Saturday, December 31, 2005

The origin of the feature film, COME FRIDAY…

CLick On the pictures to see full size versions.

Long ago there was a young lady I had the hots for in a big way (Yes, I know that hots is not a word). She was pretty, incredibly bright, and had some real elegance about her. She had a love for children and basic kindness that you don’t often see in someone her age. I met her parents and could understand she came from a much more stable home than mine. I was raised by a single, welfare mom and suddenly found myself way out-classed. For whatever reasons things did not workout they way I had hoped. Sadly for me, we went on our separate ways. From time to time I’d run into this lady in various places where our job had taken us. Whenever this happened my heart would skip a beat or two.

I left my hometown Chicago, and moved to Arizona where I founded my detective agency. As a private eye and soon a TV news producer too, my career took me to the highest profile criminal events in Arizona and throughout the country. There’s no question that I’m an adrenalin junkie and must always be where the action is happening.

After investigating on behalf of the criminal defense (successfully I might add) for two well-known Hollywood stars facing bogus allegations, I began yearning to work in the happening entertainment industry. These days, I’ve been spending a lot of time in L.A.

Along with attending Tom Todoroff ’s acting classes, I took a “speed” filmmaker’s course from Dov S.S. Simmons at his Hollywood Film Institute in Santa Monica. This was to get a real understanding of the business, from acquiring a script to counting your money long after the last showing in theatres. In the class, Dov covered an area where I had already had some experience. That was about buying and selling film option rights involving people inside fascinating, real events. A film company had made such a deal with me in the preceding post. Essentially, I got some money for doing absolutely nothing!

Writing or obtaining a good script is the beginning to all filmmaking. You must start with a terrific story. I’ve never been a fan of novels but I enjoy non-fiction. I wrote some other scripts that I now call training exercises.

I belatedly heard some really heartbreaking news from Chicago that I could not just shake off. It caused me to go on a quest that began as the film treatment you will now see. This has since evolved into a feature film script.

Having a film script in L.A is like having a snowflake in a blizzard. Unsold scripts are everywhere. If you don’t have a top-notch Hollywood literary agent committed to getting your script made into a film you better have investors standing by. Right now I have neither. Producers I have, like Ex-New York, “French Connection” cop, turned film producer, Sonny Grosso who loves this story.

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the most newsworthy event that’s part of this chronicle. Maybe 2006 will bring about the film production of this story, that’s my wish for the New Year. The really worthwhile part of the story is, Ann Leybourne Erwin Biebel.

(A side note here. I could not think of a proper title for this film. The wife of former Chicago police sergeant, Andy Murcia gave me this title. Andy’s wife is the beautiful stage, film, Golden Globe and Emmy Award wining star, Ann Jillian.)

Sometimes justice just happens...

Treatment by Paul Huebl © 2003 WGA Registration Number # 929072

The year, 1972 gave us a lot of history. President Richard Nixon was embroiled in a major scandal that began when a security guard discovered a burglary at the Watergate Hotel complex, FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover died, the new video game craze was "Pong," Arab terrorists attacked at the Munich Olympics and murdered 11 Israeli athletes, an assassination attempt left former Alabama Governor and Presidential candidate, George Wallace confined to a wheel chair, and police everywhere were still reeling from a series of very liberal criminal law decisions that came down from the US Supreme Court. African Americans were still being called Negroes or colored by politically correct Americans.

There was an uneasy truce between the mostly White Chicago police officers and the Black Panther Party after a deadly four-year period that resulted in the deaths of nearly 40 officers and scores of Black militants. The fallout of the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots was still being litigated in various courts. DNA profiles were not yet an available tool for solving crimes.

Early that year, on the Near North Side of Chicago, police were desperately searching for a single criminal responsible for a series of rapes. In 1972, this was called a crime pattern. The term "serial" had not yet been coined in connection with crime. This is a story about what we would call today, a serial rapist.

This is also an incredible story of two strangers, truly opposite, who were about to collide like speeding freight trains in the night, in an unlikely chain of events not seen before, or since in the history of the Chicago Police Department.

The rapist was Robert Ellis, a 34-year-old, African American who had an unremarkable appearance aside from his receding hairline. This ex-convict and career criminal’s rapes were always brutal and at the point of a knife or gun. Ellis would often don a surgical mask to hide his identity. Ellis's victims came from the pages of Vogue and Playboy magazines. Only the most beautiful and fashionable young women were his targets. He would take them on the streets or in their apartments. His crimes occurred nearly always on Friday nights. Perhaps because of superstitions that brought him to a Haitian psychic. In any event, the Chicago media dubbed him, The Friday Night Rapist.

One of Ellis's intended victims was Diana Craig, a gorgeous, shapely young brunette woman who caused heads to turn wherever she went. She was a professional fashion model who drove a BMW. Diana lived in an apartment above an artist's studio and garden on North LaSalle Street in Chicago. This was only an attempted crime, because Diana was able to wage a heroic fight against Ellis despite his having a gun and because she got help from her downstairs neighbor. Theodore DiVaquelin, an openly gay Frenchman, responded to Diana's screams and also fought with Ellis as he fled from Diana's apartment. Ellis narrowly escaped capture by responding police officers.

Hugh Heffner's Playboy mansion was only a couple of blocks away at 1340 North State Parkway (that was before he moved his entire Playboy Empire to L.A.). Another of Ellis's victims was one of Playboy magazine's more beautiful centerfolds that year.

Finally one Friday night, Paul Ropple, who was the youngest homicide detective in the history of the Chicago Police Department, observed Ellis sneaking around some bushes in the 1200 block of North State Parkway. Ropple noticed that Ellis resembled the composite drawing he had of the rapist and was the same height and weight reported by the victims. Ropple arrested Ellis and immediately began the process for a police identification line-up. Some of the victims were able to point Ellis out with certainty. Ellis denied the accusations, but probable cause of guilt existed and Ellis was to face the charges in court. The North Side Friday night rape pattern finally ended.

Months went by as the Court system prepared to try Ellis for his crimes. In all, Chicago police had brought forward nine victims that could identify Ellis as their attacker. A young public defender, Ron Himel, was appointed by the court to represent Ellis. As in all criminal cases the defense attorney has to accept his client's claims of innocence and file whatever pretrial motions to get the charges dismissed or at least reduced.

One day Ron Himel looked at the police line up photographs and discovered that the only person in the line up with a receding hairline was his client, Robert Ellis. A new Supreme Court ruling handed down at the time seemed clear, that police line-ups were to have people in them that resembled their suspect. The detectives putting this line up together never thought this case would hinge only on the identifications. This line up was now going to face a test in court.

In this case the police had no fingerprints or other conclusive evidence. Hair was collected in this investigation, but scientists had recently debunked hair as not being any more unique than being human and it's particular racial origin. Today a DNA profile made from a single hair would be conclusive and damning evidence. The identification of Ellis by his victims was the only evidence to tie him to the crimes.

Himel filed his motion to suppress the identification on the grounds that the police line-ups were unfair and denied his client due process. If somehow the court suppressed the identifications, Robert Ellis would be freed. Himel's motion was the talk of the courthouse and prosecutors and cops scrambled to figure out another way to keep Ellis behind bars. It all exploded one morning as Judge Louis B. Garippo granted Himel's motion. Since there was no additional evidence, Ellis was to be freed.

The Cook County State's Attorney, Edward V. Hanrahan got wind of the development and raced up to Judge Garippo's court chambers. The screaming could be heard down the long marble halls. Hanrahan's threats, demands and begging fell on deaf ears. Garippo was so incensed that he then recused from hearing any more of the case and sent it to the presiding Judge, Joe Power. The case was transferred to Judge Earl Strayhorn, who then ordered Ellis released.

An angry young prosecutor, Tony Corsentino waited for Ellis as he left the Cook County Jail. Ellis found himself repeatedly slapped in a most humiliating manner by this prosecutor on his way to freedom in the jail parking lot.

There was an attractive and delightful young woman that lived in the heart of the neighborhood of Ellis's crimes, 25 year-old, Ann Leybourne. Ann was just informed she was to be hired as a Chicago policewoman after taking a civil service examination with 7,000 other women, placing number six on the hiring list with a near-perfect score. Ann had burned out on her job as caseworker for the Cook County Department of Public Aid after a string of tragic events. Abused by the very people she was sent to help while trying to cope in an organization where no one seemed to care. Ann resigned from her position and moved forward to her new job at the police department.

In 1972, Policewomen in Chicago did not patrol the streets. They baby sat for the tender aged children that belonged to crime victims or that was under that care of someone arrested. They would search female suspects and assist the department with juvenile offenders. All policewomen were assigned to the Youth Division.

The 1972 the regulation uniform for a Chicago policewoman was a light blue blouse, a dark blue straight (and tight) skirt with a matching jacket, a beret with a small round shield. She would wear hose with high heels, and a large black leather purse that contained a regulation .38 special revolver, handcuffs and at least six extra rounds of ammunition. One her left breast area, was the Chicago police star, and on the right, a brass name tag that contained her last name. Her left shoulder sported a Chicago police cloth patch and her right shoulder contained the Chicago flag. But for the police star and patches you would think this was the uniform of an airline stewardess of that era.

As of 1972 no policewoman had ever been shot, let alone killed in the line of duty. Outside of one policewoman's isolated domestic dispute, shootings were unknown. This was a safe and well-paying job for any woman to have.

Ann began her training at the Chicago Police Academy on O'Brien Street. She excelled in every class subject but one, firearms training. Ann could not qualify with the revolver. Bullets would fly but the safest place downrange was Ann's target. Ann's heart was not in this aspect of her new job. The supervising range master, Sergeant Roy Swanson pulled recruit Leybourne aside. Unlike like the men Swanny (as his friends would call him) trained, he treated these young women with much more patience and understanding. Ann told Swanny that she hated guns and never expected to ever use one outside of the range. Swanny explained to Ann that she had to qualify or she may lose her new job. Swanny's suggestion was that Ann practice at a gun range during her off duty time in order to graduate from the academy and stay employed. Ann's did what she was told and passed her qualification by one point. Ann survived her 9th week to be sworn and receive her police star. This was not graduation but a turning point, Ann would have many weeks to complete in order to graduate and receive her first regular duty assignment as a policewoman.

View policewomen in Swanny's class here:

When any Chicago police recruit received his or her police star they are reminded that they are required to carry that and the service revolver at all times whether on or off duty. Ann considered this a bother. The gun did not seem to work with cocktail dresses should she have a night out. The kinds of purses she owned would make this rule a challenge. Ann did not want to create a problem for herself and followed the program.

Ann and a long time friend, Patrick Burke got invited to a New Year's party. After the party, around 2:00 A.M., Ann brought Patrick to his North side apartment, and then drove herself home. As she got out of her car, at her apartment building, after locking it and turning around she found a strange Black man with a gun pointed at her. Ann would soon learn she just met Robert Ellis, who was recently freed by a broken criminal justice system.

Ellis forced Ann to kneel on the passenger floor of her own car while he drove her car to the Cabrini Green public housing project. Ellis ordered Ann to perform oral sex on him as he drove. Ann stalled, not complying with the demand as she nearly forgot she was a policewoman or that she had a gun. Ann was able to convince Ellis to take his gun away from her head, this while she fumbled with her left had for her own gun. She pointed her gun at Ellis's stomach and was unable to pull the trigger with her left hand. Her left trigger finger was just not strong enough. Ann then remembered that if she could pull the hammer back, cocking the gun, it would be very easy to pull the trigger. Afraid that Ellis would hear her gun being cocked Ann waited until the Ellis drove up a slight bump to the Cabrni Green driveway. The bump muffled the sound of the gun. Ann repositioned her gun at Ellis and pulled the trigger. The gun fired striking Ellis in the mid-section, but the fight with him was far from over. Ellis was able to knock Ann's gun from her hand to the floor and Ann struggled with him until she was able to get Ellis's gun from under his leg. Ann shot Ellis 3 more times, with his own gun. Robert Ellis died behind the steering wheel of Ann's car.

Ann was convinced her new career was finished since she shot someone even before she had graduated from the academy. Nothing could be further from the truth as she found herself showered with awards from the department, the mayor (Richard J. Daley), and various civic organizations. One award she received was a curious looking trophy that was presented by Sergeant Roy Swanson. It was a police marksmanship trophy with a gold sculpture of a policeman pointing his gun. The policeman was wrapped in a little skirt made from blue construction paper. The award was engraved, "To Annie Leybourne, our number one gal, from the Chicago police range masters." In 1972, there were no shooting trophies made for policewomen.

The North side rape crime pattern ended, this time for good with the death of Robert Ellis. The young public defender, Ronald Himel went on to become a full Circuit Court Of Cook County Judge, retiring last year. The young prosecutor, Tony Corsentino went into semi-retirement as a public, juvenile lawyer. Tony was killed in 2004 during a swimming accident at a private lake in Pekin, Illinois. Ann went on to finish her career, retiring as a sergeant, and moved to Florida with her second husband, Detective Sergeant Jim Biebel. Her daughter, Sarah Erwin went on to college. Within a year Ann contracted pancreatic cancer. Ann would put up another valiant fight for her life. This time Ann lost at age 53.
A note: Annie is remembered not for her extraordinary survival of an encounter with Robert Ellis, but rather for whom she was, and the people who are much richer for knowing her, people like me, Paul Huebl.


Anonymous said...

What an incredible story! Wow! I can't wait to see this at the movies! I'd give this one two Thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Paul, I think I saw a death notice on Sgt. Swanson last week in the Chicago Trib. Good story.
Jack Erwin

Anonymous said...

I don't think Roy passed, I saw him recently at the Amer. Legion in Evergreen Park and he was fine. He drinks O'Douls (sp?) and is ornery as ever. Will definitely try to verify, but I believe I would have heard or saw it posted at the A.L. as he is a member. Remember hearing about the rapist in the Academy (early 80s). Hope it works out, will definitely see it.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

I must say that the reports of Swanny’s death are thankfully again, greatly exaggerated.

20 years ago, a friend told me Swanny died of a heart attack. When I told Swanny that story he laughed. Swanny will live forever if that could happen.

Anonymous said...

Because of Chicago laws all of the other wonen were raped by Ellis in the land of the gun ban.

Leybourne was an armed cop and that's the only reason she did not have to submit and why Ellis is dead.

How come all crime victims in Chicago must be unarmed?

Anonymous said...

Judge Ronald Himel... what a piece of liberal garbage he was. Good riddance. He finally retired.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

I have to defend Ron Himel here. He had a job to do back then and did it.

He actually admired both Ann Leybourne and Area Six Homicide dick, Paul Roppel. He also thought that Tony Corsentino's slapping Ellis around as he was leaving the jail was funny. I never knew about that incident during the entire three decades, until Himel told me. I then confirmed it with Tony Corsentino the ex-Chicago cop prosecutor before he died in Pekin.

Ron Himel cooperated with me on this story. He actually invited me out to the Arlington Park Racetrack for an afternoon and answered any questions that I had. His extensive help made the story more doable. I wish that some of the coppers had been as helpful. Himel never asked me for a dime either. Ron will get a special mention in the credits and he will be a VIP at any film opening. I want to include, as many technical consultants as I can that were helpful once we have funding.

A side note: Ron Himel was fair to a fault with coppers charged with duty related crimes in his court.

Anonymous said...

A question. Was the Burke in the story to go on to be a CPD sergeant and then OEMC supervisor? Not asking for you to put up a wall so that the denizens of the internet can mark it up with graffiti. Just an honest question to see if your story mentions an old friend and supervisor.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

Pat Burke was a civilian that Ann knew from DePaul University. Pat's well liked by coppers!

Anonymous said...

I remember reading about this in American Handgunner magazine not that long ago. Great story!

Anonymous said...

I believe the male instructor in the range photo is Rich Peters, who left the job to go to his ranch in New Mexico or Arizona. He was trying to remove a group of "illegals" that were squatting on his property. The rushed him, he was able to kill one or two before they beat him to death. Just somemore history.

Anonymous said...

Thank you that story. I knew Ann and it brought me to tears.

Anonymous said...

i worked for sgt ann in the 18th dist around 84-86 she was a great boss and a good hearted person..we all loved her on the watch...we miss her..H.B.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the movie on this!

Anonymous said...

A compelling story of a great gal.

I would cast Katie Holmes to play you.

Annie, is that you up there smiling at all the folks that miss you?

Anonymous said...

Knew Annie both on the job and personally. She was tough and yet very fair. Still think of her each and every time we see her husband, Jim Biebel. Will always remember her kind and beautiful smile. Good luck with the film.

Anonymous said...

I knew Annie for years, and at one time worked for her... Always the lady... never sacrificed her femininity...and a great boss. She never once made mention of this incident, though it was common knowledge. The real police, and a great sergeant to work for. Knew the job inside out, and wrote paper like no tomorrow. I have often thought of her, having lost contact with her, and had no idea that she had gotten sick and subsequently lost her battle. I'm not a religious man, but I know she was, and I will say a prayer for her, and keep her in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Annie was a wonderful person, mother and an excellent police officer. She and Jack were our neighbors in the Edgebrook neighborhood - where our daughter was blessed to know them and babysit for their daughter.

Anonymous said...

I was hired as a Chicago Police Officer in 1970. I remember this incident. I am glad that it is being brought back to the Public Front. Their were many heroic acts by Chicago Police Officers in that era, as well as now. Too many go unreconized, or are soon forgotten. Good Show!

Anonymous said...

My name is James Bailey and I just recently retired from Area 1 RBT after 38 years on the job. I have known Roy Swanson for about 45 years, he was a personal friend of the fanmily. Roy (AKA Poor Old Roy) is a great guy and is living in a very nice assisted living residence in Orland Park, Ill. The place is like a four star hotel.

Anonymous said...

Paul, You really know how to put a story together. I remember it well. At that time I thought , WOW what a police lady. I guess Roy taught her well. It's to bad that all rapist's couldn't end up like that. That whole group of instructers , Brown , Flood , Tex ect. were a great bunch of guys and took the time to make everyone a good shot.

Anonymous said...

Paul, it's Tony Corsentino's daughter. My Dad was and was a born and bred, street-smart Chicago tough guy guided by a strict sense of right and wrong - a beat cop who put himself through law school - so it's easy to imagine him enraged to the point where he might smack Ellis around. Best of luck on the screen play. Ann sounds as if she were amazing...

HI-CALIBER Private Investigations said...

Paul your article and this story on Ann was so GREAT, I was compelled to even read all 23 comments (which I never do.)

This story on Ann deserves much more respect and attention than "The Black Dahlia." Elizabeth Short was killed in one of the beats I worked as an LAPD copper. I will share your article with my contact.

Good job Paul.


Anonymous said...

Wow Ann Jillian is sure a babe.

X Cop Private Eye

Anonymous said...

Great memories! I was sworn in on 20NOV72, as one of CPD Class# 72-4A
and was in the old Police Academy at 720 W. O'Brien the same time as Ann and all the other new
Policewomen. I don't think that there was any male in the Academy at that time who did not have a crush on Annie Leybourne. As one classmate said, "Now there's a girl you could bring home to Ma!"
When one recruit was "accidentally shot in the leg with his own revolver, while horsing around on the stairwell with another", we always thought it was actually an argument over who was going to ask her out & that they concocted the horseplay story to save their asses and their jobs. When she shot & killed the Friday Night Rapist, she became more of a hero figure to all of than Dick Butkus.
I was assigned to Town Hall, she to the old Area Six and I saw her often. A "Grreat Gurrl", as the Irish say, and an outstanding Police Officer.
Ed Kane (retired Sgt. A/5/Homicide)

Anonymous said...

Ann really was a family oriented person. Before she went on the job she dated Bob Biebel n/k/a Lt. Robert V. Biebel CPD. After discarding him, she went on to date and marry Jack Erwin, the Biebel's second cousin. That union produced a daughter and ultimatly resulted in divorce. She then went on to date and marry Jim Biebel (CPD Retired), Lt. Biebel's older brother. Maybe this movie should be called "Family Passions".

Anonymous said...

Jesus, the fuzz is standing up on my arms. I wonder how she is doing now, god bless her.

Anonymous said...

Retired from the old 20th
If you worked in the 20th district everyone knew Ann. Of course she ended up with one of our guys. She was always polite and helpful.
This is a real story Ann did what she had to do at a time when she was put in a life and death situation. Paul nice job we are proud of you.
To all the guys from the old 20th
remember all the great watch parties.

Anonymous said...

Retired from the old 20th
If you worked in the 20th district everyone knew Ann. Of course she ended up with one of our guys. She was always polite and helpful.
This is a real story Ann did what she had to do at a time when she was put in a life and death situation.(Ann rest in peace) Paul nice job we are proud of you.
To all the guys from the old 20th
remember all the great watch parties.

Mark Herpel said...

Now that is an incredible story, I look forward to seeing that one. Funny, that sketch kinda looks like Obama.


Anonymous said...

I joined the Chicago Police Dept in July 1966. I met many Policewomen during those early years. They were all wonderful and professional.

I met Anne in the 18th District during the 80's. She was a great Sergeant. Many people mistake Kindness for Weakness. Anne was Kind and she was NOT weak. God Bless her and may she rest in peace.

John Northen said...

Annie was simply the best--personality, that smile, brains, compassion, courage and one fine looking woman to boot.

Anonymous said...

Great story! I met Sgt. Anne before her retirement, and she was a gem...a lady AND an officer!

Unfurtunately, Crimefile, your assessment of Himel is completely wrong. Himel didn't like cops, constantly calling us liars in his courtroom. One of the best days of what is referred to today as teh "Crook County" criminal justice system was the day Himel
bailed. He was a lousy court judge, and never failed to harass cops in his courtroom. I'd love to see your story become a movie, but if I happened to find Himel in the theater, he'll be wearing my popcorn!
P.S. I think Angelina Jolie would be execellent in the lead role!

John M. Wills said...

I was on the job at the time; heroic and gutsy characterize her actions. Paul, I'm working on a non-fiction book. Can you email me:

Unknown said...

I am so looking forward to this becoming a great movie. Paul, you certainly have some great talent for story telling ( like it is ) with your very *Chicago* accent..I watched the video on You Tube.

Does anyone remember Sgt. Jimmy Clark from 18th district..Ted Janus from Area 6 ?

tony bird said...

i guess annie had a way of affecting guys. she and i were classmates at loyola university. circumstances being what they were, we never dated, although she stayed on my mind for years. i was googling old chicago friends this week, just on a lark, and here is this sensation and that sweet face as i knew it way back then. the last time i saw annie was probably a few months before the incident happened. i had never heard about it, having moved out of state.

tony bird
northridge, california

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

Perhaps you have a pal right near your house that can help me get an agent or a producer to get this great lady's story told.

Anonymous said...

If my wife trys to rape me again, will you do a screen play about me shooting her?
John A. DeMarco

Anonymous said...

Mas Ayoob wrote this story up in The Ayoob Chronicles. Did a great job as you did.

Anonymous said...

Jackpine Bob

Someone could make a very good movie about Tony Corsentino. There are some great stories about him. I witnessed at least two. Once with him a plainclothes Officer and later as a law student playing vigilante Ninja in Lincoln Park in the early AM along with another ex-p.o. law student , future infamous Mafia lawyer who brought down the corruption in Operation Gambat.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

I knew Tony and I know Bob they are both movies that should be made. Bobs book nearly made it...

Unknown said...

Everyone needs to get on Fire hand's case.
45 ACP Once Fired Brass