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July 10, 2020 - 2:12pm

Chief finds old papers during renovation, including story of notorious fugitive from Batavia

posted by Howard B. Owens in Shawn Heubusch, news, crime, batavia, history.

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While doing renovation work in his home, Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch found under his old flooring layers old newspapers, all from 1927. 

The headlines help tell a story of at least one case that should be of interest to a lawman: The escape, escapades, and eventual capture of Floyd Wilcox.

Wilcox, of Oakfield, escaped from Genesee County Jail, presumably to avoid a possible sentence of life in prison after his fourth felony arrest, this time for grand larceny, under the recently enacted Baumes Law.

According to the articles, Wilcox (aka Floyd Gill), and an associate convinced a farmer to give them gas with a promise to pay once they were fueled up. When the duo drove back by the farm and didn't stop to pay, the farmer pulled out his pistol and started firing at the fleeing vehicle. The farmer jumped in his own truck and gave chase. A short time later, he found the abandoned vehicle with a flat tire from a bullet and spotted the two men running over a hill.

Later, Wilcox was a suspect in a safe-crack job in Hornell and a stealing a vehicle in Rochester. He was eventually apprehended by a Batavia PD officer on a street in the city. A subhead in the Batavia Daily News reads, "Did Not Try Very Hard to Keep Out of Reach of the Authorities."

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Chief Heubusch isn't the only person finding old newspapers in old homes these days. The 1942 edition of the Batavia Daily News was found by our contractor in a wall of our house, which is undergoing renovations following our fire in April.

One of the stories is about an Army officer accused of sedition for distributing "America First" literature. It turns out, the publication of this story by Associated Press was controversial because the Army released the information to a reporter on a stipulation that no newspapers in the nation run it with only a one-column headline. Many editors found this AP requirement an unethical bargain giving the government power to dictate the nature of coverage. You can read about it in this book on Google Books.

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