Local history: Unsolved Akron murders from 100 years ago (2024)

More than a dozen people got away with murder 100 years ago in Akron.

The killers escaped prosecution. Justice was not served. The victims’ families never got any closure.

Robberies, gangland slayings, violent brawls and crimes of passion kept investigators busy in the 1920s.

“The police department will not rest until we find the slayer,” Chief John Durkin said after one of the homicides.

Yet the trails eventually went cold.

These 1920s cases still remain on the books at the Akron Police Department, although it’s extremely unlikely they will ever be solved — barring the discovery of some new evidence such as a confession in an old diary.

Local history: Unsolved Akron murders from 100 years ago (1)

These are the coldest of cold cases in Akron. Here are 15 unsolved homicides from a century ago:

Dr. Gustave A. Theiss

Jan. 8, 1921: Dr. Gustave A. Theiss, 50, was shot in his office at 200 E. Center St. during an apparent robbery, and chased the gunman down Buchtel Avenue to First United Brethren Church, where he was shot two more times and died. The killer left behind a handkerchief with the monogram “B.A.” Theiss was survived by his wife and two children.

Millie Carter

Nov. 16, 1921: Millie Carter, 44, was found hanging in an unused bedroom closet of her home at 603 Wooster Ave. Police said someone had strangled her elsewhere and moved the body to make it look like suicide. Separated from her husband, she was survived by three daughters and two sons. A former roomer was suspected but never charged.

Joe Black

April 2, 1922: Joe Black, 32, an Alabama native, was fatally wounded during a street duel outside a pool hall at 134 Stanton Ave. Following a quarrel with a stranger, the men went outside, marked off 10 paces and began firing. Black was shot four times and the other duelist ran away.

Albert Farino

May 19, 1922: Albert Farino, 24, was gunned down in front of a soft drink parlor at 17 Lods St. during Prohibition. Someone fired a 12-gauge shotgun through a curtain in the window of a stolen automobile. Farino pulled a revolver and fired five shots at the car before dying. Police suspected it was a gangland dispute over a woman.

John Booker

March 18, 1923: John Booker, 39, was found stabbed to death near his home at 197 E. North St. Police said the victim had been active in Akron’s underworld, and revenge “for some action of Booker” was believed to be the motive. He was separated from his wife.

Louis Nick

March 28, 1923: Louis Nick, 35, chef at the Candyland confectionery at 40 E. Mill St., was found beaten to death with a lead pipe in the cellar of the downtown business. A restaurant manager was charged with manslaughter, but a grand jury declined to return an indictment, citing insufficient evidence. Nick was survived by his mother and siblings in Albania.

Edward McClear

June 28, 1924: Edward McClear, 33, alias Mat Conway, a Pennsylvania native, was killed in a carjacking on Grant Street near Voris Street. Police said two men jumped on the running board of his car as he drove on Grant in a severe storm. When the driver got out, the men shot him and stole the vehicle, which was found abandoned at Sherman and East Crosier streets.

Arthur Lowe

Sept. 30, 1924: Arthur Lowe, 26, a brick worker from Mogadore, was shot three times on Tobin Heights Street in Akron and died the following morning at City Hospital. Police believed he was killed by a jealous husband who fled the scene with his wife after the violent altercation. Lowe was survived by his wife and three children.

Eugene Keller

Aug. 29, 1925: Eugene Keller, 45, a laborer from St. Louis, was shot to death while seated in a parked car on South High Street. Police said a man walked up to the vehicle, fired six shots and fled. Officers theorized the killer was a jealous suitor of a woman Keller was dating. The divorced man was survived by a daughter.

Walter Green

April 15, 1928: Walter Green, 46, a laborer from North Carolina, was stabbed on the front porch of his home at 178 Turner St. in what police described as a bootleg feud. A Youngstown man, 32, was arrested two years later but never convicted.

David McNeal

Sept. 1, 1928: David McNeal, 31, a laborer from Alabama, was killed following a quarrel at a pool hall at Stanton and Steiner avenues. Witnesses said McNeal got into a dispute with another billiards player. Both men left and returned with guns for a duel outside the establishment. Before McNeal could draw his weapon, the other man shot him three times. McNeal was survived by his wife.

James L. Edwards

Nov. 24, 1928: James L. Edwards, 40, was killed during a holdup at his grocery store at 113 W. Thornton St. A man posing as a customer pulled a revolver and demanded cash. Edwards tried to knock the gun away and was shot in the head. A customer was wounded in the skirmish. Police rounded up more than 35 suspects, but no one was tried in the slaying. Edwards was survived by his wife and four children.

Charles Lopresti

May 26, 1929: Charles Lopresti, 37, a B.F. Goodrich employee, was gunned down as he left his home at 1179 Girard St. to go to work. Police said the killer fired two shotgun blasts from a large touring car as Lopresti crossed Cole Avenue. He was survived by his wife and two children.

Frank Bellini

June 26, 1929: Frank Bellini, 50, was shot to death while sitting in front of his soft drink parlor at 106 N. Howard St. He was struck by two shotgun blasts fired from the window of a passing touring car. Bellini died two days later. Police said he was an underworld czar linked to bootlegging, prostitution and murder. He was survived by his wife and two young wards.

Louis A. Petsche

Aug. 26, 1929: Louis A. Petsche, 31, a plumber who lived on East Thornton Street, was killed in a brawl at a pool hall at 675 S. Main St. A bartender tried to silence a noisy argument among patrons, struggled with Petsche and stabbed him five times. The pool hall worker was never captured. Petsche was survived by his mother, two brothers and a sister.

Mark J. Price can be reached at mprice@thebeaconjournal.com

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Unsolved Akron murders from 100 years ago

Local history: Unsolved Akron murders from 100 years ago (2024)

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