The 1955 Crime That Stunned Stockbridge
Back in September 1955, a double murder took place just outside of Stockbridge that shook mid-Michigan.
Howard & Myra Herrick lived in a farm house at the junction of M-52 and M-36, five miles north of Stockbridge.
Nealy Buchanon had escaped from Jackson State Prison, doing time for breaking into a Detroit automobile dealership while he was on parole. He was a trustee who was given the freedom to drive off prison grounds from time-to-time to do several work assignments. On Friday, Sept. 2, he drove away from the prison grounds until he reached Stockbridge High School on the corner of Wood & Elizabeth Streets, where he parked the truck and began to walk northward through fields, woods, and yards, away from the highway. After five miles and out of the village limits, he stopped at the Herrick's farm, which was unfortunately along the escape path Buchanon was taking. He hid in the barn and slept there overnight.
The next afternoon, Howard Herrick came home from work and eventually discovered the escapee. Buchanon whacked Howard in the head a couple of times with a tool sharpener, of which the noises drew Myra out of the house and to the barn. Once there, she was bludgeoned with a hammer and left for dead. Buchanon then dragged the bodies to a corner of the barn and hid the bodies by covering them with bales of hay.
After not hearing from his folks for a couple of days, their son Lester came out to the farm house where he discovered the bodies in the barn.
During those two days, Buchanon had shed his prison garb, evidently borrowed some of Howard's clothes, and, after failing to hot-wire Herrick's vehicle, hitched a ride to Mason. From there, he took a taxi to Lansing and hopped a bus to New York. Police discovered the prison outfit and Buchanon's fingerprints.
It wasn't until October 1956 when he was finally arrested in Baltimore, Maryland, while using the name of the man he killed, 'Howard Herrick'. After confessing to the murders, he was sent back to prison a few days later.
Even though a new hearing was in the process, it never happened...Buchanon passed away of cancer in 1984.
In the late 60's, approximately 15 years after the 1955 murders, the Herrick's home and barn were torn down for the purpose of widening M-52.
Author Rod Sadler has written a book about the crime, titled A Slayer Waits, with much more detail than I have space for. Check it out!
MICHIGAN CRIME SCENE: Look Inside the Abandoned 'Jeepers Creepers' Schoolhouse