Cop: Chuck Stone 'saved lives'

ASSOCIATED PRESS Chuck Stone speaks to newsmen after mediating a hostage situation at Graterford prison Nov. 2, 1981.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Chuck Stone speaks to newsmen after mediating a hostage situation at Graterford prison Nov. 2, 1981.
Posted: April 08, 2014

USED TO BE that when Philly criminals heard that police were looking for them, they went looking for Chuck Stone.

They'd find him in the ivory tower at Broad and Callowhill - a trustworthy Daily News scribe who would facilitate their surrender to a Police Department they felt they couldn't trust.

Men accused of murder, assault, shootings and burglaries called Stone at all hours of the night, asking for his help. Some wanted to clear their names. Most, of course, were guilty.

"All in a day's work," Stone said after Jerry Lowe, 20, of West Philadelphia, surrendered to Detectives Philip Silverman and Ernest Hammond in Stone's office in 1985.

Lowe, wanted in the burglary of a Center City jewelry store, was asked why he had gone to Stone. " 'Cause Chuck's a good man," he said.

Stone, who died yesterday in North Carolina, handled about 75 surrenders between 1977 and 1991 and resolved at least five hostage situations.

On Nov. 16, 1983, two men surrendered for separate crimes. Stone said the Police Department's reputation for brutality had prompted suspects to seek his help.

"The Philadelphia Police Department has for a long time had a reputation as one of the worst in the country," he said that November day. "Whereas the reputation has diminished, it hasn't been totally eradicated. The image is still there."

Covering Stone's shuttle diplomacy was practically its own news beat.

In 1981, he made national headlines for defusing a hostage crisis inside Graterford prison. Michael Chitwood, the former Philadelphia Police hostage negotiator who now runs the Upper Darby Police Department, told the Inquirer in 1983: "When Chuck Stone went up to [Graterford] prison, he saved lives."

In 1985, Stone convinced James Knight to surrender after Knight had shot his estranged wife's boyfriend and took four of his in-laws hostage in their Tioga home.

"This was two black fathers talking to each other about their daughters," Stone said afterward. "We talked about pride in family, pride in the integrity of black people."

Stone calmed Knight down by telling him about his daughter, who was graduating from the University of Pennsylvania that day.

More lives saved. The price: Stone missed the graduation ceremony.


On Twitter: @wbender99

Blog: ph.ly/DailyDelco

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