Three Forgotten Michigan Criminals You Probably Never Heard Of
Most of us know the tales and rumors about the criminals that roamed Michigan, like Al Capone, the Purple Gang, John Dillinger, etc. But then there were the unheralded, forgotten desperate criminals that walked our streets, robbed our homes.....and killed our neighbors.
Below are three such felons and hooligans whose names have mostly been swept under the rug or just plain forgotten over time, all three from the 1920s-1930s: Robert Yokich, Ward Hodges, and the most unsavory of them all, Wilfred Pichette.
Take a look...
Robert Yokich was called 'the most vicious boy criminal in the city” by the Detroit Police Department. He was only sixteen when sent to the state reformatory in 1933. Psychological tests showed his mental state to be that of a 13-year-old. He never made it past the eighth grade and never held a job.
With a history of stolen checks, carrying concealed weapons, armed robbery, stolen property and a felony assault, his probation officer was quoted as saying Robert was “too far gone” to be rehabilitated in a juvenile center. Even so, he was admitted and escaped not long afterward. He fled to California where he was arrested for burglary.
Aside from being incarcerated in Detroit, he also spent time at Jackson State Prison and the Ohio Penitentiary.
In December 1924, Hodges was seventeen years old when he was sentenced to the Michigan Reformatory in White Cloud . He was given a 1-5 year sentence for automobile theft. In July 1925 at age eighteen, he escaped from the Ypsilanti Road Camp.
In 1938, this guy and his wife Laura murdered their housekeeper, thinking she was a witch. Backtracking, Laura had left Wilfred to be with another man. Not knowing if she would ever come back, Wilfred hired Marian Doyle to take care of the house and his daughter.
Some time later, Laura decided to come back home. Once back, Marian figured her services were no longer needed and prepared to pack up her stuff and return home.
But she never got the chance.
On October 22, 1938, Wilfred stuffed tobacco into Marian's mouth and proceeded to beat her with a flatiron. Laura joined in and began beating with a stove poker. All this violence took place in front of their seven-year-old daughter, Norma.
But why did they kill Marian? When questioned by police and detectives, Wilfred stated “I am the Messiah, the only man that can bring goodwill and peace on earth. (She) was the devil, and I had to drive her spirit from the house”. He claimed he received this title of 'Messiah' after paying a fortune teller $2,000 for “the power of Christ”.
After babbling about how they had “strange spiritual powers”, Wilfred and Laura were sentenced to life in prison. Wilfred ended up in a mental hospital in 1955, where Laura had already been an inmate since 1942. Wilfred died there in 1969; Laura was released in 1973 and moved in with her daughter Norma – the same one who witnessed the crime.