The attendant at the William Watters service station on North Jefferson street returned to the office after dealing with a customer and found that the till had been robbed of $55. He told the police that the only person around when the cash had gone missing had been Preston Litz, a nineteen-year-old ex-army airman who lived in an apartment behind the station. Preston was arrested and held in jail for a week in default of bail before the case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
Preston moved back to his home town of Annville, near Lebanon, where he got work as a presser in Swimmer’s dry cleaners—“We Clean Most Anything”—and married a girl from his old high school, Ruth Carpenter, who was working as a waitress. Two years later, Ruth took him to court for desertion and non-support of their child, and he was ordered to pay her $17 every two weeks.
In the 1960s, Preston got himself elected part-time dog law enforcement officer for Lebanon and the surrounding townships. Many complaints were lodged about his methods, but none were upheld. A typical one, from 1967, concerns a family pet that Preston killed: “On Friday, June 2, our dog slipped its collar and ran into West Lebanon township. Preston Litz and his friend trapped our dog and then these two big men took this little 30-pound dog and tied his legs, mouth, and neck, dragged him down the alley and then Litz shot the dog through the head. All of this was done during Litz’s half hour lunch period from his other place of employment. He uses the city dog truck for all his own personal needs. He then threw our dead dog in his truck, drove up to our home, told my husband that our dog bit him, but refused to tell him where our dog was. Later that day he threw our dog away, uncovered, and in the hot sun at the Lebanon City disposal plant, which I am sure, was against our health laws.”
In 1975, more than a quarter of a century after Preston had beaten the service station robbery charge, he was arrested again and charged with stealing four thousand feet of steel tubing from the Cleaver-Brooks boiler plant, where he worked. As before, Preston was the only suspect but, once more, the evidence against him proved to be insufficient and he left court a free man.
Preston lived the next two decades of his life free from the attentions of the police, and died in September 1997, at the age of sixty-eight.Sources: New Castle News (October 2 1948 “Cash Register Robbed”; Oct 4 1948 “Faces Larceny Charge”; Oct 22 1948 “Taken To Hospital”) Lebanon Daily News (June 27 1950, “Ruth E Carpenter Weds Preston Litz Jr In Lebanon”; May 23 1952, “Court News”; Jan 10 1967, “Council News”; June 20 1967, “Tortured Dog”, letters page; Nov 1 1967 “Opinion”; March 8 1971, “First A Daughter Then A Grandson For Lebanon Man”; March 7 1975, “Charge Employe In Theft”).