The Press: The Case of Silas Rogers

At dawn one day in 1943, two policemen chased a stolen car through Petersburg, Va. and forced it into a ditch. In the wreck they found two soldiers, both AWOL. One cop stayed behind guarding them; the other, R. B. Hatchell, set off in pursuit of the driver, who had run away. Half an hour later two shots rang out; Hatchell's body was found nearby.

For two hours police combed the area, finally picked up a Negro hitchhiker named Silas Rogers, and got him to confess that he had stolen the car in Raleigh, N.C., shot the cop. The court would...