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Three Murders Remain Unsolved

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One Occurred A Month Ago Today:

Three Murders Remain Unsolved

Three brutal robbery-murders —one of them committed just a month ago today—remain on the books of area police agencies and are listed as “unsolved.”

The first of the three wanton slayings occurred almost seven years ago.

LeVerne W Wegener, 41-year-old county agent from Port Huron, came to Willow Run Airport with his wife, Lois,

two nights before Christmas in 1956 to meet a plane carrying Mrs. Wegener’s father and stepmother, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard F. Miller of Detroit Lakes, Minn. The Millers planned to spend the Christmas holiday with the Wegeners and the four Wegener children; waiting with relatives in Port Huron, were anticipating the visit happily.

But the holiday was to turn

into a nightmare of tragedy for the Wegener family. Leaving his in-laws and his wife in the Willow Run terminal, Wegener walked to the far northwest corner of the airport's parking lot about 9:15 p.m. to pick up his 1955-model car.

As he approached his car in the darkened lot he was jumped by at least two men. A coroner later said the Port Huron man was struck in the

head “at least 11 times” with a hard instrument, probably a length of steel pipe.

His attackers robbed their victim of his watch and billfold and left him lying on the ground bleeding from mortal head wounds.

Wegener managed to crawl into his car, start it and drive the vehicle to the airport terminal entrance where his anxious family waited. Before he died he managed to say, “Two thugs slugged me, robbed me . . .one was colored . . . think it was a pipe.”

State Police from the Ypsilanti post in the past seven years have questioned and released scores of suspects in the murder. But LeVerne Wegener’s killers are still at large today.

The second unsolved local murder occurred three years ago last April and the viciousness of it even surpassed that in the Wegener case.

Carl P. Nickell, 42-year-old service station attendant from Willis, had agreed with a friend to work the early-morning shift at the Cornick Oil Company

Other local news on pages 3, 7, 16, 17

station on I-94, a mile east of the Washtenaw county line in Wayne county’s Van Buren township.

About 11:30 p.m. on April 14 Nickell was robbed of about $70 in cash by intruders who shot him five times, doused his body , with gasoline and then set it afire. An autopsy later revealed Nickell was still alive when he was made a human torch by his killers.

Like the Wegener case, State Police have checked out hundreds of possible leads in the Nickell murder but it still remains unsolved.

The most recent robbery-murder took the life of John R. Gibbons, a 21-year-old Livingston. county resident, who had been an attendant at the Leonard Oil Company station at 4995 Carpenter Rd. in Pittsfield township.

A month ago this afternoon a person, who sheriff’s detectives now say may not have planned to murder at all, appeared at the Leonard station.

Somehow the robber had Gibbons walk into the station’s office with him and then pulled a gun—probably a .22 caliber pistol—on the young attendant.

The bandit apparently ordered Gibbons to put all the contents of his pockets on a high desk in the tiny station office. Gibbons, from evidence found later at the scene, apparently complied—but perhaps was too anxious to avoid trouble.

Sheriff’s detectives say after placing his wallet and station cash on the counter, Gibbons may have, reached suddenly down to pick up a metal cash box in the counter to offer that to his killer. The person standing before Gibbons with the gun may have thought the attendant was reaching for a weapon, detectives reason.

Whatever the motivating force, the robber suddenly pulled the trigger of his gun, sending a slug crashing into Gibbon's head. He pitched over on his back, dead.

The robber—who was now a killer also—scooped up what cash he could and fled . . . . how or where no one knows.

Since the slaying 30 days ago five Sheriff’s Department detectives have picked up and interrogated more than 50 possible suspects. More than 500 separate leads and scores of “tips” have been painstakingly checked out.

The detectives on the case have compiled two huge notebooks containing reports on interrogations and the results of interviews in the murder.

But to the present moment the killer of John Richard Gibbons—as well as the murderers of La Verne Wegener and Carl Nickell—remain free.