the Face of Death" full article
New York Times Magazine, July 6, 2003
Trenchcoat Robbers" full article
New Yorker, July 8, 2002
is Everyone Going?" full article
Chicago Tribune Magazine, March 10, 2002
the Sheriff" Download
New Yorker, Sept. 25, 2000
the Clouds" full article
Washington Post Mag., June 12, 2000
Execution of Youth" Download
New Yorker, Jan. 17, 2000
New Yorker, Feb. 8, 1999
High School at the End of the Road" full article
New York Times Magazine, July 5, 1998
Cox " full article
Rolling Stone, June 8, 1998
New York Times Magazine, January 11, 1998
to Know One Another, Again and Again" full
New York Times Magazine, March 9, 1997
After fifteen years and twenty-seven banks, they finally tripped
The New Yorker, July 8, 2002
by Alex Kotlowitz
Even those who were close
to Ray Bowman didn't know him very well. He led an unadorned life
on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, in a small ranch house
that he shared with his longtime girlfriend, Jenny Delamotte,
their two daughters, and Delamotte's daughter from an earlier
relationship. Bowman sold lawnmowers and worked as a private investigator-at
least, that's what he told his friends and his family-but he seemed
to have a lot of time on his hands. He frequently disappeared
for weeks, never telling Delamotte where he was going. When she
asked him questions about his business, he would get angry. "I
just felt like . . . he had a whole other life outside of me,"
she later said. One day in January of 1997, Bowman told Jenny
to take the girls grocery shopping, which meant that he would
be gone when they returned. He then drove across the country to
Kent,Washington, where he met up with his partner, Billy Kirkpatrick,
at the Pony Soldier Motor Inn.
Bowman and Kirkpatrick were an odd match: Bowman was a short,
distinguished-looking fifty-three-yearold with sharp features.
He had neatly styled salt-and-pepper hair, and he dressed in dark,
expensive suits. Kirkpatrick, four years older and more than half
a foot taller, wore aviator glasses, and combed his hair straight
back. He had sunken cheeks, droopy eyes, and stooped shoulders,
which gave him the look of someone who had spent his best years
toiling on an assembly line. Bowman liked to banter; Kirkpatrick
was taciturn, almost shy. As usual, they rented separate rooms,
because Bowman's snoring got on Kirkpatrick's nerves. They ate
breakfast together but no other meals.
This was their third trip to the area in four months. On each
visit, they spent a few weeks becoming familiar with the comings
and goings at Seafirst Bank, a one-story brick building at the
end of a commercial strip in Lakewood, a suburb of Tacoma. The
two men also occasionally entered the bank-to change a twenty,
or to purchase a money order- so they could count the number of
employees and learn their routines. Bowman and Kirkpatrick, who
were among the most accomplished bank robbers in United States
history, were about to pull off their twenty-seventh heist.
Of the seven thousand
one hundred and twenty-seven bank robberies in the United States
in 2000,the average take was just twelve hundred dollars, and
most of the thieves were eventually captured. Bank robberies tend
to be committed by inexperienced and desperate people, but Bowman
and Kirkpatrick always worked with remarkable preparation and
restraint, and they never bragged about their successes. They
operated for fifteen years,one year less than Jesse James and
his gang, and they robbed an average of two banks annually-always
in a different city or town across the Midwest and Northwest.
"They're a throwback to the old days,"one veteran F.B.I.agent
told me."I hope we don't see anyone like them again."
Bowman and Kirkpatrick were finally captured, but only after a
number of small, uncharacteristic missteps, which resulted, in
large part, from a middleaged desire to lead more ordinary lives.
Although the F.B.I. didn't know whom they were looking for, the
pattern was clear: two men-Mutt and Jeff, one agent named them-would
gain entry to a bank either just before it opened or shortly after
it closed, when there were no customers present. They usually
wore trenchcoats, along with gloves and wigs, and makeup so dark
that tellers sometimes identified them as Hispanic or Native American.
For the most part, they didn't hurt anyone, although in their
third bank holdup, in 1983, in Minneapolis, a teller named Allaire
Wilson was shot in the back by Kirkpatrick when she resisted going
into the vault; she was not seriously injured. Despite the shooting,Wilson
later told me, the thieves were polite, even thoughtful. After
she'd been wounded,Bowman assured her that they weren't going
to lock her in the vault. "I always remember he took the
time to say that to me," she said. Another time, the pair
broke into the home of a bank manager and forced him, his wife,
and his fourteen-year-old son, at gunpoint, to drive to the bank.
Years later, one of the few details the son remembered was that
the shorter robber got him a 7 UP from the bank's vending machine.
In 1989, shortly after the Trenchcoat Robbers-as the authorities
came to refer to them-took four hundred thousand dollars from
a Milwaukee bank, F.B.I. agents thought they had their men. Frank
Bolduc and Francis Larkin had been arrested for allegedly robbing
an armored car in Massachusetts, and an agent noticed that they
matched the descriptions given by the bank tellers in Milwaukee;
a jury eventually convicted them of the Milwaukee heist and an
earlier attempted bank robbery nearby.
Soon after Bolduc and Larkin went to prison, however, two men-one
short, the other tall-robbed a bank in Lincoln, Nebraska. A pair
of the same description had hit seven more banks by the end of
1994, including the Valley Bank of Nevada in Henderson, where
an employee set off an alarm. The robbers took a teller hostage,
shoved her into the back seat of a stolen Chrysler sedan, and
fled, pursued by the police. Shots were exchanged. Their car disappeared
into a nearby housing complex laid out like a maze, which the
robbers had apparently scouted earlier, as an escape route. They
switched cars behind a bar, let the hostage go, and made off with
a hundred and thirty-eight thousand dollars. The F.B.I. had to
conclude that either Bolduc and Larkin were part of a bigger gang
or the Trenchcoat Robbers were still at large.
In a 1962 mug shot,Ray
Bowman,who had been arrested for burglary in Kansas City, scowls
at the camera. He is a good-looking eighteen-year-old, with a
pompadour and long sideburns. Bowman's father, a cabinetmaker,
died when he was twelve; his mother went to work at Hallmark Cards
to support Ray and his younger brother,Dan.Bowman dropped out
of school in tenth grade, and quickly drifted into the life of
a small-time hood, shoplifting, or "boosting," for a
low-level mobster named Tiger Cartarella. Cartarella, who was
eventually killed in a Mob hit, distributed "shopping lists"
to the teen-agers: record albums, watches, tennis racquets, whatever
was currently in demand. They stole the goods, and he fenced them.
But Bowman was careful never to boost in Kansas City. "Ray
used to say, 'You don't shit in your own back yard,' " recalled
one of his former accomplices, who travelled as far as Wisconsin
and Colorado with Bowman. Everyone wanted to steal with Bowman,
the friend explained, because he was unflappable and closemouthed:"Ray
wouldn't tell you his middle name, unless you said it first."
During Ray Bowman's days as a shoplifter, he had hooked up with
a young man named Billy Kirkpatrick, also a high-school dropout.
They began boosting together, wearing oversized pants and trenchcoats
to conceal the items they stole.They were arrested only once,
in Springfield, Missouri, in 1974, where they were caught with
thirty-eight record albums stolen from a K mart. By the mid-nineteen-eighties,Bowman
and Kirkpatrick had stopped hanging out together in public, since
friends had begun to wonder where they got all their cash.
For much of the eighties, Bowman was a big-spending, hotheaded
bachelor. According to Cheryl Clark, a blackjack dealer who lived
with him in those years, he indulged in limousines,cocaine, eighthundred-dollar
dinners, silk shirts, and cologne. (One bank teller told police,
"He smelled really good.") Bowman also harbored strong
anti-government sentiments and amassed a collection of guns and
survivalist literature. One bedroom in the house was double-locked,
and only Bowman had a key."I didn't ask any questions, 'cause
he'd get so upset I thought he was going to hit me," Clark
said.When the two split up, in 1989, he confiscated the diaries
in which she had noted the dates he was out of town.
In 1990,Bowman,then forty-six,met Jenny Delamotte, a self-effacing
twentysix-year-old single mother who worked at a bar. Before long,
Delamotte and her daughter moved in with Bowman; two years later,
she and Bowman had their first child, Samantha, who was followed
by another daughter, Taylor. The children seemed to settle Bowman.He
drove the kids to and from private school, and often accompanied
them on field trips. He taught himself Spanish as Samantha was
learning it in school. He also read voraciously, and became serious
about photography. He traded his Corvette for a Crown Victoria,
Delamotte said, and became a "homebody."
In the fall of 1996,Ray Bowman called his brother, Dan, for the
first time since 1985,when they had quarrelled over Dan's refusal
to store a footlocker for him. In the meantime, Dan had prospered
in Kansas City, where he sold real estate and had opened Sidekicks
Saloon, a successful gay bar. "I was thinking he wanted to
borrow money," Dan said. Instead,Ray asked his brother to
be the executor of his will. After the brothers reconciled, it
surprised Dan to see how frugally Ray and Jenny were living.Their
one-story home, which they rented for eight hundred dollars a
month, was so modest that Delamotte had to cover a hole in the
kitchen linoleum with a throw rug. "There was so much they
did without," Dan told me.
had been caught trying to steal a car in southern Illinois. He
posted bail and fled, briefly, to Kansas City, where he assumed
the identity of a bar owner named Charles Gehrs. Kirkpatrick eventually
found his way to Minneapolis, where he and his girlfriend, Myra
Penney, also began to build a quieter life.
Penney is seventeen years younger than Kirkpatrick, and barely
comes up to his shoulder. She has wavy red hair, and a brassy
manner. Penney told me that she got to know Kirkpatrick through
a friend and immediately fell in love. At the time, she was recently
divorced and working as a school-bus driver to support her two
young children.When Kirkpatrick left Kansas City, she decided
to follow him, and left her children with their father. She didn't
communicate with her family for nearly ten years.
Penney was the only person who knew about Kirkpatrick and Bowman's
line of work. When Kirkpatrick returned from his trips, Penney
went through the motel and rental-car receipts to make sure he
hadn't been overcharged and then burned them in the fireplace.
She also enrolled the two men in the Holiday Inn Priority Club
so they could take advantage of the chain's discounts. Penney
never met the man she knew only as "Ray from Kansas City,"
though she and Kirkpatrick kept a photograph of Bowman's two daughters
on the refrigerator.
In 1988, when Kirkpatrick was scouting a bank in Duluth, he and
Penney became smitten with the rugged coast of Lake Superior.
Six years later, they decided to build a log home eighteen miles
from the Canadian border, in Hovland, Minnesota, a town that consists
of one convenience store and a gas pump.They hired a local builder,
Michael Senty, and with him designed a three-level, cedarlog home
by the water.Penney paid Senty mostly in cash-in fifty- and hundreddollar
bills,wrapped in rubber bands and delivered in brown lunch bags.
"I was led to believe that she inherited the money,"
In the summer of 1995, the couple settled in. Kirkpatrick had
taken on yet another identity, and was introducing himself as
Don Wilson, although Penney always referred to him as "big
guy" rather than risk using the wrong name. To explain why
he was away so often, Penney told friends that he owned warehouses
and a locksmithing business; in 1989, Kirkpatrick had, in fact,
taken a fifty-two-lesson mail-order course through Foley-Belsaw,
one of the leading locksmithing schools. Penney spent much of
her time tending a greenhouse vegetable garden and stitching quilts;
when Kirkpatrick was home, he worked on a stone path to the lake
and practiced his locksmithing skills in the basement. Kirkpatrick
grew so comfortable in Hovland that for the first time since Penney
had known him he stopped carrying a gun.
Kirkpatrick and Penney became good friends with a younger couple,
Randy and Monica Schnobrich, and often babysat for their two small
children. "I always had this feeling that they were spending
more money more freely than they'd ever done before," Randy
said."But we thought,Things are different up here, so we'll
just trust them." There were a few mysterious moments, though.
Once, Randy came into the house to use the phone, and saw Kirkpatrick
slip an empty holster off the kitchen table. And when Randy took
a photograph of Kirkpatrick and Penney sitting on the couch with
his four-yearold son, Sebastian, between them, they both hid their
faces behind the little boy.
By the spring of 1996, the Lake Superior home was almost complete.
Penney hounded Senty about the final adjustments so relentlessly
that, angered by her badgering, he placed an anonymous call to
the Internal Revenue Ser- vice and reported that a woman named
Myra Penney had paid for a home in Hovland entirely in cash.
The following January,
Kirkpatrick joined Bowman in Washington, to rob the Seafirst Bank.Using
a set of manufacturers' master keys that Kirkpatrick had bought
through the mail by posing as a locksmith, the two men stole a
Jeep Grand Cherokee. At six-thirty on the evening of February
10th, just after closing time, Kirkpatrick and Bowman drove to
the bank and used a thin, L-shaped tool to open the locked front
door. Both men were wearing trenchcoats buttoned at the collar,
sunglasses, and baseball caps with the F.B.I. insignia; Kirkpatrick
was also wearing an earpiece that was connected to a police scanner
in his coat pocket. There were three women in the bank when the
men entered with their guns drawn.
"I came for your money," Bowman declared. Then he put
his pistol back in his coat pocket, warning the women that if
they didn't do everything he said, he would take a hostage. The
two men herded the tellers into the open vault, which contained
a metal cart with a Plexiglas top, loaded with money."Look
at all that cash!" Kirkpatrick exclaimed. He bound the tellers'
wrists with plastic electrical ties and ordered them to close
their eyes while Bowman pried open the padlocked compartments
on the cash cart and began stuffing duffel bags with bills. One
of the tellers explained that since her husband hadn't heard from
her he might come by the bank. "Don't worry," Bowman
assured her, "we'll be long gone." Before leaving, they
tied the women's ankles to a table. Then they walked out of the
bank with three hundred and fifty-five pounds of cash.
As soon as the two men drove away in their stolen car, one of
the tellers freed herself and set off the alarm. As it turned
out, this branch took daily deposits from other branches, as well
as from a nearby Indian casino. Bowman and Kirkpatrick had stolen
four million four hundred and sixty-one thousand six hundred and
eighty-one dollars-the largest take in United States history.
The F.B.I. immediately suspected the Trenchcoat Robbers. Agents
made contact with every hotel on the I-5 corridor, and stopped
rush-hour traffic to ask commuters whether they'd noticed anything
suspicious near the bank. When they found the getaway car, a week
later, it was cleaner than when it had been stolen; there was
no evidence of tampering, and they couldn't even detect the owner's
fingerprints, let alone the fingerprints of the robbers.
Bowman and Kirkpatrick spent the night of the heist at a motel
in Portland, Oregon, and then split up, each taking half the money.
On his way back to Kansas City,Bowman deposited much of his share
in bank safe-deposit boxes in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Missouri;
Kirkpatrick drove two days to a Holiday Inn in Egan, a Minneapolis
suburb,where he met Penney to celebrate Valentine's Day. "He
came in in the middle of the night," Penney recalled."He
had four or five duffels, and I asked him if it was what I thought
it was. He was smiling." They went for dinner at the Napa
Valley Grille in the Mall of America and drank two bottles of
Dom Perignon. Kirkpatrick never said how much money was in the
duffels. "Only once, when we were up north," Penney
told me, "he said that we had enough money to last the rest
of our lives. I was just so happy that maybe he wouldn't have
to do it anymore."
The spring of 1997 was a quiet interlude for both men. Bowman
spent time with his children and shopped for books and expensive
clothes. He threw Dan a surprise birthday party at a steak house.
"It was the first time my brother had ever done anything
for me," Dan said. "He turned into this very caring
person." In Hovland,Penney worked in her garden and Kirkpatrick
continued to work on the stone path, using a new sixwheel all-terrain
vehicle."There was this sense they were finally settled,"
Randy Schnobrich recalls.
In the meantime, the F.B.I. posted a hundred-thousand-dollar
reward and convened its third conference in eight years about
the case which was now called Trenchrob.Agents from eighteen cities
gathered in Tacoma to compare notes.
For twenty-one years,
Billy Waters worked as a special agent with the Criminal Investigation
Division of the I.R.S. An unassuming, slightly built man in his
fifties,Waters had asked the I.R.S. to assign him to its two-agent
Duluth office because he loved to hunt and fish. When state headquarters
relayed the anonymous tip about Penney, he reviewed the filings
for local Currency Transaction Reports, which every bank must
file for cash transactions of more than ten thousand dollars.
They showed that a log-home builder named Michael Senty had deposited
a hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars in cash.When he discovered
that Penney had never filed tax returns, he got a subpoena for
her to appear before a grand jury.
On the afternoon of August 12, 1997,Waters appeared in the driveway
of Kirkpatrick and Penney's home and introduced himself. Penney
told Waters she wouldn't answer any questions until she had talked
to an attorney. Penney told me that after Waters left she showed
Kirkpatrick the subpoena:"Billy cracked open a beer. I opened
a bottle of white Zinfandel and took a glass, went and sat by
the lake, and cried.We didn't know what it was they wanted."
Over the next few days, Kirkpatrick and Penney gathered up the
locksmithing tools, the blank keys, and the key-making machine,
and tossed everything into a Dumpster. Kirkpatrick then collected
their cash from safe-deposit boxes and drove to Las Vegas, where
he put it in a storage locker. While Kirkpatrick was gone,Bowman
called."Uncle Tom's been here," Penney told him. "Uncle
Tom" was their code for law enforcement.
"You got to be kidding me," Bowman replied.
"Your phone's no good," Bowman said and hung up.
Actually, his phone calls were being monitored, but not because
the F.B.I. suspected that he was a bank robber. Three months earlier,Bowman,who
had rented a storage locker in Kansas City under a pseudonym,
had missed his rental payment. The managers of the facility, unable
to reach him, pried open two footlockers and found a cache of
suspicious material:pamphlets and videos with titles like "Expert
Lock Picking," and "B.& E.: A to Z-How to Get in
Anywhere,Anytime," various books on disguises, and what appeared
to be parts for a silencer. When Bowman finally came in to pay
his overdue bill, an employee jotted down his license-plate number
and passed it on to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
An A.T.F. agent named Paul Marquardt, who examined the locker's
contents, immediately thought the bureau was dealing with a "Tim
McVeigh type," and so the local police, six months later
joined by the F.B.I., put Bowman under surveillance.
Bowman must have sensed that he was being followed.According
to Delamotte, he began reading a book on money laundering, and
then one midnight in October he showed up unannounced at his brother's
home with two locked leather satchels. He asked Dan to keep the
bags for him, assuring him that it wasn't drug money. Later, he
told him that the contents of the satchels were for his daughters
should anything ever happen to him.
After Waters's visit, Kirkpatrick and Penney heard nothing more
from the I.R.S. for three months and assumed that they were no
longer under suspicion. In fact,Waters had tracked down Myra Penney's
mother, in Kansas City, and she had told him that her daughter
was living up north, with a man named Billy Kirkpatrick. Waters
then uncovered Kirkpatrick's arrest record, but he found no history
of narcotics in his or Penney's background to account for the
large amounts of cash. He thought that they might be jewel thieves.
That autumn, Kirkpatrick grew increasingly worried that someone
might break into his Las Vegas storage locker and steal his money-an
understandable concern, given his vocational training. In November,
he flew to Las Vegas, emptied the locker, and began the drive
back home.On Interstate 80, just outside Lincoln, Nebraska, a
state trooper stopped him for driving seven miles over the speed
limit. Kirkpatrick, who produced a driver's license in the name
of Don Wilson, said that he was a locksmith and that he had flown
to Las Vegas to drive his niece to Denver. But the trooper was
skeptical. Searching the rental car, the officer found four guns
and two bags of fake mustaches, a key-making machine, and locksmith
tools. He also discovered, in two padlocked footlockers, nearly
two million dollars in cash.
Kirkpatrick was arrested for possession of firearms, but the
F.B.I. suspected that he might be one of the Trenchcoat Robbers,
since some of the money was easily traced to the Seafirst Bank.
In Duluth, an agent who knew of Billy Waters's interest in a Don
Wilson showed him composite sketches that had been made after
two robbers held up a bank there in 1988;Waters identified the
taller one as Billy Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, had got word of his arrest to Penney,
with whom he had made plans for this eventuality: she was to change
her identity and flee to Seaside, Oregon, one of their favorite
vacation spots. Instead, she drove to Lincoln and posted a hundred-thousanddollar
bond for Kirkpatrick. "My heart got the best of me,"
she said.She was arrested at the Lincoln courthouse, and charged
with aiding and abetting. Penney agreed to coöperate with
the F.B.I., and told the agents that Kirkpatrick's partner was
named Ray and lived in Kansas City.
An examination of Kirkpatrick's arrest records revealed that
he and Bowman had worked together as shoplifters, and a search
of his home in Hovland turned up three trenchcoats. The only piece
of evidence connecting the two men, however, was the picture of
Bowman's children on the refrigerator; it matched photos that
police had recovered from Bowman's trash. A few weeks later, Kansas
City police arrested Bowman as he walked into a Flash Photo to
drop off film he'd taken of his daughter Taylor's school trip
to a farm.
In an F.B.I. search of Bowman's home, twenty-seven agents were
called in to sift through the heap of boxes and papers in the
basement. Among other things, investigators found blank car keys,
four gray wigs, makeup remover, cans of temporary hair color,
a policefrequency directory, ninety-seven thousand dollars in
cash, and sixty-seven firearms. The most incriminating items,
however, were two scraps of paper: on one, Bowman had scribbled
the licenseplate number of the janitor who cleaned the Seafirst
Bank; on the other, he had written the date of a piano recital
that he apparently hoped to attend at the University of Washington-which
placed him in the vicinity of the Seafirst Bank a few months before
The statute of limitations
had expired for many of the Trenchcoat heists. Kirkpatrick was
charged with three robberies, including the Seafirst.A Nebraska
judge ruled that the search of Kirkpatrick's car was illegal,
thus making the evidence inadmissible (though it could be-and
was-used against Bowman). Nevertheless, Penney persuaded Kirkpatrick
to plead guilty, and to coöperate with the F.B.I. He refused
to name his accomplice but did admit that he had worked with the
same partner each time. Over five days, he walked the agents through
a number of the robberies-including a few that had not been on
the F.B.I.'s Trenchrob list-and the agents, in turn, walked Kirkpatrick
through part of their investigation. "It was like the masters
comparing notes," one person who attended these debriefings
Kirkpatrick told the agents that he and his partner sometimes
broke into a bank at night and slept there, to surprise the employees
when they entered the next morning. He explained that he and his
partner planned escape routes that involved only right-hand turns
so that they wouldn't get stuck in traffic.He said they wore matching
outfits so that the tellers' memories of them would blend together.And
he recounted in detail how he and his partner had committed the
two robberies for which Frank Bolduc and Francis Larkin had been
convicted, eight years earlier. (Those convictions were subsequently
overturned.) On August 19, 1999, Kirkpatrick was sentenced to
fifteen years and eight months.
The charges against Myra Penney in Nebraska were dropped; she
pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in Minnesota
and was sentenced to three years' probation. Shortly before her
sentencing,Penney went back to Hovland and sat by the lake with
Randy Schnobrich. "I half miss you and I'm half pissed off
at you," he told her. (He had dug up some bulbs that Penney
and Kirkpatrick had planted in front of his house, thinking, he
said, "Maybe there's the mother lode.") Penney drove
to the log home, which has since been auctioned off, and picked
some daffodils she had planted. It angered her that the Duluth
papers described the house as a "hideaway." Kirkpatrick
"built that house out of love for me," she said. "It
irks me that they twist it."
Penney now works as a front-office manager at a hotel in Minneapolis.
In a letter, Kirkpatrick asked Penney to marry him, but, she said
wistfully, "Fifteen years is a long time."
Delamotte has always maintained that she knew nothing about the
bank robberies. At the first of Bowman's two trials, in June,
1998-for possession of silencer parts-she burst into tears when
she heard that Bowman had secreted away nearly two and a half
million dollars in safe-deposit boxes around the country."She
had to go to him for everything," Paul Marquardt, the A.T.F.
agent, said. "Like a little girl getting her allowance."
From jail,Bowman cryptically asked Delamotte, "Have the children
eaten their oatmeal?" Jenny looked in the bottom of the oatmeal
box and found keys to yet more safe-deposit boxes. She turned
them over to Bowman's attorney.
When Bowman was arrested, Dan took the two locked satchels he
was storing to a friend's house, so that he could honestly tell
investigators that he had nothing of his brother's. But, in the
end, he decided to hand them over to the authorities. It turned
out that each bag contained two hundred and forty thousand dollars.
Dan had many sleepless nights after that. "I felt like I
betrayed him," he said. One of the bundles of money had a
stamped band from the Seafirst Bank which was used as evidence
when Ray was tried for robbing Seafirst and four other banks.
At that trial, which involved a hundred and eight witnesses and
more than three thousand evidence exhibits, Bowman was convicted
and sentenced to twenty-four years and six months. Dan was called
as a witness, and, as he testi-fied about his reconciliation with
his brother, he broke down. Ray, sitting at the defense table,
pounded his heart with his right hand and mouthed the words "I
Ray Bowman's reticence
was not tempered by his arrest. "I wonder how many things
they did that we didn't know about," Marquardt said to me.
Bowman and Kirkpatrick's accumulated wealth could be accounted
for only roughly, and one prosecutor believes that there still
may be more money to be found: indeed, eighteen months after Bowman's
conviction, a bank not far from his home was relocating and opened
an unclaimed safe-deposit box in which the bank's staff found
seven thousand five hundred and fifty dollars in cash, seven handguns,
and some loose diamonds; the authorities immediately traced it
back to Bowman.
I was permitted to visit Bowman at a small, privately run detention
center in Leavenworth, Kansas. (He has since been moved to the
federal penitentiary there.) We met in a bare, fluorescent-lit
visiting room, where we sat in plastic chairs, knee to knee, his
court-appointed attorney sitting to the side. Bowman is fifty-seven,
but he looked much older. He was flaccid-almost plump-and his
complexion pasty. He wears his reading glasses all the time so
that they won't get stolen.Nervous laughter punctuated his answers,
and he seemed self-conscious about the effect of his words.
Explaining why he agreed to meet with me, he said, "This
is a chance to, I guess, be me, and maybe they'll say I'm not
a monster." Questions about the bank robberies or about Kirkpatrick
were off limits, because at the time Bowman was appealing his
first conviction. (He has since exhausted all his appeals but
continues to refuse to discuss his case.) So he talked of his
lawnmower business, which he said "never got the chance to
get going anywhere," and of reading Plato, which he confessed
was "going awful slow." He spoke of his daughters, pausing
to remove his glasses and wipe away tears. Delamotte has told
them their daddy's in prison because "he broke a rule."
She has since moved to Georgia with their children.
At one point, Bowman's attorney blurted out, "How did you
not tell anyone?" But Bowman said nothing.Whoever had robbed
those banks, I said, had been really good at what he did.
"Whoever,"Bowman replied,laughing. "The F.B.I.
had grudging admiration for whoever did it," I told him.
"I find that curious," he said, with a barely perceptible
smile that suggested he may still know a few things the rest of
us don't. _
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