Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Pictures, History, Articles from the past

Moderators: sigmore, Jody Meacham

David
Site Admin
Posts: 2473
Joined: Mon April 30, 2007, 8:13 am
Location: Hamlet, NC
Contact:

Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Postby David » Tue July 24, 2012, 1:31 pm

sent from Donnie Crooke

Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies
RALEIGH, N.C. - Frank Wetzel, considered one of North Carolina's most notorious criminals after being convicted of killing two state highway patrolmen, fought for more than half a century for his release from prison.


Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/465011 ... soner.html
By ANNE BLYTHE AND J.N. MILLER
McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012 - 1:00 am


RALEIGH, N.C. - Frank Wetzel, considered one of North Carolina's most notorious criminals after being convicted of killing two state highway patrolmen, fought for more than half a century for his release from prison.

On Saturday, his struggle ended.

Wetzel, 90, died in Central Prison as the state's oldest prisoner and one of the longest-serving.

Wetzel, who lived out his last years in a cloud of dementia, maintained through the years that he was the victim in his case, not a cold-blooded cop-killer, but the target of a law enforcement conspiracy.

His case, with its sensational manhunt and trial, offers a trip back in time and across the country of a half century ago when cars had tail fins, Luther Hodges was governor of North Carolina and Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

At 8 p.m. on Nov. 5, 1957, police radios in Richmond County crackled with urgent news: Trooper W. L. Reece had been fatally shot and was lying on U.S. 220 near Ellerbe, a Richmond County town.

Twenty minutes later, radios delivered another punch: Another law enforcement officer, James T. Brown, had been shot on U.S. 1 near Sanford.

A man who claimed to be a hitchhiker in the assailant's car told police that the killer had drawn a large pistol from his glove compartment when the trooper in Richmond County pulled the car over for speeding.

The hitchhiker described the assailant as a dark-complexioned man who spoke with a foreign-sounding accent.

Wetzel, fair-skinned with distinctive blue eyes, became a suspect after a black 1957 Oldsmobile was discovered in Chattanooga, Tenn. Inside, the FBI found Wetzel's fingerprint on a North Carolina license plate.

A nationwide manhunt ensued, and two weeks after the killings Wetzel was arrested as a vagrant in Bakersfield, Calif.

Wetzel received two life sentences in 1958 after he was found guilty of killing the two troopers. Wetzel claimed he was on his way south to try to break his brother out of a Mississippi prison.

Over the years, Wetzel collected a group of followers, family, lawyers and others who insist that he could not have committed two killings on the winding North Carolina roads that no one, not even the fastest NASCAR driver, could get from Ellerbe to the Sanford crime scene in 20 minutes.

"I've offered anyone who can do that a million dollars," said Richard Wetzel, the convict's half-brother. "I don't have a million dollars, but I'm not worried that anybody can do that, not anyone in NASCAR or speed racing."

Wetzel grew up in New York after his father, a farmer forced out of North Dakota by the Dust Bowl, struggled as an on and off foundry worker to put food on the table for seven children.

Wetzel got into trouble as a young boy, stealing from grocery stores and landing in reform school and eventually New York jails. "He learned bad tricks from there and started stealing cars," Richard Wetzel said.

Though Richard Wetzel described the story of his family as "kind of like a Walton-story gone bad," he said his half-brother taught him a lot through the years.

Richard Wetzel was only 6 when his father took him on a Greyhound bus from their home in Charlotte to Raleigh and Central Prison to meet Frank Wetzel for the first time.

"It was kind of scary going in there with all those doors," Richard Wetzel said Sunday. "They brought him in through the glass, and it wasn't long before I knew I was going to like him."

Over the years, the Wetzel men have stayed in touch, though prison glass walls often put up a barrier to their reunions.

Frank Wetzel married in prison nearly 30 years ago, and his wife, Bianca, a former North Carolinian who now lives in Florida, advocated for his release for many years.

(News researcher Teresa Leonard contributed to this report.)

User avatar
Jean Raby Nelson
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007, 12:51 pm
Location: 12 miles south of Tampa off I-75 exit 250, Riverview FL
Contact:

Re: Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Postby Jean Raby Nelson » Mon January 27, 2014, 12:04 am

+I remember well when these 2 State Troopers were killed.
Capturing life one frame at a time...

jamesharoldsmith
Posts: 107
Joined: Sat May 31, 2008, 3:15 pm
Location: Laurinburg
Contact:

Re: Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Postby jamesharoldsmith » Mon January 27, 2014, 1:18 pm

Like Jean I remember this.

Never could understand why he didn't get the "chamber". If memory serves correctly, Lee County tried him and the prosecutor In Lee Co. wanted to give him the death penalty and this was after he got life in Richmond Co but somehow he was spared again. Never did understand why that happened X 2.

Jim Smith
HHS Class of '59

dcrooke
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue October 30, 2007, 4:21 pm
Location: Fuquay Varina, NC
Contact:

Re: Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Postby dcrooke » Tue June 10, 2014, 1:24 pm

NC Highway Patrol Troopers W. L. Reece and J. T. Brown names are engraved in granite at the memorial on the grounds of the HP campus located on Old Garner Road south of Raleigh, NC. Ronnie and Donnie had lunch on campus today and paid our respects to these two men who lost their lives as troopers in the line of duty.
NC Highway Patrol Troopers Memorial.jpg
NC Highway Patrol Trooper Memorial
NC Highway Patrol Troopers Memorial.jpg (193.71 KiB) Viewed 3186 times
W. L. Reece 11-5-57.jpg
W. L. Reece
W. L. Reece 11-5-57.jpg (138 KiB) Viewed 3186 times
J. T. Brown 11-5-57.jpg
J. T. Brown
J. T. Brown 11-5-57.jpg (132.34 KiB) Viewed 3186 times

David
Site Admin
Posts: 2473
Joined: Mon April 30, 2007, 8:13 am
Location: Hamlet, NC
Contact:

Re: Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Postby David » Mon July 25, 2016, 2:27 pm

These are the two Highway Patrol Officers that Frank Wetzel murdered in 1957.
W.L. Reece and J.T. Brown

Thanks to Donnie Crooke for the pictures.

WL Reece JT Brown.JPG
WL Reece JT Brown.JPG (78.82 KiB) Viewed 1957 times

sigmore
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu February 7, 2008, 6:46 pm
Location: Titusville, Florida
Contact:

Re: Frank Wetzel, 90, N.C.'s oldest prisoner, dies

Postby sigmore » Tue July 26, 2016, 7:43 pm

Only one day after being on here for four years, a picture of the two victims. How weird is that??.


Return to “Old Hamlet Stuff”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests