Grabbed By The Boudoir Bandit

The April 1927 issue of True Detective Mysteries featured these lurid photo illustrations in a story called Lone Wolf, The Boudoir Bandit:

choked into submission by a thief

tied up by a jewel thief

As the story went:

Lone Wolf, The Boudoir Bandit

Was he man, phantom, or devil — this solitary bandit who robbed and maltreated women, and threw a whole city into a panic of dread?

Not until Miss May Armstrong had disrobed, donned her figured silk sleeping negligée, snapped off the wall-bracket light, and got into-bed — not until then did she begin to have a presentiment that somebody was in the room besides herself.

She called herself silly for entertaining any such wild idea. Who could wish to harm her, a young artist with not an enemy in the world? And as for thieves — she had no gems worthy of attraction. Anyway, strange people just didn’t get into apartments like hers, particularly when they are located in the intelligentsia residential section of the city. Besides, she was always very careful to keep the door to her apartment locked.

But try as she would, she could not put down that feeling. Each taxi honk from the street below made her jump. The sound of footsteps in the tiled corridor outside magnified her uneasiness, although she had heard such a noise a thousand times before. Somewhere near by a radio was emitting a tune that was muffled and creepy. Usually she slept with her bedroom light out, but to-night she guessed she had better leave it on.

She got out of bed, fumbled for the light button, and snapped illumination back into her bedroom. As she turned to get into bed, her heartbeats stood momentarily still as a cold voice commanded:

“Don’t scream! If you do I’ll fill you full of holes!”

In terror she looked down at the floor, whence the voice had come. She saw the black nose of a revolver pointing at her head. Behind it a pair of frigid eyes, showing from between a white mask and a cap visor, told her she had better take no chances with the finger clutching that trigger.

Half raising her trembling hands, she fell back a step.

The owner of the gun scrambled out from under the bed. As he kept his weapon trained upon her, first with one hand and then the other, he removed his dark gray overcoat — was the cold month of January — with a display of muscular agility that made her shudder at the thoughts of grappling with him, even though he was no taller than herself, a girl of slightly more than average height.

Then he tore a strip of linen from a bed-sheet, and while she waited in agonizing fear, he calmly fashioned a gag from it and tied the gag to her mouth. Next he pocketed his weapon in his blue serge coat, lifted her none too gently, and put her on the bed.

She stared at him, eyes popping, while he, with the nonchalance of a person having all the time in the world, tore piece after piece from the pillow slip and the sheets, and made improvised rope with which he tied her hands and feet to the four corners of the bed.

Uncontrollable fright seized the defenseless girl. She lapsed into a half-conscious nightmare of terrible and con- fused thoughts.

At intervals sometime afterward she became aware that the unwelcome visitor was ransacking her dresser and clothes closet. She heard him slam and bang things like an amateur carpenter. Once he came to the bed and dangled before her eyes a jewel-studded wrist watch, the cherished gift of her mother. He bragged triumphantly about finding it. Again, he displayed $110 in bills which he discovered in her dresser drawer.

After this the amazing burglar became chatty, and despite the scorn and the agony of fear that she directed at him with her eyes he sat for a long time at the foot of her bed, munching chocolates from a box that had been given her that very night by the young man with whom she kept company.

“I got in through the bathroom window,” he confided to her as he ran a fingertip up and down his prominent nose, “even while you and your boy friend and the chaperon dame were talking. When the three of you went out to get your chop suey, I hid under the bed. That fire-escape out back was too tempting to resist.”

In the tone and spirit of a pronounced braggart, he went on to tell of hair-raising exploits in crime in other cities, including New York and Chicago. He spoke of gun battles and killings as a business man would discuss the minor details of his business. He interspersed his dramatic recitations with boasts of his love triumphs among the women of the underworld, using her facial beauty and figure as standards of comparison. He also wove in many “asides” that revealed his perverted views on love and womanhood.

For a long time he talked and ate candy, finally saying:

“I have to while away a few hours, girlie. Wouldn’t do for me to go out into the night with the swag I’m lifting here. The dicks might spot me. But in the morning, when all the honest working men are afoot, it’s a cinch to slip out and not get noticed.”

He laughed and stroked his dark hair.

“Only four o’clock now,” he added in a bored tone of voice as he consulted her jewel-studded watch. (He had entered the apartment a little before midnight.) “I’m going to have a nap.”

He stretched himself out crossway of the bed at the foot. In a few seconds he was asleep.

MiSs Armstrong went through two more hours of hellish harassment before he stirred again. Mumbling something about it being daylight, he arose, carefully brushed the wrinkles out of his coat and trousers, combed down his thick hair with his fingers, and announced that he must depart. The girl’s jaws were nearly paralyzed from the gag. She tried, by appealing for pity with her eyes, to get him to remove it before he left. He refused. But he did promise to call the janitor of the apartment, after he had made his getaway, and inform the man of her plight.

As soon as he had snapped the spring lock of the apartment door behind him, Miss Armstrong began to struggle to free herself. The more she tugged at her bonds, the more they cut into her wrists and ankles. Yet, weak and nauseated as she was, she kept on trying. She fought for nearly two hours before she succeeded in freeing one hand and subsequently in removing the rest of the bonds.

She had just about strength enough left to get the janitor’s office on the house telephone.

In a few minutes Police Inspector Michael Byrnes and other officers reached the Armstrong apartment. They found the girl near the point of complete exhaustion. Her wrists and ankles had been dreadfully chafed in her struggle to free herself.

The girl told her story between attacks of hysterics. A police physician corroborated that part of it concerning criminal assault.

Some two hours later, the fiendish criminal showed that he had nerve enough for anything. With officers still in the apartment house, he telephoned to the janitor.

“Go up to Miss Armstrong’s apartment and see what she wants,” he said. “She is not feeling very well today. If you can’t get in, use your own latch-key.”

The police failed to trace the call.

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2 comments on “Grabbed By The Boudoir Bandit”:

Lord Sonny commented on October 7th, 2021 at 3:55 am:

“Was he man, phantom, or devil — this solitary bandit who robbed and maltreated women” – and changed their parting from left to right???

Rope Guy commented on October 7th, 2021 at 10:58 am:

You go paste up an entire magazine with text wrapped around the photo-art using the technology available in 1927 and then get back to me on how snarky you feel about a darkroom horizontal flip, or a photographer’s assistant with a comb. :-)

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