Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Health Directory | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage May 28, 2016

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Sunday, December 8, 2013

1928: BANK OF ARIZONA ROBBERY IN CLARKDALE; Inquest, June 21.

Glenda Farley

"OUTLINE OF TESTIMONY GIVEN BEFORE THE CORONER'S JURY HOLDING AN INQUEST OVER THE BODY OF WILLARD J. FORRESTER AT CLARKDALE, ARIZONA, ON JUNE 21, 1928."

TESTIMONY OF DAVID O. SAUNDERS:

"I had been out of the bank and had just returned and walked through my private office into the accounting department. Immediately thereafter I saw the man who was killed [Willard Forrester] enter my office door from the lobby and I started to return to my office to find out what he wanted. He came in rather hurriedly. As I walked up to him he grabbed me by the right arm, swung me around and shoved a gun in my ribs, saying 'This bank is being held up.' Bob Southard, teller, and Mrs. Marston, clerk, who were on duty in the accounting office, and myself were then marched out into the lobby to the desk and ordered to start writing. We were badly frightened and did as he said."

"The second of the robbers, the man who was captured, [Lee Forrester / Earl Nelson] was standing by the inside entrance door of the bank and stood guard over us. As other customers came in they were herded together."

"Forrester then ordered Southard to open the door to the currency vault, stating that if he attempted any 'monkey business' he would 'blow him in two.' Forrester then removed all the currency from the vault and placed it in a gunny sack which he had with him. He also opened all the drawers at the desks and took the currency therefrom."

"He then came out and marched me back to the vault and asked me where the balance of the currency was, saying he knew there was $70,000.00 in the bank and he had only gotten $40,000.00. I denied that there was any more currency in the bank than he had taken and showed him my cash book to prove this statement. He then stated that if I were fooling him he would come back and get me if it took 20 years. He then marched me out again, set the sack of money down by the office door, after which all the people in the bank were ordered into the vault."

"It appearing that he was going to close the outside vault door, I argued him out of this, saying that so many people in a small space could not live thirty minutes, and I asked him if he wanted to add murder to the crime of robbery. After arguing with him for a while I persuaded him to close and lock the grating but leave the main vault door unlocked. This he did, after which he left the bank with his companion."

"As soon as the two were outside I commenced working on the lock, finally unlatching the door, seized my gun which was under the desk by the teller's window, and rushed outside. The two robbers were in their car --- Forrester driving --- and just approaching the corner of Miller's store, where they turned south. I opened fire on them and just at that time Deputy Sheriff Jim Roberts appeared at the corner. Forrester's companion commenced firing at him and Roberts also commenced shooting. The car swerved to the left and was brought up by the corner of the new high school building. Forrester's companion leaped out and started to run but was quickly captured and brought back. Forrester remained in the car, it being found that he had been shot through the head and killed. I give the credit for this shot to Deputy Roberts."

" --- The above is a true and correct outline of the testimony of D. O. Saunders given at the inquest over the body of Willard J. Forrester, at Clarkdale, Arizona, June 21, 1928, as transcribed from notes taken by me. [signed] H. V. Young."

TESTIMONY OF DEPUTY JAMES F. ROBERTS:

"I had just arrived at the corner of Miller's store when I saw Dave Saunders rush out of the bank and start shooting at a car which was nearing the corner on which I stood. Before the car reached the corner one of the two occupants (the one who was not driving) started shooting at me. The car turned the corner and started south. About five shots were fired at me."

"I pulled down on the fellow at the wheel and fired three shots. The car had about reached the rear of Miller's store when it swerved to the left, struck a guy-wire on a telephone pole and brought up at the corner of the new high school building."

"Forrester was shot through the head. His companion leaped out and started to run but was captured by two men working in the school yards. I do not know whether Saunders or I fired the shot which killed the driver."

"I had noticed these men hanging around town for two or three days, but their car, a Chrysler touring car, carried a Yavapai license I had not paid much attention to them and I had no conversation with them at any time."

"I interviewed the captured robber and he said the dead man was Willard J. Forrester and he gave his name as Paul Hoffman, but as he hesitated before giving the names I believe these may not be their correct names."

" --- The above is a true and correct outline of the testimony of Deputy Jas. F. Roberts given at the inquest over the body of Willard J. Forrester, at Clarkdale, Arizona, June 21, 1928, as transcribed from notes taken by me. [signed] H. V. Young."

Courtesy: Jerome Historical Society Archives; Herbert V. Young Collection.

The following verdict was returned:

"The deceased came to his death from a gunshot wound caused by a gun in the hands of James F. Roberts, a deputy sheriff of Yavapai county, Arizona, or D. O. Saunders, manager of the Clarkdale branch of the Bank of Arizona, following robbery by the deceased of the Bank of Arizona. The jury agrees that the shooting was justified and it was done in the discharge of duty."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Friday, June 22, 1928; pages 1, 5.)

See: The Verde Independent; "1928: BANK OF ARIZONA ROBBERY IN CLARKDALE;" December 7, 9, 12, 13, 2012.

The first bank robbery in Yavapai County will be reenacted in Clarkdale on December 14, at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. The part of David O. Saunders will be played by Bill Regner. The part of Officer James F. Roberts will be played by Clarkdale Chief of Police Randy Taylor. The Clarkdale Historic Building and Home Tour begins at 9 a.m.




Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   

Advanced Search

Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast


Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, verdenews.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved