On September 3, 1937, a chain of events was set into motion that would ultimately claim the lives of six men. On September 2, 1937, Harry Chapman of Chicago received a wire from William Cornette of Hamilton to meet him at the cabin of Harry Dingledine in Crystal Lake in Ohio. His son, Henry Dingledine had met the other two men at the London Prison Farm in Madison County Ohio where they were each serving time for various crimes including bank robbery, murder, forgery, and bootlegging. They were all paroled, Chapman to Illinois, Cornette because he was sick, and Henry Dingledine on an early parole after completing only 2.5 years of a 25 year sentence.
On the morning of September 3, 1937, Cornette, Chapman and Henry Dingledine drove to Springfield where they encountered Robert Smith who was returning to The Wedge, his father’s diner and drug store with $1,302.89 that he had withdrawn from the Lagonda Nation Bank. Upon returning to The Wedge, as Smith got out of his car two of the men approached him from behind and put a gun to his back. They forced him back into the car and sped off down Main Street to Upper Valley Pike. After driving up Upper Valley three to four miles, they forced him out of his car, took his money and told him to walk into the woods. A third man picked up the two robbers and drove away.
When Smith arrived back at the restaurant, Patrolmen Martin Donnelly and Martin Randolph were already on the scene responding to the abduction and thief. Donnelly suggested that he suspected Henry Dingledine and several patrol cars headed to Crystal Lake on the suspected burglary.
Deputies Frank Haerr and Edward Furry met Donnelly and Randolph at the Dingledine residence. The deputies knocked on the front door, but did not receive an answer. They knew someone was inside when they heard the clicking of the lock. The deputies decided to force an entry into the dwelling. They pried open a window and Donnelly and Furry climbed in. Although the blinds were drawn, they saw someone dash across the room into the kitchen. The officers ran toward the door, opened it and saw a man with a gun aiming for them.
Furry fired twice and stepped into the kitchen to be met by a volley of bullets from the passage to the cellar. Furry was riddled with bullet wounds and died instantly.
In the meantime, Donnelly ran through a rear door and fired at the man in the kitchen. He was hit by bullets in his left hand and shoulder. He retreated to his patrol car to get more weapons.
Hearing the gunshots, Randolph entered the house through the front door and was met by gunfire. He was wounded by five bullets and a volley of shogun pellets. Randolph later died on the way to the Springfield City Hospital.
While Donnelly was collecting more weapons, Henry and Harry Dingledine and Cornette escaped through the front door. Chapman left the cottage when the gunfire started. Haerr spotted him and started to pursue him when he saw the other three come out the front door. Haerr opened fire on them killing Cornette instantly. Henry Dingledine was shot in the arm, but he and his father managed to jump into Harry’s car and fled the scene.
Chapman was apprehended when he broke cover and tried to flee. He was gunned down by the deputies, but survived his injuries.
With the deputies seeking to find and arrest the Dingledines, the pair headed north. First, they stopped at the farm of Raymond Shearer in DeGraff to inquire about getting a doctor for Henry. They forced Shearer to go with them and headed to Marshall, MI. The Michigan doctor seeing the seriousness of Henry’s wound convinced the group to take Henry to a hospital. Henry was admitted to the hospital under the alias Henry Downing.
Upon hearing Henry Dingledine’s story about how he was shot and having read about the shoot-out in Crystal Lake, Sheriff Kellay of Marshall suspected that “Downing” might be one of the criminals being sought. He notified the Springfield police. Once the police confirmed that is was Dingledine, they brought Henry back to Springfield and placed him under heavy guard and shackled to his bed in Springfield City Hospital. He refused to reveal to the police the location of his father. However, Harry Dingledines was capture on September 26, 1937 in Royal Oak, MI where he was found sleeping in his car outside the home of his brother Russell Dingledine.
On September 18, 1937, Harry Chapman and Henry Dingledine were arraigned for the First Degree Murder of Furry, First Degree Murder of Randolph, and the robbery of Robert Smith. Both men pled not guilty. Harry Dingledine was arraigned on the same charges on September 29, 1937 and pled not guilty.
All three men were convicted of the charges and sentenced to die. During their trials, each man blamed the others and denied any part in the murders of Furry and Randolph. They were electrocuted on April 19, 1939.