Chief Vernon Porter Moses
During the 1930’s the John Maug Gang was terrorizing Allegheny County with a series of burglaries, armed robberies, and shootings of area police officers. During the evening of May 3,1932, Ross Township Police Chief Vernon “Port” Moses was on patrol when he observed the Maug Gang driving on a local roadway.
A vehicle pursuit ensued and Chief Moses was able to pull in front of and stop the Maug Gang’s vehicle at the site of the former Keating Trolley Car Barn located at the corner of Perrysville and Westview Avenues.
Chief Moses pulled in front of the robber’s vehicle and exited his patrol car, service pistol and flash light in hand. Witnesses stated that Chief Moses yelled, “You can’t get away with this.” Maug Gang member Ed Turpack exited the vehicle and stated to fellow gang member John Maug, “This man means business.” John Maug and Ed Turpack then fired two shots at Chief Moses, striking him in the right shoulder and face. Chief Moses died at the scene as Maug and Turpack fled to the 22nd St. Bridge in the City of Pittsburgh where they threw their guns into the Monongahela River.
On January 23, 1933, the Maug Gang was brought to trial in the killing of Chief Moses. Common Pleas Judge George V. Moore sentenced John Maug and Ed Turpack to 70-140 years in Pennsylvania’s Western Penitentiary. Scores of armed Deputies and Officers were assigned to the trial due to fears the gang would attempt an escape from the Allegheny County Courthouse.
On April 27, 1933, Maug and Turpack were able to escape from Western Penitentiary when they climbed down a rope that they fastened to the Prison’s Chapel roof. In order to fool the Prison Guards during inmate counts, Maug and Turpack made a set of dummies and left them in their bunks.
In May of 1933, Maug and Turpack were arrested when they attempted to rob a Western Union Office in Lakewood, Colorado. They spent the rest of their lives in prison.