OCR Interpretation

The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, January 08, 1911, Image 13

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1911-01-08/ed-1/seq-13/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for

The San Francisco Sunday Call.
When Lrrs Was Chief of
Detectives - VII
O. H. Heyneman
For Ten Yearn secretary to Chief Leu
; (Copyright by the Author)
IT was only a short while * after my
appointment as secretary to Chief
of Police Lees that a band of es
caped Russian political prisoners
arrived in San Francisco.
There were about , ten in the band,
all of whom had escaped from . some
penal settlement in Russia. They
claimed to be political prisoners, es
caped from one of the prisons, , and
through an, interpreter told a pathetic
and impressive tale of their innu
merable hardships " before they finally
reached the eastern coast-. of Russia.
They procured, so they said, an open
boat in which they, put to sea, endur
ing sufferings from exposure, thirst
end hunger which nearly drove them
insane, from which calamity they were
saved by being picked up by an Amer
ican ark which landed them in San
If looks : decided s for anything these
escaped political ; prisoners j .were -. as
tough and hardened, a»lot; of criminals
as could be, found <in any rogues' gal
lery.**. They were jt miserably : clothed,
weeks of beard growth 'adding to their
, ruffianly," appearance.''... Cutthroats ■ and
murderers any ."*"thief 'i catcher -would
have dubbed them,"but"as' they;said
they were political prisoners, and
everything in that line from Russia
.draws compassion, it":-was., easier?: to
believe their story than.to, doubt it.
The' daily newspapers described their
pitiful condition, going intofdetailire
garding their "miraculous, escape ;•> and
the tortures they i undergone while
storm tossed. •<• starving,: ; freezing :in
their open boat on a wide sea. The
human interest writers, the "sob"; sis
ters and brothers, • made : the most :of
their opportunity and spread them
selves In; pages of weep inspiring j liter-;
ature. Waves >of sympathy^ rolled over
the i* state ' and" a - fund was subscribed
for the Russians' relief.'
There was;-, one man .who doubted..
The : Russian consul at the time called
on ' Lees 1 and warned \ him that ? these *
men were ; not ; political" prisoners, •". but'
dangerous fcriminals, each' one of them
having a '«* record >,' for » almost ; every
crime known," from murder down. He
made * the ■*. request * upon the * United
States ; government for their deporta
tion,'; but ; Russia > evidently f knew ? when
she was ".well off and '■ refused -, to: back
the request for * extradition. : The *' con
sul ; was .emphatic > in his .warning,':and
told ;the chief that"he would i not be at
alf surprised :if these \ wretchesf sooner
or ■; later ; caused .the department , a
whole lot " of * worry : and " trouble. As
events; proved, the consul did not err.
in his prophecy.
The band of refugees eventually sep
arated and-*; for a time". were lost to
public view, i Among t, those - who",play,
" prominent ; roles J in. this, narrative; were
Ivan ? Kaskaloff and: two ? others called
Makalln and . Sberbaloff. This trio
' were ; about >as -: desperate **> a bunch -of
cutthroats » as, I have s ever, seen, with
Ivlciousuess so plainly,depicted! on : their
evil .'countenances as 'to ; portend ..no
possible good to 'those who came with
in their power. t
:jOne night, toward the, close of 1894,
the chief received a telegram from on%
of ; the ' nearby -cities lin the i state , in
,forming : him of a horrible murder 4 and
.asking the /co-operation:of. the San
:Francisco! police in bringing the crimi
nal *or criminals to Justice. *-.-' The * mes
sage" recited, that an old and I respected
member of the: community,^ one* Fred
erick .Walters, who; had * conducted/a
grocery f0r,30 years'or more,:had," with
his^ wife,**; been; cruelly.' murdered. All
the'tn-formation that, the police "of that
city could gather was that the old gen
tleman had left his ;>;<oro about 10
o'clock at night and gone directly home
to, his ; aged .wife, their rooms being
above the store. Some neighbors had
observed, '■! about 11.; o'clock, Walters
, moving about the house with lighted
candle. * The. light," said ; the I neighbors,
n3d-. been ■ suddenly ■',* extinguished and
, they heard a fall, but paid no particu
lar attention to it. The following
morning Mr. Walters' son, ; Louis,'
I opened the store, as was his custom. He
' was startled to see blood dripping from
his i father's room overhead !to ■ the floor'
of the store. One corner of the ceiling
was *» completely ; saturated i with - gore.
Dashing up the stairs, Louis ..Walters
; knocked :at * the ;: entrance ) door of „'• the
.;- little flat, but received no response. He
tried the door; it was unlocked and he
* entered. In -, the ■ kitchen, lying. on« the
floor with his head split wide open, lay
;f the body of. the young man's father, In
= the bedroom j lay ' his V mother, a-' gap
*• ing ', wound 'in her head. Both ; the
old. man and his ..wife were dead.; *
The boy fled j in ; hysterical , fear ; from
the house and rushed ;to the police.
The theory immediately.{presented
; itself ; that the old , gentleman had
- heard some strange; noises ; during the
; night "and,; going to>'; the kitchen with
** lighted candle *in hand ■to ' Investigate,
had been' murdered j in; cold *' blood. The
■ old lady, hearing a scuffle, and rush
'- ing to her;husband's aid, s met with the
same; awful J fate. ; It; was? all conjec
ture, but one coull ;% picture * such a
crime—-two' inoffensive old people,'fear
less because they had never been mo
lested „in 1 their serene lives -by.; any
unpleasant .element;?the"; old man tak
ing his light to see what: was.wrong
in his house; ;;the old lady rushing (to
v the = relief "of; her,; old ; husband,* without
a -thought of consequences to ; herself.
They were simple;old -people," and * the
.-' average reader would 'perhaps, not
: think again ; of; the» tragedy .because •of
j ordinary persons .beirig;the victims, but
; it', struck - the, warmhearted I old; master
as being of particularl'brutality, be
, cause of; the old i age and inoffensive
character of » the victims, whom ho >he d
Further, the telegram. recited, it had
been *:': conclusively shown ; that tin*
criminals, after butchering the old
couple, robbed the premises of ; jew
elry, a considerable amount Of money
and wearing \ apparel. An ax belong
ing to the ! household was found in the
backyard,; covered with blood, without
doubt; the instrument so*** death. Fur
ther , search : developed ;. two ,; suits of
clothes soaked with L- bod, the mur
derers having shed, their rough gar
ments and in their ; place donned
clothing belonging to Walters, there
were ; two men. then, ', lmplicated in the
crime. This was all the information
at hand. No one had been seen loiter
ing about | the neighborhood; J there was
no direct suspicion 1 against any one 1, in
particular;' and no descriptions of-the
"murderers. "- "'**,■ ';..'.:•-:"' :
As was usual with the old chief his
interest in ; the matter, / even > though
the crime occurred our of his particu
lar * Jurisdiction,: became intense. He
knew the victims, which added, to his
zeal. . He > started i to work.
"Billy/* he i said, -. after carefully di
gesting - the : lengthy : telegram, "I '- see
we're ; ; up • against another '*.tough*(> old
proposition.? double ' murder '■■ up -.state.
Call in ! Charley, Ed and Tim, and we'll
all go up and help- th© authorities to
the end. They've ;asked for our^as
sistance, ; and It's ' up to us to help."
We met at the ferry 'with; our grips
tightly i packed. .The old .warrior was
there -to . meet us, the inevitable black
cigar . tilted in the corner of his mouth,
; his hat half way on his curly gray
head :; and a! bundle of j newspapers
clutched in his hands. 'There was not
much discussion >. on our i trip to -the
scene of the crime. i"i Every word In the
papers relating to; the ' tragedy the old
man read *as though ; each word ! might
reveal ; a clew. ? ! For three i hours '*; the
keen gray-blue : eyes •: wandered :{■ over
those newspaper reports, up and down
the' columns, ;; page after I page, until
the last.one was read. '■■
O I ■* observed • the old ; master closely,
wondered how he intended solving this.
case. : Surely : there were ;, Important
clews;<■ the instrument of ; murder had*?
been discovered;,the discarded clothing*!
of , the brutes > had been ; found; j jewelry
had been In the loot, and jewelry is
usually; pawned. ; But *- where? ; There
are .thousands 5, of - pawnshops in the
United a States,; and '-, any , one -; of these
might be the 'repository of the stolen
goods-In i this case. In my young un
professional mind ; I »believed that tmy
master had '■ met ; his match, : that" this
. was i one . case :* he " would i find I' surpass-:
ingly difficult. for him to handle. I; did
• not know him ' then as ;in - the ; later.
years. ;. I.; was * new, In ,: the profession ;
then and; his tremendous ;, ability k did
not ■ impress . roe as it! did j later; when I
, watched him ; unravel ; successfully some
of j the, most *> startling l and f, perplexing:
crimes of ""modern!times,-;;: „
We drove immediately on the train's
arrival"; to police f headquarters. The
chief; of the upstate department, Pat
rick "Kernan, was about 36 years of
age, "i keen*, ' quickwitted * and * far * above
the average 'country .•;■' constable.,f His
greeting with :the .oldimaster-," showed
not: a trace |of • professional..** jealousy.
The younger man realized that he was
at sea in this case; it required a wiser,"
older * head", than his' and he was ! frank
in admitting it. There were • large iv
■ \ -■ ' .'J - ' -:' * ;
wards offered for the arrest and con
viction of the criminals, but this did'
not deter the younger. chief ?in asking
for , aid. His ;. reputation was" at * stake;
and he - needed assistance, which was
his for the asking.
"Thank God! chief, you've come!*';
said Kernan, heartily. "We've made no
headway of consequence. I want to get
those men above anything I ever .want
ed in; my ? life. :Help me catch them,
chief, ands I'll die happy."
''We'll do the best we can, 4 Kernan,"
answered the warrior kindly; "take us
up to the victims' home first. I want
to f make '...careful • examination of the
premises, and *.to > interview every l man,'
woman and child around the; house and
neighborhood. ;! I * want Ito make I com
plete search .1 of , the ; house ! and '*• garden
and surroundings, and,': Kernan, I want
'your co-operation ;■; in every ■■. : move % I
make. Come on, let's 'move." ' ;
The house was searched' from top ■ to"'
bottom, : everything ransacked from |
closets to bureau drawers, boxes;; and
corners. This was the old master's wafc
—systematic," careful, Intelligent 'search'
for * evidence, j The .garden was dug up,
the 'bedding and \ mattresses, the' cloth-s
ing i, in !^ the I- house,; i the V locks ft on ; the i
j doors and .windows,; the > dishes; in the
kitchen,; the pantry," the J bathroom; the
basement, coal cellar, every t crevice that
' eye; could discover was examined. The
men worked .* like;. day A laborers. They
were dripping with perspiration, , their
clothes grimy with dust, hands and *"
ace dirty. The chief's beautiful gray]
;locks :were black 5, with soot, ; for even
the : chimneys .werei not :; overlooked.
There was "soot and dirt in his whis
kers, and he presented ,'an undigni
fled ■- appearance 5 for,; a chief .' of "*; police!:
For hours Lees and his men kept up:
• their . search, but with :no ; result of * in
criminating evidence. <■ i,"
The dirty clothing left behind by the
murderers, ; blood soaked |asj it was, was]
turned inside out, 5 but there was no tail
* or's i label, ' no '• marks; that! could I lead j to"'.
identification,or ;show: where the gar
ments had been purchased.. Every per-;
{ son; In; the*, neighborhood, all the t mem
bers of ; the victims'- family were]rigidly]
intervlewe'd and their statements; taken
s down.,; But Lees gained \no Information
to add ito I that; already } submitted.:: He
went»'' back ? and : looked .;; at,: the ;* soiled
clothing the criminals had left in the
Walters' yard. • "*•
- "Chief," ; he: said; to .Kernan, "there's
just! one solution to this complex prob
lem. "■■■. It's - the work *of i a couple of ( for
eigners. 'Do you note this cloth? That's
foreign;; material. These : are ;, no;; com
mon ■••' tramps -or V yeggmen. ;;. Have,? you
!cleaned , out the: foreign district up
here? ifjlt', not,. do so * at;. once.' :*,Have
all the - pawn shops • here,, searched! . I
;have * the ; descriptions .;-;of, the !£ two
watches and the rest of the; jewelry
and have,*" instructed my men:*. in the
city J to; keep a sharp lookout. In the
meantime 'we'll nose about a little and
see .what's doing." .
..:.' Down the district Inhabited by the
Russians. Poles ; and Italians the chief
and; his/men*; sauntered. ;.,; Into* the lower
class saloons, boarding ;houses,;second
hand : stores and !pawnstops-the; sleuths
; wandered. ; Every foreigner ** received
"close scrutiny, h Every.; suspicious char-;
acter, every known crook, was seized,
" thrown into (jail! and sweated, but,"still'
there was no clew, to the criminals who
had killed old Walters and his ) wife.
The chief and his men returned to
San Francisco. The old master was
not; discouraged. He was too early in
the game for that.' „
"Billy," he said to me on New Year
morning following the report of the
Walters tragedy, "I've a peculiar intui
tion that we are going to get results
In this case, ere long. ;I knew those,
poor old people! who were slain, and; I
really, want to help Chief Kernan, too;
he seems a decent, ambitious young.fel
low. ;; I .wish; you'd go down to the dis
prison and see it: the crop of New Year
drunks has been dismissed yet."
: I hastened: to obey, reporting to the
chief | that the;holiday imbibers had all
been discharged. The chief put on his
hat and ordered me to accompany, him
to the prison.
...; "Billy," he observed on his way
downstairs,"we'll take a walk through
the prison and then I'll let you go. I
suppose you want-to get oft early, to
day ;and" eat your New : Year dinner,
don't you?" SSMMB
Eagerly I assented. But it was three
days later that either the persistent old
master or I found our homes and beds.;
The, work of scrubbing out the cells
after the release of the' human- dere
licts had begun just before we '; ap
proached the corridor; of the prison.
One of the trusties ; was sweeping out
the. drunk cell. A mass, of filth was
lying directly in front of the -.cell.
Something glittered in the dimly
lighted corridor. The ever piercing
eyes of the,chief noted ;.' the glitter.
There was no hesitancy; filth -or dirt
made no S difference to j him. His body
bent, his hands "segregated the mass of
offal,' and he found a small gold watch..
: "Better come upstairs, Billy, we
might find an owner for this,'*; lie said;
"who knows but what it might lead to
My heart dropped down into -my
boots.: I saw the old chief pursuing
the mystery, of the watch's: owner, and
my New..' Year holiday fade into' a : re
mote region. ; *I,' knew jby the chief's
manner that there was work on hand,
and there was. .'.:'.<
; The watch ] was immediately Identi
fied by. Lees as one of the pieces ot
missing Jewelry;stolen from the Wal
ters' house.;'.' ; The ; old■' man's eyes , di
lated ;i his hair;; seemed to ' bristle. There
was no contradicting his ■ theory, that
some one had ',: been arrested ; for
drunkenness, ■ that the watch: had been
in his possession, and that for fear of
being . searched " and , the incriminating
evidence found on him," he i had secreted
it in his cell where.it' had been swept
out, and the old ; master, had found: it.
;;;Instantly every >available. officer was
pressed ?' Into '< service. -; Others ;. beside
• the ; chief j and,: I! were . to', miss . a New
Year dinner. Every sailors' boarding
house, every .vessel flying'" a foreign
flag, every old,' known: habitue *- of * the
drunk i list was sought* out ; and - inter
viewed "as;to the .occupants of, the •' cell
on j that'particular j night. * .
■ There was a regular roundup of all
the : lower class j saloons ,'and foreign
boarding '.'< houses. , Patiently ** the - chief
and; his; men continued 1 the i search. .
One morning, soon after the finding
of the; watch," a ! deputy sheriff • called
on the chief and told him that a Rus
sian ; sailor living south of * ; Market
street was lying drunk in his room
and stupidly murmuring.: something
about '; a terrible «murderJ case.'
:''; Lees; and ;I * lost »no j time' in . reaching.
the Russian I sailor and ', getting' him to .
talk. The *.Russian told the chief i that
he had made ; the acquaintance of a ship
* carpenter : named; Stanislaus ; Zevelovich, ;
who! had gained the "confidence > of ] one i
of X the Russian: refugees, ;Ivan f Kaska-'
• loff,'* and j that Ivan, ** in I a drunken; orgy,
1 had. imparted ,'.= certain ; Information to "
'Zevelovich, acknowledging complicity
in -5. the murder of.'the aged Walters.
The chief ; called for I.*the.;patrol"^vagon!
; and the ; drunken: Russian, '..who ,in his
j fright S had : become; sobered, was! forth
.withshustled; to;;prison.:■;;The Russian
ship * carpenter . was 1 locate^ ' in * a ' shack
on the water front, i and was ;*/ also
.brought to headquarters. Without a
"second's loss of ' time > the chief ; acted.
He knew. this was the beginning of the
end. The clews /were valuable; they
meant*, something ?! tangible,/ and there
was now - the « possibility of bringing
; the 'guilty to, swift retribution. ;/! The
end of the bloody drama s was in sight.
5 -.The ; ship '; carpenter, proved 'Jan *? easy;
victim as a witness. No! third degree
I methods \ were! required in v his 'case,: for
he was frightened out of / his ; small
wits. -: In s his • poor' English *he \ related
to' the'chief,/after, 5 swearing ;: the /old
master \ to > secrecy, saying J that he
t would! be -.killed if ; the 'murderers dis
covered he had - told * that ' Ivan \ Kaska
loff was ; one of the; murderers of the old
! couple, and. not -only ■;.that,'* but he still
had some *of their , effects !; in his pos
:session.!; Zevelovich : said that . Kaska
loff had visited him; one'night.- in his
shack and they had" spent, the 'night \in
' carousal. Kaskaloff /,; became: intoxi
cated and in a sudden burst of maudlin
confidence admitted how he and an
other Russian refugee named Sberba
loff had ' stealthily broken into the
home of the aged Walters .for the
purpose of ;"burglary and that while
robbing the house the old man had dis
cove--fvKr them, which led to their killing
him 1 and his wife.
The ship carpenter trembled in every
limb as he told "his story. He was the
picture' of. fright,-and as he came to
the climax of his tale he toppled off his
chair in a dead faint.
..Revived, he ; accompanied. the chief
and three of the latter's men to the
rooms occupied by Kaskaloff. ft The
prisoner was found in bed. The- was
a"short struggle and the man was over
powered, manacled and taken to head-
Quarters, all his effects being removed
to ; the chief's office. ; A pair of neatly
embroidered suspenders was found'
among the prisoner's •possessions,' Iden
tified by, one of the victims" daughters
as her dead father's property, and her
own handiwork. Search of the pollco '",
records-divulged the fact that ■'Kaska--
loff had been I arrested New Year eve
while In a drunken brawl In a Barbary
coast saloon with a young sailor name!
George Peters. Peters **called:at head
quarters and identified | Kaskaloff asl
the man .with-whom.he had fought in ;
the saloon. He told the chief 7 that'
Kaskaloff had purchased, an everting
paper and had insisted on Petn'i
reading all the developments in tfte
Walters case. The evidence now devel
oped rapidly. Bit by bit the crime was
brought home. ; The accomplice of Kas.
kaloft' had already met his Just retribu
tion. -Three of the refugees, Including
Kaskaloff; had taken a trip to San Jose
rind by way; of engaging variety had
held up a man. The ship carpenter,
Zevelovich, was to have accompanied,
the three musketeers on this expedi
tion, but backed out; at the last mo
ment. The three men contemplated a
series of robberies in that section. A
young grocery;clerk was held up. For
tunately; for, him,' he had a large Jack
knife in his hand and he stabbed one,
whereupon the men all ran away. The
grocery clerk, reported the holdup to;
the police and the next day the body of
a man : was found close. to the scene of
the assault. Beside the wound; in the
abdomen the; autopsy revealed that he:
had also, been stabbed through '• the
heart. Kaskaloff, believing his ' part
ner ;in the Walters murders was. , se
riously wounded and that he would be
compelled to leave , him iln the; lurch on
that account, and \ fearing that Sberba
lofT would fall into the hands "of the
police : and tell ; the story" of the mur
der, deliberately stabbed him to'the
heart, • realizing in; his . criminal cun
ning that dead, men tell no tales.
The body f was ; exhumed and, al
though .*■'; decomposition had set In,
enough was left of the features to con-:
vince the police and j the | ship | carpenter'
that the remains,were. those of Sberba
loff, one fof Walters',; murderers.
Another of the refugees who had ac
companied Kaskaloff up| state, 'but who
; had refused to j participate; in .the Wal
ters affair, confessed to Lees that when
Kaskaloff returned >to j the city he was
well dressed and wore a gold watch and
chain.,; He also told the chief ; that the
; prisoner, had confessed that he was im
plicated in a murder of an entire Rus
sian family and that that was the rea
son "of his Incarceration -In . a Russian
jail. ;. ' ;.. ..■;'.,'l '■ :- f \ : '.
The prisoner, the chief and I and the
entire posse,: every officer interested in
the r case, ;* moved * bag I and! ; baggage *; to
the; city where J the 5 murders • had, been
committed.; For. a . time the ! prisoner
feigned. .Insanity. The trial was
stopped and he was examined as to his
mental/ condition, the ; commissioners
declaringl him : sane. ,I,As ■ the - evidence
proceeded, pointing conclusively to the
defendant's, guilt, he took* the: witness
stand and ; admitted that "he was ; pres
ent at the commission of the crime, but
that Sberbaloff, his ;> companion,; found
the ax and thai it was;the latter who
did the fatal deed. ,
Lees presented the evidence from the
day he Started -to work upon the case
to j the . end." . Not a: link , in: the s long
chain was missing. It was presented* i**;
a fair, clean and faultless «manner j and
; the; jury 'hardly,;left; their seats before
; returning ; with the ; verdict!: of **" murder
In the .first degree. /The(chiefs!work
was rdone./ The prisoner .was sentenced
to death. //" " . •
;'/ "Chief," , said young, Kernan, head. of
the police department,: as *, we ! were | all!
packing i up,''preparatory, to our ;. return
to * San • Francisco, 1"I want to congratu
late! you; and \ thank f you ';, from i the t bot
tom of imy heart. 1 wish I could,serve
under.• you.; Is ,there " anything: in this
world ;I; can; do ;to 'show my everlast
ing gratitude to you?" "' *
.--."Yes, ; young 1 fellow,"; laughingly re
plied .the dear * old •; master, i his ;* eyes
twinkling > with humor, "we've ? Just got
two hours /before ■", the/train: leaves.
Billy and ; the rest of } the bunch are go
ing with me to have; some Welsh rab
bit. Won't.you join us?"

xml | txt