Served: 15½ years
July 19, 1899 to December 18, 1914
On March 23, 1914, 30-year-old Frank G. Hohl entered the Union Bank in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and held it up at gunpoint. Before leaving, he shot the cashier in the leg. On the way out, he shot a depositor who unwittingly was walking into the bank. He continued firing a fusillade outside the bank, terrorizing a central business district crowd before fleeing in a stolen taxicab.
Within days, police caught up to him 170 miles away in Salem, Ohio. On the way back to Altoona he made several attempts to escape; including once throwing scalding coffee into an escort officer’s face.
By April 12, 1914, Hohl had confessed, was tried and convicted, and was awaiting sentencing in Holidaysburg jail just outside Altoona. About 1 a.m. a jail employee found a rope made from a mattress dangling from the roof. Going inside, he found Hohl’s cell empty. Hohl was never recaptured.
Eight months and 400 miles away, shortly after 10 a.m. on December 17, 1914, Hohl entered the West End Branch of the Provident Savings Bank and Trust Company on the northeast corner of Eight Street and Freeman Avenue. He robbed the bank at gunpoint, fired two shots at Cashier Edward Hughes, took $8000 ($188,000 in today’s dollars), and drove away in a stolen automobile. Hughes retrieved a handgun and fired at Hohl as he fled, but missed.
While police were looking for the bandit, little more than an hour later Hohl entered the Liberty Banking and Savings Company Bank ten blocks north at Liberty Street and Freeman Avenue. He shot twice at Cashier George Winters and stole $5100 ($120,000 today). He then intended to rob the Mohawk Bank at Fifteenth Street and Central Avenue, but the manager there, alerted to the previous robberies, did not admit him to the bank.
Two hours later, Harry Buckshorn informed Lieutenant Imwalle and Patrolman Knaul, of 5823 Salvia Avenue, that a man matching Hohl’s description was staying at his mother’s rooming house at 918 West Ninth Street. They and another officer responded to the room in question.
They knocked on the door and Hohl burst out firing a high powered pistol. Patrolman Knaul was hit seven times. Hohl drove off in a stolen vehicle with officers in pursuit. He then drove into a utility pole and fled the car firing at responding officers. Two of the officers, including Patrolman Frank Chase, returned fire and shot him four times.
Hohl and Patrolman Knaul were both taken to Cincinnati Hospital. Hohl died shortly after arrival. Patrolman Knaul died the next day on December 18, 1914 at 10:30 a.m.
Patrolman Knaul was survived by his wife of 27 years, Emma Knaul (46), and two children, Hazel Knaul (27) and Earl Knaul (25). The funeral was held at Patrolman Knaul’s residence at Lantana and Cedar Avenues, College Hill, at 1 p.m. on December 22, 1914. Services were held at the Spring Grove Cemetery chapel. Pallbearers included Lieutenant James Slattery and Patrolmen Peter Klein, Frank Chase, and Theodore Huber. He was buried that afternoon at 2 p.m. The badge of mourning was worn for 10 days from December 19 through December 28. Emma joined him more than 25 years later in January 1940.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@Police-Museum.org.
This narrative was revised December 10, 2010 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer, Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.