The next day Ron came and drove me the alley after he had picked up the type of cigars John S. was smoking. It was raining lightly and the garage was closed. No John S. We planned to try the next day and about an hour before it was time, Ron called me to say “He’s there right now.” We drove over and gave him the cigars. He seemed very happy to see us, and this time all four of us just talked for a while. I made up my mind to not bring up anything serious. John S. lit up a cigar as I showed him pictures I had been taking along the river. He told me how he lost his legs. He was in a boat fishing when a blood vessel burst in his lower back. He said it felt like a bolt of electricity. The problem stemmed from his diabetes. They had to take his legs. I asked him if he cooked for himself and how he managed at home? His daughters come to take him shopping and to check on him. Most days he is content to be alone, wave at people passing by, and visit with Harley. Several times he wheeled into the alley and I asked if he was going? He smiled and said no. He just likes to move around a little. He stayed for over an hour. I told him I was leaving in a few days to see Jack and other business in Minneapolis. I asked if Saturday was a day to see him again and ask some of the questions I needed for the book. He said sure. Before he left he wheeled right up next to me and stuck out his hand. “Thanks for the cigars.” I told him that is was Ron who bought them and he thanked Ron as well, A few days later, Ron and I were coming back from seeing Jack. He said that Harley called called him because John S. was wondering where I was. Ron reminded Harley that I would be back on Saturday. Evidently John S. was eager to see me now. I wish I had that effect on everybody.
Saturday rolled around and so did the clouds. It rained all afternoon. Still we went over to the closed garage just to see. Sunday was my last day in Winona. Ron and Tasha ( a friend ) came to get me. As we drove up the alley, John S. was waiting in front of the closed garage. We parked quickly as Ron got Harley from the house and we set up the chairs. Harley came out with refreshments and Tasha took pictures. I signaled John S, to move to the side of the garage so we could have a private chat. When we were out of earshot of the others I told him about my visit with Jack in prison. In a clearer and stronger voice he as asked me how he was doing? He allowed that prison was no picnic. I mustered up my courage and asked him if the documents I had were right, and that he never had sex with his step-daughter. He turned and looked me in the eye and said “Ada framed me.” I asked him why? He replied she wanted to be with Bobby Fort and wanted rid of him. When I asked him his opinion of Bobby Fort, he muttered “He’s a crook, a criminal.” I then inquired if he thought Jack killed his wife? Very calmly he he told he knew Jack did not kill Ada, that we was certain Bobby Fort had her killed. He said that he met a man at the Labor Temple bar who claimed Bobby Fort paid him to kill her. Very soon after that, the man moved to the Twin Cities. He couldn’t remember his name.
I sat there thinking that if the justice system had any real desire to solve her death, there were plenty of people willing to say without a doubt Bobby Fort, not Jack Nissalke, was responsible for her murder. I tried to imagine the jury from Jack’s trial listening to this man in his wheelchair. I sipped a beer as John S. drank one of Harley’s Pepsis, right next to the man whose son is serving a life sentence in prison for the death of his wife. The day after I left, Ron stopped by John S.’s home and gave him a bag of unshelled walnuts. He enjoys feeding squirrels.
This interview is found in the book Murder and Deceit and is available on Amazon.com.