MILLTOWN, March 23. – About might months ago the people of this Community were all stirred up over the continued attempts at robbery by a band of slick men, but hardly considered professionals. Now it leaks out again that a crew has been making preliminary plans for a “good haul” in Milltown. This story did not leak out until Saturday, after it was discovered that a crew of four navy deserters had been discharged from the Michelin Tire factory of this place for bad conduct.
The four men in question have seen prolonging their stay in Milltown now for about five weeks, and going under the name of “navy men from Atlanta, Ga.” The four men gave a hard luck story when they endeavored to secure work at the local plant, and the superintendent employed them because he needed help at the time. Everything in connection with their work went off very smoothly until last week, when was necessary to discharge them or their disturbance.
At the quarters where they were staying they had rung up a two weeks’ bill, and two of the men skipped before the proprietor could realize what had happened, but he went to the Michelin company and forced the other two men to square up before they left the grounds.
Now comes the report that these men were suspicion as likely thieves, as three places reported men attempting to enter the homes during the past week. It may be that the people are only excited over the matter, but they waited too long for their confession. However, is a known fact that they tried to borrow some tools from a local party, claiming they wanted to go South River and steal a suit of clothes, as they were “dead broke.”
A head-on collision was the fate of John Falk, driving one of his cars home from Princeton on Saturday night, where he had been on a business trip.
The accident happened at about 8 o’clock, on the road between Cranbury and Dayton, and was the result of a big army truck bound for Princeton crashing head-on into his machine.
Mr. Falk was driving the car at the time, and Mr. Elbe, his partner, was in the front with him when they endeavored to pass the big truck. They successfully passed the first one, and least expected an- other so close behind, but following was another truck being towed home by the first one. Both the army machines were without lights, and the second was partly in the middle of the road, and as a result when Mr. Falk passed the first, the second was so close and farther out that it crashed right into his ear and did considerable damage. Both army trucks were without lights, and the lieutenant took Mr. Falk and Mr. Elbe back to Princeton, where they signed a paper in order to receive the expenses for the dam- aged car, as the lieutenant admit- ted they were at fault, and gave as the reason for no lights that they expected to reach Princeton before dark.
Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
The Chamber of Commerce will get back on the job again on Wednesday night, and a live meeting is expected to ensue. The Commerce men are elated over the possibility of their annexation project going through, because it seems now that everyone concerned in the annexation of this ground is perfectly satisfied, and when it comes up before the voters in April it is expected to pass easily.
The Commerce board will start out anew now, and endeavor to push over a few more such improvement ideas, and as they have a number of New ideas on the table, it is desired that a full attendance be had on Wednesday. The meeting will be held in Red Men’s Hall, and open to all whether members or not.
The young child of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Christ was christened on Sunday afternoon by Rev. L. S. Hammond, pastor of the Methodist Church. Frank Becza has purchased an Oakland touring car from Milltown’s new repair shop agency, Messrs. Falk & Elbe.
Prayer and praise service will be. held this evening at the Methodist Church.
Frank Becza has purchased an Oakland touring car from Milltown’s new repair shop agency, Messrs. Falk & Elbe.
Mrs. Edward Brown is a recent acquisition to the choir of the Methodist Church. Mrs. Brown, formerly Miss Florence Hardy of New Brunswick, was a former member of Pitman Church choir.
N.Y. POLICE WILL LET MILLTOWN BANK ROBBERS COME HERE
Local Charges to Come First in Long Series Made Against Chaffee and Bitzberger – May Wait Return of Judge Daly.
Local authorities have been promised by the New York police, it was learned today, that unless a more serious crime than robbery is fastened on Jerome Chaffee and Harry Bitzberger, arrested in New York on Tuesday through the work of County Detective Ferd David of Middlesex, the men will be sent back here and will not be held for the many crimes charged against them there. Detective David said today that it was his belief, that Chaffee’s story that the Milltown robbery was his first “job” is the truth but that Bitzberger appears to have a bad record.
According to Chaffee’s story, which has been partially verified by Detective David, he came to New York in 1916 on his release from Fort Leavenworth military prison and endeavored to straight. He ran a pastry shop for a time and later became a chauffeur and held a responsible position. He was married early in 1919 and told his wife of his bad military record but promised to go straight.
A short time ago, however, he met Bitzberger, who had been a fellow convict at Leavenworth, and got him a room in the same house, not knowing what he was doing. It is believed that Bitszberger operated alone for a while and got Chaffee in only in time for the Milltown robbery.
To Be Held Tomorrow.
At yesterday’s arraignment of the men, the local detectives were unable to produce exemplified copies of the warrants, but they will have them ready tomorrow and the prisoners will then be committed for thirty days pending extradition.
As Judge Daly will not return until January 7 there will probably be no attempt to bring the men back before that time, but they will likely be indicted by the Grand Jury on that date and then brought back as soon as the extradition proceedings can be arranged.
Wanted In Westchester.
Police officials in Westchester County reported yesterday that Chaffee and Bitzberger were believed to be members of a band which has looted many homes in that county. Soon after Voorhees and Watson were arrested the fingerprint expert of White Plains said that the men’s finger marks revealed their connection with robberies there.
The police of New Rochelle were seeking Voorhees and Watson for burglaries there as a result of a confession by Arthur B. Clayton, recently sent to Sing Sing, who implicated them.
Fingerprints on a safe in Pelham Manor, robbed of Liberty bonds and jewelry valued at $5,000, were believed to be those of Chaffee and Bitzberger, it was said.
The men also are alleged to have participated in the robbery of $7,000 worth of clothing from the store of Charles Wellers at Peekskill and of $5,000 worth of liquors from the country home of Harold Stearns at Tarrytown. Several other suburban robberies are attributed to them.
Inspector Coughlin received word from Pittsburgh last night that Bitzberger’s real name was Lloyd Henry Bitzburger, and that he was the son of John P. Bitzburger, a wealthy plumber of Lancaster. Bitzberger appeared in Lancaster last October and soon afterward a bakery was robbed and $3,000 in Liberty bonds taken from a safe. On Nov. 11 Bitzberger was married at Harrisburg, and five days later the First National Bank at Landisville, six miles from Lancaster, was entered and between $100,000 and $150,000 in negotiable securities taken. Bitzberger disappeared on the day of the robbery.
It is believed that Bitzberger was not connected with the big Sleepy Hollow robbery, as he did not meet Voorhees and Watson until after that time, but he is thought to have operated with them in later Westchester robberies.
It was learned today that the automobile used by the gang in the Milltown robbery was purchased by Chaffee with money furnished Bitzberger by Voorhees and Watson.
ARRAIGN ACCOMPLICES IN MILLTOWN BANK ROBBERY; TWO ADMIT PART IN CRIME
Chaffee and Bitzberger, Caught in New York, Confess Aiding Voorhees and Watson in Robbery- $13,000 of $27,000 Loot is Recovered-Men May Return Voluntarily.
Jerome B. Chaffee and Harry Bitzberger of New York, self-confessed accomplices of “Sailor” Voorhees and Walter Watson in the robbery of the First National Bank at Milltown, were arraigned this morning in the Fourth Branch Court in New York City and held pending extradition to this State. It is expected that they will not fight their return to New Jersey.
Bitzberger and Chaffee were held by Magistrate McQuade for 48 hours without bail pending extradition, on a charge of robbery. Prosecutor Stricker will immediately; take steps to extradite the men within the 48-hour limit. It will be necessary to prove that they were in this State at the time the robbery occurred.
Securities valued at $10,000 stolen from the Milltown bank were recovered this morning. in addition to $2,700 previously secured. The total amount stolen from the bank was $27,000, according to the police, although officials of the institution have repeatedly declared the loss had been insignificant. Bank officials said this morning they “did not care to give out any figures,” although in some quarters it is stated the bank’s loss ran as high as $80,000. Only about $16, 000 worth of the stolen securities were negotiable, according to the police. Chester J. Levine, who was driving the automobile in which Chaffee and Bitzberger were arrested, was held in $15,000 ball on a charge of disposing of the securitles.
The capture of the men in New York City late yesterday afternoon, after a battle in the street with New York detectives, revealed the fact that Chaffee and Bitzberger remained hidden in the Milltown bank building all the time that the posse of citizens was chasing and capturing Watson and Voorhees, and that after the latter had been taken away the other two men calmly walked out unmolested, no-body having thought to look to the bank building.
Detective Fred David of Prosecutor Stricker’s staff, who traced the men to their New York addresses and who furnished the New York police with the clue that resulted in the arrest of the men yesterday, said this morning that he expected to have the men back here within three or four days, and that in all probability their cases will be dis- posed of as quickly as were those of Voorhees and Watson.
Both prisoners, he said, are dishonorably discharged regular army soldiers, who have served terms at Fort Leavenworth military prison. The men did not serve during the war, he said
Ready to Go West.
Chaffee and Bitzberger, with their wives, were on the point of leaving New York for Pittsburg when they were captured yesterday afternoon. Information had been obtained by Detective’ David that they intended to leave last night, but the men started ahead of schedule, and it was in ‘their attempt at a getaway that they were recognized by a New York detective and arrested.
Bitzberger had been trailed by Detective David to a rooming house at 235 West 73rd Street, New York. There his trail had been lost, but his wife still retained a room in the house and the place has been watched ever since the robbery, with the help of New York detectives and Pinkerton men.
Yesterday afternoon the detectives saw a taxicab drive up to the door with Chaffee, his wife, and Bitzberger. The women entered the house and returned a few hours later carrying two heavy cases, and entered their machine with the suitcases. The car drove with the women, Chaffee walking behind.
Detectives John Lawless and Conrad Manning followed Chaffee. to the corner of Broadway and 2nd street, where the taxi had pulled up, and there they got in touch with several other detectives who were in the vicinity. Chaffee spoke to the women and then walked into a cigar store on the corner and entered a telephone booth. One of the detectives went nto the next booth and heard him Arranging to borrow $100.
A few minutes later a touring car driven by Levine, with Bitzberger a passenger, drove up to the Broadway curb. Chaffee signaled the other man and got into the car. At this point, the detectives jumped on the running board. Bitzberger struck out but was beaten with a blackjack and Chaffee, who went to his assistance, also was roughly handled.
Other detectives boarded the taxi containing the women. The latter screamed and attempted to jump from the car, but a drawn revolver cowed them. The arrest was made. in full sight of hundreds of people. passing along Broadway. The prisoners were then driven to the 28th Precinct police station on West 68th street, and later to Police Headquarters.
Admit Robbery Here.
Detective David was immediately notified, and he hurried to New York. On his arrival there the prisoners were subjected to a thorough grilling, and finally admitted their share in the Milltown robbery. It was suspected that the men might be the bandits who shot and killed Edwin Andrews, a New York Jeweler, in a bold daylight holdup in his store on December 16, but employees who were brought in were unable- to identify them.
The women denied all knowledge of the robbery, and Levine was then put on the stand. He admitted that Bitzberger had asked him to dispose of some bonds, but claimed that he had refused to have anything to do with the matter. Later, however, he admitted that he had taken a package of bonds. said to be worth $10,000 and had given them to a friend to dispose of. He claimed he did not know this man’s name, but his identity was learned by the police
They left New York at 8 o’clock on the night of the robbery, he said, and drove to New Brunswick, reaching the Pennsylvania depot Just before 10. Bitzberger and Voorhees, he said, went up on the westbound platform, where they broke into a railroad tool box and stole a bar, a chisel and a hacksaw. He said that Bitzberger had a set of boring tools and a can of nitroglycerine or “soup” for blowing up the safe.
The party then went to Milltown, he said, where they entered the bank. Chaffee said that he remained outside, but finally the men came back and persuaded him to go and help them, and he and Bitzberger rifled the safe deposit boxes and handed out the, securities to Voorhees and Watson, who were waiting outside.
Explosive May Be Loose.
They were surprised while at work, he declared, and be heard. scrambling and shooting. He and Bitzberger simply remained inside the bank until the coast had cleared and then they slipped out. Chaffee said that they got lost and wandered all night, finally landing at Jamesburg, where they took an early morning train to New York. On leaving the bank, he said, they stumbled into the pond in the rear and got wet up to their waists.
He declared that he knew nothing about the whereabouts of the bonds, as Bitzberger had taken. charge of them.
The latter was then brought in. At first, he denied any implication in the robbery, but when he was confronted by Chaffee he broke down and confessed. At first, he denied that anything had been stolen, but when was shown the bonds which had been recovered he claimed that these were all that had been taken. Later he was prevailed upon to admit the theft of $27.000 worth.
Chaffee said he was willing to waive extradition. He said he was. 31 years old and was born in Springfield, Mo. His father was a well-to-do mining engineer, he said, but Chaffee ran away from home at an early age and drifted to San Francisco, where he enlisted in the regular army in 1910. He was sent to the Philippines, he said, and while there he struck an officer, for which he was sentenced to five years at Fort Leavenworth. He got out in 1916 and had been in New York ever since.
Bitzberger said he is the son of a Lancaster, Pa., junk dealer. He is 29 years old. He enlisted in the army at Washington, D. C., in 1910 and while in the service he shot at an officer in an attempt to kill him and was also given five years at Fort Leavenworth. He was released about a year ago, he said. He claimed to be a bond salesman employed by H. B. Green & Co. of Lancaster, Pa.
Trailed by Local Man.
The capture of the men resulted from some clever detective work on the part of the local authorities. Prosecutor Stricker took the care up with the utmost vigor and put Detective David on the case with instructions that no excuses would be accepted and that the men must be captured at any cost. He pushed the search hard throughout.
Detective David was not notified until nine o’clock of the morning of the robbery. As soon as Voorhees and Watson were ere brought in, however, he put them on them on the grill in reference to their accomplices. He was unable to get anything but the first names of these men for which were given as “Harry” and “Jerry” but Voorhees later admitted the men was also known as “Bitz”. He said he had met the other men at Gallagher’s cabaret on Seventh avenue near 48th street, New York, about a week before.
Taking the number of the abandoned car left by the robbers, Detective David went to New York and there learned that the license had been issued about a week earlier to Jerome Chaffee of 102 West 111th The name Jerome corresponded with the “Jerry” referred to by Voorhees. Going to this address, he found that Chaffee and his wife had a room there but that Mrs. Chaffee had been away all night but had returned early in the morning. taken an overcoat for her husband, and gone away.
David also learned that Chaffee had been very friendly with a man named Harry Bitzberger who had formerly roomed there but who had moved to 288 West 73rd street. ponded with both “Harry” and “Bits” On going there, he learned Chaffee and Bitzberger had come in early that morning in a bedraggled condition and that Chaffee had later bought Bitzberger a new suit. it was learned, they received a telephone call and both men and their wives disappeared. Watson had also roomed there with his wife and Mrs. Watson disappeared, too.
Mrs. Chaffee, It was learned, was secretary to a prominent New York business man. and she was trailed daily in the hopes of locating her husband, Detective George Furgeson of the 47th Precinct of New York was assigned to aid David in this work.
It was also learned that Levine had been very intimate with Bitzberger and he was carefully watched by the detectives
The habits of the two men who were sought were well-known to the police, and every place where they were likely to go was notified to be on the lookout.
After their arrest yesterday Chaffee and Bitzberger said that they went to the Hotel Belleclaire at Broadway and 78th street after leaving the 73rd street address, registering respectively as Rogers and Bates, but after two days went to the Orleans Hotel on 80th street, registering as Rogers and Edwards
Prosecutor Stricker and Detective David have been in close touch with the case ever since the robbery and David has been in New York every night. Detective William Fitzpatrick of this county also gave considerable aid.
An overcoat, wet to the waist, and a pair of socks covered with mud were found in Chaffee’s room together with a notebook on which were bloody fingerprints, caused by Chaffee when he cut his hand in the robbery.
It is expected that the men will be brought back here within a few days. They are suspected by the New York police, however, of a number of robberies in Westchester County and they may be held there. Bitzberger is said to have a bad record.
Bitzberger said he had picked out the Milltown Bank while on a tour looking for possible places to rob. He also declared that it had been planned to attempt to seize the Michelin factory payroll.
BANK ROBBERS GET LIMIT SENTENCE WITHIN FEW HOURS AFTER CAPTURE AT MILLTOWN
Prosecutor Stricker Order Speedy Disposal of Case as Warning–Plead Guilty and Sent to State Prison -Other Charges Pending.
A new record was set for “Jersey Justice” yesterday afternoon when Frank “Sailor” Voorhees of this city and Walter Watson of Melrose, Mass. captured only fifteen hours earlier by a Milltown posse in an attempt to rob the First National Bank there were arraigned before Judge Pete F. Daly in the county court her and sentenced to serve from four years and eight months to seven years each in State Prison.
Following their arrest yesterday morning the men got in touch with Frank P. Coan of South Amboy their counsel, and after a conference with him they decided to plead guilty at once to the bank robbery charge Allegations were prepared by the Prosecutor’s office and were signed by the men.
A special call was sent to Assistant Prosecutor John A. Coan, who came here at once from South Amboy and at four o’clock yesterday afternoon Judge Daly held a special session of the county court, and the men were arraigned. Both men pleaded guilty, and the Assistant Prosecutor at once moved for sentence.
Counsel for the men. a brother of the Assistant Prosecutor, made a plea for mercy on their behalf. He admitted that both had previous records, but said that Voorhees had served a term In State prison before the war for assault and battery and on his release had at once enlisted voluntarily and had served with the fourth division in France.
Watson, he said, had served in the navy, and had been stationed off the French coast for over a year.
Driven from New Brunswick
Mr. Coan declared that Voorhees tried to go straight after his charge from the army and had earned a position at Camp Raritan. When some thefts occurrednear him, however, said his counsel, attempts were made to place the blame on him and things were made so comfortable for him that he went to New York.
Voorhees was unable to get work there, Mr. Coan said, and he fell into bad company, which resulted in his undoing, and the same was the case with Watson, who was serving a term at New Bedford, Mass., with Voorhees last July when they broke together.
Mr. Coan urged clemency in view of the fact that the men had pleaded guilty, without putting the county to the expense of a trial.
Disgrace to Uniform
There are certain crimes, caused sudden temptation, in which a previous war record can be considered in extenuation of the offense,” said Judge Daly. “But in a deliberate crime like this, it simply adds another crime to their account, that disgracing the uniform. There are too many men now who think that because they served during the war they are entitled to live without working, and they are a disgrace to the great majority of our glorious American boys who served.”
He said that the court always takes into consideration the fact that a man pleads guilty and does not add perjury to his other crime, but that Voorhees had been given every chance before he was sent to State prison the first time.
“I will not impose a fine as well as imprisonment on these men, in view of their having pleaded guilty, but I can see no reason why I should not impose the limit sentence permitted by statute. The sentence of the law in each case is that they be confined at hard labor in the State Prison for a term not exceeding seven years and not less than four years and eight months.”
Mast Face Other Charges
This sentence by no means disposes of the cases, however. There are eight other indictments pending against Voorhees, and a detainer will be placed against him at Trenton Ind when his term expires he will be brought back here to face trial on the other charges.
He is also wanted in a number of other cities, and authorities there have been notified. Chief of Police Kiely, of Plainfield, was present in Court when the men were arraigned yesterday and stated that both are wanted in his city.
Prosecutor Joseph E. Stricke complimented the posse of Milltown citizens on their fine work in capturing the two men in the attempted bank robbery. He said they had rendered a real service to the county and to the State.
The quick disposal of the cases was arranged by him, he said, as a warning to burglars and other criminals in these troublous times that they will get short shift in Middlesex county, and he made it clear that the sentences Imposed yesterday are by no means the finish of the service
He declared that if the men had not pleaded guilty he had planned to call a special session of the grant Jury today to indict them and to put the men on trial on Monday or Tuesday.
Voorhees and Watson were returned to the county jail at once and are being carefully watched, as the authorities are taking no chances on losing them. They will have to be held here until Friday and then will be taken at once to Trenton.
Voorhees denied in conversation with attendants at the county jail that he had anything to do with the robberies that are charged against him here and said that the Milltown robbery was the only local affair with which he had been connected. It was stated, however, that he had admitted a robbery in Boston.
He expressed himself as being well satisfied with his sentence and said that he intended to serve all the time against him and then try to live straight.
The two men who were with Voorhees and Watson in the Milltown affair are still at large, but the detectives are working on this part of the case. Voorhees continued his denial that a woman had been in the party. The allegations signed by the men charged breaking and entering the bank building and stealing $1,000 in bonds. Bank officials said today that nothing had been stolen from the bank but that some bonds might have been taken from privately owned safe deposit boxes but that $1,000 would fully cover the loss.
“Sailor” Voorhees seemed quite peeved at being caught in a small town and said to an officer: “It beats the devil, we’ve pulled this stuff in all large cities and now we get grabbed in a jerk water town.” Night Watchman Herman Willenbrock of the Michelin plant, deserves considerable praise for his work.