Memorial to Leo W. Busch
End of Watch: September 28, 1926
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 1 year, 10 months
Location of Death: Grant Circle, NW
Officer Busch and Officer Ach stopped four suspicious males walking in the area of Grant Circle, NW, at four o’clock in the morning. Two of the subjects drew guns and shot Officer Busch six times. Officer Ach was also wounded. Officer Busch chased the suspects one block while returning fire, then collapsed. Officer Ach survived his wounds.
Officer Busch had been with the Metropolitan Police Department for one year and ten months. He was married.
Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE DEATH OF OFFICER LEO W.K. BUSCH
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED SEPTEMBER 27, 1926, PAGE 1
Riddled With Six Bullets, Pursuers Continue Gunfight
FUSILLADE OF SHOTS STIRS GRANT CIRCLE
Pair of Fugitives Are Trapped When Screaming Woman Finds Them in Cellar
INJURED PRISONER DYING IN BALTIMORE HOSPITAL
Two Women Netted in Roundup After Affray That Ends Night of Banditry.
Two policemen were shot, one probably fatally, and two other men were wounded, one critically, in a running gun fight between the police and four bandits whom they had arrested early yesterday morning.
The battle, in which more than 30 shots were fired, took place on New Hampshire Avenue between Upshur Street and Grant circle northwest, when the men tried to escape as they were being taken to the patrol box at New Hampshire Avenue and Grant Circle.
Policeman Leo W.K. Busch, 28 years old, and Frank Ach, 24 years old, both attached to the Tenth precinct, were each shot three times. Both men suffered bullet wounds in their abdomen. Busch is not expected to live.
John Proctor, 18 years old, of 1102 Seventh Street, SW, who, police say, is one of the bandits, is dying in a Baltimore hospital to which he fled, from a bullet wound in his abdomen. Nichols Lee Eagles, 31 years old, of 319 C Street, SW, was shot in the calf of the left leg when he tried to escape.
Ten Taken in Round-Up
Ten persons, including two young women, were arrested yesterday by police and held in connection with the shooting and with holdups which preceded it, to which three of those arrested have confessed, according to the police.
Those arrested, all of whom are held for investigation, are: Eagles, Proctor, Samuel Marino, 19 years old, of 617 C Street, SW; David McCabe, 25 years old, of 1408 L Street, NW; Mrs. Pal Eagles, 18 years old auburn-haired wife of Eagles; Miss. Gladys R. James, 20 years old, who lives with Mrs. Eagles; Ralph and Walter Proctor, brothers of John Proctor; Harris J. Atchinson, of 3634 Thirteenth Street, NW, and James W. Callan, of Alexandria, Va., both 21 years old.
McCabe, said by police to be the last of the ten arrested, and was taken into custody by Headquarters Detective Dennis Murphy, youngest member of the detective force and Detective Curtis Trammel in a dramatic raid last night on the home of a woman friend of McCabe’s, just as he was completing plans to flee from the city.
Confessed, Police Claim
Ralph and Walter Proctor, the latter a Baltimore physician, were arrested on the Highway bridge last night by Motorcycle Policeman C. H. Bradley, of the Fourth precinct, as they were entering the city from Virginia, in Ralph’s automobile.
Eagles, Marino, and McCabe, police say, confessed their part in the shootings. John Proctor, when questioned last night by Capt. John Carey, night commander of police in Baltimore, at the Franklin Square hospital, concerning his part in the shooting, merely groaned.
Trapped With Woman Friend
Detectives Murphy and Trammell had followed McCabe all day. Everywhere they went they discovered that the alleged ringleader of the bandits, who is sales manager of the Adams Motor Co., had just left.
Last night shortly after 9 o’clock Murphy and Trammell learned that McCabe was stopping at 1208 K Street, NW. They made certain McCabe was sitting in the parlor in the front of the house, on the first floor, with all lights out, and then entered the place. The detectives were forced to crawl through a long dark hall to get to the parlor door.
Listening through the door, Murphy says he heard McCabe making his plans for escape with his woman friend. With guns drawn Murphy and Trammell broke into the room, flashing their lights on McCabe and commanding him to throw up his hands. Cornered, the detectives say, McCabe made no effort to escape, but asked “How are the cops?”
When told they were dying, McCabe shouted: “My God!”
McCabe Tells of Shooting
McCabe was then handcuffed and taken to police headquarters. He told Murphy and Trammell, they say, that he had walked only a short distance with the two policemen after he was placed under arrest when Eagles and Marino broke from the grasp of the policemen and started shooting. When the battle began, the policeman says, McCabe told them that he began to run. Proctor was running in front of him, he said. After fleeing half a block, Proctor fell to the sidewalk, clutching at his abdomen, writhing in agony. McCabe declared he continued running through alleys until daybreak when he boarded a streetcar for his home.
Proctor, according to his brothers, went to his home and told his brother, Ralph, that he had been shot. Ralph told the police that he prepared to take his brother to a local hospital, but that he refused to go.
Take Brother to Baltimore
“Take me my brother’s house in Baltimore,” John is declared to have commanded, Ralph placed his brother in his automobile and drove out of the city unmolested. When he arrived at the home of his brother, Walter, at 2702 Huntington Avenue, Baltimore, a physician was summoned. He ordered the injured youth to a hospital. Surgeons at the Franklin Square hospital operated on the boy from 11:30 until 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon in an effort to save his life.
The physicians told the Proctor boys that their brother’s condition was critical and suggested that they summon his mother. They were on their way to Joplin Post office, Va., where their mother resides when a tire blew out. A Mrs. Blockenberger, a friend of Mrs. Proctor, was accompanying the boys. She continued on alone after the blowout. The boys were arrested when they returned back to Washington.
Policeman W.H. Vermillion, of the Thirteenth precinct, gave a large quantity of his blood late yesterday afternoon in a transfusion at Garfield hospital, where the injured policemen were taken in an effort to save the life of Busch.
The shooting, as described by police, was one of the most dramatic gun battles in police annals.
Policemen Shot Down
According to Capt. Fred Cornwell, Sergt. J.T. Langley, Detective B.C. Black and policeman W.S. Buchanan, all of the Tenth precinct, who arrested Eagles and Marino, Busch and Ach were shot down five minutes after they had received a lookout for the bandits and placed them under arrest on suspicion of the holdups.
Busch and Ach were standing on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Upshur street northwest, having just completed jotting down descriptions of the bandits, when they noticed four men standing near a taxicab call box. One of the bandits volunteered the information that they were waiting for a cab as their car had broken down near a patrol box at Webster Street.
Knowing that there no patrol box in the location the men stated, the policemen grew suspicious and upon a second look found the four resembled the bandits described in the lookout. The four were placed under arrest, each policeman taking two.
Wounded, but Gives Chase
According to Capt. Cornwell, the bandits asked the police to take them to their car and they could prove assertions. The police acquiesced, knowing that a patrol box was at Grant circle and that if their alibi proved false, they could call the wagon from the box.
While at New Hampshire Avenue and Upshur Street, one of the men, said to be Marino, broke from the grasp of Busch, whipped out a revolver and opened fire, with his three companions following his lead.
Before the policemen could bring their own weapons into action, Ach had been shot twice, once in each arm. Busch was shot in the left side of the chest, and once in the stomach.
Though probably fatally wounded Busch gave chase to two of the bandits, who fled up New Hampshire Avenue toward Grant Circle, while Ach followed Marino and Eagles, firing as he ran.
The rapid firing of the bandits and police which could be heard all over Petworth and Parkview, aroused the immediate section near the shooting and soon frenzied men and women, all scantily clad, were peering from windows and from behind half opened doors.
Fires from the Ground
Ach was rapidly gaining on Marino and Eagles, who had turned south on Fifth street at Upshur, when both bandits wheeled around while still running, flipped their guns to the general direction of Ach and blazed away. Ach fell to the pavement with a bullet through the center of his stomach.
While lying in a huddled heap on the pavement, Ach took hasty aim and fired his last shot at the fleeing bandits. The bullet struck Eagles in the left leg.
Hardly had the sound of the shooting died away when the houses in the neighborhood blazed with lights. Hurried calls were sent to the Tenth precinct and to police headquarters. The calls were still coming in when police arrived. A passing motorist took Busch to Garfield hospital while Ach was hurried away in the police patrol.
Police under the direction of Capt. Cornwell and Sergeant Langley of the Tenth precinct, and headquarters detectives, began a systematic search of the neighborhood for the bandits while residents in the neighborhood stood guard over their homes with guns and revolvers of all descriptions.
Woman Confronts Intruders
While the search was at its height, Mrs. Vogle heard Marino and Eagles, who was unhampered in his running, though wounded, enter the basement of her home.
Unarmed, Mrs. Vogle went to the basement where Marino and Eagles were slinking in the darkness and frightened them into the rear by screaming.
Fearing apprehension, the bandits retreated into the cellar again, ran up the stairs through the first floor and out the front door. Roscoe L. Oatley, 4101 New Hampshire avenue, attracted by Mrs. Vogle’s screams, overpowered Marino and Eagles, who had thrown their empty guns away and grappled with them until police arrived.
When taken to the Tenth precinct, police say Marino and Eagles admitted staging two holdups in Maryland early yesterday morning, having participated in the holdup of the Million Dollar grocery store at 2606 Connecticut Avenue, NW Thursday, when $200 was taken, and the holdup of the gasoline station at Sixteenth and Taylor streets, NW, two weeks ago, when John Keyser, the night manager was robbed of $200.
Empty Revolvers Found
Police searching parties found two empty 38 caliber revolvers on Fifth Street near Upshur Street shortly after Marino and Eagles had been locked up, and when confronted with the guns both bandits admitted they were the weapons with which they did the shooting and perpetrated their holdups.
Marino and Eagles told police yesterday of the two holdups they are alleged to have committed on the Baltimore-Washington boulevard near Berwyn, Md, last night. According to the bandit’s story, they, in company with two friends, whose names they refused to tell, appropriated an automobile turned in to a second hand establishment on Fourteenth Street near Rhode Island Avenue, NW by R.J. Reed, of 1665 Lamont Street, NW and went to Muirkirk, Md.
A motorist, who told Laurel police he was Felix B. Solari, of Camden, N.J., was held up at the point of pistols and robbed of his automobile and luggage. The bandits left him their second hand car in return.
The car owned by Reed was later taken away from Solari by the bandits, who abandoned it, together with a ransacked suitcase belonging to Solari, along the roadway to Berwyn.
With the Solari car the bandits then cruised along the road to Berwyn, where they staged the second holdup.
A car, driven by Albert Martin and occupied by Mr. And Mrs. Mark Reed, all of Deepwater, N.J., was stopped by three masked men, while a fourth bandit sat the wheel of Solari’s car a short distance away, apparently much amused by the manner in which the victims displayed their surprise.
Each of the highwaymen selected a victim. From Martin $200 in bills and a watch was stolen, from Reed a diamond stickpin was taken and $9 from Mrs. Reed.
Mrs. Reed outwitted the bandits, however, by removing a diamond ring from her finger and placing it in her mouth and by concealing $25 in bills in the bosom of her dress. After robbing their victims, of all valuables in sight, the highwaymen disabled the motor of Martin’s car and drove away. The three victims walked to the office of Justice of the Peace George Phillips, in Berwyn, and reported the affair.
The bandits then drove to the Whitehouse Tavern, this side of Berwyn, abandoned the car taken from Solari, and took the automobile owned by Datus E. Coon, proprietor of the tavern. With this car the four men drove to Washington, avoiding suspicion until arrested by Busch and Ach.
Holdup Victims Summoned
The victims of the recent banditry in Virginia, between Quantico and Alexandria, were notified by Washington police to come to this city in an effort to identify any of these now held for investigation in connection with the affairs. In all of the Virginia cases, four men and a red-haired woman were the participants.
The victims of the Maryland holdups reported the affair to police headquarters and were requested to appear this morning to see if they could identify either Marino or Eagles as their assailants.
Physicians at Garfield hospital hold out little hope for the recovery of Busch. One of the bullets pierced his abdomen, resulting in twelve perforations in his intestines. His other wounds are also serious, but are not likely to prove fatal if Busch survives his stomach injuries, physicians say.
Ach, with two perforations of his intestines has an even chance to recover, physicians say. His injuries in both arms resulted in a large loss of blood and left him in a weakened condition to battle possible infection, but may not necessarily prove fatal.
Volunteers Give Blood
In an effort to save the life of Busch, five policemen volunteered to give their blood in a transfusion at the hospital yesterday afternoon. The policemen were J.W. Hobbs, of the Eleventh precinct; W.H. Vermillion of the Thirteenth precinct; E.H. Hinson of the Tenth precinct; J.L. Hunt of the Third precinct; and Detective Sergeant Charles J.P. Weber of detective headquarters. Following an examination of blood specimens, Vermillion was selected for the transfusion. If more blood is needed, Weber will be called upon.
Both Busch and Ach are former servicemen. The many telephone calls from their friends and comrades are but an indication of the high esteem in which they are held by all connected with the police department.
Capt. Fred Cornwell, of the Tenth precinct, their commanding officer, declared yesterday, in paying high tribute to the two men, that their customary gentlemanly conduct of always acting as easy and polite as possible with prisoners was responsible for their present serious predicament.
Busch was a naval radio operator and Ach served in the Marine Corps during the world war. He was appointed to the police department December 16, 1924, and Ach was appointed July 1, 1925. Busch was married. All their service in the police department has been at the Tenth precinct.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED SEPTEMBER 29, 1926, PAGE 1
VICTIM OF BANDITS DEAD; THREE FACE CHARGE OF MURDER
Mrs. Leo W.K. Busch Watches Death Bed of Policeman
POST INITIATES FUND FOR HER WITH $250
Marino Says “This means Chair for Me,” When Told of Death
The thin thread of life to which Policeman Leo W.K. Busch, 28 years old, valiantly clung for two days snapped at 4:10 o’clock yesterday afternoon in Garfield Hospital. The courageous patrolman died as a result of the wounds he suffered in the gun battle with four bandits Sunday at Grant Circle, NW.
The Washington Post has started a fund for the young widow of policeman Busch with a subscription of $250. An announcement to this effect was broadcast over radio station WRC last night. Contributions may be either cash or checks and should addressed to the Cashier, Washington Post.
The Petworth Citizens association, in whose territory Policeman Busch received his fatal wounds, notified The Post last night that it would contribute toward the fund. Charles Riston Schroth, secretary and treasurer of the association made the initial contribution—one of $50.
Three Charged With Murder
Formal charges of murder were placed last night against three arrested as members of the bandit gang. The three are Samuel Marino, 19 years old, 617 C Street, SW, who was wounded by Busch; Nichols Lee Eagles, 34 years old, 319 C Street, NW; and John F. McCabe, 31 years old, 1308 K Street, NW.
A fourth member of the band, John Proctor, 18 years old, 1102 Seventh Street, SW, lies in Franklin Square hospital, Baltimore, wounded. Physicians said yesterday that unless something unforeseen happens, Proctor will recover. Busch had told police that he was the one who shot Proctor.
Marino bowed his head when detectives told him of Busch’s death last night. When he brought it up, he said: “Well, it looks like the electric chair for me.”
Eagles also bowed his head, but said nothing. The two women who were being held, Mrs. Pal Eagles and Miss Gladys R. James, burst into tears.
Eagles was furious when detectives told him that McCabe, one of the men arrested, had denied doing any shooting. Eagles told the detectives that if McCabe were put in the same cell with him he would kill him.
Policeman Frank L. Ach, 24 years old, who was seriously wounded in the fray, was reported improving by his Physicians. Both of the patrolmen are attached to the Tenth precinct, the only one in which they have performed duty.
Coroner J. Ramsey Nevitt ordered an inquest at the morgue at 11:30 o’clock today to fix the responsibility for the death of the patrolman.
Detectives Edward Kelly, Thomas Sweeney and Joseph Waldron, of the central office, took the gunmen to Garfield Hospital Monday where both Ach and Busch identified the three.
Busch attempted to grab Marino, crying “That’s the man who shot me. ”The three, according to the police, have admitted having taken part in the shooting and in a number of holdups committed recently. Marino and Eagles were captured shortly after the shooting. Following close questioning by Capt. Fred Cornwell and Tenth precinct police, the identity of the other two were learned.
Wife at Deathbed
Mrs. Busch was at the deathbed of her husband. She had been in constant attendance since Sunday, and had held up bravely under her misfortune, but she was prostrated with sorrow last night.
The grit of Busch was told to headquarters detectives yesterday by Marino. He said. According to the police, that after the policeman had fallen to the sidewalk, wounded in the stomach and chest, he raised himself on one arm, took careful aim and shot the fleeing Proctor, then fell helpless to the pavement.
Eagles also praised the two policemen. The detectives assert he said: “When we broke away there wasn’t a damn bit of use in asking them to stick up their hands. Them guys used to be marines, and they never know when to quit.”
Busch was a naval radio operator during the war and Ach a marine.
News of the death of Busch came to headquarters when Detectives Waldron, Kelly and Sweeney were obtaining a statement from Marino concerning recent holdups. The gunmen were advised of the death until hours afterward.
Identified by Holdup Victims
Eagles and Marino were linked yesterday with a holdup in Alexandria, Va. Fred Kaus, night manager of the Alexandria service station, identified Eagles as the man who held him up and robbed him of a pocketbook containing $26.
While Eagles was taking his pocketbook, Kaus said, another man was rifling the cash register in the service station. This man, according to W.W. Campbell, who accompanied Kaus here yesterday, was Marino.
Eagles and Marino, it is said, had planned other holdups in Alexandria, but were frightened when they saw the Alexandria police patrol at the Highway Bridge. Although they didn’t know it, the patrol was taking an insane man to St. Elizabeth’s hospital.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED SEPTEMBER 30, 1926, PAGE 6
IN MEMORY OF LEO BUSCH
Leo W.K. Busch lies dead as a result of his devotion to the duty of protecting the life and property of the people of Washington. As a police officer he risked and lost his life rather than permit bandits to escape. His heroism and self-sacrifice were never excelled by any man on the field of battle. The people of Washington are more secure in their lives and goods because of the act of this officer and associates in apprehending a gang of murderous bandits. The public owes a heavy debt of gratitude to Leo W.K. Busch.
The most practical method of expressing this gratitude is to raise a fund for the widow of this gallant officer. The sum that she will receive from official sources is very small and inadequate. The family depended upon his pay for a livelihood. Unless the people of Washington come to the rescue the result will be cruel punishment of a wife because her husband sacrificed himself in protecting the public. It should never be said that Washington is such a heartless and ungrateful city that it turns its back upon its defenders and their stricken and penniless families.
Everyone in Washington can well afford to contribute a mite to the relief and comfort of Leo Busch’s family. The Washington Post will be glad to acknowledge subscriptions addressed to its cashier.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 23, 1928, PAGE 1
PROCTOR POISONED HIMSELF TO CHEAT CHAIR, IS SUSPICION
Autopsy Shows Slayer’s Stomach Was Not in Normal Condition
UNCONSCIOUS AT TIME CURRENTS ENDED LIFE
Eagles Dies With Song on Lips, Moreno Bravely, Paying in Busch’s Murder
Two hours and a half after John Cline Proctor, 19 years old, Nicholas Lee Eagles, 32, and Samuel Moreno, 20, went to their deaths in the electric chair at the District Jail yesterday, two notes, hinting at an attempted suicide, were found in Proctor’s cell.
With the discovery of the notes, District officials immediately launched an investigation to determine whether the youngest of the three murderers was successful in obtaining and swallowing poison. An autopsy was ordered.
The autopsy performed last night, resulted in strengthening the possibility that the youth may have swallowed poison in an attempt to cheat the electric chair.
The stomach was found to be in an abnormal condition. A sample of the stomach’s contents was taken and will be turned over to the District chemist today for a thorough examination.
Deputy Coroner Joseph D. Rogers per formed the autopsy. Coroner J. Ramsay Nevitt accompanied him to the funeral parlors of Adolph J. Shippert at 2008 Eye street northwest, where the body was taken after the execution.
Proctor was unconscious when he was electrocuted. Dr. Rogers reported that the youth died as a result of the execution, and thereby eliminated a possibility that he may have dead when the current whipped through his body.
Body Held for Inquest
Coroner Nevitt ordered the body to be held at the funeral parlors until a coroner’s jury can be sworn in. He explained that the jury would be assembled as a protective measure “In case anything comes as a result of this in the future.”
Asked if in his opinion the abnormal state of the stomach was caused by poisoning, Coroner Nevitt refused to commit himself. He explained that such an opinion would be a mere guess, and that the true cause of the abnormally could not be determined until a most thorough examination had been made of the stomach’s contents.
Friends and acquaintances of the youthful murderer called at the funeral parlor last night and requested permission to view the body. They were told due to the autopsy, the body could not be put into condition for viewing until 9 o’clock. They were invited to return at that hour and many did.
Proctor’s body was at the parlor of a funeral director when the sensational news broke. The body been embalmed and placed in a hearse when authorities appeared. A few moments more and the body would have been on route to the Virginia side of the Highway Bridge, where relatives were awaiting. There it was planned to take the body to Joplin, Va., for burial.
Proctor was the last of the three to go to his death for the murder of Policeman Leo W.K. Busch. Twelve hours before his execution Proctor lapsed into a coma in his death cell and never regained his senses. He was carried to the death house on a stretcher by four guards.
As he was being lashed to the death chair, Proctor showed, for the first time in those twelve hours, the only sign of life. His knees quivered while the guards were adjusting the strap and electrodes.
Eagles First to Die
“Singing Nick” Eagles was the first to die. He died almost with a smile on his lips. Chanting in a firm baritone voice the ancient lament of the Jew, “Eli, Eli,” the diminutive murderer walked to the death chamber. As he descended the steps and faced the electric chair he began to read from a bible he carried the Twenty-Third Psalm of David, “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want.” His last words were murmured through the thick mask which covered his face as he sat in the chair: “Good-bye,”
Sam Moreno died next. Walking erect, his head up and shoulders back in the posture of a soldier, he strode on the last march. He smoked a cigarette and carried a crucifix. As he was being strapped in the death chair he flicked away the cigarette, kissed the crucifix and cited the Act of Contrition, a prayer of the Roman Catholic Church. His last words were: “My Jesus, mercy.”
And so in 29 minutes—the time which the triple execution consumed—the government avenged the death of Patrolman Leo W.K. Busch. The patrolman was fatally shot in a gun battle with the three men at dawn on September 26, 1926. He died two days later in Garfield Hospital.
It was about 12:30 o’clock when the jail guards, cleaning the cells in murderer’s row, found the two notes in Proctor’s cell. They were secreted between the cell “bunk” and the wall.
More Notes Found
The notes were turned over to Maj. William L. Peak, superintendent of the jail. With Capt. M.M. Barnard, superintendent of all District penal institutions. Maj. Peak brought the notes to the District Commissioners.
One note was addressed to Maj. Peak, it was dated June 21, 1928, and read: “Major Peak, “Dear Sir: Please don’t think your guards had a hand in this as they are all innocent and I got this at court, so don’t think it was them. Dr. Hoffman can verify this. (Unreadable word) John C. Proctor
P.S. Please give all my things to Father Dow (Proctor’s spiritual adviser) and let him give them to my kid brother and sister. There is some things in the office I wish you would give him to destroy also but give my dictionary to my brother James and I will be grateful to you for all your kindness. You have wonderful man and God knows I appreciate it. God bless you and your loved ones and even though you can’t do what you would like to do I am grateful to you as you are a saint and God bless you, always. “Yours respectfully, “Believe about John, “John Proctor John, “PROCTOR PRISONER JOHN, “PROCTOR JOHN. “JOHN PROCTOR, “JOHN,” PROCTOR.
Written Near Collapse
Maj. Peak declared that the numerous signatures scrawled at the bottom of the note were apparently made when Proctor was on the verge of collapsing.
The second note was addressed to Mrs. Roberts Proctor Randall, mother of the youth, and Mrs. Lela Lander Johnson, his sweetheart. It read: “Lela ans Mama: Please forgive me for this, but its good bye and its saying a disgrace to you all, so please forgive me, as you know there is only one mother in the world and I love mine better than life alone and I have a wonderful sweetheart too. She has been so loyal to me and I love her so much, and some day we are going to meet again, so don’t worry over me. But God knows I didn’t fire a shot that night and I am innocent of it. I am prepared, so don’t worry. I’ll love you all in eternity. Yours, John” “P.S. Darling Lela. I got your last message from Mr. H. And I am reading your last letter. “Always yours, John” “Don’t let Bobbie fool you, as I love you alone.” Always yours, John”
The “Bobbie” referred to in the note is believed to be Miss. Barbara Parker, a friend of Proctor’s.
Officials Holds Conference
When the startling news was brought to the District Commissioners, Maj. Edwin B. Hesse, superintendent of police; Corporation Counsel W.W. Bride; Inspector Henry G. Pratt, chief of detectives; Maj. Peak and Capt. Barnard immediately went into conference.
Maj. Peak declared that Proctor was examined by a Gallinger Hospital interne before being carried to the electric chair. The interne reported that the prostrate youth’s heart and pulse were normal, Maj. Peake said. It was pointed out that if Proctor had swallowed poison it would have affected his heart.
When the news broke, Assistant Corporation Counsel Richmond Keech was at once dispatched to the funeral parlors of Adolph J. Shippert, at 2008 Eye street northwest, where Proctor’s body had been taken. Mr. Keech arrived just as the hearse containing the body was about to embark for burial in Virginia.
District officials were unable to locate the District Coroner J. Ramsay Nevitt. At Casualty Hospital Dr. Joseph Rogers, a deputy coroner, was located. He was ordered to go to the parlors and perform an autopsy on the body
Eagles Wears Red Rose
It was on the stroke of 10 o’clock when Eagles left his cell in murderer’s row on the last march. He was attired in gray trousers, a white shirt opened at the neck, socks and brown leather slippers. About his neck he wore a small blueish stone, fastened to a string, which he termed a Jewish “holy piece.” In one buttonhole of his shirt Eagles had fastened a red rose, given to him by one of the jail attendants.
Two guards walked at his side and Rabbi William F. Rosenblum, his spiritual adviser, walked slightly to the rear of Eagles. The condemned man wore bone-rimmed spectacles, and carried a bible.
As he entered the rotunda of the jail he began to sing the Jewish lament “Eli, Eli.”
His voice held not a quiver. Loud and clear, he sang in a rich baritone and his song echoed throughout the prison: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (My God, my God, why hast forsaken me).
He walked with a firm step and did not evidence the slightest sign of breaking under the strain.
Descending the dozen iron steps of the death house, he stopped singing and began to read from the bible he held. In a loud voice he read the twenty-third psalm of David: “The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not want; He Makhetha Me lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul. He guideth me in the path of righteousness for his names sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Tho art with me.”
Bids Last Farewells
Eagles did not complete the reading of the entire psalm. He had only a few more minutes more on earth. He used these to say a last farewell to those in the death chamber.
As he was seated in the chair and the thick leather straps were being adjusted to his legs, he said: “What’s the matter, Mr. Wright? Why don’t you talk to me?”
He spoke to R.B. Wright, one of the guards, who was adjusting the death harness. He called each of the guards by name, and said: “Bye-bye.” A second later he fairly shouted, “Bye-bye, everybody.”
The electrodes and straps were being quickly adjusted. Eagles smiled and shouted again: “I’m going clear,” and after a brief pause, “God is with me.”
To Maj. William L. Peak he shouted: “Bye-bye, Maj. Peake.”
Then he spoke to Louis Tanenbaum, his attorney, who fought until the last few hours to save Eagles from the death chair in which he was seated.
“Bye-bye, Mr. Tanenbaum.”
The black cap, with the head electrode, was being adjusted quickly over his head. During the entire operation a smile was on Eagle’s lips. Then the thick mask was pulled down over his face. Through the mask he shouted his last words, which were: “Good-by.”
The death chair attendants dropped back. One of the three men in the execution party raised his arm. He dropped it quickly to his side. It was 10:06 o’clock when the first shock was given.
The current could be heard singing throughout the chamber. Eagle’s body strained against the heavy straps about his arms and legs. The current was turned off at 10:08 o’clock.
The two attending physicians, Dr. A. Magruder MacDonald, a deputy District coroner, and Dr. Stanley C. Howard, resident physician of Gallinger Hospital, stepped to the chair. Eagle’s breast was bared. The doctors applied stethoscopes. They debated a moment. Eagles was not dead.
Second Shock applied
Then the second shock was applied. Again Eagles body strained against the straps. The current was turned off at 10:11 o’clock.
Dr. MacDonald walked to the enclosure, where the five newspaper men, who acted as witnesses, were seated. He said: “I pronounce Nick Eagles dead at 10:13 o’clock on this day of 22nd day of June, 1928.”
During his 32 years on earth, Eagles was a wanderer, a carpet weaver, a bandit, a murderer, and an actor. To the very end he was a good showman.
He wore his spectacles to the chair. One glass was frosted to hide his left eye, the sight of which Eagles lost during his stay in the jail. His glasses were removed while he was being placed in the chair. His slippers were taken off and his bible was taken from his hands.
“Ain’t you going to let me hold my Bible?” he asked of the attendant.
Rabbi Rosenblum said that before the death march was begun he urged Eagles to imagine he was going to the death chamber to undergo an anesthetic. Eagles smiled at his spiritual counselor and said: “I’ll go alright. I’ll go like a man. But don’t be downcast, rabbi.”
His body was lifted from the chair by the guards, placed on a stretcher and removed to an alcove on the side of the death chamber.
Moreno Puffs Cigarette
Moreno started the death march at 10:19 o’clock. Two guards at his side and directly behind them came the spiritual advisers. The youth marched quickly across the rotunda.
He constantly puffed on a cigarette as he strode with firm step, head erect and shoulders back in a soldierly manner. Without the slightest sign of fear, Moreno marched straight to the death chair, carrying a large gold crucifix in his hands.
He addressed one of the guards by name and hurriedly shook his hand, said “Good-by”, and walked to the chair.
The Rev. Edward Nester, assistant pastor of Holy Comforter Church, and the Rev. John Sullivan, of the Dominican House of Studies, began reciting prayers as Moreno seated himself in the chair. Father Nester was attired in the black cassock and white surplice of a Secular priest and Father Sullivan wore the white robe of the Dominicans.
The youth flicked the cigarette away as the guards were adjusting the straps. He kissed the crucifix and handed it to Father Sullivan.
Recites Prayer of Penance
Then he began to recite the Catholic’s prayer of penance, the act of contrition. “O my God, I am heartily sorry for all my sins. I detest them because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because they offend thee, my God, who art so good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to do penance and amend my life. Amen.”
When he had finished the prayer the straps were adjusted. The black cap was placed on his head and mask, which resembled a football helmet, was adjusted over his face.
At 10″20 o’clock, a minute after he started the death march, the whining current coursed through Moreno’s body. As the shock was applied, Father Nester raised his hand and made the sign of the cross, giving absolution and murmuring a prayer.
Three minutes later Moreno’s breast was bared. The physicians applied their instruments. Immediately Father Sullivan stepped to the chair and anointed the youth’s breast with the holy oils of the church. It was the administration of the last rite of the Catholics, the sacrament of extreme unction.
Doctor Pronounces Him Dead
Dr. MacDonald stepped to the front of the witness box and declared: “I am pronouncing Sam Moreno dead at 10:23 o’clock.”
And so Moreno, who possessed the mind of a 9 year old child, paid with his life for the murder of Patrolman Busch. A few seconds before the mask was placed over his face he spoke his last words: “My Jesus, mercy.” It took but three minutes to kill Moreno.
His body was taken from the chair, placed on the stretcher and removed to the alcove. Four guards departed from the death chamber with the same stretcher a few minutes later.
At 10:25 the youngest of the murderers began his death march, senseless, Proctor was carried from his cell in murderer’s row on the stretcher. The four guards bearing the stretcher marched first. Behind them came Proctor’s spiritual adviser, The Rev. George W. Dow, of the Episcopal City Mission, and Dr. W. Sinclair Bowen, a physician, who attended Proctor in the death cell throughout his last few hours on earth.
Lifted Limp Into Chair
The stretcher was laid at the foot of the chair, and the guards lifted the limp body of the youth into the seat. His head fell forward on his chest while the straps and electrodes were being adjusted to his arms and legs. One guard held his head up while the black cap and mask were being adjusted. Then the guards stepped back.
A second before the current whizzed through Proctor’s body, he exhibited the only sign of life. His knees began trembling.
A few seconds after 10:30 o’clock, the signal was given and again the current sang its buzzing song of death. The youth’s body strained against the straps. The current raced through the body for two minutes.
The Proctor’s breast was bared and the physician applied the stethoscope. For the final time, Dr. MacDonald walked to the witness box and declared: “I pronounce John Proctor dead at 10:34 o’clock.
In the execution chamber were the execution party of three, the two physicians, Maj. William J. Peake, superintendent of the jail; Capt. M.M. Barnard, in charge of District penal institutions; the jail guards, five newspapermen, who were the official witnesses; the clergymen, Louis Tanenbaum, Eagles attorney, and Patrick F. O’Hara, a representative of Martin Donoghue and Clifford Grant, Jr., who staged the unsuccessful battle for Moreno’s life.
Tanenbaum and Rabbi Wise left the chamber immediately after Eagles was electrocuted. Father Sullivan and Father Nester, who entered the chamber with Moreno, saw Proctor killed.
Denies Guilt to Last
Fifteen minutes before the execution, the five newspaper were conducted to the death cells of the trio. To the representative of The Washington Post, Moreno said: “everything’s lost, huh? Those affidavits didn’t do any good. Well, I still have hope. I am innocent; I didn’t shoot Busch.” He shook hands.
Eagles then granted his last interview. He said: “Listen, kid, my dying words are I am innocent. Don’t worry, I’ll go like a man. I am a man. Be good, kid. So long.”
Throughout the morning, Proctor lay limp and senseless in the bunk in his cell. Dr. Dow constantly applied a cold, wet towel to his forehead, and over and over again beseeched the youth: “John, speak to me. It is Father Dow, John. Don’t you know me?”
With the minister was Dr. Bowen, who had been summoned in an attempt to bring the youth to his senses.
Rabbi Rosenblum said that when Eagles left his death cell, he bade good-by to Moreno, Father Sullivan, Father Nester, Dr. Dow, and even tried to say farewell to Proctor.
Eagles’ body was turned over to the Danzansky undertaking establishment. At 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon services were conducted at the funeral parlors, 3501 14th Street, NW by Rabbi Rosenblum. Eagles’ mother, Mrs. Rebecca Carrack, and his brother attended the services.
Gets Soldiers Tombstone
The body was taken to the Hebrew Cemetery in Anacostia. In accordance with the orthodox Jewish ritual, ten persons were necessary to hold the service. Rabbi Rosenblum arranged with a group of Jewish civic workers to be present at the cemetery.
The tombstone over Eagle’s grave will be erected by the War Department, for Eagles possessed a disability discharge from the Army.
Instead of his name, Nicholas Lee Eagles, by which he was known, his correct name, Lee Silverblatt, will be carved on the stone. Eagles was a man of many aliases. In court he was tried as Nicholas Lee Eagles, alias Lee Silverblatt, alias Lee Carrack.
Eagles carefully laid plan to keep his aged mother ignorant of his death, failed yesterday. The murderer had told his mother that he was going to Leavenworth Prison to serve a life sentence. Mrs. Carrack can neither speak nor read English and understands only Yiddish.
So Eagles wrote several letters, which be directed his brother to send to friends in Leavenworth and through them mail them to his mother. The last of the letters told of how Eagles was injured in an accident and would probably die.
His brother, however, weakened. Yesterday morning he placed the last letter in the mail, but after the execution his mother senses something was wrong and began questioning. Arthur Eagle and Rabbi Rosenblum told her of his electrocution at 11 o’clock.
Moreno’s body was also turned over to an undertaker. Private services will be held for him this morning.
During their last night on earth, Moreno and Eagles had but three hours sleep. They retired at 3 o’clock and were at 6 o’clock. Moreno received Holy Communion at 7 o’clock. At 6:30, the heads of Eagles, Moreno and Proctor were shaved. Eagles and Moreno ate their last meal–a hearty breakfast– shortly after 8 o’clock.
(Officer Frank L. Ach survived his gunshot wounds at the time and later married in 1930. He died in Walter Reed Hospital in November 1940, at age 39, from a heart condition which doctors associated with his old gunshot wounds. The department did not rule the death to be in the line of duty.
The Washington Post alone published over 87 articles concerning this sensational case between September 1926 and September 1930, and several more after that.)