Put the Money in My Purse!

A History of Female Bank Robbers


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About the Book

Drawing on media reports, interviews and court records, this book recounts the stories of women bank robbers in the United States, from the time of the Revolutionary War to the present. Ranging from sensational to poignant to comical, the heists of frontier outlaws, gun molls, insurrectionists, housewives, grandmas and young mothers “literally robbing for Pampers” are narrated as part of the social history of women in America.

About the Author(s)

Judith A. Yates is an award-winning true crime author and criminologist with over 30 years experience in law enforcement and education. She is the creator of Best True Crime video series and is the editor of True Crime Case Files magazine. She lives in Kentucky.


Bibliographic Details

Judith A. Yates

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 298
Bibliographic Info: 44 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8764-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4576-6
Imprint: Exposit

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Preface 1
Introduction. “This will all blow up” 3

Part I. It Begins
1. A Centralized Bank: The Eagle, Not the Turkey 6
2. Setting the Precedent: Yellow Fever and the First U.S. Bank Robbery 8
3. Cora Hubbard: The First Lady of Bank Robbery 11

Part II. The “Wild Bunch” in Skirts
4. Queens of the Wild Frontier 24
5. Etta/Ethel Place: The Sundance Kid’s Second Partner in Crime 27
6. Laura Bullion: The Thorny Rose 33

Part III. The Legends
7. J. Edgar Creates Monsters: Why the 20s Roared 40
8. Bonnie Parker: The Bank Robber’s Darling 45
9. “Ma” Barker: J. Edgar’s Gal 50
10. Estella Dickson: “(Not So) Sure Shot Stella” 55

Part IV. Rosie the Riveter Robs a Bank
11. World War II, a Turning Point: Gun Girls, Child Brides, and Show Girls 66
12. Opal Dixon: The Brunette with a Syringe 71
13. Esther and Patsy Whiting: The Family That Robs Together 86
14. Dorothy Mary Platt: Despondent ­Gun-Girl 94
15. Wanda DiCenzi and Rose O’Donnell: First to Be Caught on Camera 99
16. Carolyn Sue McQueen: There Goes the Honeymoon 107
17. Linda Marsh: There Goes Christmas 111

Part V. “Power to the People!”
18. Undercover: “Someone willing to take action” 116
19. Susan Saxe and Katherine Ann Power: Radicals 118
20. The Symbionese Liberation Army: Stealing Patty 128
21. The New World Liberation Front: “Expect the Unexpected” 136
22. Sara Jane Olson: AKA Kathy Soliah’s “Witch Hunt” 146

Part VI. What Little Girls Aren’t Made Of
23. Mean Little Girls: Or Mean Little Brains? 152
24. Chelsea and Elysia Wortman: Twin Twin Robberies Robberies 156
25. Moxham, Johnstown, Pennsylvania; The Youngest Female Robber Caught 162
26. Symmes Township, Cincinnati, Ohio: The Youngest Female Robber at Large 164
27. Oakley, Ohio: “She skipped school to rob a bank” 169
28. Fall River, Massachusetts: Down the Street from Lizzie 171
29. Urbana, Illinois: Jumping Off the Bridge 173

Part VII. Diapers and Electric Bills
30. Stealing to Buy Necessities: “Literally Robbing for Pampers” 180
31. Naomi Betts: A Lot of Time, Money, and Attention 182
32. Ashley Carrington: “Used It to Pay Bills” 187

Part VIII. A Cane in One Hand, a Gun in the Other
33. The Granny Bandits: Truth About the “Golden” Years 194
34. Rowena Leonard: No Capone and No Irish Terrorist 197
35. Gail Cooke: (We Think That’s Her Name) 202
36. Josephine Sari: The “Hooded Bank Robbing Granny” 206
37. Gail Simpson: Big Pun’s Little Mama 209
38. Emily Coakley: Oldest Female Robber on Record 213

Part IX. Who Needs Television When We Have Reality?
39. Voyeurs: America’s Obsession with Fake Reality 218
40. Betty Oldham: LSD and Bank Robbery 221
41. Carolyn Sue Turner: “What I Did on Summer Vacation” 224
42. Hannah Sabata: YouTube’s “Chick Bank Robber” 230
43. Heather “Charli” Johnston and Ashley “Adrienne” Miller: Barbie’s Bank Heist Adventure 237
44. Wanda Irvin: The ­One-Armed Bandit 244
45. The Starlet Bandit(s): A New Kinda Hustle 247

Part X. What the ­G-Men Know
46. The Current Statistics: Who’s Robbing the Banks? 258
47. “Don’t Pull from the Clip/No Dye Packs” 260

Chapter Notes 263
Bibliography 273
Index 281