The escape of two Pontiac inmates the evening before, indirectly led to the death of Officer Friebert F. Johnke on Oct. 24. 1933. Johnke, 60, was killed almost instantly when hit by a car as he was crossing State Hwy. 4 at the Log Cabin service station north of Pontiac. Inmates Edward Olson and Walter Pine escaped by cutting through their cell wall into a tunnel and then crawled up an airshaft to the roof of the cellhouse. They used a blanket rope to lower themselves to the ground and made it to the Chenoa rail yards before being captured around midnight, Oct. 23, as they attempted to board an outbound freight.
Johnke was initially employed at the reformatory in 1922, but quit to work in the local furniture factory and returned in 1 930. Born in Germany, he was brought to Livingston County when he was seven weeks old. Survivorsincluded his wife and two children. Johnke was described by Superintendent 0. H. Lewis as “a fine, efficient officer, and although a strict disciplinarian, he was square in dealings with the inmates.”