1956, Sheriff Recalls, Boy Learns His Lesson

Sheriff Recalls

Boy Learns His Lesson

The prisoner who sneaked in and out of the Williamson County jail is remembered by Sheriff Carl Miller.

He was a 13 year old Herrin boy who weighed only 115 pounds. That enabled him to slip through a six inch hole in the cell door used for passing food trays back and forth.

On February 16, 1956, deputy sheriff Ora Collard was on duty in the front office about 2 A.M. He stopped a 15 year old Johnston City youth who was being held in the same cell with the Herrin boy as the youth tried to slip out the office door.

The youth said the cell door had been unlocked by the Herrin boy after he slipped through the opening and got keys from the kitchen.

Collard called three Marion policemen and the group patrolled the area without any sign of the Herrin youth.

Just before daybreak they spotted him sneaking in the rear kitchen door of the jail. “I’ve come back,” the boy said.

Miller questioned him later, how many times had he sneaked out of the jail?  “Oh, about a half-dozen times.”  What did he do while he was out? “I’d wait till everybody was asleep and then sneak out. I’d go down to the Texaco station at the corner and wait until about daybreak. I’d sneak back in before anyone was up.”

Why did he do it? “I got tired of sitting in the cell.”

Miller’s check with the workers at the all-night service station proved the boy was telling the truth about coming there and sitting through the night.

The boy was put on probation on a petit larceny charge after being held about four weeks in the jail. He never got into trouble again.

(Written by Olivia Wiley of the Southern Illinoisan, Nov. 14, 1963)


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