Tales from the Morgue: The rest of the 'Bad cops' story

2013-08-22T09:45:00Z Tales from the Morgue: The rest of the 'Bad cops' storyJohanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 22, 2013 9:45 am  • 

Police officers were suspected of grand larceny in the theft of news trunks. It was suspected that they might have been used to transport whiskey. Finding the trunks would definitely help the case.

The trunks were found, but they weren't as helpful as the police hoped.

The Morgue Lady notes that she has kept some misspellings that occurred in the original articles. She also notes that the spelling of  Lauthen's name has changed from the first stories. It is reproduced here as it appeared in each article.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, Dec. 14, 1918:

ASHES OF NEWS TRUNKS FOUND; ARAIGN COPS
_____

Officers investigating the alleged theft of news trunks from the Van Noys News Company, yesterday found the ashes of the three trunks off Broadway Boulevard, about two miles east of the country club. The metal portions of the trunks, easily identifiable, were all that remained of the wooden containers used by news butchers to hold their stocks of fruits, candy, periodicals, etc.

What became of the contents of the trunks has not been discovered. While officers are working on the theory that they contained whiskey, being used to import liquor into this state, the complaint against Policeman O. C. Simpson and W. D. Lauthien charges them with the larceny of three news trunks and their contents, described as fruit, candy, etc., valued at one hundred dollars. At present there is nothing to prove that the trunks contained whiskey except the secrecy and stealth that was used in their disposition.

Ex-Officers Arraigned.

The discover of the ashes of the trunks and the arraignment of the two former officers were the new developments in the police scandal yesterday. There were no other arrests, the identity of John Doe, the "United States officer" remaining unknown.

Former Policemen Louthien and Simpson were arraigned before Justice Oscar Pease yesterday afternoon shortly before five o'clock. The defendants are represented by T. K. Richey. He demanded a preliminary hearing and the fixing of bond for the defendants.

By agreement the preliminary hearing was set for December 23 at 10 o'clock in the morning, and bond was fixed at $1,000 each.

The complaints against Simpson and Louthien were signed by Chief of Police Frank T. Bailey.

Meanwhile, an arrest warrant was issued for former police officer S.V. Ford, but he was nowhere to be found.

From the Star Sunday, Dec. 15, 1918:

Ex-Policeman S. V. Ford, Wanted for Complicity In Theft, Evades Search
_____

After Twenty-Four Hour Combing of City, Officers Admit Ex-Officer Probably Escaped
_____

After a 24-hour search for S. V. Ford, formerly a member of the city police force, officers admitted yesterday afternoon that the search for the former policeman, wanted in connection with the alleged theft of three news trunks from the Van Noys News company, had been without result and that he had probably succeeded in leaving the city.

S. V. Ford was last seen by an officer Friday shortly before noon. At that time no warrant had been issued for his arrest. The part of the city where he was last seen was scoured by officers Friday afternoon and evening and all outgoing trains were searched, but without result.

S. V. Ford is the third member of the police force for whom a warrant was issued in connection with the alleged theft of three news trunks from the Van Noys News company's office at the Southern Pacific station. The other two, O. C. Simpson and W. D. Lauthien, have been arraigned and their preliminary hearing set for December 23.

Sheriff Rye Miles has returned to the city and will give Chief of Police Bailey his personal assistance in the further investigation of the alleged theft.

No trace of the whisky believed to have (been) contained in the trunks has been found, and officers express the belief that it has been delivered to bootleggers.

The identity of the unnamed "United States officer" who figures in Louthien's story of the affair at the station, has not been cleared up, but officers are confident that the whole personnel of the alleged "whisky ring" will be revealed before the investigation is completed.

Searches of the Star revealed news of the Dec. 23 hearing, but the case appears to have faded from public view after that.

In any case, it appeared charges would be reduced.

From the Star, Dec. 24, 1918:

Evidence AGainst Patrolmen Heard; Conclusion Today
_____

Alfred Jiminez, a transfer man, testified yesterday in the court of Justice Pease that he had hauled trunks since alleged to have belonged to the Van Noys News company and to have been stolen from the E. P. & S. W. depot. The trunks were brought to his truck from the depot, he swore, by Patrolman O. C. Simpson and W. D. Louthian, a former policeman, and were taken to Louthian's home, where Simpson also lived. Jiminez testified that the next night he hauled the same trunks from the home of Patrolman C. V. Ford to a point near the Country club, where they were burned.

Recess was taken in the case until 1:30 this afternoon. It is now contended that the most that can be made of the charges against the men involved is petty larceny. Simpson is now alleged to be a convict on parole since March of last year from a penitentiary. In that event his conviction here on any count will send him back to prison. Louthian now has an additional complaint to answer, A. Mangham being alleged to have been offered four cases of whiskey by him at a price.

One can't help but wonder how a convict from a penitentiary could get a job as a police officer anywhere in this country. Perhaps the Morgue Lady is spoiled by the speed of computer background checks.

If more information is found, another chapter will be added to this story.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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

Most Popular

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...