Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Milton Hightower: The Clever Burglar

On the morning of Sunday, January 28, 1923, Roy Lindsey, who lived in an apartment at 102 South Washington Street, Ypsilanti, Heard someone at the back door of the house. Lindsey took hold of a pistol, and went to investigate. In the back hallway, between the two apartments, Lindsey found Milton Hightower who had just entered the house. Lindsey held Hightower at the point of his pistol, a D. L. Davis called the police. Ypsilanti Chief of Police John Connors received the call asking him to send a man to the house. Connors later said he did not know the reason for the call, and if he had, he would have gone himself. Instead, he sent Officer William Morey to the house. “When the officer arrived Hightower was apparently drunk. During the time he was held by Mr. Lindsey he had pleaded to be allowed to go, stating that he was employed at an Ann Arbor fraternity and would have to be there for work later in the morning. Lindsey also thought he might be drunk and refused to consider allowing him to go,” reported The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Monday, January 29, 1923. When Morey arrived, he thought Hightower was drunk and failed to handcuff him. “As they left the house Morey slipped on the ice sidewalk and at the same instant Hightower tripped him and ran. Officer Morey threw his club at the fleeing man, hitting him on the back of the head and damaging only the club, which bounded high in the air. Morey also shot, but was unable to hit Hightower, who must carry a potent rabbit’s foot,” noted The Ypsilanti Record of Thursday, February 1, 1923. Chief Connors was informed of what had happened, and arrived on the scene soon after. Connors and Morey searched the neighborhood, but could not find Hightower. Chief Connors did learn Hightower was employed at the Chi Psi house at 620 South State Street in Ann Arbor. As police entered the front door of the house, Hightower, without a word to anyone, calmly walked out the back door of the kitchen. At this time Hightower was on parole from Jackson prison, on a charge of burglary. He had two more reports to make at the prison before his parole ended. He had been sentenced in 1917 to 5 to 15 years in prison for a robbery in Detroit. He had been paroled in 1920. Nothing more was heard of Hightower until April, when Chief Connors received a tip that Hightower was returning to Ypsilanti. When Connors was sure he knew where Hightower was to be found, on the evening of Saturday, April 15, 1923, he summoned officers Lawrence, Morey and Washtenaw County Deputy Sheriff Dick Elliott. The men surrounded the building, on the south side of Michigan Avenue between Huron and Washington Streets. “As he (Connors) went up the stairway, Hightower went to the door to see who was coming, and recognizing the chief, rushed back in, barricaded the door and was about to jump out of a two story window when the chief broke through the door. Seeing Mr. Elliott standing below the window Hightower turned back in the room to face the chief, and realizing that escape was cut off, he surrendered with trouble,” reported The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Monday, April 16, 1923. Hightower was arraigned on the afternoon of Monday, April 16, 1923, and asked for an examination which was set for April 24, 1923. He said he was too drunk on the day he entered the Davis house to know what he was doing. Bail was set at $5,000 which he was unable to secure. At the examination his case turned over for trial at the circuit court in the May term. Hightower was most likely returned to the prison at Jackson, to complete the previous sentence.

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