Tales from the Morgue: The not-so-great, attempted train robbery, Part 6

2013-12-01T09:00:00Z 2014-04-24T16:30:05Z Tales from the Morgue: The not-so-great, attempted train robbery, Part 6Johanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 01, 2013 9:00 am  • 

Accused train robber Jirou was given a preliminary examination in court and bound over for trial.

Almost two weeks after the robbery, witnesses were asked if Jirou's voice matched that of any of the bandits. It would appear that Jirou's voice betrayed him.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Sunday, May 28, 1922:

 

Jirou Bound Over on Charge of Holding Up Limited Train
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WITNESSES DECLARE PRISONER'S VOICE LIKE THAT OF A BANDIT
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Starr Will Be Given Hearing Before Pease Monday
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Following the examination of nine witnesses, F. W. Jirou of Tucson, who is charged in a complaint sworn to by Sheriff Ben F. Daniels with having committed a felony by holding up a train, was bound over to superior court yesterday by Justice of the Peace O. L. Pease. Jirou's bond was fixed at $2,000.

K. Berry Peterson acted as counsel for the defendant at the preliminary examination.

The hearing of Richard R. Starr, which was also scheduled for yesterday afternoon in Justice Pease's court, was postponed until tomorrow afternoon. Starr is charged in a complaint sworn to by Sheriff Daniels with having been an accessory after the fact. It is alleged he harbored the bandits.

Particular efforts were made by Assistant Prosecutor Ben B. Mathews toward eliciting from witnesses the testimony that Jirou's voice was similar to that of one of the members of the bandit gang which held up the Golden State limited train near Jaynes station on the morning of May 15.

Recognizes Voice

J. A. Ingham, fireman of the engine which was drawing the limited train when held up, testified that he had heard the defendant's voice since the holdup and declared that it was somewhat similar to that of one of the members of the bandit gang. However, he said he could not be positive that it was the same.

Charles R. Bailey of Covington, Ky., who was riding "blind baggage" when the train was held up, also declared that the voice of the defendant was similar to that of one of the members of the holdup party. He testified that he had heard Jirou's voice since the holdup.

Deputy Prosecutor Mathews introduced a large black mask into the evidence as an exhibit in the case. Sheriff Daniels, while on the stand, testified that the mask was pulled from the face of T. O. Dugat, member of the bandit gang, who was slain by Express Messenger Stewart.

Seven loaded shells were introduced by the state as an exhibit. Sheriff Daniels testified on the stand that these shells were turned over to him by Mrs. Smith, who had been residing with the Jirou family. The sheriff said he saw Mrs. Smith take the shells from a workbasket in the Jirou home. Several of these shells were of .41 caliber. The gun found on Dugat's body was a .41-caliber weapon.

George L. Reid, engineer, who was in charge of the engine drawing the limited train when the holdup occurred, testified that he brought his train to a halt a short distance west of Jaynes station after he had passed over three torpedoes. Two of these, he said, were close together, while the third was about a quarter of a mile farther west then the first two.

Explains Signals

The engineer explained that in the rules of railroading the first two torpedoes were a signal to slow down, and that the third was a signal to come to a full stop.

The witness declared that no sooner had he stopped than a man wearing a mask came from the side of the right of way and climbing up the steps of the engine cab ordered him to put up his hands. He testified that the masked man giving the order brandished a revolver, and that he did as ordered. Another masked man, said the witness, came up from the left side of the engine and covered the fireman with a revolver.

On direct examination the witness said that the man who talked to the fireman appeared to be the spokesman for the bandits, remarked something about going to hold up the train, and ordered the fireman to get down out of the cab, to which order Ingham complied.

In the meantime, said the engineer, the bandits had found Charles R. Bailey, who was beating his way on the train, and he was brought up to the point where the engine crew was standing.

The spokesman for the bandits ordered the engineer to pull the mail and combination baggage and express car away from the rest of the train, according to the witness, and Bailey was ordered to cut the train in two.

The engineer declared that he had some difficulty in performing the task, and that the bandits appeared to grow impatient. After several attempts the engineer declared that he succeeded.

Covered With Guns

After the engine had drawn the mail car and combination baggage and express car a short distance down the track away from the rest of the train, the engineer, the fireman and Bailey were covered by guns of their two bandits guards and led into a field.

The engineer declared that a short time later they were taken back to the engine, and that he heard a man groaning on the left side of the track. On passing the spot where he saw the man laying, the engineer said he saw a gun on the ground near the man's body.

On cross examination the engineer declared that in all he saw five bandits. However, he declared that he could not say as to whether or not the defendant was a member of the bandit gang.

J. A. Ingham, fireman on the engine of the train that was held up, testified that after striking three torpedoes, the first two of which were about a quarter of a mile east of the third, their train came to a halt about one and a quarter miles west of Jaynes station.

The witness testified that after the train had stopped he stepped to the window at the left side of the engine to learn the cause of the signals to stop, and was confronted by a masked man climbing up the steps into the cab.

The fireman testified that the bandit brandished a revolver and gave the terse order: "Hold up your hands! I'm staging a hold-up!" After complying with the order, the witness testified that he was ordered to get down out of the cab.

The engineer was then ordered by the spokesman for the bandits to pull the mail car and the combination baggage and express car away from the train. After the engineer had made several attempts to move the cars, the bandits appeared to grow nervous and asked the fireman if the engineer was doing his part. Finally the engineer pulled the cars about five or six car lengths from the rest of the train.

The spokesman for the bandits then ordered the fireman and engineer to walk to the combination baggage and express car and order Express Messenger Harry Stewart to come out of the express compartment. But the express messenger refused to comply with the order.

After the bandits had cried out several threats against the express messenger, the fireman testified that he and the engineer and Bailey were led into a field.

Saw Slain Man

Ingham testified that he pleaded with his bandit guards to allow him to go to the engine so that he might look after the water and fuel. This request was finally granted, said the witness, but when he reached the engine he found that the fire had been put out by a tank valve. The fireman testified that he believed that a man with experience as a fireman had put out the fire.

The fireman testified that he saw the body of a man lying on the highway side of the track.

The witness testified that in all he saw about six men, and that all of them wore black masks. He identified the mask, which was introduced as an exhibit of the state, as similar to the ones worn by members of the bandit party.

The fireman testified that he did not see a crippled man in the bandit group.

The witness declared that Jirou's voice was somewhat similar to that of one of the members of the bandit gang. He said he saw gloves on the hands of T. O. Dugat.

After the bandits had disappeared, the witness declared that he heard an automobile start up. He assumed that it was larger than a Ford because of the fact that he heard the shifting of gears.

Charles R. Bailey, of Covington, Ky., the next witness called to the stand, testified that he rode "blind" baggage out of Tucson on the night of May 14 on the Golden State limited and that after (the train was) out of Tucson a short distance he heard three blasts.

He testified that at first he thought that these explosions were shots fired by marines guarding the mails. He testified that the train stopped and that he thought this was done for the purpose of allowing the marines and train crew to put off some "bums."

Ordered to Cut Train

Bailey said that the bandits asked him if he could cut the train in two, and that he replied that he would try to do it.

The witness declared that he started to perform this task, but that when he arrived at the point where the train was to be cut, a bandit confronted him with pointed revolver and fired three times.

Bailey testified that he then crawled the length of the train and that when he got to the last car he started running with hands held high in the air. He said that he passed a freight train and that later the sheriff officials came up.

He identified the mask placed in exhibit as similar to the ones worn by the bandit gang, but said they did not have an opening cut for the mouth.

The witness testified that Jirou's voice was similar to one of the members of the bandit gang.

He testified that the man found dead by the train wore glasses.

J. T. Kendall, the next witness called to the stand, testified that he knew the Jirou family. He testified that he had heard the defendant say that he was expecting some money.

On cross examination the witness denied having had trouble with Jirou.

Left Home Early

Mrs. Minnie Smith, who on the night the robbery was perpetrated, lived with the Jirou family, testified that on the night of May 14, Jirou went to bed about 8 p. m., but that he did not remain in his room long. she said that he left the house at 9:30 p. m. that night. She said he had a conversation with George Winkler over the telephone. She said that he returned home before the chickens started crowing on the morning of May 15.

The witness declared that on the following day she heard a whispered conversation between Jirou and his wife in course of which Jirou said: "I wonder of she will tell."

The witness said that the Jirou family moved on East Speedway about May 7. Mrs. Smith said that she had heard Jirou mention that he had expected money from Texas.

Sheriff Ben F. Daniels when called to the stand, testified that he was notified early in the morning by deputies of the hold-up, and testified that the black mask submitted as a state exhibit was taken from the face of T. O. Dugat.

Obtained Cartridges

He also testified that Mrs. Smith had given him seven cartridges when he visited the Jirou home after the hold-up. He said that she took these shells from a work basket in the Jirou home. Three of these shells were .41 calibre cartridges, he said. The sheriff declared that the gun found near the body of Dugat was a .41 calibre weapon.

The sheriff also testified regarding the attempts to tracve the car believed to have been used by the bandits in making their getaway from the scene of the hold-up.

At this point at request of the defense attorney, Mrs. Smith was recalled to the stand. She testified that she had given Sheriff Daniels four cartridges. It might have been more, she said, but she believed that was the number.

The objection of Attorney Peterson that the shells not be introduced into the evidence was denied by Justice Pease. Mrs. C. R. Butler testified regarding a phone call for George Winkler.

Deputy Sheriff J. L. Tremaine testified that Jirou claimed to have been home on the night of May 14, during a conversation the officer had with the defendant following the hold-up.

Mrs. Helen C. Alexander, who resides near the Jirou place, was the last witness called to the stand.

The Morgue Lady believes she sees some inconsistencies between the fireman's testimony and that of Mr. Bailey.

Next: Jirou turns state's evidence. Someone has some explaining to do.

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About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com