Police Chief Is Michigan Firebug

Police Chief Is Michigan Firebug

Herbert Winkler, seventy-year-old retired farmer, has confessed that he set five fires causing $130,000 damage while acting as Chief of Police at Coloma, resort community twelve miles south of St. Joseph, Mich.

The fires occurred in the past two years. Suspicion was centered on Winkler, who served as a one-man police department in the village of 1,200, because of eccentricities and his frequent talk about the fires, which damaged a theatre, lumber company yard and office, a fruit exchange and barns on a dairy farm.

He admitted setting the fires “for the kick of it.” His arrest climaxed a long investigation by Michigan State Police, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Berrien County authorities and Richard Steinmetz, chief investigator of a Chicago insurance company.

Holding pass keys to the business places of Coloma, Winkler would gain admission to one in the dead of the night, pile papers and other inflammable against the wall, and touch off the pile with a match. He would delay turning in an alarm until he was certain the fire had gained sufficient headway to seriously damage the premises.

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