and carpenters began building a gallows, the warden had another prisoner housed in his cell to "calm him." He refused his last meal.
Michigan officials, including the governor, sought to have the execution moved to another state. The governor appealed to President Franklin Roosevelt, who refused to change the site of the hanging.
Chebatoris was hanged on July 8, 1938, at the U.S. Detention Farm at Milan, MI. Not only was he the first to be executed under the federal law, he is also the only man executed in Michigan since 1846 -- a span now of 168 years.
In 1998, 60 years after the incident, the Saginaw News interviewed Gary Skory, executive director of the Midland Historical Society, and 85-year-old Henry Hardy, a cousin of Dr. Hardy. The two told the interviewer that Dr. Hardy became a town hero and later a national one. The local Army-Navy Club gave him a medal for marksmanship, and the city council bestowed a gold medal of honor on him. According to the Midland Daily News, the bank's insurance company gave Hardy $400 as a reward ($6,900 in 2014 dollars). In addition, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent the sharpshooting dentist a special citation commending him for his actions.
Dr. Hardy's cousin Henry said, "It was not something that he was proud of ... and ... the family never discussed it."
The shooting caused the commandeered vehicle to slam into a guard rail, forcing the wounded Chebatoris to steal yet another car, which he backed into still another car when police apprehended him.
Both the banker and cashier survived their gunshot wounds, but the deliveryman died two weeks later.
In the usual scheme of things, the Midland incident would likely have
In 1934, Congress enacted the National Bank Robbery Act, which was designed to protect banks with federal deposits or federally insured deposits from the then-epidemic scourge of bank robberies gripping the nation. The law provided for the death penalty whenever a homicide occurred during the commission of a bank robbery. Chebatoris became the first person in the U.S. to be tried under the law for a homicide. Had Chebatoris been charged and convicted under state law, he would have received a life sentence and been eligible for parole after 14 years.
In October 1937, federal prosecutors secured a conviction, with the jury directing that Chebatoris be punished by death -- hanging. After his conviction, he muttered, "A lot of bull." While awaiting his execution, he tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrists and throat with a "rusty razor blade," but he was taken to the local hospital, where he recovered.
In prison, he studied atheism, "defaced holy pictures on the wall of his cell, and swore at nuns who came to visit him." As his hanging date approached
faded away -- except for the subsequent conviction and execution of Chebatoris. Michigan, then as now, had no death penalty (in 1846, it was the first state to abolish the death penalty).
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anyone noticing, and Gracey walked over to the bank's president and shoved the muzzle of a shotgun into his ribs. The bank president "grappled with Gracey for the shotgun," she continued.
In the scuffle, Chebatoris shot the banker and a cashier. Realizing their plans "had gone awry," the bank robbers fled the bank, jumped into their getaway car, and sped off.
Dr. Hardy, hearing the commotion, looked out his second story window and saw the fleeing robbers. According to Leaming, "He coolly poked a hole in the screen in the window, which had been raised in the September heat." Dr. Hardy, an avid hunter, had a keen eye. He took three shots at the fleeing automobile. One hit Chebatoris, who was driving, in the left arm, causing him to crash the car into a parked vehicle.
The two men started running -- all the while Dr. Hardy continued to fire. Chebatoris mistook a uniformed 50-year-old deliveryman by the name of Henry Porter for a policeman and shot him, thinking he was the one firing at him and Gracey. The two then commandeered a pickup truck. Chebatoris jumped into the passenger seat and held a gun on the driver as Gracey jumped on the running board. When the car sped off, Dr. Hardy took aim and shot Gracey in the head -- killing him instantly. Dr. Hardy told reporters that Gracey "turned a backflip like an acrobat when one of the .35s hit him. I knew he was done for."
Dr. Frank Hardy: The sharpshooting dentist
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“Dr. Hardy, hearing the commotion, looked out his second story window and saw the fleeing robbers.”