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Rhonda's View Rendezvous: Ne'er-do-well finally pleads guilty

12:02 PM, May 13, 2013  |  Comments
Rhonda Whetstone
Rhonda Whetstone
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It was early summer 1914, and Sam Taggert, a ne'er-do-well who claimed to be from New York, was squiring widow Lenora Elizabeth Zabler all over town in a variety of fine automobiles, hired from all different garages in the Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids) area.

Mrs. Zabler lived just below Nekoosa, and while there was no doubt they were "an item," it was not clear what that meant, as Taggert variously introduced the lady as his "promised bride, wife or sister," depending upon whom he was talking to, according to the Grand Rapids Daily Leader.

As time passed, it was obvious that most of the garages were not going to get their money for the rental of the vehicles.

And then there was the matter of the gun. Taggert stole a revolver out of one of the cars he hired, so the owner pressed charges, and the scoundrel was arrested.

At the time of his arrest, he claimed he stole the gun because he was in search of a Chicago attorney who had "ruined the woman" (no idea of what woman, but I suppose Zabler) and that he intended to kill the man when he found him. I am not sure about his intent to right a lesser wrong by a terrible one, but evidently Taggert was not fully competent, as had he been, he would not have shared this bit of information with authorities in the first place.

After his arrest, it was learned that he also had cashed a $55 check at a Grand Rapids store, drawn on the Nekoosa bank where he had no funds. Charges for that offense still were pending while he was brought to court for the charge of gun theft.

It was June 2 when Taggert was arrested, but each Friday when he was hauled into court on the larceny charges, he pleaded not guilty, and his case was adjourned for a week. This went on week after week.

Taggert finally decided he was getting nowhere fast and was tired of being a guest of the taxpayers, so on July 22, he said he wanted to plead guilty. He was taken immediately before Justice Ed Pomainville and was given 90 days in the county calaboose. Had he done that right away, half of his sentence already would have been served.

This may have weighed on him - that he did not get credit for time served - because like others before and after him, he decided not to stay in the local county jail and handily managed an escape in the fall.

The next year, he was apprehended in Buffalo County and sent to Mendota for psychiatric evaluation. Upon his release from Mendota, he again indicated a desire to plead guilty, this time to breaking out of jail in Grand Rapids. He was taken before Judge Park in Stevens Point, where he was sentenced to one year in Waupun State Prison. Sheriff Bluett and Justice Pomainville were more than happy to escort him there, where he was turned over to serve his sentence.

It is pretty certain he did not escape from Waupun. Surely his time there made him straighten up and stay out of trouble. Then again ...

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