The following is a factual account of the events surrounding the 1942 murder of Norwood Police Officer Anthony Overberg and the investigation that followed. Story by Jeffrey Gladish
Anthony Overberg was born in 1908 and was a graduate of St. Elizabeth in Norwood. He attended St. Elizabeth Church where he was baptized and married. He joined the Norwood PD in July of 1936 and was promoted to rank of Sergeant on Jan. 16, 1941. He was also a member of Norwood Aerie of Eagles.
On June 20th, 1942, Wester's Pharmacy - 5260 Section at Wayne Street in Norwood, was robbed of $120 (2015 value: $1,818). Several days later, July 2nd, another Norwood drugstore, Peter J. Hein Pharmacy - 1764 Sherman Ave., was held-up by what seemed to be the same man. The man was described as being in his early to mid twenties, about 5' 9" and with brown curly hair. This time he got away with $32 (2015 value: $485).
Norwood Chief of Police Charles Fritz arranged a trap for the man who had been committing the armed robberies, by placing plain-clothes officers in the back of the stores [Officer Assignments]. On July 8, 1942 Sergeant Anthony Overberg and his wife, Agnes, were to entertain friends that they had not seen for two years. However, Overberg was needed in the operation that night. He was subsequently stationed at Lawson's Drugstore located at 4320 Franklin Ave. in Norwood (now demolished). He arrived there shortly after 10:00 pm. The store's occupants included the owner, Howard Lawson, Marvin Burroughs and his wife, Wilma. Sergeant Overberg sat in the back, laid his gun on the counter and began reading about narcotic thieves in the May 1942 issue of O.V.D.A. Review. According to The Cincinnati Post, "by pre-arrangement, Mr. Lawson was to have left open a small window from which Sergt. Overberg could have observed what was going on in the store. Mr Lawson closed this window during the evening..."
A short time later, a young, well-dressed man came into Lawson's, ordered a coke and sat down on one of the stools. Soon after that, according to Joseph Coors' statement, [text | image] "I sat down at the fountain and ordered a CocaCola. A man was sitting to my right, with one vacant stool between us. He had a Coke in front of him with a straw in it. He had his right band[hand] on the glass." As Lawson went to the cash register, "The Bandit" ordered everyone to stay where they were. The bandit then took the cash out of the register and asked if there was another cash register. Lawson pointed to a second register, which the bandit then emptied of its cash. Then according to Marvin Burroughs statement [text | image], "he asked about a safe and Lawson said 'The safe is in the far corner' in a louder voice than he had been talking, but he did not shout. The bandit said Come on, and Lawson started toward the rear along the south side of the store, he passed behind me. He went to the rear of the store as the bandit was walking back along the other side." In Lawson's statement [text | image] he states, "I hurried, not running, to the south end of the prescription counter, beating the bandit to the prescription department. With my fist clecnched [clenched], I said to Overberg, 'For God's sake he's here.' I had scarcely finished what I had told him, when Overberg dropped the magazine and was turning toward the bandit, when the bandit appeared coming toward him."
Sensing a trap, the bandit pulled out his gun, a .45 caliber. He knew right away that the man in the back of the store was a cop. He ordered Overberg to put up his hands. Overberg threw the magazine on the counter to try and cover his gun and then went for the bandit's gun. A struggle ensued and during the struggle a large bottle of vanilla extract was broken. The extract saturated both men's clothing and the bandit's leg was cut. The bandit then dropped his 45 on the ground and then grabbed Overberg's gun, a Colt 38 Revolver. He shot six times hitting Overberg three times. The bandit then ran out of the store. According to Robert Perkins statement [text | image], "He went east on Courtland and crossed Allison. He was the width of the street away from me- I was on the north side and he was running on the south side."
Perkins ran in and found Sergeant Overberg in the corner bleeding badly. He had been shot in the chest, leg and groin. Lawson called the police and an ambulance. Short thereafter, the ambulance arrived and rushed Overberg to Good Samaritan Hospital located in Cincinnati. Several officers and members of the Norwood Eagles Blood Donors Club came to the hospital to give blood. At 11:26 pm Sergeant Anthony H. Overberg passed away at age 34. He left behind his wife, Agnes, and two Daughters, Carole Ann (2 years 9 months) & Kathleen Alice (7 months). The bandit, now a murderer, escaped with a total estimated at $8.00 (2015 value: $121).
Sergeant Overberg's funeral took place at Ihlendorf Funeral Home (now demolished), which was located at 4400 Montgomery Rd., Norwood. The Guards of Honor included Norwood patrolmen Carl Brinkman and Carl Merckel. The funeral service was held Saturday, July 11 at St. Elizabeth Church in Norwood by Father Cornelius Berning and was attended by roughly 700 individuals. According to The Enterprise [July 11, 1942], "At the conclusion of the funeral home rites, Sergt. Overberg's widow sobbing and rather hysterical bent over the casket and kissed her husband good-bye." The funeral procession consisted of some 50 cars. 30 Norwood policemen were detailed to traffic duty. Sergeant Overberg was laid to rest in Section 18 of St. Mary's Cemetery, St. Bernard, OH.
A fund was created as a reward for the capture of Overberg's killer. This fund would eventually include $2,000.00 (2015 value: $30,299). According to The Times-Star [July 7, 1942], "The original reward fund of $500 was started off when Sam Maitland, clerk in the Norwood Health Department, long an admirer of Overburg's, dug into his pocket and said, 'Here's $100, come on boys (meaning the policemen) let's make the interesting.' The police immediately collected $400 among themselves." The rest was donated by individuals and local companies.
The community also gave generously over the next several weeks in various ways to the family of Sergeant Overberg. One example was that Norwood Coal & Coke Co. forgave the Overberg's coal bill [View image of letter]. Another can be found in The Norwood Enterprise [July 16, 1942], "United Dairy Farmers, 3955 Main av. who contributed a order blank to Mrs. Overburg for free merchandise, including 16 quarts of ice cream, 20 pounds of cheese and a half quart of milk daily until Oct. 31".
A July 23rd article contains a list of contributors to The Anthony Overberg Memorial Fund [View image of fund statement]. The list includes Norwood Companies of today: $100 from both U.S. Playing Card Co. and Norwood Sash & Door, and $25 came from Stone's Bowling Alley. Three softball games added $500. The first was played, July 30, 1942 by Mrs. Ley's Modern Misses of Today vs. another girl team sponsored by Jim Glass. The game was won by the Modern Misses 8-6. A double header was then set for August 11, 1942, which would be witnessed by some 2000 people at the Norwood High School grounds. The first game was played by The Married Men and Hi-C teams of St. Elizabeth Church, which the Hi-C Team won 6-2. The second game was played by Wright Aeronautical Pipe Fitters and the Norwood Moose. This game was won by the Pipe fitters 14-13. The fund, which netted $4,535.70, was turned over to Anthony's widow, Agnes, to help the family overcome the hardships they faced.
In the months that followed, the Norwood Police would check leads from Ashville, N. C. to Everett, Washington. Some of the interviews lead to other crimes being solved. One instance of this, as stated in a Norwood Police file dated July 29, 1942, involves a 29 year old man from Barton, Ohio. He was arrested in Hobson Railroad Yards, near Pomeroy, Ohio, in an attempt to escape from police who were pursuing him for a burglary he committed in Middleport, Ohio. The file states, "As detectives were standing guard over him he yawned, Stretched, and at the same time made a dive for the detectives gun, causing the gun to go off, shooting a Breakman in the leg, and almost making good his escape." While being questioned, the suspect admitted to holding up a oil station in Columbus, Ohio, and making off with $115.
In November of 1943, a young 19-year-old lady, named, Marjorie Christopher, who lived on the 900 block of Cherokee Road in Louisville, KY and was married to a Navy sailor, began working nights at the Westinghouse Gun Plant in Louisville on Third Street. She soon began catching rides home with a co-worker named Frank Dudley Carter, and shortly there after they started dating. He wanted her to know everything about him. He told her of his business of robbing places. He also told her about a night were he and his wife went to Cincinnati were he robbed a store and ended up killing a policeman. According to her statement to the prosecuting attorney, "He said he walked in this drug store and they must have been expecting him and he walked up to this man behind the counter - the cashier - and asked him for money and he wouldn't give it to him and he kept edging back to the back where this policeman was sitting down and said that he and the policeman started wrestling and he either would have gotten killed or the policeman and he grabbed the policeman's gun and shot him in the stomach."
Frank and Margie then left the Westinghouse Gun Plant in July of 1944. He would take her with him on trips to Chicago where, he would leave her in the car and rob places, mainly liquor stores and theaters. Later, they would go around Indianapolis where he would rob roller-rinks and theaters. In September 1944, Frank felt things were getting too hot, and decided to enlist into the Navy. He would not see Margie again for nearly four months.
Frank Carter came back to Louisville while he was out on furlough between Christmas and New Years. He would first go to Steiden's Grocery store, in Louisville, where Margie was now working and later he would see his wife. On New Years Eve, Frank's wife went with him to the train station. He said goodbye to his wife and got on the train. He then got off on the other side of the train, at which time he went to see Margie. She told him that she was now engaged to a Louisville Auxiliary Police Officer. They had an argument, and he tore up a picture she had of her fiancée. He also threatened to kill her and her fiancée.
She later told her fiancée about Frank and that he had killed a cop in Cincinnati during a robbery. The Auxiliary Police Officer then went to Louisville police and told them what Margie had said.
On January 18th, 1945, Norwood detectives, Les Kelly and Meredith Dockum, joined by Louisville detectives, arrived at small house in Middletown, Kentucky (near Louisville). This was the home of Frank Carter and his 20-year-old wife Linna Louise Carter. The detectives knocked on the door and Ms. Carter answered. She fainted almost immediately after the detectives stated that they were from Norwood, Ohio. She fainted several more times as the detectives questioned her and searched the home. The detectives found Sergeant Overberg's 38 in a suitcase and Mrs. Carter was arrested. She was taken to a Louisville jail and then [transferred] to the custody of Detective Dockum, who then took her back to Norwood.
When Mrs. Carter was brought to Norwood, she was questioned at City Hall by Loyal Martin, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. During questioning, she stated that Frank rented a car from 'The You Drive It Company' located in Louisville. She stated they then drove to Cincinnati and spent time at Union Terminal. Frank later dropped her off at a show around 8:00 pm. He told her that he would be back around 11:00 pm. Frank came back to pick her up between 11:00 and 11:30 pm. The questioning then went as follows:
Q. What did he tell you then?
A. He said I shot a policeman.
Q. Did he tell you where?
A. No, in a drug store.
Q. Now, Louise
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now, when you started away in the car, who drove?
A. He started to drive - he drove.
Q. After you had gone awhile, who drove then?
A. I drove.
A. Because he said he was too nervous.
Q. Did he show you the gun after you started to drive?
A. He told me he killed a policeman with it.
Q. Did he tell you how he knew this man was a policeman?
A. He said he brought out his badge and they got into a fight.
Q. Do you remember smelling anything on him, Louise?
Q. What was it?
A. Like vanilla.
Q. Did you ask him what the vanilla was?
A. He said he knocked something off in the drug store in the fight.
Q. Now, Louise, let me ask you another thing, do you remember anything about a cut on his leg?
A. It was on the bone.
Q. What did Frank do with the clothes he had on him that had vanilla on them?
A. He told me that he burned them.
Q. Did you ever see those clothes around the house after that night?
A. No, sir.
Q. Now, Louise, I want to ask you did you drive the car out to Norwood for him?
A. No, sir, I went to the picture show.
Q. You were at the picture show all that time?
A. Yes sir, I don't remember what time.
Q. This gun he showed you, you said you kept it at your home in the suit case?
A. Yes, sir. It has always been locked in the suit case.
Q. You kept it locked in the suit case?
A. Yes, sir.
End of interview.
Frank Carter was stationed near Chicago, at The Great Lakes Naval Training Station. On Friday, Jan. 19, 1945, he was arrested by Navy Authorities and FBI agents on a murder warrant. The Navy discharged Carter, a Navy Fireman Second Class, because he lied about his criminal record when he enlisted. He was then turned over to Chicago Police. On Jan 22, 1945, he pleaded not guilty to unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in the Federal District Court located in Chicago. The next day he was sent on a train to Cincinnati, where he was picked up and driven to the Norwood Police Station. On the way through Norwood, Carter showed Norwood Detectives, Lee Kiley and Meredith Dockum, where he had parked, which was near the intersection of Allison and Courtland Avenues.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer dated Jan 24, 1945, "Carter talked calmly and freely of the slaying of Sergeant Overberg and of the criminal career that included so many holdups he 'can’t remember all of them.'” In the article Carter recalls, "'When I went into the drugstore..., I had the drop on the officer, ... but that didn't stop him. He came straight after me. He was the bravest man I ever saw. I lost my gun in the scuffle, but I managed to get his and I shot him.'" Carter, "who was born in Louisville and started his career in crime when he was 17", was fingerprinted and held in Norwood. "... in spite of his many crimes, he had been arrested only once. He was convicted of automobile stealing but was paroled because he was a youth after serving a brief sentence."
A ballistic report from the FBI [Page 1 | Page 2] confirmed that the gun found in the suitcase at the Carter's house was the one used in the murder of Sergeant Overberg. An article in the Cincinnati Post dated Jan. 25, 1945 stated, "Asked why he kept Sgt. Overberg's gun in his possession ever since the murder, Carter replied: 'Well, a carpenter keeps his saw, doesn't he?'"
Carter was arraigned in Criminal Court before Judge Frederick L. Hoffman on Jan. 25, 1945. He was indicted on two counts: Murder of a Policeman and Murder in the Perpetration of a Robbery. Both of the charges were punishable by death. Carter, who was represented by Former Assistant Prosecutor Ralph Kohnen and State Senator Fred Reiners, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Reiners was later replaced by Attorney Amos Foster.
Judge Nelson Schwab declared Carter sane and the seating of the Jury began on March 21, 1945. At the end of the next day, the Jury was finalized consisting of seven men and five women.
On the morning of March 27th, Carter slashed his wrists with a razor blade in an attempt to commit suicide. Jail guards, Gus Potts and William Frey, intervened and a life squad rushed him to General Hospital where he received treatment. Later that day he was returned to the Sheriff.
During the evening of March 28th, the jury reached a verdict. The Cincinnati Enquire, March 29th, 1945 states, "Their verdit was, 'guilty of first degree murder with no recommendation of mercy,' which carries a mandatory sentence of death in the electric chair. ... When the verdict was announced Carter dropped his head. Edward Yockey and William Strieter, special investigators for the Sheriff's office, and Edward Kress, jail warden, immediately removed Carter to the jail..." The same article states, "Five minutes after a jury directed the death penalty for Frank Carter ... the doomed man smashed his left hand on a bar in the County Jail, tore bandages from his wrist and shouted, 'They'll never take me to the chair.'"
On April 3, 1945, Judge Schwab sentenced Carter. According to the Norwood Enterprise [April 5, 1945], "When Judge Schwab asked Carter if he had anything to say before sentence was passed on him he said: 'I fought that man a fair hand to hand battle for the gun', ... His utterance was in the nature of a seeming justification for what he had done." He then sentenced him to death in the electric chair, which was to be carried out in the Ohio State Prison on July 14.
Over the next few months, Carter's attorneys made appeals for Carter's life. On June 11, 1945, The Court of Appeals found no error in the decision. A month later, The Ohio Supreme Court granted a stay of execution a week before he was to be electrocuted. The court heard the appeal on October 10, 1945, at which time they denied the appeal for a new trial. The court then ordered the execution to be carried out on the 31st of that month.
The xx article dated Nov. 8th of 1945, describes Frank Carters last moments, "Entering the death chamber Thursday at 7:02 p.m., ... guards clamped the electrodes on him, Carter kissed the small wooden cross he carried with him on his death march and repeated prayers of the Last Sacrament after the two priest. Father Kelly administered the last sacrament. Warden Frank Henderson signaled with his cane for [the] deadly volts at 7:05 p.m." Frank Dudley Carter was pronounced dead at 7:16 p.m. Nov. 8, 1945, by the Dr. John Echstorm.
In 1984 Anthony Overberg's wife, Agnes C. Overberg, past away. She was buried next to Anthony in St. Mary's Cemetery.
The events stated in this article were compiled by Jeffrey Gladish from the following sources:
- The Norwood Police Department Crime Files
- The Norwood News
- The Enterprise
- The Cincinnati Post
- The Cincinnati Enquire
- The Cincinnati Times Star