In Another Time > A look back at a terrifying day 60 years ago

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Louis Yollin was given the day off from his designated domicile at a Philadelphia mental institution on May 19, 1952. Then he celebrated his liberty by shooting up much of South Jersey including three North Wildwood women, one of them the sister of its mayor.

It was believed to be the most terrifying experience in the history of crime in the Wildwoods.

“The only reason I shoot at people is to kill people,” the 27-year-old psychiatric patient from Philadelphia State Mental Hospital told the then-editor Henry C. Lapidus of the Wildwood Leader after Yollin was apprehended. “I get extreme joy in bringing forth human pain and misery.”

Yollin was given a day of freedom to spend some time with his mother and brother, but he never reported back to the hospital, instead riding a bus to Atlantic City, sleeping there that night and summoning a taxi the next morning to drive him to the Wildwoods. For its driver, Morris Klein, Yollin was to be the worst and most dangerous passenger he would ever have.

En route to the Wildwoods, soon after crossing the Longport bridge, Klein asked his passenger to pay part of the fare because he needed money for gasoline. That’s when Klein realized he was in trouble as Yollin drew a gun and threatened, “You keep on driving or I’ll shoot you.”

Klein, shocked for the moment, tried to humor Yollin, but the passenger, then sitting next to the driver jumped into the back seat and began taking pot shots through the open window at people he saw in Dennis and Middle Townships. Not exactly a marksman with the revolver he took from his brother, Yollin missed as Klein pressed the gas pedal and raced onward toward the Wildwoods.

Soon it was Yollin’s turn to ask for money as they rode along the county’s roadways. He told Klein he needed it to get to New York City. By this time Klein realized he was dealing with someone who had mental problems, so, buying for time, Klein assured him that he could get some money for him at the home of his daughter Mrs. Herman Mennies, in North Wildwood.

They arrived at the Mennies home around 10:30 that morning and Klein told Yollin to stay in the cab while he went inside to get the money, but Yollin wouldn’t buy the suggestion. We’ll do it together, Yollin countered as he pressed the gun against the driver’s body.

It wasn’t long before Mennies figured something was wrong when she saw her father and this strange man in her house. She offered the man food, but he settled for coffee and when she noticed his hands in his jacket pocket and her father pointing frantically at him she hurried to the next room and phoned her husband.

Yollin was suspicious, too, that he wasn’t receiving a tourist’s welcome so he rushed to the back door and encountered Naomi Webb, a 33-year-old maid from Whitesboro, in the kitchen. She was to be his first victim as he fired six shots wildly, one striking her in the thigh, another in the hip as two others struck the gas range and the others the wall.

The shooter ran to the street in front of the home of Mayor George Busfield at 232 East 19th Ave. On the sidewalk he met 37-year-old Ann Kosobucki, who was walking her 3-year-old daughter, Sandra. He fired again, missing the child but one of the bullets striking the mother in the right hip.

Meanwhile in the backyard of the house of Mayor Busfield, who was to serve from 1950 to1958, his sister, Dell, heard the screams and shouting. At first she thought it was children playing “cops and robbers,” but soon she was to learn that this was real life drama.

As she walked toward the front of the property, Yollin saw her and fired away. The shot grazed her left thumb and ended its course in the side of the house.

While Yollin casually walked toward the boardwalk, like a tourist enjoying a pleasant day at the seashore, the wounded Kosobucki, growing fainter by the minute, sat on the porch of the Busfield house while her panicked daughter screamed in fright. The mother asked the mayor’s sister, barely wounded, to care for the crying child.

The call soon went out by the police department for a manhunt for the shooter. It wasn’t much of a manhunt because five minutes later Police Chief Carl R Hoffman and Patrolman John Donnelly apprehended Yollin at the boardwalk and 21st Avenue. They were erecting traffic signs when they were alerted that a potential killer was on the loose in their community.

There was no movie-like dramatic shootout to climax the scenario. Yollin surrendered calmly although Hoffman had cause for concern when he noticed the gun in Yollin’s pocket was cocked.

“Why didn’t you shoot me or my fellow officer?” the police chief asked his prisoner.

“Your gun is much bigger than mine,” Yollin answered. “I figured you had one on your person even though you were in working clothes and had paint on your face.”

He was to say later that he was on the way to the boardwalk to shoot more people when the cops stopped him.

Two of the women, Webb and Kosobucki, were treated by doctors and at the Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital. Busfield required little medical attention. The two bullets in Webb’s body were removed. The bullet inside Kosobucki could not be removed, doctors said.

During his interview by the Leader’s Lapidus, Yollin said in his jail cell that his model had been Camden’s Howard Unruh who had killed 13 people in 20 minutes some years before Yollin went on his shooting spree.

“I love war and human slaughter,” he said. “I want to go to Korea and shoot and kill Communists. The Russians and the Communists are no good. If I had my life to live over again I would be a militarist.

“Fate came my way today when I pulled the trigger of my revolver and I began to shoot. I am a fatalist….I am sorry I did not kill the people I shot at. I would have thought more of myself. I am, of course, trigger happy and get a thrill of taking pot shots at people, particularly babies. I feel no remorse in shooting people.”

Following his arrest and court appearances Yollin was sent to the New Jersey Hospital for the Insane in Trenton, to be returned to Cape May County to face related charges when and if he recovered his sanity.

A doctor at the Pennsylvania institution said Yollin had been given the one day release because his condition had “seemed improved.”

 

(Information for this article was researched at the reference department of the county library in Court House.)

 


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