Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Perkins Gang-Part 1

An unusual outbreak of bank robbery in south-central Missouri during the late winter and the spring of 1934 alarmed citizens and local law enforcement officers alike. Most of the holdups were eventually laid at the feet of the notorious Perkins gang.
On February 6, three men held up the Bank of Bunker, located on the Dent-Reynolds county line. Only one of the robbers went inside, while the other two waited outside in the getaway car. The one who went inside held cashier R.A. Hulsey at gunpoint and took $339 from the bank tills. The lone gunman took the cashier hostage and forced him outside and into the waiting vehicle. The bandits escaped on Highway 72 south, releasing Hulsey about a mile outside town. The Bank of Bunker had been robbed in July of 1933, and Hulsey reported that, during his brief ride with the crooks, one of them remarked that they were the same men who'd pulled the previous job. There is no evidence to support this assertion, however, and Hulsey said he did not recognize any of the bandits as the same ones who'd held him up previously.
Three days later, on February 9, bandits, using a similar M.O. as the Bunker robbers, tried to hold up the Bank of Mountain View, about 60 miles southwest of Bunker in northeastern Howell County. One man stayed in the bandit car while another, wearing dark goggles, accosted the cashier when he arrived for work early that morning. Forcing the cashier to open the door, the outlaw ordered him inside. The bank president arrived on the scene about that time and was also herded inside. The would-be robber found no money in the vault, however, and the safe that contained nearly all the loot was on a time lock that could not be opened for another forty minutes or so. Not daring to wait, the bandit left empty-handed. He made his escape in a dark coupe driven by his companion. Later that day, the car was spotted at Summersville, fifteen miles to the north, but the crooks could not be corralled.
A week later, on Friday, February 16, three men held up the Bank of Grandin, about 65 miles east of Mountain View in southeast Carter County. This time, two of the robbers entered the bank while a single getaway driver stayed outside. The crooks escaped with about $400 but not before witnesses got a pretty good look at them and their vehicle, a new Ford Coupe bearing a license plate that had been stolen the previous night from a car in Fremont, 35 miles to the northwest. Late Friday afternoon, three men were arrested on suspicion at Van Buren, the Carter County seat, but they were turned loose after Grandin bank cashier William McKinney viewed them and indicated he didn't think they were the robbers. The next day, brothers Remus and Talmadge Perkins were arrested in Van Buren. Remus, 27, and Talmadge, 24, had grown up in Carter and Shannon County and had a reputation for having been in trouble before. McKinney couldn't identify Talmadge but was inclined to believe Remus was one of the robbers. Talmadge was accordingly let go on Monday. Remus was released on Tuesday after officers traveled to Illinois to check out his alibi, but suspicion continued to rest on the older Perkins brother. (This was also the second time within the past year that the Grandin bank had been robbed, but fairly conclusive evidence exists that the Perkins gang was not involved in the earlier heist.)
Following up on their suspicions, Missouri law officers gave their fellow lawmen in Granite City, Illinois, where Remus Perkins was making his home, a description of the three Grandin bandits and asked them to be on the lookout should the three men get together there. Remus Perkins, Sherman Hodges, and Frank Walker were arrested in the Illinois town in early March as the alleged robbers, and Missouri lawmen, accompanied by Cashier McKinney, trekked to Illinois. This time McKinney positively identified the three men as the culprits, and they were brought back to Missouri and lodged in the Carter County jail at Van Buren. Remus Perkins was released on bond, but Hodges and Walker were not, because they were implicated in the failed Mountain View bank robbery before they could post bond.
The arrest of Remus and his two cohorts wouldn't stop the Perkins gang, though.


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