Frisco Slim Post Office Burglar

In 1989, the Rockaway, New Jersey, Post Office was robbed by a gang of me. The band of post office burglars made off with roughly $3,000 in cash, but Postal Inspectors, with the help of the Pinkerton Agency, tracked them down.

Robbery in New Jersey

Around 2:30 a.m. on February 21, 1899, an explosion rocked the quaint post office in Rockaway, New Jersey. Two robbers had loaded the safe with nitroglycerin to blast it open and steal goods from within. The explosion, being larger than expected, shattered the safe, and the burglars took off with only the bag of money, leaving behind the stamps and registered letters.

Three weeks prior to the robbery, the post office night watchman Edgar W. Beam was approached by two men requesting lodging for the night. Thinking little of it, Beam engaged in conversation for a few minutes.

Then, on the evening of the robbery, Beam was attacked and detrained by tour men. He was positive that two of the four were the men who approached him earlier that month. The men asked Beam what was inside the post office safe, to which he replied he was unsure. Then one of the men stated, "it would only take twenty minutes to find out" and left. Roughly 20 minutes later, Beam learned an explosion coming from the post office.


Post Office Inspector Joseph E. Jacobs of New York was quickly called to the scene to investigate. With help from George Dougherty of the Pinkerton Agency in New York, Inspector Jacobs identified the culprits as John Butler (alias Frisco Slim), Charles McCabe (alias Elizabeth Whitey), John Cavanaugh, and Harry Degler.

It took detectives until May 1900 to locate and arrest Butler and McCabe. During this time, Frisco Slim (Butler) was involved in several other post office robberies and a bank robbery in Strasburg, Virginia, with McCabe.

Unable to convict the men for the bank robbery, prosecutors indicted them both for the robbery at the Rockaway Post Office. The case was bolstered with help from Edgar W. Beam, who identified for men. The men were convicted, and McCabe was sentenced to state prison in Nashville, Tennessee. After servicing one year and seven months, he escaped from prison. But he was soon recaptured and given a longer sentence.

Frisco Slim was also sentenced to prison and released around 1904. IN 1905, he caught robbing more post offices with yeggmen "California Shorty" and "Michigan Red."


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