Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Bandit & A Couple Comsumptives

The period before and during the 1920s in Detroit was filled with many colorful characters of ill repute. The notorious Black Hand crime syndicate had a branch in Detroit and often harassed common folk and celebrities alike, demanding a trade-off of money for no bodily harm to their person.

Several sensational murders and subsequent trials rocked the city culminating with the axe-slaying of Bennie Evangelista and his family of 5, including 4 children under 8 years of age and one just 18 months old. They were all partially or nearly decapitated on July 3, 1929 and many blamed a voodoo cult for the "hex" murders. Many of the murders including the Evangelista family slayings were never solved and much blame was levied against the often incompetent Detroit police force.

Lesser known criminals such as The Cockney Bandit, AKA Maurice Greeson, and his younger brother Michael, were two English immigrants who ran amok with the law involving themselves in various robberies, shootings and Michael's famous murder trial for the slaying of his young bride in 1920. Both ended up in prison before being deported back to their mother country. Maurice's (often referred to as Morris) fate crossed with Eloise's when he was shot by a police officer during a robbery and was rendered paralyzed from the waist down, though some photographs from the time showed him walking with a cane. For more on them go here:

Another lesser known small-time criminal was Michael White, a 22 year old criminal who robbed several gas stations during a 1919 crime spree and was known as the Lone Wolf Bandit. He was an Eloise TB patient during this time and used his furloughs home to make some quick cash.

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If it wasn't bad enough for Lucy Irvin being stricken with tuberculosis her problems were exacerbated when she turned violently insane at Herman Keifer and had to be transported to Eloise for treatment by issue of Probate Judge Stewart Hanley.

from The Detroit Free Press, April 17, 1914

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More sadness from the Hotel Eloise. Although Steve Tobish never made it to Eloise he was enroute on the train when he succumbed to tuberculosis. Having been stricken a few months earlier he was sent to Eloise after a health inspector visited his home and deemed it unfit for his condition. He was only 18 years of age.

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