Saturday, January 28, 2012


"teeth intact too" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper.

Part four: "They kid themselves into a belief that they can come back, but they can't."

Having escaped from jail and the fate of Evert Impyn and Lawardius G. Borgart (portrait above), Roy Gardner eluded the police for a while. Gardner continued his crime spree, moved to Mexico and eventually wound up in Phoenix, Arizona. An attempt to rob a mail clerk there was thwarted by the clerk himself. "I'd just as soon be caught in a one-horse town," were Gardner's sentiments about Phoenix.

While in prison he was the subject of much debate on the tendencies of criminals and their mental states. Gardner was studied by alienists and doctors alike. He was shipped to Atlanta and then Alcatraz, then back to Leavenworth where he was released in 1938. "He tried to build his life in the world outside bars and wrote 'All men who serve more than five years in prison are doomed, but they don't realize it. They kid themselves into a belief that they can come back, but they can't.' "

Those were Gardner's last notes before he concocted a mixture of poison gas and killed himself in the bathroom of a San Francisco hotel.

Quotes taken from the Monitor Index and Democrat, January 11, 1940.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"teeth intact" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper.

Part three: "Those fellows couldn't hit the broad side of a barn."

Roy Gardner did not elude the police for long. He was captured in Tacoma when the hotel owner, where he was about to check in, found him suspiciously bandaged up and called the authorities. Imprisoned at McNeil Island, Gardner vowed he could escape. Whether he had planned it out in advance with his fellow inmates Lawardius Borgart and Evert Impyn (portrait above) is not sure, but on Labor Day, 1921, during the fifth inning of a prison baseball game someone hit a "Babe Ruth" and all eyes were on the field. Gardner along with Borgart and Impyn, who were in for life, made a run for it. Gardner had wire cutters and ripped open the fence. Rifle fire from the prison guards began, Borgart and Impyn were shot. Chaos followed as more prisoners tried to escape and guards tried to prevent them.

"Gardner told us those fellows couldn't hit the broad side of a barn," were Impyn's last words. Borgart was dead too.

Gardner was again on the run...

Pulled from a combination of articles in the Ogden Standard Examiner and the Oakland Tribune, 1921.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


"second right and left cuspids gold crowned" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper. 

Part two: Large Gold Teeth

Roy Gardner (portrait above), notorious train robber, had determination not to be caught or kept captive. After his escape with Pyron he was spotted in Castle Rock according to the Oakland Tribune, June 14, 1922:

A stranger with large gold teeth entered a restaurant at Castle Rock and ordered food. While the meal was being prepared a man walked past the restaurant on the sidewalk looked in and passed on. A moment later he came by again and once more glanced in.

The stranger with the gold teeth left the food which had been brought him untouched and hurriedly left the restaurant.

Sheriff Hoggett and a posse were notified and at once set out in pursuit.

A few weeks later in Tacoma, Washington, a trial was taking place in the case of Lawardius Borgart and Evert Impyn, Camp Lewis recruits. Both were found guilty of the rape of Elinor Schauer a base hospital nurse. Their paths and fate were about to cross with Gardner's soon...

Thursday, January 19, 2012


"upper central incisors have gold inlays" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper.

This is Norris H. Pyron, arrested in Los Angeles for conterfeiting.

Starting backwards.

Did you ever think you discovered something only later to find that your "original" idea is not original at all? It happens all the time: independent thinking shared.

I started researching these prison photos and was looking for a story, maybe something no one had heard of before. I found Roy Gardner. I looked in I found he was a notorious train robber from the early 1900s and a tricky escape artist. I started reading and downloading articles. There was a connection between him and some of the other photos that I had seen. Hmmmm, a very interesting thread was forming.

Little did I know that if I had only googled him in the first place that I would have come up with a lot of information, all condensed, without having to have spent hours reading old papers. Oh, I am not complaining, mind you, I love doing all that research. Also, it gave me a chance to see how the American press was covering other stories, like Irish Independence in the 1920s.

I decided that some of the info I found was worth repeating. So here is part one of four in this series, through their images, of the connection between a counterfeiter, a train robber and two rapists: Norris H. Pyron, Roy Gardner, Lawardius Borgart and Evert Impyn, respectively, McNeil Island prisoners numbered 3800, 3806, 3824 and 3825.

"Stick up your hands."

June 1921. Gardner and Pyron were not associates. Gardner was arrested for train robbing (he was called a "mail bandit" according to the press). He was apparently very good at it, this was not his first arrest, nor his first escape. Pyron was a counterfeiter, a quiet man, non-violent. Their connection was that they were being transported to McNeil Island at the same time under the supervision of US Marshal Thomas F. Mulhall and Federal Guard D. W. Rinckle. In the berth, on the train, Pyron was shackled. Gardner asked to wash his face, and as he came up from the basin he pulled a gun and demanded "Stick up your hands." The officials felt they had no choice but to surrender their guns and Pyron and Gardner hand-cuffed and shackled their guards. Gardener took their money. "What are we going to get breakfast with?" was the concern of Mulhall, so Gardner left them $5 before he and Pyron bailed out the window in Castle Rock, Washington. The following day Pyron was back in custody. "I didn't want to escape," he was quoted as saying. Gardner was still at large.

Culled from the front pages of The Ogden Standard Examiner, The Joplin Globe and The Oakland Tribune, to name a few.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 5, 2012


"central incisors false" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper.

George Spratt was convicted of conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act and embezzlement by a US Internal Revenue Officer.

George A. Spratt, deputy collector of internal revenue, was indicted by a Grand Jury charging that Spratt embezzled 80 gallons of wine which was government property, and that his accomplices, Edwards, Irving and Burke, knowing the property to be embezzled, received it from Spratt and appropriated it for their own use. Oakland Tribune, April 28, 1922.

That's a lot of wine "for their own use".