200 N.E. 594 (Ill. 1936), 23208, People v. Betson

Docket Nº:23208.
Citation:200 N.E. 594, 362 Ill. 502
Opinion Judge:ORR, Justice.
Party Name:PEOPLE v. BETSON.
Attorney:[362 Ill. 503]George W. Sprenger, of Peoria, for plaintiff in error. Otto Kerner, Atty. Gen., E. V. Champion, State's Atty., of Peoria, and A. B. Dennis, of Danvill (Henry E. Pratt, Roy P. Hull, and Baird Helfrich, all of Peoria, of counsel), for the People.
Case Date:February 14, 1936
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

Page 594

200 N.E. 594 (Ill. 1936)

362 Ill. 502




No. 23208.

Supreme Court of Illinois

February 14, 1936

Error to Circuit Court, Peoria County; Henry Ingram, Judge.

James W. Betson was convicted of kidnapping and holding for ransom, and he brings error.


Evidence held sufficient to warrant conviction of kidnapping for ransom. S.H.A. ch. 38, §§ 386, 716.

Page 595

[362 Ill. 503]George W. Sprenger, of Peoria, for plaintiff in error.

Otto Kerner, Atty. Gen., E. V. Champion, State's Atty., of Peoria, and A. B. Dennis, of Danvill (Henry E. Pratt, Roy P. Hull, and Baird Helfrich, all of Peoria, of counsel), for the People.

ORR, Justice.

James W. Betson, charged with kidnapping Dr. James W. Parker and holding him for ransom in 1932, was found guilty by a jury in the circuit court of Peoria county and [362 Ill. 504] sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of 25 years. He seeks a reversal of the judgment by this writ of error.

The record shows that Dr. Parker was kidnapped from the drive of his home in Peoria about 7 o'clock in the evening of March 14, 1932. He was seized by Claude Evans (alias Red Evans) and Arlo Stoops and driven in his own car to a point in Peoria, where he was transferred to a Chevrolet car belonging to Stoops. In this car he was driven by another defendant, Cecil Minninger, who had followed the Parker car on a portion of its journey. On the transfer of Dr. Parker from one car to the other he was blindfolded, and in that condition he was taken to a farm near Manito. At this farm, which had been leased by Raymond Stoops, he was held and guarded alternately by Raymond and Arlo Stoops, Minninger, Evans, Homer Massey, and Dwight Bartlett until the evening of April 1, when he was released near East Peoria, without any ransom being paid. While the doctor was held prisoner he was compelled by his captors to write letters to members of his family and friends seeking to raise the $50,000 demanded by the kidnappers.

About 11 o'clock p. m. on March 14, the wife of Dr. Parker received a telephone call at their home from a person identifying himself as 'Double X.' She was then informed her husband would not be home that night, was told where his car could be found, and that she would hear from him the following morning. At the same time Edward W. Ohl, a house officer at the Pere Marquette Hotel in Peoria, saw the defendant Betson and Arlo Stoops together in the bottom lobby of the hotel. He saw Betson enter a telephone booth and use the telephone while Stoops waited for him in the immediate vicinity. On the morning of March 15, Betson called in person at an automobile service station located directly across the street from his home and claimed and drove away the Chevrolet automobile of Arlo Stoops which had been used in the kidnapping, after [362 Ill. 505] paying the service attendant the sum of $1 for washing the automobile. On the afternoon of March 31, Betson was taken into custody by police officers without any protest on his part and taken to a residence

Page 596

located in Peoria. There he was placed in a room with Joseph Pursifull, a Peoria attorney, who was likewise in custody for the kidnapping. The two were presumably alone in the room while Pursifull talked to Betson, during which he made many accusations implicating the latter in the kidnapping. All of the accusations were undenied by Betson at the time of their utterance. As a matter of fact, during this meeting the two were under the surveillance of police officers looking through a peephole and what was said was listened to by them through a dictaphone. While the two men were in the room, Henry E. Pratt, state's attorney of Peoria county, entered the room and accused Pursifull and Betson of connection with the kidnapping. This accusation was not denied by either man.

On the morning of April 1, while he remained in custody, Betson was taken to his home by a police officer. While the two were there, Nellie Minninger, the wife of Cecil Minninger, arrived about 7:30 and Betson, upon two occasions, told her to 'go to 120 Fifth street (the home of Arlo Stoops) and tell the boys to dump it tonight--early.' Mrs. Minninger then went to this place and failing to find Arlo Stoops, met Homer Massey in downtown Peoria, on the same day, and delivered Betson's message to him. Minninger, the two Stoops, Evans, Bartlett, Massey, Betson, and Pursifull were all found guilty of the kidnapping, while three other defendants were found not guilty. All of the defendants were tried together and a number of confessions, which will be treated later, were introduced in evidence. The defendants' motions for a severance, new trial, and in arrest of judgment were all denied.

The indictment consisted of five counts. The first was nolle prossed by the people. The second count is objected [362 Ill. 506] to because it does not use the word 'feloniously'; the third count is defective, according to the defendant, because it does use the word 'feloniously,' but charges in effect that Dr. Parker kidnapped himself; the fourth count is attacked because it does not charge a crime in the words of the statute, there being a failure to use the words 'seize,' 'unlawfully,' and also the word 'feloniously'; and the fifth count is allegedly bad because words of the statute, i. e., 'seize,' 'unlawfully,' and 'feloniously' were not used. Thus, according to defendant, there were no good counts in the indictment, and the trial court erred in overruling his motion to quash.

It is first argued by defendant that kidnapping for ransom was a felony under the common law, and that therefore it is necessary to charge that the kidnapping was done 'feloniously.' This contention is untenable for there is no such crime as a common-law felony in Illinois. All felonies in this state are defined by, and required to be prosecuted under, our Criminal Code (Smith-Hurd Ann.St. c. 38, § 1 et seq.). Therefore, every indictment for a felony must be construed in accordance therewith. People v. Connors, 301 Ill. 112, 133...

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