Train Robbery in Doddridge County

The Parkersburg Sentinel
January 20, 1917

H. Grady Webb Behind the Bars
Noted Prisoner Arrived Today

H. Grady Webb, said by the Federal officers to have been the leader in the holdup of train No. 1 on the B. & O. at Central Station on October 12 [sic], 1915, when $110,000 worth of unsigned currency was taken, and who has led the sleuths of the government a merry chase ever since, is now behind the bars in the Wood county jail, where he will be detained under guard until the time for the trial of the alleged bandit at Martinsburg at the term of Federal Court in April.

The Sentinel has had the details of the arrest of the accused at Kansas City, and the statement came from their in the dispatches to U. S. Attorney Walker this week that he had admitted his identity, and further the press dispatches said that he had confessed to the robbery.

Notified of Coming.

U. S. marshal C. E. Smith's office here was notified by telegram on Friday of the coming of Webb to this city. One of these telegrams was from U. S. Marshal Shelton of the Western District of Kansas City, stating that the officers with Webb would arrive in Parkersburg on No. 2 at 1:10 Friday morning. Later a telegram was received from Attorney-General Gregory stating that the prisoner would be brought here on train No. 2. The telegram further said about Webb: "He will take advantage of every opportunity to escape and may have assistance. Take every precaution to insure his custody and employ extra guards at the jail."

Acting on these instructions, Bert Robinson and J. B. Bailey of this city were selected as guards for the prisoner, one at night and the other during the day, the same as in the Jeff Harrison case while he was confined in the county jail. Deputy Marshal Throckmorton and Chas. P. Cook, with the two guards mentioned, were at the station and met the officers from the west with the prisoner. The whole party proceeded to the county jail, the prisoner having been brought here from Kansas City by Deputy Marshal W. T. Wheeler and Lee Dunlap as guard. When he was turned over to Jailor Philander Gabbert and Turnkey Ed Callahan the prisoner thanked the officers for their courtesy on the trip, said the trip was a pleasant one and then inquired of the jailor as to the sort of a table he provided for his guests.

Circular His Undoing.

On the train from Kansas City there were a number of postoffice inspectors and government sleuths of high and low degree who flocked to Kansas City on the receipt of the news of the arrest. Others got aboard the train at St. Louis and Cincinnati. Two of the inspectors, Chambers and Lemon, who have been constantly on the case, got off the train here with the prisoner, but the others continued on their way to Washington. A. T. Kreps, of this city, who is in the oil business in Oklahoma, was on the same train and heard some of the conversation with the prisoner. While the officers who accompanied Webb declined to discuss the details of the case with the representative of the Sentinel, they told how the accused with discovered and said that he partly admitted his connection with the train robbery while being quizzed by the inspectors on the train. Webb was a student at a medical college in Kansas City and, so far as known, the Federal officers were not aware of the face that he was in that city. There was a rumor that Webb had written to a friend, making inquiries about his, Webb's, wife, and the officers learned that the letter was postmarked Kansas City, and they immediately flooded that city with circulars with a picture and description of Webb. Be that as it may, a fellow student of Webb's found a circular of this character on the street, picked it up and was struck with the description, as it fitted his friend at school. He went to Webb's boarding house, made a mental note of every feature and saw Webb's split thumb. He immediately notified the postoffice inspector and the latter had Webb under arrest within a few minutes, and the observing student will get the $1000 reward for the apprehension of the noted prisoner. After the hearing of the prisoner before the commissioner at Kansas City, the order of transfer to this state was made by Federal Judge Arba S. Van Valkenburgh of the western district of Kansas. The prisoner was accompanied from Kansas City to St. Louis by his attorney, White Gibson, of Birmingham, Alabama, who had hurried to Kansas City on the first news of the arrest of Webb. Gibson was in Parkersburg some months ago in connection with the Jeff Harrison case.

It is said that the inspectors quizzed Webb on the trip to this city and that Webb was ready with an answer for all of them, and even admitted that he was connected with the particular robbery at Central, that he took charge of the mail car while the other two were on the engine, and that he threw a coat out of the car to one of the postal clerks on the outside and told him to make himself comfortable.

Webb, it is said, told one of the inspectors that at Atlanta on a certain date he sat at the same table at the hotel with the inspector, talked with him for twenty minutes, he, Webb, stalling along on a pretended plumbing contract with a companion, going over a drawing and giving figures, while the inspector was looking on. To another inspector it is said that he told of an incident in Cincinnati where they were close on his heels. This inspector went to a house where he hoped to locate Webb, and went so far as to leave his card there, and that in a few minutes after he had left the card was in the possession of Webb.

Neat in Appearance and Intelligent.

Webb, who is about thirty-three years of age, is of fine appearance. He always appears in neat raiment, is a good conversationalist, is intelligent and, the officers state, is well educated. He is about medium height and build and is said to be as agile as a cat, a trained athlete, daring and nervy, but one who would not be suspected of train robbery. When arrested he had $800 worth of the unsigned bills in his possession. From his conversation on the train the officers are of the opinion that he will plead guilty when brought to trail and will throw himself on the mercy of the court. He has never admitted to anyone or even intimated that he had any connection with any other train robbery than the one at Central Station.

Crime and Punishment

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