Massive 37 manhunt ended daring bandits crime spree
Deputy killed; sheriff, store worker shot by Iron Man Shaw
|By DENNIS NARTKER
KENDALLVILLE Gunfire, a daring holdup and a heroic capture effort shook up Main Street in 1937.
The bandit shot and wounded a local store employee, then shot and killed a LaGrange County deputy sheriff and wounded Noble County Sheriff Irvin Cazier before being shot and seriously wounded by police in LaGrange County.
The incident was front page headlines in the local, area and state newspapers and was featured in two national detective magazines.
On Dec. 2, 1937, Robert Shaw, 27, an itinerant farm hand from LaGrange County, robbed the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) grocery store at 118 S. Main St. of $69 in cash.
According to the Dec. 3, 1937, News-Sun, Shaw entered the store, placed a scarf over his face and pulled a .22 caliber automatic handgun from his coat.
He ordered 18-year-old store clerk Robert Trowbridge to open the cash drawer.
Trowbridge initially refused, but when the bandit threatened to shoot him, Trowbridge complied.
Earl Eulitt, 23, a store employee, grabbed a 4-pound weight used on the food scales and threw it at Shaw, striking him in the head.
Shaw was temporarily dazed, but exited the store.
Eulitt followed him outside and they grappled on the sidewalk in front of the store.
Shaw shot Eulitt in the stomach.
Jack Watts, manager of the nearby Kacks Quality Market, and Doyle Hulitt, a customer in the A&P, ran after Shaw. Watts threw a bottle at him at the corner of Main and William streets.
Edythe (Franze) Nartker of Kendallville remembers her father telling her how he was downtown and witnessed the ruckus.
I remember him telling me he hid behind a tree, she said.
Marjorie Haskins of Kendallville, whose late husband, Richard Haskins, worked at the A&P, also recalls seeing the commotion.
I remember walking uptown and seeing the ambulance stop in front of the store with a lot of people there, she said.
Shaw turned west and ran down William Street, then ran down an alley behind A&P.
Other witnesses interviewed by The News-Sun and police included: Orrin Campbell, an A&P customer, Herbert Dickinson, Paul Brown, C.E. Baker, Mrs. Dan Welch, who watched the incident from a car parked in front of the store, Fred McWhinney Jr. and George Kaiser, proprietor of the nearby Kaisers Grocery, who told police he thought the two men grappling on the sidewalk was a joke.
Eulitt was hospitalized, but recovered.
Shaw paid a motorist $1 to drive him to the Walter Devenbaugh farm, about 1 1/2 miles east and a mile north of LaGrange. He had worked there for a month during the summer.
The motorist notified police after he had heard a description of the bandit on the radio.
Police surrounded the farm house.
Walter Devenbaugh was working in a cornfield and his wife had just started for the field as police arrived.
HOLDUP DRAMA Gunfire and a chase excited people in Kendallvilles downtown business district on Dec. 3, 1937 when a man robbed the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Store (A&P) at 118 S. Main St. and shot an employee who grappled with him on the sidewalk. A crowd is shown here gathered outside the A & P after Earl Eulitt, shown left, was shot attempting to capture the robber. (Photo from the Jan. 15, 1938, issue of Official Detective Stories magazine)
MAIN STREET LUNCH CAR Fulks Lunch Car in the 1920s in Kendallvilles Main Street business district was located where the vacant Jade Buddha Restaurant is now located in the 100 block of North Main Street. (Photo contributed by Russell Frehse)
|When LaGrange County deputy sheriff
Henry Spice opened the rear door of the home, Shaw shot
and killed him. Shaw fired again through the door,
wounding Noble County Sheriff Irvin Cazier. Shaw then ran
from the house into the woods.
A general alert went out on police radio throughout Indiana and Michigan, and officers converged on LaGrange County for the manhunt.
Throughout the night all highways were patrolled by armed posses and state police, reported The News-Sun on Dec. 5, 1937. Cars were stopped at roadblocks.
Two Michigan State Police riding the sideboard on a police car spotted Shaw running in a cornfield about one-half mile south of Ontario in LaGrange County.
Jim Williams and Claude Boszor, two Kendallville firefighters, and the only two civilians taking part in the all-night manhunt, were on foot in the area and saw police close in on Shaw.
As Shaw fired at them, the Michigan police shot Shaw in the wrist with a high-powered rifle and in the head with a shotgun.
Williams and Boszor saw him fall.
Shaw was hospitalized, but recovered and confessed to the crimes, including several service station robberies.
The December 1939 issue of Daring Detective magazine, in describing the crime spree, called Shaw Iron Man.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Donald F. Stiver congratulated police, and Williams and Boszor, for their efforts in capturing Shaw.
SNOW CLOSES KENDALLVILLE In late January 1978 a major blizzard with more than a foot of snowfall paralyzed Main Street, as well as the rest of the city. Schools were called off for a whole week. This view is looking southwest. (News-Sun staff photo)
SNOWBANK Kendallville has suffered some heavy snowfalls over the years. This Feb. 28, 1908 photo of Kendallvilles downtown business district shows the snow piles created at the edge of the street from clearing the street and sidewalk. Photo was taken in the 200 block of South Main Street on the east side looking southwest. (Photo contributed by Russell Frehse).
CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT Kendallvilles Fire Department in the early 1900s poses outside the City Hall fire house. (Photo contributed by Irene Schenher)