Murderer Imports Four Mexicans to Support Alibi, But All in Vain!
The residence of Jose Rodriguez on April 20, 1923, was the question around which the attorneys argued during Rodriguez' trial last November.
On April 20, 1923, William White, a laborer, was stabbed during an altercation with an unknown man near the E. J. E. Railroad roundhouse in Gary, Indiana.
Only one person was eyewitness to the murder and, as it was already dark, he was not able to identify the criminal.
However, it was learned at the time that an employe of the Inland Steel Company left the works at that time without calling for his pay check. This man was sought as the missing murderer.
In the spring of 1924, Rodriguez was found and arrested for the crime. But he swore he had never worked for the Inland Steel Company, had never known the murdered man, had not, in fact, ever been in the United States before March 30th of that year.
True enough, Rodriguez' name had not been on the books of the Inland Steel Company, although several of his co-workers swore he was the man who had left his job so suddenly. But Rodriguez held to his story and, because of his alleged innocence, the trial was a long proceeding, indeed. Four Mexicans were brought from their native country to Crown Point, Indiana, to help in Rodriguez' defense. They swore that Rodriguez was hauling sugar cane on a mule pack in his own country at the time of the murder.
However, the brave stories of these four Mexicans were proved untrue when Thomas A. Platt of the Crown Point Bureau of Identification stepped into court and proved that Rodriguez had gone to work for the Inland Steel Company in 1921— just two years before the murder and three years before his alleged entrance into the United States.
The Inland Steel Company, like many big industrial plants, had already begun to take employes' finger prints in 1921, and Rodriguez, who had then been using a different name, had been fingerprinted. When comparing this old record with the print of Rodriguez, taken by himself at the county jail, Platt was able to make positive identification of the murderer.
After the finger-print evidence had been introduced, there was no more question as to the identity of the murderer. Rodriguez was given a life sentence in the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City.
1. "Finger Prints Solve Old Murder Mystery", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 8, February 1926, page 8.