A Burglar at the Slagle Home

In February, I was researching the history of the Masur Museum building, which was originally owned by the Clarence E. Slagle family. Clarence founded the Slagle lumber company. I suspect he was the original builder of the house. He named it Grey Gables, which the Masur family continued to call it when they bought it in 1934. Backing up to December 16, 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Slagle were down the street visiting their son Edgar, when an intruder entered their home. The burglar got in through the back door and went up the stairs like he knew exactly where he was going. Opening a closet, the man found the home safe. When he failed to open it, he just pried it off the wall and took it with him. According to newspaper accounts the next day, there was $7,000 worth of jewelry inside, worth about $129,000 today. Many other homes and businesses were hit that month. In later newspapers, Mrs. Slagle offered a $500 reward for the return of the jewelry. The robber was caught, convicted and sent to Angola for a term of seven years, but only served two. The man’s name was Ernest “Skinny” Machen. He had been a star athlete in high school, and wanted to go into a career in journalism. Later articles stated he claimed he wanted money to attend college and to treat an unnamed disease he had. By 1934 he was out again but apparently didn’t learn his lesson. This time, he was sent to the famous Folsom Prison. He was in and out of Angola, still robbing people.

Ernest apparently settled down but never married. I see that he passed away in 1983 in Monroe due to a car accident, and was taken to Pine Bluff, AR to be buried. Below is his Folsom Prison mug shot.

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