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Floyd Flood

Convicted on December 4, 1924, of the robbery of a Freeburg, Illinois, bank, Floyd Flood received a sentence of ten years, based mostly on the identification by two bank employees. He was released after two years when the real robbers said Flood was never part of their gang and the eyewitnesses then recanted their identifications.
On August 23, 1924, six men drove up to Freeburg’s First National Bank in a 4-door Flint (a Buick-like automobile assembled by the Flint Motors Division, Flint, Michigan, between 1923 and 1927). While two men remained in the car, the others, armed with pistols, entered the bank. One man, wearing a cap and a jacket with the collar pulled up, approached the teller, Susie Wolf, and said, “Stick ‘em up!” While this man covered Susie and two bookkeepers – Emma Wolf and Minnie Holst – another bandit forced the bank president, Russell Hamill, to open the vault. Scooping up cash quickly, the men walked out with $10,000, and drove out of Freeburg, a town of 2,000, about 26 miles southeast of St. Louis. Soon afterward, police found the Flint abandoned on a desolate road along the Mississippi River.
Part of the stolen money was in new five-and-ten-dollar bills, not yet in circulation, for which the bank had serial numbers. When some of the bills showed up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, authorities closed in. James Breene and Ralph Southard were arrested there with a large portion of the loot. At about the same time, a man apparently arrested for vagrancy in St. Louis, Floyd Flood, was said to match the description put on the wire of one of the bank robbers. Susie and Emma Wolf were transported by police to St. Louis, where, they had been told, one of the holdup men was being held. Flood was ordered to put on a hat and a coat with the collar popped, stand in front of the Wolf girls with his hand extended as if holding a gun, and say, “Stick ‘em up!” The Wolfs said he was the same man they had seen in the bank.
At trial in early December 1924, Flood, whose testimony was corroborated by family members and fellow employees, said he started the day of the robbery at home in St. Louis, then was called into work as a cab driver, and went home after work. The prosecution presented a number of witnesses—employees of the bank, customers, and bystanders. All identified Breene and Southard as members of the gang, while only Susie and Emma Wolf and two others said Flood was among them.
On December 18, 1924, Flood was sentenced to 10 years to life. In prison, Breene and Southard told authorities Flood was not one of the men in their gang, and, in fact, that they had never met him in their lives, but they wouldn’t name their real accomplices. About the same time, however, more of the traceable money was found in Ohio, which led to the arrest of two more gang members. These two ratted on everyone else, and by the beginning of 1926, all six of the robbers were in jail and had signed an affidavit saying Flood was innocent. Susie and Emma Wolf then admitted they could have been wrong—that perhaps Flood was not the man with the gun. On January 21, 1926, Illinois Governor Lennington Small pardoned Flood on the grounds of innocence, and he was immediately released.
- James Tuohy
County:St. Clair
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1924
Sentence:10 years to life
Age at the date of crime:24
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Official Misconduct