CRIME: Stay Away from My Door

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Chocolate-colored Jarvis Theodore Roosevelt Catoe held up his long sinewy fingers and counted off. "About ten," he finally said.

He might as well own up. The cops had most of the story anyhow. Jarvis was resigned to his fate. "About ten," he repeated. Three white women, four colored women he could remember. He had ravished and choked them to death. He had been troubled, he said, with "spells."

Jarvis Catoe had been a one-man crime wave. He had caused a police shake-up in Washington and a Congressional investigation. That was after he murdered Jessie Elizabeth Strieff, a Government clerk. Jarvis gently told the police about that.

He was driving along Florida Avenue when the sky suddenly darkened and rain poured down. It was a cloudburst that turned the afternoon into night. Jarvis had on a chauffeur's cap. Jessie Strieff thought he was a taxi driver and she called to him and jumped in his car. Jarvis smiled politely. The avenue was deserted. Everyone had run to cover to get out of the deluge. Half an hour later Jarvis left the girl's nude body in a nearby garage, drove on.

Jarvis got around. But he shouldn't have gone to New York. New York cops were smarter than the ones in Washington. After he had raped and throttled a white woman in The Bronx, he had taken a wrist watch from her. He gave the watch to a girl, who pawned it. The New York cops found it, found the girl, followed a trail back to Washington, last week arrested Jarvis Catoe.

In the same gentle voice, Catoe told about other murders. For one of them, the raping and strangling of a 65-year-old Negro woman, another man had been convicted, had already served five years of a life sentence.

Washington read about Jarvis with horror and relief and wondered why he had not been apprehended before. He had a record with the police. He had been accused four times of indecent exposure, and he lived, with Emma, his common-law wife, within a few blocks of where he had committed two of his crimes. Emma, who had been supporting him for the past year, also read about Jarvis' murders, and about six other colored girls going to the police station and identifying Jarvis as a man who had raped them. Said she: "He can't stay with me no more."