Sunday, September 4, 2016

Driver Clubbed by Passengers

The Daily Ypsilanti Press published this story on Friday, September 1, 1916.

     According to police theory today Ypsilanti was scheduled Thursday night for a visit by three men with no good purpose. The first part of their plan, officers believe, was to secure an automobile, which they did but the fact that the driver had not been satisfactorily disposed of is believed to have prompted their abandoning the car in Ypsilanti and returning to Detroit.
     George H. Webber who is employed at a garage at 910 Fort Street, Detroit, was the driver and according to his story he was engaged by the three men to drive them to Ann Arbor. He described them as short and young, dressed like students and carrying a suitcase and small grip. Webber drove a Cadillac eight and stated that he left Detroit about 5 o’clock. As they came through Ypsilanti the men had him stop while they got drinks at one of the saloons here. They then continued on their way to Ann Arbor and stopped at the Allenel Hotel. Webber and one of the men went out and got a lunch and after they returned the other two went out. He thinks that the plans for the holdup were concocted in this hotel. While he was taking lunch with one of the men he was asked a great many questions which caused him to grow suspicious, whereupon he turned his diamond ring so that the set was on the inside of his hand.
     They started to return about 8 o’clock. On account of the grading west of Ypsilanti on the middle road from Ann Arbor they had to make a detour. As they reached the Lake
Shore crossing one of the tires was punctured. Webber repaired it and was about to start the car when he received a vicious blow back of his right ear. He threw up his hand to ward off another blow and was struck on his middle finger, which was crushed. Realizing his helpless position he jumped from the car and made for a barbed wire fence. One of the men who was following him fell allowing him to get over into a cornfield where he easily hid himself. Webber heard the men start the car and drive away. Then he cried for help and found it in the person of Clarence Holmes who brought him to Ypsilanti for surgical attention. At the fire department they stopped and asked that the Detroit police be notified. The local police were notified at the same time.
     Deputy Sheriff Esslinger took him to Detroit after his wounds had been dressed by Dr. Breakey.
     The thugs left the car on Ellis Street (now Washtenaw) where it was found by Patrolman Bataway and afterwards taken to Weidman’s garage.
     Three men who answer to the description of the bandits inquired the way to the Michigan Central depot of Mrs. Charles Schrepper about the time that the men would arrive in the city and she is now confident that they are the three men wanted. Others state that they saw them riding about town and that the activity of Deputy Sheriff John Connor, who had been called, frightened them away.
     A bottle of chloroform and a sponge were found in the car. From this fact some draw the conclusion that the men were after the life of Webber. Webber states that he doses not know the men. Some unknown enemy may have hired the men to do the deed. A man from this same garage was murdered about a year ago, he said.
     Another explanation for the presence of the chloroform is that the use for it was predicted in work in Ypsilanti, during the night which they had hoped to accomplish had Webber been disposed of so that no alarm could have been started to interfere

     Detroit officers are busy today on the case.

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