Memorial to William L. Sigmon
End of Watch: May 25, 1971
Rank: Officer Badge No. 755
Age: 34 Years of Service: 13 years
Location of Death: 5185 MacArthur Boulevard, NW
Duty Assignment: N/A
As a result of a series of armed bank robberies occurring during the spring of 1971, Officer Sigmon and his partner were assigned to stake out the bank at 5185 MacArthur Boulevard, NW. While at the rear of the bank, two gunmen entered the Bank demanding money. As the suspects left the bank with money in hand, Officer Sigmon exited the rear of the bank and his partner from the front door, both in pursuit of the perpetrators. A gun battle quickly ensued between the officers and gunmen.
Sigmon crouched next to a retaining wall exchanging gunfire with one of the suspects. Unbeknownst to Sigmon, the second gunman who had run up the stairs came back down the stairs, leaned over the wall and executed Sigmon by shooting him in the back his head at close range.
The subject who shot Officer Sigmon was wounded by return fire from other officers and taken into custody. Two accomplices, including the daughter of the District of Columbia’s deputy mayor, were also arrested. Officer Sigmon’s murderer was later killed in prison by another inmate while serving time for Sigmon’s murder.
Officer Sigmon had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for 13 years. He was survived by his wife Sylvia and two children, Thomas, 9, and Carolyn, 10.
Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER WILLIAM L. SIGMON ON MAY 25, 1971.
THIS CASE PRODUCED EXTRAORDINARY COVERAGE. COURT TESTIMONY TELLS THAT 250 ARTICLES HAD BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE CASE, AND THAT WAS BEFORE THE ACTUAL TRIAL BEGAN. IT IS THEREFORE A VERY LONG BUT COMPLETE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED ACCORDING TO COURT TESTIMONY REPORTED BY THE WASHINGTON POST.
THE GUN BATTLE INVOLVED SIX SHOOTERS WHO FIRED TWENTY SEVEN ROUNDS, AND CULMINATED IN THE DEATH OF OFFICER SIGMON, WHO WAS SHOT IN THE BACK FROM A DISTANCE OF ONE FOOT.
SADLY, A LOT MORE INK WAS USED TO DESCRIBE THE POOR MISGUIDED KILLERS, THAN THE MURDERED POLICE OFFICER.
FINALLY, IT TELLS OF THE PRISON RELEASE OF FLETCHER AND THE REACTION OF MRS SIGMON TO THE NEWS; THE DEATH OF TIMM IN PRISON; AND THE ESCAPE, RECAPTURE, AND FINAL RELEASE OF CALDWELL IN 2004.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 26, 1971, PAGE A1
Ex Deputy Mayor’s Daughter Arrested In Officer’s Killing
The daughter of former D.C. Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher and two young men were arrested on murder charges yesterday after a policeman was shot to death during the holdup of a MacArthur Boulevard savings and loan firm.
The slain policeman, William L. Sigmon, 34, had been participating in a stakeout at the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association office at 5185 MacArthur Boulevard NW, police said.
Heidi Ann Fletcher, 21, of 2740 Porter St. NW, and the two male suspects were arrested an hour later, two miles northwest of the holdup scene. Police, on the basis of a broadcast description, stopped the blue panel truck Miss Fletcher was driving on Connecticut Avenue NW near the Van Ness Shopping Center.
Also arrested were Eros A. Timm, 22, of the Porter Street address, and Lawrence D. Caldwell, 25, identified hours later and described by police as a “floater” with no fixed address.
When arrested, Timm was suffering from three gunshot wounds.
All three were charged with killing Sigmon, a 13 year veteran of the force and the father of two children, after the holdup. Before yesterday, Sigmon had never drawn his gun in the line of duty, his wife told a reporter.
He was killed during a wild exchange of gunfire immediately after the holdup in what is normally a peaceful almost suburban type neighborhood.
According to the D.C. Medical examiner’s office, Sigmon was killed by a .45 caliber bullet that entered his back, apparently as he turned in a maneuver to rush toward his assailant, whom police said they couldn’t identify.
The fleeing gunmen fired at police as they ran up six flights of steps to a wooded area behind the shopping center where the bank is located. A getaway truck was parked in an alley nearby, investigators said.
Sigmon, his partner, Officer William J. Schwartz, and two other policemen, crouched behind cars and returned fire from a parking lot below.
The other two policemen had been assigned to stake out a nearby bank. They are Officers Wade Bishop and William Keller.
Police said Timm’s wounds, all inflicted by a .38 caliber revolver, the type of weapon carried by the policemen in the stakeout. Four handguns, including a .45 caliber revolver, were recovered in the panel truck when the suspects were arrested, police said.
Police said they do not know where the suspects were between the time of the robbery and the time the panel truck was spotted on Connecticut Avenue.
Yesterday’s two stakeouts on MacArthur Boulevard were among many such operations conducted in the city “because of a rash of robberies,” according to Capt. William Humphrey of the robbery squad. FBI agents also have participated in stakeouts at financial institutions, the FBI said.
So far this year, there have been 50 holdups or attempted holdups of financial institutions in Washington, compared with 29 during all last year.
After the arrests, police executed a search warrant at the Porter Street apartment. They said they confiscated several plastic bags containing marijuana, several marijuana plants and a handgun.
Miss Fletcher had been a legal secretary with the Washington law firm of Cleary, Gotteib, Steed and Hamilton.
She was described as the girlfriend of Timm, and (unreadable) friend and police sources said she has known Caldwell for two to three years. Neighbors said Timm and Miss Fletcher had given notice that they were leaving their apartment Friday, after having lived there for two years.
Ann Fortney of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steed and Hamilton said Miss Fletcher told her that she intended to “move to the country.” A courthouse source said that after Miss Fletcher’s arrest, she said she had been wanting to buy land in the country for a commune.
Miss Fletcher’s father, now the city manager of San Jose Calif., was brought to Washington by President Johnson in 1967.
He had been deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and before the city manager of San Diego, Calif. Fletcher left Washington in 1969, with a reputation as a highly competent and respected city manager. Last night, he was reported en route to the District of Columbia from California.
The suspects were arraigned last night before U.S. Magistrate Arthur L. Burnett. They were held without bond and were given court appointed attorneys when they said they did not have funds. Miss Fletcher will be represented by the firm of Williams, Connolly and Califano.
Miss Fletcher, who was barefoot, was dressed in brown slacks and a brown jersey top. Caldwell wore blue jeans, brown shirt, boots and horn rim glasses. Timm, who is confined in D.C. General Hospital, did not appear.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.
According to police, one man entered the savings firm about 10:50 a.m., approached teller Nancy L. Duteil and told her he wanted to open an account. Miss Duteil escorted him to the desk in front of the office but returned to her window when another man approached it. The second man placed an open briefcase on the counter in front of Miss Duteil, pushed it toward her and said, “I want all your money.” That man then pulled a small, dark revolver and said, “Give me the money from the cash drawer.”
After Miss Duteil had emptied her cash drawer the man said, “Is this all the money? Give me the money from the other drawers.” At this point the manager, William Garnett, walked up to her and asked what was going on.
The gunman then forced Garnett and Miss Duteil to the rear of the office and ordered Garnett to open the vault. Garnett took several cash drawers from the vault and emptied them into the briefcase.
The bandits told them to stay in the vault for five minutes and set off no alarms. They said he warned them, “If you come out, I will shoot people on the street.” Then the gunman, along with the man who first approached Miss Duteil fled out the front door.
Officers Schwartz and Sigmon had watched the holdup through a partially opened door in the rear of the office. They dashed out a back door and around the building in an attempt to intercept the bandits in a parking area in front of the building.
Officials said the officers did not attempt to stop the holdup in the bank because they feared they would endanger Miss Duteil and Garnett.
The two policemen spotted the suspects as they were climbing some steps that lead from the front of the shopping area in which the savings office is located to an alley in the rear.
The suspects ignored an order to stop, and Sigmon and Schwartz opened fire. Officers Bishop and Keller, staked out at the First National Bank of Washington Office a block away, heard the gunfire and came to offer support.
Officials said the holdup men fired several shots at the policemen before Sigmon apparently ran from behind a parked car and was shot. Police said Sigmon said Sigmon fired three shots, Schwartz four, Wade four and Keller five.
As Sigmon fell, the holdup men ran up the rest of the steps, into a wooded area. They climbed into a waiting panel truck, which sped off. The police, after questioning witnesses, broadcast a lookout for a late model, blue panel truck driven by a girl and with two male passengers.
About an hour later, two cruising policemen, Marshall Brothers and Wince Clifton, assigned to the special operations division, spotted a truck matching that description heading south in the 5300 block of Connecticut Avenue NW and radioed for help.
Another special operations squad car with Officers David Calvin and Michael J. Van Fossen pulled up and stopped the truck a block later in front of the Van Ness Shopping Center.
As the policemen closed in, one of the cars at the shopping center radioed a message warning them to use extreme caution “because of the number of plainclothesmen in the area.
Noontime traffic crowded the streets and the sidewalks were clogged with workers on their lunch hour and shoppers patronizing the Van Ness complex.
The four policemen then surrounded the car and ordered its occupants out at gunpoint. Miss Fletcher was the first to get out of the truck, followed by Caldwell, who identified himself as a man from Norfolk, Va. Then Timm stepped out of the rear of the truck, bleeding from wounds in his leg, arm and chest.
An ambulance was called. Timm was taken to George Washington Hospital, where he was treated and then sent to D.C. General Hospital. Caldwell and Miss Fletcher were handcuffed and taken to police headquarters.
The truck, a 1963 Chevrolet with curtains on its windows, was registered to Timm, police said. Inside the truck police found four handguns, a shotgun, two boxes of ammunition and a clip for an automatic pistol. They also discovered more than $7900 in cash.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 26, 1971, PAGE A1
Slain Officer Had Not Used Gun on Duty
When William L. Sigmon finished high school in Roanoke, Va., his cousin Wayne Hosteler, a Washington policeman, sat him down for a talk.
There was nothing like police work, Hosteler told the tall, thin Sigmon. And there was nothing like police work in the big city to the north—Washington.
Yesterday, after 13 years as a Washington policeman, after 13 years of never once drawing or firing his gun in the line of duty, according to his wife, William Sigmon, 34, was shot dead in a gun battle while trying to thwart an attempted bank robbery.
“He never talked much about his work,” said Sylvia Sigmon, his wife, as she described his police career yesterday. “He simply did the best he could. He really, really wanted to make the District of Columbia a peaceful place.”
According to his friends and family, William Sigmon spent most of his spare time in two places—the Metropolitan Baptist Temple near his home in Rockville and the local bowling alley.
At the church, Sigmon was superintendent of the Sunday school and a deacon. At the bowling alley, he maintained a 165 average, and had won trophies that sit in a row on his mantel.
A quiet man of simple speech who was known to friends as Bob, Sigmon was “a real Christian and a rare man in many ways,” said his pastor, the Rev. Robert E. Fleming.
“He believed the role of the police was essential,” Mr. Fleming said. “And he believed in the church and the community. He was willing and did most anything that needed to be done— from sweeping the floors to chairing the trustees.”
Although Sigmon was a collector of rare, old guns, Mr. Fleming recalled that he had said several times that he hoped he would never have to use his.
Sigmon also spent a week during each of the last two summers at a Metropolitan Police Boys Club camp in Scotland, Md., where he supervised sports. He had planned to go again in July.
At the Second District substation to which Sigmon had been assigned for the last three years, Lyman Keefe, a Connecticut Avenue florist, posted a floral arrangement on the door last night in Sigmon’s memory.
Sigmon “seemed the type who would leave his ticket book in the station house, if you know what I mean,” said Keefe. “He wasn’t a petty policeman.”
Keefe’s arrangement consisted of white dahlias and baby’s breath. Around the door jamb, Keefe left a black pall. Both will remain, according to precinct commanders, for 30 days, as a tribute.
Inside the station, Sigmon was remembered by one fellow policeman as “a rare officer, a man who didn’t just go home after eight hours.”
Sgt. Edward Dory, a detective in the sex squad who joined the force at the same time as Sigmon, said “I’ve seen a lot of them get killed. (But) I’m human…When I heard it on the radio, it hurt me.”
“I’d like to remember one thing about my husband,” said Mrs. Sigmon. “He had faith—great faith.”
Besides his wife, Sigmon is survived by his mother, Lydia Sigmon, of Roanoke; a son, Thomas, 9, and a daughter, Carolyn, 10.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 28, 1971, PAGE C1
Police Death Suspect Was A Musician
Lawrence D. Caldwell, one of the young people scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing today in the slaying of a Washington policeman, is a former symphony musician who came to Washington to study to become the first clarinetist of the National Symphony. Edward Menard, his court appointed lawyer, said the suspect had studied under clarinetists with the Chicago, Cleveland and London symphonies, and had played first clarinet with the Akron (Ohio) Symphony.
The victim of Tuesday’s slaying, Officer William L. Sigmon, was to be buried today after a 10 a.m. funeral service at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Rockville.
Until Menard revealed facts about his client gained during a cellblock interview, little had been known about Caldwell, who identified himself to police as a Norfolk, Va., man when he was arrested.
Louis Lane, a conductor of the Cleveland and Akron orchestras, said Caldwell was “one of the nicest and kindest boys that I knew in his generation. It is almost unbelievable that he should now be charged with murder, Lane said. “This is an appalling development.”
Caldwell was “a very good student” and had “a good potential” as a clarinetist, Lane added. He said Caldwell moved to Washington in 1968 to study under National Symphony clarinetist Harold Wright, and in his latest letter to Lane from Washington about a year and a half ago said that he was “looking for a place to play professionally.”
Menard said Caldwell was born in Las Vegas and finished high school there, then went to a music school at Lake Tahoe and graduated from Indiana University after completing four years of study on a music scholarship.
Menard talked with Caldwell yesterday moring in D.C. Jail, where the suspect is being held without bond. The other two persons charged are Heidi Ann Fletcher, 21, the daughter of former Washington Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, and Eros A. Timm, 22, Miss Fletcher’s boyfriend.
They are scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Arthur L. Burnett for a preliminary hearing on charges of first degree murder.
Deputy Chief Mahlon Pitts said that police also are investigating the three in connection with Monday’s robbery of an American Savings and Loan Branch at 4900 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
He said no charges had been filed in that case, but that evidence would be presented to the grand jury. Pitts also said that the three suspects were being investigated individually for possible connections with other robberies in the area.
Police investigators had described Caldwell as a “floater” with no fixed address who arrived in Washington from Norfolk about a week before Tuesday’s robbery of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association office on MacArthur Boulevard NW.
But Menard said that his client had lived in the Washington area for about a year and had lived (unreadable) with Timm and Miss Fletcher in their 3 ½ room apartment at 2740 Porter St. NW.
Two merchants on Connecticut Avenue around the corner from the apartment said that Caldwell had been in their shops as long as a year ago.
Menard said Caldwell apparently still plays the clarinet, because he told the lawyer that he didn’t think his jailers would let him play the instrument.
Since he came to Washington “I don’t think he had been gainfully employed any place,” Menard said. “He said he just wanted anything available, but there is a sort of depression for musicians.”
Conductor Lane said, “You know, the terrible thing is that some of these kids with real talent like Dan (many acquaintances knew Caldwell by his middle name) don’t seem to have the temperament which makes them stick at something as difficult as music relentlessly until an opening comes about.” Lane agreed that jobs with symphonies are hard to come by.
While he was playing with the Akron orchestra, Caldwell lived in Cleveland and studied under first clarinetist Robert Marcellus, who was with the National Symphony before going to Cleveland. “He worked very hard,” Lane recalls.
Bill Watrous, manager of the semiprofessional Akron symphony, said that in three seasons there, 1966 to 1968, Caldwell played irregularly.
Violinist Mary (unreadable) thought that Caldwell must have been “a very capable player,” but could not recall that he had any solos.
Menard said that Caldwell was “very anti establishment,” but he added that his client emphasized that he was not a member of the Weathermen or any other violence prone organization and had never been in demonstrations.
Menard said he noticed during yesterday’s meeting that Caldwell’s hands were bandaged, and that Caldwell said when he and Miss Fletcher were fingerprinted, the police had thrust their hands into the paraffin before it had cooled.
Miss Fletcher’s parents continued to avoid reporters yesterday. Her father, who is city manager of San Jose, Calif., was in Washington, but friends either did not know or would not say where he was. Mrs. Fletcher, reached by telephone at the family home in San Jose, said, “I don’t think I need any reporters today”, and hung up.
The police announced that William J. Schwartz Jr., the partner of the slain policeman, would make no public statements “until after the trial of the suspects.”
Schwartz, who is in his early 20s and has been on the force for 11 months, was said by superiors to be under sedation and “very emotionally upset.”
The president of National Permanent Savings and Loan, John W. Stadtler, presented a check for $2500 to Police Chief Jery V. Wilson to be forwarded to Heroes, Inc., an organization that helps families of policemen and firemen who are killed in the line of duty.
Meanwhile, police continued their investigation of the incidents that led to Sigmon’s death.
William Garnett Jr., manager of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association office that was robbed, told a Washington Post reporter yesterday that Sigmon was shot from behind by one of the two bandits as Sigmon crouched by a retaining wall and aimed up steps leading from a parking lot area outside the bank to an alley in the rear. The robbers started up the steps together, Garnett said, and when Sigmon took his position by the retaining wall, one of the bandits leaned over the wall and shot Sigmon while the other continued up the steps.
That account is substantially the same as one given The Post Wednesday by R. Bruce Lewis, an employee of Computer Network Corp., located in the same shopping area as the savings and loan firm.
Homicide officials have said they were not certain exactly how Sigmon was shot, but Lt. Joseph O’Brien said Wednesday they doubted that Sigmon was caught between the two bandits.
The autopsy has established that the fatal bullet entered Sigmon’s back.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 29, 1971, PAGE A1
Father’s Court Plea: Show Her Any Mercy
As his daughter Heidi Ann sat sobbing beside him, accused of murder, Thomas W. Fletcher pleaded with a judge yesterday for her freedom.
“This girl,” said Washington’s former deputy mayor as he fought to keep from crying himself, “could not hurt anybody in the world.” “I plead with you, sir,” said Fletcher to D.C. District judge George L. Hart, “to offer any mercy in your heart.”
Fletcher’s plea—his first words in public since the arrest Tuesday of his daughter and two companions—came at a bail hearing yesterday.
The hearing had been requested by Miss Fletcher’s defense attorneys after a U.S. magistrate earlier in the day had ordered Miss Fletcher, 21, and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, 25, held for grand jury action. Along with Eros A. Timm, 22, Miss Fletcher’s boyfriend of two years, they are charged with killing policeman William L. Sigmon Tuesday morning after a savings and loan robbery.
Instead of bail, however, and after the government revealed that it will seek the death penalty “in some part of this case,” Judge Hart ordered Miss Flectcher and Caldwell sent immediately for 60 days mental observations.
Timm, still hospitalized with gunshot wounds which police say he suffered during the gun battle that followed the robbery, will face pretrial legal action when he has recovered, prosecutors said. Timm is listed in satisfactory condition in the prison ward of D.C. General Hospital.
Thus, according to prosecutors, trial of the three suspects is unlikely before late summer.
First before Magistrate Lawrence Margolis and later before Hart, yesterday was a day of tears and legal maneuvering in behalf of Miss Fletcher and Caldwell.
The only witness at the Magistrate hearing was homicide detective Steve E. Allen, who said he did not witness either the slaying or the arrests but had headed the police investigation of both.
Allen, a crew cut, muscular man who stared down at the long haired, gaunt Caldwell as he testified, said that the two suspects “nearly” matched descriptions of the robbers and the getaway driver given at the time of the crime.
Allen also revealed one previously unknown fact in the case.
He said Sigmon and his partner William J. Schwartz Jr., who were “staked out” in the rear room of the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan branch at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW, did not actually witness the robbery.
After two male robbers ran out the bank’s front door with “in excess of $5000,” manager William Garnett Jr. “Notified the two policemen in the rear room of what had happened.”
Officer Sigmon ran out the front door; Schwartz out the rear door. Seconds later, as Sigmon “took refuge behind a (nearby) concrete retaining wall” and fired at one robber, the other suddenly appeared on the other side of the wall and “fired down at him,” Allen said.
“He died of a bullet wound in the heart,” Allen said, as he glared at the suspects.
The robbery began at about 10:50 a.m., when a man entered the bank, asked a teller for information and was referred to the manager’s rear in the rear.
As the first man and the manager conferred, a second man entered and walked up to the teller, the only other person in the bank.
“He placed a briefcase on the counter, pointed a gun, and said: “Put all your money in here,” Allen said.
The manager did not realize a holdup was in progress until “he noticed the teller having trouble getting the vault open.” He went to assist her and “she whispered it to him,” Allen said.
The two employees were herded into the vault, and the men ran for the front door.
Meanwhile, a blue panel truck “with brown curtains” on its side windows was seen parked in the 5100 block of Fulton Street NW, behind the bank and up a hill.
A witness, whom Allen identified as “a woman looking through the door of her house,” heard gunfire and looked out at the street.
The woman saw “a bare-armed girl 19 to 24 years of age with straight brown hair” at the wheel, Allen said. The girl drove the truck away after two men got into it shortly after the gunfire, Allen said the woman told police.
When police stopped a blue panel truck 70 minutes later two miles away, Miss Fletcher was driving, Allen testified.
When a “lineup” for identification was held that night, three of eight witnesses picked Caldwell as having been in the bank or involved in the shooting that followed, Allen testified.
One witness, the bank teller, was “positive” of Caldwell identity, Allen said under cross examination. The other witnesses, whom he did not identify, said there was a “possibility” it was the same man, Allen said.
Because preliminary hearings are called only to establish whether probable cause exists to hold suspects for further action, Allen did not reveal many details of the government’s case yesterday.
He did not say, for example, which of the two male suspects is believed by police to have fired the fatal shot at Sigmon. Nor did Allen say where police think the robbers went during the 70 minutes between the shooting and the arrests.
Defense attorneys Francis Grossi for Miss Fletcher and Edward Menard for Caldwell asked Allen about both points. But the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Percy Russell Jr., objected each time and was upheld.
In addition to holding the suspects for the grand jury, Margolis ordered Miss Fletcher to appear at a lineup Wednesday at noon. Asked to release her on bail in the meantime, Margolis told defense attorneys he did not have the power to set bail in capital cases. He referred them to Hart, who does.
Throughout the 50 minute preliminary hearing, Fletcher—for two years the crisply efficient “professional” in the city government—sat stone faced and silent in the front row of Margolis’ tiny, packed courtroom on first floor of the U.S. District Court building.
Dressed in brown suit and a green and orange striped tie, Fletcher had arrived 35 minutes early. He was accompanied by Joseph Califano, a partner in the firm of Williams, Connolly and Califano and the man who in 1967, as a top aide to President Johnson, chose Fletcher for the deputy mayor’s job. (Fletcher left Washington in late 1969 to become city manager of San Jose, Calif.)
As the preliminary hearing concluded, and marshals stood to lead the defendants away, Fletcher bolted forward and shook his daughter’s hand. Then they kissed each other on the cheeks. Miss Fletcher, in a white, two piece suit and blue pumps wept silently.
Fletcher then agreed to meet the press. He stepped before a score of waiting cameras and microphones on the courthouse steps.
“The only thing I can say is I’m here to support my daughter, “Fletcher began.
Suddenly he stopped. The he put his right hand to his eyes and sobbed.
“We love her,” he mumbled, as Califano led him to a waiting limousine. “That’s all I can say.”
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 29, 1971, PAGE A1
Mourning Gathering of Blue
1000 Eastern Police at Slain Officer’s Funeral
New York’s finest attended the last rites for Officer William L. Sigmon yesterday in a strikingly simple Rockville Baptist church.
So did Philadelphia’s finest and Baltimore’s finest and Freeport, Long Island’s finest. There were also policemen from at least a dozen other departments along the East Coast, about 1,000 men in all.
They didn’t cry much, but their feelings about a fallen comrade were expressed clearly enough with strips of black electrical tape across their number shields.
Washington policemen were there in the greatest numbers, and their feelings were evident in the form of a floral arrangement at the head of an open grave at Parklawn Cemetery.
Arranged in the shape of policeman’s badge, the red roses framed the number 755, Sigmon’s shield number when he was shot to death Tuesday after a holdup at the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW.
The display of solidarity in the parking lot outside the Metropolitan Baptist Temple, 4205 Aspen Hill Rd., Rockville, was disciplined and military. The religious service inside was laced with fundamentalist Baptist teaching.
The Rev. Robert Fleming, standing behind a flag draped coffin, called Sigmon an “honest, Bible believing born again Christian” who was killed “primarily because of sin in our race…deadly damning sin.
“We simple people in the church…and I remember that Brother Sigmon remarked on more than one occasion, “I long to see the day this auditorium is full,” Mr. Fleming recalled.
“With the sacrifice of his life, Brother Sigmon has done it,” Mr. Fleming added, looking over the 500 filled seats in the church auditorium.
Police Chief Jerry V. Wilson and Mayor Walter E. Washington sat in the front row, while several hundred command officers and rank and file metropolitan policemen packed the auditorium during the 50 minute service.
Outside, formations of policemen standing at attention listened to loudspeakers. A dozen or so neighborhood housewives and passers by ringed the churchyard, watching.
When it was over, the coffin was borne by six pallbearers from the second police district, where Sigmon served, and a 30 minute procession to the nearby Parklawn Cemetery began.
Sigmon’s wife, Sylvia, held the hands of her children, Thomas, 9, and Carolyn, 10. She ignored a dozen scurrying television cameramen and newsmen as she stepped into a waiting limousine.
Then, flashing red lights from a two block long line of police cars went on, hundreds of uniformed policemen hurriedly boarded waiting buses and a procession of law enforcement authorities began the two mile trip to the cemetery.
Atop a steep slope, the policemen surrounded the grave, and Officer Sigmon was buried. Mr. Fleming read passages from the Scriptures in a brief service.
An honor guard folded the flag that covered the coffin, and Chief Wilson presented it to Mrs. Sigmon, who clasped the hands of her children throughout the service.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 3, 1971, PAGE A1
Prosecution Still Confident
A government witness failed a police lineup yesterday to identify Heidi Ann Fletcher, 21, as the young woman who participated in a savings and loan robbery that resulted in a policeman’s death last week.
Miss Fletcher, who is the daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor, was put in a lineup at metropolitan police headquarters with seven policewomen.
According to court and police sources, the witness selected one of the policewomen, several inches shorter than Miss Fletcher, as the person she thought she saw sitting in a truck on the 5100 block of Fulton Street NW during the holdup.
Sources in the U.S. attorney’s office said that even without the identification the government is confident it can prove its case against Miss Fletcher.
She and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, 25, are undergoing a 60 day psychiatric examinations at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital after being bound over to a federal grand jury on charges of first degree murder.
A third suspect, Eros Anthony Timm, 22, is recovering at D.C. General Hospital from bullet wounds.
All three are charged as the result of a fatal shooting of Police Officer William L. Sigmon, who engaged in a gun battle after the robbery of the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan branch at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW on May 25.
Handcuffed and escorted by three deputy U.S. marshals, Miss Fletcher arrived at yesterday’s lineup at police headquarters wearing a red, white and blue striped dress, and with her hair in a bun.
A last minute court order from Chief Judge John J. Sirica of U.S. District Court, however, permitted prosecutors to require her to change into the clothes she was wearing at the time of her arrest in a panel truck on Connecticut Avenue NW 70 minutes after the robbery.
After she put on the brown corduroy trousers and sleeveless jersey blouse, she was asked to let her hair fall freely on her shoulders, as it did the day of her arrest.
The policewomen in the lineup wore similar clothes and hair styles.
U.S. Magistrate Arthur L. Burnett had ruled on Tuesday that Miss Fletcher might first appear in a dress and, if not identified by the witness, then change into other clothes for a second lineup.
Siricia’s decision yesterday morning overruled Burnett. To ensure that they remained in the same condition, the government had already seized Miss Fletcher’s clothes from last week with a search warrant.
Police sources said that the woman singled out in yesterday’s lineup looks considerably older than Miss Fletcher, is of the same stocky build with darker hair, and is about three inches shorter.
She was standing at the opposite end of the lineup from Miss Fletcher.
The witness, who has not been identified by name, told police last week that she looked through the door of her house on Fulton Street when she heard gunfire from the scene of the robbery on the next street. Fulton runs parallel to MacArthur Blvd.
She said that she saw a blue panel truck with brown curtains on the side windows driven by a “bare armed girl 19 to 24 years of age with straight brown hair.”
According to the witness, the girl drove the truck away as two men climbed in shortly after the gunfire.
The three suspects were arrested in a truck of that description 70 minutes later two miles away. Police found guns and what they say are the proceeds of the $5000 robbery in the truck.
Precise identification will not be necessary, prosecutors suggested yesterday, since the government has the guns and money as evidence.
Miss Fletcher’s attorneys, from the law firm of Williams, Connolly and Califano, declined to comment on the result of the lineup yesterday.
In another development, government sources said that Timm, who had been described as Miss Fletcher’s boyfriend, will be presented before Magistrate Burnett on the murder charge Friday.
He has been unable to go to court because of bullet wounds allegedly received at the scene of the robbery.
The prosecution has not said which of the two men will be accused of firing the bullet that killed Officer Sigmon.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 4, 1971, PAGE A4
Wounded Suspect Arraigned in Murder of District Officer
Eros Anthony Timm, 22, looking pale and thin after nine days in D.C. General Hospital for treatment of bullet wounds, appeared before a U.S. magistrate yesterday to become the third person formally charged with murdering a D.C. policeman during a savings and loan robbery here last week.
At the same time, the government suggested for the first time that Timm may have been involved in two other bank robberies here, one of them more than two months ago.
It was also learned that Timm and one of his co defendants, Heidi Ann Fletcher, with whom he had been living, were arrested during a Washington demonstration in February 1970, and later filed false arrest suits against the police.
Miss Fletcher’s lawsuit against the metropolitan police department was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge John H. Pratt on May 20.
Five days later, the daughter of former Washington Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell were arrested in connection with a holdup at the National Permanent Savings and Loan office on MacArthur Boulevard NW and the subsequent shooting of police Officer William L. Sigmon.
Timm’s lawsuit is scheduled for action by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Corcoran in the next few days.
Both lawsuits, 10 others by individuals, and a general class action against the police (in which Miss Fletcher was also a plaintiff) grew out of a series of demonstrations here in support of the defendants in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial.
Supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, they accused the police of “indiscriminate and unlawful arrests” and excessive use of force in controlling the demonstrations.
The class action lawsuit is expected to come to trial before U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Waddy next fall.
At Timm’s presentment yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Rudy II asked that Timm appear in a police lineup next Friday in connection with two “other offenses” on March 30 and May 24.
Rudy also urged that Timm be required to return to his “original appearance” when arrested last week for the lineup.
When arrested with Miss Fletcher and Caldwell 70 minutes after the MacArthur Boulevard robbery, Timm had a moustache. It was no longer there when he appeared in Court yesterday.
Prosecutors have already contended that Caldwell may have participated in a bank holdup at 49th and Massachusetts Avenue NW a day earlier.
But yesterday was the first mention of any offense on March 30. Police reported two bank robberies on that day, one at 700 14th St. NW, and another at 2000 L St. NW
Rudy also asked U.S. Magistrate Lawrence S. Margolis to order that hair samples be taken from Timm to aid a government investigation. The document listing the reasons for the hair samples was ordered sealed to avoid pretrial publicity in Timm’s case.
Margolis postponed his ruling on the lineup and hair samples at the request of T. Emmett McKenzie, an attorney hired by Timm’s father, Vincent J. Timm, a budget analyst for the Air Force.
In the meantime, he held Timm without bond and set his preliminary hearing on the murder charge for next Friday. Miss Fletcher and Caldwell have already pleaded innocent to identical charges and were bound over for action by the grand jury.
At one point during yesterday’s hearing, McKenzie described his client as a “veteran of the armed forces” and the Vietnam War.
On the way out of Court, however, Timm’s father corrected the lawyer and said his son had never been in the armed forces. McKenzie explained that he had been misled by a newspaper photograph of Timm wearing his uniform from a military high school here.
Since their arrest, friends of Miss Fletcher and Timm have described them as shunning protest marches.
“They never went to any demonstrations,” one friend told a reporter at the couple’s former apartment on Porter Street NW Tuesday night.
In affidavits filed with the ACLU lawsuit last year, however, each said, “I intend to demonstrate peacefully and orderly in the future to protest policies which I feel are unjust.”
Describing her arrest on the Monument Grounds on Saturday, Feb. 21, 1970, Miss Fletcher said in her affidavit: “I was standing with a friend away from any group. There were policemen in various areas of the Monument Grounds. My friend and I began to walk away. I heard no police orders of any kind. I was in no way disorderly.
“Suddenly I was grabbed by a policeman from behind as was my friend, Eros Timm,” she continued. “I became hysterical but do remember attempting to protect (Timm), who was being clubbed by a police officer. I was beaten severely (I had painful bruises for a week).”
A week after the Chicago Seven protests of February 1970, here, Assistant D.C. Corporation Counsel Robert H. Campbell acknowledged that police had arrested many people without evidence that they had broken the law.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 8, 1971, PAGE C1
Jury Calls Father of Suspect
Subpoenaed In Slaying, Bank Holdup
The father of Eros Anthony Timm was subpoenaed yesterday to testify before the grand jury investigating the savings and loan robbery and policeman’s death in which his son has been charged.
Emerging from a procedural hearing for his 22 year old son before U.S. magistrate, Vincent J. Timm, a budget analyst for the Air Force, was personally served with a subpoena by John F. Rudy II, chief of the grand jury section in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
It requires his appearance before the grand jury at 2 p.m. Thursday.
The younger Timm is accused of holding up the MacArthur Boulevard NW branch of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association May 25 and shooting Officer William L. Sigmon during an escape.
Also held on identical charges are Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, 25, a former symphony musician, and Heidi Ann Fletcher, 22, daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor.
Caldwell and Miss Fletcher have pleaded innocent to the charges and are undergoing a mental examination at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Timm, whose preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday, has not yet entered a plea in the case.
Prosecutors refused to discuss the reasons for the subpoena but made no attempt to keep its issuance a secret, as they have many other details of the investigation.
Rudy handed the subpoena to the older Timm while reporters watched.
Court sources observed that grand jury subpoenas are generally issued if a prosecutor feels he has reason to believe that a potential witness has relevant information about the crime being investigated.
The elder Timm, who described himself as being in his early 50s, appeared severely shaken when the subpoena was handed to him last night.
He first laughed nervously and then turned to T. Emmett McKenzie, the elderly lawyer representing his son, and asked that he also serve as his counsel for the grand jury investigation.
“I don’t know what it’s about,” the elder Timm later told a reporter. “They may be on some sort of search or something. But I haven’t the foggiest idea….”
The subpoena mentioned the cases of Miss Fletcher and Caldwell, as well as Timm’s son.
All three were arrested in a blue panel truck headed south on Connecticut Avenue NW at the corner of Veazey Street 70 minutes after the robbery and shooting.
Police and prosecutors have remained silent thus far about where they think the trio of suspects may have been during that time.
In another development yesterday, the government, without explanation, dropped its demand that hair samples be taken from the younger Timm in connection with an investigation of two other bank robberies here on March 30 and May 24.
U.S. Magistrate Lawrence S. Margolis did order, however, that Timm must appear in police lineups attended by witnesses of all three robberies.
For those lineups, the police will draw a false moustache on his face to recreate his appearance at the time of his arrest on May 25. The younger Timm has shaved his moustache while in D.C. General Hospital for treatment of bullet wounds allegedly received at the scene of the robbery.
Rudy told the magistrate that Timm (with a mustache) resembles a person photographed by monitor cameras at banks held up May 24 at 4900 Massachusetts Ave. NW and March 30 at 700 14th St. NW.
During the same hearing, Margolis denied a motion by McKenzie for a change of venue in the case on the basis of extensive pretrial publicity.
The magistrate pointed out that he had no authority to grant such a motion that is, in any event, premature until the grand jury has returned an indictment.
McKenzie had complained that “80 per cent of the local population” had been “flamboyantly advised” of details of the case against his client, Caldwell and Miss Fletcher.
At the same time, Rudy obtained from Chief Judge John J. Sirica of U.S. District Court an order that Caldwell submit to the taking of the hair samples originally sought from Timm.
The government was authorized to obtain several strands of Caldwell’s hair for use in the robbery investigations by “combing, cutting or pulling.” Sources said police immediately extracted the hair yesterday.
Caldwell has already been identified in a police lineup in connection with the March 30 and May 24 holdups.
The elder Timm, who has attended every court hearing for his son so far but seldom speaks with him in public, earns a $22,000 annual salary from the Air Force and lives in a suburban home that is about a mile from the scene of the MacArthur Boulevard robbery and is valued at about $100,000.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 12, 1971, PAGE B1
Murder Gun Tied To Timm
Detective Tells Police Version Of S&L Holdup
According to testimony given yesterday by a homicide squad detective, Eros A. Timm, 22, fired the shot that killed Washington policeman William L. Sigmon during a savings and loan association holdup May 25.
The detective, Steve E. Allen, told a U.S. magistrate that Sigmon was shot by the “shorter of two subjects” who fled the savings and loan office following the holdup.
Those two subsequently were identified as Timm, who is 5 feet 7 and Lawrence D. Caldwell, 25, who is 6 feet 5″. A third suspect charged in the holdup murder is Heidi Ann Fletcher, 21, the daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor, Thomas W. Fletcher.
Miss Fletcher did not enter the firm but waited nearby in a blue panel truck, Allen told U.S. Magistrate Lawrence Margolis.
Allen’s testimony, at a preliminary hearing for Timm, was the first official statement as to who the police believe fired the fatal shot at Officer Sigmon.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Margolis ordered Timm held without bond for action of the grand jury. The May 25 holdup occurred at the offices of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association, 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW.
Allen, who did not actually witness the incident but said he based his testimony on discussions with witnesses, testified that Sigmon and another officer were stationed in a back room of the savings and loan office when the holdup occurred.
As the suspects fled with the money, the manager of the association notified the officers, who ran out after the two gunmen, Allen testified.
He said a gun battle ensued in the parking lot outside and that Sigmon crouched down behind a retaining wall and fired at the suspects, who were running up a flight of stairs to an area behind the savings and loan office.
But as Sigmon was crouching behind the retaining wall, one of the gunmen moved around the other side “and fired one shot” in a downward direction at Sigmon, Allen said.
The bullet entered through Sigmon’s shoulder and pierced his heart, Allen said.
He added that witnesses who saw the two entering the blue panel truck said “the taller subject appeared to be helping the shorter one.”
One hour later, when the three suspects were seized in the truck, Allen testified. Timm was suffering from two gunshot wounds.
Four weapons and a quantity of money, “some of it” identified as having been taken from National Permanent, was recovered in the truck, Allen testified.
Allen’s testimony was essentially a compilation of accounts given him by a variety of witnesses, a standard from of establishing probable cause that a crime has been committed in a preliminary hearing.
Preliminary hearings already have been held for Caldwell and Miss Fletcher and both are being held for the grand jury. They are currently undergoing mental observation at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Later yesterday, Timm appeared in a police lineup dressed in a blue denim shirt and dungarees, an outfit similar to that said to be worn by one of the bandits in the National Permanent holdup.
Of 10 witnesses who were present yesterday, two identified Timm, it was learned.
Miss Fletcher and Caldwell also have appeared in police lineups and Caldwell has been identified by witnesses. Miss Fletcher has not.
Meanwhile, the grand jury investigating the shooting heard yesterday from Maria Timm, the defendant’s mother, and Marie Timm, 24, his sister.
Neither would discuss what transpired in the grand jury room and at one point Miss Timm declared, “We were having a party” when asked what the grand jury was up to.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 13, 1971, PAGE 55
Death of a D.C. Policeman
William L. Sigmon lies in Parklawn Cemetery in Rockville, dead after 13 years as a police officer. On duty, he never fired his gun until the day he died. Off duty, he was a quiet, fervently religious man, with strong traditional values.
Accused of killing him are:
Heidi Fletcher, the daughter of Washington’s first deputy mayor, a highly respected official.
Eros Timm, her constant companion, accused of having fired the killing shot.
Dan Caldwell, a musician of some talent, who drifted through jobs.
They were young persons of widely different backgrounds, who came to turn away from some of society’s values and customs.
The stand accused of murdering Officer Sigmon in front of the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan office on MacArthur Boulevard during a holdup on the morning of May 25.
These are their portraits, as drawn from people who knew them.
Officer Sigmon, a Simple, Religious Man, Was Slain
About 6 a.m. on May 25, William L. (Bobby) Sigmon ate his usual waffles with fellow policemen near the quiet eighth precinct, the “country club” of Washington police station houses in the low crime area off upper Wisconsin Avenue NW.
After 7 a.m. roll call, he ambled—he never walked; he lumbered, loped like behind a plow, friends said—over to his beat, which was patrolling Wilson High School and nearby Deal Junior High School.
When the streets and school hallways were empty of students, he went down to the athletic director’s office “to chat and help out,” recalled director Bill Richardson.
“Bob used to empire intra squad games, in his uniform, and when his shift was over he came back to watch…even went with us in the bus for away games,” Richardson said. “That morning I was busy, so Bob offered to type up the 1971 72 football schedule for me. It was the last I saw him…about 9 a.m. He was called to go on the stakeout right after.”
Two hours later, while on the stakeout, Sigmon was shot in the back at close range by one of two holdup men. Until that time, according to friends and relatives, he had never drawn his gun, never had a fight in his life, never an enemy, and rarely an unkind word said behind his back.
A soft spoken, drawling country boy who came to Washington at 21 out of the Virginia foothills, the red clay, gospel singing farmlands south of Roanoke, Sigmon had a life filled with ball games, the Bible and his children.
“He wanted to get away from Roanoke and come to the big city,” said a cousin. Wayne Hostetler, a former Washington police detective, who brought Sigmon here to take the police exams in late 1957.
“I told him police work was a pretty good job if you like to meet people… and back in those days it wasn’t as dangerous as it is now,” said Hostetler.
One of the first people Sigmon met here, on a blind date, was his wife Sylvia (Bonnie), a secretary at the Pentagon, who had been recruited at her Florence, Mass., high school.
“A friend asked if I wanted a date with a policeman,” recalled Mrs. Sigmon. “I talked to Bob on the phone…He was a friendly Southern boy…and we were married less than a year later, down in Roanoke by a lady minister.”
The church and the Bible began to play a large part in both their lives, Mrs. Sigmon said, along with Sigmon’s bowling, baseball and football.
“We were born again Christians after moving to Rockville” and joined the newly formed Metropolitan Baptist Temple in the nearby Aspen Hill section, she said.
By the time of his death, Mrs. Sigmon said, they were spending four and five days a week at the church, and were dreaming of sending their children to Bob Jones University, the fundamentalist Bible College in Greenville, S.C.
“WE hoped Tommy (age 9) would become a minister,” she said, “though he could be a good church doctor or a good church automobile mechanic if he wants to be.
“We hoped our daughter, Carolyn (age 10) will a missionary here in this country or far off…she’s surrounded by Bibles and Bible thoughts. But she might want to be a kindergarten teacher,” said Mrs. Sigmon.
One of the reasons they liked the Metropolitan Baptist Temple, said Mrs. Sigmon, is because it’s a “friendly” place.
“We’re more a country type of church,” said the Rev. Robert Fleming, “and Bob was a country boy from Virginia. We’re fundamentalist and believe in the Bible and all its miracles and mysteries. And we believe in converting people, persuading, proselytizing, and Bob took that seriously.
“He was chairman of the church trustees and superintendent of the Sunday school and did a lot of visitation…visiting newcomers in the neighborhood,” said Mr. Fleming.
“Bob was a slow talker, with not much diplomacy. He was very frank and sometimes told people to do things, didn’t ask them. He aggravated some people and I occasionally had to say, “Bob, this is Sunday school, not the police station.” And he embarrassed me once—when giving the church the Sunday school report, he began to talk about knocking children’s heads together…but people loved him when they got to know him,” Mr. Fleming said.
Ronald Dearstine, a church trustee who has taken Sigmon’s place as Sunday school superintendent, frequently went on visitations with him. “Brother Bob and I would try to bring them to the realization that they should be in the Lord’s home, and he would say they ought to come to the church because the Lord’s coming and you want to be ready…you know, when you die. That’s about the way he put it. He was worried about everybody. We always went in pairs. Two by two is what the Scriptures say, like Paul and Barnabas.”
Churches today may play as much a part in the lives of the relatively poor from the rural south as they did 20 years ago when Sigmon grew up in Burnt Chimney, Va., not far from Booker T. Washington’s birthplace.
At Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, which Sigmon attended, there is still gospel singing groups performing on Saturday nights, like the “Believers Quartet” and the “Spiritual airs,” who will sing next weekend.
Sigmon’s parents separated when he was young, and he was brought up on the farms of uncles and aunts in Burnt Chimney and nearby Wirtz.
“He was a sweet little boy who grew up with nobody to play with…just alone here with us,” said Mrs. Winston Willard, an aunt. “He wasn’t a talkative little fellow, but he rode horses some and he loved sports. He never had a fight or am enemy that I knew of and never a word was said against him in the neighborhood, and that’s a lot to say for a boy.”
The Willard’s 170 acre of rolling pastures were a good 20 miles from Franklin County High School. Sigmon could play few sports after school because his school bus left early, said a cousin Forrest Dodson.
But he did arrange to stay late in his senior year when he managed the varsity football team and belonged to the 4 H Club.
High school teachers remember him as an “unsophisticated lad, honest and open, with blond, almost white hair, who worked…struggled in school.”
“Didn’t anything come easy to the boy. He had a difficult time. He was not the kind of guy anyone would pay a whole lot of attention to,” said his former principal, Bruce Kent.
But while he was only an average student–he graduated when he was 21–Sigmon stood out in ways not graded by schools.
His English teacher, Ruth Hunt, recalled, “He was most completely honest, sincere person I ever knew. He had poor grades but a sense of decency, of what was right, a very sharply honed of values…a philosophy. His death is tragic when all this boy ever meant to do in this life is good somewhere.”
Following graduation, Sigmon moved to Roanoke to live with his mother, in a low income public housing project, and to work at odd jobs—soda jerk at Uncle Tom’s Barbecue, carpenter’s helper with a construction company, and finally, starting at 90 cents an hour, as warehouse helper with the Heironimus department store in downtown Roanoke.
On his application to the store he asked for a “good” salary and answered the brief essay question asked of applicants: I, William Sigmon, would like to work at Heironimus for I am a fast worker and I need to have a job so I can help my mother, for she has a heart disease…”
He was rated a “good” worker at the store and was working full time at $1 an hour when he left in January, 1958, to become a Washington policeman.
His Bible quoting and the fact that he didn’t drink, smoke or swear made Sigmon the butt of many friendly jokes at the eight precinct.
Sgt. Bert Marks praised Sigmon as a policeman. “He didn’t try to make big records in writing tickets. He wouldn’t look for petty things. He was a good all round policeman who always kept his cool.”
Marks is helping to handle the donations made to Mrs. Sigmon–$1800 so far, he said last week—and assisting in other arrangements for the family.
Mrs. Sigmon will receive $50,000 under the recent act of Congress for policemen killed in the line of duty: 40 per cent of Sigmon’s $11,400 salary, and each child will receive $996 a year until they are 18 or if they go to college until they’re 22, said Marks.
In addition, Heroes, Inc. has given the family $1000 and promised to assist in sending the children to college. Other federal assistance may be forthcoming, Marks said. Federal programs have already paid about $800 of the future expenses, he said. “All told the family may get about $450 a month.”
Marks, who also helped handle funeral arrangements, said a special assistant to President Nixon brought a letter of condolence. And Thomas Fletcher, former D.C. deputy mayor and father of Heidi Fletcher, who is one of the three people accused of Sigmon’s slaying, came for a private visit at the funeral home, after first inquiring if Mrs. Sigmon would mind.
“At first he couldn’t speak. Then he finally said he and Mrs. Fletcher were sorry, and he broke down and cried,” Marks said.
Mrs. Sigmon has had to make many decisions since her husband’s death. She said she plans to remain in their small, pink house, but is making plans to take driving lessons.
“I was very dependent on Bob. He took the kids to the doctor’s and had to go shopping.” Sigmon’s car remained at the police station, where it was left for two weeks following his death, still filled with baseball gloves, bats and balls from the various police boy’s club, church and school teams he helped coach.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 31, 1971, PAGE B1
3 Indicted For Murder of Officer
Heidi Ann Fletcher, daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor, and two companions were indicted yesterday for first degree murder and armed robbery in the fatal shooting May 25 of a policeman during the holdup of a savings and loan firm on MacArthur Boulevard NW.
Her two companions, Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, 25, and Eros A. Timm, 22, were also indicted for the holdup of another savings and loan office the day before, at 49th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW.
The two robbery cases were assigned to Judge June L. Green for trial. Earl J. Silbert, executive assistant U.S. Attorney, is scheduled to prosecute the cases, although neither is expected to begin before this autumn.
An 18 member grand jury returned the multi count indictments before Chief Judge John J. Sirica of U.S. District Court. The judge excused the jury, which has been in session since April, indicating no further indictments against the three young defendants are planned.
Caldwell, Timm and Miss Fletcher, 21, are all undergoing court ordered psychiatric examinations to determine their competence to stand trial and their mental condition at the time they were alleged to have committed the crimes.
The three were arrested May 25 shortly after the $7,915 holdup of the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan office at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW Officer William L. Sigmon, 34, one of two policemen that had been staked out at the branch office, was killed in a shootout with two armed men who fled the scene in a blue panel truck, said by witnesses to be driven by a woman.
When police stopped a truck matching that description, they said they found the three defendants inside, plus four handguns and more than $7,900 in cash. Timm also was bleeding from what police called gunshot wounds.
In subsequent investigations, police linked Caldwell and Timm with a second holdup which had occurred the day before, at the American Savings and Loan Association, 4900 Massachusetts Ave. NW., where $4,305 were taken.
In yesterday’s indictments, Timm was charged as the trigger man in the shooting of Officer Sigmon. All three are charged with murder while perpetrating a robbery, a capital offense.
All three are also charged with armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and possessing an unregistered short barreled shotgun with no identifiable serial number on it.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 10, 1971, PAGE A14
Suspect’s Tests Still Awaited
Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, one of three persons charged with armed robbery and murder in the May 25 slaying of a metropolitan policeman, will undergo a psychiatric examination at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital as soon as there is room for him there.
Caldwell, 25, originally began a 60 day examination at St. Elizabeth’s on May 28, but was moved to D.C. Jail shortly afterward when a disturbance broke out at the hospital. He has been in the jail since then.
Caldwell, along with Heidi Ann Fletcher, 21, and Eros A. Timms, 22, have been charged in connection with the armed robbery of the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan Association at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW, and the subsequent fatal shooting of Officer William L. Sigmon.
Miss Fletcher is the daughter of Thomas W> Fletcher, former deputy mayor.
The order for Caldwell’s examination, which will determine his mental state, was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green.
According to Caldwell’s attorney, he will also be examined by a psychiatrist appointed by the Public Defender’s Office.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 25, 1971, PAGE B1
3 Plead Not Guilty In Slaying
Heidi Ann Fletcher, Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell entered pleas of not guilty yesterday in the May 25 bank robbery and the slaying of a policeman here. Decision on a motion for Miss Fletcher’s release on bond was put off until today by U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green.
The three defendants, looking at the floor, were led by U.S. Marshals into Judge Green’s courtroom early yesterday morning and seated at the counsel’s table with the space of several chairs between each of them.
Only Miss Fletcher, 21, daughter of Washington’s former Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, actually spoke the words “not guilty” as she stood before the judge, flanked by her lawyers.
The two male defendants, who were called up one at a time before the judge, stared steadfastly and silently at the microphone in front of them. Caldwell’s lawyer entered the plea in his behalf and Timm’s plea was entered by Judge Green herself.
Though Miss Fletcher, the only one of the defendants to glance at the spectators in the crowded courtroom during the arraignment, smiled briefly as she did so, neither of her parents was present in the courtroom.
The father of one of the defendants, Vincent Timm, grim faced through the arraignment. Father and son exchanged glances only as the defendants were being led into the courtroom.
A small group of casually dressed youths with lengthy hair also watched the arraignment. They said they were friends of Caldwell, and have visited him last week in the D.C. Jail, where the two male defendants are being kept. Miss Fletcher is being kept in the city’s Women’s Detention Center.
All three defendants have been found by doctors of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital sane and competent to stand trial.
The defendants had stayed at the hospital for observation until they were transferred to the city jails last week.
Judge Green granted the defendants 10 days in which to file motions, including the ones asking for independent psychiatric evaluations.
Neither Timm nor Caldwell yesterday asked to be released on bond, but the judge considered a request for bond by Miss Fletcher’s attorneys in a 20 minute hearing that was closed to the public and press. The judge is expected to rule on the request today.
William E. McDaniels, the attorney for Miss Fletcher, said he had asked for the closed hearing because of “concern for the ability of the defendants to get a fair trial in this matter.”
The case has been closely covered by the press since the May 25 incident in which the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan branch on MacArthur Boulevard NW, was robbed and a policeman, William L. Sigmon, pursuing the robbers, was killed by gunfire.
Attorneys present at the closed hearing yesterday would not reveal what took place. However, in a written motion for release on bond, Miss Fletcher’s attorneys had asked that she be allowed to stay with her family in San Jose, Calif., or with friends of the family in Washington. The motion also said that she is a competent secretary and would look for a job if released on bond.
No trial date has been set.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 26, 1971, PAGE A1
Judge Frees Miss Fletcher Without Bail
Heidi Ann Fletcher, charged with bank robbery and murder May 25, was released into the custody of family friends yesterday morning on the condition that she remain in Washington, get a job and have no dates. No monetary bond was set.
Miss Fletcher climbed into a red Camaro in the basement parking lot of the U.S. District Court at about noon yesterday with her attorneys and Mr. And Mrs. John Ingram, old family friends into whose custody she has been released and drove away.
Hours earlier Judge June L. Green had signed the order granting Miss Fletcher freedom until her trial, for which no date has yet been set.
Miss Fletcher, 21, is the daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor, Thomas W. Fletcher.
Ingram, now director of the D.C. office of management and budget, was an assistant to Fletcher during his term as deputy mayor.
The two families have been close friends since 1955, when the two fathers worked together in San Diego. The Ingrams, who live at 3730 Cumberland St. NW, have three teen age children.
Miss Fletcher was instructed yesterday by Judge Green to live with the Ingrams in their home and to be in the house every night by 10 p.m. unless in the personal custody of Mr. And Mrs. Ingram.
She was also instructed to have no dates, to get a job within five days and to submit to periodic urinalysis tests for drug use, which is the common practice under the D.C. Bail Reform Act of 1966.
Both Miss Fletcher and the Ingrams were tight lipped yesterday as they raised their right hands inside the basement lockup of the federal court and swore that they would abide by the conditions of the release.
They would say no word to reporters who followed them from the lockup to the officers of the D.C. Bail Agency, where agent Alan Henry explained once again to Miss Fletcher the terms of her release and told her she would have to check in with the bail agency weekly by telephone.
Then the entourage went again to the basement, into the car and left.
Large groups of reporters and cameramen reported they were waiting for the Ingrams and Miss Fletcher at the Northwest home, but they had (part of paragraph unreadable) of “concern for the ability of the defendants to get a fair trial…”
Also charged in the robbery and shooting with Miss Fletcher are Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, both of whom are being kept in the D.C. Jail. Neither has petitioned for release on bond.
All three defendants were found competent to stand trial after 60 days of mental examination in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
They are charged with the robbery of the National Permanent Savings and Loan branch on MacArthur Boulevard NW and with the murder in front of the office of a pursuing policeman, William L. Sigmon.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 7, 1971, PAGE D1
Try Fletcher Case Alone, Court Urged
Attorneys for Heidi Fletcher have filed a motion for a trial separate from that of her co defendants, Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, on grounds that evidence against them would taint her trial.
The three are charged in a May 25 bank robbery and slaying of a policeman here.
Miss Fletcher’s attorneys also asked U.S. District Judge June Green to suppress an eyewitness identification of Miss Fletcher as the driver of the getaway vehicle in the crime because “massive pretrial publicity…may have resulted in a mistaken identification.”
Noting that the Supreme Court is expected to decide the constitutionality of the death penalty this term, the attorneys also asked that the death penalty be ruled out in Miss Fletcher’s case because her alleged involvement is that of an “abettor” in a robbery which, through no direct action of her own, resulted in the death of a policeman…”
The papers asked that the trial be held elsewhere than in Washington, again on grounds that widespread publicity given the case here might make a fair trial impossible.
Miss Fletcher, 21, the daughter of Thomas W. Fletcher, former deputy mayor of Washington, was released into the custody of family friends in Washington Aug. 25 by Judge Green.
She was told to get a job, remain in Washington with the family of Mr. And Mrs. John Ingram, director of the D.C. office of management and budget, and have no dates.
All three defendants pleaded innocent on Aug. 24.
The papers filed by her attorney, William E. McDaniels, give the court notice that Miss Fletcher is presently undergoing psychiatric treatment and analysis and “may rely on the defense of lack of mental responsibility.”
However, the papers said, the final decision to take this line of defense has not been made.
In asking for a separate trial, the papers said Timm and Caldwell, who both are also under indictment for a second bank robbery, “lack …any strong defense on the merits and… may indeed admit guilt.”
“In contrast,” said the papers, “defendant Fletcher has a plausible defense on the merits at least with respect to the felony murder charge.”
The papers also asked Judge Green, who is not expected to rule on the motions until after the government replies on Nov. 5 to order the government to reveal the identities of all witnesses to the alleged crime.
The attorneys asked specifically for the identity of the witness who failed to identity Miss Fletcher in one police lineup, and the identity of another witness who did identify her in a second lineup.
This witness, the papers said, “came forth days after the offense under circumstances which make it unclear as to the…basis for her identification.” They said this witness identification may have been affected by publicity given the case.
The papers that the government insisted that Miss Fletcher wear the sleeveless pullover blouse for the lineups that she was allegedly wearing when apprehended, even though a police photo of her in the blouse had been published in newspapers.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 23, 1971, PAGE B7
Prosecution Questions Heidi Fletcher Release
Government prosecutors have asked a federal judge to take another look at whether accused murderer Heidi Ann Fletcher is mentally fit to remain free in the custody of friends until her trial.
In court papers filed during the last two weeks, the government asked for a “detailed inquiry,” including testimony by Miss Fletcher’s two psychiatrists to determine whether her continued freedom may pose a danger to the community or a risk of her flight before trial.
The government request followed a notice by Miss Fletcher’s lawyers that she is “presently undergoing psychiatric treatment and analysis and may rely on the defense of lack of mental responsibility.”
If this is so, the government papers reason, there should be an inquiry as to whether someone with an alleged mental illness should be free in the community.
The government asked U.S. District Judge June L. Green, who released Miss Fletcher into the custody of family friends in Washington Aug. 25, to hold the inquiry. No date has been set for Judge Green’s consideration of the government motion.
Judge Green released Miss Fletcher, 21, charged with Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell in the May 25 savings and loan robbery and killing of a policeman here, after doctors at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital found her competent to stand trial and her personal psychiatrist said that her supervised release would not pose a significant danger or risk.
“It would be ironic, indeed,” said the government papers, “for (Miss Fletcher) to have persuaded this court to grant pretrial release claiming no mental illness and to then turn around and prevail at trial on an insanity defense.”
Lawyers for Miss Fletcher, the daughter of Thomas W. Fletcher, former deputy mayor of Washington, argued in an answer to the government request that the facts of the situation have not changed since her personal psychiatrist still feels her freedom poses no substantial risk or danger.
This is for the court to decide, said the government, and not the psychiatrist, who has not yet made a statement to the court on his diagnosis of Miss Fletcher’s condition.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1971, PAGE B1
Death Penalty Is Urged In Heidi Fletcher Case
Government prosecutors yesterday asked in a strongly worded statement that the death penalty not be ruled out in the case of accused murderer Heidi Ann Fletcher.
Miss Fletcher, accused with Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell in the May 25 bank robbery and subsequent slaying of a policeman here, had filed court papers early in October asking that the death penalty be ruled out.
Miss Fletcher’s attorneys had said that she was allegedly an “abettor in a robbery which, through no direct action of her own, resulted in the death of a policeman…” and that the death penalty would constitute a cruel and unusual punishment under the circumstances.
In voluminous court papers filed yesterday, U.S. Attorney Thomas Flannery wrote, “Suffice it to say in response that when three persons set out with a carefully prepared plan to rob a bank, armed with four pistols and a sawed off shotgun, and in the course of that robbery one of the robbers murders a human being by shooting him point blank in the back, the death penalty is manifestly a constitutionally permissible punishment…”
The papers argued that this would be true “not only for the person who pulled the trigger” but also for others involved. Miss Fletcher is alleged to have been the driver of the getaway vehicle in the robbery murder.
The death penalty issue is only one of many that will be argued before U.S. District Judge June L. Green at a date to be set in the near future.
In papers filed yesterday, government prosecutors also argued that a government psychiatrist should be appointed to examine Miss Fletcher.
Attorneys for Miss Fletcher, daughter of Thomas W. Fletcher, former deputy mayor of Washington, have told the court that their client may employ a defense of insanity and that she is under the care of two private psychiatrists.
Judge Green released Miss Fletcher into the custody of family friends in Washington until her trial.
Miss Fletcher, along with her co defendants, had been examined by psychiatrists in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital here following her arrest. All were declared competent to stand trial.
Flannery suggested yesterday that Miss Fletcher be reexamined by a court appointed psychiatrist. “It is only fair, we suggest, that the United States have an equal opportunity to have defendant examined by a psychiatrist of its own choosing to assure that at the trial the jury will have the benefit of the most complete presentation…” Flannery said.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 12, 1971, PAGE B4
Jan. 17 Trial Set for 3 in Police Killing
U.S. District Judge June L. Green yesterday set a trial date of Jan 17 for accused murderers Heidi Fletcher, Eros Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell.
The three are charged in a May 25 bank robbery and the slaying of a policeman here.
In a hearing on mostly procedural motions in the case, Judge Green granted a request by Miss Fletcher’s lawyers for access to a witness who failed to identify Miss Fletcher in a police lineup, and to another witness who identified her but only after her photograph had been published in newspapers.
The judge said the lawyers could see the two witnesses one week before the trial but not immediately, as had been requested. She also ruled that the lawyers could not have access to other witnesses who may have seen the getaway vehicle but who did not identify Miss Fletcher as its driver.
Only If Called
These witnesses would be available to the defense if the government planned on calling them to testify, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert told Judge Green this was not the case.
Silbert said, however, that the two witnesses involved in the lineup would be called to testify at the trial, and thus would be available to the defense lawyers before the trial.
Miss Fletcher, 21, the daughter of Thomas W. Fletcher, former deputy mayor of Washington, was released into the custody of family friends in Washington Aug. 25 by Judge Green. Both Timm and Caldwell are still in custody.
Miss Fletcher has been charged, as the driver of the getaway vehicle, with robbery and first degree murder along with the other two.
Other Motions Pending
There was no action yesterday on a group of important motions filed by Miss Fletcher’s lawyers for removal of a possible death penalty in the case, for a change of venue and for a trial separate from the two male defendants.
Judge Green is expected to act on these soon, perhaps after a hearing set for Dec. 2 on the competency of the two male defendants to stand trial.
The U.S. Attorney’s office had asked that Judge Green consider revoking Miss Fletcher’s release pending trial, but that was not done yesterday.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 19, 1971, PAGE B1
Miss Fletcher Asks Early Trial
Lawyers for Heidi Ann Fletcher, accused in the murder of a metropolitan policeman, have asked that her trial be held before her 22 birthday so that, if convicted, she can be sentenced under the Youth corrections Act. Government prosecutors immediately replied in papers filed in U.S. District Court here that if Miss Fletcher’s trial is speeded, trials for everyone else in similar situations also would have to be speeded, a move that would “seriously interfere with the court’s already scheduled calendar…”
Members of the U.S. Attorney’s office here have complained that criminals are getting off with only a few months in prison under the youth corrections act passed by Congress to provide rehabilitation for offenders up to 26 years of age.
Under the act, persons over 22 who are convicted of first-degree murder may be sentenced as adults. If sentenced as an adult, Miss Fletcher would have to serve at least ten years in prison before being released on parole.
(Parts unreadable) Miss Fletcher, the daughter of former Washington deputy mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, will be 22 on Dec. 22. Her trial in the slaying of a police officer during a savings and loan robbery in Northwest Washington has been set for Jan. 17.
Today, U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green, who set the trial date, will hold a hearing on the new motion by the Fletcher’s attorneys for a Dec. 6 trial date.
If the trial is not held before Miss Fletcher’s birthday, argued her attorneys from the firm of Edward Bennett Williams, the situation will “fundamentally unfairly (violate) her right to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment and her right to speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment.”
The government argued in its papers that prior to the motion, for a quick trial (unreadable) under the law, court action she had taken involved a delay of the trial date.
(Some parts of these paragraphs are a guess because parts are unreadable due to overlapping computer generated printed columns) In addition, the government said, it cannot possibly be prepared for trial as early as Dec. 6. It also said that even if the jury verdict was in by Dec. 22, sentencing could not take place until later.
Concern has so great about the Youth Corrections and the overcrowded conditions at Lorton Youth Center where youths are sent for the act, that U.S. District Judge Gerhard Gesell has scheduled a special all day Inquiry into the situation In his courtroom.
Miss Fletcher has been indicted for robbery and murder in the May 25 bank holdup and slaying, along with Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell.
Timm and Caldwell were also indicted by a federal grand jury for an attempted robbery of a bank in Charlottesville, Va.
U.S. District Ted Dalton in Roanoke set their arraignment for Nov. 22 and then cancelled it indefinitely when the motion for an early trial date required their presence in Washington.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 20, 1971, PAGE B1
Slay Suspect Heidi Fletcher Denied Earlier Date for Trial
Heidi Ann Fletcher’s motion for an earlier trial date so she could qualify for a lighter sentence if convicted of first degree murder was denied yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green.
Miss Fletcher, accused with two male companions of the slaying of a D.C. policeman after a May 25 bank robbery here, had asked that her trial begin Dec. 6 instead of the previously scheduled date of Jan 17.
Miss Fletcher’s 22nd birthday falls on Dec. 22. By beginning her trial Dec. 6, her lawyers argued, she might qualify for sentencing under the Youth Corrections Act, which applies to defendants who are younger than 22 at the time of sentencing.
Those sentenced under the youth act have served an average of about 10 months in jail, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons said. If Miss Fletcher were to be sentenced as an adult on a first degree murder conviction, she would have to serve a minimum of 20 years before she would be eligible for parole.
In denying Miss Fletcher’s motion yesterday, Judge Green said that because “so many (local) defendants are around 21,” it would “make a chaotic situation” if trial dates had to be changed “every time a defendant has a (22nd) birthday.”
Previously, Earl Silbert, assistant U.S. attorney, had argued against giving Miss Fletcher “preferential treatment.”
Silbert said that three other cases, all more than a year old, would have had to be delayed to clear the Dec. 6 date. “Why the defense couldn’t have asked for this (earlier) date in October sometime?” Silbert asked.
Defense Attorney William B. McDaniels argued that “substantial rights of the defendant hinge” on the earlier trial date. He said the government “should certainly” be ready to begin trial by Dec. 6, about 6 ½ months after Miss Fletcher’s arrest.
Miss Fletcher and her co defendants, Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, all sat impassively at the defendant’s table during the one hour proceeding yesterday. Timm, 22, was clad in blue prison fatigues. Caldwell, 25, was wearing tan fatigues, and because he is weak from a hunger strike he was engaged in at D.C. Jail, he was sitting in a wheelchair.
Miss Fletcher, the daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor, Thomas W. Fletcher, was wearing a print dress, blue patent knee high boots, and a Mickey Mouse wristwatch. She has been free on bond since Aug. 25.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 16, 1971, PAGE A1
Heidi Fletcher Gets Indefinite Sentence
Heidi Ann Fletcher, 21, sobbing and asking for “an opportunity to prove myself to be a worthy human being,” pleaded guilty to first degree murder yesterday. She was sentenced under the Youth corrections Act to a maximum of nine years in a federal medium security prison in California.
“I can’t find the words to tell you how sorry I am,” Miss Fletcher told U.S. District Judge June L. Green in a breaking voice so soft that her father, Washington’s former Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, strained forward in his front row seat to hear.
“I just hope…” Miss Fletcher went on, and then broke down, sobbing. Finally, lifting her head from its position near the shoulder of her attorney, Edward Bennett Williams Miss Fletcher finished: “I just hope, your honor, that I will be given an opportunity to prove myself to be a worthy human being.”
Judge Green then pronounced sentence under the Youth Corrections Act after a probation officer, Fred Peterson, told the court that there was space available for Miss Fletcher in the Federal Bureau of Prisons Terminal Island women’s facility near Los Angeles.
The court heard testimony from a psychiatrist that being incarcerated near her family might be helpful in Miss Fletcher’s rehabilitation. Her father is city manager of San Jose., Calif.
The sentencing came after psychiatric testimony that the Fletchers were “a family of strangers, unable, for whatever the dice of facts were, to give her the kind of life she needed.”
Saying that Miss Fletcher had the emotional age of a 12 to 15 year old child at the most,” Dr. Leon Yochelson said that her search for parental substitutes led her to the crime in order to please her companions—not to achieve monetary gain.
Miss Fletcher was charged with the murder of Metropolitan Police Officer William L. Sigmon, 34, during a $7,900 holdup last May 25 of an office of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW Two males, alleged to be accomplices, also are charged in the case and are awaiting trial.
Under the sentence, Miss Fletcher will receive rehabilitive treatment especially reserved by the 1950 act for criminals under the age of 22. Miss Fletcher will be 22 next Wednesday.
While she may be released at any time by the U.S. Board of Parole, law requires that she be released on probation after seven years.
Had she been sentenced as an adult; she could have received sentences of life imprisonment or death by electrocution. Miss Fletcher pleaded guilty to 10 counts of a 15 count indictment charging her, along with Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, in the robbery and the slaying.
Gesticulating and almost shouting in the stuffy courtroom, Williams, one of the nation’s best-known criminal attorneys, begged the judge in a 15 minute summation to “give this girl an emotional, spiritual rebirth.”
Williams pointed out to the judge that in seven days Miss Fletcher will be 22 years old and ineligible for sentencing under the Youth Act.
Referring to Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert’ s efforts to have sentencing delayed for further psychological tests, Williams thrust his arm toward where Silbert sat slumped over his counsel table, shaking his head from side to side.
Shouting by this point, Williams asked if Silbert would be back in court after the further tests and after the 22nd birthday saying, “Too late, Heidi, too late, now go to the penitentiary because you missed the boat—ambushed by a technicality, a procedural nihilism.
Referring to Dr. Yochelson’s earlier testimony that Miss Fletcher had been starved for love and affection in her family life, Williams described her as “ a young girl who comes to this court as indigent in some of the necessities of life as any monetarily indigent (defendant).”
He asked Judge Green for a rehabilitative sentence under the Youth Act because Miss Fletcher has “responded like a flower to the first burst of sunlight and water” in the four months that she has been free on bond in the home of Mr. And Mrs. John Ingram, 3730 Cumberland St. NW. Judge Green released Miss Fletcher to them on Aug. 25.
Ingram, now director of the D.C. office of management and budget, was an assistant to Fletcher during his term as deputy mayor. The two families are old friends.
Williams emphasis on Miss Fletcher’s response in the Ingram home, and on Dr. Yochelson’s testimony that she “has the intelligence and creative resources (which) need only to be developed” was keyed to the technical requirements of the youth act.
Under those requirements, as interpreted by the U.S. Court of Appeals here, a youth must be sentenced under the act and not as an adult unless the judge finds, him to be incorrigible.
In Miss Fletcher’s case, Judge Green said this was not the situation.
When the sentence was pronounced and the judge briskly left the room, women were weeping openly and Miss Fletcher fell into her father’s arms. They both cried as they clasped one another for several seconds.
Not present at the hearing were Miss Fletcher’s mother, her older brother Tom Jr., and her younger brother Dean.
Before U.S. Marshals led her off to the cellblock, Miss Fletcher also embraced Mrs. Ingram. It could not be learned when she would leave for California.
The application of the act here has become a major legal controversy since the city has said its Lorton Youth Center is overcrowded and cannot accommodate any more inmates. Males sentenced under the act have been sent there and women have been sent to other federal youth institutions around the country.
Law and order advocates, led by the U.S. attorney’s office here have complained that the overcrowding has led to the early release of some criminals into halfway houses and the community.
Both the federal and local courts here, while praising the rehabilitative aspects of the act, have approved emergency procedures to allow them to continue sentencing until the space problem is solved.
Judge Green refused to go along with one of those procedures in sentencing Miss Fletcher—the one requiring that no Youth Act sentence be imposed without special psychological testing.
Judge Green denied Silbert’s request for such tests, which could not be completed until after Miss Fletcher’s 22nd birthday. The judge said she had all the psychological data she needed on Miss Fletcher and that more tests would only impose a “further burden” on overcrowded facilities.
Yesterday’s hearing, which was not announced until the last minute, held surprise after surprise, starting with Miss Fletcher’s dramatic plea of guilty to first degree murder, armed robbery, robbery, illegal possession of dangerous weapons, and ending with the judge’s unusual speedy sentencing.
Court sources said that it was the first time in memory that the U.S. attorney had insisted on such a comprehensive plea before allowing any plea at all. Usually murderers are allowed to plea to second degree murder in the so called “plea bargaining” process.
The sources noted that there is also usually a lapse of at least several weeks between a plea and sentencing.
By early afternoon of the all day hearing, spectators were crowding the benches wiping tears from their tears from their eyes as Mrs. Ingram took the witness stand and said, “Her relationship with us has been just beautiful. The kids love her. John and I love her.”
Mrs. Ingram said that Miss Fletcher had faithfully obeyed the conditions of her release, not dating, returning home every night at 10, and getting a job with the Denniberg Advertising Agency, 1827 Jefferson Pl. NW.
Elliott Denniberg, who hired Miss Fletcher Aug. 30, said, “I wish that all the secretaries that worked in our office were as good as Heidi.” He said she arrived punctually, at 8:45 each morning, before anyone else, and had to be given her own set of keys to the agency.
Dr. Yochelson, a well-known private psychiatrist who spent seven hours interviewing Miss Fletcher and who said he made a careful study of her entire life, said that she suffered from a “personality disorder, immature type.”
He said her emotional age was six years less than her chronological age of 21 and that, not finding the love and stability she needed at home, she developed “a very excessive dependence on a certain type of parental figure.”
So great was her need for love, attention and a “strong figure in her life” that, “despite (her) capacity for critical judgement, (she) frequently abdicates it to gain love from a parental figure,” the psychiatrist said.
“This craving (for love) dominated her life,” he said, which you can see just by looking at her.” Miss Fletcher sat motionless at that, her eyes not yet red with the tears that would come late in the afternoon.
Dr. Yochelson said that Miss Fletcher probably did not know about the proposed crime until two or three days before it happened. She admitted in her plea of guilty that she had been the driver of the getaway vehicle in which the three defendants were captured by police an hour after the crime.
At the time, Miss Fletcher admitted, the vehicle contained one .45 caliber and two .38 caliber pistols and a sawed off shotgun.
Warden J.J. Walsh of the Federal Correctional Institute at Terminal Island described the facility as a medium security institution with about 750 male inmates and 165 female inmates.
He said it is “very pleasantly located” in Los Angeles harbor between Los Angeles and Long Beach to the south. “We have palm trees all over the place,” Walsh said.
There are three women’s dormitories and each inmate has a private room, Walsh said. The inmate population includes persons convicted of virtually every type of federal crime, he said.
Terminal Island is one of two federal correctional facilities to which women are sent in the United States and it was partially man made during the dredging of Los Angeles Harbor. The other federal women’s correctional facility is in Alderson, W. Va.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 17, 1971, PAGE B1
Slain Policeman’s Friends Upset But Not Surprised
Neighbors and fellow policemen who knew slain Officer William L. Sigmon said yesterday they were “upset but not surprised” at what they called the “lenient” sentence given Heidi Ann Fletcher, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in the bank holdup in which Sigmon was shot to death last May 25.
“Frankly I was furious…this may be the best thing for the girl but would anybody else get the same kind of treatment, the same justice, if they didn’t have the money and name that she did?” said Judy Miller, whose family lives across the street from the Sigmon’s pink bungalow in Rockville.
Miss Fletcher, 21, the daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, was sentenced under the Youth Corrections Act to a maximum of nine years in a medium security prison in California.
Under the law, she may be released at any time by the U.S. Board of Parole but must be released on probation after seven years.
Under the sentence of U.S. District Judge June L. Green, Miss Fletcher will receive rehabilitative treatment reserved by the 1950 act for those under 22. She will be 22 next Wednesday.
One police officer who had worked with Sigmon in the eighth precinct off upper Wisconsin Avenue NW criticized the Youth Corrections Act for treating 21 year olds as children. He said, however, he didn’t feel Miss Fletcher got a more lenient sentence or had been given extra consideration because her father or because of her well known lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams.
Neighbors of the Sigmon’s family, hearing last summer that Williams was to be Miss Fletcher’s attorney, began a local petition protesting what they thought was special consideration being given her.
The petition move was stopped by the policeman’s widow, Bennie Sigmon, herself, one neighbor said. “It upset her. She said she’d had all the publicity she wanted and told us if we wanted to do something to write a nice letter to Chief (Jerry) Wilson.”
The neighbors did that and also helped the local Lone Oak Elementary School PTA establish an annual summer camp scholarship for an inner-city youth in Sigmon’s name.
Miss Fletcher, who admitted driving the getaway car for two men who allegedly held up the bank and shot Sigmon, had been free on bond, living with a family and working in an advertising office for the past four months.
The two males originally charged with her of committing the robbery and murder, have been held without bond. One of the accused; Eros A. Timm, is 22, the other Lawrence D. Caldwell, is 25.
Many policemen at the Eighth precinct, and others interviewed on the streets, were philosophical, if somewhat bitter, about Miss Fletcher’s sentence.
“That’s the way things are in this town. Some people can get away with murder. I don’t mean it as a joke but many gunmen, holdup men who’ve shot somebody to death will also get out in under nine years…and she was only an accessary,” one officer said.
Another officer said, “There’s no doubt the case was speeded up because of power…politics…in six months she’ll be out on the street.”
Most said they favored rehabilitative efforts for her but felt that it would be “unjust” or bad for law enforcement if she were given an early release. “If she serves, say five years, then the interests of justice would be served,” one officer suggested.
“I saw Sigmon lying there dead, and I know he didn’t deserve what he got,” another concluded, “and I know she deserved more than she got… but then we can’t pass judgement.”
Heidi Fletcher Flies West To Begin Indefinite Term
Heidi Ann Fletcher, with downcast eyes and wearing a blue, hooded maxi coat and blue vinyl high heeled shoes, flew off to prison yesterday.
Miss Fletcher, who pleaded guilty Wednesday in the murder of a D.C. policeman, left from Dulles International Airport on the 9 a.m. flight to Los Angeles.
At the Terminal Island federal detention center near there, she will serve an indefinite sentence of up to nine years.
Miss Fletcher was not handcuffed as one male and one female federal marshal led her aboard the mobile lounge that took her to her plane.
Her father, Thomas W. Fletcher, the city manager of San Jose, Calif., and Washington’s former deputy mayor, was not there. He had been in court with his daughter yesterday.
Miss Fletcher joked occasionally with her guards, but when a reporter approached and asked if she had anything to say before she left, her face fell. She stared at the (unreadable) her head negatively. “I guess the answer is no,” said her male guard.
Miss Fletcher arrived for the flight about 40 minutes early. She stood with one guard—unrecognized by the crowds at the ticket counters–as the other guard picked three tickets from American Airlines. She glanced at a sign on the counter, which told her she would see a Clint Eastwood movie in flight.
(The American Airlines ticket counter manager at Dulles said Miss Fletcher and her two guards had first class tickets. However, Jim Palmer, administrative assistant to U.S. Marshal Anthony E. Papa, said the three had flown tourist class.)
A spokesman in the U.S. marshal’s office said prisoners normally fly tourist class, unless there are no tourist seats available. First class tickets then are bought only when speed is necessary in transporting the prisoner.
(A woman at the American Airlines ticket counter at Dulles said only 68 of the 105 coach (tourist class) seats on Flight 77 were sold today, which she said was about normal.)
Miss Fletcher and the two male marshals then walked to the gate, where they were put at the head of the line. An American Airlines agent carried Miss Fletcher’s luggage—three green suitcases, all marked “Property of Heidi Fletcher” on the side, and a large shopping bag full of clothes.
Miss Fletcher, 21, had lived in Washington for four years and three months. She had graduated from high school here, worked as a legal secretary here, and fallen in love here, gotten arrested here.
But as she walked into the mobile lounge yesterday, she didn’t look back.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DECEMBER 18, 1971, PAGE B1
Trial Delay Denied for Eros Timm
An attorney for accused murderer Eros A. Timm left the courtroom in tears yesterday after U.S. District Judge June L. Green denied her motion to have Timm’s scheduled Jan. 17 trial delayed.
“I don’t think I can do it Jan. 17,” Carol Freeman told Judge Green. She said she had a baby in August and was under some “physical strain.”
Judge Green had appointed Mrs. Freeman and Michael Fayad, of the Georgetown Legal Intern Program, to represent Timm after Timm, 22, jumped to his feet during a hearing Dec. 2 and complained about his counsel.
The judge asked Mrs. Freeman yesterday if she wanted to withdraw from the case.
Mrs. Freeman said no, and the judge said “The court denies the motion for a continuance.”
Timm is accused with Lawrence Daniel Caldwell and Heidi Ann Fletcher in a May 25 savings and loan robbery and the murder of a Washington policeman. This occurred during the holdup.
Miss Fletcher pleaded guilty to first degree murder and armed robbery Wednesday and, with the help of one of the best-known criminal attorneys in the nation, Edward Bennett Williams, received an indefinite sentence of up to nine years under the Youth Corrections Act.
Timm’s father, Vincent, said after yesterday’s hearing that Judge Green should have granted the continuance, “either that or Mrs. Freeman should cancel her…vacation.” He said Mrs. Freeman told him Thursday that she planned a vacation between now and the trial.
Mrs. Freeman emerging from a rest room with red eyes, denied that she was going on a vacation, but said she was now on maternity leave from her law firm.
She was appointed to the case after Timm said he was dissatisfied with the services of T. Emmett McKenzie, hired by his father. McKenzie is still on the case, though the judge insisted during yesterdays confused hearing that one of Timm’s attorneys must speak for all.
In yesterday’s hearing, attorneys for Caldwell asked for a change of venue because of publicity given the Fletcher plea.
One of them, Edward Menard, told the judge that Caldwell could not receive a fair trial here because jurors could not be found who had not read front page news accounts of the dramatic plea and reactions by friends of the slain officer, William L. Sigmon, that Miss Fletcher had received a lenient sentence.
The motion was denied. Judge Green gave no reasons for the denial.
Though Timm was present through yesterday’s hearing and taking notes rapidly, Caldwell was not there.
Menard waived his presence, saying he had been moved from the D.C. Jail because he was “vomiting quite regularly.”
The hospital said last night that Caldwell was in satisfactory condition.
Judge Green found Caldwell fit to stand trial Dec. 2 even though he remained completely limp and unresponsive throughout his court appearance and his attorneys said he had not talked with them.
The ruling followed testimony by a psychiatrist that Caldwell had said he had studied Far Eastern religions and yoga and could thus completely control his mental and physical processes.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 24, 1971, PAGE A12
2 Murder Suspects Gain Time
Delay Seen in Sanity Report, Judge Sets Later Trial Date
Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell won a delay in their murder trial yesterday after a defense psychiatrist said he might not be ready with a sanity report on Timm by Jan. 17, the previously scheduled trial date.
U.S. District Judge June L. Green granted the delay until Feb. 22 after psychiatrist Leonardo Maguigad testified that Timm had been “so evasive and inhibited” in their first three sessions together that “I cannot guarantee…an adequate report by Jan. 17.”
In granting the motion for a delay, Judge Green said she would have to change the trial dates of “three other defendants who are equally entitled to a trial,” which she called “a shame.” She thus ordered that there be no further trial delays beyond Feb. 22.
Timm and Caldwell, 22, and 25 respectively, are charged in the May 25 shooting death of Washington Policeman William L. Sigmon after a bank holdup. A co defendant, Heidi Ann Fletcher, 22, pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the case earlier this month, and was sentenced to an indefinite term at a federal penitentiary in California.
Judge Green granted the trial delay yesterday after one of Timm’s attorneys, Michael Fayad, argued that the defense has “just not had enough time” to construct an insanity defense.
“It is not just a matter of the psychiatric report,” Fayad said. “We have not had time to locate and interview (Timm’s) friends, or to locate and obtain his school and health and draft records.”
If Judge Green insisted that the trial be held Jan. 17, Fayad said, “I would be the first witness on a motion that we would file (alleging) ineffectiveness of counsel.”
Dr. Maguigad, the third defense psychiatrist to examine Timm, testified that in 5 hours and 15 minutes of examination since early December, Timm “has not even begun to discuss the alleged offense. He doesn’t talk even about his life with me.”
As Timm sat at the defense table doing multiplication problems in pen on his pant leg, Dr. Maguigad said he could not guarantee that even “six more months of examination will be adequate.”
“There are indications of psycho pathology (mental illness),” Dr. Maguigad said. “It will take time.”
In another related action yesterday, Judge Green took under advisement a second defense motion for a shift of the trial away from Washington because of the heavy publicity the case has received.
The defense argued that the volume of publicity—about 250 newspaper stories since late May—will prejudice prospective jurors. The government argued yesterday that volume alone does not warrant a shift, and that unprejudiced jurors can still be found.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 18, 1972, PAGE B4
Trial Set Tuesday In Sigmon Slaying
Attorneys for Heidi Ann Fletcher and Reos Timm met with U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green behind closed doors yesterday in an official court proceeding closed to the press and the public.
The meeting was held to discuss whether Miss Fletcher —the daughter of Washington’s former deputy mayor should be returned from a federal prison in California to testify as a witness at the murder trial next week of Timm and Lawrence D. Caldwell, one of Caldwell’s attorneys confirmed last night.
The lawyer, Charles Murray, said that Judge Green did not reach a decision on the point. Murray was not present at the meeting but said he had been informed of what had transpired.
Timm and Caldwell will stand trial next Tuesday for first degree murder charges in connection with the shooting of policeman William L. Sigmon last May. Miss Fletcher pleaded guilty to a murder charge in the same case in December.
Murray said he believes that Miss Fletcher and Timm are still on good terms and that Miss Fletcher is willing to testify at the trial. However, Murray said, he does not believe that Miss Fletcher’s attorneys want her to testify.
Frank X. Grossi, a lawyer with the firm of Williams, Connolly, and Califano, who represented Miss Fletcher at the closed meeting, refused last night to comment on the case.
The secret hearing was held in Judge Green’s chambers early yesterday. A reporter who asked to attend the meeting was refused permission by Judge Green.
The judge said the meeting involved “merely a pretrial motion of a technical nature.” She said the reason it was not held in an open courtroom was that any newspaper articles published shortly before the trial would make it difficult to select a fair and impartial jury next week.
Judge Green said that an official transcript of the meeting would be made for the court record, but she said that the transcript “will not be typed up at this time.”
Timm’s attorneys, Michael Fayad and Carol Freeman and federal prosecutor Earl Silbert also refused yesterday to discuss what had transpired at the meeting. “The less pretrial publicity about this case, the better,” Mrs. Freeman said.
Sigmon was fatally shot after a holdup at the Permanent Savings and Loan Association May 25.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 23, 1972, PAGE A1
6 Witnesses 2 in S&L Holdups
Six government witnesses positively identified Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell yesterday as the two men who robbed Northwest Washington financial institutions on May 24 and 25.
In addition, two of the witnesses identified Timm as the man they saw fire a shot after the second robbery that Killed Washington policeman William L. Sigmon.
The testimony came at the opening day of the two men’s trial on murder and bank robbery charges in U.S. District Court here.
Timm, 22, and Caldwell, 25, are charged with the May 24 robbery of an American Savings and Loan Association at 4900 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Along with Heidi Ann Fletcher, the 22 year old daughter of former D.C. deputy mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, they were also charged with killing Sigmon after the May 25 holdup of a National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan branch at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW.
Miss Fletcher pleaded guilty in December to the May 25 murder and bank robbery charges and is now in prison in California.
The six witnesses appeared at yesterday’s opening session of the trial to testify on a defense motion—denied later by U.S. District Judge June L. Green—that would have disallowed identification they made of Timm and Caldwell in police lineups in May and June.
One witness, policeman Wade H. Bishop, told the court he was across the street from the Nation Permanent branch on May 25 when he saw Sigmon chasing and firing at a man he later identified as Caldwell.
“I saw officer (Sigmon) crouch next to a retaining wall (near the branch), Bishop testified. “Then I saw the shorter man (later identified as Timm) extend his arm over the railing and fire at the officer.”
Bishop said he ran across the street and fired two shots at the man he later identified as Timm. Timm was returning the fire, Bishop said.
“I thought to myself, “I’m going to die, I hope my family’s OK,” Bishop said.
He then fired two more shots at the suspect, Bishop testified, one of which “appeared to take effect.” Timm was wounded when police arrested the three suspects two hours later.
Another eyewitness, Nancy L. DuTeil, a teller at National Permanent, said a man she later identified as Timm began the May 25 robbery by approaching her desk and asking if he could open an account. Meanwhile, she said, a man later identified as Caldwell came to an unmanned teller’s window.
“We were shorthanded,” Miss DuTeil said, “So I went to help the taller man (Caldwell.)” Then, she said, both men pulled guns and forced her to empty two drawers and a vault of money.
Asked by prosecutor Earl J. Silbert how she was sure that Timm and Caldwell had been the two men, Miss DuTeil replied: “I rate people.”
“What kind of people?” Silbert asked. “Men,” Miss DuTeil said, blushing and weeping.
The defense challenged the six witnesses’ identifications of Timm and Caldwell on the grounds that heavy publicity just after their arrests could have influenced the witnesses’ memories.
Judge Green denied the motion to disallow the identifications, commenting that “if no one were ever brought to trial because their picture was in the paper, it would be a sorry state of affairs.”
Later, the judge also denied defense motions to shift the trial away from Washington, to cancel the trial because of a story in The Washington Post on Tuesday, and to disallow the death penalty, which the government has said it will seek.
In another ruling, she ordered reporters moved from their customary press table near the front of the court to a row of benches nearer the rear of the court. She said she did this because defense counsel had complained reporters might be able to overhear their conversations with the defendants. Reporters normally are about four feet from the defense table. She also barred an artist from The Washington Post from sketching principals in the case.
Later, in a statement from the bench, Judge Green asked the media’s cooperation with the no sketch rule. She said that if sketches were in the press and on television an impartial jury might be difficult to find, and the case would have to move to another jurisdiction.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 29, 1972, PAGE C9
District Policeman Describes Robbery, Shooting of Sigmon
It was about 9:30 a.m. on May 25, William J. Schwartz Jr. Testified yesterday, when William L. Sigmon, a fellow Washington policeman, announced their duty for the day.
“He said we were going to go stake out a savings and loan at 5185 MacArthur Boulevard,” Schwartz said. “We got there about 9:45. The manager said he was glad to have us.”
About an hour later, the stakeout bore fruit, of a sort. Two men robbed the bank. Sigmon and Schwartz, who had been sitting in a back room, chased after them. Seconds later, Sigmon was shot in the back and killed.
The trial of the two young men charged with that robbery and Sigmon’s killing ended its fifth day yesterday. The defendants are Eros A. Timm, 22, and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, 25. Timm and Caldwell also are charged with another savings and loan robbery the day before. Most of the 19 witnesses the government presented Friday and yesterday placed either Timm or Caldwell or both at the scene of the robberies May 24 or 25. Six of those testifying yesterday said they had witnessed Sigmon’s death. But the blond, chunky, 26 year old Schwartz told a tale of a robbery and shooting that was almost prevented.
Once he and Sigmon arrived at the stakeout location, a National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan branch, they took up a position in a back room, Schwartz testified. The door was slightly ajar, Schwartz said, just enough to see along a row of teller’s cages.
At about 10:50 a.m., Schwartz testified, Sigmon peered through the crack in the door and saw a man at the far teller’s cage. “Officer Sigmon said he matched the description of a man who had held up a bank at 49th and Massachusetts the day before,” Schwartz said.
“There seemed to be a little more noise in the bank than we heard all morning,” Schwartz said. “So, Officer Sigmon said “I’m going out to ask if anything’s wrong.”
Just as Sigmon opened the door, Schwartz said, the savings and loan manager, William A. Garnett Jr., burst into the back room and shouted, “We’ve been hit!”
Officer Sigmon “grabbed his hat and ran out the front door,” and Schwartz followed, he testified. Immediately, the two officers began trading gunfire with two men.
Sigmon pursued the two men across a parking lot to a retaining wall, Schwartz said. Schwartz, meanwhile, ran across the lot, took shelter and started firing.
“There were so many shots fired I couldn’t tell who was firing them all,” Schwartz said.
At that moment, according to Melvin Larry Newman, another witness who testified yesterday, a man approached Sigmon from behind as the policeman crouched alongside the wall, firing up a flight of stairs at a second man.
“Where did he shoot the police officer?” asked prosecutor Earl J. Silbert.
“It looked like he was aiming at his head, but it went into his back,” Newman said. “He never saw the man approaching him.”
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 1, 1972, PAGE C1
Timm Bares Feud With His Lawyers
A week long, wordless feud between Eros A. Timm and his three attorneys has broken into the open this week with a formal request by Timm that his chief counsel, Carol G. Freeman, be discharged.
Timm made the request Monday in a private interview with T. Emmett McKenzie, another of his attorneys, according to McKenzie and the third attorney, Michael L. Fayad. The request was conveyed privately to Judge June L. Green and denied yesterday, McKenzie and Fayad said.
According to McKenzie, Timm summoned him during a brief recess Monday afternoon to a cell in back of the federal courtroom where the murder and bank robbery trial of Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell is being held.
“He told me: “Get rid of that …. woman, she’s putting me in the electric chair, I can feel it,” McKenzie said in an interview yesterday.
McKenzie relayed Timm’s request to Judge Green, who advised the three attorneys to meet with Timm to resolve the matter, McKenzie said.
The meeting–and apparently a resolution of the dispute—occurred Monday night in the same cell, McKenzie and Fayad said. The request for Mrs. Freeman’s dismissal was then denied by Judge Green yesterday because Timm no longer desired it, according to McKenzie and Fayad.
Mrs. Freeman declined to comment when asked about the matter. Fayad would not elaborate either, except to say that the Timm defense is faced “with incredible problems…of getting along with one another.”
Timm, 22, and Caldwell, 25, are charged with the robberies of two Northwest Washington savings and loan branches on successive days last May. They are also charged with the murder of a D.C. policeman following the second holdup.
McKenzie, who is in his 70s, has been Timm’s retained counsel since Timm’s arrest May 25. Arrested with Timm were Caldwell and Heidi Ann Fletcher, the 22 year old daughter of the District’s former deputy mayor and Timm’s common law wife. Miss Fletcher pleaded guilty in the case in December and is now in a California prison.
This fall, during a pretrial hearing, Timm bolted to his feet before Judge Green and said he was dissatisfied with McKenzie. Judge Green then appointed Fayad, an official of the Georgetown Legal Intern Program, and Mrs. Freeman, a former assistant U.S. attorney, as counsel. Both are in their 30s.
Throughout the trial, which ended its sixth day yesterday, McKenzie has sat alone, four feet behind Timm, while Mrs. Freeman and Fayad sat beside him at the defense table.
Twice—including once yesterday, when he asked for an examination of Timm by a psychiatrist of his choosing—McKenzie has made motions with which Fayad and Mrs. Freeman said they did not agree. Both were denied.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Earl J. Silbert paraded 18 witnesses to the stand yesterday. Two described the capture of the three suspects in front of busy Van Ness Center. One told of a near collision between his truck and a truck resembling the one in which the three suspects were later arrested. And one witness showed the blood stained shirt of the dead policeman—with a bullet hole in the back—to the jury. The slain officer was William L. Sigmon.
The capture occurred after two policemen on a “stakeout” at Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street NW saw a truck resembling the one seen leaving the May 25 robbery, according to one of the officers, Marshall E. Brothers.
Brothers said he followed the truck until it was in front of Van Ness Center, in the 4300 block of Connecticut Ave. NW. There, he said, he “jerked Miss Fletcher out (of the driver’s seat) by the hair” and helped other officers arrest Caldwell and Timm, who he said were inside.
John E. Johnson, a contractor, said he witnesses the shooting May 25 at the just robbed savings and loan on MacArthur Boulevard. He said he was trying to drive behind the building in his truck “when a blue panel truck came through a red light.” (The suspects were later arrested in a similar truck.)
The driver nodded politely and backed up, Johnson said. He described her as a heavy woman in her 20s with “long auburn brown hair,” a description that answers that of Miss Fletcher.
The next to last witness of the day, homicide Det. Sgt. Leo E. Spencer, said he had witnessed the autopsy late May 25 of the slain policeman. Over defense objections, he held Sigmon’s blood soaked police shirt in view of the jury and pointed out a hole in the back, which he said matched the diameter of a bullet removed from Sigmon later in the autopsy.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 4, 1972, PAGE A3
Jury Told Accused Had Compulsion to Rob
Lawrence Daniel Caldwell has had “a personality disorder all his life” and “didn’t understand what he was doing” at the time the prosecution says that he robbed a savings and loan branch and killed a policeman, a psychiatrist testified in court yesterday.
Calling Caldwell “an hysterical personality,” Dr. Alec J. Whyte said the suspect had “a compulsion” to “Do something…to bring on punishment,” because he was “guilty about not fitting in” to normal society.
“I’m sure he would have continued to rob banks until he got caught,” Dr. Whyte said.
His testimony came as Caldwell’s insanity defense concluded yesterday, in the ninth day of the trial of Caldwell and Eros A. Timm on murder and bank robbery charges.
The defendants are accused of robbing two savings and loan branches in Washington on successive days last May. They are also accused of murder in the shooting death of a D.C. policeman, William L. Sigmon, after the second holdup.
When Caldwell arrived in U.S. District yesterday morning, he had three bruises, from hairline to eyebrows, on his forehead. The reason for them emerged during Dr. Whyte’s five hours of testimony.
While in D.C. Jail last fall, and during a period when he was regularly being interviewed by Dr. Whyte, Caldwell apparently asked a fellow inmate he befriended to write a letter to some friends for him.
As read by prosecutor Earl J. Silbert to Dr. Whyte yesterday, the letter addressed to “Dear Larry and friends,” asked them to provide LSD to Caldwell, apparently so that he could appear insane to Dr. Whyte.
“I need 10 lysergies so I can pass my head test with flying colors,” the letter, as read by Silbert, said. Lysergic is the formal chemical word for the “L” and the “S” in LSD.
The letter went on to describe an elaborate plan whereby the other inmate’s wife would contact “Larry and friends,” enclose the LSD in a box of Vick’s Cough Drops, and then give the box to the other inmate, who would pass it on to Caldwell.
The letter never reached Caldwell’s friends, according to Silbert. Instead, Caldwell’s fellow inmate, whom Silbert would identify only as “Shannon,” turned it over to authorities, Silbert indicated yesterday.
Caldwell never knew the letter was not delivered—and his attorneys never knew of its existence —until yesterday, said Edward Menard, Caldwell’s chief counsel.
Apparently, Menard said, “Shannon” told Caldwell what he had done with the letter yesterday morning during a bus ride from the jail to the Court. A fistfight—and Caldwell’s bruises—followed, Menard said.
Informed of the fight, Judge June L. Green ordered late yesterday that Caldwell and “Shannon” be kept apart for the duration of the trial.
Dr. Whyte testified that he knew nothing of the letter, and his diagnosis of Caldwell as mentally ill would not have been affected by LSD or any one other incident “out of context.”
Caldwell, Dr. Whyte said, exhibits all seven symptoms that characterize a “hysterical personality,” and has since he was a child.
Dr. Whyte identified the symptoms as egocentricity, exhibitionism, “a deficiency in emotional control,” a “lack of real depth of feeling,” a fear of sexuality, a lack of self awareness, and a “conversion reaction”—or the conversion of a mental illness into a physical one.
The “conversion reaction,” Dr. Whyte said, accounts for a three month trance into which Caldwell fell last fall. During that time, according to jail authorities, he would not eat or communicate at all with anyone. He appeared in court for pretrial hearings in a wheelchair.
Under three hours of cross examination, Dr. Whyte denied that Caldwell was faking his symptoms, although he said he thought at first that the suspect might have been.
And why, Silbert asked, did Caldwell’s illness “culminate that week in May, 1971?”
“It would have come sooner or later,” Dr. Whyte replied.
Meanwhile, the Timm defense began yesterday with an opening statement by his chief attorney, Carol G. Freeman.
She told the jury she would show that Timm was “schizophrenic” at the time he allegedly committed the crimes, and that his personality had suffered a “deterioration” since 1965.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 7, 1972, PAGE A1
Timm Carried Screaming From Trial
Eros A. Timm was carried kicking, screaming and sobbing from a courtroom here yesterday after Heidi Ann Fletcher, his lover and former co defendant, refused to testify on his behalf.
Timm’s outburst came after Miss Fletcher had answered only one question from Timm’s lawyers: “What is your name?”
She was then asked a second question: “Do you know Eros Timm?” She paused, and gave Timm, who was sitting 20 feet away, a searching stare. Then, her lower lip trembling, she began to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
“I respectfully decline to answer,” Miss Fletcher began, “on the grounds…”
Suddenly, Timm jumped to his feet, pushing back his green leather chair at the defense table.
“I don’t exist, huh?” he shouted. “I’m real flesh! I’m here! This is happening! This is real!”
Then the defendant pounded both fists three times on the defense table. He was immediately reseated by two deputy marshals. Judge June L. Green signaled for Timm’s attorney to resume his questioning of Miss Fletcher.
But almost immediately, Timm leaped to his feet again, his shoulder length hair flying. “You brainwashed her….,” he shrieked, and then he shouted an obscenity at Miss Fletcher attorney, William E. McDaniels. And then to Miss Fletcher, who was weeping softly and had covered her eyes with her hand. Timm yelled: “Don’t do that. This is now. This is now”
Instantly, bedlam erupted. Four marshals’ gang tackled the short slim defendant. A fifth ran to the defense table from the back of the court, crying “Go easy on him, go easy on him.”
As many in the courtroom gasped, and several women spectators began to cry. Timm tried to struggle free.
He looped his front through his chair, toppling it when he was pulled free by the marshals. He shouted and groaned unintelligibly as the marshals carried him through a door at the front of the courtroom into a cell behind it.
For the next 10 minutes through the solid oak door, Timm could be heard choking, sobbing and screaming “God, God.”
As soon as Timm was out of the courtroom, Judge Green ordered a stop to the questioning. She stared at Miss Fletcher and said, “The court finds she has Fifth Amendment rights and will not be required to testify.”
Thus, ended a two week legal wrangle over the testimony of Miss Fletcher, who is the daughter of former D.C. Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher and who pleaded guilty to murder and bank robbery charges last December.
Miss Fletcher has been in prison in California since December. Timm’s attorneys, however, sought to have her returned, throughout the two weeks of the trial of Timm and his co defendant, Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, in U.S. District Court here.
Timm and Caldwell are on trial for the murder of Washington policeman William L. Sigmon, who was slain during the course of the second savings and loan holdup last May with which the two men are charged.
Timm’s defense is insanity. His lawyers have argued that Miss Fletcher, who lived with him for 18 months before their arrest last May, was the “closest person to him during that time,” and thus a key potential witness.
Miss Fletcher’s attorneys have contended that she would run the risk of incriminating herself by testifying, because she was not charged with one of two robbery counts that Timm and Caldwell face. Judge Green ruled, in a hearing last week, that if Miss Fletcher were going to invoke the Fifth Amendment, she would have to do so personally.
Thus, Sunday, she was flown East for what turned out to be an eight minute appearance yesterday. Immediately afterward, she was returned to California.
After Timm’s outburst, which took place with the jury out of the courtroom, the trial was delayed while attorneys, marshals and a nurse ministered to him. The defendant declined a sedative, and after 40 minutes it was determined that he was composed enough for the trial to resume.
But as soon as Timm was led back into the courtroom, he glared at the packed galleries, raised his open hands above his head, and shouted “I bring you the tidings of love, Unreal, folks.”
Timm was seated, and the jury was ordered in. Immediately, he rose to his feet as the jury marched to its seats and began tapping a “drum roll” on the defense table with his knuckles.
But Timm stopped once the jury was seated and spent the rest of the day’s proceedings doodling on a pad and penciling the phrase, “Hi, Everybody” into the edge of the defense table.
Miss Fletcher wore a black dress with a floral pattern, blue shoes, and a rain jacket for her appearance yesterday. Her light brown hair was pulled neatly behind her ears.
Timm and Caldwell, meantime, sat at the defense table in prison denims and shoes without socks.
Timm and Miss Fletcher stared intently at each other for the entire two minutes of legal formalities that preceded the two questions posed to her. Meanwhile, spectators in the packed courtroom pointed at Miss Fletcher, murmuring “that’s her” and “there she is.”
In testimony yesterday before after Timm’s outburst, other defense witnesses described unusual behavior by him over the past five years and said they thought Timm was mentally ill at the time he allegedly committed the three crimes with which he is charged.
The crimes occurred May 24 and May 25.
On May 24, according to the indictment returned against Timm and Caldwell, they robbed a savings and loan office at 49th and Massachusetts Avenue NW of $4,305.
On May 25, they are charged with robbing another savings and loan at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW and fatally shooting Officer Sigmon as they fled.
According to testimony given to the grand jury that indicted her, Miss Fletcher drove the getaway truck in the May 25 robbery.
One witness yesterday, Steve Schwartzman, a University of Minnesota sophomore, said Timm thought “his friends were trying to drive him insane” in recent years.
Another witness, Eric Paulson, testified that in 1969 in the Van Ness Center apartment of Miss Fletcher’s parents, he and several friends fed Timm an orange that had been laced with LSD without his knowledge.
The Fletchers were not home at the time and knew nothing of the incident, Paulson said.
The group then went to see a movie called “Yellow Submarine,” Paulson said. “And Eros started talking to people in the audience.”
“He exposed himself a couple of times on the street (afterward),” Paulson said. while shrieking “Everybody’s got to get together through acid (LSD).”
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 17, 1972, PAGE A1
Timm and Caldwell Guilty, Get Life
Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell were found guilty of two savings and loan robberies and the murder of a D.C. policeman in U.S. District Court here last night. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The verdict was announced at 9:15 p.m. after four hours and 15 minutes of deliberation by a jury of eight women and four men. The trial, one of Washington’s most celebrated in recent years, lasted 19 days.
Under the terms of life sentences, both Timm and Caldwell must serve 20 years in prison before they become eligible for parole. The sentences were recommended by the jury, which had the option of invoking the death penalty.
Under federal law, the jury’s verdict is not a sentence itself, but a binding recommendation to the trial judge. Formal sentencing will come after a probation report is filed. No date for the sentencing has been set.
When the verdict was announced last night, Timm, 22, a college dropout and the son of a 30 year federal employee, sat and chuckled.
Caldwell, 25, a Nevada born professional Clarinetist turned drug dealer and mystic, sat limp in a wheelchair. He has been in a motionless, speechless “trance” since Monday while in the courtroom. On Monday, he unsuccessfully attempted suicide. He did not look at the jury or appear to hear the verdict.
Caldwell had predicted the jury’s finding of guilty in a letter, delivered to The Washington Post this week, in which he also implicitly admitted the charges.
Caldwell asserted in the letter that the policeman who was killed “fired at us first,” and that he and co defendant Eros A. Timm were confronted with “an escape or die situation. We had no choice.”
The letter was dated March 11, and postmarked March 13. It was addressed to Post columnist Nicholas von Hoffman. Its authenticity was verified by Edward Menard, Caldwell’s chief counsel who said he watched Caldwell write it in court last Saturday.
“I expect and rather hope for the death sentence.” Caldwell says in the letter. “I would never live my life in prison.”
Caldwell’s letter apparently was prompted by a column written in January by von Hoffman in which he asserted that Heidi Ann Fletcher, an earlier co defendant in the case who von Hoffman called “Miss American Pie,” might spend less time in jail after her conviction than Angela Davis would be awaiting her trial in California, on charges growing out of a shootout in a courthouse.
In the letter to von Hoffman, Caldwell asserts that the motive for the holdup of two savings and loan branches never was for monetary gain, but rather was a means of striking back at “banking institutions, stock exchanges, etc,” which he regarded as “evil.”
During the trial, both defense and prosecution witnesses have said that they believed the motive for the holdups was to amass money for the purchase of a farm commune in rural Virginia.
Caldwell also implies in the letter that, when police found $2,100 from the first savings and loan that was held up, police also confiscated $4,000 in personal funds that Caldwell had been given by a friend.
Prosecutor Earl J. Silbert said that, although there was no testimony during the trial as to who fired first on May 25, Caldwell’s assertion on that matter “is correct to the best of my knowledge.”
Silbert added that he “knows nothing about” the $4,000 Caldwell says the police found but did not report.
Asked to comment on Caldwell’s charges, Mahlon E. Pitts, commander of the police criminal investigation division, said earlier last night that it would be inappropriate to comment on a case before a jury.
Although four policemen were on the scene during the May 25 shootout, according to their testimony, Caldwell says in his letter that the slain officer, William L. Sigmon, “was the only police that we saw.”
“We were coming out of the parking lot with our backs to the door when I heard, “alright, hold it right there,” Caldwell writes. “At that point it became an escape or die situation. We had no choice.”
“Eros had been hit in the lung before he ever shot at Sigmon,” Caldwell adds, although medical records introduced at the trial indicate that the chest wound Timm suffered in the shootout did not damage his lungs.
In an apparent allusion to Lt. William Calley, the convicted mass murderer of Vietnamese civilians, Caldwell writes: “If I had been in Asia I would be welcome to kill unarmed men, women and children…I would perhaps have the President on my side.”
Before the case was given to the jury, the government asked for the death penalty for both Timm and Caldwell. Silbert called death an “appropriate (punishment) for this community” for the murder which he called “a deliberate execution.”
As expected, the government asked for the death penalty for both suspects. Silbert called death an “appropriate (punishment) for this community” for a murder that he called “a deliberate execution.”
The defense, meanwhile, asked the jury to find Timm and Caldwell innocent by reason of insanity.
Defense lawyers stressed psychiatric testimony during the trial to the effect that Caldwell is “an hysterical personality” and Timm “a schizophrenic.” Silbert charged yesterday, however, that the insanity defense “are nothing but a fake and a fraud.”
Timm and Caldwell were named last summer in a 18 count indictment charging that they held up two northwest Washington savings and loan branches on May 24 and May 25, 1971.
The suspects also were indicted in the fatal shooting of D.C. policeman William L. Sigmon, who, evidence showed, was slain by Timm at a range of one foot during a six man, 27 shot gun battle that followed the second robbery.
Miss Fletcher, 22, the daughter of former D.C. Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher and Timm’s lover, pleaded guilty in December to charges of murder and bank robbery stemming from the May 25 holdup, in which the government contended she drove the getaway truck. She ios serving an indefinite sentence under the Federal Youth Corrections Act in a California prison.
In the closing statement yesterday, Silbert called the fatal gun battle May 25, in front of a National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan branch at 5185 MacArthur Boulevard NW, “a shootout at the O.K. Corral.”
He added that “if Timm had not been wounded (in the battle) and if the three suspects had not been caught (90 minutes later) the three of them …would be sitting pretty, in Virginia, in the country, with over $12,000.”
Silbert reminded the jury that just before the shooting erupted, Caldwell had warned bank personnel to stay in the bank vault “or there would be shooting in the streets.”
The slim prosecutor then pointed at Caldwell, who was sitting in a wheelchair in a “trance.”
“He meant it, did he not?” Silbert asked.
Later, Silbert accused Caldwell of faking the “trance.”
To the packed courtroom, Silbert said: “You’re having the opportunity to witness the last act of his drama. Here he is, trying to persuade you, when he could not convince (government psychiatrists).”
Later, as Silbert attacked Timm’s insanity defense as “wholly fabricated.” Timm began to heckle the prosecutor from his seat at the defense table.
“If (the insanity defense) is not a fake, what else could it conceivably be?” Silbert asked the jury.
“A lie, on your part,” Timm interjected.
Then, as Silbert attacked “the deliberate gibberish” that he said Timm voiced to psychiatrists so that we could appear insane, Timm waved his hands like a football cheer leader and chanted:
“Go Silbert, go! Silbert go!. We want Silbert.”
Menard contended yesterday that Caldwell is a “bizarre, strange person” who “had a compulsion to rob banks.”
“Look at the defendant,” Menard shouted, sweeping his hand past the inert Caldwell. “Whether he’s faking or not, is this a normal 26 year old youth?”
Menard paused and added, gravely: “We’re in bad shape if he is.”
Carol Freeman, Timm’s chief defense lawyer, stressed yesterday that friends had found Timm “a lost soul “and a “dependent person” even before the holdups.
“Eros Timm has never been able to accomplish anything else in his life,” Mrs. Freeman said of the defendant, who is a two time college dropout. “Do you really think he participated coldly and calmly…in these events last May?”
She added that, according to testimony, Timm had walked at only average speed during the May 25 gun battle to where Sigmon was crouching before Timm fired the fatal shot.
“What kind of normal person would walk calmly around in the middle of a gun battle?” she asked.
After the verdict, attorneys for both defendants said they would appeal immediately. “It’s automatic,” Menard said. His chief ground, he said, would be that despite a careful effort to exclude jurors who had read any stories about the case,” “a number of jurors knew about Heidi’s plea.”
Mrs. Freeman said her appeal would challenge recent legal changes placing the burden of proving insanity on the defense. Another ground, she said, would be “the granting of Heidi’s Fifth Amendment rights” not to testify by Judge June L. Green.
Miss Fletcher’s refusal to testify as a witness for Timm two weeks ago led to the biggest of Timm’s four outbursts during the trial. As Miss Fletcher watched, the suspect was carried screaming from the court.
Prosecutor Silbert had no comment on the verdict. Neither did Judge Green.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 18, 1972, PAGE D1
Caldwell, Timm and Fletcher: From Promise to Prison
In a way, it all started in September, 1967
Rapid City, S.D.
Thomas W. Fletcher, city manager of San Diego, Calif., is on vacation with his family. Lyndon Johnson wants him to become Washington’s deputy mayor, immediately. But Fletcher cannot be found.
Dramatically, the President orders a 10 state search. The FBI finds Fletcher in a Rapid City motel, with his wife and only daughter, Heidi Ann. He is flown to Washington by Air Force jet., where he accepts the job. He is then flown back the same afternoon to South Dakota and his family.
His daughter cries when she hears of their impending move.
Eros Anthony Timm, named by his Italian mother after the God of Love, leaves the family’s $100,000 home on tree lined Portsmouth Road for National Airport.
His father kisses and hugs him and slips him a last minute $10 in spending money. Then Eros flies off to college.
The father, 30 years a Pentagon budget analyst, will later recall that his only son almost never got to college. There had been serious academic and disciplinary problems in the last two years at St. John’s College High School here. And when C.W. Post College of Long Island accepted Eros Timm, he was the last of that year’s “Johnnies” to get into college.
Five months later, Eros Timm was home. He had flunked out.
Lawrence Daniel Caldwell is a gawky 6 feet 5 scholarship student at the University of Indiana music school. He plays the clarinet. When he doesn’t, friends later said, he sits in his room and memorizes concertos, or reads books about the occult. But when a “greeting” arrives from the Selective Service, ordering Caldwell to report for a physical examination, he turns anti establishment. He leaves Indiana and, like a basketball “hardship case,” turns professional, as clarinetist for the Akron Symphony.
But Caldwell gets no $100,000 bonus—only $40 a week. And when he is passed over for the post he covets, lead clarinetist, he becomes enraged. He moves to Washington and begins dealing drugs.
Heidi Fletcher, Eros Timm, “Dan Caldwell. Once typical kids, with brains, youth, promise. Likeable kids, with friends, skills, interests. And now, in their early 20s, after a wild gun battle last May in which a D.C. policeman was killed following a bank robbery, federal prisoners.
The last act came Thursday night. Timm and Caldwell were found guilty after a 19 day trial on all 18 counts of an indictment charging two bank holdups and the slaying.
“The Road Not Taken” Sums Up Three Lives
The suspects were given life imprisonment, which in fact means a minimum of 20 years in jail.
Miss Fletcher is already in prison—but for much less time. She pleaded guilty to murder and bank robbery charges stemming from the second holdup, in which she drove the getaway truck. But because she was still 21 in December, only a week within the age of 22, she was eligible for a sentence of nine years maximum under the federal Youth Corrections Act.
The beginning of the end for the three suspects came last May 25, a warm Washington Tuesday, when Eros Timm’s original college class was graduating, when the Akron Symphony was opening at the Tanglewood, Mass., music festival, when Miss Fletcher might otherwise have been at her secretary’s desk at a Connecticut Avenue law firm.
According to evidence presented at Timm and Caldwell’s trial, the two men had tried to rob a bank Friday before, in Charlottesville, Va. It had been a dismal failure. The manager thought it was a prank, and a teller convinced Timm there was no money in her till. The robbers left empty handed.
But on Monday, May 24, according to the evidence, Timm and Caldwell successfully robbed a Northwest Washington savings and loan of $4,305.
As they had in Charlottesville, they wore wigs and suits. On Tuesday, the evidence indicated, they donned the disguises again.
At that Tuesday robbery, at another Northwest Washington savings and loan, the teller Caldwell confronted was nervous. There was a considerable delay while the manager tried to comply with Caldwell’s demand to open the vault.
After about five minutes, with more than $7,000 in a tan attaché case, the robbers were walking briskly across a parking lot when William L. Sigmon, a policeman for 11 years, father of two, self described “born again Christian,” ordered them to halt.
Sigmon and a partner had been “staked out” inside the savings and loan. They began firing. So did the two other officers who had been staked out at a bank next door and heard the gunfire.
At least 27 shots were fired. And according to the evidence, one of those was a .45 caliber bullet, fired by Timm, into Sigmon’s back, from about a foot away. Sigmon, the evidence showed, apparently never saw or heard the slim young man sneak up behind him.
The three suspects were arrested 90 minutes later, two miles away, in Timm’s blue truck. In it, police found seven guns, 200 rounds of ammunition, all the stolen money, the wigs and suits, even a copy of U.S. News and World Report that Timm had taken from the bank.
The evidence, as prosecutor Earl J. Silbert was to repeat many times, was “overwhelming.”
The crimes and arrest were media sensation. By the end of the week, headline writers had whittled them down to one phrase: the “Heidi Case.”
Of course, after Miss Fletcher plea in December, it wasn’t that any longer. But she still proved to be the star of the Timm Caldwell trial.
The trial began on Washington’s Birthday. From the first, Timm’s lawyers insisted that Miss Fletcher be brought east to testify. They were contending that Timm had been insane last May, and who, they asked, could better attest to that than the woman who shared an apartment with Timm for 18 months?
Miss Fletcher’s attorneys were reluctant. If she testified, she would face questions from Silbert. One might be: were you involved in the two earlier robberies? The answer might have been yes and could have resulted in a longer sentence, so the attorneys advised her to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
On a Monday in the middle of the trial, she did. And Timm, sensing he was betrayed, began to shout and curse at her, and to weep.
“This is now!” he screamed, imploring her to help him. But she did not. She watched, weeping softly, as Timm, out of control, was carried from the court.
Caldwell, meanwhile, got moodier as the evidence piled up. A week ago, he wrote a letter to The Washington Post admitting the crimes, saying he expected a guilty verdict and hoping for the death penalty. Monday, he apparently tried to inflict death on himself by slashing his wrists with a broken plastic spoon at dawn in his cell.
The attempt failed. Caldwell then sank into a “trance”—eyes downcast, speechless, his only motion an occasional twitch.
The prosecutor accused Caldwell of faking. But he never looked up when the jury returned its verdict. Timm, however, laughed.
Folklore has it that there is always an epigraph to every emotional trial, buried somewhere. In this one, it may have come from Kevin Sweeney.
Sweeney is a boyhood friend and former classmate of Timm’s. He later came to know Miss Fletcher well and Caldwell fairly well.
But when he testified March 3—in a three piece herringbone suit, admitting he is “pretty straight”—Kevin Sweeney represented “The Road Not Taken.”
“When somebody starts getting really flipped out,” he said, “you just can’t reach them anymore.”
“Everything sort of caves in around them. The oldest friend in the world just makes no difference.”
***************************************************************************** WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 10, 1972, PAGE B5
Heidi Fletcher to Stay In West Coast Prison
Heidi Ann Fletcher will remain in a California prison despite the return of her parents to Washington, her father, former D.C. Deputy Mayor Thomas (W) Fletcher, said yesterday.
“She’s adjusted quite well and is very satisfied there,” Fletcher said.
Last December, Miss Fletcher pleaded guilty to first degree murder for his part in the fatal shooting of Metropolitan Police Officer William L. Sigmon during a $7,900 holdup of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association, at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW.
She was sentenced under the Youth Corrections Act to a maximum nine year sentence and was sent to the federal Terminal Island facility for women near Los Angeles.
A psychiatrist told the court at that time that incarceration near her family would be helpful in rehabilitation. Her father was then city manager of San Jose, Calif.
Six weeks ago he moved back to Washington to head a newly established center designed to improve the training of public administrators.
Fletcher said he had discussed the possibility of Miss Fletcher’s return to the East Coast with his daughter “but she feels adjusted so well that she prefers to stay there.”
Fletcher said that the Terminal Island facility was 450 miles from San Jose and that he visited her there “a minimum of one a month.” He said he will travel extensively in his new job and will be able to make equally frequent visits to the prison from Washington.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 24, 1972, PAGE C1
Parole Plea Set by Heidi Fletcher
Heidi Ann Fletcher, who was sentenced six months ago after pleading guilty to first degree murder, has been granted a federal parole board hearing on Tuesday.
Miss Fletcher, who admitted her complicity in the May 25, 1971, slaying of Officer William L. Sigmon during a bank robbery, could be freed immediately under the terms of the Youth Corrections Act sentence-imposed Dec. 15 by U.S. District Judge June L. Green. If that is the case, she would have served six months and 12 days following her conviction.
Miss Fletcher, daughter of Washington’s former Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, was sentenced to an indeterminate term just a week before her 22nd birthday, after which the law would have provided sentences of life imprisonment or death by electrocution.
In what court officials then described as an unusual procedure, Miss Fletcher was sentenced the same day she pleaded guilty to 10 counts of a 15 count indictment charging first degree murder, armed robbery and illegal possession of dangerous weapons.
Two other defendants, Eros A. Timm and Lawrence D. Caldwell, were both sentenced to life imprisonment by Judge Green. They are now serving the sentences.
Officials of the U.S. Board of Parole said yesterday that Miss Fletcher has been granted an “en banc” hearing before the eight member parole panel, a full scale review that traditionally is reserved for cases involving national security, organized crime, national or unusual interest, long term capital cases and sentencings involving major violence.
The hearing will be held in Washington by the parole board’s top officials and the only evidence will be transcripts and records of a parole examiner’s hearing held on May 2 at the federal Bureau of Prison’s Terminal Island (Calif.) Women’s facility, parole officials said.
Miss Fletcher was sent to the Terminal Island facility by Judge Green because her father at the time was city manager of San Jose, Calif., and it was felt the proximity to her home would assist in her rehabilitation.
Her father resigned his post in March and returned to Washington to head a new continuing education service for state and local officials.
George Reed, chairman of the U.S. Board of Parole, said in response to questions yesterday that Miss Fletcher’s hearing on Tuesday was scheduled as a result of the vote of two members of the parole board and not in response to legal briefs submitted by her lawyers.
Reed said the hearing could be justified as a case involving national or unusual interest, or as one entailing major violence or a long term sentence.
Reed modified his remarks to eliminate the latter possibility when it was pointed out that Miss Fletcher’s indeterminate term carried a maximum term of nine years. However, he observed that the Youth Corrections Act requires that parole proceedings be held no later than two years before the expiration of the maximum term.
At the time of her sentencing, Miss Fletcher’s attorney, Edward Bennett Williams, vigorously opposed an attempt by the prosecutor, Earl Silbert, to delay imposition of a prison term until after her 22nd birthday, claiming that it was an attempt by the government to assure lengthy incarceration on the basis of a legal technicality.
Reed acknowledged yesterday that had Miss Fletcher been sentenced as an adult, she would not now be eligible for parole, because the minimum adult sentence for murder is 20 years to life, with parole generally considered after a third of the sentence has been served.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 28, 1972, PAGE B1
Parole Plea Rejected for Miss Fletcher
Heidi Ann Fletcher who was sentenced six months ago to a maximum of nine years on her guilty plea to first degree murder, was denied parole yesterday.
The U.S. Board of Parole, meeting in a closed door session here, said it will reconsider Miss Fletcher’s case in May 1975. However, parole officials said it could br reheard, under certain circumstances, after 90 days.
At the same time, the board paroled retired Maj. Gen. Carl C. Turner, once the Army’s top law enforcement officer and chief U.S. Marshal, who has served a third of his three year sentence for soliciting firearms from the Chicago police department and then selling them.
The board voted to release Turner, 59, from the federal prison camp at Allenwood, Pa., on Sept. 18. A central figure in the 1969 Senate investigation committee probe of Army noncommissioned officers’ clubs Turner has been imprisoned since May 15, 1971.
Miss Fletcher, the daughter of former Washington Deputy Mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, will have to serve a minimum of 3 ½ years as a result of yesterday’s parole board action, unless the board is presented “new and unusual” information, parole officials said.
Miss Fletcher, who admitted her complicity in the May 25, 1971, slaying of a metropolitan policeman, Officer William L. Sigmon, could have been paroled at any time under the terms of the federal Youth Corrections Act sentence imposed last Dec. 15 by D.C. District Judge June L. Green.
She was sentenced to an indeterminate term just a week before her 22nd birthday, after which the law could have provided sentences of life imprisonment or death by electrocution.
In what court officials then described as an unusual procedure, Miss Fletcher was sentenced the same day she pleaded guilty to 10 counts of a 15 count indictment charging first degree murder, bank robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon and illegal possession of a dangerous weapon.
While awaiting trial, she had been free in personal bond.
Two other defendants, Eros A. Timm and Lawrence D. Caldwell, were both sentenced to life imprisonment by Judge Green after being convicted. They are now serving their sentences.
Miss Fletcher’s attorney, Edward Bennett Williams, said yesterday he would have no comment on the parole board’s decision, because he did not represent her in the application.
The “en banc” hearing before the eight member parole board was conducted without Miss Fletcher’s lawyers and involved only a study of transcripts and records of a parole examiner’s hearing held on May 2 at the federal Bureau of Prison’s Terminal Island (Calif.) Women’s facility, where Miss Fletcher is serving her term.
William Amos, head of the board’s youth corrections division, said that the scheduling of a rehearing for May, 1975, does not mean Miss Fletcher’s case cannot be reviewed before then.
He said that 90 days after the board rejects a parole application, the case can be reheard “if the family, or the lawyers or the institution shows new information of a significant nature.”
“We do this in many cases…That (the parole rejection) is the decision as of this date,” Amos said. Amos said Miss Fletcher was not represented by a lawyer during the May 2 examiner’s hearing.
Turner, who resigned under pressure from his top U.S. marshal’s post five months after being appointed by President Nixon, pleaded guilty in April, 1971, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to charges of soliciting nearly 700 weapons from the Chicago police in 1968, misrepresenting that they were for use by the Army.
Turner, who was provost marshal of the Army from 1964 until 1968, admitted that some of the guns, which had been confiscated during racial disorders in Chicago and Kansas City, were kept for his own use, and that he sold some to a North Carolina dealer. Some, he said, he gave to the Army for museum display and others were destroyed.
He was sentenced to three years on the weapons charge, plus an additional three months and a $2,500 fine on an income tax evasion charge.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 31, 1972, PAGE A16
Slayers Sentenced In 2nd Bank Holdup
Eros A. Timm and Lawrence Daniel Caldwell were each sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday for an attempted bank robbery in Charlottesville, Va., that began a five day crime spree ending in the death of a Washington policeman last year.
Timm, 23, and Caldwell, 26, were sentenced in Roanoke, by U.S. District Judge Ted Dalton, who ordered that the terms be served concurrently with life sentences the two men received in the May 25, 1971, shooting death of Officer William L. Sigmon following the holdup of a MacArthur Boulevard savings and loan firm.
Assistant U.S. Atty. James Welsh recommended the sentence because Timm and Caldwell pleaded no contest and because, he said, the May 21, 1971, incident in Charlottesville was part of a series of events for which they were sentenced here.
The attempted robbery in Charlottesville occurred five days before the death of Sigmon in a shootout here. Also sentenced in that incident was Heidi Ann Fletcher, the daughter of former deputy mayor Thomas Fletcher. Miss Fletcher is serving an indeterminate term in a California federal prison for women.
Timm and Caldwell had been named in connection with robberies of two Washington banking institutions, but Miss Fletcher, described as Timm’s lover, was charged only in the MacArthur Boulevard case. The prosecution contended that the bank money was to have financed the purchase of a farm commune in Virginia.
Judge Dalton recommended yesterday that Caldwell be sent to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., which has facilities for higher education.
Caldwell took the stand and requested he be sent to Lewisburg because he expected to be there “a very long time” which could be spent more profitable in learning. Caldwell had been a scholarship student in music at the University of Indiana and was principal clarinetist for symphony orchestras in Akron and Cleveland, Ohio.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 17, 1975, PAGE A9
Heidi Fletcher Denied Parole
Heidi Ann Fletcher, 26, daughter of a former D.C. deputy mayor, was denied parole Wednesday from the prison term she is serving for the 1971 murder of a D.C. policeman.
The full six member U.S. Parole Board, meeting in Dallas, denied Fletcher’s appeal of a June 20 denial by four members of the Parole Board.
Her next schedule hearing is in May, 1977. She is serving a nine year sentence on murder and bank robbery charges in a minimum-security federal youth corrections facility in Pleasanton, Calif.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 17, 1976, PAGE A1
Heidi Fletcher Is Freed in Slaying
Heidi Ann Fletcher, sentenced four years and one month ago for her role in a highly publicized savings and loan robbery that ended in the murder of a Washington police officer, was ordered released from prison yesterday by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge June L. Green said Fletcher was being held in prison illegally because the parole board was influenced in its decisions in her case by the severity of her crime, rather than—as the law prescribes—whether she had been rehabilitated.
The 26 year old Fletcher had been sentenced to an indefinite term under the Youth Corrections Act after a hurried guilty plea on Dec. 15, 1971, less than a week before 22nd birthday. The longest she could have been held under the sentence was nine years.
By entering the plea, she became eligible for sentencing under the federal act that requires that a defendant under 22 be released at any time the parole board finds he or she has been rehabilitated.
Had she been convicted of similar charges after her 22nd birthday, Fletcher could have been given a maximum life sentence for her crimes. She pleaded guilty to first degree murder, armed robbery, robbery, and illegal possession of dangerous weapons.
The two accomplices in the robbery and murder, Lawrence Daniel Caldwell and Eros A. Timm, were convicted later and are serving life terms.
Fletcher was the getaway driver in the crime, while evidence at the trial showed the other two defendants actually entered the savings and loan and participated in the murder of 34 year old police officer William L. Sigmon.
During a brief interview on the front porch steps of her home in Rockville yesterday afternoon, the police officer’s widow, Sylvia Sigmon, said of Heidi Fletcher’s release, “Oh, she’s free? You mean, free to go on and live a regular life?”
After a pause, Mrs. Sigmon smiled and added, “Well, let’s call it a Biblical truth. I believe strongly in the Bible, and by the grace of God we’ve been able to do all right so far. Yes, we have managed.
“I’d really rather not express my feelings. But anyone who was involved, who experienced what I did, has a general feeling of how I feel right now.”
Judge Green’s ruling came in a brief hearing that was in marked contrast to the December, 1971, proceedings that ended in Fletcher’s guilty plea and the imposition of the sentence by the same judge.
At that emotion packed day long hearing, Fletcher sobbed with remorse and pleaded for “an opportunity to prove myself a worthy human being.” She collapsed into the arms of her father, former D.C. Deputy Mayor Thomas Fletcher, after the sentence was imposed.
Fletcher did not attend yesterday’s hearing which amounted to a technical argument about the legality of her confinement at the federal youth center in Pleasanton, Calif. She had been there since April 1, 1974.
Only last week, on a study release program in which she had been placed, Fletcher enrolled at Chabot Community College in Hayward, a San Francisco suburb not far from the youth center, her father said.
She attended Chabot under a prison release plan that required her to return to the institution nightly for strip searching and other prison routines.
She previously had been in a work release program as a secretary in Oakland. She was removed from that program when her parole request was denied in June.
Prison officials have supported her release, saying she has been an exceptional inmate who has given special privileges successfully on a regular basis.
Her attorney, William McDaniels, cited these and other credits in her prison record to illustrate his contention that she was a legitimate candidate for release under normal parole conditions that would allow her to live outside prison walls.
Fletcher was sent to the Terminal Island federal prison camp in California after being sentenced and was later transferred to Pleasanton. She also spent three months in jail here after her arrest on May 25, 1971—making a total of 52 months in confinement.
Fletcher was released last night at 8:47 (EST) and left the prison immediately with her brother and his wife, a prison official said. Fletcher had said she was looking forward to spending time with her parents, the official said. She declined to be interviewed at the prison.
“We’re thrilled,” Fletcher’s father said yesterday from his home in Palo Alto, Calif. “It’s what we hoped for last spring and why we moved out here, to provide a home for Heidi when she got out.”
Her father was the District’s deputy mayor from 1967 until 1969, when he left to become city manager of San Jose, Calif. He subsequently returned to Washington in 1972 to head a new educational service for state and local officials.
He went back to California last year to be near his daughter, and now teaches at the graduate school of public administration at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
He said yesterday that he and his wife have been living in the family’s Palo Alto apartment building, where they have an apartment for Heidi. His daughter will probably continue her college business administration courses, he said, and “begin working again and becoming independent.”
Fletcher, Caldwell and Timm were arrested in a panel truck in Northwest Washington about an hour after Officer Sigmon was murdered on May 25, 1971.
The officer was staked out inside the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association office at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW, when two men entered. After the bandits left the bank with (unreadable) once in the heart and died instantly. Timm was wounded, but made it to a panel truck waiting nearby that was driven, according to one eyewitness, by a “bare armed girl” identified as Fletcher.
The suspects were arrested when police stopped the van an hour later.
PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 21, 1982, PAGE DC2
Heidi Ann Fletcher Finds New Life in California
HOLDUP/MURDER: In May, 1971, Heidi Ann Fletcher, who is the daughter of former D.C. deputy mayor Thomas W. Fletcher, her boyfriend Eros Timm and Lawrence Caldwell were arrested in connection with the holdup of a savings and loan office and the subsequent murder of D.C. police officer William Sigmon.
The affair shocked friends of both the Fletcher and Timm families. Timm had been a model student at prestigious St. John’s College High School. Fletcher had been brought up in California and had led “the most average kind of California up bringing possible,” according to friends. She moved to Washington when her father was appointed assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
All three pleaded guilty to first degree murder. Timm is serving a life sentence in Lewisburg, Pa., federal penitentiary. Caldwell is serving time in Marion, Ill. Heidi Ann Fletcher was paroled after serving four years and a month in prison and is working in California as an office manager for a high tech firm. According to her father, “she has gotten her life together.
“Thomas Fletcher recently underwent open heart surgery and is living in California on medical retirement. He does occasional consulting work for a research firm where he has worked for four years.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 11, 1983, PAGE C6
Escapee Recaptured in Oregon
An escaped federal prisoner, convicted in the shooting death of a D.C. policeman during the robbery of a savings and loan office here 12 years ago, was recaptured yesterday in Oregon, the U.S. Marshal’s Service reported.
The arrest of Lawrence D. Caldwell, 37, in Bend, Ore., ended an extensive manhunt that began when Caldwell escaped June 4, 1982, from the Clinton County Jail in Carlyle, Ill., where he was serving part of a life sentence, a marshal’s spokesman said.
The spokesman said Caldwell, who had been on the marshal’s “15 most wanted list” was arrested with “no problem.”
Caldwell was sentenced for his part in the May 25, 1971, robbery of the National Permanent Savings and Loan Association branch at 5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW, during which officer William L. Sigmon was fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with two holdup men.
Also convicted in connection with the robbery and slaying were Eros A. Timm and Heidi Ann Fletcher, daughter of former D.C. deputy mayor Thomas W. Fletcher.
THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS WEBSITE STATES EROS ANTHONY TIMM DIED IN CUSTODY AT THE AGE OF 35.
LAWRENCE DANIEL CALDWELL WAS RELEASED ON JANUARY 21, 2004, AT THE AGE OF 61.
WASHINGTON CITY PAPER DATED DECEMBER 10, 2004.
THE LAW WON
THE LARRY CALDWELL TOOL KIT FOR GETTING OUT OF PRISON: HACKSAW BLADES. LEGAL BRIEFS. PATIENCE. GUILE.
By David Morton
The first time Larry Caldwell attempted a stickup, no one took him seriously. It was a Friday morning in late May 1971, and Caldwell and his partner, Eros Timm, entered a bank in downtown Charlottesville, Va. The robbers hadn’t cased the place beforehand. In fact, they had hardly ever set foot in the bank until the moment they opened the door to rob it. But if they hadn’t done much in the way of planning, they had at least put serious thought into their disguises. They wore sunglasses, blazers, and ties, and they tucked their long hair into short haired wigs. As they walked in, Caldwell pulled his sawed off shotgun from under his jacket, fired a shot at the ceiling, and shouted, “This is a holdup.”
The manager of the bank, busy with another customer, laughed and told Caldwell to get in line. The customer turned in his seat and told Caldwell he was too well dressed to be a bank robber. “They were telling one liners,” Caldwell recalls.
As the manager later explained, college kids were pulling pranks all the time at the bank, and he assumed that Caldwell’s blast was a blank. Not until some moments later, when Caldwell came back at him with a revolver, and bullets could be seen in the chamber, did the manager drop to the floor. And still the robbers couldn’t scare up the cash. “I don’t have any money,” the teller told Timm.
Timm and Caldwell had given themselves only a few minutes to do the job, and by now they sensed that their time was up. The would be stickup men fled the bank empty handed and drove the 20 miles back to the farm where Caldwell was staying. Caldwell can’t recall clearly what happened next, but he says they probably buried their humiliation in his stash of weed.
Caldwell lived in the rented farmhouse with four other hippies. Timm and Timm’s girlfriend, Heidi Ann Fletcher, who lived together in Cleveland Park, were part of the same circle of friends, and they frequently drove the two hours down from Washington to visit. Caldwell, who was 25, was a classically trained clarinetist who had come to D.C. a couple of years before to study under the principal clarinetist of the National Symphony Orchestra. Caldwell had then given up music in favor of small time drug dealing and moved to the country. Timm, who was 22, was frequently out of work and living off Fletcher, a 21 year old legal secretary. As headlines would later note, Fletcher was the daughter of Thomas W. Fletcher, who until recently had been deputy mayor of the District of Columbia.
Their aspirations were loftier than mere riches. They would lounge around the farmhouse living room and freely rant about the impending revolution. “There was a saying: ‘Kill a commie for Christ,’” says Caldwell. “So we said, ‘Off a pig for Krishna.’” Their goal was as faddish as their politics: They wanted to raise $50,000 so they could purchase a farm for themselves. A morally tolerable way to do that, they decided, was to rob banks.
For the second heist attempt, they made some adjustments. Fletcher, left out of the Charlottesville job, would be the driver of the getaway vehicle. And this time they decided to rob banks in D.C., where they figured crime was the accustomed way of life and tellers would be trained to offer up the money on demand. Indeed, Washington was experiencing an epidemic that year: By the end of May, District police had already recorded 50 bank holdups, compared with 29 in all of 1970.
On the Monday following the Friday failure in Virginia, the three conspirators circled around Northwest D.C. in Timm’s old Chevy van. They settled more or less at random on a savings and loan on Massachusetts Avenue. Caldwell and Timm were in and out in minutes, and they made off with more than $4,000.
Believing they’d discovered a successful formula, they set out again the next morning, cruising around Northwest D.C. until they found another place with a vulnerable vibe. They hit a small branch of the National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan Association, located in a MacArthur Boulevard shopping strip. At first, the job went smoothly and quickly enough. But because they hadn’t cased the bank beforehand, they didn’t know that two uniformed police officers were staking out the place that day. The cops burst out of a rear office soon after Timm and Caldwell walked out the door.
Several flights of steps led from the parking lot to a dead end street above and behind the shopping strip, where Fletcher sat behind the wheel of the getaway van. As Caldwell and Timm headed for the stairs, one of the policemen, William Sigmon, screamed, “Halt!” and a shootout ensued. The robbers took positions near the stairway. Sigmon advanced to a spot below a concrete embankment next to the stairs. Timm walked slowly over, reached down through the handrail, and shot Sigmon in the back. Caldwell and Timm reached the top of the stairs and jumped in the van, and Fletcher drove them to the Bethesda home of Timm’s parents.
Timm had sustained wounds to his side and leg, and he was breathing heavily. Instead of holing up for the night in Bethesda, Caldwell decided he was going to take Timm to some medical students in Charlottesville for treatment. Seventy minutes after the shootout, they headed for Virginia.
Fletcher drove the van down busy Connecticut Avenue and into the middle of a dense manhunt. Within minutes, a cop pulled them over at the Van Ness Shopping Center, and as the three were handcuffed, Caldwell learned that they had murdered a police officer.
For the last time in his life, Caldwell hadn’t thought something all the way through.
Last December, Caldwell was released from the D.C. Jail. He had been locked up for almost 33 years, minus 14 months in the ’80s following an escape. When he emerged from the jail exit, at around 6 o’clock in the evening, a small crowd of staffers were gathered to watch him leave. During his incarceration, Caldwell had acquired an impressive store of documentation, and behind him in the hall were about a dozen boxes of legal filings. One of the correctional officers gave Caldwell a hand truck, and he and his attorney loaded them into the trunk of the car Caldwell’s attorney had parked in the lot.
From the beginning, Caldwell was one of the D.C. system’s more infamous figures. Memories of the cop killing and the sensational trial that followed never quite faded away. And he built on his notoriety with his escape activities. At the same time, he developed into possibly the most skilled inmate litigant in D.C. custody.
Caldwell walked out a relatively wealthy man. In recent years, he had won more than $200,000 in settlements and judgments based on his mistreatment in D.C. facilities. But upon leaving the jail, he showed little sign of relief. He would no longer have to file suit to get Motrin for a root canal, and he was about to have his first meal on a tablecloth in 20 years, yet he was still hung up about the few weeks he would have to sleep at a local halfway house. “It just meant a new system to beat,” says Jason Wallach, Caldwell’s attorney.
In January, Caldwell moved from the halfway house to a carpeted apartment near Catholic University. He stocked it with IKEA furniture, about a dozen pints of Haagen-Dazs and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and a full complement of fine liquor, which he put on display on tall shelves. Nearly a year later, the décor hasn’t changed much. There are no photos or posters hanging on the walls. The one picture is a charcoal sketch perched on a shelf above his computer. The artist is a friend from jail whom Caldwell helped file a legal complaint. Caldwell’s bed is a simple air mattress in his weight room. He reserves the master bedroom for his one true extravagance: a $12,000 entertainment system from Myer Emco.
Caldwell, now 58, is tall—6 foot 6—and thin, with a slightly slouching frame. He has pale skin, a wide, flat face, and a trimmed white beard. He kept his hair long during his last years in confinement—he didn’t trust the hygiene of D.C. Jail barbers—but he cut it when he got out. The short gray locks sprouting from his widow’s peak flop onto his forehead, like the movie image of Depression era delinquency. His eyes—shielded by large, owlish glasses—are less sinister. One eye is clouded with glaucoma; the lid of the other droops. A pink crater marks the spot on the tip of his nose where jail officials neglected to treat a cancerous lesion. During a series of interviews in his living room, Caldwell sits in a lounge chair dressed in his customary ensemble of sweat pants and an undershirt. Underneath a coffee table stacked with classical concert schedules, he has placed a brown paper bag, and as he speaks he picks lint off his sweat pants and deposits it in the bag.
Caldwell says that in prison he snuffed out the sloppiness that had gotten him there. But his fastidious personality is not something he developed behind bars. Unlike many inmates, he has always had an acute sense of order. “I had been a professional musician and very disciplined in other areas of my life,” he says. “Most people who are incarcerated don’t have that discipline.”
Prison gradually honed that discipline—not by reforming him but by challenging him. If it was a prison’s job to keep him in, it was his job to get out.
Caldwell was born in Las Vegas in 1946. His mother was a waitress; his father was a card dealer who died when Caldwell was 2. A drunk, unemployed stepfather beat both Caldwell and his mother, but Caldwell says the tales of an awful upbringing told to his psychiatric evaluators 30 years ago were exaggerations intended to bolster his insanity defense. Caldwell’s older brother, David Caldwell, says the two boys were left to themselves most of the time—abuse by neglect.
David says that Caldwell—who went by Danny, his middle name, for most of his life—was “bullheaded” from an early age. He was the only kid in a local occult group, and even as he got older he steadfastly believed that aliens were using the moon as a staging base for visits to Earth.
The clarinet, which Caldwell picked up in junior high, focused his days like nothing else. While his single minded dedication to the instrument was clearly a form of escape, says Caldwell, he also simply liked classical music.
After graduating from high school, Caldwell enrolled at the prestigious music program at Indiana University. He never assimilated into college life; when he wasn’t practicing his clarinet, he might go to a movie alone. After a year in Bloomington, he won a scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was under the tutelage of musicians of the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra. Several professors there didn’t like Caldwell, who was considered an antisocial contrarian.
“I just know it was very difficult for Dan to accept that people knew more than he did,” says Rick Solis, a close friend from Las Vegas, who joined Caldwell at the institute. He says Caldwell was an expressive player whose main weakness was technique. “When things didn’t go his way, he’d act in a pretty weird way.” Solis, who now plays French horn for the Cleveland Orchestra, remembers a student performance of An American in Paris in which Caldwell squeaked a few notes. Caldwell threw himself down a flight of stairs in self disgust, says Solis. (Caldwell says he doesn’t recall the episode.)
Caldwell flunked a course in pedagogy, and he lost his scholarship. Over the next year, he worked in the classical department of a local record store and performed some gigs with the Akron Symphony. Feeling that he effectively had been shut out of the Cleveland area music scene, he made plans to go to Washington to study under the NSO’s Buddy Wright. Before he was to leave for D.C., an FBI agent informed Caldwell that he had to respond to the draft notice he’d been avoiding. Caldwell ignored the warning, and in D.C. he went by an alias to keep the feds off his tail.
His semi fugitive status checked his ambition. “I was one of the best young clarinetists in the country and I couldn’t get a fucking job,” he says. “Lawrence Caldwell the clarinetist is being sought by the FBI. Where was I going to go for work?”
As personal disappointments gelled with his emerging radicalism, the clarinet no longer seemed important. He accidentally left his instruments behind in storage when he moved out to rural Virginia, and he never picked up the clarinet again. Prison wouldn’t allow it, even if he wanted to.
When Caldwell and Timm’s trial began, in February 1972, it was one of the highest profile criminal proceedings in years. The robbers were white, they were hippies, Fletcher was the daughter of a prominent Washington figure, and a cop was dead. Rarely does such rich material come together in one courtroom, and reporters gave the story the shorthand title of “the Heidi Trial.”
Fletcher, though, would never go before a jury. A few months after her arrest, she was released into the custody of a family friend, the city’s planning director, and while prosecutors assembled their case, Fletcher put in time as a secretary at an advertising agency. After she pleaded guilty in December, a judge invoked one of the more lenient options available to youthful offenders and sentenced Fletcher to a maximum of nine years in a prison in California, where her parents lived. She was released four years later.
In the eyes of the prosecution and the press, the timid Fletcher never seemed a credible criminal. Nor did the baby faced Timm. The mastermind was clearly Caldwell. He was too canny and intense—and the others too evidently passive—for Caldwell not to have been the Manson like figure who led the other two astray.
“There was no question that he had a hypnotic hold on Eros Timm and Heidi Fletcher, neither of whom had the manic streak that this man had,” says Bob Levey, who covered the trial for the Washington Post. Timm and Fletcher “were just ’70s kids out to have a good time.”
Early on, Caldwell asked one of his attorneys what his chances were, and the attorney replied with some simple advice. “He said, ‘Escape as soon as possible,’” Caldwell recalls. And so, in a first indication of the kind of mental focus he would later train on escape, Caldwell devised his own legal tactic: He would carefully and methodically go insane.
Beginning in the summer of 1971, Caldwell stopped eating. He relaxed his muscles, his body went completely limp, and he used his bed as a toilet. For three months, whenever Caldwell appeared at a pretrial hearing, he would sit lifeless in a wheelchair, with his head hanging down over his chest and slobber dribbling down his chin. He was force fed through a tube. One-time nurses shot him up with adrenaline to keep him alive.
But at this novice stage in his criminal development, Caldwell’s endurance had limits. About a month before the trial commenced, he went on hiatus from his performance, and the courtroom suspense slackened as witness after witness nailed the suspects with their testimony.
About midway through the trial, the defense called Fletcher to the stand in the hopes that she might speak kindly on behalf of her co conspirators. “The jury would have believed everything she said,” says Caldwell. Instead, she took the Fifth Amendment.
Caldwell’s insanity ruse was completely deflated when, on the 16th day of the trial, an inmate who worked in the jail medical ward testified that when they were alone together Caldwell wasn’t so crazy. Caldwell would write letters, he had poked a hole in the feeding tube so that the liquid would be diverted into his mouth, and he had even complained about the lack of vegetarian options on the jail’s menu.
Back at the jail a few hours after the inmate’s testimony, Caldwell staged a suicide gesture, scraping his arms with the broken glass of his spectacles. The next day he was rolled into the courtroom, once again in his rag doll pose, with his arms bound to the sides of the wheelchair with bedsheets.
When, a few days later, the jury foreman announced guilty verdicts for murder and armed robbery, Timm laughed. Caldwell, who still placed hope in an appeal, stayed in character, limp in his wheelchair, his head sunk, as if he hadn’t heard.
Cop killer was a good rap to have in prison, and it earned Caldwell some instant respect. But he wasn’t concerned about getting along. He was concerned about getting out. He would later feel remorse for the shooting, but he didn’t feel he could do the time. “If prison is the problem,” he says, “then getting out of prison was the solution to the problem, however that could be achieved.”
His first efforts were amateur in comparison with the work that would come later. In Charlottesville for his trial for the attempted robbery there, he stepped out of the second story window of his holding room and was instantly apprehended. In prison at Terre Haute, Ind., in 1973, he constructed a crude mannequin to take his place in bed as he attempted to find his way out of the prison yard; he was caught because a correctional officer came by his cell to deliver a letter. (Maybe it was just bad luck. Caldwell rarely got letters.) Later in 1973, while in transit to Leavenworth, he scuffled over a gun with his police escort. It was the last straw. He was shipped to Marion.
The feds opened Marion in 1963, when Alcatraz had outlived its usefulness. Located in the farmlands of southern Illinois, it was the highest security facility in the system, a repository for several hundred inmates tagged as extremely dangerous, escape risks, or both.
The harsher conditions only increased Caldwell’s desire to escape. Escape planning wasn’t only a physical necessity, but a mental one. Thinking about it kept him “future oriented,” he says.
At first, he left the calculations to others. He wasn’t yet familiar enough with the facility to venture out on his own, and he was satisfied going along with whatever plot was already in the works. But most of the time, Caldwell discovered, escape plots were more talk than action. “A lot of people who are in this don’t really ever want to escape,” says Caldwell, “They just want people to know, ‘Oh, there’s an escaper,’ and when I determined that was the case, I decided that most people weren’t serious. They weren’t disciplined, they weren’t in shape, and they sure as hell weren’t mentally prepared.” So he decided to go it alone.
He began to think of his long sentence as a psychological advantage. It motivated him to take risks, and it gave him the time he needed to construct his elaborate schemes. His first solo attempt at Marion required about a year of preparation. His plan revolved around a window in the officers’ mess hall.
At the time, Caldwell worked in the kitchen. Kitchen duty was a prized prison gig because of the access to free food. It also offered hours of unsupervised free time in the mess. For months, Caldwell buffed the floors, and on his breaks he went to work on the steel bars of a window frame with a homemade hacksaw. “I did a little bit of work for them, but I did most of the work for me,” he says. “I thought that was fair.”
Acquiring blades good enough to cut steel probably ranks as one of Caldwell’s more impressive achievements at Marion. Caldwell took part in several prisoner outreach programs. One reason, he says, was to keep in practice speaking like a well adjusted human being; another was to put him in contact with people who could help him get out. College kids from the nearby Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University took part in one of the programs, and Caldwell, the long haired inmate who talked feverishly about revolution, made an impression on a sympathetic student who was willing to smuggle him industrial hacksaw rods.
By spring of 1976, everything was set. The window bars, which he had been sawing at whenever he could, required just one last push. Now he needed only to wait until the weather turned bad to hide his escape. But then the plot was put on indefinite hold. A run in with a correctional officer in the yard—he accused Caldwell of smoking pot—got him kicked out of the kitchen. It would be months before he would get his job back. In the meantime, he endured the wait by exulting in his future success. “You can’t imagine knowing you have an actual exit they don’t know about from the most maximum security prison in the country,” he says. “This gives you a real joy, joie de vivre. At least to that extent, I had beaten them.”
For his escape, Caldwell would take with him a warm army surplus jacket, a pair of wire cutters for the fence, and tarot cards. Having learned from the shortsighted mistakes of others, Caldwell had also stockpiled food, maps of the surrounding area, and a radio so he could tune in to the news. He grew impatient waiting for bad weather that never came, and decided to escape on New Year’s Day, when the showing of a double feature would delay the evening inmate count for an hour or so and give him more time to get out of the building. He also figured the guards would be hung over and less alert.
That night, Caldwell hid under a counter in the kitchen as the room was being locked up. He pushed out the window, stepped into the courtyard, and then used the window frame to climb up to the roof. Crossing the roof, he crawled down to the kitchen loading dock.
The dock was about 10 yards from the inner fence. A light dusting of snow covered the grass in between. Caldwell figures that his dark jacket stood out from the snow. He wishes in retrospect that he had taken along white clothing or just made a run for it. Instead, he crawled. According to an official report of the incident, the officer manning the tower spotted him and fired his shotgun three times from a range of 125 yards, catching Caldwell in the right thigh with a single pellet. Caldwell surrendered.
The incident earned Caldwell a six month stay in Marion’s control unit, where he was confined to his cell, alone, for 23 hours a day. But Caldwell was just getting started. His attempted breakout had earned him a reputation among other escape artists, who were eager to share their skills with the guy who had managed to get the blades. Many of his new associates happened to be experienced bank robbers, a demographic that represented some of the prison system’s brighter minds. A couple, says Caldwell, were outright criminal geniuses, including a safecracker who could memorize the pattern of a key by simply looking at it a few times. They all possessed more criminal knowledge than Caldwell, and they instilled in him the professional notion that if you were in a position to help another con in the group, you were duty bound to do so.
For Caldwell’s second attempt, in February 1978, he enlisted several from this clique as collaborators. It wasn’t just their skills that were useful. The more bodies that got over the fence and then scattered in opposite directions, the harder it would be to find any one of them.
With plenty of his contraband blades still stashed around the prison, Caldwell’s plan relied on the same hacksaw strategy as the year before. But this exit would be tougher. He no longer had easy access to the kitchen or officers’ mess. Instead, he planned to get through the window of the prison psychiatrist’s office. Two locked doors separated an inmate lounge from the window.
After several weeks of labor by his safecracker buddy, the keys were done, and now Caldwell slipped into the office whenever possible to saw away at the frame of the window. But one day his lookouts in the lounge—known as “jiggers”—failed to notify Caldwell when a correctional officer patrolling outside drifted by the window. The officer heard the sound of the sawing. Caught again, Caldwell was sent back to the control unit—and the drawing board—for another six months.
In February 1979, almost exactly a year after his second attempt, Caldwell tried a third time, again by similar methods. On this attempt, Caldwell was joined in the escape by two other bank robbers, Al Garza and Skip Zumberge. Garza sought him out for the job.
“Danny is relentless when it comes to something like that,” says Garza, who is now doing his time in a federal prison at Allenwood, Pa. “He was driven. While most guys would half step a point, or leave something up to chance, he wouldn’t do that.
“Danny has cut more steel in the federal system than anyone else I’ve known of.”
Caldwell had gotten back to his job in the kitchen, where the other two were already working. But instead of going through the window, as Caldwell had done two years before, they used a fabricated key to open the door to the loading dock, a much less time consuming procedure that correctional officers wouldn’t be on the watch for.
The hills around Marion form a sort of bowl, explains Caldwell, and during the winter the prison was frequently fogbound. They had been waiting for a milky night to launch their escape. They dubbed it “Night of the Iguana,” and when it came, they made it to the fence undetected. Then, at the fence, the wire cutters broke.
By the time a patrolling officer spotted them, Garza and Zumberge had scaled the inner fence. Caldwell, though, was too prepared. He had worn thick boots, to get him through the winter woods. But the toes were too thick to gain any traction on the chain link. While Garza and Zumberge were nearing the top of the second fence, Caldwell was still at work on the first. After one failed effort, he slowly pulled himself up, just by his arms, and became entangled in the barbed wire at the top. An officer arrived, trained his shotgun on Caldwell, and ordered him down.
Caldwell picked himself out of the wire, dropped to the ground, and started tearing up and eating the maps he had stuffed in his jacket. The three conspirators had made a pact before they set out: If any of them got out, and stayed out, he would help the others escape. But promises became irrelevant when, a few days later, federal agents apprehended Garza and Zumberge in the basement of a nearby church. Zumberge surrendered peacefully; Garza was wounded after a brief shootout.
Three failures in less than three years discouraged Caldwell, but it didn’t devastate him. No plan was flawless, the odds were always against you anyway, and he still had plenty of blades at his disposal.
The choice wasn’t quite between liberty or death, but the prospect of getting himself killed during an escape was a “small consideration” when measured against the Marion status quo. Violence inside Marion was sharply on the rise. Caldwell had personally witnessed two murders, and in 1981, a close friend, Nathan Cowger, was fatally stabbed 27 times while sitting on the toilet. Besides, rigorous planning work kept Caldwell’s mind active, especially during long stretches in the control unit.
In 1977, he started working on another way to facilitate his escape. A serial killer friend convinced him to start writing legal briefs. Federal courts are inundated with lawsuits filed by prisoners claiming they’ve been wronged. Most are thrown out the same day. But Caldwell’s claims, like his escape plans, were the result of careful deliberation. They were solid enough, at the very least, to get him court hearings.
He wrote up complaints because he wasn’t getting Vitamin C for his glaucoma. He filed to establish nonsmoking areas in the prison. He filed for greater access to religious services. He found that the courts would take him seriously if he didn’t ask for money, but instead sought relief from existing conditions. “It was good for my head,” he says. “Keeps you sharp. Boring as hell, too.”
He achieved some degree of legal success in about half the cases he filed. But he wasn’t measuring achievement by outright victory. At best, he could feel as if he were competing with the system on equal terms, as he executed effective cross examinations of witnesses, maybe made opposing attorneys sweat a little. About a dozen of his cases ended in published decisions, indicating that he had contributed, in some way, to the body of prison case law.
Some of his biggest successes were for other people. He wrote up a parole oriented complaint for one inmate, Maynard Pursell, that got Pursell out of prison a year early, and then he filed a similar habeas corpus complaint that got Pursell’s son out of a Pennsylvania state prison several years before his sentence was up. A line formed outside of Caldwell’s door. “He couldn’t do them all,” Pursell says, “because his own litigation was taking up a lot of his time.”
Caldwell’s own legal push had one additional benefit. Even on losing cases, transfer to courthouses on the outside opened up new opportunities for escape. He had experienced a run of bad breaks, and now it was time to start making his own luck.
His very first civil case presented such an opportunity, though it would take five years and an unforeseeable chain of events to come about. In 1977, a federal court in East St. Louis, Ill., convicted Caldwell of his attempted escape six months before. While awaiting his appearance in court, he was housed at the St. Clair County jail in Belleville, Ill. There he was in an altercation with some correctional officers, which gave him the basis of a suit against the facility.
Five years later, Caldwell got his day in court. As a safety precaution, he was housed at the Clinton County jail, about an hour away from Belleville in Carlyle, Ill. The jail was little more than a few cells below the sheriff’s office in a small, two story building. On the morning of June 4, 1982, Caldwell was the only inmate in the jail’s holding area.
It was a sunny spring day, and Caldwell had dressed like a civilian for his court appearance, in blue slacks, a white shirt, and light jacket. According to an official report of the incident, the Clinton County sheriff walked into the cell and handed the inmate $80 in spending money. Through some sort of “misunderstanding,” he believed Caldwell was to be released later that day. As the sheriff walked out, Caldwell realized that the cell door hadn’t closed all the way.
After a decade of escape attempts, Caldwell had set odds for himself. If he was escaping from Marion, when he could pick his moments, Caldwell figured he needed a 70 percent chance of success before the final green light. But for openings while he traveled outside the prison, Caldwell had lowered the standard to 50 percent. Here in the Clinton jail, he liked his chances.
His first thought was to walk through the door, barge into the adjoining office, and steal a gun from one of the two officers stationed there. But he let the impulse pass, pausing to consider his options. He looked through the crack of the open door into the next room, and suddenly risk assessment became moot: A second door, leading to the street, was open, too.
By that afternoon, Caldwell was sitting in a bar and grill in downtown St. Louis, eating a fish sandwich. The trip from Carlyle had gone smoothly. After crawling through the doors of the jail, he jogged to a nearby trailer park. While in prison, Caldwell had heard the names of local hospitals on the radio, and he gave $20 to a young driver to take him to one about an hour away—he told the driver a story about a sick brother. Once at the hospital, Caldwell said his brother had been transferred, and he gave him another $20 to take him to St. Louis.
Until he got to St. Louis, Caldwell’s plan had been to run as far away as possible as quickly as possible. But the next morning, he revised his getaway. He hitched a ride to suburban Florissant, Mo., and for two days he hid in the bushes of a church. Later, he learned that the delay had had its intended effect. After three days, his pursuers calculated that he was well on his way to either Las Vegas or Virginia.
Caldwell returned to downtown St. Louis and caught a bus to Chicago. Deliberately avoiding places, the feds would associate him with, he then traveled on to Philadelphia, then Portland, Maine. Within about a week and a half, he made it to a rooming house in Montreal.
As Caldwell fled to Canada, a couple of factors were working in his favor. Former Marion inmates now on the outside were willing to wire him a few hundred dollars here and there, so he didn’t have to risk attracting attention by stealing. Nor did he have to worry too much about being recognized. The photo on the wanted poster showed a much fiercer looking Caldwell than the face he normally showed the world. And the description cut 4 inches from his actual height.
For months, federal agents chased down false leads. According to documents from the investigation, agents at one point followed up a tip that Caldwell was a frequent rider of a mechanical bull at a bar in New Orleans—where Caldwell says he’s never been. Having found Astronomy magazines in his cell, they contacted Astronomy to see if he had subscribed on the outside. They printed his wanted notice in an ophthalmology journal in the hopes that Caldwell might seek professional treatment for his glaucoma. (Caldwell preferred alternative remedies, such as the Vitamin C.) One theory had it that he would attempt a helicopter prison break, and so agents reviewed the rosters of a couple of helicopter training schools.
By the beginning of 1983, investigators had conducted 100 interviews and seized his prison correspondence with friends. But no one, on the outside at least, knew where he was.
One recent evening at his apartment, Caldwell retrieves a plastic sack from a closet and places it on his dining room table. The sack, about the size of a kitchen trash bag, is full of small plastic baggies, one of which bears a bright orange sticker reading “Evidence. Warning!! Police Seal.” He picks up baggies at random, fishes out the pieces of jewelry inside, and then inspects them over the rims of his glasses.
Most of them are Indian pieces crafted from silver and turquoise that he bought on reservations throughout the Southwest. There are also ancient coins and antique dollar bills that he picked up at the collector shows he used to frequent. He says the jewelry trade supported him after his escape. “I think in one of my former lives I was a pirate,” he says, looking up from the stash. “I wanna get gold doubloons and go, ‘It’s mine—it’s all mine!’” He holds up one of his favorite pieces, a large silver backed turquoise eagle that he bought for $500 in Vegas, whose wing is now chipped.
Last March, two months after his release from the halfway house, Caldwell flew out to Portland, Ore., to argue in a federal appeals court for the remainder of his assets. After federal agents caught up with him, in August 1983, the FBI seized his stash of jewelry and more than $40,000 in cash. The feds suspected that the cash and the jewelry it bought were proceeds from illegal activity.
Two friends of Caldwell’s from Marion, Terry Conner and Joe Dougherty, had recently been implicated in several bank robberies, including one in Oklahoma that netted $750,000. The two became known for their gentlemanly methods. They would arrive at the home of a bank manager the night before a heist, eat dinner with the manager’s family, and then escort the manager to the bank early the next morning, before it opened, so they could haul away the money without a fuss. Their exploits became the basis for the 2001 film Bandits. Because of their known association with Caldwell at Marion, Caldwell was suspected as the unknown third man in the heists. One bank witness claimed she heard the name Gary Caldwell. But the feds could never prove Caldwell’s involvement, nor could they prove that his seized assets were connected with anything illegal. After 17 years of litigation, Caldwell has finally won it all back, including a reimbursement for tax penalties.
Caldwell is cautious in how he talks about his 14 months as an escapee. He neither confirms nor outright denies that he was associated with the Conner and Dougherty robberies, which are now beyond the statute of limitations. “I don’t want to rub anything in their faces,” he says of the feds.
But it wasn’t a taste for crime that landed Caldwell back in prison. It was his loyalty to criminals. Caldwell’s story is this: He returned to the United States soon after escaping to Canada, and a friend lent him $50,000. He used these funds to start up his jewelry business. His first base of operations was Boulder, Colo., a place with the New Age vibe that he desired. Life was simple. Most of the time he was on the road, traveling to either gem shows or reservations, and staying in nice hotels, because “very few marshals have the per diem to stay in a place like that.” His social life revolved around his $1,500 TV and new VCR. Feeling he couldn’t trust anyone, he avoided romantic relationships—he says he didn’t want to be one of those fugitives who give it all up by talking in their sleep.
He then moved into his own three story lodge in the mountains of Oregon, a place more remote and less populated than Boulder. And for the first time in a while, he had no real idea how he should occupy his time. “My only long term plan was to stay out of prison,” he says. He watched videos. He bought and sold jewelry. He drove around rural highways in a ’77 Mercedes 280SL. Soon, though, he was planning another escape. Resurrecting the pact from 1979, he decided to rescue Garza and Zumberge.
He says he contacted Skip Zumberge’s brother, and through him he sent money and messages to Zumberge in prison in Lewisburg, Pa., using “the Card”—Caldwell’s nickname—as a code word. (In letters sent by proxy to Garza, he used “el Cardo.”) To help prepare the escape, Caldwell says, he moved Zumberge’s brother into his house with him.
Caldwell would later concede the ultimate futility of crime, how after a couple of successful jobs you’re bound to screw up, no matter how smart you were. He now had more to lose in busting out Garza and Zumberge than in any of his own escapes. But in his cozy house in the mountains, after more than a year of freedom, he didn’t seriously weigh the possibility of failure. The Zumberge’s, says Caldwell, ratted him out. Caldwell was captured while at an auto shop in Bend, Ore., where he’d taken his Mercedes to be reupholstered. (Skip Zumberge, who was released in 1989, denies telling the authorities Caldwell’s whereabouts. “He’s still saying that?” he says.)
When Caldwell returned to Marion, he got more bad news. Eros Timm, his partner in the bank robberies, had been murdered by other inmates at Lewisburg.
A few months later, in October 1983, inmates at Marion murdered two correctional officers within hours of each other, and the prison was placed on permanent lockdown. The place was now a giant control unit.
With Marion the way it was, escape was no longer an option. And by the time Caldwell reached the looser confines of Lorton, and the D.C. system, in 1994, he was too far along in his sentence for it to be worth the risk.
Not that escape wasn’t extremely attractive. Compared with Marion and Lewisburg, where Caldwell had been transferred in 1989, Lorton was a madhouse. Stabbings were frequent, the rules inconsistent, and discipline often arbitrary and vindictive. It was the kind of place, says one former correctional officer, where you could buy cigarettes at the canteen, but you would be punished for possessing matches.
Caldwell was now in the last phase of his inmate career, a time when parole hearings offered more hope of release than wire cutters. He wanted his record kept clean. So he decided to tackle the problem of getting out as an intellectual exercise rather than a physical one. Like any self respecting inmate litigator, he was constantly at work on his habeas suit, arguing against his recent denial of parole.
But he also began using his legal tools to help impose the rule of law on an unruly place. Caldwell worked as a paralegal in the D.C. Public Defender Service’s office at Lorton, and he also worked in the prison law library, where he would frequently dispense advice. He helped other inmates file grievance paperwork when they weren’t getting proper medical treatment, or he might write up a civil complaint for them if they were being harassed by guards.
“I just didn’t want them to get away with anything when they were wrong,” says Caldwell. “I was the Ralph Nader of Medium Facility. Or maybe I should say Dershowitz.”
“In some cases he would say, ‘This case is good,’” says Mike McCarthy, a Lorton correctional officer who became friendly with Caldwell. “In other cases he would say, ‘You’re just doing this to bust the system’s chops,’ and he’d walk away. He didn’t derive any particular pleasure in destroying the Department of Corrections in the District of Columbia.”
One afternoon, in a sign of Caldwell’s shifting strategy, he warned Scott Einhorn, then a corrections officer, that the inner perimeter gate had been left open—the kind of opportunity a younger Caldwell would have seized. In many ways, the escape artist had become a model prisoner, and he impressed his jailers by his self discipline. “Caldwell is a very intelligent guy, and he knew how to do time,” says McCarthy. “There’s an art to doing time.”
Good behavior notwithstanding, it was clear to prison authorities that Caldwell’s legal activities were a problem. “They count on guys not being able to get competent attorneys,” says Einhorn. “They count on guys not being able to represent themselves. They couldn’t count on that anymore.”
This first became clear in 1996, when Caldwell’s cellmate in the honor unit, Frede Garcia, was having trouble with a female correctional officer named Rosamaria Chapa. Chapa was allegedly harassing Garcia because he had turned away a sexual advance. Through an inmate interpreter, Caldwell helped Garcia file an internal grievance against Chapa. As a result, all three inmates were harassed with petty disciplinary actions. Caldwell filed suit for himself and the other two inmates, claiming retaliation. A judge appointed a local attorney to represent them, and the city eventually settled the case for $50,000.
A few months after Caldwell filed the suit against Chapa and prison officials, correctional officers conducted a search of Caldwell’s cell. They said that they had received a tip that his cellmate had a knife. Instead of a knife, they produced from among Caldwell’s things $1,001 in big bills, some quarters, and a pair of cutting shears.
Einhorn was stunned. It was absurd that Caldwell would try to escape with so little time left to do, and with a parole hearing coming up. The escape kit seemed to him to be “a Hogan’s Heroes kind of thing.” Caldwell was moved to Lorton’s maximum security facility, where he would have little contact with other inmates. Einhorn says that Caldwell may have been set up, in a move to “make him disappear.”
For Caldwell, it would get worse. While in max, he was assigned to the psychiatric unit for three months, without a psychiatric evaluation, where the inmates threw their feces at each other and at him. He was also denied treatment for his skin cancer and glaucoma. But as at Marion, he saw his circumstances as a challenge, one he was eager to confront. At the end of his prison career, Caldwell landed his biggest punches. After he filed suit on the basis of his conditions, a federal judge asked the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project to represent him. The group normally doesn’t take cases on behalf of individuals, but for Caldwell it made an exception. In 2001, a D.C. jury awarded him $175,000, a huge sum for a prison conditions case. When the Department of Corrections continued to neglect his cancer treatment, he received a 2003 judgment of $55,000.
“He was serious about what he was about, and that was about making sure the prison system didn’t abuse him,” says Vince Wilkins, who used to run the Public Defender Service’s Lorton program. “And when it did abuse him, he made them pay.”
On a Friday afternoon after lunch, Caldwell leaves his downtown office and takes the Metro over to the Kennedy Center to see a matinee performance of the NSO. Caldwell now works part time for the ACLU program that represented him in his cases against Lorton and the D.C. Jail. The lawyers there became impressed by his legal know how, and a few months after he was released, they hired him as a paralegal. He acts as a sort of filter, vetting letters and interviewing inmates to figure out which complaints are genuine. The morning before the concert, he was trying to set up an interview with an inmate in Texas who claimed he had been raped by a guard.
“I’m essentially now getting paid for what I was doing free for 25, 27 years,” he says. “But it’s not for the money. Of course, I agree with their philosophy that there needs to be independent oversight of the jails and prisons in the country, and, for the most part, it’s not done.”
Caldwell is still going forward with several cases against the D.C. system, one of the reasons he remains in Washington. His biggest case is a complaint against the D.C. Jail’s medical staff for denying him painkillers after a 2003 root canal procedure. Jason Wallach, who represented Caldwell on his eventually successful habeas case, is also representing him on the root canal case. Wallach says that for case research, he’ll pick up the phone and call up Caldwell. “He can find the cite faster than I can find it on Westlaw,” he says, referring to the widely used legal database.
Most of Caldwell’s calendar is filled up by work and classical performances—he has season tickets to the NSO. He never cared about the clarinet as much as he cared about the music, he says. Because the Friday performance is a matinee, Caldwell goes in the clothes he wore to work: baggy pants with lots of pockets, a long sleeve pullover, black sneakers, and a cap advertising the Thompson Cigar Co. He says that in prison he learned to be hyperaware of his movements, and as always, he keeps his keys in his pocket carefully wrapped in a paper towel, so they won’t jingle as he walks.
Caldwell takes his seat in a middle row and places his cap on his lap, and the performance begins. The first piece on the program is a contemporary work by Donald Erb, whom Caldwell remembers from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and who is now sitting about 10 rows in front of him. Caldwell has never been too impressed with Erb, but he says that he enjoyed the performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto that follows.
After intermission, Caldwell listens without any apparent feeling to Stravinsky’s thunderous Rite of Spring. At first, it seems as if after 30 years in prison, he’s just keeping his emotions to himself. But when it’s over, he leans over and offers a curt assessment. “There were a couple of ragged entrances,” he says.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 1, 1991, PAGE E1
REMEMBERING AN OFFICER NAMED SIGMON
Bob Sigmon would be 54 now. If he had stayed on the force all this time, he would have 33 years in – enough time to have become at least a lieutenant, enough time to have built a weekend cabin for Sylvia and their two children near his boyhood home in Roanoke.
But William L. Sigmon is just a name on a downtown wall now, which is fitting. A wall is where his life ended.
On the morning of May 25, 1971, two men robbed a savings and loan on MacArthur Boulevard NW. As they fled, two D.C. police officers who had been staked out in a back room of the s&l gave chase on foot.
Behind the S&L, a stairway leads up a steep hill to an alley. One suspect sprinted up those stairs, firing at William Sigmon as he ran. Sigmon crouched beside a retaining wall for cover and returned fire. But in the madness of a gun battle, Sigmon either didn’t realize or didn’t remember that the suspect had an accomplice.
As Sigmon’s partner looked on from behind a building, too far away to stop it or shout a warning, the accomplice ran up to Sigmon from behind and shot him once in the back with a .45-caliber pistol. Sigmon never saw his murderer. The bullet pierced his heart. He was dead within seconds.
Several hours later, three people were arrested as they drove south on Connecticut Avenue NW in a van. They were charged with murder and bank robbery. One suspect – the alleged getaway van driver – was Heidi Ann Fletcher, the 21-year-old daughter of Washington’s deputy mayor. The suspect at whom Sigmon had been firing was her 22-year-old boyfriend, Eros Timm.
“The Heidi Case” was a newspaper sensation. I covered it for The Post from the late afternoon of May 25, when I watched detectives busily comb Heidi Fletcher’s apartment in Cleveland Park for clues, until Dec. 16, when I watched Fletcher board a plane at Dulles International Airport to begin serving a sentence at a federal prison in California.
Pick your favorite theme – they were all front and center during the trial.
The daughter of a prominent politician lured into bank robbery by her first serious boyfriend. Timm, the son of a civil servant and his Italian war bride, a marginal student at St. John’s College High School in Northwest Washington who became a hippie. Lawrence Daniel Caldwell, a 25-year-old classical musician with a troubled childhood who believed in communal living and decided to rob banks so he could buy a farm in the apple country of Virginia.
Timm and Caldwell were convicted of murder and sentenced to life terms. But Heidi Fletcher, defended by the legendary Edward Bennett Williams, was given an indeterminate sentence under the Youth Corrections Act. She served 53 months.
To many Washingtonians, that relatively short sentence was and is the major lesson of The Heidi Case. To many police officers, the lesson was bitter, indeed: Even if you participate directly in the coldblooded killing of an officer, you will get off relatively lightly if your father is a big shot – particularly if your attorney is a bigger shot.
Let’s listen again to several anonymous D.C. police officers, many of whom had served alongside William Sigmon in the old 8th Precinct. The day the trial ended, they were asked by reporters what they thought about Heidi’s sentence.
“There’s no doubt the case was speeded up because of power . . . politics.”
“That’s the way things are in this town.”
“I saw Sigmon lying there dead, and I know he didn’t deserve what he got. And I know she deserved more than she got.”
Then there are these two quotes to ponder.
Sylvia Sigmon, Jan. 16, 1976, asked how she felt about the news that Heidi Fletcher had been released from prison the day before: “Oh, she’s free? You mean, free to go on and live a regular life? . . . I’d really rather not express my feelings. But anyone who was involved, who experienced what I did, has a general feeling of how I feel right now.”
Heidi Fletcher, Jan. 17, 1976, after her release from prison: “I’m very happy and I don’t want to look back.”
Today, Heidi Fletcher is a homemaker in Palo Alto, Calif. Neither she nor her family will discuss the Sigmon case. Caldwell, who is serving his sentence in a federal prison in Illinois, also has repeatedly declined to discuss the case. Eros Timm was killed in prison by a fellow inmate in 1983.
And William L. Sigmon remains a name on a wall.
Vengeance wouldn’t do him any good, and having been a deeply religious man, he probably wouldn’t want it. But the Sigmon story is bigger than those three-inch-high letters cut into gray stone. So are the age-old questions of what’s fair and what’s just.