Rebecca Bradley Rogers – Girl Bank Robber
Rebecca Bradley Rogers – Girl Bank Robber, had a hearing before Justice of the Peace A.M. Ramsay in San Marcos. Ramsay denied bail to Rebecca because he felt that it was a capital crime. The case then returned to Austin for a second hearing before Judge George Calhoun.
Otis, Rebecca’s husband was the first to arrive for the hearing. He was an attorney from Amarillo was dressed in a dark suit with a dark overcoat. His signature eyeglasses were missing. The court room was filled with spectators. Otis spoke briefly with one of the reporters who was a fraternity brother in college.
Gosset the reporter said, “I knew Otis and Rebecca were married, but I wasn’t privileged to say anything about it. Only four of us knew about it.” He did not release the names of the other three.
As the hearing before Judge Calhoun began, he told the press that there were to be no moving pictures taken and no pictures taken with a flash. He also stated that since the courtroom was completely full there would be no smoking in the courtroom. Half an hour before the hearing started the courtroom was filled with society women, university students, numerous friends of the Bradley’s and of course the press.
Rebecca was dressed in a green frock with a high cream lace collar and long sleeves, she wore the same mud-stained black satin slippers and a turban of varied colored satin beneath which her auburn-colored bobbed hair showed at the sides and back. She also wore a diamond on her left ring finger and a small gold ring on her left pinky.
Grace was dressed in black with a red hat. John Cofer opened by stating that the writ of habeas corpus had been filed with the state, but he had had no response. He stated, “The only thing the court can do, lacking an answer is to discharge the defendant.”
District Attorney Moore responded, “If it is necessary, Sherriff Allen is here, and we can fix up an answer in a few minutes.” A brief recess was called while Moore and Allen prepared the response. Court was reconvened and Moore read the response at 11:11. A second recess was called while Cofer prepared his response to the state’s response.
Cofer’s response was that Rebecca was being held illegally by Sherriff Allen as the Justice of the Peace refused bond. He further explained that by Texas law the crime was a bondable one. And then the witnesses were called.
F.A. Jamison was the first to testify. He was one of the men Rebecca locked in the vault. “She walked in and said she was representing a newspaper, the Beaumont Enterprise, and she was getting data for a story on crop conditions. She talked to different people who came into the bank and was there about 30 minutes and asked the names of influential farmers. She wrote her information in a loose-leaf notebook. She asked me if she could use the typewriter. She was at the door. Only Howe and I were in the room. She had a little handbag. She wrote on the typewriter.
“I went into the vault and as I came out, she was standing 5 or 6 steps away with a gun pointed at me. Howe was at the desk writing. She told me ‘Stay where you are’, the gun held downward. She told me to stop, I stopped.” This made all the spectators laugh and Judge Calhoun had to call for order in the courtroom.
Jamison renewed his testimony, “She told Howe to go over beside me. And he did. She told me to open the safe that she wanted cash. I walked back and opened the safe and brought out the currency. She said, ‘Lay it on the on the filing case inside.’ I laid several packages down.
“She was in the door to the vault and reached inside and took some of the money and opened her handbag. She asked us if there was enough air in the vault for us to stay about 30 minutes. I told her I thought there was. She was very cool up to the time she set her hand on the money. She then was getting nervous. The gun was a blue automatic. Looked pretty good size to me. ”
The crowd started laughing again and the court was again called to order. “I had no fear of bodily harm. I was very much surprised. I wasn’t as frightened as I would have expected. I went into the vault because I didn’t want to take a chance on being killed. “
John Cofer cross examined, “Did she put the gun in her purse?” Jamison responded, “I think so — I don’t remember. She had the pistol and the purse in one hand. I’m not sure whether she put the pistol in the purse. The last I saw of her I saw the pistol too. I didn’t think she would go out with it in her hand. I didn’t tell the papers. I didn’t think I could identify her.” He
W.H. Howe, the bookkeeper was the next witness called. “I heard the girl ask if she could use the typewriter.”
Moore the prosecutor asked, “The young lady who is smiling?”
Howe responded, “Yes,” smiling himself.
“She told me to join Mr. Jamison over there. I went over. She pointed the pistol at first one and then the other.” The rest of his testimony was the same as Jamison’s. “She was very considerate.” he told Cofer in the cross examination.
Sherriff G.M. Allen was the next to testify. He told how he had gone to Austin and picked up Rebecca and taken her to Buda to be identified by the bankers. After they left Buda they were headed to San Marco.
Sherriff Allen testified, “After she and I left Buda alone to San Marco she burst out laughing and said, ‘I have a whole lot to live down, but not as much as those men back there who let a little girl hold them up with an empty gun. When I got to South Austin I saw a motorcycle policeman. I saw a little boy with a bandaged arm. I picked him up. I turned off at the bridge on the Del Valle Road. I went around and came back. I bought a box of candy and put the money and the gun into the box and took it to Scarborough’s to be wrapped.
“I told the man at the counter it was an iron. Some women would call the gun an iron, so you see I didn’t yarn about it. I addressed the package to the University Station because I didn’t want to get it back too soon. The money is either in the main post office or at the university station. So, you see I didn’t yarn when I told you I didn’t know where it was.’
“She gave me a parcel post receipt and an order for the package. I got the package at about 3:30 Sunday from D.O. Wilson at the post office. It was addressed to Miss Rebecca Bradley, University Station. There was $910.00 in bills, a money purse, and a 32 automatic in the box. The gun had a cartridge in the chamber, but the magazine was gone. “
In cross examination Cofer asked Sherriff Allen where the gun was now. Sheriff Allen left the courtroom to go to Sheriff Miller’s office where the pistol was being stored.
“Let’s be careful with it,” Judge Calhoun counseled.
“It’s not loaded now,” Allen responded.
“Have you the cartridge?” asked Cofer.
“Yes” Allen answered. Allen cut the strings of the package and lifted out a purse, opening it up and handing Cofer the gun. There was also a cartridge that Allen had marked. Allen then presented Rebecca’s notebook, typed page, and some paid bills. Otis objected as the items were privileged information. Judge Calhoun overruled.
The next witness called by the Prosecution was D.O. Wilson the Assistant Postmaster. He retold the story of Sherriff Allen picking up the package. He identified the package and told them that the return address was N.J. Smithson, Abbey Apartments, Austin.
The next witness was J.E. McClain, city detective, who was one of the arresting officers. He testified about finding a magazine for a 32-caliber pistol in a desk drawer in Rebecca’s apartment. The pistol was loaded he told the court.
Jamison was recalled to identify the currency. He testified that it was the same denominations as what was stolen.
F.W. Hill was the next witness called. He testified to Rebecca’s car getting stuck in the mud by his home. Mr. Hill identified Rebecca as the girl he had helped out of the mud. He also testified to a telephone call that he had overheard between Rebecca and her mother.
” She called from my house to Mrs. Bradley and told her mother she was stuck in the mud on 14th street. That peeved me and I told her she had better get someone else to help her. I lectured her a little severely and told her to tell her mother the truth. I sent a boy to pull her car out of the mud. The car was in the crossroad between Del Valle and Travis Heights.”
With Hill’s testimony the prosecution rested its case.
The defense consisting of Cofer and Rebecca’s husband Otis called close to a dozen character witnesses including high school and college teachers, students, friends, Sunday school teachers and the president of the University of Texas.
Rebecca’s college friends are at a loss of why she would rob a bank. “Rebecca’s strict demeanor always commanded the highest respect from her associates. Her quiet lady-like bearing would disarm even the suspicion of frivolity.”
“Serious Rebecca is the antithesis of the ‘girl bandit’ so often read about.”
Cofer then asked for bail to be set between $2,000 and $2,500. Judge Calhoun set the bail at $5,000.00. Also, a special prosecutor was retained, Samuel B. Dickens of the firm Dickens and Dickens was retained. Oddly enough this was one of the law firms that offered to represent Rebecca pro bono.