no time. He called to Machine Operator "Eddie" King to send the message to the station houses and flash the red lights. This was done and as fast as the men could run they covered the various points.

The auto patrols were dispatched with all hands to the Court House and the wounded men hurried to the hospital. Coroner Robert G. Schroeder reached the hospital as Hibbs and Ellis were being admitted and he tool charge of the situation and got in touch with Prosecutor Kraft and County Physician Stem.

Detective Captain Schregler was hurriedly summoned, and his men were sent in all directions. Detective Brothers boarded a waiting automobile and a record run was made for the Federal Street ferry.  Sergeant Humes was picked up and in four minutes after the call was received from Ellis, Detective Brothers had the ferry covered.

 Detectives Troncone, Painter and Murry and Captain Schregler covered the Kaighn Avenue, Vine Street, and Cramer Hill ferry lines.

Detective Brothers got in touch with the Pennsylvania Railroad officials who put their detective force to work searching freight and passenger cars. The orders were sent out from the railroad office to stop and search every fright train. Dispatches were also sent to Trenton, Mount Holly, and Burlington and it was not long before the news of the atrocious deed had spread throughout the country and many distant places.

Trolley cars were stopped and searched by the police, but not the slightest trace could be found of the escaped prisoners. The police left nothing undone in the "man-hunt."

When news of the affair spread through the city phone calls began to come in to headquarters. Over fifty persons called up to tell the police that they had seen the two men at various places. The "tips" were all run down but none materialized.

Officers Arthur Colsey and Theodore Guthrie, who were on their vacations. lent their aid to Chief Hyde. Policeman Colsey pressed his automobile into service and carried the  police to various parts of the city.

Co-operating closely with Prosecutor Kraft's detectives the city officials formed a combination which in nine times out of ten would have been successful, but the escaped men cleverly eluded their pursuers.

Assisted by Coroner Schroeder, County Physician Stem held a post mortem examination on Hibbs' body. The bullet which caused the death was located in the region of the heart, It passed through the victim's lung, causing a hemorrhage, which resulted in death. Following the examination the body was taken by the Schroeder-Kephart Company at the family's orders to be prepared for burial.

ASHBRIDGE'S FIRST CRIME

The brutal crime for which Ashbridge stood indicted but untried was committed on the night of January 22 at Ninth and Market Streets. It developed that the murderer had followed his intended victim from the morning hours. He trailed her to the home of her sister, a Mrs. Meredith, of 911 Market Street, and laid in wait in the darkness of a building that fatal Saturday night.

Mrs. Dunbar came out of the house and stood on the northeast corner while waiting for a ferry-bound trolley car. She intended going to Sicklerville that night to visit her relatives. With her at the time was her 7-year-old daughter, Eleanor, and her father, Charles Dunbar. Ashbridge advanced toward the woman, who was startled when she saw him. She called to her father that she "didn't want anything to do with Ashbridge."

Before the father could interfere the young murderer whipped out a revolver and covered the father and the woman. He then struck the woman violently in the face with his fist and as she was reeling under the force of the brutal blow Ashbridge fired, the first bullet taking effect in the woman's chest. The brutal murderer then stood over his prostrate victim and holding the revolver less than five inched from his victim's body he pumped four more shots into her.

Policeman Howard Smith and Policeman Taylor were a square distant. Smith saw the entire proceedings and screamed at Ashbridge to stop shooting. A crowd quickly gathered and Dr. Maldeis, who lives nearby, came running to the scene to aid the stricken woman.

Officer Taylor espied Ashbridge in the crowd, The murderer made no effort to run, but stood his ground. Detecting the murderer trying to slip something up his sleeve, Taylor pounced upon him and bore him to the ground, at the same time taking the gun away from him and slipping the handcuffs over the murderer's wrists. Policeman Taylor had to draw his revolver to keep back the large crowd that was threatening. Showing no concern whatever, Ashbridge calmly waited until the police auto arrived. In the meantime the murdered woman's still warm body was placed in a "jitney" and with Officer Smith and Dr. Maldeis a hurry run was made for Cooper Hospital but when the institution was reached, Mrs. Dunbar was pronounced dead.

Ashbridge was taken to the hospital by Policeman Taylor in the police auto. He asked "how she is." Informed that he had accomplished his purpose, the young murderer asked to see the woman. When the white sheet covering the still form of the murdered woman was drawn from the face Ashbridge leaned over and kissed the forehead of the woman. He was then taken to the County jail and locked up. Before Recorder Stackhouse on the following Monday Ashbridge pleaded guilty.

Ashbridge was infatuated with the woman, who was a member of the Temple Theater chorus. Becasue of Ashbridge's persistent attentions she was compelled to give up her position. Mrs. Dunbar had previously accepted Ashbridge's attentions, thinking that he was unmarried, but upon learning that he had a wife and child she informed him that it would be best for them not to see each other, but the young man refused to discontinue his attentions.

On the day of the shooting Ashbridge was seen in various places. He is said to have followed the woman to the Federal Street ferry, but lost track of her. Around noon he was seen at Front and Pearl Streets by Policeman Boyd, who ordered him to move on. Boyd was about to arrest him as a suspicious character, but Ashbridge pleaded that he was looking for a friend. All that day Ashbridge followed the woman until night, when he cruelly murdered her.

The murderer came from a respectable family. Dissipation is thought to have caused the young man to lose his sense of reasoning. Rather good-looking, Ashbridge had tender baby-like eyes and his case excited sympathy among the more tender-hearted people.

Sweetmeats, tasty sandwiches, and other small luxuries were said to have been given the young murderer while he languished in his cell. He had many visitors. Recently Ashbridge was taken violently ill after eating some crabs which were given him by a friend. He and Jailor Hibbs were very friendly.

THOMPSON A CLEVER FORGER

Thompson, or Murphy, was a self-styled lawyer and was committed by Recorder Stackhouse in June3 for forging checks to the amount of $1,055. The worthless checks were "worked"  on the McClelland-Fulton Auto Company and Motor Vehicle Agent A.C. Kraft.

When a check for $150 presented to the automobile company by Thompson and drawn to the order of "G.E. Thompson" on the Harrisonburg, Virginia National Bank came back from the home office of the Studebaker Company as worthless, Mr. Fulton called in the police.

Thompson had previously presented a check for $890 as payment on an automobile. This check was drawn on Thompson's favor on the Coatesville National Bank and was purported to have been signed by Louis L. Gibney, a hotel man of Downington PA. This check was still in the possession of Mr. Fulton when Thompson was arrested after the first check was returned marked "no funds".

The clever swindler also presented a bad check to Agent Kraft for $15 for which he received the license to operate the automobile which he proposed buying.

Detective Troncone arrested Thompson at Fifth and Market Streets on June 2. The defendant had been living in a room at 220 North Fifth Street.

Giving his home address as Daytona, Florida, Thompson represented himself as a lawyer. well dressed and wearing nose glasses, Thompson was an intelligent appearing man, he had a bushy pompadour which was streaked with gray and talked in a persuasive manner. His forgeries on Mr. Gibney's signature were so clever that Gibney himself could not tell the difference.

After Thompson's arrest Detective Captain Schregler sent out notices to several southern cities. He received responses from Harrisonburg, Norfolk, and Petersburg Virginia and that Thompson was wanted in all three cities for check forgeries.

Bert Hibbs, a city foreman and a son of the slain jailor, was murdered early Sunday morning , December 25, 1910 when his throat was cut by Charles Ridgway, a negro, aged 22 years, of Seventh and Sycamore Streets. It was about 12:20 on Christmas morning that Hibbs while crossing the lots at Seventh and Sycamore was accosted by Ridgeway, who wanted to shake hands with Hibbs. The latter refused, a quarrel ensued and Ridgeway whipped out a razor and slashed Hibbs across the throat with such violence that his head was nearly severed. Hibbs died while on the way to the hospital. Ridgway was arrested after a battle by Detectives Schregler, Painter and Brothers and several officers at his home, 1207 Lily Row.

Indicted for murder Ridgway pleaded non vult. On April 24, 1911, to a charge of murder in the second degree, he was sentenced to 25 years in state Prison at hard labor.

SECOND MURDER IN JAIL

This is the second murder and second escape from the present jail. The first murder took place in November, 1907, when George Stewart, a young negro, stabbed to death John Snell, who was awaiting trial for carrying in the business of fortune telling. Stewart was in jail on a charge of dealing in opium and cocaine. He had a complete opium layout in his cell. He and Snell had a quarrel and he stabbed Snell to death in his cell. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to be electrocuted during the week of February 8, 1908. He was electrocuted on February 4, being the first man to suffer the death penalty by electrocution.

On July 13, 1910 William T. Brown, alias Gillespie, who had been sentenced to seven years on a charge of forgery, and Charles Berger, who was under sentence for picking pockets, made their escape from jail after sawing the bars on the Federal Street front. They climbed over the balustrade to the roof, descended through a trapdoor, climbed down stairs and walked leisurely through the Court House building and out into the street unnoticed. They entered an automobile and were driven away. They crossed to Philadelphia on a North Cramer Hill Ferry boat.

Several weeks later Brown was arrested in New York City and was sentenced to Auburn Prison on an old charge. His term will expire shortly and he has also applied to the Court of Pardons of this State for a parole. A detainer has been lodged against him at the State prison where he his located and he will; be brought back and re-sentenced. Berger was captured in Chicago and was brought back and served a term at Trenton.

Philadelphia Inquirer
December 4, 1917

Police Beneficial Association - Camden Day Nursery
Camden Home for Friendless Children
West Jersey Orphanage - West Jersey Hospital
Y.M.C.A. War Fund
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Arthur Colsey - Thomas Cunningham
Edward Hyde - James E. Tatem
E.B. McClong - Charles T. Humes
Charles Whaland - Howard Smith
Ralph Bond - John Develin

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 1, 1918

Albert L. Cornog - Charles Ellis - John Golden
Hugh Boyle -
Howard Smith - James Clay - Charles Laib
Jefferson Kay - Edmund Pike - Robert Abbott
George M. Beringer - Meyers Baker

Howard M. Smith - World War I Draft Card - September 12, 1918
Howard M. Smith - World War I Draft Card - September 12, 1918
 Camden Post-Telegram - October 3, 1918

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 26, 1922

E.G.C. Bleakly
John Golden
William E. Albert
John Painter
Charles Fitzsimmons 
Thomas Brothers
Edwin Thomas
Richard Golden
William Lyons
Milton Stanley - Howard Smith
Charles A. Wolverton
James E. Tatem
Edward Hyde

This story erred in reporting, as retirement at age 65 was NOT mandatory at the time. William E. Albert, Richard Golden, Frank Matlack, and Edwin Thomas did retire. John Golden, John Painter, Charles Fitzsimmons, Thomas Brothers, and William Lyons continued to work in the Police Department. John Golden was eventually promoted to Chief of Police.

Camden Courier-Post * January 14, 1928

GANGSTER SHOT
DURING MELEE
IN SIXTH WARD

Joseph Deven Held On Murder Charge After Death
Boxer’s Brother; ‘Mose’ Flannery
and 4 Others Held as Witnesses;
Was Craps Game Says County Police
HOLDUP ATTEMPTED CITY COPS DECLARE

Victim of a shot fired in a melee, the exact cause of which remain undetermined, Joseph Cimini, 31 years old, was killed in the Sixth Ward Republican Club, 908 Broadway.

Cimini, declared by police to be a Philadelphia
gangster, was killed before the eyes of two district

Headquarters of the Sixth Ward Republican Club on Broadway below Spruce Street is shown in the picture. The entrance is to the left, the first floor front being occupied by a barber shop. The arrow indicates the room where the shooting occurred

 detectives, Clarence Arthur and Clarence Bunker, who had been summoned to the club by warning that a fight was in progress.

Joseph Deven, 28 years old, known to his associates as “Polack Joe’” and a colorful figure in 

Slayer and Slain

Top: Joseph Deven - Bottom: Joseph Cimini

Third Ward politics, fired the shot that killed Cimini.

Declaring that he had fired in self-defense, after Cimini struck him with the butt of a revolver, Deven was locked up without bail on a charge of murder.

Joseph 'Mose’ Flannery, 26 years old, picturesque Eighth ward political worker, was held as a material witness. Detectives had seized Flannery who was to have precipitated the battle by brandishing a revolver just before Cimini was shot. The officers say that Flannery fled –after the shooting and was captured afterward at Broadway and Federal Street.

The name of the dead man was given as Joseph Gannon, but shortly before one o’clock this afternoon, he was identified as Joseph Cimini, 1301 Ellsworth Street, Philadelphia. The identification was made by a brother, William Cimini, a pugilist who has boxed in this city several times under the name of “Billy” Gannon.

Six Others Quizzed

Six other men who were present at the time of the shooting, or when the argument began, were questioned by city and county detectives.

They are Newton Blanchard, 30, 923 St. John Street, former Camden boxing referee and declared by some of the witnesses as the man who conducted the crap game at the club; Michael Dandrea, 26, 1067 Norris Street; Russell Sage, 26 years old, of 1102 Marion Street a taxicab driver who is said to have driven Gannon and Flannery to the club in his car; Maurice O’Brien, 27 years old, of 1429 Bradley Avenue, a former New Jersey State Trooper, Harry 

Trooper, Harry Waterhouse, 28 years old, whose address was given as the same as Sage’s; and Charles “Chick” Hunt, 27 years old, of 1218 Broadway, a former Camden boxer.

Blanchard and Dandrea were released after questioning and after each had made a statement to Chief of County Detective Lawrence T. Doran. The others were held with Flannery as material witness.

Differences of opinion between county and city detectives investigating the shooting were heightened during the afternoon.  The county sleuths insisted upon the theory that the shooting had resulted from a feud between Flannery and Hunt, with Cimini taking the former's side and Deven the latter and said that the heat of the argument had possibly been heightened by disagreement over a crap came.

The city police, on the other hand, declared that the entire affair was the result of an attempt by Flannery to hold up the other men. Deven’s statement to Chief Doran made no mention of a hold-up.

Building up a case against Flannery, the officers this afternoon lodged charges of attempted hold-up, carrying concealed deadly weapons, atrocious assault and battery and assault to kill against him. The two latter charges were made as the result of identification of Flannery as a participant in two recent robbery attempts. J.E. Feinstein, café proprietor of 508 Kaighn Avenue, declared that Flannery, Cimini, and Sage were thereof four men who held him up on New Year’s Day. He defied them and they left when he said, “Go ahead and shoot,” he asserted. Flannery was also identified, according to police, as the man who had beaten and attempted to rob Henry Mehrer, an Audubon policeman, and his two companions outside the Ringside Inn, on the Black Horse Pike, a fortnight ago. Mehrer and Feinstein were taken to police headquarters by County Detective Howard Smith, who is authority for the statement that they identified Flannery.

Cimini was shot shortly after 3:00 this morning and died almost instantly. Doctors at Cooper Hospital pronounced him dead on arrival. He had been shot just above the heart by a bullet from Deven’s gun.

Events preceding the shooting remain, to some extent clouded today. Chief Doran said he learned of an enmity existing between Flannery and Hunt. Deven appeared to have attempted to quiet “Mose”, the county detectives said. Cimini struck Deven and Deven fired.

Chief John Golden of the Camden city detective bureau stated, on the other hand, that the shooting had apparently followed an attempt to hold up the other men in the room. Golden based his view on the statements of Clarence Arthur, a city sleuth. According to Arthur, when he and Bunker appeared at the door of the room, Flannery and Cimini held revolvers and the other men in the room were standing with their hands upraised.

According to the story pieced together by county detectives from the statements of witnesses, a group of men had apparently gathered at the club for a crap game. Blanchard, it was stated, acts as the “stick man,” the term used in gambling parlance to designate the man who conducts a crap game.

City and County agree that Flannery and Cimini arrived together in Sage’s taxicab. Whether there was an argument, the result of an enmity between Flannery and Hunt, or whether the attempted hold-up theory is correct, remains to be learned by additional official investigation.

Chief Doran stated the witnesses had told him that words passed between Flannery and Hunt and that the former had gone downstairs. Returning he brandished a revolver.

Two Flee Place

It was at this point that Blanchard and Dandrea left the room and fled down the stairs. On the street, they encountered Detectives Arthur and Bunker, who were patrolling Broadway in a police automobile.

In describing the subsequent events today, Arthur declared that Blanchard had informed him that “two Philadelphia gunmen are up in the Sixth Ward Club holding up a bunch of fellows”.

The detectives did not immediately go to the club, but found Patrolman Frank Del Rossi and followed him up the stairs of the building.

“There were about fifteen men in the room,” Arthur asserted. “When we got to the door Flannery and Cimini had their guns out and apparently were about to search the others. The other men had their hands in the air.

“When they saw us Flannery and Cimini threw their guns down and the others lowered their hands. I went up to Flannery and started to frisk him. Bunker went to another man, whom I don’t know, and started to frisk him”.

It was then he said that he heard the shot. Believing that it was Bunker who was shot, he released his hold on Flannery and swung around. As he did Flannery turned and fled downstairs, Arthur declared.

Bunker said he believed that it was Arthur who had been shot and he too released his grasp on the man he had been searching. The detectives turned in time to see Cimini fall.

“I did it! I shot him!” Deven is declared to have shouted, throwing his revolver on the table.

According to the story told by witnesses to the county detectives, however, Deven had stepped up to Flannery just before the shot was fired and had said” “Mose, you can’t get away with this here.”

Flannery is said to have had a gun in his hand at the time.

As Deven spoke, the witnesses say, Cimini stepped behind him and struck him with the butt of a revolver. Just then detectives entered. Devin whirled and, drawing his gun, fired.

Cimini was placed in a police ambulance and taken to the hospital. After he had been pronounced dead his body was taken to the morgue, where it was awaiting identification today. Neatly dressed, Cimini is of Italian extraction. He has coal-black hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. Coroner Charles T. Murray will perform a post-mortem examination, he said.

Flannery Captured

When he fled from the club, according to Arthur, Flannery jumped on a Public Service bus driven by David Smith, of 423 Haddon Avenue, which was passing at the time.

“Faster! Faster” he is declared to have urged Smith as the latter drove along Broadway in the direction of Federal Street.

At Federal Street and Broadway, Arthur and Bunker caught up to the bus and arrested Flannery as he descended from the vehicle.

“Why don’t you give me a chance to get to Philadelphia?” Arthur declares Flannery asked him. “I can get bail over there.”

Seek Written Statement

Chief Doran stated this afternoon that he was attempting to obtain a written statement from Flannery and would also seek to have Deven sign a statement regarding the shooting. During the morning, Flannery refused to talk while Devin, although admitting that he fired the shot, declared that he shot in self-defense. He made no reference to the hold-up attempt, according to the county detectives.

Cimini has a Philadelphia police record but, according to his pugilist brother, “was not bad but just wild.” He was recently arrested in Philadelphia after a fight with policemen.

“But he never held up or robbed anybody,” his brother declared this afternoon after identifying the body. “He got into a jam now and then. Yes, I know that he knew 'Mose' Flannery, but I never mixed with that crowd.”

It was reported at City Hall this afternoon that Samuel Orlando had been retained as attorney for Flannery and that Walter Keown, Camden county solicitor, would represent all the other men. The presence of Keown at detective headquarters, during which he had a conference with Captain Golden, seemed to lend credence to the latter report but neither rumor could be confirmed.

Flannery for years has figured in police cases and in political warfare in the Eighth Ward, where he was sometimes a lieutenant and sometimes an opponent of “Mikey” Brown, the Republican leader of the ward. Last March he was arrested and indicted on charges of atrocious assault and battery on is wife and her mother. At one time he was held as a suspect is a Philadelphia shooting but later was released.

The accused man, Deven, is a short, slim little man with an air of meek complaisance. He has been a taxicab driver and was last arrested on a charge of drunken driving. In May of 1926 he attempted suicide by shooting himself after he had failed to effect a reconciliation with his estranged wife. At that time, he shot himself but the bullet only grazed his chest.

Joe Deven, long a political power in the Third Ward, first flashed into citywide prominence in 1925, when he was employed by federal authorities as a deputy U.S. Marshal to guard the padlocked Poth brewery at Bulson Street, just off Broadway. At the time Deven was thus maintaining the sanctity of the Eighteenth Amendment, he was also operating a bootlegging establishment downtown and had been arrested once or twice for violating the Volstead Act.

The Courtier at that time exposed this paradoxical situation, with the result that the U.S. Marshal summarily dismissed Deven. He keenly resented the political chicanery that had been used to put Deven in office. In explaining how Deven was appointed, the Marshal said that he had been recommended by “prominent Republican leaders” in Camden, chief among whom was William D. Sayrs, no a city commissioner but then a field agent in the office of the Internal Revenue Department.

Sought City Job

Not long after Deven’s dismissal as brewery guard, Sayrs and other Republican leaders made strenuous efforts to secure a city job for him under the Non-Partisan administration. They sought to exact a promise from The Courier that this newspaper would remain silent in the event Deven was appointed to a city position. No such promise was made and Deven remained jobless, politically at least.

Then came a humorous twist to the situation. Sayrs disagreed with some of the Organization leaders and, for a time, walked his own political footpath. Some of the leaders, fearful of what Sayrs might attempt politically, killed two birds with one stone by hiring Joe Deven to shadow Sayrs and to report to them the number of times he conferred with Non-Partisans. Thus, Joe had a job and Billy was watched.

Sayrs knew he was being shadowed by his old friend, and apparently he knew who had hired Deven to do the work, but he refused to take the situation seriously and chortled, frequently, when he would see his “Shadow” trailing about town.

In the last year, however, Deven has again been the particular political protégé of Commissioner Sayrs and also has won the friendship of many other political leaders. Nevertheless, he has not been, so far as can be determined, the recipient of any particular political patronage, though his political influence in the Third and Fifth Wards is said to have expanded rapidly under the new administration.


Camden Evening Courier - January 16, 1928

MURDER MOTIVE AT G.O.P. CLUB SPLITS SLEUTHS 
County Detectives Contend Philadelphia Gangster
Was Slain in Quarrel Over Woman
POLICE CLAIM HOLD-UP ATTEMPT CAUSED FIGHT
Deven Charged With Crime, Flannery and Taxi Driver Held Without Bail

With city and county authorities definitely divided on the motive and circumstance if the Sixth Ward Republican Club slaying, Joseph "Polack Joe" Deven was arraigned in Camden police court today and held without bail on a murder charge.

Through County Solicitor Walter Keown, retained as his attorney, Deven waived a police court hearing and was held to await grand jury action in the slaying of Joseph Cimini, Philadelphia gangster, at the political club early Saturday morning.

At the same time County Prosecutor Ethan P. Wescott announced his operatives had abandoned the theory Cimini was killed as the aftermath of an attempted hold-up, and were concentrating their investigation in the case on an effort to "find the woman'.

Statements of witnesses to the fatal shooting, the prosecutor added, made no mention of a hold-up, but contained the declaration that Cimini had been shot as a result of a feud with Charles "Chick" Hunt, former South Camden pugilist, concerning the affection of "Chick's girl". 

Police Claim Holdup

On the other hand, Captain John Golden, chief of the city detective bureau, declared he was unable to recall any mention of a girl in the statements obtained from witnesses, and added emphatically that his department still held the shooting had followed an attempted holdup of the club by Cimini and Joseph 'Mose’ Flannery.

Flannery and Hunt were both witnesses to the shooting by Deven, picturesque figure in Third Ward politics, which occurred at the Sixth Ward Club's headquarters, 908 Broadway..

After Deven had appeared in Police Court today, Flannery was arraigned as a material witness and as an accessory to the crime, with an additional charge accusing him of carrying concealed deadly weapons. Similar charges were made against Russell Sage, a taxicab driver, who arrived at the club with Flannery and Cimini early Saturday morning. These two were committed to the county jail without any bail by Judge Bernard Bertman

Hunt, however, was released under $1,000 bail as was Martin O'Brien, 27 years old, a former New Jersey State Trooper, and Harry Waterhouse, 28 years old, 1102 Marion street.

Three Others Arrested

During the day the police continued to build up their case against Flannery by arraigning him on the charges made by Milton Feinstein and Henry Mehrer. The also arrested Joseph Genther, 29 years old, 414 Atlantic Avenue; Robert Wolfe, 21 years old, 1106 Mechanic Street, and Eli Conaghy, 27 years old, 814 South 6th Street. Wolfe, who is Flannery's brother-in-law, and Genther were held "on suspicion" of having been with "Mose" at the time the latter is declared to have attacked and attempted to rob Mehrer, an Audubon policeman, outside the Ringside Inn, on the Black Horse Pike.

Conaghy, Flannery and Sage were arraigned and held without bail on charges of threatening to kill Feinstein and of carrying concealed deadly weapons. Feinstein declares these three with Cimini, the slain man, entered his cafe on January 2 and attempted to hold him up, threatening to kill him if he refused to “come across”. When he defied them by telling them to “go ahead and shoot”, Feinstein says, they departed.

Wolfe, Genther, and Conaghy were arrested by City Detectives George Ward and Thomas Cheeseman. It was Cheeseman who lodged the formal complaint of murder against Deven.

Two Others Released

Two other men who were questioned in connection with the murder case were in court this man but neither was held. They are Newton Blanchard, 923 St. John Street, a former boxing referee and alleged “stick man” at the crap game declared to have been in progress at the club before the shooting, and Michael Dandrea, 26 years old, of 1657 Norris Street. Both men had been released after questioning on Saturday. Police say they are the men who told police that trouble was imminent at the club and that “Flannery and another fellow are trying to stick up a bunch of other fellows.”

The city police hold-up theory was further attacked today by Francis J. McCarthy, a Philadelphian, who arrived before noon at the county prosecutor’s office and said he would co-operate with the authorities. He wishes to clear the dead man, he said, of the stigma of suspicion that he was slain while engaged in an attempted robbery.

Hearing in Police Court was brief. There was no testimony and Keown merely announced Deven would waive a hearing. Appearing also as attorney for Hunt, O’Brien, and Waterhouse, he said the other three men were “present at the unfortunate shooting” and thus should be held as material witnesses. He added the prosecutor’s office had permitted the release of the three under $1,000 bail each and requested Judge Bertman follow suit. The court acceded to this request but stipulated that new bail must be provided. The three men were freed shortly afterward when the bond was furnished by James Louis, 603 Kaighn Avenue, who had provided the bail yesterday in the prosecutor’s office.

Despite the declaration by two Camden district detectives who were present at the time and who said there was no evidence that gambling was in progress at the club, county detectives disclosed today that statements of the shooting contained the assertion that the men had gathered for a crap game.

These witnesses also declared the fatal shooting resulted from an argument over a woman for whose attention Cimini and Hunt were rivals.

In circles where the leading figures in the shooting move, it was freely predicted things would be fixed up for Deven and that Flannery, political worker and supposed gangster, was to be "made the goat".

Flannery is blamed by the city police for precipitating the battle. he has also been identified, according to County Detective Howard Smith, as one of the men who beat and robbed Henry Mehrer, an Audubon policeman, outside the Ringside Inn on the Black Horse Pike a fortnight ago. In addition, he is charges with attempting to hold up Milton Feinstein, cafe proprietor, 508 Kaighn Avenue. Cimini and Sage were also identified by Feinstein, according to Detective Smith.

According to the version of Cimini's death given in statements by witnesses to county detectives, "Chick" Hunt might have been the victim of the slaying had it not been for Deven's interference.

Gamble Over Affections

Like actors in a carefully-rehearsed drama, the various witnesses to the shooting made their statements nearly twelve hours after the shooting and, both city and county detectives say they agreed in all important aspects. Prosecutor Wescott declared, however, that no mention of an attempted hold-up was made despite the fact that City Detectives Clarence Arthur and Clarence Bunker- before whose eyes Cimini was shot down- stated Flannery and Cimini were holding the other men at bay when the detectives entered the room.

Instead, the statements of the witnesses described the scene as a dramatic gamble, with death as the stake, over the affections of a woman beloved by both Cimini and Hunt. This woman, who is married and estranged from her husband, is being sought today, Prosecutor Wescott said. According to detectives, Hunt was severely beaten last Wednesday night in a downtown gambling place by members of Cimini’s gang. Cimini, known also as Joseph Gannon, was a brother of William Cimini, a pugilist known in the ring as Billy Gannon.

The stories told by the witnesses place Hunt as one of the players in the crap game which was in progress at the club on Saturday morning. Deven was at the window, looking out, according to the witnesses, when he saw a taxicab draw up in front of the building. Flannery, Cimini and Sage descended and entered the club, it was declared.

“Here comes Mose, Chick, with that guy what’s gunnin’ for you” Deven is declared to have shouted.

A dozen gamesters fled from the room. “Chick” and a few of his friends held their ground and were waiting when the trio entered. Cimini, it is stated, walked over to Hunt.

“I told you,” he said with a sneer, “to stay away from that dame. She’s my girl. You were warned and sow you gotta take your medicine..”

Hunt said nothing.

Flannery drew from his pockets two automatics and flung them on the green-topped table, the stories go.

“C’mon, Chick,” he said. Don’t be yella. He toldja about the broad and he toldja what he’d do. Take your gun and shoot it out.”

“Chick” demurred.

“I don’t want none of that stuff, Mose,” he pleaded. He eyed Cimini carefully as the latter held one hand on the butt of a pistol which protruded from his belt.

Deven Interferes

Hunt made no careless movements toward the pistols on the table. Then Deven is declared to have interfered.

“None of that stuff, Mose” he said warningly. “Who’s this guy to come here making trouble? He’s no member, is he?”

Cimini moved quickly, the witnesses say. With an upward flip of his hand he brought the barrel of the automatic sharply against Deven’s chin. The latter lurched forward snatching one of the pistol from the table.

The weapon was discharged, the bullet tearing through Cimini’s heart. He died instantly.

The next moment, Arthur and Bunker, district detectives summoned by one of the players who had fled, burst through the door and lined up the men against the wall.

A short time later police arrested Blanchard and Dandrea. Blanchard, police say, was the man who gave them warning of the impending battle. Both men were released after questioning.

Released from Lakeland

The detectives found Deven cringing with fear under the table, the weapon still in his hand. Four other pistols were picked up in different parts of the room.

Deven was identified as a lovesick husband who appeared in the prosecutor’s office several month’s ago and asked to be “put away”. His wife had left him, he said, and he was afraid he might harm someone.

He was committed to the asylum at Lakeland. When or how he was released is a mystery. Lakeland officials said they had no record of him. Deven once shot himself in a suicide attempt police say, in grief over estrangement from his wife.

Gangdom’s prevailing opinion is that Flannery is “in” for it. Attempts and threats against the blond gangster’s life have furnished many lurid tales for the habitués of downtown hangouts.

Further, Flannery has made many bitter enemies through his political activities. In the last election he worked as a Democrat against “Mikey” Brown in the Eighth Ward. His overbearing tactics and bravado among the other downtown characters has increased the feeling against him, it is said.

Thus far, he has succeeded in keeping out of the toils for any length of time. His police record includes arrests for rum-sunning, carrying concealed weapons, alleged ballot frauds and attempted murder. His most recent arrest came in Philadelphia when he figured in a pistol battle in which a man was slain.


Camden Evening Courier - January 20, 1928

FLANNERY PROMISES TO EXPLAIN SLAYING
Statement Will Set Forth Facts of G.O.P. Club Murder, Attorney Says

With Joseph "Mose" Flannery at liberty under $3000 bail, a statement setting forth his part In the Sixth Ward Republican Club affray which resulted in the slaying of Joseph Cimini last Saturday, was promised today by his attorney, Samuel Orlando.

Orlando said he had not discussed the case fully with Flannery, but expected to do so today. Flannery had no statement to county detectives or to County Prosecutor Ethan P. Wescott, although he is generally regarded as holding the key top certain mysteries circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting.

Meanwhile, the text of statements made by other witnesses to the slaying were still being awaited at the Camden courthouse. Copies of these statements were promised to newspapermen early this week and on each day since. Today. However, it was declared by William McDonald, court stenographer, that transcription of the statements had “little more than begun” .

Release of Flannery and of Russell Sage, another witness to the shooting, leaves only Joseph “Polack Joe” Deven in jail. He is awaiting grand jury action on a on a charge of murdering Cimini, otherwise Joe Gannon, He has admitted the shooting, according to Prosecutor Wescott, but claims that he fired in self defense after Cimini struck him with the butt of a revolver.

Flannery, in addition to being held as a material witness, was charged with being an accessory to the crime, carrying concealed deadly weapons, attempted robbery, threats to kill and assault and battery. The three latter accusations were made in connection with other cases in which County Detective Howard Smith brought in an Audubon policeman and a Kaighn Avenue cafe proprietor who identified Flannery as the man who had attempted to hold them up.

Sage was similarly accused. Statements from witnesses of the Sixth Ward Republican Club slaying are said to agree that Sage, a taxicab driver, accompanied Flannery and Cimini to the clubhouse on the morning of the fatal shooting. Bail for Sage was set at $2,000 and was furnished by Alfred Schlorer*, a Camden meat packer.

Flannery’s $5,000 bail bond was furnished by his brother, James, who lives at 1123 Princess Avenue. Other material witnesses, including Charles “Chick” Hunt, who is declared by detectives to have been the intended victim of Flannery and Cimini when the entered the clubhouse, were at liberty under bail of $1,000 each.

Prosecutor Wescott fixed the bail bonds yesterday afternoon after Orlando had made application. Judge Samuel M. Shay signed the orders for bail and the two prisoners were immediately released.  

“The $5000 bond was set because, of the charge of carrying concealed deadly weapons”, Wescott said later. “There exists no right to hold a material witness without bail, nor does sufficient evidence exist against Flannery in connection with this case to warrant refusing him bail. So far as Sage is concerned, he plays a very minor part in the case.

*This appears to have been John Adam Schlorer


Camden Courier-Post * January 10, 1928

SHEIK SWINDLES HER, WOMAN CLAIMS HERE
Camden Victim Says Jailed Lothario, 60, Took $4200, Vanished

“He got my money, I got the air.”

That was the grim cry of a Camden woman who accused a suitor of mulcting her of $4200.

The gay Lothario, some 60-odd years, is John H. Lesser, of 712 South 29th Street, Harrisburg PA, who today starts a three-year term in the Moyamensing Prison, Philadelphia.  He is also knows as Victor Reichel, Charles H. Lesser, and Alfred May.

Lesser was sentenced to three years and fined  $500 and the cost of prosecution by Judge Walter Davidson, of Franklin County, who substituted in Philadelphia Quarter Sessions Court, on the charges of two Philadelphia women.

The ‘sheik” has also been identified by Mrs. Anna Wenghofler, 48 years old of 1281 Mechanic Street, as the man who secured her savings from her on a promise of marriage, and then disappeared. 

Mrs. Wengholfer, the mother of three grown children, swore out a warrant four years ago for the arrest of Lesser, or Reichel, as he was known in Camden, on a charge of larceny as bailee. He was later indicted by the Camden county grand jury, but was never found until yesterday. 

Today, Camden County authorities are arranging for the extradition of Reichel to this state upon the completion of his sentence to face trial on the Camden widow’s charges. 

Lesser, or Reichel, was arrested in Pittsburg when he was recognized in a hotel lobby by Mrs. Helen Meier, an actress and married daughter of Mrs. Marie Gottschild, a widow of 2320 Bouvier Street, Philadelphia. Mrs. Gottschild had previously sworn out a warrant charging Lesser with obtaining money under false pretences.       

He was placed on trial yesterday before Judge Davidson on complaint of both Mrs. Gottschild and another Philadelphia woman, Mrs. Ida Hoelke, 3001 North 5th Street. Both women allege that he interested them in a restaurant business after courting them during June of 1926.

He obtained $1500 from Mrs. Gottschild and $600 from Mrs. Hoelke, it was alleged. He was found guilty and sentence was imposed.

While he was being led back to the sheriff’s cellroom, Lesser came face to face with Mrs. Wenghofler, who had been taken to Philadelphia by Camden County Detective Howard Smith.

“I know him,” grimly asserted the Camden widow. “I would know him anywhere. I recognized him in the courtroom when he was with a number of other prisoners.”

Lesser turned to a guard, and exclaimed.

Denies Knowing Her

“I don’t know this woman. I never saw her before.”

“Well, I know you,” replied Mrs. Wenghofler.

The alleged love-making swindler was then arraigned before Magistrate Pennock and held without bail for extradition to New Jersey.

Police declare that Lesser has mulcted numerous women throughout the East by promises of marriage. Another Philadelphia woman, Mrs. Anna Graffe, of Park Avenue near Master Street, claims she gave him $3,000 for their “future home”. She told police she accepted him as husband-to-be, and he afterward too her to Baltimore and showed her a house which he said he wanted to buy for them. He finally prevailed upon her to “advance” him the money for its purchase, she said.

About five years ago an advertisement appeared in local newspapers. It was worded as follows:

“Bachelor, in business; good character, considerable savings, 48, wants to marry maiden or widow fond of home, should likewise have something saved. Reply with full particulars.”

Mrs. Wenghofler told police hat she replied out of curiosity, and Lesser went to her home. He represented himself to be Victor Reichel, and said he was a Philadelphia real estate broker.

He ardently wooed her, finally proposed, and she finally agreed to marry him. He then went with her to the City Hall, procured a marriage license, and they made plans for the wedding.

Finds Ideal Home 

Then, according to the widow, he told her he found a house which would make an ideal home, but that he was unable finance its purchased at that moment. He finally wheedled $4,200 form her, she said. He then disappeared. 

Chief of Detectives Lawrence T. Doran recognized the description of Lesser when he was captured in Pittsburgh PA, and sent Detectives Cleary and Smith to identify the man. Fingerprints were taken and found to conform with those taken from articles belonging to Reichel and held by the Camden woman. 

Detectives also declare that three Baltimore women have made complaints in that city of Lesser’s activities, declaring that he swindled them on promises of marriage. The ‘shiek” also worked in Boston MA and other cities, it is alleged.

Camden Courier-Post * June 3, 1930
Catherine Christman - Joseph Conti - Nicholas Bartluci - John Fisher - Mary Reginelli - Marco Reginelli
Garfield S. Pancoast -  Clifford A. Baldwin
William "Big Bill" Wierman - Ralph Bakley
C. Leonard Brehm - Louis Schlam
Clarence Bunker - Clarence Arthur
Wilfred L. Dube - Andrew Zopesky
...continued...

From Left: Howard Smith - James Paradise - Theodore Guthrie - Joseph Mardino - Walter Welch
Vernon Jones - Walter Smith 
...continued...
...continued...
Highland Avenue
South 33rd Street
North 34th Street

Camden Evening Courier - December 6, 1930

...continued...
...continued...

Dr. David S. Rhone - Charles V. Dickinson - Theodore Guthrie - James Paradise
Clarence Bunker - Howard Smith - Clarence Arthur - Henry Lutz - Clarence Thorn
John Kowal - Lewis H. Stehr  


Camden Evening Courier - December 10, 1930



Garfield S. Pancoast - Howard Smith - Theodore Guthrie  
George Fingerhut - Hugh Fingerhut -
Clarence Bunker
Raymond Gondolf -
Peter Gondolf - Monitor Road

Camden Evening Courier * December 13, 1930

...continued...
...continued...
...continued...
...continued...
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Lawrence T. Doran - Charles V. Dickinson - Clifford A. Baldwin - Walter Mattison
Howard Smith - George A. Ward - Jeff Kay - Alfred Shires - Harry Kyler
Archie Riess -
Walter Smith - Harry Cattell - Earl Rider - Charles F. Smith
Charles H. Smith -
John Toal - John Taylor - Frank Carle - Oscar Thompson
Highland Worsted Mills
- North Camden - State Street 
Moore Street - Chestnut Street

Camden Courier-Post
April 2, 1931

Crawford Smith
Howard M. Smith

Camden Courier-Post * June 6, 1932

John Trout - Joseph Carpani - George Ward - George Zeitz - Howard Smith
Al Dubowski - George Rumble - Frank Marcone - Bernard Franz - Robert Tully

Broadway - South 2nd Street - Fillmore Street - Kaighn Avenue


Camden Courier-Post * December 20, 1932
Charles Laib Charles J. "Jeff" Kay Theodore Guthrie Howard Smith
...continued...
J. Oscar Till - Louise F. Walsh - John W. Golden - Charles H. Ellis - Charles Humes
South 24th Street - North 25th Street - North 4th Street - Penn Street - Fiore Troncone - Chestnut Street
Sheltering Arms Home - Newton Ash - William Michalak - John J. Robinson - Roy R. Stewart

Camden Courier-Post
March 6, 1940

George W. Waters
Linden Street

Clifford A. Baldwin
Sylvester "Luke" Council
Norman Pollard - C. Sheldon Johnson
Baring Street
Penn Street
Mitchell Cohen
Howard Smith
Walter Smith

Camden Courier-Post * December 1, 1953
 

Camden Courier-Post
December 3, 1953

North Baptist Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camden Courier-Post
December 4, 1953

Camden Courier-Post
October 4, 1968

 

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