Monday, October 31, 2011

Communists in the Church, Assassination and the AIDS Hospital at Eloise Which Was Not to Be

I always think that the stream of stories concerning Eloise will dry up but for the time being they come faster than I can post them. Imagine the amount of stories if every old newspaper was available online since most are the smaller dailies from townships and smaller municipalities.

This story is kind of in the Halloween vein with a woman attacking a priest with a knife to drive the Communist out of him! Kinda like a politically motivated Bazoozoo. Luckily for Father Norman LeZotte she wasn't much of an outdoors type or he might have been gored.

The unidentified woman had served 3 stints in mental institutions but at the request of her family she was released in March of 1963. As with most mental cases the slippage back into a dark nature is unpredictable. When she attacked Father LeZotte on January 8, 1964 at St. Francis Cabrini Roman Catholic Church after a mass for 100 children, she was only 9 months removed from her most recent incarceration.

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I had a few go-to stories that I found last night after some digging but since this one has a picture, albeit very grainy, of former Garden City mayor James Tierney being wheeled into Wayne County General Hospital after being shot 5 times at a crowded public meeting of 50 officials and residents in July of 1957, I thought I should go with it

Doctors gave Tierney a 50/50 chance of survival from the bevy of .22 caliber bullet wounds suffered at the hand of a disgruntled builder named Lester C. Ellerhorst, a known political combatant of Tierney's and the city. The mayor apparently had criticized the new $100,000+ police department building that Ellerhorst's firm had been contracted to build, calling it a white elephant and cited numerous changes to the original building plan which benefited the contractor financially.

Tierney survived the shooting and went on to a second term as mayor before becoming a state legislator. Just a year and a half later, after his second swearing in ceremony, he was shot at again after pulling into his home garage. He was unhurt in the attack. The shooting may have been precipitated by a damage suit filed by Tierney against Ellerhorst in which he secured a $150,00 judgement against the man who shot him.

Ellerhorst was convicted in the shooting and sent to Northville State Hospital but escaped twice. On his second jaunt outside the psychiatric facility he bolted to Florida where he engaged two ex-convicts, Edward Szeles and James Clark, in a murder-for-hire scheme to kill Arthur Bichan, the lawyer in the personal damage suit. The three were convicted of conspiracy to murder and extortion and sentenced to a pair of 4 1/2 to 5 year sentences. Tierney said that he held no malice towards Ellerhorst and only wanted him to get the treatment that he needed. I don't believe that Ellerhorst ever served time in jail.

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In 1987 Kay Beard, who the main building at Eloise is now named after and one of the county's biggest supporters of the facility, attempted to convert the treatment center into an AIDS hospital. This was during the early years of the epidemic which had begun to sweep across America and the world and public sentiment demanded swift action to contain its spread. The notion was shot down by Dr. Donald Lawrenchuk, medical director of the county Health Department at the time, as being unnecessary. He said the county should concert its efforts in prevention of the disease rather than adding to the hysteria. Imagine somebody saying that in this day and age. They'd be removed from office quicker than Lester Ellerhorst attempted to make an ex-mayor of Mr. Tierney.

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