Friday, May 22, 2020

Unsolved: Murder of Charles McGraw

Beech Grove, IN (May 22, 2020) — At one time St. Francis Hospital was one of the premier businesses and social centers in Beech Grove. Food Services Director Charles McGraw was one of its leading administrators. Back in 1988, when you thought of Beech Grove, you thought of Amtrak and St. Francis Hospital. So for this to happen at St. Francis, a place that was a hallmark of the city, it alarmed a lot of people.

On October 7, 1988, Charles McGraw who was married with four children was brutally murdered by someone while he was sitting with in his car. It was a silver and maroon '84 Cadillac Seville on the second floor of the parking garage at the now demolished St. Francis Hospital Center on Albany Street in Beech Grove, Indiana.

The murder investigation led to a composite sketch of someone seen getting in McGraw's car with him around 4:30 PM that afternoon, however no suspect was ever identified. McGraw was later found shot dead in the car by co-workers at around 5:20 PM.

At the time the murder took place, the hospital was one of the busiest, most vibrant hospitals in the Indianapolis area. It happened on a Friday afternoon which was also a payday for hospital employees, but no one reported hearing shots or actually seeing the killing take place.

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The murder was very methodical and was completed by somebody who went there knowing what they were going to do and they did it. McGraw had attended a hospital reception for employees late that Friday afternoon, passed by a security guard in a ground level shack and met his killer eye-to-eye on the second floor.

A witness observed an individual enter the automobile with McGraw, watched both of them get into the automobile. The individual entered the passenger side and McGraw got in on the driver’s side. The witness stated that it appeared that they knew each other.

The witness description of the apparent acquaintance led to a composite sketch of a man approximately 30-years-old with a slight mustache and feathered haircut, dressed in casual golf-style clothes.

Within minutes a passing physician found McGraw’s body, slumped over in the front seat, shot multiple times. Detectives recovered some firearm evidence and his clothing had been rifled. It appeared that some things were missing from his person that he would normally have.

According to detectives, McGraw was a gambler, known to bet $30,000-40,000 per weekend during the height of the fall college and professional football seasons. He was such a big a player that other bookies would lay their bets off on him.

Several have concluded that something happened involving McGraw’s gambling involvement that led to his death.They don’t know if it was a failure to pay a loss, or to cover something that he promised to cover.

But there were indications that earlier in the week, for those that don’t know the jargon as well, Tuesday is settle up day, and there were events on settle up day that seemed to indicate that Charlie was nervous and upset from that Tuesday on and he was killed on Friday.

McGraw was known as a go-to guy in Beech Grove, not only for favors but a charitable hand out to someone also experienced hard times. Detectives said his lifestyle at the time of his death, was that he was also generous.

He did things for the church, he did things for those in need, he would help people, it wasn’t all one way for him. He was not someone who would avoid responding to a request for need.

The case is still open, and anybody who can provide any leads should call the Beech Grove, Indiana Police Department at (317) 782-4950 or send an Email at
You can also call Crimestoppers at 1-800-262-TIPS.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Surplus Domes in Beech Grove

Beech Grove, IN (February 20, 2020) — Dome cars were a fixture on most of Amtrak’s western long-distance trains through the late 1970's.

Dome cars could be described as the ultimate traveling experience aboard a passenger train and their addition to such famous trains as the California Zephyr and Empire Builder vastly increased their popularity by giving patrons unequaled vistas of the passing scenery of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest.

Surplus short domes are shown in March 1995 at the Beech Grove shops after being removed from service and awaiting sale to new owners.

During its early years Amtrak continued to provide dome car service via the used equipment it received from the railroads. Today, though, that is not the case. However, they do operate a version of these cars in the way of Superliners, which are double-decked cars that serve in the same function as domes with lounge-seating accommodations on the upper floors to passengers can watch the passing scenery from the highest vantage point.

But as Superliner equipment began arriving in 1979 many of the dome cars were retired and sold to private owners. A few domes were rebuilt as dome coaches for the Heritage Fleet and they operated on such trains as the City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

Domes on the latter operated only west of Albany, New York. But the gradual retirement of the Heritage Fleet also meant the sidelining of its fleet of short domes. The Capitol Limited and City of New Orleans lost their domes due to the trains being assigned Superliner equipment. Amfleet II coaches became the standard for the Lake Shore Limited.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

New York Central Number 6451

Beech Grove, IN (February 13, 2020) —Pictured is New York Central Number 6451 in 1930 along with the crew of Locomotive Erecting Shop of the Beech Grove Shops as the locomotive is about to enter service.

The large crew needed to build such an enormous and complicated steam powered machine consisted of metal fabricators, welders, pipe fitters, mechanics and several other skilled tradesmen.

The facility served as the company’s major repair shop for steam locomotives and passenger and freight cars, and also contained an extensive freight rail yard. Surrounding this important building were the smaller coach, paint, boiler, and wheel shops.

Acquired by the New York Central Railway (NYC) in 1906, the Big Four operated as an independent entity until it was finally subsumed by its owner in 1922.

The shops remained in the hands of the NYC until it merged with the rival Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968 to form Penn Central, whose tenure was short-lived as it declared bankruptcy in 1970.

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