Special Progress Report
on Joseph Paul Cretzer
McNeil Island Register # 14584-M


Associate Warden:

  1. PA report has been received.
    Detainer has been filed by Portland, Oregon officials against this inmate, federal chg.

  2. On 2-15-40, he was received from the outside and placed in quarantine group cell 3 A-3. On 3-17-40 he was released from quarantine and assigned to Crew #30 (construction of cannery building) and moved to group cell 3 E-2 (now 3 I-2). From 4-11-40 to 4-14-40 he was at large in the woods; he was captured and placed in isolation cell #2 in the basement of #4 cellhouse at approximately 9 p.m. on 4-14-40; is still there. Work -- had been fair. One misconduct:

    "On April 11, 1940, Cretzer was assigned the job of bonding reinforced steel. He was working on a work bench at the south end of the new cannery building. I had previously instructed this inmate that he was not to leave the place where he was working in order to go to the toilet or for any other reason without letting me know where he was going. At approximately 2:43 p.m. Cretzer drove away from the job in a truck to which he had secured the keys. This truck had been parked approximately 50 feet from where Cretzer was working while the truck driver loaded some lumber on the truck. After securing the truck, Cretzer drove out the inspection gate of the main institution. He did not have permission to leave his job." This was signed by Edwin S. McAllaster, Jr. Officer, in charge of Crew #30. Sentence, 120 days isolation. First 10 on bulletin #435 diet in the basement of #4 cellhouse; next 110 days on regular diet behind the screen in #4 cellhouse.

Associate Warden's Statement: This inmate, with his codefendant Kyle, 14249-M, excaped from this institution at approximately 2:45 p.m., Thursday, April 11, 1940, by forcibly taking a truck from the inmate driver and driving it through the inspection gate. They deserted the truck about 2 miles from the institution just east of the schoolhouse. Investigation reveals that Cretzer, at the time of taking the truck, threatened the inmate driver with a carpenter's hatchet and told him that if he made an outcry he would cut his head off with the hatchet. This inmate took the hatchet with him and carried it with him up to the time he was captured on Sunday, April 14, at 8:30 p.m., approximately. This inmate is a very desparate, cold-blooded individual. It is my opinion that if he had met some single officer while he was an escapee in the woods he would have attempted to kill the officer with the hatchet in an effort to get the firearm. Inmate is considered an outstanding custodial problem on account of his attitude and determination to escape and he would not be particular about what method he uses.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Increase custody to Maximum. Transfer to USP, Alcatraz, California.

Social service-parole units:

  1. New information: 3-21-40, Report received from Alameda Co. Charities Commission, Oakland, Calif. Contact made with subject's sister, Mrs. Thelma Kyle, 1417 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, Calif. Advised she had not seen subject's wife for the last 3½ years, does not know where she resides at this time. Sister is without means for support and her youngster is in need of immediate medical attention, is probably in debt for several months to her ladylady for back rent. She was referred to the City and Co. Public Welfare Dept. of San Francisco, where she stated she has residence since 1921.

    $-8-40, Report received from Bureau of Public Welfare, Denver Colorado. [page 2] Subject's brother, George, seen at 713 W. 8th Ave. He adopted an antagonistic attitude and said he would give no information; that he wanted nothing whatever to do with subject. He and his wife and two children live in part of a terrace in a fairly good neighborhood on the West side of Denver, is working in a garage but did not give the address. The brother Donald, is now in the Colorado State Penitentiary. Sister, Ada (Mrs. Paul D.) Fanning, 1271 Uinta St., seen and she was entirely cooperative, gives the impression of being an average American housewife of good reputation in the community. She, her husband, and 4 children live in a nice looking frame house of 5 rooms in a good outlying residential section. Readily admitted she has 3 brothers who are or have been inmates of penitentiaries and that the husband of his sister, Thelma, is a Federal prisoner. She and her husband have tried to help the brothers for a number of years, but finally decided it did not do any good and a great deal of harm to themselves. Have therefore had nothing whatever to do with the brothers for some ten years. She gives several corrections in admission summary data. The father has not lived in Denver and is an inmate of the State Hospital in Pueblo, Colo., and had nothing whatever to do with the boys going into crime. Mother died 8 years ago in Pueblo of asthma and dropsy. Parents were not congenial, separated when subject was a baby. Mother took all the children and went to live with her father at Pueblo, remarried to Edward Burnett who is now living in Denver and receiving Old Age Assistance. Oldest child is Ada, Mrs. Fanning, now 39 years old. George is the second and now about 39. Thelma was married previously to a man characterized as a good, law-abiding citizen, but he and Thelma separated because of his running with other women. Donald has served various terms in jail but is said to have more possibilities for rehabilitation than George or Joe. Subject's first delinquency indicated as stealing a watch from his grandfather, who referred subject to the juvenile court and wanted him sent to Golden. Mr. and Mrs. Fanning took subject into their home after he left Golden, "but he was so wild we couldn't do a thing with him and had to let him go." Sister believes family living in Montana, where all the children were born, when the parents separated; never lived in Denver. Social, economic and cultural level of the homes and family members, except Mrs. Fanning, all below average. None of the relatives are reputable and suitable as community contacts and the other relative, Mrs. Fanning, does not care to have anything whatever to do with subject. Agency would judge from the sister's story that there was always discord both in the home of the parents and later in the home of the grandfather and mother, including the step-father.

  2. Reports on inst. progress: 2-24-40, Letter by SWA to Mrs. Edna Cretzer, Martinez, Calif., advising her as to the correspondence regulations of the institution, in answer to her request of 2-20-40.
    2-28-40, SWA to Co. Jail, Los Angeles, acknowledging receipt of ten dollars of inmate's money which they sent here on 2-20. Enclosing receipt signed by inmate.
    2-28-40, Memo by SWA to Censor enclosing the $10 for crediting to inmate's account.
    3-18-40, Memo by SWA to Acting Warden recommending that inmate be permitted correspondence privileges with his wife, Edna, despite her criminal activities, in hope of assisting his adjustment here and the retention of a normal frame of mind. (recommendation approved).
    3-19-40, Memo SWA to Censor calling attention to approval of subject's correspondence with his wife, and advising the correspondence should be watched very closely.
    4-2-40, SWA to Mrs. Ellen Cretzer, Denver, Colo., to answer her inquiry of 3-20, [page 3] and stating that inmate has never made request to correspond with her so we cannot approve her request for correspondence privileges with him.
    4-19-40, Letter by SWA to Mrs. Edna Cretzer, Martinez, Calif., in answer to her inquiry and advising that subject's correspondence privileges have been rescinded for a period of 120 days for his misconduct.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Increase custody to Maximum. Transfer to USP, Alcatraz, California.


  1. No hospitalization since admission.
    Infrequent outpatient visits for medication, colds, etc.
    Dental condition is poor - needs extensive fillings
    Physical abnormalities: None.
    Work Ability: Class I

RECOMMENDATIONS: Continue present program.


  1. During his few months of residence, this inmate has been seen infrequently at the medical department. He has shown no psychotic trend and has shown a fair degree of work habits. There has been little or no change in the somewhat antagonistic attitude which he displayed on admission. His recent attempt to escape was no doubt the result of his hopeless attitude which he holds in the face of his long sentence. He is an aggressive, pleasant-appearing young man with a noticeable degree of self-reliance. However, his test intelligence is rather below the average.

RECOMMENDATION: Transfer to Alcatraz


  1. Employment history: no additional information.


  1. Subject gave Catholic as his preference.
  2. He has however, never attended services.


  1. No new information.
  2. He does not attend school.
[page 4] Committee recommendations:
  1. Increase custody to Maximum.
    Transfer to U.S. Penitentiary, Alcatraz, California.

  2. As J.P. Cretzer, PD, Chicago, Ill., 8-30-39, not verif.
    Pending indictments as shown on DA report not cleared.
    (referred to Record Clerk)