1932 Tallulah Bank Robbery

From November 12, 1932 Vicksburg Herald

(Courtesy of the Madison Historical Society)


Posse Quickly Trails Men Down in Woods East of Tallulah




Alarm Spread by Phone and Vicksburg Radio Station WQBC


Jack Doud aged 32; Benny Caphone aged 34, and John Kolich aged 19, all claiming to be from Chicago, charged with the holdup of E. A. Buckner cashier of the Madison National Bank at Tallulah yesterday were arrested about three hours after the hold-up, three miles north of Tallulah, at a cross road on Tallulah-Lake Providence highway near Panola Lane.


The trio were arrested by T. H. Montgomery, town marshal of Tallulah. He was assisted by C. Cagnolatti, Sam Plant and J. W. Rogillio, who disarmed the men and brought them to Tallulah.


When captured, the men stated that they wanted to take the money back and turn it over to the man whom they had taken it from. On arrival in Tallulah they were taken by the bank where they turned the money over to Mr. Buckner,


The men were said to have secured $6,000 in the holdup. On the checkup last night all but about $250 had been returned.


When the news of the band holdup was made known posses were quickly formed, and went out on the many roads. Officers in nearby towns were notified, and the search was on,


Vicksburg officials were also notified. A close look cut was kept at the Vicksburg Bridge which spans the Mississippi south of the city. A squad of officers with bloodhounds were dispatched from Vicksburg, but upon their arrival in Tallulah, the bandits had been captured.


Word of the location of where the men were in hiding was said to have been furnished Deputy Sheriff S. B, Bettis by two negro women who were said to have seen them go into hiding.


The women hurried on to Tallulah, and notified Deputy Sheriiff Bettis and he and a squad of men went to the place where the men were last seen.


Men Captured in Woods


Marshal Montgomery, who was in the party, was searching near a canal ditch and heard a noise in the woods. Concealing himself and with other men stationed at nearby points, they awaited the appearance of the bandits. Soon the three men came into the open about one hundred feet from Marshal Montgomery. He ordered them to throw up their hands. The other men came out from their hiding place and the trio of bandits, completely surrounded, surrendered without resistance.


When seen in jail later the prisoners stated they had no complaint to make, that they just got a bad break, and if the automobile which was to have met them had been in the right spot they would have made their escape.


They evidently had planned to cross the Vicksburg Bridge, and enter Mississippi, for one of them remarked; "We could have made the Vicksburg Bridge in fifteen minutes." However this would have been almost impossible for Tallulah is almost twenty-two miles from the bridge.


The men said they left Chicago a little less than two weeks ago. They seemed to be little concerned over being in jail.


When asked where their home was. One said "it looks like it will be around here for a while.


When captured the men had four pistols, and an equal number of pocket knives, three razors, three flash lights, a mirror, shaving soap, shaving brush, cigarettes and chewing .tobacco.


After being placed in jail, the men in the absence of Sheriff Andrew Sevier, who had left Tallulah yesterday morning with some prisoners for Baton Rouge, were questioned by deputy Sheriff Bettis. They all seemed certain that if they had secured the automobile which they had intended to get, they would have made their getaway.


It was stated that the trio had been seen about Tallulah for the past several days. It was also stated that the men had been in Vicksburg. One report was to the effect that it was believed the trio had crossed the Vicksburg bridge yesterday morning.


How Hold-up Was Staged


The hold-up of the Madison National Bank was staged at five minutes past twelve o'clock yesterday afternoon. Mr. Buckner, the cashier, stated he was alone in the bank at the time. He was in a. teller's cage in the front part of the bank working on a book, when the men entered and one of them stuck a pistol in his face.


While one held the pistol on him, the other went behind him into the cage. The other one then followed. They then forced Mr. Buckner to lie on the floor.


They asked him if he had a car, where the key was and where the car was perked.


Mr. Buckner gave the men a key which he told them did not fit the car. But which they took believing that it would:


The men then ordered Mr. Buckner into the vault. He asked the bandits not to close the big outer door of the vault on him but to tie him up.


They locked the grill steel door in the back of the vault. Mr. Buckner said that the smallest of the two men then reached up and with his hand in his coat pocket removed the key from this door. Though he had his back to the bandits, Mr. Buckner said he saw this act out of the corner of his eye.


After locking this door the men then tried to close the outer door but after making a desperate try to close the door without success they then left the bank.


To close the outer door of the vault it was necessary to remove a little runaway which led into the vault.


Evidently the men did not notice the runaway at the entrance to the vault was blocking the closing of the door. The right side of the runway was badly dented and battered where they attempted to shut the door.


Mr. Buckner said the only time he became frightened was whey they asked him about his auto.


Leaving Mr. Buckner in the vault the men then visited the teller's cage. They only took currency and some American Express company traveler's checks. They did not molest a. bag of gold or silver money.


Mr. Buckler stated he waited patiently and when he heard a swinging door squeak which leads past his desk into the back of the bank where the cages are located he knew the bandits were outside the bank.


He then took from his pocket an extra key to the grill door of the vault and unlocked it. However, before he could get out of the vault he said he heard someone come in the bank and leave, He believes this must have been a customer of the bank and that whoever it was must have passed the bandits at the door.


Buckner Gives Alarm


Getting out of the vault, Mr. Buckner grabbed a rifle which is kept at the bank and went to the door and gave the alarm.


He said he saw the three men walking down the street going east and raised his gun and started to fire, but on second thought decided not to for fear it might not be the right men or he might strike some innocent party.


A friend of Mr. Buckner coming from the direction from which the men had gone, told Mr., Buckner of seeing the trio and from the description given, knew they were the three bandits.


Mr. Buckner says he only saw two of the men, that the third one must have been the lookout on the outside. He saw the men when they turned the corner of the bank out on the street.


By not taking cash, Mr. Bucks per said it led him to believe the bandits were on foot.


One of the first to be notified of the bank holdup was the Post-Herald radio station WQBC at Vicksburg and as soon as the radio station was notified the news of the holdup was broadcast.


Some of the residents of Tallulah stated the first information they had of the holdup came over the radio from station WQBC. The news was on the air five minutes after the holdup.


Sheriff Bass from Lake Providence said he was at home eating lunch when the phone rang notifying him of the bank holdup. Every day while at home the sheriff listens to the newscast over WQBC and as he was talking over the phone he heard the news of the holdup over the radio.


Another Tallulah resident stated that he had received a telephone message from his sister in Lake Providence stating she had he about the holdup over the radio.


The officials of Tallulah and Madison parish were very grateful for the assistance given by Post-Herald station, to the Vicksburg and Warren county officials and to the officials and citizens in surrounding parishes in Louisiana for the cooperation given.


Cecil Smith who owns an airplane and who had. flown machine to Jackson for repairs yesterday morning, returned Tallulah shortly after the holdup occurred. Mr. Smith immediately took off in his plane in an effort to locate the men.


The men stated when they saw the plane overhead they knew everything was over. They said it was the plane which flushed them out of the woods.


When Caphone gave his name to Deputy Sheriff Bass he said: "You spell it Caphone, I am no kin to Al."


Additional information received last night was to the effect that the men had spent the past several nights in Vicksburg going over to Tallulah each morning. They were said to be searching for work.


In jail the men were asked what time they arrived in Tallulah yesterday morning and to this question one replied "about the same time as usual."


Another report was that men ate breakfast in Thomastown, which is a small town only a short distance from Tallulah.


Local police, working under Captain S. J. Luckett last night, were endeavoring to find out if the trio had been in Vicksburg, and if so where they had been spending the nights.


To stop any jail break, or to prevent any accomplices from communicating with them, a guard was placed about the Madison parish jail last night.


Following the placing of the bank bandits in jail yesterday afternoon, a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered in front and milled about the building for several hours.


Several Vicksburgers motored over to Tallulah yesterday afternoon to witness the happenings.


Only Tallulah and Madison parish authorities, officials of the Madison National bank, authorities from other parishes and newspapermen were admitted to the jail.


Every possible courtesy was extended the Vicksburg newspaper representatives by the authorities and citizens of Tallulah. Mr. Roundtree, publisher of the Madison Parish Journal of Tallulah, Ward Edwards, golf pro at the Tallulah Country Club and a former Vicksburger, Mr. Buckner, cashier of the bank, and Deputy Sheriff S. B. Bettis, did everything possible to facilitate the Vicksburgers in getting the details of the holdup.