The Green Scarf Bandit, Part 1

It was just after 6:00 a.m. on December 10, 1951 when a bandit broke into the home of supermarket manager B.G. Jones and his wife Juanita. The bandit had tied a green scarf around the lower half of his face, and he was holding a weapon. He slugged B.G. with a leaded sap and Juanita screamed. The man gruffly asked if anyone else was in the house. B.G. said, “Just my little boy, and he’s asleep.”

But eight-year-old Jimmy Jones wasn’t asleep, he was playing possum. He feigned sleep even as the masked man entered his bedroom with a flashlight and looked around.

Few kids would have had remained as cool and collected as Jimmy, but the boy had an advantage. His father had prepared him for the possibility of a break-in.

B.G. recently warned Jimmy that a bad guy roamed the area. He abducted supermarket managers and forced them to open the safes at their stores. B.G. told Jimmy if he heard anyone break into the house that he was to lie still, wait until he felt safe, then run to the phone and call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Montrose substation. That is exactly what Jimmy did.

Jimmy told the deputy who answered the phone, A man just took my father and mother away to make my daddy open the safe.” Then he told the deputy, “He shined his light right in my face, but I pretended I was asleep. I kept my eyes shut and didn’t move.”

Deputies Joe Rieth and J.R. Shelton were dispatched to the Shopping Bag Market at 920 Foothill Blvd in La Canada. The Deputies roared up just as B.G., stalling for time, fumbled with his key before unlocking the door for the bandit. Alerted to the arrival of the deputies, the masked man attempted to escape. He collided with off-duty deputy John Davis. Davis pulled his pistol and commanded the man to halt, but the fugitive continued to run even as Rieth and Shelton fired at him.

Slugs from Reith’s weapon penetrated the man’s neck, while pellets from Shelton’s shotgun peppered his legs. The man was so pumped with adrenaline he continued to flee. When Rieth and Shelton tracked him down, they discovered him hunched over the wheel of deputy Davis’s car, frantically trying to start it.

An ambulance took the critically wounded crook to Physicians & Surgeons hospital, Glendale. The bandit gave his name as Jim Marcus.

The Sheriff’s didn’t take the man at his word, which was just as well. He lied. It didn’t take long for them to ID him as James Monroe Rudolph of Placerville, California, which is about 450 miles from where he’d committed his most recent crimes.

Deputies found Rudolph’s late model Buick sedan parked about a block from the Jones’ home, and when they searched the trunk, they found highly incriminating evidence including, 100 empty money sacks, scores of rolls of coins, a wallet containing five $100 bills, and an ID that gave Rudolph’s L.A. address as a motel at 4562 N. Figueroa Street.

Also in the car were several changes of clothing, a.45 caliber automatic pistol, a Las Vegas police badge, and a fire extinguisher loaded with a knockout solution for spraying victims, and a green scarf. Police finally had the Green Scarf Bandit, the villain who had eluded them for weeks.

Sheriff’s robbery squad detectives went to Placerville where they arrested Rudolph’s wife, Inge, a German war bride. Inge surrendered to the detectives two fur coats, a fur jacket, a fur neck piece, several pairs of expensive field glasses, a half dozen cameras, and several thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry.

Inge insisted she wasn’t a party to her husband’s misdeeds, and the police believed her. She believed he had purchased the luxury items with money that he won in card games. Inge must have thought her husband was a high roller when he put over $8,000 (equivalent to $92,000.000 in 2023 USD) down on their $17,000 (equivalent to $195,000.00 in 2023 USD) home.

Rudolph and Inge met in Germany. They married in a civil ceremony in Linz, Austria in 1947. After Rudolph’s discharge from the Army in 1949, Inge accompanied him to the U.S., first to his hometown of Atlanta, GA, then to Washington, D.C., and finally to California.

While police searched the Rudolph home for more of the Green Scarf Bandit’s stolen loot, Inge traveled from Placerville to Los Angeles to visit James. When she saw his condition, she wept at his bedside, and declared that she would stand by him.

As the critically wounded man lay in a hospital bed struggling for his life, eight-year-old hero Jimmy Jones was recognized for his bravery by Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz. They gave the boy a miniature sheriff’s badge, and Biscailuz said, “Jimmy demonstrated a courage and calm presence of mind seldom found in a youngster of his age.”

Would James Monroe Rudolph, the man Jimmy helped to capture, recover from his gunshot wounds, or would he die before they could try him?

NEXT TIME: The fate of the Green Scarf Bandit.