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.
“Sailor” Voorhees Is Captured With Watson In Daring Attempt to Rob Milltown Bank; Knocked Unconscious by Bullet; Two Escape
Force Way Into Vault But Abandon $3,000 in Silver When Surprised by Posse
Local Man Charged with Long Series of Crimes Captured by Posse – Bandits Fail to Get Bank Loot – Planned to Rob Post Office.
Frank “Sailor” Voorhees of this city, sought for nearly two years by the police of New Brunswick and a dozen other cities, was captured last night with a companion. Walter Watson. of Melrose, Mass., in an attempt to rob the First National Bank of Milltown. Two other men who were with them managed to escape.
Voorhees and Watson, who first gave his name as Clifford Jackson of New York, were captured after a top chase by a posse of citizens hastily gathered by Mayor Christian Kuthlthau of Milltown after Herman Willenbrock, a nightwatchman at the Michelin Tire Co. plant, had reported the robbers at work. In attempting to scale the wall in front of the bank, Voorhees was struck a glancing blow in the head by a bullet and was knocked unconscious. He was seized as he fell to the ground and Watson was captured at the same time. The two other men escaped through the rear of the bank property along Lawrence brook and eluded their pursuers there.
The robbery occurred at about midnight last night. Shortly after even o’clock an automobile, without lights, and said to contain four men and a woman, was seen proceeding along Main street, Milltown, in the direction of the bank. The car was seen by a group of young men in front of the Michelin Community House, but little attention was paid to it. The car turned into John street and stopped there.
Some time later when Night Watchman Herman Willenbrock was making his rounds of the Michelin plant the bank being located in one of Michelin buildings he saw a man standing in a doorway opposite the bank. As Willenbrock passed the man whistled, and Willenbrock saw another man inside.
Posse Called Out.
Instead of attacking the men. Willenbrock at once informed Head watchman Charles Beecher. The latter got in touch with Mayor Christian Kuhlthau of Milltown, who immediately went to the bank, gathering a posse of about forty men, armed with rifles, shotguns and revolvers, on the way. So quick were they that they reached the bank within ten minutes after the alarm was given.
The robbers apparently had not, paid much attention to the watchman, for they were still in the bank when the posse approached. The posse closed in from all sides in an attempt to surround the robbers, but their eagerness to get Voorhees and Watson the other men eluded them.
Voorhees was picked up and caried into the bank office. Dr. Riva was immediately summoned, but before he completed his examination of the man Voorhees came to and was able to sit up. Both prisoners were brought to New Brunswick and were lodged in the county jail.
County Detective John Ferguson was summoned from New Brunswick and began an investigation of the case at once.
The car which the men had used was found on John street and was seized and brought to New Brunswick by Detective Ferguson and Superintendent Robert Matlack of the Russell Playing Card Co. No trace could be found of the woman said to have been with the party and Voorhees and his companion denied that any woman had been with them.
Broke Into Vault.
It was found that the robbers had forced an entrance into the bank by wrenching a bar from a rear window and that they then dug a hole about a foot square through the brick wall of the bank vault, but. they were unable to force the safe inside the vault in which most of the money was contained.
A bag containing $3,000 to silver was found in the yard in the rear of the bank, apparently handed out by one of the men but abandoned when they were surprised.
All the safe deposit boxes in the vault had been opened and their contents scattered around, but it was impossible for bank officials to say whether anything had been taken from these or not, and it was reported that $2,400 in Liberty Bonds had been secured. Bank officials said that nothing else had been taken and they were not sure whether these bonds were secured or not.
A man was said to have been seen loitering around the post office last night. He also declared that it had been planned to take the loot to Trenton by automobile and then go back to New York by train.
Long Wanted Here.
Voorhees has long been a thorn in the sides of police and county officials here and has been suspected of being the ringleader in half a dozen holdups and robberies. He is wanted by the county detectives for the two Wolfson robberies, the attempt to rob Tepper Brothers, the holdup of the Hanover Shoe Store, and robberies of Houghton and Strauss, S. Spitz, Stewart and Clayton, in New Brunswick, the local Y. M. C. A. and Sol Rubenstein’s at Perth Amboy.
He is also wanted in New Bedford, Mass., where he broke Jail on July 30 last, New Rochelle, Peekskill and White Plains, N. Y., and Elizabeth and Plainfield in this State. Watson is also wanted in New Bedford.
The men have been in New York for some time, they said, and Voorhees declared this morning that on one occasion he escaped from a house there just as County Detective. Fred David entered.
Detective David has taken up the chase of the two men who escaped end hopes to have them in custody shortly. He refused to talk in reference to the statements made by the men.
It is not known yet whether Voorhees and Watson were implicated in the Stillman and Woolworth robberies, but these are being carefully investigated.
Alfred S. Puerschner, warden of the county jail, took no chances on letting his prisoner escape and he remained on guard himself all night, at the jail. Special precautions are being taken to safeguard the prisoners.