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   A Local Spadoni Involved in a Notorious Tacoma                                        Murder?     Well, Yes and No ...

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The Griffin Wheel Murder
By Greg Spadoni  From a Suggestion By Paul Spadoni

  This Content Stolen From Greg Spadoni at

     Nineteen Twenty was a tumultuous year for the United States of America.  Multiple factors were pulling the country in several directions at once.  The automobile was changing the way people lived in a variety of ways the way they worked, the places they traveled, how they died and America was absolutely automobile crazy.  The eighteenth amendment to the Constitution took effect on January 17th, prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and disrupting a lifelong habit indeed a lifestyle  of millions of Americans and as a direct result caused an explosion in organized crime.  Formerly confined mostly to gambling and prostitution, the mob quickly found that the illegal liquor trade served a far greater portion of the citizenry than the other two major vices, enriching crime bosses exponentially and, in turn, greatly increasing violent crime.  Following the economic boom caused by the U.S. entry into World War One in 1917 as war production ramped up, the country entered a tailspin in mid-1920 as the transition from a wartime to a peacetime economy continued, poorly, after the war’s end in late 1918, with 1.6 million soldiers, sailors and civilian military workers being released to flood the civilian labor force in 1920 alone.  From May 1920 to July 1921, production of automobiles dropped by 60%, with total industrial production dropping by 30%, the sharpest decline in American history, dwarfing any recession before or since.  As sharp and painful as it was, it set the stage for an enormous economic expansion during the rest of the decade, known today as the Roaring Twenties, but the years 1920 and 1921 had to be survived first.

     Tacoma, Washington, was as modern as any American city of the day and suffered the same consequences of the turmoil of 1920 as the rest of the nation, but to a greater degree economically than many other cities.  Along with a diverse manufacturing base, the greater Puget Sound area was a major source of food and raw materials and all were hit hard by the downturn.  In Tacoma itself, the tremendous buildup to war had surged the lumber, shipping and shipbuilding industries dramatically and everything associated with building and supplying Camp Lewis, the second largest army base in the country, which didn't even exist before the war.  The unprecedented boom turned to bust overnight.   Camp Lewis, built just south of Tacoma in 1917 with a capacity of 50,000 men, by 1920 housed only 1,100 soldiers, the majority of the camp being virtually abandoned.  Shipyards on the Tacoma tideflats closed and the shipping and lumber industries contracted sharply, as did employment throughout the local economy.

     The circumstances and conditions of Tacoma in 1920 set the stage for a series of violent acts at the beginning of 1921 that would permanently alter the lives of four men in particular and scores of people around them.  In the greater scheme of things they were but four of an endless number of victims and criminals, but to the people who knew them, they were far more important than just another string of newspaper headlines.

     By the end of 1920 Harry Hallen’s life was looking pretty good.  As the assistant superintendent of the Tacoma plant of the Griffin Wheel Company since 1917 and newly married in July to the eldest daughter of a foreman in the same plant, he had everything to look forward to.  Things had not looked so bright just two years before when the then 26-year-old son of Swedish immigrants had entered the army to fight in The Great War.  But the war ended scarcely six weeks after he was inducted and he was soon discharged, returning to his position at the Griffin works, where he had started as an office boy at age twelve.  Even though the economy was tanking, as assistant superintendent his job was secure and, having set up house with his new bride within walking distance of his in-laws, whose company he greatly enjoyed, his future was looking bright.

     Nick Kramer, 46, was a foreman at the Tacoma Griffin works in 1920, having been employed by the company since 1893 and coming to their Tacoma plant in 1900.  An immigrant from Germany as a child, now widowed with three grown children, his job too was secure.  As 1921 began, he would have the most incredible swing of fortune imaginable.

     Gino Spadoni moved to Tacoma in 1920 from the San Francisco Bay area.  Having come to America in 1912 at age eighteen from a hardscrabble life in Italy, he was no stranger to hard work.  His older brother Guido had arrived in America in 1903 and found relief from the crushing poverty prevalent in Europe at the time, and Gino went to California to join him.  Jobs were plentiful and Gino found work in a series of diverse industries, first at the local gas utility, then at a lumber mill in the Sierra Mountains east of Fresno, then back to the Bay area where he spent six years working in an iron foundry.  But in June of 1920, Gino traveled to Tacoma to visit a family friend, who was due to arrive in Tacoma that summer from Italy to be married, and she carried a message from Gino's parents.  While visiting Tacoma he decided to stay, and was hired as a laborer at the Griffin works.  According to his foreman there, he was a good worker, a hard worker, and was generally well thought of by his immediate superiors.

Amelia and Armando Lupori     Armando Lupori was also an immigrant from Italy.  Two years older than Gino Spadoni, he was from the same little Italian town, and they had been childhood friends before Armando left for America at age 17 in 1909.  His dream was to own his own barber shop, but having started in America with nothing, he had to take any job he could find at first, then work towards his goal. He too ended up as a laborer at Griffin's Tacoma plant, though by the winter of 1920, he was unemployed. Newly wed that same year through an arranged marriage to Amelia Lucarini, a girl from back home who would never learn to speak English, E. Lupori, as he would be known in the newspapers, was off to a good start in America, his dream well within reach. Later his dream would come crashing down on his head, but he would face reality and eventually see it through.

                                                                            Amelia and Armando Lupori in 1920

  This Content Stolen From Greg Spadoni at
     The Griffin Wheel Company's Tacoma plant, one of several across the country, was located in South Tacoma at 5202 South Proctor Street in the shallow valley between what is now South Tacoma Way to the east (in 1920 it was known as Union Avenue) and what would later become Tyler Street to the west.  The plant could not have been located closer to its biggest customer in the Pacific Northwest, the South Tacoma Shops, a huge railroad complex of 36 brick buildings covering 131 acres beside and to the north of the Griffin plant where all Northern Pacific Railway cars and locomotives west of the Mississippi were repaired and painted.   Griffin Wheel, then, as now, was one of the leading manufacturers of railroad car wheels, specializing in chilled iron wheels, a process of casting that cools the outer rim of the wheel faster than the hub while still in the mold, giving it high resistance to wear, which greatly increases its useful life.  The Griffin foundry also did cast iron and brass contract work for other industries but railroads were its bread and butter.

     While the managers’ jobs at the Griffin plant were secure, those at the bottom were not.  As 1921 dawned, due to an extended slump in business as the country’s sharpest recession lingered into its second year, Harry Hallen, as assistant superintendent, directed foreman Nick Kramer to
lay off a series of workers, often only one at a time, in an effort to control expenses while at the same time not depleting the labor force too much.  Should business pick up soon, they of course wanted to be in a position to take full advantage.  It was a delicate balancing act between expenses and production, with most of the men down to four-day work weeks already, leaving no real alternative to further layoffs as business continued to shrink.  On January 18th Hallen directed Kramer to lay off Gino Spadoni, as the layoffs were based on how long the men had been employed at the plant, and Gino was next in line.  While doing so, Nick explained to Gino that his dismissal was due to a lack of work at the plant and that when business picked up he would be rehired, his unemployment lasting perhaps only a couple of weeks but possibly longer.  Upset over losing a job he’d held only a few months, Gino was greatly offended, despite the cause of his dismissal being a slowdown in business, not dissatisfaction with his work.  He would later tell others that he would somehow get even for being laid off, but his immediate reaction to the news from Kramer was a less ominous statement made in Italian, which Kramer could not understand.  Asking worker Mike Bolandi, who was standing alongside, to interpret Gino's remark, Kramer was told that it was a statement of displeasure over his discharge and an opinion of not being treated right.  According to Kramer, Gino didn't protest as loudly as some of the other men who had been laid off previously, did not appear to be angry, and in fact came by the plant once in a while after his dismissal to ask about being rehired, always to be told he would be when business picked up.

     At Griffin’s plants across the country, like factories in all types of industries throughout America, immigrants from many countries held the toughest, dirtiest, lowest paying jobs, and while poor English language skills sometimes led to suspicion, misunderstandings, grudges and, in extreme cases, violence, there had traditionally been few problems of those kinds at the Griffin works in Tacoma, even as the economic distress pressed hardest against the lowest skilled in the labor force.  During the layoffs in early 1921 there had been occasionally loud protests over the dismissals, but there had never been any violence.  That would soon change, however.

     On the Friday night of January 27th, Nick Kramer was standing in his bedroom on the ground floor of a small, two-story South Tacoma house, winding his alarm clock before retiring for the night when he became one of an exceedingly rare number of people who have experienced both the worst and best luck of their entire lives at the very same instant.  As he twisted the winding key on the clock, a bullet was fired from the darkness outside the closed window, aimed directly at his chest.  That, of course was the worst luck.  The best luck was that, after shattering the window pane, the bullet struck the alarm clock, deflecting its path, and as the clock flew wildly out of his hands, the bullet dropped harmlessly to the floor, rolling to a stop beneath the bed.  The destroyed clock froze the time of the attack at eleven thirty.

     Police immediately suspected a disgruntled ex-employee of the Griffin Works was responsible, but, lacking evidence, no suspect was identified.   Justifiably upset and frightened at the failed attempt on his life, Kramer took the prudent step of moving to a different bedroom in the house.  Just how prudent was proven nine days later when, at 2:30 in the morning, two more shots were fired at the same window, one impacting the window casing while the other struck the empty mattress on Nick’s former bed, right where his chest would've been had he not abandoned that bedroom after the first attempt on his life.  The bullet that struck the clock in the first attack was a .32-20 caliber.  For the second attempt, the potential killer upped the caliber to .45.  The Tacoma Times reported the story later the same day on page 1.  The factual errors in the story can probably be excused by the immediacy of publication:

Second Effort to Murder Foreman Fails; 3 Shots Are Fired

 A second attempt to assassinate Nicholas Kramer, Griffin Wheel Works foreman, at his home, 5413 So. Oakes st. was made early Saturday morning.
    Persons residing on the second floor of the Kramer house reported that three shots were fired. Only one bullet was found by the police. It was imbedded in the mattress on the bed where Kramer usually sleeps.
    Fortunately for Kramer, he was not at home Saturday morning. The shots were fired at 2:30 a.m., the police were informed.
    On the night of Jan. 27 Kramer was shot at from the same window. An alarm clock, which he had in his hand at the time, probably saved his life. The bullet plowed into the clock and ricocheted into the wall.
    The bullet found imbedded in the mattress Saturday morning is the same size as the one which hit the clock, Detectives Miller and Bernquist, who investigated the case, reported.
    It is evident that the would-be murderer had taken great pains to make certain that he killed Kramer Saturday morning.
    A large stick of wood was brought some distance and placed against the house to enable him to climb up to secure a level aim at Kramer’s bed.
    Kramer’s bed room is on the first floor of the house.
    Kramer believes that some enemy has taken an oath to kill him. On the occasion of the first shooting he was of the opinion that the shot had been fired by some disgruntled workman.
    In the capacity of his position as foreman at the Griffin Wheel Works, Kramer was compelled to lay off several men, several days ago.
    He believes that he thereby incurred the wrath of one of the workmen.
    Police made a thorough investigation following the first shooting, but were unable to find the guilty party.


     Fearing for his life, Nick Kramer decided that staying in Tacoma was not in his best interests and was granted a transfer to another Griffin Wheel plant out of state.

     Nerves were rattled at the
Griffin works over the two attempts on Kramer’s life, but with no solid leads the police could make no headway on the case, and with Nick Kramer no longer in town, things soon got back to normal in South Tacoma.

following month Harry Hallen and his wife of seven months were invited to spend the Friday evening of March 11th at her parents’ house playing cards.  It was a cold, showery night, but if people stayed home every time it rains in Tacoma, no one would ever go anywhere, so they went, walking the single mile in the dark on a muddy dirt road spotted with a light dusting of snow from the previous night that the day's rain showers hadn't yet melted.  Harry would never return home.  From the Tacoma Times, March 12, 1921, page 1:

      A small, dark haired man, speaking with a foreign accent, was being hunted Saturday as the suspected assassin who late Friday night shot and killed Harry E. Hallen, assistant superintendent of the Griffin Wheel Co., South Tacoma, and wounded his wife.
      Officers working on the case said at noon Saturday that they expect to have the slayer of Hallen in custody before night.

      The shells found near the scene of the crime indicate that the ammunition used by the murderer was the latest army issue and probably came from Camp Lewis.
      The shooting occured near the Pacific Traction line at 10:35 as Hallen and his wife, Leah, 24, were walking to their home at 5633 So. Puget Sound av., after visiting at the home of  Mrs. Hallen's father, 5612 So. Mason st.
      Four shots were fired by the murderer, Mrs. Hallen said. Two of them struck her husband in the body and two pierced Mrs. Hallen's left leg below the knee.
      Hallen died 40 minutes after being shot, while being removed to St. Joseph's hospital with his wife.
      The murder suspect, it developed Saturday, had been seen early Wednesday morning at the exact spot where the shooting took place by Mrs. Hallen's brother, Walter Richmond, as he was walking along the road toward the Richmond home.
    The man was leaning against a telephone pole when young Richmond accosted him.
    "What are you doing here," Richmond demanded.
    "Nuttin'," the man replied.
    "Then beat it," said Richmond, and the man turned and fled down the road.
    Richmond thought nothing more of the affair until after the shooting of his sister and brother-in-law Friday night.  The description given of the slayer by Mrs. Hallen tallied exactly with that of the man seen by Richmond on the lonely road.
    Members of the family said they were unable to ascribe any motive for the murder.
    The police were inclined to believe the motive was revenge.
                                Recalls Kramer Shooting.
    The only possible theory as to the cause of the shooting, according to the police, is that the shot was fired by some disgruntled employe of the wheel works who was laid off recently.
    It was recalled that on two different occasions, an assassin attempted to take the life of Nick Kramer, the factory foreman, by shooting, in January and February.  Both attempts were made by firing shots into the room occupied by Kramer at his home, 5413 So. Oakes st.
    Attempts to link the shooting of Mr. and Mrs. Hallen with the shots fired at Kramer led to no definite clues, however.
                                          Find Footprints.
    Footprints of the assassin under the windows of the Richmond home, made while he was peering through the windows, were definite clues which the officers had to work on.  The murderer had emptied a rain barrel and had moved it from window to window to stand upon while he peered into the Richmond home.
    Plaster paris casts of the footprints, believed to have been made by the murderer, show that he wore 8-D sized shoes.
     Mr. and Mrs. Hallen went to the Richmond home about 7:30 Friday night, according to the story told by the wounded woman and her relatives Saturday.  After they reached the house, Mrs. Hallen's sister, Freda Richmond, left for the station, about 50 yards away, to go down town.  On her way she noticed the small, dark man on the road.  When he saw her he disappeared in the direction of the Griffin Wheel Works.
    At about 10:20 p. m., Mrs. Richmond heard some one outside the house.
    "Someone is looking into the window," she said.
    A few minutes later the noise was heard again, and members of the family took lights and looked around the house.  They found only that the rain barrel had been moved, and saw footprints on the ground.
    Mr. and Mrs. Hallen left the house about 10:35 to go home.
                                             Find One Shell.
    Mrs. Hallen said that they had walked about two blocks along the darkened road when a man stepped out from behind a telephone pole and without warning opened fire.  Her husband fell to the ground and Mrs. Hallen toppled after him, throwing her arms around his neck and calling loudly for her mother.
    The cries brought Mr. and Mrs. Richmond, the wounded woman's parents.  Hallen was semi-conscious but unable to speak while being removed to the hospital.
    Police officers who investigated the shooting late Friday night found only one shell.  It was ejected from a .45 caliber pistol.
    Hallen had been an employe of the Griffin Wheel Co. for 16 years, starting as office boy.  His parents reside on Vashon Island.  Mr. and Mrs. Hallen had only recently started keeping house.  They were married seven months ago.
    The body of Hallen was taken to the Piper Undertaking establishment.  Mrs. Hallen remained at the St. Joseph's hospital, where her wounds were dressed by Dr. William B. McNerthney.
    Her condition was said not to be serious Saturday.  She was suffering considerably from the nervous shock.
                                         Dog Was Locked Up.
    "It wouldn't have happened if my dog had not been locked in a little house near my home," declared Mr. Richmond, father-in-law of the murdered man.  "The dog usually hangs around the house in the evenings but I had been at work in the little house and had the dog with me.
    It was about 10:20 p. m. when I went into the house.  A few minutes later Hallen and his wife left for their home.  As they left, Hallen remarked:
  "'Say, we have been married seven months today and you have only been over to see us once.'
    "I told him we would drop over in a few days.
    "I think that the man seen near the station was the man who killed him.  He probably followed Hallen and his wife to our house, then walked away when he saw my daughter Frieda going to town.  Then he tried to peek into the windows, and later went down to the road and waited behind the telephone pole for a chance to shoot.
                                        Heard Shots and Cry.
    "I had scarcely come back into the house after Hallen and his wife left before I heard four or five shots.  Then we heard Leah cry:
    'Mama, somebody has shot Harry.'
    "Frieda and I rushed to them.  I helped Leah support Harry's head, and urged him tima and again to speak, but he didn't move.  He seemed to be in no pain.  I flagged a street car and the conductor and other people on the car helped me get Harry into the house."
    Superintendent Foley, of the Griffin Wheel works, heard of the shooting after midnight and rushed to the Richmond home.  Foley declares Hallen had no enemies and had always been a fine, likeable, reliable fellow.
    Mrs.Richmond had ran to the Griffin Wheel works and informed Capt. Leslie D. Ellis, night watchman, of the shooting.  Ellis called the police, ambulance and doctor.
                                           Had No Enemies.
    Richmond, who is a foreman at the wheel works, declared he had no enemies on his crew and knew of no one who would want to kill his son-in-law.
    "I never knew a finer fellow than Harry," said Richmond.
    Mrs. Hallen, after being taken to St. Joseph's hospital for treatment, was not informed Friday night of her husband's death.  She was told the whole story Saturday morning.
    Mrs. Hallen bore up bravely after the shooting and worked tirelessly over her husband in an effort to soothe him but he apparently had been wounded so terribly that he was in a state of semi-consciousness.

     The same day as the Times printed its story on the murder, The Tacoma News Tribune printed further details it had gathered, also on page 1.  (It has been edited to avoid restating details in the Times' story):


Discharged Employe With Grudge Deemed Probable Murderer of Harry E. Hallen

 It was announced shortly after noon Saturday at police headquarters that the arrest of a man suspected of the murder of Harry E. Hallen Friday night would be accomplished before evening.

 ...Mrs. Hallen, glancing back as the first shot sped at her husband, plainly saw the form of a small man who had concealed himself behind a big pole.  His purpose accomplished, he darted past them, she said, and fled southward. ...
 ... Two misshapen bullets that had passed out after wounding Hallen and his wife were found and turned over to the police.  Two shells of identical caliber, .45, but of distinctly different manufacture, were found in the vicinity.
                     Army Pistol Used
    The mixed brands convinced the police Saturday that the weapon used to kill Hallen was a regulation U. S. army automatic loaded with cartridges issued to soldiers.  Clips of the automatics used by the military police in Tacoma revealed bullets of exactly the same manufacture and mix.  The police theory is that if the murderer had used cartridges purchased in a regular manner froma store, the shells would be of only one brand.  Yet the detectives do not believe that the shooting was done by a soldier, but by one who may have stolen or purchased the weapon from a soldier.
    The military police declared that one man is under arrest at Camp Lewis charged with disposing of six army automatics. ... ...To get police assistance after the shooting, Mrs. Richmond, mother of Mrs. Hallen, ran several blocks across a small plank bridge crossing a swamp to the Griffin Wheel Works. ...
... Bertillon Operator John Majerus
  [The Bertillon System was a complex, early method of scientific criminal identification.]
accompanied Detective E. J. Nix to the scene Saturday morning to photograph footprints found around the Richmond home and evidently left by the man who did the shooting. ...

footbridge across swamp

     The Murder Scene     The small wood plank bridge Mrs. Richmond crossed, running, in the dark to reach a telephone can be seen in this aerial photo from February of 1927, appearing as a thin line between points A, the area of the Richmond home, and B, the Griffin Wheel works.  The bridge runs east/west, with point A on the west end, point B on the east end. The Griffin Wheel works iron foundry is to the immediate left of point B, the building running north/south.  The  buildings to the east of the Griffin iron foundry are a part of the Northern Pacific Railroad's South Tacoma Shops and run east/west.  The line  above point C is South 56th street.  The narrow dirt road between points A and C is Mason Avenue, the road the Hallens were just starting down when they were shot, six years before this picture was taken.

     In the stiff three-way competition for readers between Tacoma's daily newspapers, it was the News Tribune that had the biggest scoop on the Hallen murder.  They printed Mrs. Hallen's own account of the shooting, just the day after the attack, no less, though reading it today it's difficult to believe it wasn't embellished at least to some degree.  The front page story was topped with photographs of the victims:

Mrs. Leah Hallen, in Hospital With Wound,

Prays for Husband Whose Death She
Is Not Told Of
    "Oh, pray for Harry.  Pray that he will get well!"  implored Mrs. Leah Hallen of the nurses and friends who gathered at her bedside this morning at St. Joseph's hospital.  Spent and wan with the night's suffering and her own wound frome the same gun that shot and killed her husband, Harry Hallen, Mrs. Hallen was thought too weak to learn the terrible truth that death had already claimed her husband.
    "He has always been so good, so fine, I can not imagine who would want to harm him," she continued, her lips quivering.  "He was always brave and I am trying to be for his sake.  I do not feel any pain.  I did not know last night I was shot, too, for some time.  I lifted him into my arms when he fell and helped put him on the street car that took him down the road to our house and I walked up the steps myself before I knew that I was shot too and told papa.  But it is only for him that I worry."
Wounded Bride Tells Story
    Tears trickled down her cheeks as she talked and her brother, Walter Richmond, who had come to break the sad news of Harry Hallen's death, sorrowfully delayed crushing the faint home [hope] that still lingered in his sister's heart.
    "We had gone  home to spend the evening with papa and mamma," Mrs. Hallen said of the events preceding the fatal shooting.  "We got there about half past seven.  We had only been married seven months, and we spent several evenings every week at their house.  We had such a nice evening, and were almost ready to start home, when mamma heard something at the window and called Harry's attention to it.
    "He said, 'No, mamma, you are hearing things.'  But pretty soon we heard something at another window.  It sounded like the rosebush scratching against the wall.  So Harry and papa went out to see what it was.  But they didn't find anyone, and we just laughed about it and put on our things, and got ready to go home.  We were taking a bag of eggs with us.  As we stood on the porch, saying goodnight, Harry said to papa:  "Now dad, you know we've been married seven months and you've only been over to see us once.  It's your turn now.'  And papa patted him on the back and said he was coming soon.  How little did we dream of what was going to happen.
Describes Shooting
    "We walked down the road a little ways.  It was awfully dark.  There are no lights along there.  We'd only been gone about the length of a city block when suddenly some one from behind a telephone pole that we were just passing lurched forward and shot Harry.
Didn't Know She Was Shot
    "He took two random shots at me but I did not know I was touched at the time.  I could hardly see the man in the darkness.  He ran from behind us and down the road.  He looked rather small and dark to me but in the darkness and excitement I did not notice very carefully.
    "My husband crumpled up on the ground without a word or a sound and I went down beside him and tried to lift him into my arms.  I began to call for help and papa and my sister Frieda came.  It was quite a little while, perhaps 15 minutes, before we could get help.  The street car on the Traction line came along and we hailed that and the conductor, Mr. Southsider, helped us lift my husband on and take him down the road as far as my father's home and carry him in.  Then it was only a few minutes until the police and the doctor and everybody came and brought us to the hospital.
    "Have you heard how he is this morning," she asked tremolously.  "All I hope for is that my darling will pull through."
    At the Richmond home much the same story was related by members of the family, with some additional details.  Miss Frieda Richmond, a younger sister, told of seeing a strange man who acted peculiarly when she started downtown to take a dancing lesson at 7:40 p. m.  As Miss Richmond waited at the car station she saw a man walking along the roadside.  When he observed her he placed his hand over his eyes, and as the car came up instead of boarding it he slipped into the brush behind the station house.
    "We believe this man followed Mr. and Mrs. Hallen as they came down the road 10 minutes earlier.  Perhaps it was too light then for him to venture to shoot," said Mr. Richmond, Mrs. Hallen's father, as he discussed the affair.  "He probably lingered about waiting for darkness."

     For its part, the Tacoma Daily Ledger could only manage a small, grainy image of Harry alone and the story they ran with it on Monday, March 13th, contained the erroneous claim thaHarry
                                              E. Hallent Mrs. Hallen was "reported in a critical condition at St. Joseph's hospital" when in reality her wounds were relatively minor.  The article did bring new information to the story, however:  "I am positive, in so far as present evidence shows, that the man who murdered Hallen was the same person who attempted to kill Nick Kramer," said T. M. Foley, Superintendent of the Griffin Wheel Company.
     The police agreed:  "We are so certain," said detectives on the case, "that we have combined the two cases and are looking for but one man, the man who attempted the life of Kramer and who murdered Hallen."

     The article continued:  Clues that lead the police to conclude that one man is wanted for the two crimes are:  The revolvers used in both instances were of .45 automatic caliber, and footsteps left beneath Kramer's window tally with those left by the murderer in the muddy roadway of South Mason street Friday night.
    New details of the shooting came to light yesterday ... That the assassin had plotted the crime for some time was revealed yesterday by Miss Frieda Richmond, sister of Mrs. Hallen, who said that last Monday while she was approaching her home, while all the rest of the family were away, she noticed all the lights on the lower floor were lit.  Just as she passed up the walk to the house, the home was plunged into sudden darkness and when she entered the light cords were still swinging.  Miss Richmond also reported that she saw a man answering to the murderer's description lurking near the Richmond home the afternoon preceding the shooting.

     It was now obvious the murderer was acting with extreme premeditation, going to great lengths over many days to find Harry Hallen in a position where he could be gunned down.  And if indeed it was the same assailant as had made the two attempts on Nick Kramer's life, could another Griffin Wheel manager be next?  As often happens after shocking events, rumors and speculation ran wild.  One example was of a possible motive, as reported by the Tacoma Daily Ledger on March 13th: "Another possible motive is, it was declared, that Hallen knew too much concerning the attempted slaying of Nick Kramer, and the guilty man wished him out of the way."  Because there was never any evidence to support that theory, the police didn't take it seriously.

     Neighbors near the murder scene had another speculation, that the murderer could've taken his own life in the woods just south of the crime scene.  While skeptical, police were obligated to investigate, as reported by the Tacoma Times on March 15th, page 1:

  SLAYER MAY        
        LIFE, BELIEF

  Shot Heard After    
      Hallen Killing;    
      Officers Comb  
      Woods, Swamp

     The woods and swamp near So. 56th and Mason sts. were being combed Tuesday by police officers looking for the body of the murderer of Harry E. Hallen, Griffin Wheel Co. assistant superintendent, who was fatally shot by an unknown man late Friday night.
    Several police officers, dressed in hipboots and rough clothing, were dispatched by Chief of Police Smith to search the woods, following a report that a shot was heard 15 minutes after the shooting of Hallen and his wife Friday night.
    Smith's informant believes that there is a possibility that the shot was one fired by the murderer, who had gone into dense underbrush and committed suicide.
    Although the police do not place much credence in the theory, they agreed to make the search.
    Rewards totalling $1,100 have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer of Hallen.
    Chief Smith entertains hope that Gov. Hart will offer a reward of $500 for the state and that the county commissioners will post a similar amount.
    Funeral services for Hallen will be held Wednesday at 2 p. m. from the Masonic hall at South Tacoma, Rev. W. E. Bates officiating, burial in the mausoleum.
    Of the $1,100 reward out for the Hallen murderer, $1,000 was authorized by the Griffin Wheel Co. and $100 by the Masonic lodge of South Tacoma.
    Mrs. Leah Hallen, who was wounded twice when her husband was murdered, is recovering in St. Joseph's hospital.

     Nothing was found.  As for the rewards offered, the News Tribune noted that "Though individuals of the police department may not participate in the reward, should the murderer be found by any of them, it is permissible to accept rewards for the police pension fund."


     As the days and weeks passed, the investigation into the murder of Harry Hallen continued, though without progress.  Among other foreign laborers who had been laid off from the Griffin Wheel works in the first part of 1921, Gino Spadoni was picked up and questioned by police but was later released. Eventually other violent crimes commanded the detectives' full attention, and the Hallen murder investigation stopped.  It would be revisited in the future, however, under a most unfortunate circumstance.

  This Content Stolen From Greg Spadoni at

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