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A Chatty Girl Helps Spring the Jaws of Justice

Part 2 of a 4 part series

By: Carl Langley
web posted November 26, 2007
GUEST COLUMN – With the threat of jail removed by a judicial order, Tim loitered around town for several weeks, always managing to elude the mayor’s watchful eye Meanwhile, the mayor and several of his friends turned into night riders. He and his buddies patrolled at night with axe handles, hoping to come across Tim and his friends spray painting cars, overturning dumpsters, leaving bags of feces on people’s porches and engaging themselves in other civic pursuits.

Because of watchful eyes, the local night life was not wild enough for Tim and his pals, so they took to the road. They had scraped up enough money to buy a battered 20-year-old well-worn sedan and stole a license plate. Tim and a close associate talked to two girls, who were unable to chew gum and think at the same time, and got them to go for a ride. The girls would help throw off suspicions.

Their first stop was at a bank in a country town some 20 miles away. They had intentions of holding up the bank, but an old farmer sitting in a chair in the bank lobby began eyeing them as they shuffled nervously about the bank. The old man, smarter than any deputy on the sheriff’s force, got up out of his chair, walked over to Tim and remarked, “You two birds are planning on robbing this bank, ain’t you?”

The old man’s words sent Tim and his buddy flying out of the bank. The mayor heard about this episode several weeks later and sought out the old man’s name. He wanted to hire him as police chief for his town. The mayor wanted a lawman as gifted as the old farmer was at spotting crooks. He never could find the old farmer.

Unnerved by their close call at the bank, the two delinquents returned home, dumped the girls and sat around for several days drinking up several cases of beer they stole out of the clubhouse at the town golf course. Then they went and retrieved their girlfriends, whose intelligence had not improved with Tim‘s absence.

The four got in the old car and took off for another town in a nearby county where they were not known. It was late in the evening when they managed to break into the back of a store. They took what few coins were left in a cash register but hit pay dirt when they found the store owner’s checkbook. It was the kind small businesses use in making out payrolls.

With their girls and the checkbook, the two spent the night at Clark Hill, resting under the stars, dining on potted meats, cheese, crackers and beer taken from the store. Shortly after daylight they drove over the river to a Georgia town. They filled out four checks payable to themselves and their girl friends and cashed them all. The checks were passed at different stores as payroll checks and were worth about $238.00 each.

With more than $800 in cash, a full tank of gas and a sack of hamburgers the four left the town in economic ruin and drove west, heading for Texas. They finally had to stop in a small Alabama town after the car ran hot. A shade tree mechanic used what looked like a stethoscope to tell the migrants their car was in its death throes. They shopped around for a car and finally found another shade tree mechanic who had three or four to sell. They told him they wanted to take one for a test drive and gave him $100 earnest money. The car owner never saw them or his car again. They were back on the road to Texas.

In Carson County, Tex., their luck finally ran out. The two policemen in the little Georgia town and a state law enforcement agency were looking for Tim. They had lifted a set of fingerprints off a commode seat in the burgled store and the FBI had identified him, but no one had a clue where he was or who was with him. They were about to get some help.

Nearly two weeks after Tim and his friends arrived in Texas the mayor was walking out of the post office one morning and met a young woman. He recognized her instantly as the sister of Tim’s girlfriend. He was aware she had dropped out of school in the ninth grade, a move that instantly lifted the IQ of her class by 20 points.

A thought hit the mayor, so he engaged the girl in small talk. He asked her about her parents and how she was doing on her job as a waitress at a local hamburger joint where meals were referred to as lube jobs. Then he asked about her sister. She blabbed that her sister had called her from Texas asking for money. She said her sister had gone on vacation to Texas with some friends, but she couldn’t understand why her sister called from a jailhouse. Stupidity was a family trait and the girls were well endowed with it.

The mayor could understand why the call came from a jailhouse, and what was even better she told the mayor which town the call came from. Her words sent the mayor rushing to his office, his heart beating with wild anticipation and jubilation. It only took one call to confirm that the mayor’s wildest dreams had come true.

The sheriff of Carson County, Tex., was sitting at his desk that morning wondering what to do about jail overcrowding. Things were bad enough with all the oil field workers, Mexicans and roustabouts getting into trouble and landing behind bars, but now he had four new guests who spent most of their time complaining about their accommodations.

The sheriff told the mayor that Tim and his pals had bought gas several days before and drove off without paying, but they were soon caught. The four also had shoplifted nearly $100 worth of groceries, cigarettes and condoms from the same general store. The sheriff was trying to sort out the names of his captives and the stolen license plate was no help.

Having nailed down the location of the four thanks to the chatty sister, the mayor had wasted no time in picking up his telephone and calling the Carson County Sheriff’s Department. The events of the day were fueled not only by a stroke of luck but by the wisdom often displayed by mayors of small towns. Small town mayors are their own counselors, staff assistants, administrative aides, etc., etc., and are not burdened by hangers-on like those in the big cities who tend to agree with everything their mayors say. A small town mayor is a take charge guy in almost all things and this mayor was out to prove he had what it took to bag his prey.

“I thought you folks would never call,” the sheriff said after the mayor asked him if had heard of four people whose descriptions and names he provided. “Yes, I know them, now,” the sheriff said. “They are sitting in the jail next door to my office. I have had them for a week, so will you please come and get them. They wouldn’t tell me their names and where they are from. I want to thank you for your help.”

The mayor remarked, “Well, I can tell you those skunks are from right here, and they need to be returned to my jurisdiction.”

The mayor was in no position to send an officer or officers out to Texas, fearing his officers would get lost before crossing the state line. So he gave the sheriff the phone numbers of the law in the town where the store was burgled and the chief of the state law enforcement agency.

The Texas sheriff said he would make an immediate call to South Carolina because he didn’t like holding out-of-state riff raff in his jail.

A couple of days later SLED and a country sheriff issued a joint statement bragging about the capture of Tim and his friends and their return to the state. The mayor’s name was never mentioned, and he was more than a bit miffed. After all, when you are a small town mayor you need to hear a good word every now and then. Also, the mayor had a bit of Sherlock Holmes in his genes and could have used the recognition. But, it was just as well. Let the ingrates claiming credit for their capture have to put up with them. This mayor had bigger fish to fry because there were other criminals out and about in his town and he aimed to bag them all.

Tim and his pals were brought back to the state to face justice, but much to the mayor’s chagrin the original charges of car burning and the reparations payment for the vehicle were dropped due to a technicality. The court never would tell the outraged mayor what the technicality was. The judge who came up with that ruling probably had no clue himself. Anyway, Tim was off the hook for $1,800.

While the county and state authorities were patting themselves on the back for catching up with Tim and his pals and returning them to the state, things in the mayor’s little town were not getting any better. In fact, they were getting worse. On a lovely spring evening word began circulating that several of the local lawbreakers were planning to thumb their noses at law enforcement by streaking across Main Street.

When the news got out, and it always does in a small town, several dozen cars filled with the curious were parked along the main drag waiting for sundown and the action to begin The police chief and his second in command had gotten wind of the proposed streaking and took charge of the situation. They picked out the two tallest buildings in town for observation posts, called for ladders and used them to get up on the roofs of the buildings. The other two night watchmen were dispatched to each end of town.

When the sun went down the mayor’s worst fears were realized. The streakers were ahead of the police. They sent a few of their own down to the observation buildings and just as it was getting dark and the chief and deputy chief had taken their positions in lawn chairs atop the buildings the streakers’ buddies made off with the ladders they used to get atop the buildings. A couple of minutes later the streakers, two males and two females, raced across the street and headed for a residential area.

The chief and the assistant chief were trapped atop the buildings and began bawling and bellowing for help. They pleaded for someone, anyone, to find ladders for them so they could get down. The streakers, meanwhile, ran past the local Church of God, where the members were just leaving after the evening prayer service. Three female members were standing on the front lawn chatting each other up when the naked bodies flashed past. The women fainted and fell over in the churchyard.

It was later discovered that the four streakers had help. Their friends, who had sneaked away with the ladders, had parked a hippie van (now called an SUV) two blocks away from the church. They disappeared into the van, put on their clothes and joined their driver in circling the town and re-entering the city limit a mile away. They drove down Main Street as if they were returning from a shopping trip to Aiken.

And things got even worse.

The week after the streaking incident the local hardware store was entered in the dead of night. The thieves passed up garden tools (things only appreciated by people willing to work) in favor of a number of items (TVs, radios, record players, VCRs) that could be sold at a cut rate price on the local underground market.

The incensed and heartbroken hardware store owner called for the sheriff’s department because he did not trust the town police. The mayor was not offended because he didn’t trust the police either. The sheriff sent down a forensics team to take fingerprints and make plaster casts of footprints. They found no fingerprints but managed to get casts of several footprints.

The hardware store owner watched them work and told the investigators they were making plaster casts of their own shoeprints. They shooed him off, telling him he was interfering with their investigation. Three days later it was confirmed that the investigators had, indeed, taken casts of their own footprints. They had wandered about at the back of the store on damp ground and left perfect prints.

“I told them the casts they made showed little flags in the heels and their shoes had little flags in the heels but they wouldn’t listen to me,” said the store owner. Sure enough, the store owner was right. He told the mayor he hoped the investigators never returned to his store unless they wanted to buy something.


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