Finger Prints Get Pool Room Robber, 1928

Inspector Leo McCormack of East Chicago, Ind., convinced himself and robber John Tewell that finger prints DON'T LIE!

Inspector McCormack says : "I was called into the office of the chief of police, Mr. James W. Regan, on the morning of January 17, 1928. When I entered the office Chief Regan handed me a finger print and said he had just received it in his morning's mail. He asked me if I thought I could do anything with it, and I responded that I would use every effort to bring the robber to justice.

Image of John Tewell

"The card he handed me was sent by the state's attorney of Lawrenceville, Ill. In his letter to our chief he stated that the pool room of Harry Glover of Lawrenceville had been robbed of a sum of money and that he suspected a man by the name of John Tewell. The states attorney said that Tewell was known to be somewhere in East Chicago and that the enclosed finger prints were taken off the money drawer of the safe in the pool room by a local finger print man in Lawrenceville. He wanted to know if we could locate Tewell and have him finger printed, and if we did locate him and the finger prints corresponded to the finger prints enclosed, would we notify him at once.

"That day there were several suspects and strangers brought in and I had all of them finger printed, but none of them had finger prints corresponding to the print that had been sent. The following morning, however, a man was brought to me for printing, and after I had taken his prints I started to check up on them. I soon found that the little finger on the left hand of Tewell was identical to the one sent to my chief.

"I asked Tewell to sit down and told him that I wanted to talk to him. When he took his seat, directly in front of me, I looked him straight in the eye; he lowered his head; he started to twist his fingers and he flushed in the face, and then I knew that I had him. I said, 'John, how much money did you take from the money drawer that was in the safe of Harry Glover's pool room ?'

"At that question he almost fainted, and after a brief silence he looked up and said, 'Are you the chief of police?' I told him that I was not, and he immediately said that if he were to talk he wanted to talk to the chief of police and no one else. I agreed to let him do this.

"I took him to the chief's office and left him outside while I went in to tell the chief that his finger prints were identical to the ones that we had been sent, and that Tewell would not talk to me but wanted to talk to him. Then Tewell went in and told the chief that it was he who robbed the pool room and that he was willing to return to his own state without extradition papers.

"The state's attorney of Lawrenceville wrote me a letter and expressed his appreciation. He said, in part, that if such co-operation were extended in the same manner by all police departments that had been extended to him by the East Chicago police, that the crime problem would be soon solved."

1. "Finger Prints Get Pool Room Robber", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 11, May 1928, page 3.

Are you looking for TEWELL ancestors? If so, we suggest posting a query to our Community Message Board to get assistance from other researchers.

This wiki article is locked. If you have additional information (or a correction) that you would like to share, please send us a note.

<< Archived Materials

What's New in Genealogy ... Today!
click to view original photo