Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prisoner #J-55299 - Former Prosecutor Duncan Cameron McCrea

A cautionary tale written by Neal Shine in the Detroit Free Press (date unknown at this time), using the rise and fall of Duncan Cameron McCrea, at one time the Wayne County, Michigan, Prosecuting Attorney.

From Neal Shine's column in the Detroit Free Press:

Duncan Cameron McCrea was the son of James B. & Isabelle (Cameron) McCrea and the grandson of Duncan & Ellen (Cameron) Cameron. Duncan C. McCrea was the cousin of my grandmother, Beatrice (Cameron) Powers. My great-grandmother, Anna (Cameron) (Johnston) Cameron was Isabelle McCrea's sister.

The legend, as cited in Neal Shine's article, was that Duncan McCrea, the prosecuting attorney for Wayne County, Michigan, was "...hustled so quickly from his office on the fifth floor of Police Headquarters that he didn't even have time to put on his hat." When I showed the article to my aunt, she said that he knew that he was going to be arrested, and, in fact, arranged to have his nephew, Donald L. Munro, removed from the scene, safe from "collateral damage."

I only knew Duncan C. McCrea by reputation (his name was mentioned in whispered tones), since he died before I was born. His sisters Adelia, Jessie and Ellen were frequent visitors at my grandmother's house, so I knew and admired them. Members of my grandmother's family, including me, were guests at the McCrea cottage at Higgins Lake.

The fifth floor of Detroit Police Headquarters, where Duncan McCrea had his office, would have seemed as exotic as an office in New York or London to me from my vantage point as a child in the Flint, MI, suburbs. In retrospect, any floor of Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien would be like visiting an old and familiar friend from the past. I, too, spent many years working there.

Duncan C. McCrea, the former illustrious prosecutor, was found guilty and served time in prison after being escorted from 1300 Beaubien. Graft, gambling, and notorious former Purple Gang gangsters were not a recipe for success.

Update: See McCrea's connection to Julia M. Barker, who murdered her business partner, Edith Mae Cummings, here.

Jackson Prison record on index cards (from the Archives of Michigan):

The good news is that there was an article featuring one of the more colorful members of the Cameron family. The bad news is that this article about Duncan Cameron McCrea needed to be written at all.

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