Thursday, April 2, 2015

This is a Robbery!

I'm turning in to a crime beat reporter! Albeit of the historic variety. Tuesday I wrote about a shooting. Today, a bank robbery.

Earlier this week I was reviewing the descendants of my great grand aunt, Margaret Muir, and her husband, Robert Caswell, in preparation for writing about the family for my multi-volume book about the descendants of Robert Muir, my three times great grandfather. I realized there were some loose ends to research involving Robert Samuel Jenks, a grandson of Robert and Margaret's. 

Robert Samuel Jenks was born in 1939 and died in 1979. He married twice and because his wives may still be living I will not provide too much information about them. When Robert died he left behind a 30-year-old widow and a 10-year-old child. Four years later his widow married Louis Willard Mercier, who was 19 years her senior. He married at least 6 times during the course of his life.

Louis was also a bank robber.

He was born in 1930 in Wisconsin and served in the Army for four years, including service in the Korean Conflict. He was honorably discharged from the Army as a sergeant and was awarded two bronze stars.  He went to barber's school at Mole Barber College after the war and became a barber for ten years.

During that time he operated a barber shop in Moses Lake and commuted to his home in Seattle on weekends. On 30 March 1964 he walked into the Peoples National Bank in downtown Seattle and handed a teller two notes. One said the bank manager's son was being held and would be released when Mercier returned. The other apparently asked for money. The teller gave him over $2,000 and also pressed the silent alarm. Mercier was held by the bank manager until the police arrived. He was arrested without incident and held in jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond. At the time of his arrest he told police he was dying of cancer and only had 30 days to live. How he thought that would help his situation, I have no idea.

Article about the bank robbery from the Centralia Daily Chronicle,
dated 31 March 1964; image courtesy of

Nearly two months later Mercier was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to ten years in jail. The judge did order 90-day psychiatric evaluation and said the sentence might be reduced or probation granted after the study. The judge's final words were: "You are no ordinary bank robber by any means."

Louis lived for 36 years more years and died of a long illness in 2000 at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


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