One Hour on a Saturday Night in 1957

The Alley

Late Saturday night on March 30, 1957, two women and a man left Whitey’s Place (now Whitey’s Tavern) after a night out. They were on their way to their Owens Street home but decided to stop at the Red Castle Restaurant, which was on North Main Street just around the corner from Whitey’s, to pick up a few sandwiches. As they were headed down an alley toward North Prospect Street, a car turned in behind them. Suddenly the driver gunned the engine and sped straight for the group.

It was the beginning of a rampage that would span three cities and eventually leave four people dead and two others seriously injured.

The front page of the April 1, 1957, edition of the Marion Star.

The driver of the car was 28-year-old Jack Draper, also of Owens Street. He knew the people walking down the alley. They were Albert and Sylvia Pollock and Sylvia’s mother, Dora Harris. Draper had a six-year-old child with Sylvia’s daughter, 23-year-old Marilyn Huffman.

As Draper sped down the alley, he struck Albert and Sylvia hard enough to fracture their skulls and crush their chests. This was according to a report written by Marion County Coroner Robert T. Gray who added that Albert also “suffered compound fractures on both legs.” He struck Dora as well, though only glancingly. Once Draper reached Prospect Street, witnesses saw him turn around and head back down the alley towards Main Street. He turned around again in the Big Bear parking lot (which at the time was located just south of St. Mary’s Church on Main Street) before roaring back down the alley, presumably to hit Dora again. However, his tire struck a concrete block in the alley and the blew out, causing him to lose control and miss Dora and instead strike Albert again. His car now badly damaged, Draper turned north onto Prospect Street but only managed to make it as far as London Street before he abandoned the car. Carrying a loaded nine-shot .22 caliber pistol, he ran toward Main Street. He needed another car.

The Dispute

An article about the rampage appearing in the April 1, 1957, edition of The Marion Star attempts to piece together why Draper, described as a laborer for the Erie Railroad and a former Golden Gloves amateur boxer, would carry out an act of such extreme violence.

Although they both lived on Owens Street and had a daughter together, Jack Draper and Marilyn Huffman were not married and appeared to have had a very troubled relationship.

Marilyn said in a statement to the press that Draper was dangerous and had in the past threatened harm to the child, herself, and the rest of her family. She went on to say that her mother, Sylvia, had sworn out a disorder conduct warrant against Draper, and he was subsequently fined $100 as well as court costs. Dora Harris, who survived Draper’s attack, told reporters that she had seen Draper take Marilyn outside the house and “beat her up” a number of times, both before and after the birth of their daughter.

Some of Draper’s relatives – his brother, his sister, his niece – defended Draper, telling the Star that he was distraught because he could not see his daughter and that Marylyn’s family had “poisoned” the young girl’s mind against her dad. This was what finally caused him to “crack up” in their opinion. They said that he often bought his daughter presents but that the Pollocks and Marilyn had made the little girl “scared” of her father.

The Pursuit of Jack Draper

Corbett Woods and Raymond McCoy had just finished tuning up McCoy’s car and were backing it out of Woods’ service station on the corner of North Main and Farming Street when Draper ran up and jerked the driver’s side door open. He pointed his gun at the men and told them to get out. The men complied. As McCoy later told a Star reporter, Draper seemed to be “really nervous on that trigger.” Draper sped off, northbound on North Main Street.

Draper, top right, and his three victims: Robert Karsmizki, Albert and Sylvia Pollock

A minute or two later, Woods and McCoy flagged down Marion Patrolman Donald Hall, who was already aware of the crime, and informed him that Draper had just stolen McCoy’s car. Although Patrolman Hall could see Draper up ahead as he pursued him, he was unable to close the distance and lost Draper south of Bucyrus.

Around the time Patrolman Hall lost Draper, State Highway Patrolman Robert Karsmizki spotted Draper and followed him into Bucyrus. Draper turned onto Route 19 and headed in the direction of Galion. Karsmizki was soon joined by another officer, State Highway Patrolman Youtz, and the two of them pursued Draper into Galion at high speed.

By then, the Galion City Police had set up a roadblock on Route 19 just east of the city. Draper attempted to swerve around the roadblock but lost control of the stolen car and flipped it over three times. Draper struggled out of the car, stumbled and fell on his face.

As Patrolman Karsmizki approached him, Draper rolled over and fired his pistol into Karsmizki’s chest, the slug striking him in the heart and fatally wounding him. Draper then fired on Patrolman Youtz and managed to hit him twice, once in the left arm and once in the chest. Other officers at the scene opened fire on Draper and shot him a total of six times, killing him. Patrolman Youtz survived the shooting.

In all, Draper’s rampage had lasted just over an hour. The aftermath for those touched by the shocking events on that March night presumably lasted much, much longer.


Buried Alive!

It was a cool October night just before midnight, and the crowd gathered at a grave near the haunted forest. As they looked on, pallbearers lowered a casket into the ground and began shoveling dirt on top of it. No one in the crowd made an effort to stop them, even though they all knew the man inside the coffin was still alive.

The man buried alive was local radio personality Scott Shawver, and on October 13th – Friday the 13th to be exact! – of 1989, the 23-year-old Marion native was a willing participant in his own funeral. The 24-hour burial was all part of an effort to promote the Marion Jaycees’ annual haunted forest fund-raiser out on Pole Lane Road.¹

Caption: According to the Marion Star, after burying Scott the pallbearers placed a wreath and a tombstone on the grave. The tombstone read: “Here lies a man who never died. Just buried alive.”
According to the Star, after burying Scott the pallbearers placed a wreath and a tombstone on the grave. The tombstone read: “Here lies a man who never died. Just buried alive.” Source: Bill Sinden / The Marion Star

I first ran across this story in an old Marion Star. My interest piqued, I pestered Scott into letting me interview him, and a few weeks ago he invited me out to the WMRN station (he’s still in the radio business) to discuss the nearly 30-year-old stunt.

The idea, he told me, was for people to come out to watch him get buried alive and then stay for the haunted forest. It was also good way for WMRN to promote Scott himself since he had recently been hired as the station’s new morning guy.

He told me the “casket” was, in reality, more like a good-sized wooden shipping box. There were two little hatches, one over his face and one over his feet, which he could open and close. Both hatches had air tubes going all the way to the surface, and people could look down these tubes and see him lying there. The box was also outfitted with a little light, a ventilation fan and working telephone.

Scott estimated he received a couple hundred phone calls in the 24 hours he was underground. He said the phone rang and rang, the callers generally asking inane questions like “Are you really down there?” and “How do you pee?” He said he eventually had to take it off the hook so that he could get some sleep.

A magician named Bill Shayner supervised the whole process. Although Scott said he’s not claustrophobic, he did request for a backhoe to be standing by in case the box collapsed. However, as Mr. Shayner was preparing Scott for the burial, Scott noticed there was still no backhoe.

“Where’s the backhoe?”

“Well,” Bill said, “that was the responsibility of the Jaycees…”

In the end, however, the whole event went off without a hitch, and the next night, a group of men dug him back up (sans backhoe).

Today Scott is the senior vice president of programming for Marion and Mansfield at WMRN as well as co-owner of Marion’s iconic OK Café. He told me that even now people occasionally come up to him and say, “You were the guy who got buried!”

Believe it or not, Scott was not the first person in Marion to make the Star for being buried alive.

On September 4th, 1929, the paper ran a story about a man calling himself the “Great Pasha” who was also buried alive in Marion County.²

great pasha

For those unaware, Marion was once home to an amusement park, Crystal Lake, which was located north of town on Rt. 4. During a carnival sponsored by the local Elks Lodge, the Great Pasha was buried alive for two hours.³

Unlike Scott Shawver, the Great Pasha claimed his coffin, once sealed, had only a limited amount of air in it. In fact, the public was invited to inspect his coffin for air tanks or hoses before he was lowered “into the earth six feet and covered with fine earth.” Once buried, he claimed to work a spell on himself that reduced his heart rate to three or four beats a minute.

Whatever the case, the Great Pasha wowed the large crowd when he was dug up and revived two hours later. According to author Charles J. Shields, The Great Pasha performed his act all over the country until the day his show coffin became a real one:

Then…in another city, [his assistant] ordered the Pasha to rise, but he remained still. She repeated the command. He was motionless. When she screamed, it dawned on the audience that the Great Pasha was dead.

– Josh Simpkins


¹ The now-defunct Jaycees are a community service organization that was once active in the Marion area.

² The Great Pasha was not a local. He claimed to be Egyptian, but he was actually just a guy from the Bronx named Sam Goldberg. Interestingly, Goldberg was managed for years by Arch Capote, father of In Cold Blood author Truman Capote.

³ The Star article states that local undertaker WC Boyd assisted in burying Pasha. The Boyd Funeral Home, which was founded by Mr. Boyd in 1922, is still in business and located on Columbia Street.

Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke
The Marion Star, October 15, 1989
The Marion Star, September 4, 1929
“Doing in the Great Pasha — plus a deleted scene from Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” by Charles J. Shields