Friday, December 27, 2013

Criminals in Coquitlam

While doing a search "Pitt River" I came across this:

Well that piqued my interest, this is way back in 1918 a big deal back then.
Here is a good part of the story nearly all from the newpapers of the time.

 The Daily Colonist   10 Sept 1918


Another Member of House Party Shot and Died From Wounds Last Night—Police Have Arrested Suspect.

VANCOUVER. Sept. 9.—Thomas J. Roberts, proprietor of the Grand Hotel, and one of the best known of the city's pioneers, was shot and killed on Saturday evening by a masked robber with whom he had grappled to avoid handing over a diamond ring which the bandit had demanded. The tragedy occurred shortly before 11o'clock at 1304 Jervis Street near the corner of Harwood, a fairly large residence, surrounded by a thick screen of trees.

A second victim of two of the robber's six shots was Henry Eames, aged about 50, manager of an upcoast logging camp. He is so seriously wounded that slim hopes are entertained for his recovery.

The police have one suspect under arrest the most important evidence so far obtained is from A. Harradine, a taxi driver who conveyed a fare to Broughton Street; a block away from the scene of the murder, on Saturday night the man left the taxi with orders to await his return. He came back in ten minutes, became much agitated when the driver had difficulty in starting the car and finally was conveyed downtown, where he disappeared in the alleyway alongside the Alcazar Hotel, on Dunsmuir Street east of Homer.

The house where the shooting took place is occupied by Oscar Olesen, his housekeeper, Mrs. McLennon, and her children. Eight men were in the drawing-room when the robber's unheralded arrival took place. Five or six members of the party were playing a card game. They and several neighborhood friends were in the habit of coming in once or twice a week to spend the evening at cards.
Fleet of Maxwells Auto Stand, Seymour Street;  cars for hire at $1.50 per hour and up.
date: March 1918  photo: Stuart Thomson.   Van Archives  A17663
The taxi driver was Archibald Stephen Harradine, (1879-1972), good chance that he is in this photo.

Story of Shooting

The robber first demanded a ring from O. Jay, who handed over a three-stone ruby which encircled one of his fingers. Then the robber turned to Roberts with: "Now, hand over that ring," motioning to a large solitaire which the hotel man wore on the third finger of his left hand. It happened that this ring fitted very tightly Mr. Roberts made an effort —real or assumed—to remove the ring and failed. Then he held out his hand with the words: "Here, take it off yourself, if you want it so badly." Suiting the action to the words, which were the last he uttered, Mr. Roberts stepped towards the highwayman.
The robber reached forward and in a fraction of a second the men had grappled and the robber began to shoot. Cartridges found later showed the weapon to be a .33 calibre automatic. At least five probably six shots were fired. The first went wild across the room and crashed a window. Another went through the floor. Another struck Mr. Roberts head just in front of the ear and he slipped to the floor. A fourth shot pierced the opposite wall near the ceiling and two others struck Eames.
Mr. Roberts was one of the most familiar figures amongst the younger business men of the city. He was 47 years of age; coming to Vancouver from New Brunswick thirty years ago. He has been continuously with the hotel of which in recent years he was proprietor. He leaves a wife and two daughters of 10 and 8. His brother, Harry Roberts, is proprietor of the Beaver Transfer Company. Two sisters live in British Columbia, Mrs. T. Mambrick, of Comox and Mrs. Roy W. Brown. Mr. Roberts death is the first break in a family of thirteen.
J.F. McCabe, held as a suspect in the Jervis Street murder case, appeared before the magistrate today and was remanded until September 16, McCabe was in court on August 14 last, when according to the police records, he was fined $26 and costs for having morphine in his possession.
The  coroner’s jury late this afternoon returned an open verdict following the examination of  witnesses.

Thomas  "Tommy" Joseph Roberts  was born in Red Rapids, New Brunswick 12 June 1874. Son of Charles Roberts and Jane Crock. Came to B.C. in 1887.  d. 7 September 1918, 44 years old.  buried at Mountain View cemetery, Vancouver, B.C.  Married in 1905,  to  Pauline Margaret Roach, (1880-1929)
Sisters: Phebe Roberts; Lucy Ann Roberts; Harriet Roberts; Mary; Emily; Elizabeth; Margaret; Theresa
Brothers: Harry Roberts; Charles Roberts
Tommy Roberts owned the  Grand Hotel, 24 Water Street.
And also the  Roberts block, 307-311 West Pender Street, which was built in 1908    ]
Grand Hotel, 22-28 Water Street, 1929
 photo: W.J. Moore.  Van Archives A09208
Bar inside the Grand Hotel, ca,191?    Second right: Tommy Roberts

 Thomas  "Tommy" Joseph Roberts

 C.H. Jones & Son Limited, Pioneer Brand. Grand Hotel.
Date: May 1928. photo: Stuart Thomson. VPL 8966
Grand Hotel 1911 Insurance map, Plate 3
 Alcazar Hotel at the northeast corner of
Dunsmuir and Homer Streets,opened in 1913. Demolished in 1982
date: 5 July 1937. photo: W.J. Moore. Van Archives A08993
Shows the location of the Alcazar Hotel, and the Roberts Block.
1912 Insurance map Plate 6
Interior of British Columbia Cattle Co. Limited - 202 Carrall Street. ca.1890   Van Archives  A24911
(L to R): Tommy Roberts, Tom Langham, Harry Graham, George Causton, Harry Reading and Alfred Coughtrey.  This store was in the same block as the Grand Hotel


The Daily Colonist 11 September 1918


Inquest on Second Victim of Vancouver Gambling House Tragedy Throws No New Light on Identity of Criminal

Vancouver, B.C., Sept., 10. --- The death of Harry Eames led to another searching examination of witnesses at the inquest conducted by Dr. Jeffs today, but again the verdict that the man died from gunshot wounds inflicted by some person unknown had to be recorded. Additional witnesses were called, but little fresh light was thrown on the double murder. The new testimony went, in fact, to strengthen the story told from the beginning that a masked man entered the house and when he was grappled with, shot to kill.

 "There is absolutely no evidence to throw suspicion on any members of the party so far as I can see," said Coroner Jeffs in summing up the evidence. He had thought that perhaps some of these men were keeping something back, but having heard them again it did not seem to him they were holding anything back.
Mr. R.L. Maitland, city prosecutor, again conducted the examinations, and thought he was off on an important clue when the impression was left after hearing the evidence of Dr. Mahony that Eames had been very reserved in his statement and that others had visited the hospital to see him after being brought In on Saturday night.

"I asked him if he had any idea who the man was who had shot him, but he would not answer me," said the doctor. He believed there were others who came up to see Eames beside the police officials, but he was not sure if they saw Eames. Chief of Police McRae helped to clear this point up. The chief said that he got an account on Saturday from the various people who were around the card table, including Eames at the hospital. It was not an exhaustive account he got from Eames, because under the circumstances he did not press him, but it was a very fair account, and it was substantially the same as that related by the other men.
Olson, he pointed out, was taken into custody the night of the shooting and kept in custody until he had given his evidence the previous day.

As to the men who saw Eames at the hospital on Saturday night, they were the police officers who went up with Eames, and also Cameron, who went up in the evidence. Cameron, who was one of the card players, testified at both Inquests.

When W.W. Steele was again called to the witness stand, Coroner Jeffs told him he was particularly impressed with the candid way he gave his evidence the previous day, and he wanted him to rack his brain to see if he could not collect anything else that would help in the capture of the murderer. Mr. Steele again gave a detailed account of what happened in the room when the masked man made his Imperative demands, but could not improve on the evidence of identification.

[ Hiram Albert Eaman  born: 24 August 1869 Ontario. d. 9 September 1918, age 49  buried in Mountain View cemetery, Vancouver, B.C., as Harry Eames.
1871 census Cornwall, Ontario. with his parents:  Hiram Jacob Eaman and Margaret Ellen Gardner
1891 census finds him in Brownsville, Surrey,B.C. working as a bartender, and the following year in New Westminster working as a  machine hand at McGillivray's works. He has proved difficult to trace,  fault primarily being with the various miss-spellings of his name.  ]

Police Chief William McRae mounted on horseback 1917
  photo: Stuart Thomson. Van Archives  A16229

William McRae Deputy Chief of police.
 ca.1914 or 1915   Van. Archives A34696

 The City prosecutor at the time was :  Royal Lethington "Pat" Maitland, K.C. (1889-1946)
photo: 1941. Van. Archives A34776

The coroner Thomas William Jeffs,( 1858 - 1923) Physician, coroner, City alderman,(1906), police Commissioner (1907) moved to B.C. in 1894 Built a home in 1907-8, at 1240 Salsbury Drive
   He was known for his distinguished, but outspoken manner; impartial  and common sense approach to getting to the truth of the matter being investigated.

Witness: William Wilson Steele, (1884-1967) on his death certificate, it says he retired in 1946  after running the Arctic Club (718 W. Pender) for forty years; AKA the Cave in later years. In 1903 at Nanaimo,  he was working as a druggist for Harry James Rogers, and married  Henrietta Gibson Bell, (1885-1969)
1902 directory, for Nanaimo.  lists his father, Father W.W. Steele as proprietor of the Grand Hotel in Nanaimo.

The Daily Colonist, 15 September 1918

Outlaw Operated Here—Local police records show that the outlaw now, being sought by a posse of Vancouver police and believed to have been the man who murdered two prominent Vancouverites in a private gambling establishment on Jervis Street there last week followed his criminal career in Victoria.

     Known now to the Vancouver police as George Layton or George Leaf, the man was arrested here and convicted under the latter name, with a number of aliases, in November, 1914, on a charge of stealing $40 from John Oleson; and with being in possession of instruments for housebreaking. He served a six months term and, the local records show, subsequently he was convicted at Calgary of theft and was sentenced to two years In the penitentiary, from which institution he could have been released only a comparatively short time ago.

The crime scene 1304 Jervis Street;  insurance map 1912 of area.   Today the original home has been replaced by a large apartment complex known as 1330 Jervis Street   Plate 16

The Daily Colonist, 25 September 1918


Vancouver, Sept. 24. —That the fugitive George Leaf had been located in the Pitt River district and was practically surrounded by a cordon of officers who were steadily closing in on him was the report received in the city this morning.
While the exact location of the hunted man was not given, it was stated that he had been seen entering a house in the district and had obtained food there from, afterwards making his way carefully through the bush to the place where he has been hiding.
Reinforcements were sent out from police headquarters early today, and the officers are now said to be gradually closing in on their man, who, they expect, will fight to the death before surrendering himself.


The Daily Colonist, 5 October 1919


Vancouver, Oct. 4—A desperado known in Los Angeles under the name of Nyland and In Vancouver as George Leaf, who killed himself in Los Angeles last Sunday to avoid capture after a gun fight with the police, has been identified as the man held responsible by the local police for the murder here thirteen months ago of Thomas J. Roberts and Harry Eamen, who were shot in a card game.
The man's real name is thought to be Lehtenen.


The Daily Colonist, 7 October 1919


Desperado who, eluded capture in Los Angeles by suicide had police record here—Suspected of Murder,

To criminal Identification records of the Victoria detective department can be given credit for the identification of Nyland, a desperado killed in Los Angeles, with the George Leaf, wanted in Vancouver for the murder, over a year ago, of Thomas J. Roberts and Harry Eamen in a Jervis Street gambling resort ever since the murder at Vancouver thirteen months ago the police of that city have been looking for Leaf.
     They insisted he was the murderer of Roberts and Eamen, though the murder mystery for some reason or other was never fully cleared up, and time and time again it was asserted in the press of that city that all the facts concerning the shooting were not brought out.

Last week at Los Angeles In a running gun fight with police officers a burglar was wounded. To avoid capture he deliberately shot himself with his own revolver, and was dead when the pursuing policemen reached his side. The desperado was known in Los Angeles under the name of Nyland, but has been identified as Lehtenen or Leaf. The identification was accomplished through photo and finger prints of Leaf as supplied to the Vancouver police by the Victoria authorities shortly after the Vancouver gambling house murder.

Leaf, alias Samson, alias Anderson, alias Necthern, alias Lehtenen, was arrested here on November 17, 1914, for theft of $40 from the person of John Olson. He was dismissed on that charge, but upon the charge of being in possession of burglar's tools he was sentenced to six months. The next heard of him was at Calgary, where he was sentenced for theft.

Leaf's photo and finger prints were taken when he was sentenced here, and when the Vancouver police were searching for him for his alleged participation in the shooting of Roberts and Eamen, the Victoria records were supplied. Circulars bearing his photo and finger print classification were circulated far and near, and it was by that means that the Los Angeles police made their identification of the desperado Nyland.

A standing reward of $1,000 for the arrest of Leaf was offered by the Vancouver police following his escape from that city. But so far as any publicity was given to the case there has never been forthcoming anything from the police there to show why they considered that it was Leaf who shot Roberts and Eamen. True, Leaf was then residing in Vancouver and, it was alleged, when the police posse were chasing a suspect in the woods near Vancouver they got a good look at him and he answered the description of Leaf. But the latter got away and was last seen; it was stated, In Montreal. Now comes word that he has terminated his career at Los Angeles.

The mystery continues to this day, what exactly was this fellows name?

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