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Newspaper Page Text
WEE BILLY RAHN IS HELD FOR COMMITTING A MURDER AND
- THEY SAY HE NEVER HAD A CHANCE
By Jane Whitaker.
When I first heard the story of lit
tle Billy Rahn, who is only 17 and
who is charged with the murder of
John Polzin, Billy seemed to me the
most tragic figure in the case. True,
Billy's brother, Eddie, 22, was charg
ed as accessory, as were also Phil
Krajecki and Tony Piatrowski, but
Billy was such a wee laddie.
Miss Thompson, of the Legal Aid
Society, told me of Billy some time
ago. The Legal Aid Society felt a
great pity for the wee laddie and they
were not alone, for Clarence Darrow,
the lawyer, had become so interested
in the case that he offered his ser
vices to the Legal Aid to defend Billy
and his companions.
Miss Thompson said Billy never
had a chance. Even nature hadn't
given him a square deal because the
psychopathic laboratory test showed
Billy very much under normal.
But life wasn't satisfied with that
Billy's brother got mixed up with the
police. That is a very easy matter,
somehow, for boys. I saw a boy in
the Boys' Court the other day arrest
ed for the thirteenth time in a year
and all for trifling misdemeanors.
At any rate, Eddie was arrested six
different . times though only found
guilty one time the last. But when
a boy is arrested frequently some
thing dies in him. He becomes bit
ter. And there was a "gang." Billy was
drawn into the "gang" along with Ed
die. They frequented saloons and on
the night of the shooting the boys
had been drinking even little Billy
The story of the shooting is rather
a confused one. It seems from Billy's
story there was a fight going on in a
street and the boys wanted to see
what it was. Remember, they had all
been drinking. Billy pushed his way
to the center of the street, and some
one came toward him a fellow that
someone else had said was a "tough
guy" and later, in the hospital, John
Folzin said that Billy Rahn had fired
the shot that killed Polzin three days
Yes, it did seem to me that little
Billy Rahn was the most pathetic
figure in the tragedy as I listened to
the story told me by Miss Thompson
and as I sat in the criminal court yes
terday morning and watched Billy,
with his fair hair and his blue eyes
and his slightly receding chin, and
Eddie with brown hair and the first
very faint trace of bitter defiance on
his boyish face.
But afterwards there was a wo
man in the corridoi. A woman who
was dressed in black and who was
fighting back tears.
She was wrinkled. Her hands were
calloused from hard work. She was
a little bowed in the shoulders.
She was Billy Rnhn's mother.
More, she is the most pathetic figure
in the tragedy, because her calloused
.hands tell a story. For thirteen years
Billy's father was an invalid until he
died, three years ago, and for those
sixteen years Mrs. Wilhelmina Rahn
has been taking care of her family by
going out and washing.
Don't you see the pathos of it?
Every day and every hour she has
toiled for her boys, finding a joy in
toiling for them because they were
going to be a comfort to her some
day and yesterday she waited in the
corridor waited to be called as a
witness to give her shred of testi
mony to prove that Billy and Eddie
tried to be "good boys."
I touched her arm. "Will you tell
me about Billy? Was he a good boy
to you?" I asked her.
She looked at me a moment in
silence as the tears welled to her
faded eyes. "Yes," she answered.
"Did he work steadily?"
In reply she silently opened a
much-worn bag and silently pointed
to some yellow envelopes. They were
pay envelopes of litUe Billy Rahn,
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