It was a stupendous day in Might 1991 when an unknown, nondescript cowboy walked into the American Federal Financial institution in Irving, Texas. Tellers would later describe him as a white man in his mid-forties who stood 178 centimeters (5’10”). A bit on the heavy aspect, he had a noticeable paunch. He wore all black, save for the backwards white cowboy hat. Beneath that, his face was coated by a bushy, grey beard and large sun shades.
The person didn’t converse a phrase and left with a hefty stack of stolen money. Cowboy Bob, because the robber got here to be recognized, would frustrate the FBI all through the early 1990s and shock everybody when his id lastly got here to mild.
10 The Robberies
Throughout that first theft, Cowboy Bob wasted neither time nor phrases. He slipped the cheerful younger lady on the counter a notice that learn, “This can be a financial institution theft. Give me your cash. No marked payments or dye packs.” The teller handed over a stack of money, and Cowboy Bob left with out a lot fanfare. When FBI agent Steve Powell completed interviewing staff and watching the safety tape, he had little question that Cowboy Bob was knowledgeable financial institution robber. The thief had by no means a lot as fidgeted. He hadn’t waved a weapon round whereas shouting threats and didn’t go careening by means of visitors stops in his getaway automotive.
The finesse of Cowboy Bob was plain. He all the time drove off in the identical burned-orange Pontiac Grand Prix, however with a newly stolen license plate each single time. This left FBI brokers monitoring down the flawed automobiles a number of occasions. He calmly watched the tellers pull the stacks of money out and examined every as he took it to make certain it wasn’t secretly a dye pack. The one time that a teller added a dye pack to his haul, Cowboy Bob merely handed it again earlier than leaving with the actual money. His signature cowboy hat, under no circumstances uncommon menswear in Texas, stored safety cameras from catching a body of his face. The notice that he handed to tellers stored them from with the ability to describe his voice. Agent Powell spent the time from Might 1991 to September 1992 completely flummoxed by the skilled financial institution robber.
9 The Slipup
The lone financial institution robber of the Lone Star State carried out 5 profitable financial institution robberies throughout that span however made a deadly error on the sixth heist. On September 25, 1992, Cowboy Bob held up two banks in the identical day in Mesquite, Texas. Through the second getaway, brokers famous the license plate quantity and traced it. At this level, they should have absolutely anticipated to seek out one other harmless automotive proprietor scratching their head at the place their license plate had gotten off to. However, fortunately for investigators, the quantity that they traced that day led to the precise proprietor of the Pontiac Grand Prix, Peggy Jo Tallas.
Powell and his staff watched Tallas’s condo. They discovered the Pontiac parked outdoors. Quickly sufficient, a lady got here out, climbed into the automotive, and drove away. Powell knew this was a fortunate break, and he adopted the lady he assumed to be Cowboy Bob’s girlfriend whereas his staff stormed the condo. The group discovered Tallas’s aged mom, a cowboy hat, a pretend beard, and a stash of $15,000 underneath a mattress. Powell pulled Tallas over and informed her that he wanted her to inform him concerning the man who had been in her house earlier. Tallas replied with a chilly, “There isn’t any man. I promise you that.”
It was solely at that time that Powell observed a couple of issues concerning the lady he was questioning. There have been traces of grey dye in her hair. Bits of adhesive clung to her higher lip. He put this along with what his staff had discovered and what Tallas was now telling him.
Peggy Jo Tallas was their Cowboy Bob.
eight Behind The Beard
Whereas Tallas wasn’t the consummate skilled that Powell had initially anticipated, her disguise was extraordinarily intelligent. She made herself look greater with a towel folded beneath her shirt and cowboy boots a measurement too giant. Her hat hid her face from cameras, and her pretend beard and sun shades hid her from eyewitnesses. The notice that she handed to tellers meant that she by no means needed to converse, which might have let on that she was a lady beneath. The truth that the authorities have been looking for a person meant that Peggy Jo Tallas might have by no means been recognized if she hadn’t slipped up with the license plate.
Now that she was caught, authorities discovered extra about her intriguing strategies. Decided by no means to harm anybody throughout her adventures, Tallas by no means carried a weapon right into a financial institution. She operated alone, and she or he knew find out how to discover dye packs by testing the pliability of the stacks. On the time, dye packs have been much more inflexible than the cash itself. Her story captivated the media, however she refused to provide interviews. Tallas gave no protection of her actions, not even in courtroom. She pleaded responsible and took her 33-month sentence in stride. Nobody near Tallas would give interviews about her till a few years later.
Peggy Jo Tallas’s motives stay mysterious, however her on a regular basis life, outdoors of the occasional bank-robbing escapade, is well-documented. Tallas was a free-spirited teen within the late 1950s. She dropped out of faculty within the tenth grade as a result of she felt there was an excessive amount of to do on the planet to be cooped up there. She as soon as skipped off to San Francisco to see what life was like there. Her fondest dream was to spend the remainder of her days on some seashore in Mexico. In her twenties, she moved to North Dallas and labored as a receptionist. She spent her free time at nightclubs, poetry readings, live shows, and the films. She went again many times to observe her favourite film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Child. The story follows two Robin Hood varieties who by no means harm harmless bystanders and solely rob those that abuse their energy.
Regardless of her wild drive for journey, Tallas’s buddies and relations say she was the final individual they might have anticipated to rob a financial institution. Her niece, Michelle, remembers her as a lady with a coronary heart of gold. She recounts being babysat by her aunt, who would make up new video games to play, make popcorn, after which inform them ghost tales late at night time. A neighbor recalled having a pleasant chat with Tallas about the easiest way to develop crops as soon as. An in depth good friend from Tallas’s twenties, Cherry Younger, wrote off the occasional odd remark since she knew Tallas was wild at coronary heart. As soon as, they noticed an armored financial institution truck, and Tallas jokingly stated she might rob it and never fear about something for some time. Younger tossed again that she’d want a gun to try this, however Tallas shot again, “Oh, heck, I’m smarter than that.”
6 Breaking Level
Within the 1980s, Tallas turned the only caretaker of her ailing mom. Bedridden, her mom suffered from a degenerative bone illness. On the similar time, her relationship together with her siblings suffered, and she or he had given up on a love life altogether. She labored job after job and moved from house to condominium together with her mom. It didn’t assist the state of affairs when Tallas began to have her personal medical points. She sustained a again damage whereas working and later had an emergency mastectomy that stored her bedridden for weeks.
Tallas refused to think about placing her mom in a nursing residence, insisting that she felt her mom deserved to spend the remainder of her life in her own residence. This worsened her personal struggles, since she was the one one who might work and in addition maintain her mom. Even when she was capable of work, her paycheck mixed together with her mom’s Social Safety verify nonetheless didn’t fairly cowl their payments. As their money owed elevated, the once-carefree Tallas began to take nervousness medicine to calm herself. Nonetheless, she by no means developed a drug drawback like the bulk of people that flip to robbing banks to cowl their prices. Her lawyer felt he might use this in her protection however didn’t get to since Tallas refused to struggle the fees.
5 Again Residence
Tallas received out of jail within the mid-1990s. She went again to a quiet life, refusing to offer interviews to media retailers and specializing in caring for her mom. She took a job at a marina, the place her popularity appeared to be utterly unknown. Locals who frequented the marina liked her. Tallas all the time handed out slightly additional when she obtained individuals their bait fish. She additionally acquired alongside particularly properly with clients’ youngsters and stored their consideration whereas their mother and father shopped. She was widespread with single males who shopped there however all the time turned them down once they invited her out for a cocktail. With an apologetic shrug, she would clarify that she needed to go house and look after her mom.
Suzy Leslie, the supervisor on the time of Tallas’s employment, had nothing however good issues to say about her. She reported that Tallas was one among their greatest staff, and by no means as soon as did her until come up brief. For Tallas, the individuals who got here into the store weren’t simply clients. She would commonly go to with a poor lady who fished there to feed her household. It wasn’t uncommon for Tallas to succeed in into her personal pocket to assist those that got here up brief. She made the trouble to write down out questions for a deaf man who shopped there and gave cash to a person who had lately been launched from jail. Leslie remembers asking Tallas why she did this, and her response was merely, “Properly, all of us obtained a previous, you already know.”
four Ultimate Frontier
For a number of years, Tallas was completely completely happy to work on the marina and go proper residence to are likely to her mom after. However in 2002, she would hit one other turning level. Her mom, who she had diligently cared for many of her grownup life, handed away in her sleep. Tallas advised pals that she was glad that her mom was not in ache however couldn’t speak about her with out tearing up. By 2004, family and friends had observed a restlessness starting to creep up in Tallas as soon as extra.
In that very same yr, she purchased a Frontier RV off a person on the marina for $5,900 and the promise of $500 extra at a later date. She informed Leslie that it was time for her to hit the street. It was lastly time to chase her dream of retiring on a seashore in Mexico. Earlier than she left, she advised Leslie to return be a part of her earlier than life ran out on them each. Tallas idled for a short while at an area park, probably making an attempt to work out the place she would get the cash to cross the border and settle there. In the summertime of 2004, she realized that there was just one approach she might get sufficient cash to make her dream a actuality.
three One Final Job
Nobody could be totally sure of what number of extra financial institution robberies the now 60-year-old Peggy Jo Tallas would commit from that 2004 summer time to Might 2005, however her RV was noticed within the space of a theft at Warranty Financial institution in Tyler, Texas. The person tellers described had a glued-on mustache and a stomach that seemed padded. He additionally had a female, smooth voice when he spoke. If this was certainly Tallas, she was getting careless. She would get much more careless on Might 5, 2005.
She left Cowboy Bob behind, committing the theft as herself for the primary and final time. She hit the identical Warranty Financial institution that she might have robbed the earlier yr, this time sporting her standard garments, a wide-brimmed sunhat, and large sun shades that coated almost half her face. The word she handed to the teller requested for all the cash and ordered her to not set off any alarms. Oddly, it didn’t order her to not add marked payments or dye packs. Tallas additionally let the teller load the cash herself. This uncharacteristic sloppiness got here again to chew her. As she left the financial institution, a radio-triggered dye pack exploded inside her bag of money. Dye packs are designed to stain the cash and the robber’s garments, pores and skin, and automotive with a brilliant pink aerosol dye. Moreover, the pack heats as much as round 204 levels Celsius (400 °F) in order that thieves can’t merely decide it up and throw it away.
Tallas caught out like a sore thumb operating from the financial institution together with her bag billowing purple smoke behind her. Two involved residents noticed her and adopted of their automotive. As a aspect word, that they had their two youngsters within the again seat and had no concept how harmful this robber could be. They should have been very involved residents. Police shortly caught as much as Tallas’s RV and ordered her out. She closed the purple shades on the camper’s home windows and sat for a while considering on what to do. Lastly, Tallas walked into the again bed room. There, she stored two weapons. One was a .357 Magnum loaded with hollow-point bullets, and the opposite was a really convincing toy gun. She grabbed one and went to the door.
2 ‘Say It Ain’t So’
Peggy Jo Tallas referred to as out to the police surrounding her RV, telling them that they might simply need to kill her. One officer cautioned her that she didn’t have to do that, they usually didn’t need her to do that. She retorted, “You imply to inform me if I come out of right here with a gun and level it at y’all, you’re not going to shoot me?”
Though officers begged her to not, that’s precisely what Tallas did. She stepped foot outdoors of the RV together with her gun raised and instantly took 4 bullets. She fell straight ahead. Journalist Skip Hollandsworth, the authority on Tallas’s story, described her dying with such talent that it can’t be outdone. He wrote:
As soon as she hit the bottom, nevertheless, she one way or the other discovered the power to tug off her sun shades. For a second, she lifted her head. That Might morning, the sunshine was like honey. A smooth breeze blew throughout the yard. From someplace got here the sound of pigeons cooing. Peggy Jo seemed up on the dense new foliage of a candy gum tree that rose above her. Then she closed her eyes and died.
The police set off tear fuel within the RV to drive out accomplices, however, in fact, there have been none. Once they swept the RV and checked Tallas over, they discovered each weapons. Her .357 Magnum was nonetheless tucked safely underneath a pillow inside, and the gun that lay at her aspect was the toy. Even in her remaining moments, she didn’t need to probability hurting anybody. A background verify revealed Tallas’s historical past because the bank-robbing Cowboy Bob. FBI agent Millslagle referred to as the now-retired agent Steve Powell to offer him the dangerous information about his previous nemesis. Powell responded wistfully, “Say it ain’t so.”
1 The Legend
Since Tallas by no means spoke to anybody about her bank-robbing days earlier than her abrupt dying, nobody can actually say what drove her to maintain robbing banks. Her surviving household stays perplexed. Her brother lamented after her dying that he would have gladly given her cash. Her niece commented that Tallas was the final individual you’d ever suspect of robbing a financial institution. All that she would say for herself was that the primary theft was meant to pay her mom’s medical payments. Shut pals like Cherry Younger assume that she was starting to really feel caught in her life and wanted to do one thing wild to interrupt free. Associates and psychologists alike agree that she in all probability continued as a result of she liked the joys of getting away with a criminal offense. She by no means appeared determined for cash and by no means bodily harm anybody. Nonetheless, Tallas’s favourite movie may need performed into her standoff with police. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Child exit in a blaze of glory and bullets. Tallas had watched the film numerous occasions and should have needed that ending for herself.
The mystique of her unknown motives paired with the intriguing story of a sort, soft-spoken middle-aged lady dressing up as a cowboy to efficiently rob a number of banks have impressed many retellings. Journalist Skip Hollandsworth wrote the unique story of Peggy Jo Tallas in 2005 for Texas Month-to-month. In 2010, The Moaners launched their album Nocturnal, which featured a track referred to as “Cowboy Bob (The Ballad of Peggy Jo Tallas).” Denver-based Buntport Theater Firm and Sq. Product Theatre joined forces in 2014 to placed on 4 weekends of Peggy Jo and the Desolate Nothing, an formidable play that portrays the legendary financial institution robber with 4 separate actors. The Massive Sick ‘s Michael Showalter has signed with Fox Searchlight to direct a Western/thriller concerning the enigmatic Peggy Jo Tallas referred to as The Final Experience of Cowboy Bob, after Hollandsworth’s 2005 article of the identical identify. Plans for the movie have been introduced in 2017, and the indie undertaking is at present in improvement.
Renee is an Atlanta-based graphic designer who enjoys researching offbeat topics and writing about them.