An Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
The Silent Service
Postal Crime
Silent but Effective
Robbing the Mail
Unexpected Duties
Bombs in the Mail
You Solve the Case
Reading Fingerprints
Make a Match
Handwriting Analysis
Creating a Profile
Fake Money Orders
Don't Be a Victim
In Memoriam
Protecting You Now

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Roy A. A. DeAutremont

Ray Charles DeAutremont
Hugh DeAutremont


(left) Roy A. A. DeAutremont
(middle) Ray Charles DeAutremont
(right) Hugh DeAutremont


The three DeAutremont brothers destroyed a mail car and killed four men, including a Railway Post Office clerk, when they tried to rob a Southern Pacific train on October 11, 1923. After botching the robbery, the three fled the scene of the crime in a panic, leaving some items, including a pair of overalls, behind. The items left behind helped authorities learn the identities of the murderers.

The DeAutremont's 'Wanted' poster
The DeAutremont's 'Wanted' poster
click to enlarge
Back of the DeAutremont's 'Wanted' poster
Image: The DeAutremont's "Wanted" poster

Postal inspectors asked chemist Edward Heinrich to inspect the clues left behind by the robbers to see if he could tell them anything about the fugitives. Given a pair of overalls found at the crime scene, Heinrich developed a profile of a likely suspect.

• Read more about the DeAutremonts >>


The DeAutremont Conclusion

The DeAutremont's detonator
The DeAutremont's detonator

click to enlarge
Image: The

Can you read the clues and see how Heinrich came to his conclusions? Do you think his conclusion was correct?

The Clue Heinrich's Conclusion
Streaks of fresh pitch on the overalls  

Heinrich decided the presence of fresh pitch on the overalls meant the person wearing them recently worked as a lumberjack.


Douglas Fir needles in the pockets of the overalls


Heinrich determined that the person wearing the overalls had been in the Northwest

Most of the chip dust revenue recovered from the pockets was found in the right pocket.   Heinrich decided that the person wearing the overalls was tall and hefty.  

Fingernail trimmings found in a pocket


Heinrich concluded that the person wearing the overalls was neat and careful about his appearance and had small hands.



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