November 13, 1920: Man mistakenly arrested for murder twice, asks sheriff for “reference letter”

On this day in 1920, Duluth resident John Maur asked St. Louis County Sheriff Frank Magee for a letter of reference to prevent him from once again being mistaken for a murder suspect and thrown into jail. Three days earlier, Mauer had been arrested in Virginia, Minnesota, for the murder of Duluth taxi driver Johnny Jones, and several days before that he had been jailed on the same charge in Grand Rapids. Except that he was “heavier,” Mauer fit the description of Mike Inkenen, one of three men suspected of killing Jones earlier that year. Mauer never resisted arrested and seemed to take things in stride with a sense of humor, telling the Duluth News Tribune “If this keeps up, I’ll have a speaking acquaintance with every jail in the state. The jails aren’t bad, they’ve got bars so no one can come in and hurt you and they bring you your food, but I’d rather pick my own place to sleep.” The newspaper explained that, “After pondering whether he should get a mask, go to the beauty parlor and have his features massaged out of al likeness to Inkenen, Mauer yesterday decided to go to Sheriff Frank Magee for advice.” Mauer walked away with a letter singed by Magee in case he is again mistaken for the alleged murderer. it read, “This is John Mauer. He looks like Mike Inkenen, wanted in the Johnny Jones murder case, but looks are deceiving. He is not Mr. Inkenen. He has twice been arrested as Inkenen. Mr. Mauer is a hard working, law abiding citizen of this state and will be grateful if he is not further molested by anyone confusing him with Inkenen.” There were no further arrests of Mauer, but Inkonen and two accomplices were arrested and stood trial for the Jones murder. Inkenen and John Kujala  received life sentences for the murder, and their accomplice Swan Luikkonen 20 years.

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