Sgt. Jenks Catches Wanted Man
Sgt. Peletiah M. Jenks served the St. Louis Police Department as one of its original members, when the department was reorganized in 1861. By the early 1880s, Jenks was a sergeant at the busy Carr Street Station in Downtown St. Louis. In this capacity, he was responsible for the capture of a St. Louis youth with a propensity for breaking jail.
Frank Fone originally escaped the St. Louis Jail in 1881, when he was being held for a larceny. John D. Shea also escaped with Fone. Shea shot Officer Patrick Doran, who tried to arrest him. Fone was recaptured but escaped two more times before he was captured by Sgt. Jenks and Officer Ryan.
Sgt. Jenks knew Fone’s mother lived at the Maguire House on the corner of Eighth and Carr Streets. Jenks received information that Fone returned to St. Louis on July 21, 1882 after being in Chicago for several months. Sgt. Jenks took Ryan, a young and fit officer with him to find Fone.
When they arrived at the house, Jenks and Ryan saw a young man sitting on the back porch. As they approached, the young man started to bolt but Officer Ryan grabbed him roughly by the shirt collar. Ryan had to violently restrain the youth, who Jenks positively identified as Frank Fone.
Fone refused to talk about his escape at first. Eventually, Fone spoke with a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Captain Frangel arranged the interview.
Fone escaped the jail last time by walking out through the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Sheriff Kirby saw Fone but apparently wasn’t concerned about Fone. Fone waited until someone opened the door and walked out nonchalantly.
Fone walked down Clark Avenue to 5th Street, where he boarded a streetcar. Fone made his way across the Mississippi River, joined up with Cole’s Circus and made his way to Chicago. He returned to St. Louis the day before his arrest. Although Jenks would not reveal the source of his information, Fone believed a neighbor lady told Jenks.
Fone, a street criminal from the tough Kerry Patch neighborhood, would continue to escape confinement. He escaped the St. Louis Jail again in 1885 by going through the skylight on the roof. Fone was captured in Pennsylvania, tried to break out of the penitentiary there but was caught in the act. I lose track of Fone at this point.
Sgt. Jenks was responsible for many arrests like the one involving Fone. Fortunately for the city, many men and women like Sgt. Jenks chose to serve their city.
Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 22, 1882 edition, p. 2