no avatar

Strange items from Ottawa County police files

Kevin Collier • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Such is the case in the following news items reporting on unusual Ottawa County police encounters.  

The first item is a fashionable example of how a shirt sometimes fits the person.  

On June 6, 1965, state police in Grand Haven apprehended and arrested Harold Lincoln Sutton, a 30-year-old paroled escapee from Virginia, for armed robbery. Sutton, who was living at 112 Franklin Ave. in Grand Haven, had held up the Embassy Bar on Northshore Drive in Robinson Township at 1 p.m. that day, using a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun and making off with about $450.  

R.A. Bauch, owner of the bar, notified police and described a sweatshirt with a slogan printed on it that the crook was wearing. State troopers Leonard Speckin and Harlen Reetz headed south on U.S. 31 and soon pulled over a suspicious car traveling north. The driver was wearing the sweatshirt Bauch had described, was identified as Sutton and was arrested.  

On his sweatshirt were printed the words, “And You Think You Have Troubles,” accompanied by a cartoon illustration.  

The next item should make would-be thieves think about watching out from whom you steal.  

On Aug. 4, 1969, Gene Roberts had left his fishing rod and an arctic leather jacket with identifying number CBDI 545 in a boat docked at Spring Lake, owned by friend Stanley J. Supina. While momentarily away, the jacket and fishing pole were both stolen.  

On Jan. 6, 1970, Roberts stopped for a cup of coffee at the Dog 'n' Suds restaurant on Robbins Road. While inside, he recognized what appeared to be his leather jacket being worn by another customer, a 17-year-old Spring Lake boy.  

This was bad news for the youth, as Gene Roberts was a state police officer at the Grand Haven post. Verifying the identifying number in the coat, Roberts arrested the man on-site, charging him with possession of stolen property — his own.  

The following clipping reminds us that experience counts.  

On Feb. 3, 1957, the thin resume for an unidentified individual applying for the vacant position of Grand Haven police chief made The Associated Press news wire. Under the line of “experience,” the applicant wrote: “Never served on a police force, but I have ridden to work for several months with a police officer.”  

This next item really stinks.  

On Aug. 1, 1965, 26-year-old William Roe of Spring Lake walked into the Dee Lite on Washington Avenue in downtown Grand Haven and raised a bit of a stink. Not Roe himself, but his companion. He brought with him into the establishment a skunk.  

“Patrons fled the restaurant after the animal's aroma spread through the building,” the Grand Haven Tribune reported.  

Roe gave no reason why he had brought the skunk into the restaurant. He was charged with creating a disturbance, and sentenced to five days in jail and fined $30.70.  

The following item reminds drivers to stay on track, but do not drive on them. 

On Feb. 2, 1958, while state troopers Robert Berghuis and Robert Paetschow were patrolling Lakewood Boulevard in southern Ottawa County, on the lookout for an escapee from the county jail, they spotted a car driving down the C&O railroad tracks at 40 mph. Pulling the car over at 120th Avenue, the officers apprehended the fugitive, 21-year-old Ivan Meeusen, who had been jailed for drunken driving.

According to the troopers, “minutes” before Meeusen's car was seen on the tracks, a train had roared through at 80 mph.  

Every so often in the news a kid gets behind the wheel of a car, but this item takes the cake.  

On July 7, 1965, the state police post received a call from Jerry Botbyl that a person had pulled into his Beacon Boulevard gas station at about 10 p.m., requested a road map and inquired about the distance to Chicago. Botbyl, thinking the person was too young to be operating a vehicle, told police the car departed heading south.  

State troopers pulled over the stolen vehicle just south of Grand Haven, arrested the driver and took him into custody. It was an 11-year-old boy from Shelby. The boy told officers he had “an argument with his parents” and had decided to “run away to Chicago.”

The boy was returned to his parents the following day.  

The next item indicates sometimes the name you use might mean your freedom.  

On July 28, 1988, Michael Lynn Laster — who was to be transported to the State Prison at Jackson to serve a 6-20 year sentence for burglary — walked out of the Grand Haven jail after using another prisoner's name.  

Laster had paid a fellow inmate $100 to allow him to use his name and take his place when guards called the names of inmates to be released. Guards realized the error 45 minutes after Laster was released, and he was captured five days later at a home in Corning, Ark. He was arrested and returned to Michigan, where an additional four years was added to his sentence.  

The next clipping is good advice for gamblers who think they were cheated. 

In September 1937, Sheriff Frank Van Etta received a complaint from three Grand Rapids-area men that they had been swindled at a roulette wheel gambling concession at an Ottawa County fair near Grand Haven.  

Van Etta reportedly listened “sympathetically” to the men, who lost a combined $135, but promptly arrested them. The sheriff charged the trio with violating the Michigan gambling law by patronizing a gaming device.

The men paid fines of up to $5 each and were released. What happened to the operator of the device was unreported.  

The final item reminds us to check our headlights, and perhaps everything else concerning the vehicle we are driving. 

On Jan. 24, 1984, a man was pulled over by state police in Fruitport for a burned-out headlight on his vehicle. Troopers learned during the stop that the 1982 Pontiac Firebird the man was driving was a stolen vehicle registered to a Detroit owner. 

The driver was transported to the Ottawa County Jail. During a routine search of his clothing, officers found a two-way portable radio of the type used by state police. Troopers assumed the man had taken it while handcuffed to a pipe while briefly alone at the police post.  

Their interest piqued, deputies decided to perform a strip search of the man, and found a bag of marijuana.

The offender was arraigned the next day before Judge Richard Kloote. Aside from the burned-out headlight — which was the initial reason he was stopped — the man was charged with grand theft auto, possession of marijuana and concealing stolen property. Bond was set at $12,500.

Recommended for You