Highway Patrol

Season 1 Episode 30

Hitchhiker Dies

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Episode Recap

Announcer: One of the principal trouble sources of any law enforcement agency is circumstantial evidence. Too often coincidence and chance can conspire to point an overwhelming finger of guilt at an innocent person. The Highway Patrol encountered just such a case the morning that Stash Erwin, a wanted criminal, drove through the gates of the Apex Plastics Company. Stash Erwin, a known and wanted criminal, manages to get past the front gate guard of the Apex Industrial Plastics company. He drives his car, a grey Ford convertible, to the back of the lot, parks and walks toward a door, pausing to lot around to see if anyone has seen him, then walks in through a door marked "Payroll." As he ascends a stairway, he stops and pulls a rubber mask from his pocket. The full mask is that of a human male. He puts his light colored Fedora back in place and continues up the stairs. First putting on gloves, he opens the door as a shocked payroll employee, in the middle of counting and preparing the weeks wages sees him walk in. Stash says, muffled through the rubber mask, "Not a word...you (to the woman counting the money), down on the floor." He instructs her boss, who has entered the room, the tie the woman up with a rope he pulls from his pocket. As the man does as he's been told, Stash, gun still in hand, piles the stacks of cash into a white bank bag. He tells the man to tie her ankles also. Stash continues to fill the bag with money and then tells the man to gag his employee. He complies. Stash then tells the payroll boss to get around the back of the balustrade. The man moves behind the room divider and turns around when Stash slugs the guy behind the head, causing him to hit the floor. He then finishes up with the money, leaves the woman and man in the room, closes the room's door and walks back down the stairway. Thinking he's gotten away clean, Stash takes his time in the stairway, taking off the mask, putting his Fedora back on, straightening up, unaware that the woman clerk in the room, still tied up, is trying to scoot across the floor to an alarm button. The crook "stashes" the loot in his car as the lady, with great difficulty, rolls near to the button. Erwin starts his car and pulls up to the security gate. The guard is on the phone and Stash honks his horn impatiently. The guard yells out, "Okay, okay" and starts to open the gate when the alarm sounds throughout the lot. The guard is shocked at the sound of the alarm and goes for his gun as he tells Stash he'll have to wait. But Stash has other ideas, pulls his own gun and shoots the guard before he gets a shot off. Erwin stomps on the gas, crashing through the gate as the guard, only wounded, gets off several rounds from a crouched position. One of the shots hits Erwin as he speeds away. Chief Mathews receives the call about the robbery and takes the information over to the wall map, telling an officer to plot it and where to put road blocks. Mathews and Officer Johnson head out the door on their way to the plant where the robbery took place. On a back road, Stash, in pain from the gun shot wound, turns down a side street, stops and collapses. He manages to open his door but falls out. Regaining his footing, Erwin stumbles to the back of the car, spotting a gun shot hole near the gas tank, and the gasoline wetting the ground beneath it. He stumbles back to the door and pulls himself in. Almost about to pass out, the robber tries to start the car. It barely starts and Stash throws it into forward, careening down a hill where it won't be seen by the police from the road. Erwin stumbles across a plowed field to a drain pipe and stuffs the two bags of money in the hole. But he's badly wounded and coughing up blood in front of the hole. He manages to get back to his car and retrieves his jacket and Fedora but as he goes to leave, he falls to the ground. Erwin manages to crawl to the roadway and put a bloody thumb in the air hoping to hitch a ride out of town, retrieving the loot later. He manages to hold himself up by leaning a bloody hand on a sign that reads, "Farnsworth 20mi." That's where he heads. Officer Johnson runs up the stairway to the payroll office and enters. Mathews asks him about the guard and Johnson tells him he's still alive but now on his way to the hospital so they don't have anymore information except the color of the car. He did find out that the guard shot twice. Mathews adds that they don't know if he had an accomplice and if they could have changed cars. Mathews wants to know how the robber got past the guard and Steadman, the payroll supervisor says only if the guy got permission from someone in authority. Johnson points out that they'll have to wait until the guard regains consciousness to find that out. Mathews tells Johnson the take was $28,000. The phone rings as Johnson asks Steadman how his neck is. Mathews then informs everyone that the guard won't be talking anytime soon as he's in a coma. Still coughing up blood, Erwin continues to try and flag down a ride but no one will stop. Finally a middle aged man in a grey convertible stops to pick him up, remarking that somebody sure left him out in the middle-of-nowhere. He tells him he can take him to Farnsworth and Erwin says that will be fine, then starts hacking. The man asks if he is okay to which Stash says, "Fine...it's just a cold." But the man wants to help and then spots the blood. Stash tells him that from there on the guy is his personal driver to wherever he wants to go. The man wants to knows if Stash will kill him when he's done. Stash says he won't know. As Stash hovers near unconsciousness, the man sees his opportunity and slams on the brakes, grabbing the gun. In his weakened condition, Stash doesn't put up much of a fight and the man gets the gun away and drives right up to a Highway patrol roadblock. At headquarters, Mathews is grilling the driver over the facts. He's told the Chief that it is a coincidence that Erwin WAS hitching a ride even though he was badly wounded. It IS a coincidence that he just happens to be driving a grey convertible just like the getaway car. That it is ALSO a coincidence that he just so happens to work for the Apex Plastics company that Erwin robbed. That he was house shopping and wasn't anywhere near the plant. The man asks Mathews to just ask Erwin and he'll tell him. Mathews informs the driver that Erwin has died and will now stand before a higher judge. Announcer: Two hours of intensive questioning fail to shake Warren Sidden's testimony. While in the hospital, the wounded guard was fighting a grim battles for his life. Two hours later, after grilling Siddons, Officer and Johnson and Mathews go over the facts, speculating that if Siddons is telling the truth, then there must have been something wrong with Erwin's car and it's been hidden somewhere. All the facts, the make of car, the color, Stash was in the car, the gun used in the robbery was there, a parrafin test showed gunshot residue on the driver's hand, everything points to Siddons as being Stash's partner. Johnson runs the scenario down from the top. It appears that Siddons was the inside guy and all the circumstantial evidence supports it. Mathews says it sure does but they have a responsibility to verify every speck of evidence because in a court of law, Siddons is innocent until proven guilty. Mathews tells Johnson to comb the area where Siddons says he picked up Erwin and find that car. Outside of Apex Plastics, Steadman, the payroll boss is having a heated conversion with a pretty blonde. Gloria Burgess informs him that the cops are holding Siddons as the inside man but haven't found the money yet. Steadman says that if the cops believe Siddons is their man, they should make sure there's plenty of evidence to back that up. Johnson and Mathews find the sign where Stash was picked up by Siddons but no car and no money. The Chief tells Johnson to check up the road while he goes back to the plant. Mathews examines Siddon's desk, finding evidence of high gambling stakes. The office girl says she can't believe it when Steadman walks in with "Siddon's" time card, which shows that he was lying about punching out for lunch. Mathews asks if the machine could not work right and Steadman says it's his department, he checks them daily. Mathews is more convinced than ever now and leaves with the new fuel for his case. As he leaves, Steadman gets a call from Burgess informing him that she got into their "friend's" house with no problem. At Highway Patrol headquarters, Mathews and Johnson are once again grilling Siddons with the mounting evidence: his time card not punched out as he claimed, no other grey car found, the gun shot residue on his hand, gambling tickets in his desk, travel brochures showing Central and South American destinations, suitcases all packed with his clothes... Siddons sticks to his story saying that someone else has done all of that. Johnson wants to know how Siddons can expect them to believe him in the face of so much evidence. That statement sparks something in Mathews. The Chief takes Johnson aside and says that's exactly the problem. There's way too much evidence and it's all too neatly provided. Johnson points out that the luggage had no prints on them, as if they had been totally wiped clean. Then Mathews asks Siddons a telling question. The answer settles it. No passport! Just then the station phone rings. Mathews tells Johnson, and Siddons, that his boys have just found all the money, stashed in a drain pipe close to where Siddons said he picked Erwin up. They also found a grey convertible stashed in the brush, covered with blood and with a bullet hole in the gas tank. Warren Siddons has been proven innocent. Mathews quickly apologizes for putting Mr. Siddons through the ringer but wants information on who may have made him the patsy before he or they get away. The Chief asks Siddons who had access to his desk. It could be a dozen folks, he says. But now he's got a personal axe to grind and wants to help capture the crook anyway he can and Mathews says that besides the officers on the road, they in the office are the only ones who know the money has been found, which gives the Chief an idea. In a diner, Steadman and Burgess are having a heated discussion now that the word of Siddons' release is on the radio. She's sure that it's only a matter of time until someone finds the money and she thinks Siddons can help them find it. She goes to Siddon's house and gives him a story that she is from an insurance company representing Apex Plastics and would like to talk with him. He invites her in as Mathews and Johnson watch in plain clothes from an unmarked car down the street. The woman says she needs information about the stolen money or her company is out $28,000. Siddons says he understand but asks to be excused for just a moment. He moves to a front room where he closes shut some window blinds. Mathews says to Johnson that that's the signal and calls dispatch to run the license tag on her car. Inside, the woman asks Siddons if Erwin had made him stop the car and Siddons told her that he had made him stop the car near a culvert about 20 miles outside of Farnsworth. She asked if he had told this to the police and Siddons said yes but nothing was found. Out in the car, Mathews finishes up arrangements as the woman leaves Siddons house, gets in her car and drives away. Johnson starts the unmarked car and begins to tail her. She pulls over to a phone booth, calls Steadman and tells him where the money is supposed to be hidden. Chief Mathews steps into the booth next to hers and listens until she hangs up. As Burgess leaves the phone booth Mathews steps out, grabs her arm while showing her his badge and tells her she's under arrest and that he'll keep her date with her boyfriend. Mathews tells Johnson to drop her off at the county jail on their way to pick up her partner in crime. Steadman is out in the field, trying to look into the culvert when Officer Johnson runs up to him, telling him to keep his hands where they can see them. Steadman offers that he was only trying to help out. Mathews informs him that his girl friend had already tried that story. Johnson cuffs him and the three men walk back to the unmarked car on the side of the highway.
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