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Edward Singleton


Convicted of armed robbery in Lake County, Indiana, in 1931, Edward Singleton was exonerated four years later when the actual culprit admitted the crime to the police officer who originally had mistakenly arrested Singleton.
 
On February 7, 1931, an armed man wearing a mask robbed Johnson’s Grocery Store in Hammond, Indiana, taking an undetermined amount of cash. Singleton, a 39-year-old World War I veteran from North Carolina working as a house painter in the area, was questioned about the crime because he fit the general description of the bandit. Although the robber had been masked, the victims “positively” identified Singleton. On that basis, he was charged, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in prison.
 
Sandor Singer, the police officer who had arrested Singleton, had doubts about Singleton’s guilt and continued to investigate the case. By early 1935, Singer’s investigation had fallen dormant when he received a tip that Ralph E. Harwood, a local furniture store employee in his early 20s, was suffering conscience pangs because someone else was serving time for a crime he had committed. When questioned by Singer, Harwood confessed.
 
Singleton’s conviction was soon set aside, and on March 28, 1935, he was released from the state prison at Michigan City. His first stop was the Hammond police headquarters to thank Singer. “I helped put him away,” Singer was quoted as saying, “and it was up to me to help get him out.”
 
Three weeks later, just as Lake County Criminal Court Judge William J. Murray was about to sentence Harwood, Singleton stepped forward, saying, “Your Honor, this young man isn’t a real criminal. He has gone straight since that robbery four years ago. I served four years in prison for that crime. Let that be enough.” Judge Murray then said, “If the man who suffered for the crime innocently is now big enough to appear in his behalf, I am big enough to grant his request.” He sentenced Harwood to probation.
 
On May 7, 1935, Indiana Governor Paul V. McNutt pardoned Singleton.
 
 – Researched by Rob Warden
State:IN
County:Lake
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1931
Convicted:1931
Exonerated:1935
Sentence:10 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:39
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID