South Side State Bank Robbery (Green Bay)


On July 20, 1931, the South Side State Bank in Green Bay, WI was robbed. Two officers were injured while responding to the robbery while it was in progress. Detective Gus Delloye was hit in the arm and forehead, and a piece of shrapnel entered his left eye. Chief Thomas Hawley took some glass to the chest, and Officer Elmer DeNamur was hit in the cheek by shards of glass.

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The South Side State Bank stood at 708-710 South Broadway in Green Bay. In offices over the bank were Dr. Paul M Clifford and dentist Raphael E O’Shea.

On July 20, 1931, around 11:00am, several men with guns entered the bank. They ordered assistant cashier Frank Slupinski to open the vault. Once he did, they ordered him to lie on the floor. The vault only had $7,000 in cash, with no gold or securities. The men asked for more, and Slupinski said only the cashier had the key to the other vault. Angered, they beat him – breaking his nose and cheekbones, cutting his face and deviating his septum.

Other employees were hit when they failed to access the rest of the money. One customer, Wilfred Stram, walked in during the incident unaware and was ordered to the ground at gunpoint.

No one inside the bank was able to call police, but luckily the Commercial Printing office across the street saw what was happening and AW Juster called it in. Four officers headed there immediately: Detective Gus Delloye, Detective Martin Burke, Chief Thomas Hawley and Officer Elmer DeNamur. (Delloye had previously come up in the Cannard extortion case where he took 177 pieces of buckshot from another officer’s shotgun.)

The police parked in front of the bank, believing the robbery to be over. In fact, it was still in progress and they parked right next to the getaway car. Machine gun bullets flew out of the bank, smashing the police car’s windows. Delloye was hit in the arm and forehead, and a piece of shrapnel entered his left eye. Hawley took some glass to the chest. DeNamur was hit in the cheek by shards of glass, but it wasn’t enough to slow him down. He returned fire with his .38, and managed to hit one of the robbers in his right shoulder. The robber ran north on Broadway, leaving a trail of blood.

All of the robbers managed to escape, but many eyewitnesses saw them. One robber was described by multiple people as short, maybe 5′ tall, with a medium build and dark, Italian complexion.

An officer was sent to the Delloye home. It hadn’t been that long since the family had been told Gus was injured and possibly dead. Now they heard it again. DeNamur rode with Delloye to St. Mary’s hospital. Delloye was in and out of consciousness, his left eye repeatedly swelling with blood. Chief Hawley drove himsel to St. Vincent’s hospital to have his chest looked at, pieces of glass stuck in odd places. He would be fine, but was in no condition to oversee the crime scene while dripping blood. Which left Martin Burke in charge at the bank with Officer Faikal.

Every officer was called, meaning a total of about 15 men were soon at the bank. Descriptions of the bank robbers went out over WHBY radio. The scene was “contaminated,” with people walking through bloodstains and kicking empty shells. The building was dusted for prints, with little hope of finding anything useful. The employees were worried that Frank Slupinski was dead inside the vault. He wasn’t, but they had beat him pretty bad.

At the hospital, Delloye was treated by Dr. George Senn. The first step was an x-ray that revealed a .45 bullet lodged behind Delloye’s eye. Interestingly, the x-ray also picked up a few .22 fragments that were missed from the last time.

Post-Robbery Timeline

Calls coming in to the police department helped establish a timeline.

11:16am – the wounded bandit was running through the alley behind 508 Third Street and then turned north on Maple Avenue.

11:20am – A dark Nash sedan with Illinois plates starting with “48” was speeding north on Twelth Street (Avenue?), just west of Ashland. They almost hit a man crossing the street.

11:23am – A caller saw the bandits in a maroon 1929 Studebaker President sedan.

11:25am – Two cars were speeding north on Maple. One was maroon and the other a dark blue Nash. They picked up the wounded bandit near 700 South Maple Avenue.

Investigation and Suspects

Head cashier EJ VanVonderen arrived after the scene began to die down, and Burke asked him to do an inventory to determine how much was missing. He was able to estimate around $10,000. A more thorough accounting later that day showed the amount was closer to $6,995.

A group called the Brown County Vigilantes were out looking for the bandits, while Fire Chief Ralph Drum was in an airplane with a machine gun looking down. A caller claimed to see wounded men in the woods on the west side of town near Taylor Street. Burke contacted the Wisconsin Banker’s Association and they considered putting their own investigators on the case. (I don’t know a lot about this, but my understanding is that the banks had their own private police, sort of like the Pinkerton detective agency. This was phased out when bank robbery became a federal crime in 1934.) The Vigilantes checked up on the bandits in the woods, only to find it was a group with a keg of beer (this was Prohibition).

July 21: The next day’s Green Bay newspaper said two men were arrested in connection with the bank robbery. The report was a bit premature. Two young men were detained for being drunk and not having a good story to explain why they were in Northeast Wisconsin from St. Paul, Minnesota. But it was very easily determined these were the wrong men – much too young and just not the gangster type. Detective AM DeVoursney arrived from the WBA and brought with him a rogue’s gallery book (a compilation of bank robber mug shots). The bandits didn’t match.

The only two suspects ever named with a possibility of being the right guys were Francis “Jimmy” Keating and Thomas Holden, who later were involved in a Menomonie, Wisconsin robbery where some of their gang were killed in a shootout.

Aftermath: Funding Request and Delloye

At 7:00pm that evening, the city had their regular City Council meeting, presided over by Mayor John Vernon Diener (1887-1937), a Notre Dame law school graduate and World War veteran. A proposal to fund four additional police officers came up, as well as modernizing the police radio system. This had already been on the agenda and was expected. Five aldermen spoke out against it, saying the City just did not have the funds for such a thing. This greatly upset Alderman Clement “Dutch” Dwyer (1898-1958), who went into a speech and used the bank robbery as the very reason such funds were necessary. He was persuasive, and the measure passed, a big step forward for the Green Bay Police Department. Dwyer, it should be pointed out, played for the Green Bay Packers in 1919-1920, before they joined the NFL.

July 22: Gus Delloye was sent to Mayo Clinic, where he was treated by Dr. George Seering. An X-ray showed a .45 bullet was lodged between his left eye and his skull. Removing the bullet was too risky, but the eye would have to be removed. It was beyond saving. If the eye wasn’t removed, the other eye could get “sympathetic inflammation” and begin to deteriorate as well. The surgery was a success. Reportedly, Delloye recovered faster than expected but was an emotional wreck. Losing an eye was (he thought) going to change his life completely. His glass eye arrived on August 14.

Delloye returned to work on September 1, 1931. However, the City argued that his eye meant he wouldn’t be able to do as much work as before, or be as efficient, so they cut his pay by 25%. He hired legal counsel (Clement W Dwyer) and filed a complaint through the Wisconsin Industrial Commission. The legal papers cited Delloye’s impressive record and revealed an unusual fact: since being hired on May 1, 1916, Delloye almost never took a day off. No weekends, no vacation. He had once worked every single day for a ten month stretch. No officer was more loyal to the City. In fact, he stayed a cop until retiring at 70 years old in 1956.

Julia Slupinski, Frank’s wife, lived to be at least 102 and would tell the bank robbery story many times.

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