Girl Bandits

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 We have learned about several young girl bandits, including Kitty Malm and most recently Rebecca Bradley.  Here are three shorter incidents involving Girl Bandits.

Anna Varich and Jean Buttick

Girl Bandits

15-year-old Anna and 16-year-old Jean were caught red handed by the police robbing the home of Louis Oehler, truly girl bandits..  The neighbors called the police when they saw lights on in the house and they knew that the Oehlers were out of town. When the police knocked on the door identifying themselves all the lights went out.  One of the officers shot a bullet through the front door as the back door was kicked in by another officer.  A man ran out the backdoor past the police officer.

The police officers had lights and searched the house finding nothing, then they saw steps leading to the basement as they heard the lock to the basement door lock.  Officer Doyle ran outside to look through the basement windows.  He saw a leather jacket and threw his flashlight threw the window, yelling, “Get upstairs or I’ll kill you!”

The girls ran upstairs Anna dropping all the things that they had stolen, rings, bracelets, evening bags, and her revolver.  The police also found a pile of clothing with a value of $200 in the entranceway. 

The police believe the girls and their male accomplice had robbed more than a dozen homes.  The girls refused to give up their accomplice.  Anna already had a record for larceny, but Jean had no record at the time of her arrest. 

Katherine Zoberlein

Katherine Zoberlein - Girl Bandit

Katherine Zoberlein was another beautiful teenager girl bandit, only 17, arrested for highway robbery along with her boyfriend Michael who was 27.  She was described by the matrons in the Tombs as, “The most beautiful girl, the most innocent appearing that ever was confined to prison.”

Her confession in almost a child-like voice consisted of, “I love, but it does not make me happy.  I know I am beautiful – men have told me so since I was 14.  I had rather be ugly.  I am here because my love for Michael was so great, I could not refuse to do anything he asked of me.  He asked me to help him rob people.  I do not want to be bad.  But I love Michael.  He told me to do it.  I would have done anything he asked.  I think he loved my beauty.  I wanted him to love me for myself.  Perhaps he did and I did not understand.  It seems that almost anyone can touch my heart and make me want to help or please them. “

The Michael that she was talking about was Michael Jegle.    Michael worked as a machinist.  He got tired of working so he left his wife and children in search of romance.  He found it with Katherine who had a record for incorrigibility, which meant disobeying her parents and the law. 

Simon Darwo was also looking for love and found Katherine.  She invited him into a hallway.  While they were discussing the weather, Michael came up to them with what appeared to be a gun in Simon’s stomach and told him Katherine was his wife and to give them all he had.  Simon gave them his watch a couple of rings and $6.00.  Michael and Katherine left. 

Simon went to the police and told them that he wanted his items back.  He donned a fake moustache and went with the police cruising the neighborhood where he was robbed.  They spotted him and Michael ran, but the detectives caught him.

Michael was arrested a few days before Katherine.  He told the police where to find Katherine, in a boarding house in Brooklyn where they had been living for about 3 months.  Police found her there and arrested her for robbing Simon Darwo. 

She continued her confession, “Though I loved Michael greatly, I yet dreaded to approach the man.  I trembled all over, and I was so afraid, and so tired.  That night we had walked so far, blocks and blocks.  I ahead and Michael following close enough to protect me.  We had nothing to eat that day and but one meal a day for two weeks almost.  Michael had no work.

“I told him I was hungry, and he said we would find some man who would follow me and then get his money.  We had a little glass pistol that was once full of candy,  we filled it with ink to make it look real. 

“At last, we set out.  I could not breathe at first, and I got so cold I felt I could not go on, but he urged me just a little further, and a little further.

“And they tell me it was he who told where I was!

“Well, I will not believe it until he tells me himself.  They found the address in a memorandum book he carried.  We were living there under the name given in the book.  It was easy to find me and I confessed.”

As the matrons said she may look innocent, but she certainly was naïve.

Myrtle Bates

Myrtle Bates - Girl Bandit

Myrtle was a little older than the other girl bandits in that she was 20, and her accomplice/boyfriend John Blake was 19.  Myrtle was described by the newspapers as stunningly dressed. 

Ernest Monica a taxi driver is one of the chief witnesses.  He told the police that he picked up the couple in his taxi at the New York Central station in Syracuse to Camillus.  Ernest told the police that Myrtle kept a gun in his side the entire drive.  They got to the drug store that the couple wanted to go to,  the man got out and went into the store while Myrtle kept the gun on Ernest.  He says he heard a shot and John came out and told him to drive to the city.  It was later found that Benjamin Hart the clerk of the store was shot through the hand.

The store set off the alarm and the Police were on the trail of the two.  Ernest, the taxi driver pointed out the two to the Police and a gun fight began.  They finally arrested Myrtle and picked up her revolver and loaded shotgun.

They later arrested Robert Blake but had to let him go because he was the wrong man.  Myrtle had told them that Robert Blake was her accomplice instead of John.  This allowed John to get away while the police interrogated Robert and verified his alibi.  John was also wanted for a bank robbery in Canton Ohio and still had a bullet in his leg from that. 

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