America’s Most Successful Bank Robber

Johnny Maddison Williams Jr. had in total robbed $879,357 from the banks.



Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Johnny confessed to 56 bank robberies when caught on July 9, 1994. The police only knew of forty-eight. Even at his arrest, the clever robber had outdone the police.

He Started Robbing Banks With His Wife

Johnny Maddison Williams Jr. | Photo Credits: Alchetron

Along with his wife Carol Williams, Johnny started robbing banks in 1986. During a meager eight years, the couple robbed a shocking 56 number of banks, honing their technique at every go. It didn’t matter what state it was: the couple robbed banks in Washington, Texas, and California. The FBI was given a run for their money, always catching up to Johnny’s meticulous planning.

It is no wonder that Johnny was described as “by far the most calculating and surgical bank robber in the past second half of the 20th century.” by the San Jose police department. Given the infamy Johnny’s cleverness got on American media, his Modus Operandi is worth investigating.

On July 1, 1993, the couple worked on one of their many bank heists. Kirkland Seafirst bank in Washington was their target this time around. Carol waited outside in the car, ready to speed out, as Johnny started his well-rehearsed plan. He mainly chose Friday because it was a busy day ahead of the holidays. That meant more transactions which meant more cash.

Johnny would make it a point to shoot the gun at the ceiling as soon as he entered the bank. It was a calculated move, meant to scare everyone to the extent that it’d be hard for them to identify Johnny to the police. Clever yet simple, this was typical of how Johnny worked.

Besides making everyone avoid eye contact, the gunshots also induced a terror that guaranteed compliance. Johnny remarked on his technique, saying:

“When I ask the manager or commercial teller if they want to be the next to die, and they can smell the acrid smoke of the gunpowder, and sometimes feel the warmth of the gun barrel next to their skin . . . they feel pretty certain that I have just




Psychology Expert | MSc Social and Cultural Psychology