Mason Longman twirled the note around and around in his hands, looking for something new. No new revelations appeared. He was forced to consider the truth, that this really was him.
The man had evaded two generations of law enforcement officials just to pop up again like a sadistic shadow. Mason vowed this had to end now.
52 years ago, the world was very different. Bank security in those days was a far cry from the sophisticated digital options available today.
Banks were so far less sophisticated back then that in 1969, a Cleveland bank teller could rob a bank of almost a quarter-million dollars in cash.
In today’s economy, that would equate to almost 2 million dollars. It seems impossible to imagine that such a brazen crime actually occurred.
For Peter Johnson, realizing he could do it, and get away with it, created a temptation that he could no longer ignore. However, the amount wasn’t the craziest part of his story.
Peter Johnson was only 20-years-old when he pulled off one of the most daring bank heists in American history. His act would live in infamy for decades to come.
What seems to intrigue people the most is that, by all accounts, Johnson was a regular, upstanding young man. This begs the question—how did he actually do it?
Peter Johnson was a college dropout. He had large ambitions but to achieve them; he needed to build a stellar reputation. Between his good looks and magnetic personality, he always won over people.
He was so good at this that he eventually charmed himself into a job as a teller at one of Cleveland’s largest banks.
Peter Johnson had established quite a reputation at the bank. No one ever seemed to have anything bad to say about him. He seemed to epitomize an all-American persona and worked hard.
Johnson enjoyed so much trust at the bank that, on the day in question, he simply walked out of the bank with all the cash.
In retrospect, some people began to realize that there were warning signs. Johnson often boasted that he could rob the bank if he wanted to.
He also idolized the bad guys infamous crime movies. Johnson’s bravado would, however, prove to be even more daring than his on-screen alter egos.
On the day in question, Johnson performed his work tasks as usual. By day’s end, he took the money out of the vault and walked it out of the bank. Johnson thereafter vanished into thin air.
He was hunted by man law enforcement agencies. For one man, in particular, the search for Johnson would have personal consequences.
Jackson Longman was an FBI agent who had been tasked with finding Johnson. For years, he always seemed to be one step ahead. Johnson had become a ghost with “sightings” of him everywhere.
The years dragged on and on, but Johnson was never found. Jackson had become obsessed with the case and kept investigating it long after his retirement.
After 52 long years of evading arrest, Johnson popped up again unexpectedly. He had been aware of Longman’s obsession with him and sent a taunting letter to the FBI.
In the letter, Johnson mocked the FBI’s inability to find him. Sadly, Jackson Longman passed away shortly after. He never solved the case, but someone close to him would.
As Jackson’s career began to wind down, his son, Mason Longman, graduated as an agent. Mason was determined to see out his father’s work.
When the taunting letter was received, Mason took it personally. He studied the letter over and over and noticed something odd. He immediately knew that he had cracked the case.
Noticing the handwriting on the letter, Mason poured over his dad’s old notes. Years back, there had been a “sighting” of Johnson. Authorities learned that the suspect was a different man.
After seeing a handwritten letter among the evidence files, suddenly, it hit him. The “other man” was Johnson. He had simply changed his name.
Johnson’s need to gloat was what eventually led to his capture. Following his instincts, Mason confirmed through a graphologist that the handwriting exactly matched the letter penned by the “other man.”
It was later also confirmed that Johnson had changed his name, skipped town, and had moved around for some time before settling down in Chicago.
After settling in Chicago, Johnson had a wife and kids and lived an unremarkable life for the last ten years. He was known as an active community member.
After seeing a documentary on TV looking back on his daring crime, Johnson could not resist sending the letter. He later stated that he had “no regrets.”
It felt like destiny that Mason Longwood was the man that finally caught Johnson. It was a fitting tribute to his father, whose brilliant career had only been marred by his inability to catch Johnson.
Given his advanced age, Johnson’s sentence was mitigated, and he still holds a “Robin Hood” type of cult following for his antics.