12/18/1922 - At 10:40 on a chilly December morning, one of the most notorious crimes in Colorado history takes place outside the Denver Mint.
U.S. Mint - Denver, Colorado
Most noted for creating coins for the government, the Mint's vaults, located on Colfax Avenue in the Mile High City, also serve as protected storage for any overflow of currency from the small Federal Reserve Bank in the Interstate Trust Building, nearby at 16th and Lawrence ... an added function of the establishment that has somehow become known to a deadly group of professional bank robbers. A job planned down to the second (a trademark of German bandit Herman Lamm and his proteges, Harvey Bailey and Eddie Bentz), just as $200,000 in ten, eighteen inch long, eight pound packages of five dollar bills has finished being loaded into a mesh-wire cage on the back of the bank's pickup truck for transfer, and the Mint guards have gone back inside their building, a curtained black Buick touring car pulls up and disgorges three black-masked men. The robbery is on!
"Hands Up!" Two bandits armed with shotguns take up positions behind telephone poles and begin firing when their order is not immediately complied with, while the third outlaw, armed with a pistol, moves the money packages to the gang's getaway car (a fourth outlaw stays behind the wheel of the vehicle and in some accounts there is a fifth bandit). The gunfire of the crooks is in turn answered by the truck's bank guards and by government agents within the Mint ... a bullet melee that lasts all of ninety seconds, one of which is fatal for sixty-four-year-old Special Officer Charles T. Linton of the Federal Reserve, who takes a point-blank shotgun blast to the chest in the exchange of gunfire (prior to his employment with the Reserve, Linton is a member of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office for over twenty-six years, the veteran lawman leaves behind a wife and two sons). Heist complete, the Buick roars away down Colfax with one outlaw bleeding from a hand wound as he continues to fire his shotgun from the running board of the fleeing car, while another hit thief slumps over in his seat. A truck is sideswiped leaving the scene of the crime, but the Buick is not harmed enough to stop its flight and the gang soon vanishes into downtown Denver, their escape a success despite Colorado immediately beginning the biggest manhunt in the state's history (it is believed the robbers flee to St. Paul, Minnesota).
Eighteen days later, the bloody getaway car is found in a residential garage at 1631 Gilpin Street ... found containing the frozen corpse of the only participant in the robbery to ever be officially identified, thirty-six-year-old outlaw Nicolas "Chaw Jimmie" Trainor (on parole from the Nebraska State Penitentiary), dead from a massive shotgun wound to the bandit's jaw. In February of 1923 another discover in the case is made when Secret Service agents raiding a bandit hideout in Minnesota locate $80,000 of cash from the robbery, and an additional $73,000 of bonds taken in a raid on a Walnut Hills, Ohio bank ... loot thought to be in the region for underworld laundering by the criminal kingpin of the region, Daniel "Dapper Dan" Hogan.
Federal authorities will announce the crime has been solved in 1925, but no details about any of the participants are released, and in 1934, Denver Police Chief A. T. Clark claims five men and two women were responsible for the robbery, all stated as being dead or already serving life terms in prison, but again no names or details of the bloody day in front of the Denver Mint are provided to the public. Other than for Trainor, who the men in the masks were remains a mystery to this day!
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