Highlights from

The Herald Democrat

100 Years Ago

October 13, 1920


JOE PATTON ROBBED OF DIAMONDS—One of the most daring robberies in years was committed here last night when Joe Patton, conductor on the D. and R. G. stub which runs between here and Malta, was forced at the point of two six-shooters to pass over his two prize diamonds, the aggregate value of which is placed by Mr. Patton at $3,000.

The hold-up was staged in the garage of Clyde O. Heller at the corner of Ninth street and Harrison avenue, a lone bandit pulling the trick without assistance other than his two guns. At the time of the hold-up four men were in the office of the garage which is in the front of the building, but the trick was turned so neatly and so quietly that they were unaware of anything amiss until Patton came running into the room shouting, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know I’ve been robbed?” He immediately called Sheriff Schraeder on the phone and gave the officer as good a description of the holdup man as he could. Schraeder, Marshal McEachern and Officer Brennan immediately began a search for the man, but at a late hour last night their search had proved fruitless.

The man described by Patton stands 5 feet 8 inches in height, weighs about 180 to 190 pounds, has heavy black hair and the general appearance of a foreigner. He wore a cap.

According to Patton, the holdup must have been a premeditated affair. He says that finishing his run on D. and R. G. No. 1, which was late last night, he climbed into his automobile and drove toward town. Arriving at the garage, he carefully drove thru the narrow aisle of cars to the rear end of the building where he left his car. He then started to leave the garage. A Hudson car, owned by John W. McMahon, was standing at the head of the runway into the repair room, and as Patton rounded the end of the car, the man sprang out from under the folded top where he had been crouching. He stepped to a place where he would not be visible from the office, and, with his guns drawn and leveled at Patton, demanded that surprised individual to “Stick up your hands!”

Standing near Patton was one of the garage hands, but the man was unable to move or say a word as he also was covered by the robber’s guns. Patton says that he did not comply with the demand to stick up his hands, but stood motionless as he watched the man take the diamonds from him. Having succeeded in taking the stones, the robber walked out of the garage, turning his back on the two non-pulsed men, who state that had they had a gun, it would have been a simple matter to have prevented his escape. The man turned up East Ninth street, and Patton immediately ran for a telephone.

The diamonds are quite famous in the city, and there are but few people here who have not seen and admired them. The stud, which upon all occasions sparkled from the breast of Mr. Patton’s shirt, is rated as a two-carat stone, while the ring stone is rated as four and one-eighth carats.

In giving further details of the hold-up, Mr. Patton stated that the man’s face was completely hidden behind a long flowing mask which was attached to a pair of heavy goggles. The man stood tight against the wall with the two guns clutched close to his abdomen. Upon his third demand of “Stick up your hands,” Patton complied. The delay in his putting his hands in the air evidently worried the man, Mr. Patton said, for it was noticeable that he became more nervous with each demand. When Patton’s hands went into the air, the man, clutching one of his guns about the trigger part and keeping the other leveled at Patton, reached for the stud on Patton’s shirt front. Slipping this into his pocket he compelled Patton to take the ring from his finger and pass it over. He made no further attempt at gaining other valuables, and tho Patton was carrying nearly $1,000 in bills in his pocket, the man did not endeavor to take them. Having gotten the two stones, he carelessly turned his back upon his victims and walked out of the garage door, evidently feeling safe in the protection of his two guns.

The search made by a party of local men and Sheriff Schraeder and Marshal McEachern proved fruitless, but it will be continued today with the added assistance of bloodhounds, which are expected to arrive in the city this morning by automobile from Colorado Springs.


Search for Man Who Robbed Conductor Patton Proved Unavailing, Tho Bloodhounds Carried Pursuers Across Poverty Flat.

October 14, 1920


Only one new clue developed in the case of the Patton diamond holdup yesterday when the trail which bloodhounds were following became lost in front of the home of Mrs. Frank Rich, situated on Alder street at the head of the Poverty Flat district. The dogs lost the trail at a point on the edge of a wagon road on which tracks of a steel-tired four-wheeled vehicle were plainly visible. The tracks showed that the wagon or buggy drawn by one horse had turned around at this point toward town. Mrs. Rich told Sheriff Schraeder, he states, that she had neither seen nor heard a buggy near her home for over two days. The dogs were taken all about the Rich home, inside and outside of the fence, but were unable to pick up the scent again, and as they lost it right on the edge of the road, it is presumed that the man they were following boarded the horse-drawn vehicle. It is believed that if the owner of this wagon or buggy can be located, further light will be thrown on the affair.

Otto Quinlan, owner of the three dogs, arrived in the city yesterday morning at about 7 o’clock, having made the trip from Colorado Springs in about six hours. Mr. Quinlan is the owner of a kennel in Colorado Springs, and is frequently called upon for assistance of his bloodhounds in running down criminals. He stated yesterday that the dogs which he had with him had succeeded in running down four men already this year.

The dogs were put on the scent at Heller’s garage, picking it up from the point where the man is supposed to have been crouching while waiting for Patton. Leaving the garage, the dogs crossed East Ninth street, went up the hill on the east side of the library, headed east in the alley between Ninth and Tenth streets, following the alley as far as the alley behind Poplar street, where they turned toward Tenth street. They then went east on Tenth for a short distance and then cut thru the Harvey coal yard toward the Poverty Flat country, where 

they finally ended up in front of the home of Mrs. Frank Rich. In cutting thru the coal yard, the first two dogs lost the scent at points where cinders had sifted back over the tracks. The third dog, which Mr. Quinlan states is the most dependable dog of the three, held the scent thru the cinders.

Following the hunt with the bloodhounds, Sheriff Schraeder continued investigations thru the day, but was unable to unearth any new clues.

In the original story it was said that a garage hand stood near Patton during the holdup, but it developed yesterday that the man was a foreman of a sheep outfit operating in the Pando country. The man was looking for Polk, his boss, having previously arranged to meet him in the garage. Arriving in the city on No. 1 from Salida where he had taken a shipment of sheep, the man headed for the garage. He entered the building, and, seeing a man crouching behind a car who he believed to be a mechanic, asked if Mr. Polk had arrived. The answer he received was to “stand still and keep quiet,” and seeing an automatic in the man’s hand, the sheepman was forced to do so. At the time Patton, who had just driven his car into the garage, was coming toward the door and was unaware of the man behind the car. When the holdup confronted him, there was no one but himself and the sheepman near.

It is believed that the holdup overlooked his ground carefully before beginning operations. Tracks which measure up to those that the dog followed were found at the rear of the garage near a window thru which it is possible to see the entire interior. Seeing the coast was clear, it is presumed that the man allowed Patton time enough to start up the runway to the garage and then ran down to the door and slipped in behind the car where he lay until Patton was ready to leave.

The sheepman who the holdup covered is said to have had $2,800 on his person, and as Patton had $1,000 himself, it is evident, officers consider, that it was the diamonds, and only the diamonds, that the man was after.

Almost before the dogs had started upon their search rumors were afloat connecting the names of several persons with the holdup, but evidence against the suspicious was insufficient to warrant arrest.

The dogs were returned to Colorado Springs yesterday afternoon at 4 o’clock by their owner, Otto Quinlan.

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