Monday, June 15, 2015

Crime spree foiled near Heppner

Margaret Havely was slightly hysterical when a rescue party forced its way into a cabin where she was being held and caught one of her kidnappers, well, napping.

State Police Sgt. N.W. Smith reported Alvin Dahl, 17, had an arsenal of nine rifles and shotguns and four revolvers, all of them fully loaded, in the cabin 15 miles from Hardman in the Blue Mountains when law enforcement arrived. “It’s lucky for us that he was asleep,” Smith said.

The rescue captured the last of three young men who had kidnapped Mrs. Havely from Portland in the midst of a score of robberies and burglaries that ended October 7, 1946, in Heppner. Dahl’s partners in crime, James W. Neal, 24, and Ernest W. Avery, 21, were arrested by City Marshal Charles Gomillion and Deputy Russell Wright at a Heppner gas station after a tip from a Condon store owner, who had recognized Avery the previous day, focused the search for the serial burglars on central Oregon. The trio was returned to Portland to face charges of kidnapping and burglary.

In addition to absconding with Mrs. Havely, the gunmen robbed her brother-in-law’s cafe in Portland and then drove east along the Columbia River Highway, committing crimes along the way. Francis F. Vause of Pendleton was robbed of $50 cash and his car Sept. 28 near Hinkle after offering Avery and Neal a ride; the men bound and gagged Vause and left him at the Fred McMurry ranch near Arlington after looting it. The pair also struck the Jim Han and Dazell ranches near Hardman while holed up at the cabin near the Harry French ranch west of Heppner.

Sgt. Smith reported that most of the loot from the burglaries, including several hundred dollars, was recovered.

Mrs. Havely was reunited with her husband at the home of Morrow County Sheriff C.F. Bauman, who led the rescue party. She said she used her feminine wiles to ward off attacks by the men. “I begged and pleaded and I guess my tears and my prayers  protected me. For they never did me actual harm. They never laid hands on me,” Havely said.

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