The Story of the Handsome Guy Bandit Was Made for Hollywood*

(*The Handsome Guy Bandit thinks so, anyway.)

Conrad Zdzierak was one of the first bank robbers to make use of an SPFX mask. He got away with $10,000 wearing "The Player," a mask that made him look so convincingly like a black man that a mother turned her son into the cops, sure she'd recognized him from news reports. A young Chinese dissident escaped to Canada by boarding a plane wearing "The Geezer." There are fake arms, too. They're made of latex and run about $650 a pair, and they come in handy if you don't want to leave behind fingerprints or gun residue.

Milam started collecting the masks sometime after he finished his stint in El Reno. By early 2011, he says, he had masks of every ethnicity and age group. His teenage son thought it was just a quirky hobby: surfing eBay and Craigslist for masks, joining mask-enthusiast forums online. Sometimes, Milam says, he would drive as far as Georgia to pick up a mask, wearing another mask when he made the purchase. He was careful never to contact the companies directly, never to leave a paper trail.

Milam had kept busy in prison: teaching GED classes to fellow prisoners, running and, most of all, dreaming up new ways to make money. He kept thinking about baby boomers, specifically the 79 million of them set to expire sometime soon. Death looked like a recession-proof industry.

Surveillance footage of Milam in his mask at American National Bank and Bank of America.
Surveillance footage of Milam in his mask at American National Bank and Bank of America.
Surveillance footage of Milam in his mask at American National Bank and Bank of America.
Surveillance footage of Milam in his mask at American National Bank and Bank of America.

When his sentence was up in 2008, he asked to be released in Tyler, Texas. He didn't want to go back to Dallas, he says, to hang around the same people he'd gotten in trouble with before. Facing three years probation, he went first to a halfway house, followed by a period on a leased ranch before moving into a trendy loft. He also started Memorial Monuments, a one-stop shop for caskets, urns, monuments, flowers, even pet coffins. Business was brisk; in 2009, an East Texas TV station featured Milam in a red and navy striped polo shirt talking happily about all the ways grieving customers can save a little scratch.

Milam's parole officer even let him step foot inside a bank again, where he opened a new account and fell in love. Jamie Usry was a 28-year-old teller, 14 years his junior, with long blonde hair and big brown eyes. She'd been married before and had a young son. A smitten Milam kept inventing excuses to come into the bank to talk to her, even opening a line of credit he didn't need. Finally he managed to ask her out.

"He told me he was in state jail for check fraud (that wasn't his fault, of course) and prison for stealing money through the computer," Usry says in an email. "He explained it to me as he was hacking into people's accounts."

They were married within the year. They bought a house in a nice part of Tyler, a roomy place with hardwood floors and a pool. Usry's son lived with them, and after a while Milam's own teenage son moved from his mom's place in Arizona. The boy's grades were slipping, Milam says, and Mom thought he'd do better under Milam's supervision.

By then Usry's job at Austin Bank was long gone. They fired her as soon as they found out about her boyfriend's previous occupation as a bank robber, Milam says. She soon found another teller job, at Bank of Tyler.

Milam hawked caskets and exercised fanatically, getting his whole family addicted to running. But family and exercise and cremated pets couldn't scratch his every itch. A week after his probation ended, the Handsome Guy Bandit made his debut.

On April 19, 2011, he robbed a BBVA Compass Bank in North Dallas. Two weeks later, a Bank of America in Irving. There were two more in May, a Wells Fargo in Dallas and a First National Bank in Plano. There was one a month in June, July and August, scattered across Plano, Richardson and the tiny hamlet of Hedwig Village, down in Harris County.

In July, the Richardson Police Department issued a crime bulletin, detailing a heist at First Community Bank. "This is believed to be the sixth bank robbery committed by the same suspect," the bulletin read. But what really captured the public's attention were the surveillance photos, of the Handsome Guy standing in front of several different bank counters, the light bouncing off his bald, rubbery dome.

The Handsome Guy's expressionless face was soon a fixture on the nightly news, especially once he started brandishing a semi-automatic pistol, a step up from the simple "note jobs" he'd once pulled. The stations endlessly replayed security footage of the robber standing at bank windows, wearing a gray suit jacket, a crisp white-collared shirt and a pair of black sunglasses.

As the reward money climbed and the media buzz got noisier, Milam learned a few things. No matter what he told the tellers, they'd always throw something extra in the bag with the money: GPS trackers, dye packs, "bait money" with sequential serial numbers. The bait money he'd spend on his trips out of town, wearing those fake arms to leave no fingerprints. When dye packs stained his haul, he soaked the cash in a cake pan filled with alcohol.

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12 comments
magruderb8
magruderb8

The Handsome Guy Bandit is opening an interest Facebook page. It will have all of the stories of the Handsome Guy Bandit and his rebuttal to the Observer story. Find out about Alli and the bank bags and how she was involved and her boyfirend fiance was in jail on meth and gun charges. Find out about Josh and what he did and how he contributed. Find out how many people were involved.

magruderb8
magruderb8

The Handsome Guy Bandit has a rebuttal to this article. It is too long to put in the comments section and the editor does not think it is newsworthy although Anna Merlan invited him to make a rebuttal. Anyone interested in reading the whole rebuttal call the Observer and tell them so they will post it. It tells about Alli and Josh and what exactly happened.

Daniel
Daniel

Coming up with names for bandits has to be one of the better jobs going. Fat Assed Bandit, Stoned Buffoon Bandit, Pseudo Intellectual Bandit, Fidgety Fuckin' Bandit ... it would be like managing the Village People, only with more job security.

Lisa Hardaway
Lisa Hardaway

What handsome guy isn't some variety of bandit?

AlliKim
AlliKim

I HOPE this becomes a Lifetime movie because since Anna's very well written and entertaining article came out, many of my friends are telling me more and more that I didn't know about Steve.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

This has "Lifetime" movie written all over it. Hell, "Handsome Guy" is even the perfect LMN title.

Daniel
Daniel

"[F]amily and exercise and cremated pets couldn't scratch his every itch."


This is my new favorite sentence. I'm not sure why.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

There but for the grace of God go I.  I might have been the "Gorgeous Gal" bandit.  [Myrna snickers...]

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@Daniel I feel compelled to tell you that there is also a ZZ Top Bandit. The FBI: apparently funnier than we realized. 

magruderb8
magruderb8

@AlliKim  I hope it does too Alli the the world will know your boyfriend/fiance was in jail for meth and gun charges and your your mate was convicted by the feds for conterfieting durling the three weeks you slept with Steve whom you knew was married to April at the time. I also hopes it becomesa movie so people will see that you supplied the two bank bags from Shuck N Jive during the 2 robberies he did during the time he was with you. Josh was on probabtion. There were 5 people involved. Allie you are no saint but you can tell some lies girl but what do you expect from a bar manager. You are trash and that's all there is so to it. You also accepted a 5000.00 check from one of Steve's relatives to pay for that hotel room in Austin because you wanted it on your American Express  for the the points but he was in custody when the bill came in. Yep I hope it's made into a movie so you look like the trash you are.Anyone who wishes to question this may look up the information and find it is all true.

 
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