A deputy sheriff for Umatilla County gave a courtesy ride to a stranger in November 1928 — straight to the Umatilla County Jail.

Deputy Sheriff Herman DeHart was returning to Pendleton from Freewater on Nov. 10, 1928, and stopped at an eating house between Milton and Freewater for lunch. He stepped inside and asked the proprietress if the lunch was ready. When she said it was not, DeHart told her he would drive on to Pendleton and eat there.

As DeHart was leaving the establishment, a well-dressed man who was sitting in the eating room spoke up and said, “Never mind fixing anything for me, I’ll go to Pendleton with this man too.” Surprised at the man’s audacity of inviting himself along for the ride, DeHart nonetheless decided to give him a lift.

“I have to make one stop,” DeHart said, “and then I’ll go on to Pendleton.” This was agreeable to his passenger, so the deputy stopped to see Charles Elliott, deputy sheriff for the Milton-Freewater district. In the course of their conversation, Elliott told DeHart that a garage had been burglarized the previous night, and gave his fellow deputy a description of the possible perpetrator.

After studying the description for a moment, DeHart said, “Why, I have that man in my car.”

Elliott and DeHart went to the car and questioned the man, J.C. Kitchener, who finally admitted to the burglary. He even took the deputies to the garage to show them how he entered the building.

Deputy DeHart and his passenger finally arrived in Pendleton later that evening, and Kitchener was taken straight to the Umatilla County Jail. It was discovered that the bold hitchhiker was wanted in Yakima for forgery, and for other crimes in Spokane.

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