Imagine it is 1974. A young Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper delivery boy is on his rounds through the neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His name is Larry Anstett and he is in grade nine at Wilbur Wright Junior High School. He is 15 years old, and far too young to die. But he did on November 5th.
Larry Anstett picked up a bomb. He didn’t know that. All he saw was a plain cardboard square box on the top of a car. Some papers say that the box was beautifully wrapped. Either way, the teen picked it up. It exploded. He died instantly.
The car belonged to Michael Vermilyea, the president of the biker gang Heaven’s Devils. He had testified during a robbery trial against their rivals, the Outlaws. Of course, he was the intended target. The Devils had an ongoing feud with the Outlaws.
In the early 70s, the Outlaws were mostly noticed for auto theft and fighting with rival gangs. But when Larry was killed, it changed everything. Larry death would be followed by many more.
The Milwaukee Sentinel offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of their paperboy’s killer. Authorities followed up on every lead and led an extensive investigation. But all leads were eventually exhausted and the case went cold.
Of course, witnesses feared for their lives. Nobody spoke fearing retaliation so officially the case is cold. But in the streets, the truth is known. The whole story takes up volumes. It leads from one biker member to another death before something found drew renewed attention to Larry’s killing: explosives.
If you wish to read that story following this link to the Milwaukee Magazine. For more details about the Outlaws and the murders, pick up a copy of Michael Grogan’s book “You Gotta Be Dirty: The Outlaws Motorcycle Club In & Around Wisconsin.” You can follow him on Twitter as well. Note that I have not read this book. The author did kindly send me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I just haven’t gotten to it yet.
If you have any information about this case please contact the Milwaukee Police Cold Case Hotline at 414-935-1212.
When you read about the gangs and their rivalry, please do not forget that a teenager lost his life because of these people. Larry didn’t have anything to do with violence or gangs. He was just a teenager who took over his brother’s newspaper round to earn extra pocket-money. He was just fifteen years old.
We do not know what Larry would have studied or what kind of impact he would have made on our society. And that is the real tragedy here.
We cannot forget Larry. His family misses him dearly.
You can send them a message that Larry is not forgotten by sharing this post on your social media accounts. Let’s place Larry back in the spotlights!
Thank you for remembering Larry Anstett with us.