January 21, 1910
Three boys, Louis Dye, Ralph Clyne and Harry M. Shay, accused of highway robbery, were dismissed from the charge by Justice James B. Shoemaker yesterday afternoon, completely vindicated. His action, Justice Shoemaker said afterwards, was warranted by the fact that they had not been sufficiently identified as the robbers, that their good character was obvious and that there was a want of prosecution, none of the the complaining witnesses nor any of the numerous persons alleged to have been robbed being present in the court room when the case was called.
A chance resemblance alleged to exist between the innocent youths and the boy bandits who committed innumerable depredations, including a murder, a month and a half ago, has followed the former since their apprehension in the Peck dry goods store December 7. Interrogated by police and county prosecutors, and an attempt made to personally assault one of them in the office of Captain Walter Whitsett at Central station by Thomas Spangler, whose father was killed by robbers in his saloon at Twentieth street and Grand avenue, the boys have had an unenviable six weeks.
Although Clyne, Dye and Shay worked in the same store in the capacity of elevator operators, they were scarcely acquainted before their arrest. They met often in the course of a day's work but it was only as other employes of a large commercial institution that hires hundreds of people meet. Now they are friends. Adversity and a common cause have brought them together.
The boys were arrested at the Peck store, at the insistence of Miss Stella Sweet, 529 Brooklyn avenue, and Mrs. L. F. Flaugh, 629 Brooklyn avenue, at 5:30 o'clock, December 7. Captain Walter Whitsett and Patrolmen E. M. Smith and E. L. Masson were the arresting officers.
While getting on the elevator to shop on the third floor the women, both of whom had been held up and robbed a week before, said they thought Clyne and Shay were trying to conceal their faces from them.
In the office of Captain Whitsett, the next day, the several persons previously robbed by the boy bandits were allowed to examine the boys in the presence of Captain Whitsett, Thomas R. Marks and Thomas Higgs, deputy county prosecutor. They were: Joseph Shannon, Miss Sweet, Mrs. Flaugh, W. S. McCain, Edward Smith, Albert Ackerman, Thomas Spangler and Edward McCreary.
When the case was called for trial before Justice Shoemaker yesterday afternoon Smith was out of town. He had left an assurance that he positively would not swear that the boys were guilty of robbing him. McCreary was not at the trial when his name was called, and it had reached the ears of the court likewise that he would not, under oath, associate the boys with the crime he had formerly charged against them.
Assistant Prosecutor Higgs asked for a continuance of the case until he could procure further evidence, but this was overruled. the boys were dismissed for want of prosecution.
"The police and the county had no case against them," said Justice Shoemaker. "This is another instance of someone acting prematurely. From all evidence to the contrary, these young men are as guiltless as anyone here in the courtroom."