The Last Ride Of The Polo Shirt Bandit
April 25, 2015 7:39 AM   Subscribe

"William Guess was his name - and it was prophetic. When he shot himself while surrounded by the police, he left unanswered the question that had stumped his pursuers: why did an ordinary middle-class Texan turn into the state's most prolific bank robber?"
posted by the man of twists and turns (3 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating article; I spent a lot of time in Austin and Houston in the 1980s so the general area is somewhat familiar. After reading the whole thing, I think the answer to the question in the FPP is pretty clear, but plenty of other questions remain. The end of his career is eerily similar to a recent case here in GA, where a successful and well-liked local business man shot himself after being pulled over by police with a stolen trailer in the middle of the night. I'm sure there is more known about what happened to him and why, but very little beyond that ever came out in the media, even though it was the top story on local media for several days.
posted by TedW at 8:26 AM on April 25, 2015

Most ordinary people hate being ordinary. That might be a piece of the puzzle.
posted by Renoroc at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would not call this guy ordinary.

He was an out of control gambler, for one. And he was a remarkably capable man, in that he lived this extraordinary "other" life and kept anyone from knowing about. And he was a remarkably bold man, also, displaying tons of straight-up, in-your-face nerve, robbery after robbery, year after year.

I don't think your ordinary man has the nerve to rob one bank, once in his life, I think your ordinary man would have to summon every bit of his courage to do it at all, much less time and again.

William Guess could have been more accurately named William Guts. The guy had courage.

He didn't get caught due to any missed steps of his own, other than keeping it in that same locale. He could still be doing it if he shifted from Houston to Dallas, or, better, outside of Texas altogether; today Arkansas, two months from now Oklahoma, then Nebraska, then Louisiana, etc and etc. Plus, had he done that, it's altogether likely that if/when he was finally caught, he doesn't get all of those bank jobs hung on him, he gets away with a lot of them, serves *way* less time, would not have had to take himself out when he finally was caught.

So -- not ordinary, in my books. Remarkable. There's a great movie here, not just a crime flick but also a psychological profile -- his wife, his kids, his gambling, the way he kept the pieces in his life totally separate. He was written in this article as a low achiever, given his early promise -- I say he was a high achiever, just in a different way than his peers. He chose his own path, and was successful at it. Interesting guy.

posted by dancestoblue at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

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