Loch Humphreys dies; officer probed swindles
Loch W. Humphreys Jr., who investigated flimflam artists and escorted celebrities ranging from actors to presidents during a colorful 28-year career as a Baltimore police officer, died of cancer Friday at his Towson home. He was 78.
Services for the retired police captain will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter, 130 W. Seminary Ave. in Lutherville.
Captain Humphreys was the son of the lighthouse keeper and was born in the Piney Point lighthouse in St. Mary's County. He was reared in Baltimore and graduated in 1934 from City College.
After a year at the University of Minnesota, he returned to Baltimore and became a car salesman. But he had always wanted to be a policeman, so he gave up the $8,000-a-year sales job in 1938 to become a patrolman at $42.50 a week.
Within a year, he was promoted to detective and earned a reputation as an undercover investigator.
He lived in a boarding house to keep an eye on a figure in a Pennsylvania murder; associated with burglars to solve a major theft; and endured surgery for "fallen arches" to haul in a phony doctor.
He was promoted to detective sergeant in 1945, lieutenant in pTC 1952 and captain in 1961. He specialized in hotel thieves, pickpockets and swindlers -- the guys, he said, who "can pick the gold out of your teeth."
As head of the escort unit, he resembled a movie producer or corporate president with his carefully groomed iron-gray hair, heavy-rimmed glasses and a silk suit concealing a shoulder holster and snub-nosed .38-caliber police special.
He talked with President Dwight D. Eisenhower about golf, with then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon about the best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles, with actor E. G. Marshall about fishing, with actress Dorothy Lamour about horse racing and with comedian Jackie Gleason -- a favorite -- about police work.
Captain Humphreys retired in 1966 on a medical disability after a car accident aggravated a back injury he had suffered while battling a bunco man down four flights of stairs in the old Emerson Hotel. He worked another 10 years in charge of security at the marine engineering school, then in the old Southern Hotel. In retirement, he joined the Towson Elks Lodge -- a place, his daughter said, where he could always find a good game of gin.
Surviving are his wife of 52 years, the former Elizabeth Murray; a daughter, Elizabeth H. Shire of Towson; a brother, Marion E. Humphreys of Towson; and three grandchildren.
The family suggested donations to the St. Joseph Hospital hospice program.
Lawrence "Bud" Freeman, who helped make Chicago the jazz capital of the Roaring '20s, died Friday of cancer there. He was 84. Mr. Freeman, a tenor saxophone player, was the last surviving member of the "Austin High Gang," a group that forged the Chicago jazz sound of the 1920s. The group included such future jazz stars as cornetist Jimmy McPartland, who died Wednesday, clarinetist Frank Teschemacher and drummer Dave Tough. As a teen-ager, Mr. Freeman and his friends used to sneak into clubs to hear the likes of trumpeter Louis Armstrong and pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines. They took what they heard, changed it and created what was known as Chicago jazz. The group expanded to include people who didn't attend Austin High School: Benny Goodman, Eddie Condon and Gene Krupa.
A voracious reader, Mr. Freeman often would pick up a book between sets.