THE TALE OF JOHN ELGIN JOHNSON’S CRIME, PART THREE
Federal justice moved swiftly for Elgin. He made his way back to Los Angeles, California, where, on Wednesday, 27 November 1940, he was charged by a Federal Grand Jury on a couple of bank robbery counts. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Los Angeles; he was sentenced on Monday, 23 December 1940, to a couple of 15-year sentences to be served simultaneously. The U.S. Penitentiary, McNeil Island, Washington, received Elgin briefly after that – Elgin’s third prison term at 21 years of age.
Within the whispering community constituting a jail life, Elgin was also an eccentric. After Elgin was moved for disciplinary reasons to United States Prison, Leavenworth, Kansas, to serve the rest of his time for a bank robbery conviction, his twirled thinking once more guided towards catastrophe. Briefly, after he reached Leavenworth, Elgin, together with two other prisoners, tried to flee and, in so doing, attacked prison security men. Once more, the man who had repeatedly shown his hatred for the community around him was battling to reenter it. This act resulted in Elgin’s being discovered guilty by a Kansas jury on Tuesday, 18 April 1944, of attack with intent to murder a federal agent. Elgin was given a sentence of forty-eight months and recommended for transfer to the United States Penitentiary at Alcatraz, San Francisco, California.
After almost a decade of continuous criminal activity, on Saturday, 10 June 1944, Elgin reached Alcatraz. He was stationed with America’s hardest crooks – the “select” posse who challenge rehabilitation to the utmost. John Elgin Johnson was to take his place with the morose class who populate “The Rock.”
The severe discipline must have been torturous to a mind as uncontrolled and uncultured as Elgin’s. But Elgin’s mind yet sought a gap in the structure. He turned out to be known as a regular attendant at the church services. Elgin turned out to be a devoted guest to his spiritual advisor and continually sought baptism into religion. His advisor, concerned but observant against the emotional desire for conversion, didn’t grant Elgin’s request. Elgin started taking instructions for this faith in a correspondence course from a Middle Western university. In later years, the chaplain connected to FBI men that Elgin’s ready grasp of the faith’s spiritual abilities was terrific. Elgin turned out to be so filled with the principles, or so it appeared, that he showed a strong desire to entering the religious life as a lay brother. His ambition, as it became, never reached full bloom.
To be continued
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