Thanks so much for your question. I'm not a big fan of microfilm as a
medium, but I always find reading old newspapers fascinating so this
one was a fun one to research. I just wish I could have discovered
what happened to Stephen Jablowicz.
In 1908, there were several English language Buffalo newspapers: the
Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo Courier, Buffalo Enquirer, Buffalo
Express, as well as a few others. As can be expected, coverage in
these varied in type as well as extent. I found microfilm for all of
these in the Local History Collection at the central branch of the
Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
Collections of Special Interest/Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Okay, onto the case.
Daniel F. McCrea, a 22-year-old railroad detective, for the Buffalo,
Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad was shot on June 20, 1908 at 5:30 P.M.
[other papers put the time at 6PM] while chasing a gang of five men in
the Buffalo Creek railroad yards. These were located at Clinton Street
and Fillmore Avenue.
About an hour prior to the shooting, McCrea had been trying to clear
the yards of suspicious characters. The aforementioned gang of five
did not want to be removed from the yards and according to witnesses,
were lying in wait for a train. McCrea engaged at least one of the men
at one point, reportedly striking him over the head with a blackjack.
McCrea boarded a moving freight train, the five men suddenly
reappeared beside the track, a few cars below the point where McCrea
was standing between the cars. One of the men was seen to break away
from the group and board the train. He walked along the cars to where
McCrea was standing
Someone affiliated with the train had called out
to McCrea [whether or not it was about the trespasser is not made
clear in the article]. McCrea climbed up the ladder at the end of the
car. When his head appeared above the top, the man drew a revolver and
fired point blank at the detective from a distance of about seven
The bullet went into McCreas head, near the right side of the brain.
McCrea fell onto the ground, while his killer leapt from the car to
the ground and with his compatriots fled [albeit in separate
Witnesses to all this were Harry C. Hooper, the brakeman, and resident
at 919 Perry Street; Patrick J. Butler, the conductor, resident of 148
Abbott Road; Charles Wendt, switchman, 631 Hopkins Street; and Gus
Bayot of 674 William Street [no profession or affiliation with
McCrea was removed to Emergency Hospital. Although he didnt die
immediately, doctors believed that it was only a matter of time. Dr.
ODonnell of the Emergency Hospital attempted to remove the bullet,
but was unsuccessful, as the bullet had lodged in the brain.
Superintendent Regan was in charge of the investigation and
immediately set up a dragnet. They arrested a 19-year-old named Joseph
Ratagczak of 365 Lovejoy Street and subsequently searched his house
for weapons. Charges were not placed.
The killer was not immediately identified. The first suspect was named
as Sullivan, a Pole who had made repeated threats against the life
of McCrea because the detective had driven from the yards
some time ago McCrea is said to have beaten Sullivan with
McCrea was a Bradford, PA native and resident. At the time, his
father, a one-time chief of Bradford, PAs police, John C. McCrea was
an agent for the B.R. & P. detective force. He was at his sons
bedside at the hospital.
Fellow detectives referred to Daniel McCrea as one of the brightest
and cleverest on the staff of the B. R. & P. McCrea had made
successful raids on car burglars in the past and had risked death
Detective is Fatally Shot. The Buffalo Courier. June 21, 1908, p.
Another paper, the Buffalo Express reported that McCrea was hated all
through East Buffalo among the lawless element, and within the last
three weeks had been fired upon by car burglars several times. This
article names another detective, one Detective Stewart [for the New
York Central line] as being on the scene with McCrea.
According to this article, five minutes after McCrea hit one of the
men with his blackjack [the gang scattering after this], a B. R. & P.
train came through the yard. McCrea jumped onto the train and stood
on the bumpers between the fifth and sixth car. Harry Hooper told
the police that he saw one of the gang climb on top of the sixth car
and move toward where McCrea was standing, while the other four men
stayed on the ground.
The assailant, here referred to as Polak Sullivan, drew his gun and
shot McCrea, jumped from the train and took off down Fillmore Avenue.
Gus Deyot [not sure which spelling is correct, the Express or the
Couriers], a coal-and-wood dealer, of 674 William Street witnessed
As McCrea fell, a laborer [not named] pulled him out of reach of the
The Express reported that the police believe the shooting
premeditated and deliberate
men watched their chance to get McCrea
alone and then down him. He has broken up many gangs during this
winter and his name had become a source of fear to car burglars.
McCrea had been rooming on South Division Street near Michigan Street.
Detective is Shot in Head: Daniel F. McCrea Dying at the Emergency
Hospital with Bullets [sic] in Brain, The Illustrated Buffalo
Express. June 21, 1908, p.2, pt II.
In the days following the shooting, police identified Stephen
Jablowicz a.k.a. Polack Sullivan as being a chief suspect. A
17-year-old named Wladislaus Boczyonski of 40 Detroit Street was
arrested in connection with the crime. The Express reported that it is
believed that Jablowicz left the area on a freight.
Detective Is Dying The Buffalo Express. June 22, 1908, p. 7.
McCrea had been sworn in as a special officer three months prior to
Assassinated by a Car Burglar: Daniel F. McCrea, Railroad Detective,
Shot Through Head by Thug. Buffalo Sunday Morning News. June 21,
1908, p. 2.
Jablowicz is named as being the leeader [sic] of a bad gang, a Polish
youth, who is known as Sullivan, has had trouble with McCrea
Detective Will Die As Result of Shooting: Life of Daniel F. McCrea
Hangs by Slender ThreadAssailant Is Still at Large. Buffalo
Enquirer. June 22, 1908, p. 9.
Another citation that might be of interest, although theres no new
Detective MCrea Dying at Hospital: Car Burglars Victim Unconscious
Since ShootingAssailant Still at Large. Buffalo News. June 22, 1908,
p. 1, 12 oclock ed.
McCrea succumbed to his injuries at died at 9:56 PM [I have to insert
a caveat herethe microfilm copy was horrendous and its possible that
the 56 part is off] at the Emergency Hospital on June 24, 1908. His
sisters, Laura of Chicago and Clara of Bradford as well as an aunt and
uncle from Salamanca, NY [close to Bradford] were present. His parents
had been persuaded to get some sleep and werent there at the end.
McCrea never regained consciousness.
Detective MCrea Dies of Wound: Railroad Special Shot in East Buffalo
Yards Breathes Last at Emergency Hospital, The Buffalo Courier. June
25, 1908, p. 11.
The Buffalo Evening News put the death at 10PM [at least one other
paper reported the death as occurring at 9:55]. In any case, it also
reported that Superintendent Regan and Chief of Detectives Taylor
organized a search of the William street yards of the New York Central
on June 25th after Jacob Lipp, a patrolman reported spotting a man
resembling Jablowicz on Broadway and Fillmore.
Car Burglars Victim Dead: Detective MCrea Succumbs, The Buffalo
Evening News. June 25th, 1908, p. 1, 5 oclock ed.
Superintendent Regan, among other efforts, sent out circulars with
Jablowiczs description and photograph [here not yet identified as
Stephen Jablowicz, but as Polack Sullivan.] to police chiefs
throughout the U.S.
The Buffalo Enquirer reported that his photograph has been in the
rogues gallery at Police Headquarters for some time. The circular
also had the Bertillion measurements you mentioned. No reward was
offered. Police told the paper that they believed Jablowicz had left
town after the shooting.
Jablowicz was last seen in a saloon in East Buffalo. He apparently
gave the proprietor the revolver hed used on McCrea and then took
off, distancing several men who tried to capture him. The proprietor
turned over the gun to the police. The revolver, itself, had been
stolen off a freight car (carrying a consignment of guns) in the East
Buffalo railroad yards several months prior. It was police issue. The
stolen gun, used by Polack Sullivan, leads the police to believe that
he was implicated in the theft of the police revolvers.
Stolen Pistol Used to Shoot Detective: Polack Sullivan Had One of
Thirty-six Consigned to South Bend, Ind. Police Department, Buffalo
Enquirer. June 24, 1908, p. 7.
Other accounts had it that the police believed Jablowicz was hiding
with friends in the Buffalo vicinity.
That Bullet Kills MCrea, The Buffalo Express. June 25, 1908, p. 2.
A fuller account of Patrolman Lipps sighting occurs in the Buffalo
Express. Lipp, near his own home on Detroit Street near Broadway,
spotted Jablowicz around noon. He telephoned the police and gave chase
(about 20 cops joined the hunt), but lost him in the railroad yards at
Milburn Street. A young boy told two other detectives chasing the man
that it was Jablowicz, claiming to know him. The chase continued until
midnight. The Express reported that Jablowicz has many relatives in
the locality where he disappeared. A watch was placed on every house
where he might seek shelter.
At the same time, Superintendent Regan was doubtful that this was his
man. He [Jablowicz] is said to be an easy man to pick out because of
his short stature, square and humped shoulders, and unusually
Hunted Man Is at Large: Man Wanted for the Killing of Detective
McCrea Has Not Been Tracked, The Buffalo Express. June 25, 1908, p.
Another citation, although only a paragraph in length, gives a brief
description of the chase.
Man-hunt Failed, The Buffalo Evening News. June, 26, 1908, 5 oclock
Despite Regans doubts, the manhunt stemming from Lipps sighting
continued, with every available man in the Police Department.
Various East Side residents informed the police that Jablowicz had
been spotted in the East Side railroad yards [which were and still are
pretty extensive]. A hundred policemen, including Regan combed the
About six people without legitimate business for being in the yards
were detained, but were eventually released. At 4PM on June 25th,
Detective John Williamson [Austin Street Station] saw someone
slouching along Curtiss Street, near Grime Street. This person
matched up with the Bertillion description and Williamson gave chase.
The suspect disappeared over a fence and lost himself in the mass of
cars in the railroad yards.
Another alarm went up in the Buffalo Iron Foundry [also in Curtiss
Street], but this was apparently a false alarm.
The paper reported that probably since the slayer of President
McKinley [who also bought it in Buffalo] was arrested never have there
been so many police officers detailed to look after one person.
Jablowicz Has Not Been Caught, The Buffalo Enquirer. June 26, 1908,
The next article of substance comes from the Courier.
last night came to a conclusion that Stephen Jablowicz, the man who is
thought to have been implicated in the fatal shooting
is no longer in
The paper reports that tips and leads had been followed without
success. Tips have been run down, houses have been watched. Every
avenue of escape apparently has been headed off, and yet without
results. Jablowicz evidently didnt leave word with his parents. The
paper also indicates that he had a girlfriend in town and the thinking
had been he might stay in Buffalo because of her, but thats the only
mention of her.
Believe MCrea's Slayer Escaped: Police Search for Suspected Man Is
Fruitless, The Buffalo Courier. June 27, 1908, p. 6.
The last mention I could find about Jablowicz comes from an article in
the Buffalo Courier. Rumor had gone around the area that he had
finally been apprehended and a large crowd gathered at the Prudential
building to inspect the prisoner. However, the man in question turned
out to be a sailor named Frank McNamara.
Prisoner Wasnt Polak Sullivan, The Buffalo Courier. June 28,
1908, p. 8.
And that is that. As I explained in my comment below, I examined the
microfilm for the rest of June and July and found nothing relating to
Jablowicz or the McCrea case. To be honest, I was a little surprised
that the coverage ended so abruptly, but the summer of 1908 was far
from being a slow news period: Grover Cleveland died (and he was a
Buffalonian so you can imagine the coverage); William Jennings Bryan
was nominated for president. There were an assortment of particularly
gruesome murders. An attack on the Czar of Russia and a brutal heat
wave was sweeping several cities. That may explain why the local
papers decided not to cover the police efforts to apprehend Jablowicz,
particularly as they werent getting anywhere. Again, its very
possible he did eventually get caught. Unfortunately without some idea
of when it happened, its not feasible to comb through reel after reel
After some unsuccessful web searching, I went to two area libraries
and perused the microfilm for the Buffalo Evening News and other area
papers. Having done newspaper research in the past, I was aware of the
local resources available as well as the non-existent indexing for
I hope Ive answered your question. If you need additional
information, please ask for clarification before rating my answer and
Ill do my best to assist you.