The Flapper Bandit Strikes - 1926

A special thanks the Round Rock Leader for letting
the Historical Commission post these wonderful articles.

The Time Capsules stories are prepared by Bob Brinkman

Texas Historical Commission


The Flapper Bandit Strikes

In December 1926, Central Texas and much of the nation was consumed with a small-time criminal act that became an object lesson in social issues, media coverage, and celebrity. One Friday afternoon, Rebecca Rogers, a 21-year old student at the University of Texas, walked into the Farmers State Bank in Round Rock (now Main Street Grill). She was also a secretary for Dan Moody, who had been county and district attorney in Williamson County, was serving as Attorney General and in November had won the election to be the next Governor of Texas. At the bank, Rogers posed as a newspaper reporter and inquired about what procedures were in place should a fire occur downtown.

The following morning, as was later testified in court, a house downtown caught fire, and Rogers ran into the bank to alert the tellers, but they did not leave the building. Foiled in her alleged attempted robbery, Rogers then drove to Buda, where she walked straight into the bank there, and was successful in taking $1,000 from tellers she then forced into the vault at gunpoint. The police captured the brazen female bank robber on her return to Austin, beginning her immediate rise to fame and notoriety.

News of the bank robbery was splashed across Texas newspapers, then picked up on the Associated Press wire and carried across the country, with photographs and details of the shocking crime. It was among the first such robberies by a woman in Texas in recent memory, and for her dapper clothes and headstrong attitude the media quickly christened her the Flapper Bandit. Every facet of her life was fodder for print for several more days, from her childhood in Fort Worth to every step of the legal process as it unfolded. Almost daily the public could consult their local paper for the latest news on the life of media darling Becky.

In Williamson County she was charged with arson for the house fire in Round Rock, and the trial ended with a hung jury.

Meanwhile, Becky’s case for armed robbery in Buda was moved to La Grange, and the trial there in December 1927 received the same daily coverage as her exploits had a year before. The trial lasted a week, with professionals arguing over the sanity of a young woman who would rob a bank, and an impassioned plea from her husband and defense attorney Otis Rogers to “hang her high or send her to the electric chair” rather than let her suffer in prison. On the day of the verdict, the Sunday American-Statesman ran a long excerpt of Becky’s autobiography written for her court testimony. The jury found her guilty and gave her the maximum sentence of fourteen years in the penitentiary.

Rogers was able to win an appeal and avoid jail time while awaiting a new trial.

September 1929, court convened in New Braunfels to decide her fate once and for all. The newspapers related that she was a “wisp of a girl” who charmed the all-male jury with her “melting brown eyes.” Following the trial, the jury deliberated for 48 hours, arriving at deadlocked votes before finally declaring a hung jury, standing nine to three for acquittal. Becky and Otis were able to leave the notorious events behind them, with Otis establishing a law practice in Fort Worth and Becky serving as his secretary as well as raising their three children. But as mementos of the Roaring Twenties, hundreds of pages of newspaper stories attest to the fleeting fame of the Flapper Bandit.