- Albert Frederick Nussbaum
Albert Fredrick Nussbaum was born April 9, 1934, in
Buffalo, New York, died 1996. [FBI; Most Wanted List Poster; February 1962] In the late 1950's, Nussbaum was arrested for possessing a Thompson Submachinegun and transporting unregistered weapons across state lines. Nussbaum was sentenced to the Federal Reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio. There, he met Bobby Randell Wilcoxson, originally from Duke, Oklahoma, and Peter Columbus Curry, of Quitman, Georgia. Wilcoxson was doing time for buying a car with a bad check and then driving it across state lines. [Argosy Magazine; September 1963]
Young Nussbaum was smart. He competed in chess tournaments by correspondence from his Ohio jail cell. He was an expert
photographer, locksmithand gunsmith, he was also a pilot, an airplane mechanic, a welderand a draftsman.
Within a year of leaving Chillicothe, Nussbaum and Wilcoxson hooked up in Buffalo, New York with a plan to rob banks. The
FBIwould eventually label Nussbaum "the brains" of the team while Wilcoxson was marked as "the brawn." They knocked over a few local stores and service stations in Buffalo to raise seed money for an arsenal of weapons they would soon use robbing banks. Nussbaum and "One Eye" Wilcoxson allegedly robbed at least eight banks from 1960 to 1962, hauling in at least $250,000 - the rough equivalent of $2.8 million in 2008. [Argosy Magazine; September 1963]
Nussbaum and Wilcoxson acquired deactivated military weapons called "Dewats." With parts they acquired by mail order, they refurbished the weapons. Their cache of munitions included
revolvers, shotguns, submachineguns, hand grenades, M1 carbinemilitary rifles and military style armor piercing anti-tank guns that could annihilate pursuing police cars or pierce bank vaults. [Very Special Agents: The Inside Story of America's Most Controversial Law Enforcement Agency--The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, by James Moore, Published by Pocket Press, 1997]
Nussbaum taught himself to make
pipe bombs. He and Wilcoxson posed as "Mad Bombers," setting off two bombs in Washington DCon June 15 and 16, 1961. They made several telephone calls pretending to be southern white supremists bombing the Capitol in protest of integration and the civil rights movement. The bombings were planned to distract law enforcement manpower near the White Houseso a Washington, DC bank could be easily robbed on June 30. [The Washington Post, November 17, 1962]
On December 15 ,1961, Curry joined Wilcoxson and Nussbaum to rob a branch of the Lafayette National Bank in
Brooklyn, New York. Wilcoxson entered the bank and killed guard Henry Kraus with four quick shots from a Thompson Submachinegun. Curry was arrested in front of his mother’s house by the FBI in February, 1962, and promptly implicated Wilcoxson and Nussbaum in the Brooklyn bank robbery. The FBI promptly named the pair of robbers to the famous "Most Wanted List" and circulated over 1 million "wanted" posters. The FBI declared the bandits as dangerous, warning the pair were armed with hand-grenades and 25 submachineguns. "They will not hesitate to open fire," the posters warned. 6,000 FBI agents searched worldwide for Nussbaum, Wilcoxson and Wilcoxson’s 19 year old " paramour," Jacqueline Ruth Rose of Paoli, Indiana. [Argosy Magazine, September, 1963]
On November 4, 1962, Nussbaum’s mother-in-law informed the FBI that Nussbaum was in Buffalo to secretly visit his wife and infant daughter. More than 30 FBI cars surrounded the Statler Hilton Hotel at 1 a.m on November 5, 1962, as Nussbaum arrived, expecting to pick up his wife. Alicia Nussbaum somehow signaled her husband and he raced out of the hotel parking lot, leading a parade of FBI agents on a 100mph chase through the cold, wet streets of Buffalo. A police dog catcher rammed Nussbaum’s car and the FBI arrested him. Mid morning on November 10, 1962, Wilcoxson and Rose were captured in
Baltimore, Maryland. [Reader's Digest, February, 1963]
By May, 1963, Nussbaum pled guilty to the murder of bank guard Kraus and four bank robberies - two in Buffalo, one in Washington, DC, and one in
Versailles, Pennsylvania. [The New York Times, May 7 , 1963] Oddly, Nussbaum was never convicted of robbing Lafayette National Bank in Brooklyn even though he pled guilty to murdering the bank’s guard. On February 8, 1964, Nussbaum was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parolein 1971.
While running from the FBI, Nussbaum read "The Name of The Game is Death", a mystery crime novel by
Dan J. Marlowe, a popular pulp fiction writerof the day. [This Here's a Stick-Up: The Big Bad Book of American Bank Robbery, by Duane Swierczynski, Published 2002] Nussbaum, using the name "Carl Fisher," called Marlowe’s agent and sent Marlowe letters praising the realness of the book. Marlowe and Nussbaum remained friends while Nussbaum was imprisoned. Marlow encouraged Nussbaum to write and the two often collaborated - Nussbaum providing Marlowe with professional criminal techniques that added even more realism to Marlowe’s body of work. Nussbaum was paroled in the early 1970's under the condition that he live and work with Marlowe. Nussbaum wrote a lot. He published as Al Nussbaum and at least a half-dozen pseudonyms. Nussbaum published many short stories that appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazines and Alfred Hitchcock’s anthologies of short stories. Nussbaum published several novels - "Gypsy," the most well known, was published by Scholastic Pressunder the title "Motorcycle Racer." In the mid-1970's, Nussbaum wrote televisionscripts for "Switch," a CBS crime series featuring Robert Wagnerand Eddie Albert. In the 1980's, Nussbaum put on workshops for mystery writers at USC, and he was elected president of a Southern California Chapter of the Mystery Writer’s Association. Albert Fredrick Nussbaum died in 1996.
* [http://www.alnussbaum.com Official site]
*An insight into the criminal working of Nussbaum’s mind can be found in his short story “Collision.” [http://www.mysteryinternational.com/mnscrpts/AN/An1.htm]
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