ALBUQUERQUE, NM, December 08, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Lauri Einari Kallio has been included in Marquis Who’s Who. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Mr. Kallio is the author of the 1998 investigative book “Confess or Die: The Case of William Heirens,” which chronicles his experience as the confession analyst on a committee put together by Delores Kennedy, William Heirens’ biographer and friend, to ascertain if Heirens did the murders to which he confessed. Lauri E. Kallio has performed a very valuable service by exposing the “fast and loose” practices of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in producing a deeply flawed fingerprint scenario, with the very real possibility that transposing of latent prints was involved. Much the same can be said about the CPD attempts to counteract the virtually unanimous conclusion often or more handwriting examiners that the writing in red lipstick on Frances Brown’s apartment wall, and the writing on the ransom note were not done by the same person. Also, the CPD accepted a wildly inconsistent confession as the only evidence needed to convict William Heirens of three murders. No criminal trial was held for Heirens, and the chief prosecutor, State’s Attorney William Tuohy, said in the September 5, 1946 sentencing hearing that without the valuable cooperation of defense counsel, there would have been “a small likelihood” that Heirens would have been convicted.
Mr. Kallio’s inclusion as a Marquis Who’s Who member doesn’t rest solely on his book, far from it. He has been the leader – usually designated as the “chair” or “president” — of many organizations or committees, and has exceeded the norm for these activities, sometimes exceeding them by a good margin. Therefore, some of these activities will be discussed in this Personal Narrative.
I. An Overview
In her book “William Heirens: His day in Court,” Delores Kennedy lays out the known facts of the three murders. Kennedy put the confessions in the back of her book. Lauri E. Kallio read the confessions with growing astonishment, as the confessions consisted largely of denial, varying versions of the same event, and made-up stories that didn’t hang together well.
II. The Three Murders
Suzanne Degnan was a six-year-old who was taken from her north side Chicago bedroom on the early morning of January 7, 1946. She was strangled, and then carried or dragged to an unlocked apartment basement, where her body was cut up, and the parts distributed to either four or five sewer openings. A torn, oily piece of paper demanding $20,000 in ransom was found on Suzanne’s bedroom floor.
Frances Brown, a former WAVE, was killed on December 10, 1945. Written with red lipstick on an apartment wall, was a desperate plea: “For heavens sake catch me Before I kill more I cannot control myself” On her bathroom doorjamb was a “bloody” fingerprint.
Josephine Ross was stabbed and beaten to death on June 5, 1945. There was no evidence tying William Heirens to the killing of Ross.
III. The Migrating Print
Commissioner Prendergast of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) informed the press that the top latent fingerprint examiner, Sergeant Thomas Laffey, “had been unable to get prints because the ransom note was covered with an oil solution.” After receiving a print copy, the FBI informed the CPD that its experts found two “fairly large and classifiable fingerprints” on the note. Significantly, however, the FBI did not annotate the presence of any palm prints.
Despite the fact that Laffey couldn’t initially find any latent prints that were classifiable, on June 28, 1946, about a week short of the six months he had the note to study, he found a print of the left little finger with attached palm print on the front of the note. On the same day, Laffey said Heirens’ fingerprint did not match the Brown print, and he was no longer a suspect in the murder of Brown.
On July 12, 1946, Sergeant Laffey found a palm print on the back of the note that he matched with William Heirens’ print. Surprisingly enough, July 12 was the day in which the CPD reversed itself, and announced that Heirens’ print was a match for the Brown print.
The Friends of William Heirens found copies of the ransom note and the Brown print in a Chicago police archive, and retained Steven Schachte, a latent print examiner with 17 years of experience with the Indianapolis Police Department. He had also attended two latent print schools conducted by the FBI.
Steven Schachte wrote a letter to the Prisoner Review Board on February 22, 1995. He wrote: “I examined the police photographs of the Degnan ransom note for evidence of latent fingerprints. Unlike the police reports of locating two of Bill Heirens’ fingerprints on the front of the ransom note, the evidence is clear that the prints on the note are unidentified and not Bill Heirens’. I did locate an identifiable print on the back of the note, but this print is unmentioned in police or court documents.”
Although William Heirens never had a criminal trial in which evidence against him could be tested, prosecutors in Illinois are required to present the evidence they would have used if there was a trial. When State’s Attorney William Touhy made his closing remarks at the sentencing hearing on September 5, 1946, he said: “All the prosecutors had in the Degnan case was a partial fingerprint and that on the ransom note.” Touhy made no mention of a palm print.
The extent to which the CPD was willing to go to find incriminating prints of William Heirens is illustrated by the Estelle Carey case. A high official in the CPD assured the press that a palm print of a 13-year-old Bill Heirens had been found in the residence of the murdered Carey. The CPD had to pull back its claim when it was discovered that Heirens was in an Indiana school for boys at that time. Heirens had stolen an oversized dollar bill when he started his burglary career at age 12.
IV. The “Bloody” Brown Print
On several occasions, Chief of Detectives Walter G. Storms described the Frances Brown fingerprint found on her bathroom doorjamb as “bloody.” On September 28, 1946, the CPD said that Heirens’ print was not a match, and he was no longer a suspect in her murder.
In the same letter in which Steven Schachte gave his judgments on prints on the ransom note, he said the Brown print was not bloody, set in blood. He also said it was a “rolled” print, in which he could see additional ridges on the left side. It is relatively easy to transpose a fingerprint by placing a cellophane strip on a police fingerprint card, and pressing the strip on an incriminating object at a crime scene.
V. Discounting a Handwriting Match
In his book, “Confess or Die: The Case of William Heirens,” Mr. Kallio names ten handwriting examiners who found no similarities between the writing on Frances Brown’s wall and the writing on the ransom note. Ten is probably a lowball number, as the five Chicago newspapers were sending out copies of the two writings to handwriting examiners, and not finding any who said that the writings were similar.”PrimeTimeLive,”a NBC television program, interviewed several examiners, and hired David Grimes, an examiner with twelve years of FBI experience.
George W. Schwartz was hired by the prosecution to attempt to link the ransom note and the wall writing to Heirens. Reviewing the note, the wall writing and various papers written by Heirens, Schwartz concluded that “individual characteristics in the two writings do not match in any respect.” Dissatisfied with that assessment, State’s Attorney Touhy then hired Herbert J. Walter, who on July 25, 1946, said the writings could have been done by the same person. Walter was extremely compromised, however, because on January 8, 1946, he told the ‘Chicago Herald American’ that there were a “few superficial similarities” and a “great many dissimilarities.”
VI. The Heirens’ Confessions by the Numbers
After Mr. Kallio combed through his book yet another time, he counted 82 instances of denial, and avoided double counting whereby the interrogator asked a follow-up question, and Heirens answered with a second “no.” Mr. Kallio counted 21 instances in which Heirens gave two versions of the same event. There were 24 instances in which Heirens differed from a police or court record.
VII. Wild Disengagement With Murder Facts and Determinations
Numbers do not tell a complete story of how far William Heirens’ confessions varied from known facts of the murders, and reasonable interpretations of what happened. These wildly inconsistent confessions should not have been used as the vehicle to send William Heirens to prison for decades until death in a Dixon, Illinois prison.
William Heirens said that when he stepped from the fire escape to Frances Brown’s window, Frances was in the bathroom and the bed was made. He shot Frances when she was leaving the bathroom. He shot Frances when she was crawling toward the bathroom. He shot Frances after he had hit her four times with the butt of his .38 caliber handgun. He shot Frances when she was near the bed, and she fell partly on the bed. He shot Frances once. He shot Frances twice.
The medical examination showed that a knife had been forcefully plunged into her throat. Heirens denied stabbing Frances; also, he denied having a knife while in the apartment. The record show that Frances was stabbed and shot in bed, and the bed was drenched in blood. She was then dragged to a tub in the bathroom. Heirens denied that these things happened.
The record shows that Frances was wearing a two-piece pajama suit, with the bottom stripped away. Heirens claimed that Frances was wearing a night gown.
Heirens was asked to sketch a layout of the apartment. His sketch showed two rooms, with the kitchen omitted.
Heirens said he flushed the lipstick tube down the toilet. The police report says the lipstick tube was found on the apartment floor. About the only thing that Heirens confessed to that was consistent with the record, was writing the desperate plea on the wall.
Heirens was unsure about what time he arrived at Frances Brown’s apartment, but he settled on 8 p.m. A tenant in the apartment building heard shots between 3 and 4 a.m. The apartment manager saw a man exit the automatic elevator at 4 a.m. The man looked nervous and he was described as being “35 to forty years old.” After the man tried a locked door to exit the building, he turned full-face to the manager. The manager couldn’t later identify Heirens as the man he saw.
Although Heirens claimed that Frances screamed until she died, the tenant didn’t hear any screams, nor did the manager.
In the Josephine Ross case, Heirens was supposedly going to work at the Illinois Central Railroad, when he decided to commit a burglary. Since he was a laborer, it is unlikely that he had a knife with him, and he couldn’t account for how he got the knife. He admitted to stabbing Josephine, and he couldn’t remember how many times. The medical exam found it was four times.
Heirens said he entered through a window, or in a second version, he entered through an open door. Josephine’s daughter locked the apartment door before going to work, and she found it was locked when she returned home. The daughter found an apartment that was thoroughly trashed.
As far as Heirens not going to work on the day that Josephine was killed, the records of the Illinois Central Railroad were searched, and none were found showing that William Heirens missed work on that day. His mother did not receive a call asking why her teenaged son did not come to work.
Coming now to some of the denials and misinformation in the Suzanne Degnan case, William Heirens claimed that he strangled Suzanne while she was sitting up in bed. A looped wire with blond hair clinging to it, and two handkerchiefs wrapped around the wire were later found outside the building where the Degnans rented space. The two handkerchiefs fed into a theory held by some law enforcement personnel that circumstances indicated that the death of Suzanne was a two-person job.
William Heirens denied having two handkerchiefs, but he did have a babushka – which he once called “a big handkerchief” – that he wrapped around his head when he thought a man was coming toward him in the alley.
Heirens said he left the ladder used to get up to Suzanne’s window in the alley. Suzanne’s father, Jim, said he found the ladder resting on a Christmas tree he had discarded on January 6th, which was between an incinerator and the building where the Degnans lived.
Heirens denied knowing how he got into the building where Suzanne’s body was cut up, as he denied dismembering the body, wrapping the parts in rags and bags taken from a storage locker with a broken latch, and then carrying the parts to sewer openings.
On re-enactment day, in which William Heirens was required to show how he carried out the three murders, which occurred in August after the confessions were published. In the Winchester Ave. basement, he identified the broken locker – since repaired – as the second one from the wall; however, the locker with the broken latch was at the end of several storage lockers. In Mr. Kallio’s book, he published a photograph of the material that spilled out when the killer opened the locker. When William Heirens said he wrote the ransom note on the once-broken locker, he would have been standing in a pile of debris, with the broken locker to his left.
When Mr. Kallio made his first visit to the minimum-security facility in Vienna, Illinois, to meet with Heirens, he asked him about the rough wood of the locker boards. Heirens responded: “You know, I was really surprised when I walked into the basement on re-enactment day, and I learned that the locker boards were enameled.”
Mr. Kallio said: “But Bill, at two different points in your confession you emphasized how rough the boards were. You said that any distortion which might appear in your writing was due to the roughness of the boards.”
He answered, “It had been my experience that locker boards were constructed of rough, unfinished lumber. I just made what I thought was a safe assumption.”
VIII. Peace and Justice Activities
Mr. Kallio learned early on that the hardest position to fill in many organizations is that of secretary; therefore, when he joined a chapter of SANE/Freeze in the southern suburbs of Chicago, and the call came for someone to take the meeting minutes, he volunteered. Asking volunteers to take the minutes was a recurrent feature at many meetings. When one of the co-chair seats at the chapter became open, Mr. Kallio threw his hat in the ring. When the other co-chair seat became open because the holder of it moved away, and no one else stepped forward, Mr. Kallio agreed to serve as the chair.
The name of SANE/Freeze was hard to understand its meaning; therefore, the pressure to change it culminated in or about 1997 to change the name to Peace Action, with a broader job description. Subsequently, when Mr. Kallio was elected to the Illinois Peace Action Board, he followed the same progression of secretary, co-chair, and chair that he did with SANE/Freeze. Mr. Kallio served for seven + years as an officer in Illinois Peace Action.
In March 1994, Mr. Kallio was elected to the national Board of Peace Action. Because the Board had ballooned to 40 members, and some of them seemingly wanted to speak on almost every subject that came up, it was hard for a newcomer to have speaking time. Since, however, the Board didn’t have a regular secretary, volunteers were utilized, and soon Mr. Kallio developed a reputation as one who made correcting minutes pretty much a regular part of Board meetings.
Although Mr. Kallio was elected to the Board’s Executive Committee fairly early in his tenure on the Board, it was his role as the chair of the Operations Committee in which he made his biggest contribution to the work of Peace Action. The Board was blessed with having a committee membership who recognized the need to correct deficiencies in Peace Action structure, chiefly in the Bylaws. For instance, the meeting attendance policy was being ignored. The Operations Committee added enforcement of the attendance policy to its job description, and sent letters of termination. An icon of Peace Action, who worked primarily in the international realm of peace and justice issues, but had a poor meetings record, accepted her termination with grace.
The Operations Committee kept running toll of Bylaws faults, and at an infliction point, did a major rewrite of the Bylaws, much of which were approved at a lengthy Board meeting.
The Peace Action Board determined that the Operations Committee was the most appropriate body to run the business part of our annual conventions. It was in chairing these sessions that Mr. Kallio overcame his reluctance (and even fear) of speaking in public.
IX. Excelled as a School Teacher
The Personal Narrative Mr. Kallio initially received from Marquis Who’s Who said he excelled as a school teacher, but it didn’t supply any context to that claim, much that it didn’t supply any specific content in the other committee/organization work in which Mr. Kallio was involved.
In Alaska, Fairbanks had a juvenile jury program. Since at Lathrop High School, Mr. Kallio’s American Government classes had juniors and seniors who were on the jury, Mr. Kallio was made a member of the management team. The second year he became the director of the program.
The jury met after school in an unused court room, with a judge present to monitor sentences handed out. The jury would debate and impose sentences to teenagers who had been convicted of misdemeanors. As an example of the kind of sentences given out: a teenager who had illegally passed a stopped school bus was sentenced to ride an early-morning school bus for a month, get out whenever the bus stopped, and make sure that safety conditions were being met.
Also at Lathrop, Mr. Kallio was called in by “Joe” (last name forgotten), the sports director and varsity basketball coach. He asked Mr. Kallio if he might be interested in running the state-wide, high school wrestling tournament. Mr. Kallio answered that he had done some reading about high school wrestling, but his knowledge was limited. Joe said: “Lauri, you’ll learn.” Mr. Kallio had interviewed to become the junior varsity basketball coach, and Joe was either impressed with him, or he didn’t want to be stuck with the job.
Mr. Kallio arranged for a time slot on local television, and took with him two Lathrop wrestlers to demonstrate wrestling holds, and show how points are scored. Lauri also helped a local radio station with its coverage of the early competition, and answered questions about how he had arranged the tournament.
In his two other teaching jobs in public schools, Mr. Kallio probably exceeded the norm. He taught the eighth grade in Wallace, Michigan; ordered all the sports equipment for the school; coached the junior high basketball team; and added some instruction in the arts and geography. These were subjects he was not required to teach by the Wallace school board.
Mr. Kallio taught junior high and high school English at Marlette in the thumb area of Michigan. In addition, Mr. Kallio coached the junior high basketball team, and scouted future opponents for the varsity basketball coach.
X. A Thumbnail Sketch of Social Security Work
The two most challenging assignments Mr. Kallio had in his career in the Social Security Administration were in teaching those who will process incoming claims for benefits, and lead a task force to assign questioned earnings to the proper recipients. Mr. Kallio spent 15 months teaching the full panoply of Social Security law, rules, and regulations.
When a new director was appointed to oversee the 13-week course to train incoming claims authorizers, he made the decision to have each instructor teach the entire 13-week course. During Mr. Kallio’s 15 months of teaching, he taught the equivalent of about four and two-thirds of the classes. He was then promoted to technical assistant, and spent much his remaining career correcting the work of claims authorizers.
Before or after Mr. Kallio spent a week in Kansas City, Mo., learning, along a few other technical assistants from payment centers around the nation, about the latest developments in working disability cases, he was assigned to spend a week in Social Security headquarters in Baltimore, part of which time he was being prepared to lead a task force devoted to finding who should be credited with Social Security earnings. Since Social Security numbers were being sold [mostly to Mexican immigrants], it meant much time in consultation with those working from the case folders, and another technical assistant to help Mr. Kallio make final decisions on the most complicated cases.
XI. University Park Activities
While living in Park Forest South/University Park, Illinois for about a decade, Mr. Kallio was the president of the Little League baseball association, the youth football association, and the elementary school PTO where his and his wife’s children were educated.
At another level, Mr. Kallio served as the chair of the committee in charge of maintaining all of the town’s recreational facilities under the name of Park Forest South. Later, however, the name was changed to University Park. Under President Lyndon Johnson’s model city’s plan, the goal was to build a city of 100,000 people. Unlike similar sized communities, there was a lake to maintain, along with a model farm with animals. Governor’s State University was being constructed at about this time, and might be incorporated into the new city. An industrial park had already been put in place before the Kallio family moved in, but that was not a part of the responsibility of the committee Mr. Kallio chaired.
Mr. Kallio played a role in bringing community television to University Park; did some limited programming himself; but most importantly, he served as the village board’s representative to a consortium of Chicago-area villages, bringing together ideas on how best to make maximum use of community television.
After being elected as a village trustee, Mr. Kallio made it a special project of his to clear up a mess in the Board’s committee structure, whereby committee rosters were showing members whose terms of office had already expired.
The most controversial move that Mr. Kallio made was to circulate a petition calling for an ordinance modeled on the Morton Grove, Illinois ordinance on gun control. Subsequently, he turned in a petition with over 260 names on it. He thought he had an agreement with the village board president to be able to introduce, and make his argument for the ordinance, and then vote on it on the following board meeting. He was thus surprised when he got his advance agenda for the next meeting, and it revealed that the presentation and vote would both take place at the next meeting. Although Mr. Kallio got the vote of only one other trustee, he was generally satisfied with the local media coverage.
XII. Did William Heirens Suffer Physical Harm at the Hands of the Chicago Police?
In 1998, William Heirens made the following statement: “Fifty-two years ago, in order to avoid almost certain death in the electric chair, I confessed to three murders I did not commit. I was seventeen and a student at the University of Chicago. I was arrested in the act of burglary. Immediately I became a suspect in Chicago’s unsolved murders. I had been arrested on June 26, 1946, for the next six days I was grilled incessantly by police prosecuting officials in an effort to make me confess to murder; I was forced to undergo interrogation under sodium pentothal and under two lie detector tests. During this time I wasn’t permitted to see my attorneys.”
William Heirens has also acknowledged to Lauri E. Kallio that a reason for confessing was the daily fear of physical violence; however, to Mr. Kallio’s knowledge, he didn’t experience physical violence.
XIII. The Defense Helps the Prosecution
When State’s Attorney William Touhy gave his closing remarks in the September 5, 1946 sentencing hearing, he lavishly praised the defense: “Above all, however, I acknowledge the cooperative assistance of defense counsel, who, while observing their duty to their client and the ethics of their profession, found it possible to aid in a final and just determination of this entire matter.”
“The small likelihood of a successful murder prosecution of William Heirens early prompted the State’s Attorney’s Office to seek out and obtain cooperative help of defense counsel and, through them, that of their client.”
“Without the aid of the defense, we would to this day have no answer for the death of Josephine Ross. Without their aid, to this day a great and sincere public doubt might remain as to the guilt of William Heirens in the killing of Suzanne Degnan and Frances Brown.”
XIV. Sherlock Holmes and Barking Dogs
One way to end this Personal Narrative is to invoke that great detective, Sherlock Holmes, who used barking dogs, or their failure to bark, to figure out a solution to a murder. Barking dogs, or their failure to bark, figured materially in the Suzanne Degnan narrative.
The two boxer dogs of the Degnan family were going crazy with their barking shortly before 1 a.m. on January 7th. The maid who had a room above that of Suzanne, and the landlord and landlady, heard the voices of two men arguing. William Heirens said he arrived at Suzanne’s home at about 2:45 a.m. The two boxer dogs were silent at that time, and they were silent when Heirens returned to throw in the ransom note. Note here that two men arguing fits into the two-person theory held by some of those in law enforcement work.
In recognition of his contribution to Peace Action’s advancement, Mr. Kallio was honored as the organization’s Grassroots Activist of the Year in 1995.
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