The 80th Anniversary of the Only Person Executed in Michigan
In 1938, Tony Chebatoris became the only person to be executed within the state of Michigan. Even though the death penalty ceased to exist in our state in 1846, the federal government deemed it necessary to exterminate Chebatoris.
Convicted for crimes and in-and-out of prison a handful of times, Chebatoris' final deed occurred in Midland.
On September 29, 1937, Chebatoris and Jack Gracy entered the Chemical Bank in downtown Midland, near the Tittabawasee River. Gracy threatened bank president Clarence Macomber with a sawed-off shotgun and a struggle ensued. Chebatoris shot Macomber in the shoulder with a revolver. After Chebatoris shot another employee in the stomach, the two fled. A dentist on the second floor saw the commotion outside and attempted to stop the criminals in their getaway car by firing his rifle. As the car sped toward the Benson Street Bridge (which has since been torn down), the driver was hit and they smacked into a parked car, foiling their getaway. getting out of the vehicle, Chebatoris shot a truck driver, thinking he was a policeman; the dentist took aim and shot Gracy in the head, instantly killing him. Chebatoris ran down the railroad tracks, tried tpo steal a car, and was nabbed by the sheriff, Ira Smith.
When the truck driver died 12 days later, Chebatoris' charge was changed from attempted robbery to murder. He was found guilty on October 29 and was hanged on July 8, 1938 at the federal prison in Milan.
Even though a few family members had visited Chebatoris in prison, nobody came to claim his body.
To read more about this slab of Michigan history, and to see a picture of Tony Chebatoris, visit murderpedia.org.