EDWARD METELSKI, known as the "Jersey Dillinger", was born around 1908 in Keasby, Ocean County, New Jersey, to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Metelski, Polish immigrants. By January of 1920 he was living at the Newark City Home, a residence for incorrigible and orphaned children. His first brush with the law came at at the age of 12. He was arrested in Pennsylvania and served time under the name Edward Johnson Wood in 1925. By April of 1930 he was in prison again, at the New Jersey Reformatory in Woodbridge.
After his release he returned to crime. He came to Camden where he associated with the Shooey Bonner gang. Eddie Metelski was living at 1440 Haddon Avenue when he was arrested in December of 1931 at the request of Burlington County Chief of Detectives Ellis Parker for questioning in a series of safe-cracking cases. Metelski attempted to escape from the Burlington County jail, was recaptured, and was sentenced to three years in New Jersey prisons for escape. He was paroled after a year.
Using the assumed name of Edward Johnson, Metelski was arrested in January 1934 in West Virginia and extradited to Winston-Salem NC to answer to a charge of burglarizing a department store on New Years Eve, 1933. He was sentenced to twelve years on a North Carolina chain gang for his part in this caper. Once again, Eddie Metelski escaped, and returned to familiar haunts in New Jersey.
On November 9, 1935 while driving on Route 1 near New Brunswick, Eddie Metelski attracted the attention of the New Jersey State Police. A car chase ensued, and Metelski, a passenger in the car, fired a shotgun at the pursuing police, killing State Trooper Warren Yenser. Two days after the murder, Metelski's accomplice committed suicide, and the accomplices girlfriend told police of Metelski's involvement.
Arrested, he was incarcerated in the Middlesex County Jail> He again attempted to escape, and was on the run for five days when arrested again on December 23, 1935 in Newark NJ.
Edward Metelski was tried and found guilty of the murder of Trooper Yenser. Defiant to the end, he was executed at Trenton State Prison on August 4, 1935.
December 19, 1935
Camden Courier-Post * June 23, 2007
H. Stockburger, 100, guarded Lindbergh defendant
MILLTOWN- Retired state police Major Hugo Stockburger, one of the last surviving participants in the 1934 Lindbergh kidnapping trial, died Thursday. He was 100.
During the trial it was Major Stockburger's job to escort defendant Bruno Richard Hauptman to and from the courthouse, and make sure Hauptman did not harm himself in the jail. Though many authors and amateur sleuths still maintain Hauptman was innocent, Major Stockburger was convinced the state of New Jersey prosecuted the right man.
Major Stockburger was born in Germany on Dec. 28, 1906. He joined the state police in 1927, when he saw a newspaper ad, seeking a cook for the department's mess hall. Two years later he passed the officer's exam, and served until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 55.
He never used a sick day, and was the first former state trooper to reach the age of 100.
In addition to participating in the Lindbergh trial, he participated in the arrest of a man who killed a trooper, and was on duty at Lakehurst on May 6, 1937 when the Hindenburg exploded.
Following his retirement from the state police, he worked for the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control until 1970 when he was named police director in Milltown, Middlesex County. He retired from that post in 1974, and into his 100th year he still drove, and occasionally rode his bike.
His memories, on record at the New Jersey State Police Museum, include him remembering German soldiers passing through his village in World War I, en route to the Western Front. He also recalled how his sister Hedwig was killed by a stray bomb. "I remember war. I want no part of it," he said.
An aunt who lived in Trenton sponsored his passage to the United States, and he arrived on Ellis Island on Nov. 26, 1923. Before working as a cook for the state police, he worked at a pottery kiln.
On March 1, 1932 he was patrolling Route 1 in North Brunswick, at a time before police had radios in their car. If he was needed, a call was placed to service stations, which put a small flag out during the day and lit a light at night, as a signal for the troopers to call headquarters.
When he saw a light at the Triangle Garage at Livingston Avenue, he called headquarters. His job was to stop cars heading north on Route 1, looking for information about the missing child of pioneer aviator Charles A. Lindbergh.
Eventually Hauptman was arrested and tried. From noon to 6 p.m., throughout the course of what was billed The Trial of The Century, Major Stockburger was at his side. With the death of Major Stockburger, the only person known to have participated in the trial is 98-year-old Samuel Chiarvalli of Bound Brook, who served as a clerk for one of the defense attorneys.
Major Stockburger's most dramatic arrest was in 1935 when he helped apprehend Edward Metelski, who had killed a state trooper on Route 1 in Woodbridge. After Metelski was arrested in Elizabeth, Major Stockburger escorted him to a jail in New Brunswick.
When Metelski escaped from jail, Major Stockburger was assigned to a lookout post outside a restaurant in Newark where Metelski's girlfriend performed as a singer. When the trooper saw Metelski, he approached him with his gun drawn. "He turned yellow, yelling, "Please don't shoot,' " Major Stockburger recalled in 1958.
A favorite story did not involve tragedy.
One morning he stopped a couple from Pennsylvania for speeding, and brought them to the North Brunswick courthouse. Several hours later he returned to the courthouse with another speeder.
The first speeder was still there. He had obtained a marriage license and arranged for the judge to marry him and his girlfriend. He asked Stockburger to be the best man.
"I stopped a man for speeding in the morning, and was best man at his wedding the same day."
Reach Rick Malwitz at (732) 565-7291 or Rmalwitz@thnt.com
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