Last week’s daring daylight bank robbery in Melrose was hardly the first for a small town in eastern New Mexico. The end result — multiple suspects captured before they had a chance to enjoy the loot — is also a familiar refrain.
The First National Bank of Elida was robbed of $3,277 just after noon on April 22, 1927.
James Melton Traylor, sitting at his desk at a Conoco service station, noticed an unfamiliar car roll into town and cruise slowly past the bank.
Two men left the car and entered the bank, while a third kept the engine running and waited at a side entrance. This concerned Traylor, who soon ran across the town square and through the bank’s front door. He found bank employees unharmed, locked in a vault.
The robbers escaped, but not for long.
Jack Dyer, caught in Amarillo two days later with a large roll of bills containing Elida bank markings, said he and another robber left New Mexico on a train boarded in Clovis. Norman Akin was captured in Iowa Park, Texas, on April 28; A.F. Leamon was caught May 12 in Jefferson, Texas.
Within a month after the robbery, all three were sentenced to 25 to 30 years in prison.
David Stevens’ sources for this report were “Roosevelt County History and Heritage,” and The Associated Press.