Bandit Had Hippie Appearance
CLIFFSIDE — It looked like a hippie invasion when the lone bank robber walked into the Haynes Bank at Cliffside Thursday afternoon.
And it looked like off-stage at an Elliot Ness movie afterward.
According to eyewitness descriptions of the man—at least that’s what they though he was—he could have retired quietly to Greenwich Village or Haight-Ashbury without eliciting a second glance.
Mrs. Jane Hamrick, the bank teller who dealt directly with the bandit, said, “I loooked up and saw the strangest-looking person I’ve ever seen. Then I realized he was wearing a costume.”
She added later, “All I could see was hair, all over his face.” Mrs. Hamrick also described the man as wearing a Halloween mask and “funny shoes.”
Chairman of the Board Hollis Owens return to bank from lunch to find “this weird-looking character.”
Said Owens, “He was all wrapped, covered up, with a pistol in his hand, the barrel of which I looked down.”
Perhaps the most descriptive account, if not the most detailed, came from Roosevelt Hopper, who said the bandit “looked like some kind of animal to me.”
Hopper, the 55-year old janitor at the Cliffside Baptist Church, was on his way into the bank to get some change as the robber was on his way out.
Hopper’s description continued, “He was wearing some kind of mask and a wig. His hair hung off to his shoulders.”
The hippie influence in the outlaw’s appearance, according to reports from Owens and Mrs. Hamrick, was tempered by a Tarzan tone of voice.
They both related that the man spoke gutterally, as if trying to disguise his voice.
And Mrs. Hamrick said the only words he spoke were “hurry,” “down,” and “that drawer,” all repeated several times.
Of course, he may not have been a hippie after all—Mrs. Hamrick said he handed her a clean and neatly pressed pillow case to put the money in.
When the bandit left, it was in typical late show gangland fashion. Hopper said, “Man, he got out in a hurry, left black marks on the street.”
From that point on, it was late show all the way, interspersed with one organized and many impromptu press conferences. Flash equipment blinked, camera shutters clicked, reporters fired questions and bank personnel answered them again and again.
While all this was going on, the members of Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department spent their time searching out leads and waiting for the FBI.
Sheriff’s and Highway Patrol cars had already been deployed to the various roads leading out of the county. So the deputies at the bank gathered around a radio to keep up with the latest developments—at Fenway Park in Boston.
Then the FBI arrived and the witnesses were ushered quietly toward the bank’s inner recesses to tell their tale again.
At about 3 o’clock—not quite two hours after the $63,000 holdup—customer Camellia Ayers of Forest City walked into the bank, stepped around and through the crown of reporters and officials, and made two deposits.
Had her faith in the bank been shaken by the robbery? “Not a bit.”
Then business continued almost as usual as people lined up outside the drive-in window. After all, as Rutherford County Sheriff Damon Huskey said, “I think we’ll find out who it is without much trouble.”
Reprinted with permission from The Shelby Daily Star. Copyright owned by The Shelby Star.
Article provided by Jane Robinson Hamrick