Three More Forgotten Michigan Criminals, 1917-1936
Going back to a time before most of us were born, here's a look at three more Michigan criminals whose stories have slipped under the radar throughout the decades.
Wesley Johns aided in stealing a car and shooting a police captain in Kalamazoo – yet, the reward for his capture was a lousy $100. It was August 5, 1936 when Johns, along with accomplice Theodore Bergstedt, were sitting in the stolen vehicle when they were confronted by two police officers. Bergstedt shot one of the officers, Captain D. Williams, and the two felons fled the scene. Johns was also wanted by Bay City authorities for escaping custody and had a handful of aliases.
Kenneth Frank Warner was from the Grand Rapids / Muskegon area. In 1949 he escaped from Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson after being incarcerated for gross indecency. He was serving 1-5 years when he escaped, and a chintzy $50 reward for his capture was posted. He was apprehended on a later date and passed away in Ionia in 2002 at the age of 76.
KENNETH FRANK WARNER
Samuel C. Butler also escaped from Southern Michigan Prison, but about thirty years earlier than Kenneth Frank Warner. In 1918 Butler was serving a five-year sentence for larceny, but mentally he couldn't handle it. Going stir-crazy and desperate to get out, he finally escaped on April 27. The warden offered a flimsy $100 reward for Butler's capture along with a description - two tell-tale tattoos. One of a full-sailed ship and another of his initials, both on his left arm.
I've added a fourth one, but there is extremely little info to be found on him: John Klees, who was labeled as a “communist agitator” by the Michigan Central Railroad. His mugshot is in the gallery below, but no forthcoming details could be found on arrests, convictions, incarcerations, etc.