The gangland slaying of Michigan Senator Warren G. Hooper was such shocking news in 1945 that it swept war headlines from the front pages of newspapers across the Midwest. Decades later, his brutal death is still something of a mystery.
Senator Hooper, elected from Albion, had made the courageous decision to testify in a probe of rampant government corruption, a legacy of Prohibition. His was to be the critical evidence in the investigation. He was slain before he got the chance.
Warren Hooper was ambushed on his way home from the capitol in Lansing to his home near Albion. That a public servant could be taken out so brutally and blatantly by a gang of thugs seemed like something born of the nineteenth century west and was a tremendous shock at the time. The image above is from www.newspaperarchive.com and typifies the banner headlines the murder generated. (The top-of-page-one, very graphic photograph of the senator's body in situ was also typical of the time.)
A new book about this old puzzle will come out in November. It fictionalizes the case. It is To Account for Murder by William Whitbeck (New York: Permanent Press), who so happens to be Chief Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals. Thus the author is continuing a Michigan tradition; Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Voelker (better known as Robert Traver) was the author of Anatomy of a Murder, another thinly fictionalized account of a true murder case and one of the most phenomenally successful titles of its type and time.