The next morning Leo was not feeling much better but had pretty much given up on complaining to the jail personnel. On the 18th U.S Marshals came to get him and moved him over to their holding cell at the federal building in downtown Minneapolis. They did think he looked ill enough to call for a doctor though and Leo received some medical attention prior to his preliminary hearing on October 19th. After that he was transported back to the Hennepin County jail to await his next court appearance. He did not eat anything on the 20th and by that evening, when he met with his lawyer, his skin was noticeably grey. The attorney was concerned and offered to arrange for some medical treatment but Leo had other things to discuss.
“Have you talked to my wife?” he asked in a soft, low voice.
“I tried, I really did. But she isn’t at the house and it looks like most of the things inside are gone. I peeked in a few windows when no one answered, ya know? Looked cleared out and the neighbors said a moving truck was there a few days ago.”
“No notes or nothing?”
“Nothing Leo. And I tried your sister but, well, quite frankly she doesn’t want anything to do with you. You sure about not wanting a doctor? I can get one in here. You look like hell.”
“Ah, it’s too late,” Leo replied with a feeble wave of his hand, “not much time left I don’t think. We need to talk about that guy I told you about, that bomb-maker. You gotta help find him and bring him in. Here’s a few,”
“Listen,” the lawyer interjected, “I know you are fired up about finding this guy. Right now, let’s just try to get you into a medical ward, ok? I think we need to focus on your case and getting you better also.”
“It don’t matter about me right now, I gotta make sure someone gets that guy.”
“I’ll be back in touch Leo, right now I have to go see another client,” the lawyer replied and quickly gathered up papers into his briefcase.
“It ain’t gonna be ok I tell ya,” Leo muttered, “you gotta get this info from me now.”
“I’ll get it next time, ok?”
Then the man was gone and the jail guards took Leo back to his cell where he collapsed into his hard bunk and fell asleep. He did not line up for the morning roll call on the 21st and a guard found him semi-alert in his bed. They left him lying there through breakfast and then, when he did not want to get up to go to lunch, forcibly carried him from his cell to the meal line. Munching his way slowly through a ham sandwich Leo sat alone at the edge of a table. They also had to carry him back to his cell when meal time was over and the guard who closed his cell door turned back to speak to him.
“You’re making this all harder than it needs to be Humbert,” the guard said, “you ain’t gonna make any friends here if we have to carry you to every damn meal.”
Leo sighed first, then replied, “I’m sick, you know that right. It’s pretty damn obvious if you look at me. Maybe one of you should finally get me a doctor.”
“I heard about you complaining about being sick and I’ll agree you look it. I thought they were getting you one? That should’a happened already.”
“Well, it didn’t,” Leo answered, “and I doubt it will. I don’t think anyone here is listening.”
The guard ambled away without a reply to that and Leo drifted off to sleep. He did get himself up for dinner and although he did not eat much that seemed to make the guards happy. He made a phone call that evening attempting to reach his lawyer and wrote a short note that was later found in his cell. The contents of that note have never been revealed although it is thought to have been directed to his attorney. On the 22nd Leo continued to comply with getting himself up for meals and tried several more times to reach his lawyer. After the evening meal he played two hands of cribbage in the common area and then went back to his cell.
At 6:52 pm jail guard Henry Willis, who had been working there for nine years, announced that he was going on his break a few minutes early. Due to another guard having left sick a few hours earlier, and no replacement being available, this left just one guard on-duty at the front desk area of the jail. That guard, Jerry Timmons, had only been working there for three months, having just come off his probationary period of employment.
“Yeah sure thing Henry, I’ll keep the place in shape for ya,” he replied to Willis’ announcement.
Ten minutes later a man entered through the side door, a way that official persons, deputies and medical staff usually used to access the jail. The man, past middle-age and about six feet tall displaying wisps of sandy blonde hair under a large brim fedora, walked up to the desk and announced he was a doctor.
“Ah, hello. I don’t recall seeing any orders up about a medical visit,” Timmons replied. “You sure you’re in the right place?”
“I am,” the man replied and then stood silently, green eyes blinking back at the guard.
“Ok, well, I’ll look again. Who are you here to see?”
“Some sick prisoner obviously, I think they said his name was Homberg.”
Timmons was looking through the daily log book and other papers but thought he recognized the name. “Humbert? Leo Humbert?”
“Yeah, sounds right,” the man replied while glancing at his pocket watch. “How about you let me in to see him before any more of my night gets wasted?”
“I still don’t see it here, you know, the order for a medical on Humbert. It’s always in here.”
“Ok kid, no offense, but I come here all the time. I don’t recognize you, so maybe you’re new. But they sent me to see this guy so let’s just get it over with, ok? It’s probably damn indigestion anyways.”
Timmons glanced down at the orders book again, up at the doctor, over to the door and then back at the doctor. The man had a resigned, nonchalant look on his face and did not raise any of the young guards suspicions. After several more seconds Timmons let him in, forgetting to have the doctor sign the official visitor log.
“I’ll walk you down doctor, just hang on until my partner gets back, ok?”
“What’s the cell number? I can just walk down there and ask him a few questions. Like I said, it’s probably indigestion.”
“Well, yeah, it’s 104.”
The doctor walked off at a brisk pace once Timmons opened the interior cell walkway door for him and was surprisingly back at the same gate about two minutes later, rapping his knuckles again the bars. Timmons hurried over to let him back through to the secured area.
“That was very fast doctor. Is he ok?”
“Oh yes, he’s just fine. Quite a faker. I’m going to return to my own dinner now if that’s ok with you,” the doctor replied, gesturing toward the secured exit door.
“Of course, yes sir. Hope you have a good night,” Timmons replied cheerfully and unlocked the door.
Ten minutes later Henry Willis returned, realized something unusual had taken place in his absence and rushed down to Leo’s cell. He found him lying on the floor, gasping for breath and with his eyes starting to roll back into his head. He opened the cell and went in to attempt to help but when he leaned down Leo grabbed his shirt and hissed into his ear.
“Remember that hotel fire, 1940, it was murder, look up the clock-maker. Find him.”
After that declaration Leo become unresponsive and he died a few hours later at the hospital. The official cause of death was never released although allusions to it being related to diabetic shock were made in the press and by jail authorities.
Leo Humbert, a historical curiosity and a bit on an enigma, was buried on October 26, 1967 at Sunset Memorial Park. Amanda faded into historical obscurity and Stanley Bittenhopper was never caught or heard from again.
For those of you who want to know, this is the article that started this long journey along with a few other documents relating to the story of Leo Humbert’s life.