Missourian Crime News

1967-09-17 Hanning Burglary 2I’ve been working my way through the seven weeks of newspapers that stacked up while I was out in the Midwest. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting a concentrated dose of local news, but it seems like every paper has a story about multiple people being shot, stabbed, bludgeoned or poisoned. Cops shoot perps; perps shoot at cops.

The big story for several days was a woman who went missing; her body was found with her head and fingers cut off and abandoned out in the swamps. Cops, who had been staking out her doctor husband, saw some of his relatives removing something large from his house and discovered it was his body, dead from an overdose.

It was refreshing to step back in time to these photos and a crime account in The Missourian September 18, 1967, by comparison:

A squirrel hunter, Charles H. Meyer of Gordonville, Sunday stumbled onto what was thought to be stolen goods near Gordonville. Loading the goods onto a truck are from left, Deputy Sheriff Bill Sperling, Larry Meyer, son of the hunter, Deputy Vernon Sebastian, Deputy Jon Knehans and Mr. Meyer.” The story ran on P3A, not the front page, but it was still big news.

Burglary goods in briar patch

1967-09-17 Hanning Burglary 3The Cape County Sheriff’s Department Sunday recovered items estimated to be worth $500 to $600 which were taken in a burglary August 5. The items, found by Charles Myers, in a woods on his farm as he was squirrel hunting, were believed taken from the R.L. Hanning farm near Whitewater.

The Sheriff’s Department said the loot consisted mostly of electrical equipment, appliances and tools and were spotted by Mr. Myers wrapped in a tarpaulin in a briar patch.

Chief Deputy Wm. A. Sperling said the briars were 12 and 14 feet tall and it was difficult to even open a truck door after backing in to pick up the recovered items.

He said the loot was stashed not far from Route Z west of Gordonville, but could not be seen from the roadway because of the thick foliage. Mr. Myers, however, was hunting further back in the woods and spotted the tarpaulin in the briar patch, Mr. Sperling said.

Wrong AND inconsistent

There was some uncharacteristically sloppy editing in this story. The last name of the hunter and his son was spelled “Meyer” in the photo cutline, and “Myers” in the story. Chief Deputy Wm. (Missourian style, for whatever reason, was to abbreviate William) A. Sperling was referred to as “Mr. Sperling” later in the story. I’m pretty sure somebody got a crankygram from jBlue when he read the paper. Being wrong was bad, but being wrong AND inconsistent was unforgivable. The first error was probably the reporter; the second error meant both the reporter and the copy editor weren’t paying attention to detail.

Ivan McLain’s Birthday Party

Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967Hanging around cop shops was a good way get to know the men and women with badges before you ran into them as strangers at a spot news scene where confrontations could escalate. Besides, it was always fun to exchange war stories.

Dispatchers, in particular, could be your best friend. They could sometimes both follow the letter of their orders and still be helpful. “The captain said if you called to tell you that there is nothing going on at 101 Main Street. Got that?” I spent a lot of time at the Cape County Sheriff’s office in Jackson. Part of that was because it was across the courthouse square from¬†The Jackson Pioneer, and partly because Deputy Jon Knehans and I became friends while taking some SEMO classes together.

That might have been why I was around when Sheriff Ivan McLain was the target of a surprise birthday party. None of these photos ran in The Missourian, so I was either tipped off about the party or I just happened to be lurking there.

Always a nice guy

Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967The sheriff showed extraordinary patience to a green reporter. He always took the time to answer my questions and never, so far as I knew, lied to me. I photographed him on a number of occasions, including demonstrating lie detectors techniques to students.

Jon Knehans for sure

Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967I recognize some of the faces in the pictures, but Jon is the only one I can ID for sure.

Ivan McLain died Feb. 22, 2013

Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967I was sorry to find his obituary in The Missourian.

Ivan Ernest McLain, 82, of Cape Girardeau died Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at Saint Francis Medical Center. He was born June 1, 1930, in Oriole to Monroe and Myrtle Comer McLain.

Ivan was a veteran of the Korean War, serving in the Navy. He and Betty Lois Jauch were married June 19, 1954, at Oriole.

Sheriff from 1966 to 1977

Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967Mr. McLain worked for the Cape Girardeau Police Department from September 1955 to November 1966 and was sheriff of Cape Girardeau County from November 1966 to January 1977. He was in real estate sales from 1977 to 1980 and worked at the Gene Rhodes Oil Co. from 1980 to 1983.

Ivan was chief of police in Chaffee, Mo., from 1983 to 1992. He retired from Wal-Mart after being a greeter from June 1992 to December 2010.

A member of VFW

Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967

He was a member of the Cape County Cowboy Church and attended Red Star Baptist Church. He also was a member of the VFW Post 3127 in Chaffee.


Sheriff Ivan McLain birthday party 05-31-1967Survivors include his wife, Betty Lois McLain of Cape Girardeau; sons Ivan (Aida) Santos of Grand Prairie, Texas, and Randy (Judy) McLain of Cape Girardeau; daughters Cathy Proffer of Advance, Mo., and Penny (Curt) Johns of Jackson; a brother, Jack (Jean) McLain of Cape Girardeau; sisters, Carrie Wilhelm of Mount Dora, Fla., and Mary Wissmann of Cape Girardeau; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, seven brothers, two sisters and two grandsons, Rusty Watson and Colin McLain.

TAC Swimming in Sound

A frame similar to this ran in The Missourian’s August 19 Youth Page with the following caption:


Teenagers were swimming in sound Thursday night at a special dance held to raise funds for the Teen Age Club. The Great Society Band played for free, and TAC cleared nearly $100, Cathy Rueseler, dance spokesman, said. Putting their all into it are, from left, Mary Beth Wrape, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Wrape, 2521 Allendale; Barbara Yaeger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ray H. Yaeger, 1429 Perryville Road, and Dana Kaiser, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Kaiser, 1323 Victoria.

Deputy Jon Knehans stops by

Deputy Jon Knehans pulled in to talk with a couple of the fundraisers. Jon was in a couple of my SEMO classes. We became friends because our jobs put us into situations that were a lot different than what most of our classmates faced.

Socks optional

Socks (and shoes) were optional at the dance.

Other Teen Age Club links

Here are some other TAC stories: