Friday, January 31, 2014

Crossing the Border

My mother sent me this photo of the opening of the  Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria on January 11, 1924. The bridge has recently been revamped and redone.
A reader of my blog, from Victoria, has informed me the bridge is being torn down and replaced. Many locals are unhappy with this decision.
Now I have a series of old photos taken from glass photo plates. 

Lakota Sioux Indian camp.
Chinese hose team.

When I left on Wednesday, the Vancouver Police were notified by the Bellingham police of a man in custody they might be interested in. Detective Sergeant Porteous made the trip south of the border to meet with the American investigators.

Chadwick Campbell, the prisoner in question, agreed to take a polygraph test. The test showed that Campbell lied when asked if he was present when Vaino Alto - the night watchman at Johnson's Storage - died.

Now Campbell was known to the police as not only being a braggart but also being talkative. Especially to someone who happened to shared a cell with him. On October 6 at 4:30 p.m., John McCluskey was booked into the Bellingham jail on a charge of robbery. McCluskey complained long and loud when he was placed in a cell with Campbell. The newcomer demanded a cell of his own, a request that was denied.

A deer hunting party near Deadwood in the winter of 1987 or 1988.
Deadwood Central Railway Surveryors

This is the interior of a Gold Stamp mill in Terraville, Dakota Territory on clean-up day.

The last trip of the Deadwood Stage.

Chadwick watched the exchange with interest and tried to talk to his new cell mate but McCluskey went to sleep instead. After a few hours of rest, the new prisoner woke and seemed much more interested in conversation.

Campbell offered the man a chocolate bar and then asked what he was in for. McCluskey stated he was a seaman from Scotland and the Bellingham Police arrested him as he jumped ship and tried to steal a car to drive to Vancouver. The owner of the car attempted to stop McCluskey so the would-be car thief, hit him thus making it a robbery charge.

Campbell told his cell mate that he was from Vancouver. He had been arrested in a stakeout by the Bellinghma Police. The police had found nitroglycerin and tools Campbell had hidden and waited for someone to pick them did. When Campbell did this, he was arrested.

The two then talked about the dangers of using nitro and progressed into talks about blowing safes. True to form, Campbell bragged about how many jobs he had pulled.

 Indian fighters from the US Army Infantry.
Village of Lakota Sioux Indians.
This is the only survivor of the 1876 Custer Massacre. A stallion named Comanche.
Old West stagecoach.

McCluskey was impressed and told Campbell he could make a lot of money blowing safes in Britain because safe-cracking wasn't common. Campbell said he might just do that since things were getting pretty hot in Vancouver after a watchman was killed during a safe-job. He explained that someone had tied up the watchman and blown the safe at Johnston's Storage. The men must have realized the man was dead or dying so they left.

Campbell said he was at another burglary that night but the police suspected him of the one at Johnston's.

Campbell and McCluskey talked a lot over the next few days and, on October 8, McCluskey was taken for an interview with Immigration officials. He returned to the cell and told Campbell he was being deported to Canada.

Chadwick asked John to contact a man named George Shaw and tell him to come to Bellingham and to bring a gun, crowbar and saw with him so that Shaw could break Campbell out of jail.

Captain Taylor and 70 Indian Scouts.

Cheyenne Indians

Miners panning for gold in the Dakota Territory.
Placer mining for gold.

The next day, as McCluskey was getting ready to leave, Campbell gave him a note for Shaw.  

On October 13, McCluskey was back in the Bellingham jail, looking like he had gotten the worst of a fight. Once again, he was put in the cell with Campbell. McCluskey told his cell mate he had gone to Vancouver and met with Shaw. He gave the man the message then offered to help with the jailbreak attempt. Shaw and Campbell had driven down that morning to do the job but when McCluskey stepped out of the car, he had been recognized by the police. A struggle ensued and although John had been arrested, Shaw had gotten away and was probably back in Vancouver.

Western Stagecoach.
"Hotel Minnekahta" Dakota Territory.

What a twisted tale that has now gone international! Monday I will tell you more of this true crime story as related in the book PoliceBeat, 24 Vancouver Murders by Joe Swan.

Thanks to my mother and her high school friend, Wes for the fantastic photos. They have sure held up well, wouldn't you say?

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hot On The Trail

This January 17, 1974 photo is of the CNR office at Ballantyne Pier. Photo from the City of Vancouver archives online.

Also from the City of Vancouver online archives, this is the MS Catalyst. The date of the photo is in question, either 1923 or 1948?
May 1946, loading grain at Ballantyne Pier.

And this is a 1922 photo of the Ballantyne Pier under construction.

The next few days the detectives and forensic scientists were busy analyzing the evidence found on the scene. The crowbar and sledgehammer were spoils of a burglary of a C.P. Railway shed in New Westminster a few days earlier. The photographs of the footprints were excellent quality and showed a size 10 shoe with rubber pleated soles and one of those soles had a strange round mark.

The detonators were traced to a hardware store in North Vancouver. The receipt was signed by a man using the name C.W. Martin. Unfortunately, this Martin was not known to the police and he wasn't listed in the telephone or city directories.

However, an unrelated investigation on September 8 was about to blow this case wide open! Detective Douglas Forrest discovered a bundle of clothing in a ditch. The bundle consisted of a pair of tan drill trousers, a suede jacket, a T-shirt and a pair of socks and shoes. He looked closer at the worn items and noticed a white powder on the shoes. Forrest had heard about the safe blowing so he took the bundle to headquarters, passing it on to Inspector Percy Easler of the Crime Laboratory.

 The City of Vancouver archives states this 1922 photo is of the Ballantyne Pier under construction.

Aerial view of the Ballantyne Pier in 1944.
April 1929 shot of Ballantyne Pier.
M.S. Yamaharu Maru at Ballantyne Pier June 12, 1958. Photo from the City of Vancouver.

Easler eagerly examined those shoes. There was a thumb-tack stuck in the sole of the right shoe. Could this have made the strange circular mark notice in the photographs? He made an impression of the shoe and compared it to the photograph. After realizing it matched in every detail, he notified Bill Porteous and together they examined the rest of the clothing.

The shoes though held more clues. There were paint spots on the shoes of two different colours and a rubber patch sewn onto the upper left side of the left shoe. This was a common practice among shingle roofers at that time. It was done to prevent undue wear on the shoe from the rough Duroid shingles.

Easler and Ted Fennell of the City Analyst's Laboratory found traces of shingle granules in the pockets of the trousers and jacket. So one of the men involved in the murder was shingle roofer.

Photo taken in 1944

February 20, 1923. Ballantyne Pier under construction.
April 15, 1925. Ballantyne Pier
This is Cheeseman's new garage at 898 Seymour. Photo taken on July 20, 1936.

A tailor estimated the size and weight of the man who had owned the clothing and a policeman was found who matched the build. The unknown police officer put on the clothes as well as the hat found at the scene of the crime and photos were taken of him.

The next step was a tedious one. The detectives checked every shingle and roofing company in the Vancouver area, showing the owners copies of the photographs and asked if they knew of anyone who wore such clothing.

It took a while but soon a roofer recognized the clothing and the first suspect was named as 26-year-old Lloyd Storey. The police checked that name in the police files and found someone of the same age with that name had a criminal record for burglary. Storey's car was being driven at the time by another known burglar, George Shaw.

Then the detectives were advised that another man, Chadwick Campbell, had been arrested just over the U.S. border, in Bellingham. He was charged on September 22 with being in possession of explosives. When searching Campbell's personal effects, a notebook containing a number of names was found, two were scratched out. The police scientists began working on the book and were able to raise the names. Lloyd Storey and George Shaw.
Major General Victor W. Odlum laying a wreath on the grave of Captain George Vancouver. May 10, 1941.
This is an actor promoting "Life with Father" outside the Strand Theatre. Photo taken between 1940 and 1948.
An 1898 photo of the courthouse at Cambie and Hastings Streets.
This is Lakewood Drive but I can't find any information on the photo.

Wow. The murder looks to be solved. But is it? Stay tuned for more on Friday.

The photos I got from the City of Vancouver archives and the information from the book PoliceBeat, 24 Vancouver Murders by Joe Swan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

This photo was taken five weeks after the great fire that wiped out the new city of Vancouver in 1886.
1919 photo of two men posing in a hollow tree.
The Hotel Georgia in the 1940s.
St. Paul's Hospital 1903.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Nitroglycerin goes BOOM!

Built in 1908, this home is located at 23 Renfrew Street - across from Hastings Park and the PNE grounds.

When I left off Friday, the police answered a anonymous tip concerning an injured watchman at Johnson's Storage. When they arrived, they found the body of murdered watchman, Vaino Alto. The story continues.

The room where Alto was found was long and narrow. It had a Taylor brand safe against one wall and the safe had been blown open by explosives. A thick layer of fire clay from the safe's fire walls covered the entire room. This was a case for detectives and crime scene experts so the officers carefully exited the room and radioed for their colleagues.

Detective Sergeant Bill Porteous and Detectives Armeneau and Hendy were assigned the case. These detectives arrived on scene with Inspector Percy Easler of the police Crime Laboratory and Constable Maloney and Mr. Black of the Scenes of Crime Unit.

The scene was photographed from every angle before the body was sent to the morgue. Then, the search for physical evidence began.

On top of the  nearby cigarette machine, an empty and a full bottle of nitroglycerin was found. So this is what blew the safe. The outer safe door hung on the bottom hinge and the inner door - which was left open by the staff and where the cash was kept - was jammed shut by the force of the explosion and the money was still there.

The safe attack had been bungled. But it was the work of professional safe-crackers. A small cup was made using Fels Naptha soap and placed over the left door-jamb. Several layers of half- inch Scotch tape sealed the door cracks to prevent the nitroglycerin from running out after it had been poured into the cup. Two 16-foot wires - covered with maroon coloured cotton - ran from the cup to a delayed action detonator. The ends led to the rear of a counter against the south wall and were set off by using a Ray-o-vac battery. Next to the safe, on the floor, were a 10lb sledgehammer with 'Provincial H.B.' marked on the handle and a 32-inch crowbar with a broken claw.

This house is at 2061 East 3rd. No building permit was found on but Vanmap lists it as dating back to 1913. The features of this home, the cut in porch, the great sleeping porch and the sharply pointed Victorian cottage gable, don't seem to fit that era. Of course, they may have been added at another time.
Two sets of footprints were visible in the powdered clay - remember the room was covered in this clay. The footsteps led from the safe to the door, across the yard to a high wire perimeter fence. By the fence, where the footprints ended, a lady's nylon stocking was found and inside the stocking were traces of short silver-grey hair similar to those found in the ivy-league cap I mentioned on Friday. The footprints were carefully measured and photographed.

All of this evidence was taken to the Crime Laboratory for further examination. No fingerprints were found and the faint smudges on the safe indicated the burglars were wearing cotton gloves.

The detectives and the scientists began to form a theory of what occurred. Two men had scaled the outer fence with possibly a third staying outside to hand over tools and keep watch. The two criminals went to the Drivers' Room and surprised the watchman.

They tied and gagged him before throwing Alto to the floor, banging his head as they did so. One of the men dropped his cap. 
The would be burglars prepared the safe for blowing but used too much nitroglycerin. The explosion not only jammed the safe door but also blew out many of the windows in the room. It is though that they were going to work on opening the inner door but noticed the watchman was choking. When they loosened the gag, they saw the man was in very poor shape so they panicked and left the scene in a hurry.

Hurriedly, they left the area and stopped to phone the police and report the watchman needed help.
The mystery deepens! Wednesday I will share more of this intriguing story from Policebeat, 24 Vancouver Murders by Joe Swan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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