Friday, November 28, 2014

November 28, 1933: Lloyd Warner

We start our journey today with an article from The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) dated November 29, 1933:



Crowd of 7,000 Batter Way Through Jail To Get Prisoner


Sheriff Gives Negro Up; Officers Battle Hand to Hand With Mob

By The Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29—Lynch law has settled the case  of Lloyd Warner, confessed attacker of two women.

The 19-year-old Negro died in flames at the end of a rope last night before the eyes of a mob of 7,000 which battered its way through national guardsmen and peace officers to seize him in the Buchanan County jail.

Warner was hanged to an elm tree near the court house, drenched with gasoline and set afire. Women and children watched him die. Some were friends of the white girl of 21, who, officers said, Warner assaulted in an alleyway here Sunday night.

"String him up," shouted from many throats, drowned out the last attempt of the muscular young Negro to speak.

Terror-stricken and stripped to the waist, he was pulled from a third floor cell by four young members of the mob, beaten, kicked and cursed.

"I'm a fighting Dutchman," said Sheriff Otto Theisen, 60, "but there are too many Irishmen here for me."

Tear gas fumes, remnant of the defense of forty city and county officers and the hastily mobilized members of the 35th division tank company, Missouri national guard, floated on the stairway down which the Negro was dragged to death.

He was hanged and burned about a block from the jail after impatient members of the throng decided against a plan to lynch him at the scene of the assault, a mile away.

The girl victim of the attack, waylaid on her way home from a motion picture theater, was reported near hysteria. Battered and bruised by her assailant, she was found in the alley tied with her own stockings.

Officers said she was the second woman Warner had attacked. He was accused of assaulting a Negro girl six months ago, but there was no prosecution.

Machines were called into play for both the offense and defense in the jail warfare, started soon after dusk with the hurling of stones and a vain attempt to break in the front door with a 5-inch pipe as a battering ram.

Officers scattered the crowd with tear gas. Governor Guy B. Park ordered out the tank company.

The mob obtained a truck and moved it around to the grilled back door. A chain was attached and the truck took the door away. A tank driver who failed to close a door of his vehicle securely was hauled out, and the tank put out of action.

Sheriff Theisen drew a revolver as the mob started in. He held the leaders at bat momentarily. They brushed past him as tear gas fogged the corridor.

Police and sheriff's deputies battled hand to hand with the crowd, but were pressed back by the heavy odds. Tear gas bombs exploded at intervals. A few wild shots were fired.

State highway patrol headquarters appealed to northwest Missouri peace officers to "rush all available men to St. Joseph."

The mob had won, however, before reinforcements arrived.

The noose was placed on Warner's neck, gasoline obtained from a nearby filling station was hurled upon his trousers and a torch was applied. Later men built a fire beneath the body. The flames burned the rope and the body fell upon the embers.

At 1:05 A. M. Fire Chief Leo J. Urbanski drove to the scene and extinguished the fire. The body was taken to an undertaking establishment.

Officers said Warner sought to plead guilty yesterday to the assault charge. Judge J. V. Gaddy, however, directed postponement of the case until today.

"I don't want to rush things," he said.

Governor Park declined to comment on the lynching.

The jail wrecked last night three years ago withstood the assault of a mob seeking Raymond Gunn, a Negro accused of the brutal slaying of Velmer Colter, a young Maryville, Mo., school teacher.

A few days later, however, Gunn was seized by a crowd on his way from jail to court at Maryville. He was taken to the frame school house where Miss Colter was slain, chained to the roof and burned with the building.

Found Knife At Scene. 

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29.—A long knife that officers said he used to threaten the young woman he is said to have attacked led to the arrest of Lloyd Warner, Negro lynched by a mob here last night.

The knife was found at the scene where the attack victim was tied with her own stockings. The Negro was tied with her stockings. The Negro was traced through the knife in what Prosecutor Frank L. Kirtley described as "one of the finest" pieces of detective work he had ever seen.

Warner's confession followed his arrest, Kirtley said.

A second case of criminal assault was solved yesterday, officers said. They reported Ray Lacy, 32, a white man, had confessed he had attacked an elderly white woman Monday.

Casteel To St. Joe.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29.—Under orders of Gov. Guy B. Park, Marvin Casteel, superintendent of the state police, arrived here about 4 A. M. to conduct an investigation into the lynching of Lloyd Warner, Negro, confessed attacker of a white girl.

Accompanied by Capt. L. B. Howard, and Sgt. Porter Clark of the headquarters troop, Superintendent Casteel made the trip from Jefferson City in four hours.

After surveying the jail, wrecked in the efforts of the lynch-crazed mob to reach the prisoner, the state police head told Sheriff Otto Theisen he had done a good job "under the circumstances."

"We were ordered here to prevent bloodshed at the governor's orders," Casteel said. "It was a regrettable occurrence but there was too much risk of human lives to take any other course."

Sheriff Theisen relinquished the prisoner after the mob had broken into the jail.

Sheriff's Story of Lynching.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29.—Sheriff Otto Theisen stood in the wreckage of his home in the Buchanan County jail today and described an invasion by the crowd which lynched Lloyd Warner, 19-year-old Negro who had confessed attacking a white girl Sunday night.

The 60-year-old self styled "fighting Dutchman" told the howling throng "there are too many Irishmen here for me" as he announced he was ready to surrender his prisoner after several hours spent in defending him and the jail from attack. Then he led the crowd to the place where he had hidden the Negro.

"I did everything I could to stop them," said the sheriff, leaning on the scarred piano in the living room. Windows in the room were smashed, the glass covering a picture on the wall had been shattered by a missile and was strewn over the rug. On the piano was all that remained of what had been a large vase.

"I brought two vases like that one 26 years ago and paid $150 apiece for them," he said. "Now look at it.

"They didn't stop with breaking up my home. They stole things. They took an overcoat of mine that cost $45. They took some hats which belonged to my men in the jail.

"I had learned that trouble was brewing and I thought I was ready for it. We were equipped with tear gas. We deemed the jail mob proof.

"Some of the mob came to the front door first and knocked. They wanted the Negro but I told them they couldn't have him. I locked the door and they tried to beat their way in.

"To pacify the crowd I invited some of them to come in and see for themselves if we had the Negro. But first I had hidden him. I won't say where but it was where they couldn't find him. They looked the place all over but never saw him. Then they went out.

"We began throwing tear gas bombs when the crowd started wrecking the jail. We had the city officers send over their supply.

"I called the governor at Jefferson City when I saw how things were going. I asked him for national guardsmen and he told me he would do whatever he could.

"The mob kept making headway. They tossed rocks and bricks and eggs—whatever they could lay their hands on. We fought 'em even after they got inside but I saw it was no use. I had nine Negroes in jail and I was afraid the mob would lynch them too. The crowd was wrecking everything in sight. Why they would have left nothing standing standing if I hadn't given in.

"They were shooting the windows and I expected one of my men to get hit any minute. So I told 'em I was ready to let them have Warner. I went outside and talked to them.

"If you keep quiet and be careful you can have the Negro in two minutes," I said. "There's no use tearing down any more. I can't hold out. I've never known an Irishman to lick a Dutchman before but there are too many Irishmen here for me."

Exhausted, the gray-haired man shook his head in despair as he talked. Often he was interrupted by the milling hundreds who continued to wander curiously through his home and battered down jail entrances.

"Sheriff, I'm so glad you're all right," a passerby would say. "Don't worry about this, it was all for the best." 

What did he propose to do about the mob violence? 

"What can I do?" he asked. Then answered it:  "Nothing."

"My worry now is to get the jail and my home back in order. Why, if I had been in here and seen what they were doing to my own house, I'd have shown them a real fight.

"Think of it, my own wife and relatives were somewhere in here."

The sheriff estimated the damage to the jail building, including his home, at $5,000."

The next article comes from Miami Daily News-Record (Miami, Oklahoma) dated November 29, 1933:

Missouri Governor Denounces Lynching of St. Joseph Negro


State Police Chief Arrives To Investigate Jail Attack That Ended With Hanging and Burning of Black Who Had Confessed Attack Upon Girl, 21.

JEFFERSON CITY, Nov. 29.—(AP)—Governor Park, in a statement today, said that "there is no justification" for the lynching last night of Lloyd Warner, Negro, at St. Joseph.

"While it appears from press reports that Lloyd Warner, the Negro boy lynched by a mob in St. Joseph last night, confessed to a heinous crime, punishable by death, yet there is no justification for the action of the mob."

William Orr Sawyers, Jr., an assistant attorney general, today was directed by Atty. Gen. Roy McKittrick to go to St. Joseph immediately and make an investigation of the lynching last night of Lloyd Warner, Negro.

Our next article comes from The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) dated December 7, 1933:


Former St. Joseph Officer Accused of Murder In Death of Negro


Defendant To Ask To Be Given Chance To Appear Before Jury

By The Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Dec. 7.—John F. Zook, former policeman, pleaded not guilty today to a charge of first degree murder in the death of Lloyd Warner, Negro, lynched Nov. 28. The ex-patrolman is accused of pouring gasoline over the Negro. Judge J. V. Gaddy in the criminal division of the circuit court ordered Zook held without bond. Zook told the court he will ask permission to appear before the grand jury next week.

We continue through the pages of The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) dated January 15, 1934:


Lloyd Warner's Mother Asks $10,000 of Sheriff's Surety.

Mrs. Lucille Mitchell of St. Joseph, Mo., Negro, mother of the 18-year-old Negro, Lloyd Warner, who was lynched November 28 by a mob, filed suit today in circuit court for $10,000 damages for her son's death against the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company and Otto Theisen, sheriff at St. Joseph.

She alleges in her petition that the company was on Theisen's bond as sheriff of Buchanan County, and that Theisen, "charged with the duty of protecting Lloyd Warner, wrongfully and unlawfully permitted a mob of lawless individuals to take charge of Lloyd Warner and permitted them to burn and kill him."

The suit was filed here presumably because the bonding company operates the bonding company operates a Kansas City office.

Our final article comes from The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated February 17, 1934:

Automatic Changes Of Venue Suggested In Lynching Trials

State's Attempts to Punish Leaders of Mob That Lynched Lloyd Warner Fail—Alexander Urges Change of Venue.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15—(CNS)—The State's attempt to punish leaders of the mob that lynched Lloyd Warner, Negro youth, at St. Joseph, Mo., the night of November 28, collapsed at St. Joseph on Monday, February 5th. As a result of that and other failures to punish participants in lynching ogres [sic], Dr. W. W. Alexander of Atlanta, Ga., director of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, urges a general move for state legislation to provide automatic changes of venue in trials of men accused of lynching.

Dr. Alexander said:  "Such a procedure offers the only hope of bringing lynchers to justice,  because local courts and juries just will not convict lynchers."

Dr. Alexander's statement was occasioned by announcement that there would be no further prosecution of persons indicted as alleged leaders of the St. Joseph, Mo., lynching mob of last November 28, after the acquittal of the first man tried. He commented:  "This is the old story over again of the failure of courts to convict in the cases of mob violence. In the 1,880 recorded lynchings from 1900 to 1930 inclusive, convictions were secured in only 12 instances, or less than 1 per cent. Local courts and juries just will not convict lynchers, even in the rare cases where officers have the courage to make arrests and grand juries the courage to indict."

All pending cases will be dismissed as a result of the acquittal by a jury Saturday night of Walter Garton, one of seven men charged with first degree murder in connection with the lynching at St. Joseph, Mo.

In making the announcement at Jefferson City, Attorney General Roy McKittrick said the case against Garton was the strongest.

Charges to be dropped include malicious destruction of property in connection with the damage to the county jail when the mob fought back National Guardsmen, forced its way inside and took the youth from the sheriff.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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