– Case Description
As the rain began to fall on an early autumn day in Queens, people on their lunch break opened umbrellas and ducked into doorways. Three men stepped out of a car and took cover in the St. Albans branch of the Manhattan Bank. Once inside, it was clear that the men weren’t there just to get out of the rain. Brandishing weapons with movements that meant business, the bandits proceeded to steal cash from the tellers and ordered the bank manager to the vault.
They weren’t aware of the young clerk cowered in the back, surreptitiously reaching for the phone to call the police. The police arrived within five minutes but the bandits had already executed their plan and made off with thousands of dollars in cash.
The well-planned crime netted at least $7900 for the gang. Nearly half of the loot was in rolled coins, which was used to pay an accomplice $1000 in dimes.
Charred coin wrappers in a chimney flue and a matchbook in the backseat of the getaway vehicle provided a trail of clues in the case. Detectives were led across county lines to Manhattan, and over state lines from Pennsylvania, Dallas, Los Angeles and back. Ultimately, it was the leader’s penmanship that brought the case together. By dotting his “i’s” with circles instead of dots, he helped detectives make the necessary connections to the crime.
The bandits were captured within weeks of the robbery. They all pled guilty at the trial and were each sentenced to varying prison terms of up to 25 years.
“Cowboy Pete” Colavecchio, a fugitive and gunman with an impressive arsenal was arrested in Manhattan two years later.
Detective Gordon Hill and Captain Henry Flattery were commended by Commissioner Valentine for excellent police work in breaking the case.