From the archives of Liberal’s hometown newspaper since 1886.
Researched and compiled by Amira Coleman, L&T Reporter
New Year’s burglaries hit churches, homes, ammo stores
Liberal Police Chief Ralph Smith extended a vote of commendation to the motorists and pedestrians of Liberal, as a traffic fatality hadn’t occurred in two years.
Apparently, the city of Liberal was breaking a trend, as other stories on the front page indicated that the state of Kansas was reeling from the amount of traffic fatalities that had happened over the past New Year’s holiday.
Two deaths had occurred on the turnpike in the Wichita area, seven deaths had occurred in the Topeka area just in the first two days of the New Year. The last traffic fatality in Liberal was recorded on Sept. 27, 1961.
The Bill Rahm residence, 1311 N. Roosevelt, was burglarized and vandalized on New Year’s Eve. The Rahms reported that they found someone had “prowled through all the drawers and closets of the home” when they returned to their house at 2:35 a.m. Jan 1. Two Savage 12-gauge pump guns were missing from the Rahm residence, along with a .300 caliber Savage deer rifle with a scope, a piggy bank, a lady’s Bulova watch, a jewelry box, and a transistor radio. Liberal’s law officers were asking for cooperation in solving burglaries, as the Rahm burglary was one of nine that had already occurred in the New Year.
Lillian C. Adams of Garden City was arrested in Liberal the night of Jan. 1, and charged with drunken driving and illegal liquor transportation. Adams was released on a $275 bond posted in Police Court the next day, pending a trial slated for Jan 9. Lillian had a passenger in her car, Charley A. Kennedy, also of Garden City, who was also arrested. Kennedy’s bail was posted at $22, and his trial was pending for Jan. 9, like Adams.
The new license plates for 1964 were available at the county treasury, and were reportedly going fast. The plates were dark blue with white luminous numerals, and a total of 2,671 had been sold already, which was an increase of 83 from the past year’s sales. Treasurer Dorothy Coday informed the Times that a preference was being shown to those who wished to have the same license as the previous year, and to receive the same number as the previous year, one had to send in their tax receipt, IBM card and an additional 50 cents to cover mailing and handling.
A continuation of the previous features on burglaries appeared on the front page of the Jan. 3 newspaper announcing that eight of the nine burglaries had been solved. Most of the loot had been recovered, along with confessions from two high school youths from Turpin, Okla. After interrogating the two perpetrators, David R. Mitchell, and Neil Combs, and several trips to various abandoned barns, loot was recovered from burglaries of the Western Auto Store, the R. B. Harkins and Bill Rahm homes, the Friends Church, Presbyterian Church, Grace Lutheran Church, and the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.
The only burglary of that recent series remaining unsolved was that of Southwestern Hardware, where 37 boxes of shotgun shells were taken. Mitchell and Combs denied knowledge of that specific burglary.