York City Police Department K-9 Unit.
This is a late 1960s photo of the York City, Pennsylvania Police Department K-9 unit taken at the York Fair grounds. The officers, accompanied by their dogs, are in their training uniforms. The officers are, from left to right: Ron Heist, Earl Frey, Fred Gibson, Steve Gibbs, Charlie Morrow, Bill Farrell, and Nevin Barley.
West York Police Department.
This 1950's era photograph shows three members of the West York Borough, Pennsylvania Police Department and their patrol vehicles, two motorcycles and a Ford patrol car. The officers and their vehicles are on the driveway of the Reliance fire house, then located in the 1400 block of West Market Street in West York Borough.
Officer Ed Myers, Red Lion Police Department.
Pictured in 1924 is Red Lion Police Officer Ed Myers astride his sidecar equipped police Harley Davidson motorcycle. The sidecar was a common accessory for police motorcycles of that era. The officer is carrying a semi-automatic pistol, carried in an open top cross draw style holster. The semi-auto pistol was unusual, as most officers of this era were carrying revolvers.

Murder At Cly

Posted on February 17, 2021

On Tuesday, May 13, 1919, three men, laborers for a track gang on the Pennsylvania Railroad at Cly in northern York County, failed to arrive for work in the morning. The men lived in a shanty provided for them by the railroad, situated along the railroad between the pumping station and the phosphorus plant. The foreman of the track gang, Jacob Lauer, went to their shanty to see why they were not at work. He arrived at the shack about 10:50 a.m. and found it locked. There was evidence that led him to believe that things were not as they should be, and Lauer summoned Charles Toomey to assist him. The two men forced open the shanty door, where they found two of the occupants inside. Gabriel Parracchio, 23, a man of Italian descent who had mustered out of the U.S. Army in March, lie dead on his cot in the shanty, with a large hole in his forehead. James Critchlow, 49, a man of British descent, was lying on the floor unconscious, two deep gashes on his forehead, moaning slightly. The third occupant of the shanty, Robert E. Hicks, 19, was nowhere to be found.

Doctor J. C. Murphy of nearby York Haven was summoned to render care to Critchlow, and he ordered that the man be taken to York to the hospital. He was loaded onto the 11:50 a.m. train to York, and the York police department was notified and had an ambulance waiting at the train station in York to transport him to York Hospital. Critchlow arrived in York at 12:40 p.m. and was immediately taken to York Hospital. He was in grave condition, and not expected to survive.

Investigation of the scene found that the motive of the attack appeared to have been robbery. Trunks and boxes belonging to the two men had been broken open. Parracchio was known to keep large sums of money on him. The pockets of Parracchio's clothing had been turned inside out. Also found in the shanty was a large railroad car bolt about 18 inches long, believed to be the murder weapon. The bloody bolt was wrapped in a towel and found inside a box in the shanty. Robert E. Hicks was the prime suspect, and was last seen boarding a train bound for York and Baltimore at about 5:15 a.m.

The following people were involved with the initial investigation at the shanty: York County Coroner Pius H. Jones, York Haven Constable Fred LaPrairie, York County District Attorney C. W. A. Rochow, York Police Chief John F. Buttorff, York Police Detective Jacob Cookes, York Police Detective Paul Lancaster, York Alderman Walter F. Owen, and Pennsylvania Railroad Police Captain Paul L. Barclay. Justice of the Peace John S. Fishel of York Haven was instructed by the Coroner to hold an inquest, and that jury rendered a verdict that Parracchio was killed by an assailant overnight. The State Police Barracks in Harrisburg had been notified, and State Police Troopers arrived in Cly shortly thereafter. A warrant was issued by Justice of the Peace John S. Fishel to Constable Fred LaPrairie for the arrest of Robert E. Hicks.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 14, 1919, James Critchlow died at York Hospital, never regaining consciousness. Pennsylvania Railroad Police Captain Paul L. Barclay swore out another warrant for Curtis Caleb Sipple, aka Robert E. Hicks, for the murder of Critchlow. The suspect's claims of being a resident of Harrisburg turned out to be untrue, as well as the name of Hicks being an alias. Sipple had visited his mother at her home in Cincinnati, Ohio on that Wednesday, getting changes of clothing and other items and fled before police knew he was at the home.

Detective Jacob Cookes and the forces of the Pennsylvania Railroad Police spent months investigating the case, following up on leads that led them to several states on five separate trips. Discovering that his mother lived in Cincinnati, they traveled to Ohio in an attempt to capture him there. They spoke to his mother, telling her they were looking for him for the theft of some Liberty bonds. A circular describing Sipple was left with post office authorities in Cincinnati. Adolph Ziegler, a postal clerk for 33 years, stole the circular and showed it to Sipple's mother, tipping her off that her son was wanted for murder. Ziegler was discovered to have stolen the circular, and was fired from his job. Ziegler later committed suicide by gas asphyxiation. The officers traveled to Kentucky several times, following up on leads.

After many months without bringing Sipple to justice, District Attorney Rochow vowed that he would spare no effort to find the killer. After consulting with Alderman Owen, Rochow contacted Major Lynn G. Adams, commander of the Pennsylvania State Constabulary, for assistance in locating Sipple. Adams said he would provide the necessary manpower, providing that the county would pick up the expenses beyond their salaries. With the approval of the County Commissioners and the County Controller, it was agreed that the county would cover those expenses.

Private Chauncey B. SnyderOn December 3, 1920, Private Chauncey B. Snyder was assigned to the case. Snyder, who was assigned to the Wyoming Barracks, proceeded to York to learn the details of the case. Snyder's investigation revealed that Sipple was born in High Bridge, Kentucky, and that he had lived in towns in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky. Snyder started by visiting Cincinnati, discovering that Sipple had not been back to his mother's home since May 14, 1919. Becoming acquainted with friends of Sipple, Snyder learned that Sipple had been traveling from town to town in the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio.

Snyder next traveled to Cynthania, Kentucky, learning that Sipple's father lived a few miles away from that town. There Snyder learned that Sipple had been seen near High Bridge, in Mercer County near the Kentucky River. That area being inhabited by mountain men, Snyder found it difficult to glean information from them. Snyder later learned where Sipple's father lived, and that he had changed his name to John Lucas, a surname that Sipple was also using as an alias. Snyder gained access to an old tobacco shed in a field about 300 feet from the father's house, where he discovered that Sipple would stay when visiting his father. The shed could not be approached without Sipple knowing, providing him with opportunity to escape. Inside that shed Snyder found an old brown blood-stained suitcase that had been taken from the shanty in Cly. Snyder learned that Sipple had left on a train for Junction City, Kentucky where he would hide in the mountainous regions of Knox and Bell Counties.

On March 28, 1921, Snyder became ill while in the pursuit of Sipple, abandoning the chase and returning to his headquarters at the Hotel Schinkal in Cincinnati. From there he was taken to a Cincinnati hospital, where it was learned that he was suffering from ptomaine poisoning. Snyder developed peritonitis and underwent surgery for appendicitis. Snyder died at the hospital on April 1, 1921 at 33 years of age.

Learning of Snyder's condition, Captain William A. Clark, Commanding Officer of Troop B at the Wyoming Barracks, immediately detailed Sergeant Robert E. Tipton and Private Leo Gratcofsky to proceed at once to Cincinnati. Tipton accompanied Snyder's body to his late home in Newport, Rhode Island, leaving Gratcofsky to take up the case, having only Snyder's reports to begin his investigation.

Private Gratcofsky searched through Nicholisville, Burgin and Mercer County in Kentucky, looking for Sipple. He learned that Snyder had missed Sipple by only a day in Junction City, Kentucky. Gratcofsky learned that John Sipple, aka John Lucas, had recently filed a change of address with the postal service. Gratcofsky immediately traveled to Harrodsville, Kentucky where he met with Postmaster J. H. Grimes, where he learned that a change of address had been filed on March 4, 1921. Gratcofsky learned that Sipple was seen in the area of the town of Layman in Harlan County, Kentucky, and was employed there. On May 6, 1921, Gratcofsky proceeded to Pineville, Kentucky, where he identified himself to Police Officer W. R. Roberts, explaining the case to him.

The next day, outfitted with overalls, jumpers and fishing tackle, the two lawmen traveled by train to Layman. Exiting the train, they were surrounded by about twenty mountain men asking what the nature of their business was. Roberts, knowing the local lingo, asked them where the best fishing holes were, and the men pointed them out. Roberts noticed a man who he had once done a favor, and later took that man into his confidence, and told him they were looking for Sipple for a forgery charge. The man took them to where Sipple and other men were working, and after pointing out Sipple asked for them to wait until he was out of sight. Gratcofsky and Roberts approached the men, and once close enough Gratcofsky pinned Sipple to the ground while Roberts covered him with his Colt .45-caliber automatic pistol. Sipple was handcuffed and led down the mountain. Sipple let out a strange call, and six or seven mountain men came from the woods, carrying axes. Facing both ways and covering the men with their pistols, Gratcofsky and Roberts, with Sipple between them, made it down the hill to the train, the mountain men following, threatening to attack. Gratcofsky and Roberts took Sipple to the Bell County jail, where he was held for the night. Almost two years after the murder, Sipple was in custody. Gratcofsky, via Lexington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, would transport Sipple back to Harrisburg where he was booked at the Department Headquarters. Sipple was committed to the York County Prison without bail. The expenses submitted to the county by the state constabulary was $929.81.

Sipple arrest photo from the Gazette and DailyOn October 24, 1921, Sipple was found guilty of murder in the first degree. Sipple remained in York County Prison until October 28, 1922, when he was transferred to the Rockview Penitentiary in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, where he was executed by electric chair on the morning of October 30, 1922.

 

Return to Top

The Police Heritage Museum, Inc.

Address: P.O. Box 1582
  York, PA 17405
Phone: (717) 845-COPS
E-mail: Contact Form

About Us

The Police Heritage Museum, Inc. is entirely run by volunteers - there is no paid staff working for the museum.

We ask for your patience when contacting the Police Heritage Museum, as there is no full-time staff to immediately respond to any inquiries.