April 19, 2021

Eleven mile chase

On an August summer night in 1952 Patrolman John Heaps sighted a stolen 1949 Kaiser racing south on Highway 65 five miles north of Lucas. He turned around and gave chase. The car had been stolen from Des Moines. The driver was a 24 year old Anamosa parolee wanted for robbery and kidnapping.

Heaps gave chase racing south on Highway 65. The driver ignored the traffic stop at the Lucas junction of Highways 65 and 34 dodging cars as he turned west on Highway 34. When the two cars reached a straight stretch of highway with no oncoming traffic Heaps opened fire with his revolver, firing two shots. Both shots missed as he was forced to fire with his left hand so he settled down to a grim chase hoping to get close enough to nudge the fugitive’s car into the ditch.

The fugitive turned north on a gravel road three miles west of Lucas and after two miles turned on a dirt road then south again on the next dirt road. The fleeing man lost his appetite for fast travel on the slick and dangerous dirt and pulled the car to a stop in a hollow.

Heaps instructed him to get out of the car with his hands up. The man told Heaps to come and get him. When the man defied the request Heaps reached into his patrol car and got his shotgun.

As he turned around with the weapon the man had opened his car door on the driver’s side and had his body turned on the seat to partially face Heaps holding a .45 trained steadily on Heaps. Heaps told him to toss away the .45 and come out with his hands up or face the consequences. After apparently deciding the shotgun was the more deadly weapon of the two, he tossed the gun away.

Heaps ordered the man face down on the mud road and searched the car for further weapons, shotgun in hand all the while.

Finding no weapons he handcuffed the man, locked up the stolen car and started toward Highway 34 where he was met by sheriffs from both Lucas and Clarke counties who were answering Heaps radio request for assistance.

The man was taken to Des Moines to answer to the charges against him.

Patrolman Heaps had been stationed in Osceola since 1950. He also piloted a patrol spotting plane for several years.

Patrolman Heaps died unexpectedly August 4, 1966 at the age of 42 of a heart attack while walking home from the Osceola business district.

Marie White

My name is Marie (my maiden name was Gardner) White, I have always lived in Clarke County. Married to Bob White, daughter and son in law and 2 grandchildren. Son passed away in 2017. Graduated from Clarke in 1962. I have been a member of the Historical Society since 1971.