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Leon Forncrook’s life-changing mistake – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News


When Leon Forncrook arrived in Medford on the Fourth of July in 1921, his household was amazed at what the Rogue Valley appeared to supply — particularly fruit.

They got here from a small city within the northeast nook of Montana — “A prairie nation the place sheep have been raised,” stated Verna, his daughter. “This place, Oregon, was so totally different — so many fruit timber — the land of lots.”

In 1903, not lengthy after commencement, Leon left his hometown in Wisconsin for Montana. He had organized a telegrapher job with the Nice Northern Railroad. There he met Bertha Hruska, and so they married in August 1909.

By 1913, he had labored two years as a bookkeeper for the county treasurer, earlier than being chosen as deputy sheriff. It was this eight years of legislation enforcement expertise and his familiarity with cataloging and analyzing fingerprints that made him the proper candidate for the vacant Jackson County deputy’s place.

The drive from Montana to Oregon over filth roads took two weeks. There have been dozens of stops to restore inside tube punctures, and though it was early summer time, their Overland touring automobile struggled to push by means of the heavy mud and wade by means of sudden rain squalls.

Deputy Forncrook shortly gained a “extremely environment friendly” fame as an knowledgeable fingerprint man and gifted crime fighter. Nevertheless, it was his poor choice — his mistake — in fall 1925 that will hang-out him for the remainder of his life.

On the finish of September, the grand jury heard sufficient proof to indict a 16-year-old boy on a cost of rape of a 16-year-old lady. A warrant for the boy’s arrest was issued and given to Deputy Forncrook to serve.

Walter Williams, the accused boy, lived together with his mother and father in Gold Hill. Leon went to the home late within the afternoon and defined to Williams’ mother and father that he had an arrest warrant and was required to take their son to jail.

In fact, the mother and father objected and, after a protracted dialogue and a promise they might convey their son to the county jail themselves early the subsequent morning, Leon agreed and left for his residence with out the boy.

The following morning neither the mother and father nor their son appeared in Jacksonville. Leon found the boy had fled. His mother and father stated he had left through the night time and so they didn’t know the place he was. They have been held beneath a $500 bond to seem as witnesses within the case.

Their son was apprehended the subsequent day.

Now, the grand jury indicted Deputy Forncrook on two misdemeanors — malfeasance and neglect in workplace — and receiving and delaying the service of a warrant of arrest. A felony cost of obstructing justice was added later.

Though left on his personal recognizance till trial, Leon instantly introduced that no matter the results of trial, he would resign his place on the finish of the month.

Buddies stated Leon was being charged due to politics and unhealthy emotions between the sheriff’s workplace and county prosecuting attorneys. They defended Leon’s choice, believing he had agreed with the mother and father as a result of he didn’t wish to put the boy within the crowded county jail amongst hardened criminals.

At trial, Leon pleaded responsible to failure to serve a warrant. The felony obstruction cost was dropped. He was fined $50, suspended from responsibility and never given jail time.

Months later, Walter Williams was convicted of rape, misplaced his attraction and was despatched to jail.

Leon Forncrook’s almost 15-year legislation enforcement profession was over for good. He accepted a job as bookkeeper for the California Oregon Energy Firm (COPCO) and died in 1946 at age 62.

Author Invoice Miller is the writer of 5 books, together with “To Reside and Die a WASP, 38 Ladies Pilots Who Died in WWII.” Attain him at newsmiller@dwell.com.





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