ARMED ROBBERY by Edwin F. Cavaleri, Jr.
This story started on the night of October 19, 1946 and ended in the early morning hours of October 20. A high school friend, Tommy Tucker, and I had planned to take my girlfriend Sally Allen and a friend of hers to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to see a movie. Neither Tommy nor I had an automobile so we had to rely on public transportation. After the movie and taking the girls home Tommy and I boarded a trolley to go home. The trolley ride from Sally’s house to my house required a transfer between lines at about midpoint between the two. It was approaching midnight by the time we reached the transfer point and nearing the time for the last trolley run of the night. Normally there would have been considerable traffic on the street where we were waiting but there was almost no traffic at all because of the late hour. While we were waiting a car that had been parked at a gasoline station across the street left the station and came over to where we were standing. There were two men in the car, both well dressed. The one on the passenger side asked if we knew where he could find a liquor store. When we told him that we did not he commented that it was getting late and thought they would just go home. He then asked us where we were going and if we needed a ride. We told him and he said they were going right by there and that we could ride with them if we wanted to. Fearful that we may have missed the last trolley we gladly accepted the offer (a copy ofthe transfer ticket that I did not used is below). When we reached the intersection where they were supposed to drop us off the man on the passenger side of the front seat turned around and pointed a 45 caliber pistol at us and told us to shut up and do what we were told and that we may not get hurt.
They told us to slide down in the seat so we could not see where they were taking us and the next thirty or so minutes were spent riding around making turn after turn to make sure that we would not know where we were. While the driver was driving as though he knew exactly where he was taking us the man with the gun was telling us about their extensive criminal activities. At the time I thought if he was telling us all of this to scare us he was wasting his time; we were already scared speechless. We later learned that what we were told was the truth. Their crime spree extended from Georgia to California.
We became aware that we had left the main roadway and were on a narrow dirt trail going into a heavily wooded area. The driver stopped the car, turned off the car lights, turned toward the back seat and pointed a flashlight and his 45 caliber pistol in our face. The pistols were difficult to see but appeared to be cannons instead of pistols. We were told to remove our wallets from our pockets and to give them our money. They did not touch the wallets commenting that they did not want to leave fingerprints, but they carefully examined all the contents to make sure there was no hidden cash. Together we had about $45.00, which was a significant amount in those days. They then asked if we had anything else of value and we responded that we did not. They appeared to be agitated because we had not offered our wrist watches and one put his pistol nearer to our face and demanded the watches. One of the men then proceeded to teil us that they were known as the Robin Hood Bandits because they were such nice guys. He then gave us each a dollar back (I still have the dollar) from the amount we had given him and us that was to buy our breakfast if we were still alive after daylight. He went on to say that they were such good guys and because we had cooperated with them they take us back to where we where we were going to begin with.
When we were within about a mile of our destination they stopped and gave us explicit instructions about what to do when we got out of the car. They told us to get out of the car, walk to the front, stay in front of the headlights, and not look back. They also told us not to contact the police and that if we did they would be back in contact with us. As we walked away in front of the car they backed into a side street and sped away in the opposite direction to make sure that we could not get their tag number.
It was now after 2:00 a.m. and none ofthe nearby houses had any lights on. After running about a block we spotted a house that had the lights on inside and on the front porch. We rang the doorbell and the man than came to the door was drunk but we could see other people in the house. We had getting him to understand what our predicament was and that we wanted to use his telephone to call the police. When we got inside we found another man and two ladies, equally as drunk, and they could not figure out whatwe were doing there either. We finally convinced them to let us use their telephone to call the police.
The police were in the area and arrived very quickly. The police began ìnterrogating us immediately. Although we did not have a license plate number we were able to give the make and model of the car and good descriptions of the two culprits. The interrogation was thorough, lengthy, and took thirty minutes or longer. The police asked us to return with them to the location where we were picked up. The purpose was to question the service station attendant to see if he may be able to add any more information regarding the description or identity of the two men. The police asked us to get out of the squad car and go in the station with them. When we walked in there was a man slumped over a desk and he did not move. My first thought was they must have robbed and killed him. He awoke when the policeman touched him. It was a twenty-four hour station with very little business and the attendant had fallen asleep. The attendant gave a very good description of both men that was very similar to the one Tommy and I had given. He also said the two men had spent several minutes at the station and acted very suspicious. He said that his partner at the station, who had left work around midnight, was also concerned about the two men and had stayed outside near the gas pumps while they were there. The police surmised that it was probably the intent of the cuiprìts to rob the station but could not do so as long as the two attendants were not in close proximity of each other. The police also said that this was a procedure used as a robbery deterrent in many ail-night businesses.
It was about 4:00 a.m. before the police took us to my house. Waking up your parents at 4:00 a.m. to tell them you have been the victim of an armed robbery was about as scary as being robbed. Mother sat straight up in the bed, looked at the clock, and asked whatwe were doing staying out so late. The more they listened to the details that Tommy and 1 gave them the more upset they became. I believe it was a unanimous decision that Tommy and I needed to be taken to the kitchen for a good breakfast and some sympathy. Mother then insisted that Tommy and I go to bed and get some sleep. I am not sure we went to sleep.
The next day, or the day after, the culprits were apprehended as the attached newspaper articles describe. Except for the spelling of my name, the articles are reasonably accurate. Within a day or two Tommy and I were required to report to the Atlanta City Jail for the purpose of identifying the two men. Neither of us wanted to face the criminals again but felt much better about the task when told that a one-way mirror would allow us to see them without them seeing us. Daddy knew the Chief of Police, Chief Jenkins, and agreed to go with us during this ordeal. The fact that Daddy knew the Chief turned out not to be the best thing for Tommy and me but does make this story more interesting. Tommy was asked first to go into the dimly lighted room to identify the two men from a lineup of eight or nine men of similar height and appearance standing on a platform. I was next and neither of us had any difficulty selecting the two from the lineup. Chief Jenkins and Daddy met us when we came out of the lineup area. Chief Jenkins asked if we wanted to go in the room where the two men were being held. Neither of us wanted to admit that we did not so we went with him. As soon as we walked in they recognized us and one asked if the police had given us our watches back. He went on to say, in the presence of Chief Jenkins, that cops will keep the money they took from us but sometimes they return personal property and that they should give us our watches back. We did eventually get our watches.
As indicated by the attached court documents, Tommy and I had to appear before the Grand
Jury and the Superior Court Criminal Division trial to testify. It was a pleasure to see justice done and
both sentenced to long prison terms but sad to see and hear their families testify in their behalf. Their
time in court was not over because they were wanted in five other states for armed robbery including a U.S. Post Office.
The question remains as to why they wasted their time and took a chance on getting caught
robbing two young guys with nothing of value but two wrist watches and a smaiì amount of cash.