Crime & Courts
Sheriff's logbook offers tales of 'howling' men, legless burglar
George Arthur Lowe shot four bullets into the head of his wife's nephew and left the crumpled body in a car outside the Tampa Cigar Co. He fled town in a taxi but didn't even get as far as Land O' Lakes before being arrested. It was January 1959. Lowe was charged with first-degree murder in what police described as a crime of jealousy. Two months later, he was released to the state hospital in Chattahoochee. His arrest - and more than 23,500 others - is recorded in a decades-old logbook rediscovered recently in storage at a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office facility.The book, which weighs about 40 pounds, includes the names, addresses, races, ages, charges and arresting officers for each person arrested between Dec. 29, 1958, and Dec. 28, 1961. A legless Tampa man was charged with drunken driving. Another man was charged with breaking into and entering a boxcar. And a Seffner family of four was charged with possession and transportation of moonshine. Three men were charged with crimes against nature in connection with a "roundup of an alleged homosexual ring," according to a March 1961 story in The Tampa Tribune. The same day those men were released, "A 'howling happy' group of 138 men were bonded out of a bulging Hillsborough County Jail ... charged with breach of peace in connection with a stag movie showing at a Sunshine Park restaurant." The moviegoers were released after posting $25 bail each. When sheriff's Col. Jim Previtera saw the logbook a few weeks ago, he was fascinated "just to see how much our system has changed and how much it has evolved and how much our society evolved." Most information in the logbook is typed, but some is handwritten. "Although we don't use a big book anymore, a lot has stayed the same, too," Previtera said. "We still book 'em. We charge 'em. We still set a bond. But it's all done by a computer now." He said the logbook had been at the old Morgan Street Jail, but in 2006 or 2007 was sent to a storage space at the work release center near Orient Road Jail. Boxes were recently moved at the work release center, and someone brought the book to Previtera. He's storing the piece of history under his desk. Eventually, it will be put on public display at the department's operations center in Ybor City. The logbook is full of interesting tidbits. For example, the investigation that led to the arrest of George Arthur Lowe in 1959 was worked by Detective Capt. Walter Heinrich. In 1978, Heinrich became the county's sheriff, serving for 14 years.
Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 259-7691.