Two weeks after he was shot by Sheriff’s deputies James Monroe Rudolph, the Green Scarf Bandit, was on the mend in the prison ward of General Hospital. He was reported to be in a weakened condition, but evidently not too weak to confess to scores of robberies, burglaries, assaults and kidnappings. Deputy District Attorney Howard Hurd and a couple of Sheriff’s deputies, including one of my favorites from the era, Detective Sergeant Ned Lovretovich, were on hand to witness the statements made by Monroe.
Monroe had been captured and critically wounded by deputies following a call from eight year old Jimmy Jones. Jimmy had telephoned the cops after bravely feigning sleep while Rudolph kidnapped his parents at gunpoint. It was Jimmy’s call that resulted in the capture of the the Green Scarf Bandit. For his courage Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz had awarded the boy a miniature Sheriff’s badge.
The authorities were keen to get Rudolph in front of a judge, but his physical condition delayed the proceedings. Another complication was that there was so much stolen loot in the Ruldoph home in Placerville that it was going to take some time for it to be sorted out and put on trucks so that it could be placed into evidence. Cops estimated the worth of the stolen goods to be in excess of $60,000 [$537,851.00 in current U.S. dollars].
Finally on January 30th James Monroe Rudolph, clad in his prison ward jammies, was sufficiently healed from his multiple gunshot wounds to appear for arraignment before Municipal Judge F. Ray Rennett. In the complaint, sworn to by Deputy Sheriff Dave Terry and issued by the Deputy D.A., Rudolph found himself charged with five counts of robbery, four of attempted robbery, nine of kidnapping and two of false imprisonment. Four of the robberies involved food markets from which Rudolph had made off with thousands of dollars in cash.
One of the robberies had been particularly bold. Just a few days prior to the kidnapping of B.G. Jones and his wife, the Green Scarf Bandit had used the same M.O. to rob a La Crescenta supermarket manager and his wife twice in one day!
Alfred W. Boegler and his wife Irene were awakened at about midnight when a man in a green scarf mask climbed through their bedroom window. Holding a pistol on the couple, the bandit politely turned his head as Irene changed from her nightgown into street clothes so that she could accompany her husband and the crook to the Shopping Bag Market at 3100 Foothill Blvd in La Crescenta.
“When we asked him what was to be done about our two sleeping children, he said that it was too cold to take children outdoors–and that they might get injured if there was a night watchman who started any shooting. He said if we co-operated in driving him to the store and opening the safe, we would be safely back home within 30 minutes.”
Hey, he may have been a gun wielding robber but he wasn’t necessarily indifferent to the comfort and safety of young children. As the couple’s two daughters, Barbara (4) and Karen (18 months) slept soundly, Boegler drove his wife and the robber to the market. Once they arrived at the store the gunman used Irene as a hostage while Alfred went into the store with a passkey and turned off the burglar alarm. All the while the gunman apologized saying that his boss was “pretty tough” and he’d face dire consequences if the job didn’t go off perfectly.
After looting two safes at the market the bandit let the Boegler’s out of their car at the corner of Altura Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. They phoned the Montrose Sheriff’s station (the same station young Jimmy Jones would call a few days later) and walked the short distance to their home. They collected their two kids and then went to the home of Boegler’s brother, William. When the Boegler’s returned to their own home a mere six hours after being taken from their warm bed they were met by the green scarfed gunman who was waiting patiently for them in the kitchen.
“You double-crossed me. My boss doesn’t like that. We missed one safe.”
The man then kidnapped the Boeglers for a second time, emptied out a third safe, and fled.
Rudolph may have thought of himself only as a bandit, but two of the kidnapping charges involved bodily harm, which in California, because of the Little Lindbergh Law could be sufficient to send him to the gas chamber.
Following the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. on March 1, 1932, Congress adopted the Federal Kidnapping Act (aka Lindbergh Law), a law which allowed the feds step in once kidnappers had crossed state lines with their victim. There were were several states, California among them, that implemented their own versions of the law which applied in cases of kidnapping when victims were not transported across state lines; hence Little Lindbergh. California’s Little Lindbergh statute made kidnapping with bodily harm a crime eligible for the death penalty.
In 1951 when the Green Scarf Bandit was busted the Red Light Bandit (Caryl Chessman) was already on California’s death row for kidnapping — he had been convicted under the Little Lindbergh law. Knowing that another bandit was sitting on death row may have provided the motivation for Rudolph to plead guilty to three felony charges: armed robbery, kidnapping for purpose of robbery and false imprisonment. With his plea Rudolph was able to evade the death penalty. For his misdeeds James Monroe Rudolph was sentenced to a term of from five years to life.
The Green Scarf Bandit had no intention of serving out his sentence. About seven months after arriving at Folsom Prison Rudolph and his cell mate, Claude Newton, attempted to break out.
The men had cut holes in the iron cell doors and were waiting for the right moment to bolt when they were discovered by guards. They had stuffed overalls with paper and placed the decoys in their bunks. Newton had even braided a rope out of bed sheets and put a hook on the end so that they could scale the wall.
Warden Robert A. Heinze had the last word on the attempted escape:
“Everything was set to go on the escape but it didn’t work.”