Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California on May 27, 1934 · Page 66
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Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California · Page 66

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Oakland, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 27, 1934
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Page 66
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OAKLAND TRIBUNE, SUNDAY, MAY 27, 1934 himself info I.' C woo Glib Tongue of Peter Treadway Saved Him From Execution in Philadelphia Murder, but Brought His Conviction for Killing Ohio Woman (p js' vli I III Rl 4 Nl 3 III HI f t Pff I 11 1 '..iiswiBiJ I I : -Nwv'i I mill XnnJ ,., - iri mm Peter D. Treadway and his wife as they appeared during a recess in his trial for killing Mrs. Ruth Steese in Cleveland V J HI?'. -: ' 4i ism 7& i&fM By Frank H. Ward DETER D TREADWAY. 41. who dodged the Potinsylvanla electric chair for the inurdrr ol Henry T. Pierce, manufacturers' agent, of Philadelphia, in 1920, has been doomed to dlo In the Ohio "hot seat" for the slaying of Mrs Ruth Stecse, 26, near Cleveland. In both cases it was Trcadway's weak-nets lor pretty girls that ended in murder, and each crime was a mystery at first the Pierce slaying for less than t week, and the Stecse horror foi more than a year. But where Treadway talked himself out of the chair 1vrrPhila(tel-phla, he talked himself into it In Cleveland. In the Pierce murder a vivacious girl of 18, Mrs. Mario WiMams-Philllps-Rogers-Ross, who, tn her brief but busy career, had taken on and thrown oft more "husbands" than she could recall, was Treadway's companion when Pierce was robbed and beaten tu ieath In his apartment. " The Fatal Party At Cleveland' it was a comely matron In her middle twenties whom Treadway kidnapped, bound, gagged, robbed and shofr- to death on a lonely ectlon of Shaker Boulevard, and escaped to safety until his tongue began to wag. On Plerce"s last night on earth he was wen between 7 and 8 o'clock In company of young girl at a gascjlne station near the building in' which he maintained an office, , The girl at the gasoline station was the same one ho hud been seen with the preceding night Pierce left tier eniiy thnt fateful Saturday evening, but at 1:30 Sunday morning met her and . Trpndway. whn was then 27, flnri.tnnk l.liem 'to his "love nest." When Pierce did 'not return home Sunday morning, his wife became worried. On Monday she called Pierce's secretary, who broke Into the apartment on the floor above the otllce and found her employer's mutilated body on the floor, gas pouring from a stove. It was the theory of police that a sharp guarrel between Pierce and a male companion had ended In blows Prom pieces of a revolver found near the body, it was believed Pierce drew a pistol and that 1' was smashed from his hands by a wrench in the hands ol another man ' Then the wrench was swung . .on Pierce's head, crushing his skull. -- Robbery as a motive was discounted, alfh'ough Pierce's watch, money and two valuable diamond rings were missing Empty whisky bottles and a number ol glasses gave mute evidence of a drinking bout. Pierce had advertised the apartment for rent in a Saturday morning newspaper and police believed that advertisement to be an Important link u the case Pierce's machine, a brilliant red roadster, was missing and police began to trace Its movements It was a car easily distinguished, with a black radiator and Mrs. Ruth Steese, Cleveland, O., woman, was the victim of murder, for , which Peter Treadway has been sentenced to die In the electric chair silver-colored wire wheels. It could develop j 20 horsepower nnd was exceedingly speedy for those days. Wlu'i) it was learned that the machine, with four men in it, sped west out of (Philadelphia at 10 'o'clock Sunday morning, over the National Highway, authorities along the route to 'the Ohio' bolder and beyond were notified to be on the lookout. Sent to Prison rpHE end of the pursuit came with such suddenness that even the police who made the arrest were startled. The dramatic flight ended at Wheeling W. Va. And when the girl and Treadway were wrought into the solemn presence of a Philadelphia court, charged with murder, Marie laughed so merrily that I'readway, too, gave way to her lrffec-lotis merriment. "When I smile something always happens," Marie told officers. And that' "atal smile had led this girl on, step ny step, from the indiscreet flirtations f a schoolgirl to the conqifest of men with money and association with men if criminal pursuits until she arrived at i partnership in murder a hardened. , heartless adventuress at 18. "I can always 'vamp' men," Marie The rope and cloth which the slayer of Mrs. Steese used to bind and gag her after she was shot in her automobile In a Cleveland suburb went on. "I'm not afraid Jrf" be tried by a jury of men I can vamp them. But women ugh! I hate women! If I'm ; convicted! it'll be by a bunch of women." Both .Treadway and Marie confessed they were in Pierce's apartment at the time he was killed, but maintained that the crime was committed by two acquaintances, known to them only as "Al" and Smith. Pierce, drunk at, the time, looked up Treadway Saturday night and asked him to get two girls and come to the apartment for a party. He took Marie and another girl there. They were having a hilarious time when two men walked In, "drew guns and ordered the merrymakers to hand over their money Pierce, in a drunken stupor, lunged tifr-nard at the intruders, cursing. V One of the men picked up a ijjmkc wrench from the floor, smashehe pistol out of Pierce's hands and then brought the wrench down on Pierce's head with terrific force. ' -- Treadway was convicted ot being an nrV.esr.ory after the fact. He was In prison until 1931, when he was paroled anrj he went to Cleveland Marie made good her promise that she could vamp men A Jury turned her loose. Marie (Boots) Rogers, as she was then known, was the girl in the Treadway murder case when he was on trial in Philadelphia In connecilon with the killing of Henry T. Pierce The scene now shifts to Cleveland One December ntuiinoon two years ago, Mrs. Ruth Steese, bookkeeper for the Cleveland Society for the Blind, walked irlo branch bank and cashed checks amounting to $191.25 for herself and coworkers. Korly minutes later Mrs. Steese had been abducted, transported ten miles to a desolate .spot on Shaker Boulevard in a sedan she was driving, lobbed and murdered. Mrs. Steese was shot in the head. Her hands were tied behind her back with a length of jute rope. She was blindfolded with, a piece of cheesecloth of the size sold for the purpose of polishing automobiles, i The police theory was that the slayer had hidden in Mrs Steese's sedan while she was in the bank, the windows of which were steamed by . a . heater, and forced her to drive to the scene of her death at the point of a pistol. The case seemed destined to be a mystery until Treadway, employed at a gasoline station, interjected himself into the case by making suggestions to, the police. Little attention was paid at first to Tieadway, who reported he had been kidnapped and robbed and taken to .ibout the same spot on Shaker Boulevard in the Summer of 1932, where he a as shot in the leg and robbed of $200 it his employer's money Later as almost a year passed and investigation in the Steese case began to lag. Yeadway made various suggestions to the police and o one occasion Picked out of the Bertillon gallery the 'mug" of the man he claimed had kid-mpped him. When the owner of the "mug' was irrested in Pittsburgh, Treadway accompanied Cleveland detectives to the Smoky City and positively identified him is his" assailant. w But the prisoner produced an Iron iad alibi, and detectives then decided that Treadway showed more interest In the case than a mere desire to win the nosted $6000 reward justified his trial in connection with the murder of Henry T. Pierce in Philadelphia in 1920, Treadway seemed as' unconcerned as he was during his trial recently in Cleveland Cheeking up on Trcadway's fingei-prints, which they managed to obtain without him knowing it, they learned ol -his prison term Jav the Pierre murder and a previous robbery senlencc in Kansas for theft from a Kansas City hotel when he was a bellboy in his teens. First, Detective Inspector C. W Cody forced from Tieadway a confession that his story of being kidnapped and robbed was a fake, and that he had shot himself in the lee. Then Cody asked Tieadway where he was the afternoon Huth Steese was slain. Treadway, supposed to relieve Ralph I'etre at the gasoline station at noon Mat day, had telephoned Petre at noon, t.eld him .his wife had fallen downstairs and hurt herself, and that he would not be 'able- to report until toward evening When Mrs. Treadway, who had marled Trendway six months before the steese murder without knowing he had 1 prison record, was interviewed, she denied she had injured herself. Treadway then admitted that he had liamed the story to win Petre's sympathy, and that in reality he remained at his home in Western Cleveland, ten miles from the scene of the murder, until 1:30 P. M. His wife supported this statement. If this were true, he could not have killed Mrs. Stecse, her bo'dy being still warm, as was the automobile engine, when it was found at 1 :40, and physicians said she could not have been dead more than twenty minutes. l aces Electric Chair THE time now was ripe to call in Clarence Jackson, a 10-year-old farm boy. who had passed the Steese machine, parked' In' the mud off Shaker Boulevard, and had been waved away by a man in a visored cap and windbreaker when he started toward the car with the thought of helping tne driver out . of the mud. ' "That's t)ie man' he said, picking Treadway out of a group. When it was found - that Treadway on nked at the same bank from which Mrs. Steese was kidnapped, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted him for first-degree murder. While awaiting trial, Treadway and three other prisoners escaped from the new "escape-proof County Jail on February 23, 1934, through means of a rope made out of bedclothes. Treadway, a trusty in charge ot bedding, had secreted blankets tor aays He fled to Chicago, bought an automatic pistol there, and was arrested two weeks later at Hannibal, Mo.. Just'sttei lie had robbed a gasoline station Returned to Cleveland. Treadway waived a jury trial and his hearing began April 2, 1934, before a trio of Judges of the Common Pleas Court. John P. Dcmpsey, Walter McMahon and Alva Corlett. Evidence was presented by the State, breaking down all alibis. The three-Judge Court weighed the evidence only fifty minutes after final argument.'; were made, and then condemned' 'Treadway to die in the electric chair at Columbus.

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