And Now You Know: The crime wave of January 1929

Published 12:30 am Saturday, January 22, 2022

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Mike Louviere
And Now You Know

The night of January 24, 1929, a “Crime Wave” began in Orange and ended with robberies and a shoot-out in Vinton. Two young boys, Phillip Gariaska, 17, and Edmond Parks, 18, left Beaumont, stopped in Orange to make a couple of robberies, then drove to Vinton to continue robbing stores.

They were caught in the act of robbing the E.J. Moreau store by L.C. Slocum, the night patrolman for the Vinton Police department. Gunfire was exchanged. Slocum shot the Parks boy in the left leg, and Slocum’s arm was grazed by a bullet fired by one of the boys.

The boys went to a hospital in Lake Charles for treatment of the wound where they were apprehended by Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Henry Reid and several of his deputies.

Parks was held under guard at the hospital. Gariaska was taken to the parish jail. Some of the articles taken in the robberies were found among the boys possessions when they were arrested.

A .38 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol taken from the John R. Adams Store, two hunting knives and a money bag with the name of the Orange National Bank on it and containing $55 in cash was among the items found.

The robberies had probably started the night before about 8 p.m. in Orange. Evidence had been discovered by Carroll Smith, a grocery salesman at the John R. Adams Store. Smith had gone by the store around 10 p.m.  after going to the “picture show.”  Policeman Will White had been notified and an investigation had started. Fifteen dollars was missing out of the hardware cash register, $20 out of the grocery register, and about $40 out of a special cash drawer in the upstairs main office. A pistol, three hunting knives and a compass were also taken. Entrance had been gained by breaking a hole in the glass window of the door and then reaching in and working the door latch.

After the discovery of the robbery at the Adams Store, officers discovered that the Joe Lucas Jewelry Store had been entered. Entrance was gained by breaking a rear window after protective iron bars had been sawed through. A quantity of jewelry, watches, watch charms, mesh jewelry bags, and leather goods were taken. The cash register had been damaged in an attempt to open it. The attempt was unsuccessful, no cash had been taken. A .45 caliber pistol had also been taken from the store.

At the Orange Motor Company filling station office, the register had been opened and $22 was missing. A hole had been broken in the glass window and the robber had reached in and turned the latch. The robbery was discovered by Louis Swords when he arrived at about 1 a.m. to open the business for some cars to be delivered.

At the Magnolia filling station, the cash register was opened and only about 60 cents, all in pennies was taken.  Entrance had been through a rear window. Malcolm Chapman had been the first to arrive at the station and had notified the police.

The Chevrolet Motor Company in Orange had also  been entered by the robbers before they drove to Vinton to continue their crime spree.

After the shoot-out in Vinton, the officer knew the boys were headed toward Lake Charles and contacted Sheriff Reid.

The boys left Vinton in Thurston Lyons car which was said to have “drowned out” and stopped. They then used a Buick Roadster which had been stolen in Beaumont to drive to Lake Charles.

The Vinton officer thought there could have been three men but was not certain. Sheriff Reid said he was of the opinion that only two men had been involved in the robberies.

Sheriff Reid said he found items that had been taken in the robbery of a store in Edgerly four nights before these robberies.

The boys confessed to the robberies after readily disclosing their identities. Sheriff Reid declined to discuss the robberies in Orange.

“And now you know.”