James Aeschbacher, “Larceny Auto”, 3 April 1945

comments 7


Late one Monday night in 1945, James Aeschbacher stole a car from a garage on Beckford street. The police found him in the car about a mile away a few hours later. The battered face in his mug shot suggests he resisted arrest.

The following year, James stole a car in Midland, near Pittsburgh. Two days later, he drove it to Butler, fifty miles away, to meet a friend. The friend suggested that they pick up a girl he knew who lived just outside town. As James parked the car in the driveway of the girl’s house, he heard someone yell, “Dad, that’s our car.” The girl’s father came out of the house. It was, indeed, his car. He had last seen it a couple of days earlier, outside the steel plant in Midland where he worked during the week. James had somehow contrived to deliver the car to the house of the man he had stolen it from. The odds against such a coincidence are too high to imagine; the luck involved is diabolical. James fled in the direction of New Castle, getting as far as Portersville before he was arrested. He got 18 months in the federal penitentiary.

James got married in 1949, just before his thirtieth birthday. Sometime later, he moved to California. He died in Sacramento in 1991, at the age of seventy-one.

Sources: New Castle News, 3 April 1945, “Held On Auto Charge”; Salem News (30 November 1946, “E Liverpool Man Gets Prison Term In Car Theft”; 13 December 1949, “Marriage Licenses”); East Liverpool Evening Review, 8 August 1977, “Deaths, Funerals”.


  1. atrmws says

    Beat You Better
    by atrmws

    Pa was fucking livid
    You dumb-ass bastard, Jim
    Junior, his ma shouted

    Hearth of the home
    Lit up like a Christmas tree
    Clattering of pans and calamity

    The boys in the works department
    You got yourself a pig-stupid son
    How’d he do what he done

    Took a shoe to him, you think
    The cops got you good, your ma’ll
    Beat you better

    James Oliver Aeschbacher (Senior); born 6 May 1903, late of 2686 Bazetta Road, Warren, Ohio. Died 8 November 1979. Retired from the maintenance department of the Edison works at Niles in 1969. Got ten years with his roses but not with his wife. Caroline died 22 November 1969. Six kids come from them. The culprit, Jim Junior; his brothers John, Harlin and Bill and his sisters Maude and Sara. Harlin, alive and well at his farmstead in the Enon Valley, still talks about it with his long-suffering Nellie. Don’t you go tellin that tale again, Harl.

    • This one is truly fantastic! The afterword is wonderful, too — much better than my story. You put me to shame, you put me to shame!

  2. Errdekaeyslw says

    Hey Man, nice storys. Ever since my headphones broke I read your storys every day in bus and tram; somewhere in east germany. Im only 14 and haven’t been somewhere else for longer than 2 Weeks, so it’s very interesting to read about diffrent times, diffrent storys, about diffrent people in a diffrent country, all dead. I was wondering if you could start to inculde Inflation adjusted values, because I did wonder very hard why somebody would steal 1$, until I found out today it would be over 15$ which sounds more acceptable. Also, how about a timeline with the names and crimes, so you could see when/ in what intervalls people commit crimes/ gernally crimes are comitted. Ive read about 20 stories so far and also wondered, since drugs are such a big part of modern day crime, if you remember any crimes that are drug related, other than dude arrested for possesing an LSD tab, and the so common liquor charges. Thanks anyways, you are the only reason I got a map of new castle in my room 😀

    • Thanks for writing. It’s great to hear you’re enjoying the stories — and I’m thrilled that you’ve gone to the extent of getting a map of the town. Excellent!
      Thanks also for your suggestions. I’ve never included inflation-adjusted values because I think they can be a little misleading. Occasionally, I’ll say how much a sum could have bought, or what it would be worth back then (in this story, I say that the amount that was stolen was equal to a steelworker’s yearly wage, for example).
      I think that a timeline would be a great idea. I’ve written a book with all the mugshot stories on the website, and more, arranged chronologically, starting in 1929 and progressing onwards to 1960. When you read them straight through like that, it’s quite a trip! Unfortunately, I’ve been having a hard time getting it published. If it ever comes out, you’ll hear about it on Small Town Noir, of course!
      There weren’t many drug crimes in New Castle in the period up to 1960. Marijuana started to come in during the 60s, then heroin later on — maybe the late 70s and 80s, from what I can see. Nowadays, crack seems to be a big problem. Also, a lot of drug dealers from Detroit have started to move into the smaller towns of the American north-east, including New Castle. If something doesn’t change, the future looks bleak. I do have one drug story, though: a rather sad individual called Vincent DeLillo, who was addicted to prescription drugs.
      Thanks again for getting in touch, and feel free to ask anything else you might want to know!

  3. Mario E Perkins says

    These men started the drug boom during the 80’s were my grandpa’s best friends. I ate dinner w/ them, watched them play cards at night, and I would be thier lil bar tender and light cig’s for them. It was always my Pops, the “Man”, and the hitman, who was also my cousin. There’s nothing like sitting on a man’s knee who tells u all the time he’s gonna cut your lil’ leg off then finding out he has really done that, great times.

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