May 28, 1908



That Is, if Some Wagon Wheel
Don't Set It Off Before This
Morning -- One Sends Money
to His Mother.

Safe blowing is not a lucrative business, according to G. W. Hart and William Riley, the two yeggmen who were arrested Tuesday night after having blown a safe in the Metzner Stove Supply and Repair house, 304 West Sixth street. The two burglars made a complete confession before Captain Walter Whitsett and other police officers last night, telling somewhat of their past and present record, also giving an interesting account of how they pulled off their jobs.

The two men met each other on the streets several days ago and their acquaintance grew steadily. Both lived in a low rooming house at 507 Grand avenue and it was there that they perfected their plans for the safe robbery which they perpetrated Tuesday night.

For several days past Hart has made a hiding place of the Hannibal bridge. In that locality he kept his tools and prepared the nitroglycerin which he used to blow the safes. He said that had he been successful in his robberies here he intended taking his loot to that place and burying it at the roadside, where he has now over a pint of nitroglycerin stored away.

The only other safe blowing job which Hart has tried in Kansas City was Sunday night when he attempted to blow open the safe in the Ernst Coal and Feed barns at Twentieth and Grand avenue. At that time, however, he was interrupted by police officers and barely escaped arrest. He was not successful in this attempt. Two or there days previous to this Hart entered and robbed a wholesale house located near Fifth and Delaware streets. He got only a few dollars in currency.


In tell of his work at the safe-blowing, Hart said: "I have been at this business for the past year or two, and in that time I have robbed safes in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Nebraska and Missouri. The biggest haul I ever made was from a bank in some town in Oklahoma. I had to get through four large front doors which were loaded with concrete, but was successful, and sent the money I made in that deal to my mother. I often sent her the biggest part of my makings. She thought I got it honestly. No, I won't tell you her name or where she lives," he replied to a question from the police captain.

"Sometimes I would bank the money I got from the safes," he continued, "but it never got me anything. I am worse broke now than I was when I was living honestly. The job we pulled off last night was to get me money to pay my board.

"When I got the safe all soaped and ready to blow," he said in reply to a question of where he went when the explosion took place, "I usually stand just on top of the safe. There is no danger of any hurt up there, for the explosion always blows out, not up. If it has made too much noise, I most always have time to jump down and pull out the money boxes before anyone gets there, and then make my getaway."

Hart is a man of thirty or more names. He refused to tell his right name to police officers, saying that G. W. Hart was just as good as any. Among the names given were Maycliffe, Miller, Pope, Brown and Simpson. Hart has served a term of years in the Ohio state penitentiary, having been sent there on the charge of assault with intent to kill. He shot a brakeman who tried to eject him from a freight train on which he was stealing a ride. The brakeman was not seriously injured. With this exception he has had no other prison record, being only 26 years of age.


William Riley, the other yeggman, was more reticent about his part in the affair of Tuesday night. He claimed that it was his first attempt at safe blowing and admitted that he was rather amateurish about the business. Though he has not done much along the yegging line, he has a much longer prison record than his partner. Most of his matured life has been spent behind prison bars. He is now 47 years old. He was first convicted of highway robbery in Jackson county and sentenced to five years in the state prison. He had not been released from that term many months before he received a sentence at Springfield, Mo., for a term of two years, charged with grand larceny. Besides this he served four years more in the Missouri penitentiary for grand larceny, having been convicted at Sedalia.

When the two men were arrested Tuesday night the woman who keeps the rooming house in which they lived, and Ernest Vega, a Mexican roomer, were also arrested. Hart and Riley have both testified that these two were entirely innocent of the affair, and have asked for their release. It is probable t hat they will be released this morning, as the time limit for investigation of prisoners is over.

Hart will accompany a squad of police officers to his hiding ground at the runway of the Hannibal bridge this morning, when the nitroglycerin, which he has buried there, will be removed. It is lying on the roadside, just under the surface, and it is feared that the wheels of some farm wagon might accidental cause an explosion if it is not removed at once.