Friday, 25 January 2008

Pardon Me, Governor... Pretty Please?

By Jack Clements
Detective Dragnet
February 1980 (Volume 24, Number 1)

Driving along the highway that night of August 24th, 1926, Jesse Laster, chief of detectives at Joplin, Missouri, chatted with his wife and their guests, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sprague.

About nine miles west of Joplin, they entered the State of Kansas and rolled across a bridge spanning Spring River. A short distance beyond the bridge, a broad country lane entered the highway, and Laster decided to turn around. When he completed the turn, he stopped before again entering the highway.

As the car halted, a blinding light was suddenly turned into the eyes of the automobile occupants, and a dark figure stepped from behind a huge pile of mine boulders. The nearby area was dotted with abandoned zinc and lead mines, and this pile of stones belonged to one of these diggings. The intruder was holding a shotgun slightly ahead of the powerful spotlight he was using and the muzzle of the gun was pointing directly at Laster's head.

"Who are you, and what are you doing out here?" a gruff voice demanded. "I'm an officer, so speak up."

The Joplin sleuth laughed. "Take it easy," he chuckled as he spoke. "There's nothing to be worried about. I'm Jesse Laster, chief of detectives in Joplin.'

As the detective spoke, the gunman uttered a string of curses. Then without warning, the shotgun roared while Laster jerked violently forward, then slumped under the steering wheel. The light was extinguished and the shooter vanished.

Mrs. Laster was the first to recover from the terrifying experience. "Quick," she cried, "drive back to Joplin. Jesse is badly hurt." But to the frantic woman’s horror, neither of the Spragues knew how to operate an automobile.

The almost hysterical woman managed to get her mate's limp form from beneath the wheel. She had never driven a car before, but had watched her husband as he shifted the gears in their various machines. Now she managed to get the automobile into gear and she was thankful that the engine had been running when the killer had encountered them. She felt that she could never have gotten the motor to start, had the ignition been turned off. Gritting her teeth, she was able to steer the new auto onto the roadway and turn toward Joplin. It took almost an hour to reach the city, for Mrs. Laster had put the car in low gear as she didn't know how to shift into high gear.

Dr. Mitchell Craig lived only a few doors away and he arrived quickly when Mr. Sprague telephoned. The physician made a hasty examination of the wounded and unconscious officer, than glanced at the anxious wife and friends. Laster was beyond human aid with the back of his head blown away by the shotgun blast.

After listening to the tearful story of Mrs. Laster, the medic called Joplin Police Headquarters. Ten minutes later a carload of officers arrived – Detectives Alec Brown, Edward Hall, Thomas Sweeney and Len Vandeventer along with Police Chief Arch McDonald.

As she talked with these men, Mrs. Laster was still bearing up remarkably well. Keeping a grip on her emotions, she told the investigators what had happened. But both she and her guests were able to furnish only a vague description of the gunman. The blinding light the killer had used had prevented the people from seeing him distinctly. However, Mrs. Sprague volunteered that she had the impression that the murderer had been a middle-aged man of about average height. She explained her description of the criminal. "I didn't actually see him very well, but it seemed to me that he ran like an older man when he left. His voice didn't sound like a youngster's, either."

Upon learning that the crime had occurred in Kansas, Chief McDonald immediately called Sheriff Phil Fisher at Columbus, which is the seat of Cherokee county. The sheriff said he would meet the Joplin officers at the crime scene. The Missouri city and Columbus were about the same distance from the murder spot and the Kansas sheriff arrived there at almost the same time as did the policemen.

Before leaving the Laster home, McDonald had called his office and ordered that all highways leading into Joplin be blocked at once. He had little hope that this move would be likely to snare the murderer, but there was always a chance that the man might have been delayed in some way, if he actually did attempt to leave the area. McDonald also had all off-duty officers notified and called to work. He told the desk sergeant that all suspicious characters should be taken in, and any man who had a reputation for violence should certainly be questioned closely.

Combining the spotlights and head lamps on their cars, the men began searching the side road and the highway. They were not looking for any certain thing, but they had some hope that the criminal might have been around the place for some time before he encountered the Lasters, and could have left behind some indication of his identity or where he lived or worked. They did not believe that the gunman had merely been passing here and had come upon the auto of his victim by chance. They felt, instead, that it was more likely the man had been here for a purpose. They knew that he could not have known that Laster would stop to turn around at this place, so there must have been another reason for the killer’s presence here.

It was Detective Edward Hall who came upon something of interest, a set of truck tire imprints in the somewhat muddy soil. Larger than ordinary automobile tires, it was plain that the truck had been equipped with diamond tread tires, both front and rear. The truck tires had almost wiped out the prints left by Laster's machine, and the sleuths knew that the bigger machine had certainly been driven there after the officer had been slain. It was reasonable to assume that the truck had probably been driven by the gunman, or he had at least been a passenger in the machine.

"There aren't many trucks that use this off-brand highway any more," McDonald said. "So I'd think that some of the people who live around here could have seen this truck and maybe they will even know who drives it. If we're lucky, someone could even be able to tell us why anyone was driving around here at night in a truck. There had to be a reason for them to be here, for very few people ever go joyriding in a thing like that. Most of us know where the scattered houses are located around here, so we'll start talking to these people."

Following the chief’s suggestion, the several officers went in pairs as they began the canvass. There were only a few homes in the somewhat barren mining region and they found all the neighboring citizens at home. But they did not find even one person who said they had heard the shotgun blast that had killed Laster, or who would admit ever having seen any kind of truck stopped in the vicinity.

When the lawmen had again assembled at the murder site, they discussed what the motive might have prompted the cold-blooded murder. They realized that Laster, having been a policeman for some 18 years, was the most likely to have motivated a revenge killing. But they reasoned that he had not been set up or a trap of any kind in his death. There was no possible way for the gunman to have known in advance that Laster would ever visit this spot and especially at night. They agreed that although this has possibly been a revenge shooting, it had not been planned in advance.

There was not a great deal more to be done, so after posting two men as guards, McDonald took his officers back to Joplin, while Sheriff Fisher also returned to Columbus. They would meet again early the next morning.

Not long after dawn, the sheriff and police chief were together again. As they viewed the crime scene in daylight, they were puzzled as to what course to take in their investigation. The Joplin city jail was overflowing with characters who had been picked up for questioning, but these men and youths were slowly being released as they furnished alibis or otherwise satisfied the lawmen that they knew nothing about the murder. This was also true in Columbus, the only difference being that there were not so many potential suspects to be interrogated.

"I think," Fisher suggested "the best thing for us to do is for two men to concentrate all their time on this case. I'll work at it, and you can pick whoever you wish."

"And," McDonald quickly conceded, "I think you're right. I will assign Edward Hall to work with you. I believe he is the best man for the job. He isn't easily discouraged, and I happen to know that he will stick to a case until it is either solved, or he is called off it to work on something which is considered more important."

The Kansas sleuth nodded agreement to this suggestion. He was acquainted with Detective Hall and felt that he could work well with the Joplin office.

At that moment, Hall and Detective Thomas Sweeney arrived and McDonald explained about his decision. Accompanied by Sweeney, the chief departed for Joplin, leaving the two new partners to begin their own investigation.

When he was here before, Hall had noticed a faint path about fifty feet from the murder spot. He pointed this out to Fisher who had also noticed the signs that someone obviously passed this way quite often. The pair began following the marks on the ground and after about two hundred feet, they found that the path seemed to end near several abandoned mine buildings. They could find no trace of it beyond the old shacks and they were puzzled to discover that the path stopped very near the apparently deserted zind mine shaft.

"Someone has certainly been coming to this place on a regular basis," the Kansas lawmen commented. "Probably bootleggers," he went on. "These old diggings are loaded with them and so are the courts and jails. This shaft seems to be dry," he added as he turned the beam of his flashlight into the dark hole, "so suppose we take a look down there. Maybe our killer had been up here when he met with the Lasters and Spragues."

Almost all abandoned mines were flooded with water, but this one was high on a small hill and was dry. It seemed to be approximately 50 feet in depth and heavy wooden cleats were nailed to the timbers that supported the walls.

The lawmen carefully descended into the shaft and saw a large chamber on one side. Turning their lights into this room or "drift" as they are called by miners, the sheriff and city detective were astounded at what they saw. Before them was the most complete liquor still they had ever seen. On one side of the cave-like room was a huge pile of sacked sugar and nearby they saw a number of barrels which contained mash. The mine was at least 100 feet long by 50 feet wide with a 20-foot roof. In one corner a clear spring bubbled across the floor and disappeared into the hole on the other side of the room. Both men knew that this was an ideal location for a still, as fresh water is absolutely required in the making of the spirits. Two powerful gasoline lanterns swung from the roof timbers, while a block and tackle indicated how the moonshiners got the supplies into the place and hoisted the illicit booze to the surface.

Hall's eyes swept over the room. "This place is somewhat damp and I doubt that any fingerprints will be on anything, but we'll get the identification man out here, just in case. If we can't get a line on whoever is running this thing, it may be tough to catch with anyone. Whoever runs this still is certainly aware of the murder having taken place, and I'd say it isn't too likely they will risk coming back here very soon. That will hold true whether they had anything to do with the crime or not."

"So," his companion retorted, "unless we can locate someone who will talk, our only chance to snare the owners of this thing is to simply wait for them to finally venture back. If we can pick up the right character, we’ll find out who runs the still. Whoever he is, he has considerable money invested here, and it will be hard for him to resist the temptation to come back, even if he intends to try and move it to some other spot."

Sheriff Fisher concealed himself near the mine while Hall returned to Joplin to get the police identification officer. Both men hoped that the owner of the still might visit the place and Fisher could nab him.

However, when Hall returned with the ID expert, the Kansas sleuth had to report that no one had appeared during his partner's absence.

The identification man shook his head the moment he saw the illicit still. "Everything is damp down here," he announced, "and there isn't much chance that any prints are here. But I'll take a look." Moments later he began putting his implements back into his carrying case. "No use," he growled. "Just as I thought, there's nothing here at all."

When they were again alone, the two lawmen began a careful examination of every article in the mine. They hoped they would come upon some object which could be traced to whoever had purchased it. But they had no luck. Like most bootleg stills, this one had been constructed from all junk-like material, the origin of which probably dated back for many years and which carried no numbers or other means of finding out from where it had come.

The discouraged investigators were leaving the mine shaft when Hall spoke up suddenly. "We're being stupid," he exclaimed. "They bought all that sugar we saw, and they must have got it from a wholesale house and transported it themselves. It's a cinch they wouldn't let a deliveryman get wise to the still. It's two-to-one that the truck tire prints we saw out here, were made when they hauled the sugar, and no doubt also when they made deliveries of the hooch.

"There's several wholesale houses around here, but we're bound to find the right one sooner or later. I'm not worried about any dealer trying to cover up on selling the sugar. There just isn't enough money involved to pay such an establishment to risk being caught breaking the law if they lied about selling anything that they thought was used in an illegal manner."

At the nearest wholesale grocery, the manager nodded as he listened to Hall's explanation of how they were interested in his sugar sales. "We have very little cash-and-carry business," he said, but he named a smaller concern whose business was mostly of that variety.

When they reached this place, they found that their luck had changed for the better. The owner acknowledged that he remembered two men who had bought sugar in the manner they described.

"They are young fellows in their early twenties," he explained. "They told me they wanted the sugar for a small ice cream plant they had established in Neosho, and they paid cash. I had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong with the deal." He was able to give a fairly good description of the customers, but he did not know their names or where they lived. Nor had he noticed the truck they used to transport the sugar.

Back at headquarters they found that a few more undesirable characters were still being questioned, but nothing new had been learned. All of these men and women were known to have at one time or another been arrested for liquor law violations, but they all swore that they knew nothing about the murder, nor would they offer any suggestions as to the culprit's identity.

None of the lawmen had any confidence that the roundup would result in helping the investigation, but Chief McDonald tried to improve their chances of success by promising each potential suspect that any help would be held in strict confidence and its source never revealed. Despite this guarantee, the men and women insisted that they did not know who owned or operated the still, and they refused to suggest the name of any possible suspect in the murder.

Every member of the Joplin Police Department and the men in Sheriff Fisher's office at Columbus, Kansas, had a let-down feeling a failure. Some even voiced predictions that the killer would never be caught.

The only real exception to this attitude was Detective Hall. Bearing a reputation of never admitting defeat, he was determined to solve this crime unless he should be taken off the case for some unforeseen reason. He was sitting alone as he mulled over the case, when he suddenly had an idea. He beckoned to Sheriff Fisher who was across the room.

"Look," he said in a grim tone, "those guys lied to the wholesaler about why they wanted that sugar," he began, "but why did they pick on that certain small ice cream company and name it as the buyer? There are many legal reasons why they would buy the sugar, so I wonder if it's possible they might have connections with the ice cream business in some way, or maybe just worked at that place or another one? We'd better talk to the manager of the plant. He might have some interesting things to tell us, maybe even the names of the sugar buyers."

"Sounds logical to me," the Kansas sleuth agreed. "It just might work out, and it at least beats twiddling our thumbs and grabbing a lot of scared moonshiners."

An hour later, the partners were talking to the manager of a small ice cream company in Neosho, Missouri, which is twenty miles south of Joplin. Neither man had any police jurisdiction here, but they did have the legal right to ask questions regarding any crime.

Although they both had entertained some hope of success in this move, they were not surprised at what the dealer told them. He said that he had no idea who the customers had been.

"They may be regular customers," he said regretfully, "or they may have even worked here at some time. But I just can't figure out who they could be from the descriptions you have given to me. I'm sorry I can't help you, and you can be very sure that if I should learn anything of value to you, I'll get in touch with you."

As the dejected lawmen started to return to Joplin, it was Sheriff Fisher's turn to come up with a plan of action. "We could still be overlooking something," he observed. "I remember that there wasn't a single empty sugar sack in that mine. Now from the looks of things, that still has been there for quite awhile. Those barrels of mash all had sugar in them, so what did the guys do with the empty bags? They're pretty valuable, and it's possible they sold them to a juckyard. There are also some places that deal only in empty sacks, and one of them could have bought sugar sacks from our bright young men."

When they stopped at a junkyard, they found that none of the regular junk dealers bought empty bags. The merchant told them that there were only two companies in the district where the sole business was dealing in the empty containers. Five minutes later they were talking with the owner of one of these firms.

"I think I know who you mean," the dealer said at once. "They drive an old Dodge truck but I don't know who they are. I did notice that the truck has a Missouri license plate, but the most outstanding thing about it is that although it is pretty trashy looking, it has apparently new diamond tread tires all around."

The lawmen exchanged quick glances at the mention of the tires. They were remembering the many tracks they had seen at the scene of the murder.

The merchant could tell them nothing more, and after he said he would notify authorities if the men should come back to his place, the partners left.

Both men felt somewhat encouraged, for although their progress was somewhat sketchy, they certainly knew a little more about the two suspects than they had previously. "There can't be so many old Dodge trucks around here that we can't come up with the right one," Hall observed hopefully. "It won't be too hard to locate every Dodge outfit in this end of the country."

It was only a matter of minutes after reaching headquarters until they had a list of owners of all Dodge trucks in the area. They decided to wait until the next morning before beginning what they knew could be a long and tiresome canvass of these truck owners.

There were only a dozen such vehicles licensed locally, but when night came and they had exhausted the names on their list, and they had failed to locate the Dodge with the heavy diamond tread tires.

Three weeks passed, and absolutely no progress was made in the investigation. Scores of officers were on watch for the Dodge truck while the old mine was under the eyes of officers night and day. No one came near the still and although every person who was picked up and who had any kind of criminal record was questioned closely, not one seemed to have any information in the murder.

"We're just not ever going to get anywhere unless we figure out some new angle," grumbled Hall as he and Sheriff Fisher again reviewed all that they knew in the case. "So I think we should take that still apart one piece at a time. Maybe, and just maybe, we'll come up with something."

Back at the time they again examined the still and all things they found here. But when they had finished the work, they had uncovered absolutely nothing of value to them.

Back on the surface again, Hall’s eyes wandered over the half-wild countryside. He centered his gaze on a thick growth of brush which had obviously sprung up since the time when the mine had been worked. Although there was actually nothing out of the ordinary about the thicket, for some reason he didn't understand, the detective started walking toward the growth. Without asking any questions, the Kansas sheriff went with him.

When they reached the brush, they found an opening and saw a faintly outlined trail leading toward the nearby forest. They knew it had escaped their notice before because it was invisible when it reached the rocky soil near the mine. Without talking, they followed the path through the heavy woods, each man wondering what would develop from the discovery.

A quarter mile from where they had picked up the trail, they suddenly emerged from the trees and found themselves in a large clearing. At the other side of the clearing was an ancient log house which seemed to be deserted.

Still without saying a word to each other, the two lawmen drew their service revolvers. While Hall cautiously approached the front of the structure, Fisher went to the back. They did not know what to expect, but they did know that if this place should be a hideout for moonshiners, they could be dangerous. This could be true, whether such men had a connection or even any knowledge of the shooting of Detective Laster.

Standing to one side of the closed front door, Detective Hall rapped sharply on the portal with his pistol barrel while calling out to whoever might be inside. He repeated this summons several times without receiving any response, and he then turned the knob of the door which was not locked. Still there was no sound from within, but the long-time peace officer now dropped to the ground before venturing to enter the place. His reason for hugging the earth so closely was because he knew from experience that any gunman who should be inside the building, would be almost certain to fire at about the height of a man's belt buckle and would thus miss his target.

As the city officer inched his way through the doorway, Fisher joined him. But the two soon found that all their caution had been in vain. There was no one in the one-room building. The place contained no furniture, but they saw a large canvas near a rear wall. This cloth was apparently covering something and the sheriff pulled it aside.

The astounded investigators were almost shocked at what was revealed. The canvas had been used to cover a huge pile of canned goods. Included were canned fruit, meat and vegetables along with other things. Judging from the appearance of the dust which had collected on the canvas, the food had been there for some time.

"This stuff must belong to the moonshiners," muttered Fisher, but neither of them touched any of the goods.

"Let's hope that the ID man can come up with some prints here," the county sleuth added, "But I wouldn't bet he will. I'd say this collection has been here for several months. In that case, it isn't too probable that prints will still be around. Unless whoever handled the cans had grease or paint on their hands."

"It's almost a sure thing that this food belonged to the moonshiners, all right," Hall commented, "and they haven't come back for it for the same reason they haven't returned to the still.

With the sheriff staying here to act as a guard, the detective hurried back to Joplin where he got the identification officer. When he expert examined their find, he gave them a bitter disappointment. "These cans are all blurred," he said glumly. "I would say whoever handled them was wearing gloves."

When they heard this announcement, the two investigators looked hard at each other. "The most important case either of us has ever had, and we can't get anywhere on it," muttered Hall.

As they walked back to their parked car, the Joplin officer had another idea. "I've been thinking about how all that food was stored in the cabin," he began, "and it brought something back to me. Do you remember that about two weeks before Laster was killed, burglars carted off over $1,500 in goods from a store in Crane, Missouri? And do you recall that the burglars were using a truck that had diamond tread tires? The sheriff found the tire tracks where the thieves backed the truck having been around here. There just has to be a connection there, and it's almost certain that the burglars and our moonshiners are the same guys. There's also a good chance that they are also the ones who killed Jesse Laster, or they know who did."

"I think," his companion retorted, "that we would be a couple of chumps if we don't follow up on that idea. The sheriff of Stone County caught those burglars a few days ago, but he did not recover all the stolen goods. The two guys both had records and they pleaded guilty to the store robbery. They got 15 years apiece and they're both in the Missouri penitentiary now. So if that Crane merchant can identify the things in the cabin, we'll certainly have the moonshiners and either the killer, or two guys who surely know who he is."

As they began acting on their plan, the lawmen returned to the log shack where they selected a number of samples of the various foods there. Then they set out on the seventy-five mile drive to Crane, Missouri. They watched anxiously as the manager of the big general store began his examination of the cans and boxes of food. They both grinned broadly when the man inspected the things and immediately began nodding. "They're mine, all right." He said at once. "Those are my price marks and code numbers on everything."

The two officers lost no time in heading for the state prison in Jefferson City, about 200 miles from Crane. Warden Leslie Rudolph brought Greco Webb and Linvel Boswell to his office at once. These were the convicts from Joplin who were serving the 15-year sentences for robbing the Crane grocery.

The prisoners were separated and Webb was first to be questioned. To the utter astonishment of the lawmen and the warden, the convict grinned widely, then he actually laughed aloud. "I been wondering when you guys would show up," he chuckled. "What took you so long? I was about to notify you, if you hadn't finally figured it out. Sure we killed Laster. That is, Boswell did. I was standing right behind him at the time. He threw the gun into Spring River and we went on our way. Is there anything else you fellows would like to know?"

Following this startling speech, the prisoner readily wrote out his confession and signed it with the three officials as witnesses.

The men were in for another surprise when they talked with the other prisoner. Like his partner, Boswell was in a friendly mood. He instantly acknowledged that he had been present when the chief of detectives had been slain, but he said it was Webb who had pulled the trigger. He also signed a statement in their presence. Bothe convicts had admitted to operating the still in the mine which they had owned for several months.

Both Boswell and Webb agreed to return to Joplin with Fisher and Hall and the ofiicers started the trip early the following day.

At headquarters in Joplin, Mrs. Laster viewed the two suspects who were placed in a line with several other prisoners. But to the dismay of the detectives, the woman burst into tears as the events of that terrible night were brought back to her, and she said she could not identify any of the men in the lineup.

Webb and Boswell were charged with first-degree murder, but there was one hitch in the proceedings. The crime had been committed in Kansas, and the prisoners were already serving felony terms in Missouri. Therefore, although they might be willing to go to Kansas to face the murder charges, they could not be forced to do so until they had satisfied their obligation to Missouri.

Under the law the authorities explained the situation to the convicts who both laughed. "Yes, we know all about that," Webb said. "Now if you guys want to wait until we finish our terms, your might do all right in court. On the other hand, it will be about eight years before you can try us if you choose to wait. Now I ask you, wouldn't it be nicer for you if our Governor Sam A. Baker, gave us each a pardon in Missouri, then we could go to Kansas and face the music there?"

The Missouri officers realized that the convict was correct in what he had said. The men could not be merely paroled, then forced to stand trial in Kansas. Under the law, they would either have to be pardoned or first serve their 15-year sentences before they could be taken to Kansas. The authorities also knew that although a parole can be revoked and a prisoner returned to prison, this isn't true of an outright pardon. A pardon is final and no further action is possible against an individual who receives one.

The officers also knew that under the Missouri "Good Time" law, in effect the, a felon was required to serve only 7 months for each year of his term. Thus, as Webb had pointed out, he and Boswell would not be free for approximately eight years yet. During such a lapse in time, it would be very difficult to get a conviction, even with the signed confessions of the pair.

"Even though it does look silly for these guys to so freely admit murder instead of just serving their time with a good chance of beating the rap after eight years, they will have to be pardoned before they can be taken back to Kansas on the murder," Joplin Prosecuting Attorney Roy Coyne told the policemen. "And," he added with a grimace, "I wouldn't want to be the prosecutor who tried to convict them after eight years. A lot of juries would regard them as being the victims, instead of Laster."

Therefore, in view of the unusual circumstances, Governor Baker promptly issued a full pardon to both Webb and Boswell. Then the criminal partners sprung still another surprise on authorities. This time it was the Kansas officials who received the jolt. Both Webb and Boswell suddenly offered to plead guilty to first-degree murder, provided they would not be hanged. This was agreeable to all the concerned authorities and Judge John Hamilton sentenced each man to life in the Kansas penitentiary. This was on May 14, 1927.

Apparently that was the end of the case. But only a month went by when a bombshell exploded under the Kansas officials. A Colorado attorney came to see the Governor of Kansas one day. He carried more that a dozen statements from Colorado citizens, all of whom swore that Linvil Boswell had positively been in Denver for several days before Laster had been murdered, and was still there on the day of his death and for more than a week later.

Kansas Governor Ben S. Paulen had Colorado officers check out the signers of these statements. They soon found that Boswell had signed receipts for money he received when he sold a washing machine or other household appliances in Denver at the time in question. There could be no doubt that the man was completely innocent of being involved in any way with the murder of the detective. Therefore, Governor Paulen had no choice. He was forced to issue a pardon to Linvel Boswell and the man was set free at once.

When he was leaving and was asked what had prompted him to pull the legal trick, the man just smiled and said, "Fifteen years is a long time when compared to how long I knew I'd be here."

When Boswell left the prison, he disappeared completely and has never been seen again by any of his former friends or acquaintances.

A few days after his pal's departure, Greco Webb also made an effort to prove that he had been in Colorado at the time of the crime. But ill luck was with him. He had depended on the statements of two prominent ranchers and their families for his alibi. But before any statements could be obtained from these people, they were all killed when they were riding in a car which was struck by a passenger train.

Thus, although it is entirely possible or even true that Greco Webb was innocent of the murder, he failed to gain his freedom and died in prison in 1956 after serving 30 years for a crime he might not have committed.

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