Jimmy Overstreet, youthful leader of a bandit gang wanted in connection with the $18,000 bank robbery of the Federal National Bank of Shawnee on December 10, was captured and in jail in Fort Worth, TX, a week later.
JIMMY OVERSTREET CAPTURED BY TEXAS POLICE
Jimmy Overstreet, youthful leader of a bandit gang wanted in connection with the $18,000 bank robbery of the Federal National Bank of Shawnee on December 10, was captured and in jail in Fort Worth, TX, a week later. He was also the suspected slayer of Joseph Marshall, a member of the gang. Overstreet’s wife, Bobby Livingston, was already in the Shawnee jail, after confessing to be the “flapper bandit”
Chief of Police L.A. Brown and County Sheriff Grover Butler left on December 17 to Fort Worth to pick up Overstreet. He was captured in a Texas hotel, where it was said he “gave himself away” by tipping waitresses $10. When arrested, he was found to have hundreds of dollars on his person.
A warrant charging robbery under the 1923 Oklahoma statute, which protected life as well as property, carrying a penalty 25 years to death, was filed in justice of the peace court in Shawnee against Overstreet. His wife, Livingston, was charged with robbery under the old statutes that carried a penalty not to exceed 25 years.
With the capture of Overstreet, there were two perpetrators of the robbery still at large; Charles Brice and Art Dixon. They were two gangsters from East St. Louis, now identified as members of the bank holdup gang. Originally, it was thought that “Blackie” Thompson and his gang were the robbers.
Overstreet was well-known in Shawnee. He first gained attention of the police in 1920, when he was arrested for car stealing at Guthrie. He was sentenced to five years at Granite but was paroled by the governor and came to Shawnee, where he was employed in the locomotive car shops. He went out on strike on July 1, 1922, and was arrested on November 5, for assaulting Walter Mitchell. He was sentenced to serve 10 days in the Logan County jail.
Then returning to Shawnee, he was again arrested on the suspicion of several car thefts. He was finally released and left the city, before again being brought before authorities in the state of Mississippi.
Overstreet and Thomas A. Huff, also of Shawnee, were arrested in Tupelo, MS, for the robbery of Pounds-Patrick Jewelry Store of $2,000 worth of diamonds. He, along with other accomplices, were captured in Sherman, MS, where they had made camp on the bank of a creek. Huff was captured after a running fight with Mississippi officers.
County Attorney Claude Hendon and Sheriff Grover Butler went to Tupelo and identified Overstreet and arranged for his return to Shawnee. He was charged with complicity in the dynamiting of homes during the railway strike. Huff stood trial in Mississippi and finally escaped punishment. Overstreet was tried in Oklahoma and sentenced again to Granite, where he escaped in the fall of 1923, just before Governor Walton was about to pardon him.
He remained at liberty and was said to have joined the East St. Louis underworld. Police believed that he was the leader of the gang that terrorized that state with a series of bank robberies.
Overstreet was a “dapper” youth, well-dressed and with an unassuming appearance, and was described as the new type of bandit, a “squash-buckling ladies’ man.”
He was set to be charged with the murder of Joseph Marshall, the bandit who was found dead on December 12, near Bristow by three boys hunting in a wooded pasture. The police had strong evidence that pointed to Overstreet as the murderer. The wife of Marshall, Helen Henderson (Cardwell), was arrested with Bobby Livingston, in Oklahoma City. Livingston and Henderson occupied the same cell in the Shawnee city jail.
Without the confession of the two girls, police learned how the robbery was planned in a Bristow hotel. A man whose name was withheld and occupied an adjacent room where the bandits were gathered, told police of the plot. The entire party, including the two girls, were in the room.
“Well, if you do pull a job, make it a good one,” said one of the girls to the party.
The police said the bandits agreed that a bank that would not yield more than two or three thousand dollars would not be bothered. It was intimated that Overstreet realized the situation in Shawnee and presented plans for the robbery. It was arranged that immediately after the robbery, the gang would separate, and reconvene later at Bristow. The two girls were scheduled to join the party also.
With the arrest of the two girls, plans went astray, and the police theory was that the men camped in the woods near a black cemetery. They engaged in a quarrel over the loot and Marshall was struck in the head by Overstreet. It was believed that Overstreet then calmly shot Marshall in the head as he lay unconscious.
OVERSTREET WAS STEPPING HIGH IN TEXAS WHEN COPS SWOOPED DOWN UPON HIM
Attired in golf togs and with an expensive bag of clubs over one shoulder, Jimmy Overstreet, alias Jess Ripley, James P. Simpson, “the swell kid,” and many other monikers, was arrested by local detectives in a Fort Worth hotel on December 17, 1924. The affair was in connection with the robbery of the Federal National Bank in Shawnee on the December 10. He had about $1,000 on his person.
Overstreet denied any complicity and gave the name of Simpson. Fingerprint records disclosed his several aliases and police history. He was trailed to Fort Worth from Sapulpa, OK, by the Burns Detective Agency of Oklahoma City. They worked for the American Banking Association.
A lavish display of money in tipping hotel employees while he was drunk the evening before, indirectly caused his arrest. He was immediately identified when detectives presented his picture to the employees of the hotel.
BANDITS’ FAILURE ATTRIBUTED TO MISTAKE IN PLAYING WOMEN
On December 7, a party of six people came down into Oklahoma, the home of the gunman, to show veterans of crime some daring bits of banditry. Afterwards, one of the members of the band lay dead in a Bristow undertaking establishment, two were held in the Shawnee jail, another, the daring leader, was a captive in Fort Worth.
Two others were still at large, but they did not dare show their faces, for all over the U.S., bloodhounds of the law were hunting them down. They were fugitives from justice and eventually the law would collect its toll. The news media commented that eventually the law would demand its “pound of flesh.”
Some thought the two remaining fugitives might make a slip. Others thought they would end up like Joseph Marshall and die at the hands of an assassin; shot from behind, stripped of their plunder and their body left unclaimed by foe or friend.
Perhaps like Overstreet and Marshall, they would find a woman upon whom they would lavish affections and afterwards, find that through them would lie their undoing.
“Find the woman,” and the crime will be solved was the view taken by Shawnee police following the hijacking of the Pioneer Filling Station and the kidnapping of a motorcycle cop and a filling station worker.
“We knew within a few minutes where the party had stayed in Shawnee,” a local officer revealed to the public. “Then it was easy to trace them. Women cannot keep secrets and they are easier to trace than men.”
The women were found. Under severe “sweating,” they told the story of the crime. It was then that they were linked with the bank robbery. It was from that police learned that Jimmy Overstreet was to meet them in Shawnee, brazenly coming back to the scene of his two crimes. A checkup revealed that he did. But officers missed him.
Then they learned that in case the bandits failed to meet their women in Shawnee, they were to meet them in Bristow. But officers arrived too late. The meeting between Overstreet and Marshall took place as scheduled. Then officers believed a dispute over division of loot occurred and Marshall was felled by his partner in crime.
U.S. Marshall Alva McDonald commented on the case by saying that there were at least 30 bandits in the area that could have pulled off the bank robbery. However, most of them would have left the women alone. He said, “A bandit can neither afford to love or play. A bandit cannot be hampered with transporting a wife and he cannot afford to place his trust in a woman.”
He went on to say that is where Jimmy Overstreet went wrong. He said women led to the uncovering of the entire maze of details surrounding the two robberies.
(These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. It can be purchased for $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is now at the printer’s office and is coming in October. All three volumes are more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. Volume three is priced at $35. A combination of two or three can be purchased at $30 each. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989, is scheduled for the fall of 2020; volume five 1990-2009, should be available in the fall of 2021; and volume six 2010-to the present, is scheduled for the fall of 2022. They are also available on thumb drive at the PCHS Museum. Volume Three, 1950-69 in thumb drive is currently available for purchase at Museum.)
Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.