The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Enemy #1

Gerald Chapman, Charlie Loerber, and George “Dutch” Anderson robbed a U.S. mail truck in New York City on October 14, 1921. The trio netted over $2 million worth of goods from the robbery, making it the largest U.S. robbery of the time.

Postal inspectors arrested all three in 1922. Loerber testified against his partners for a reduced sentence. Chapman and Anderson each received 25 years in a federal penitentiary for robbing the mail and assaulting a postal worker. They both escaped and returned to their lives of crime.

On October 12, 1924, New Britain, Connecticut, patrolman James Skelly was shot and fatally wounded while investigating a burglary. Gerald Chapman was identified as the killer. A Connecticut lawman named Chapman “Public Enemy Number One.” Reporters seized on the phrase and it began to appear in newspaper reports across the country.

Chapman was arrested for a final time on January 18, 1925 in Muncie, Indiana, and returned to Connecticut, where he was charged with murder. He was executed on April 26, 1926.

George Anderson was caught passing counterfeit money in Muskegon, Michigan, on October 31, 1925. Anderson and Detective Charles Hammond, who had stopped Anderson for arrest, were killed in an exchange of gunfire when Anderson shot at Hammond.