63-year-old bank robber raised his sons right. So they turned him in.
By Ted Gregory
Tribune staff reporter
November 18, 2005
LEWISTOWN, Ill. -- Peoria Police Officer Jared Ginglen was reading a newspaper story about the gunman who was hitting banks across central Illinois when a couple details caught his attention. He visited the DeWitt County sheriff's Web site to view bank security photos of the robber.
When he did, Ginglen saw a familiar face staring at him through sunglasses, dust mask and European driver's cap. It looked like his 63-year-old dad, William Alfred Ginglen, a grandfather with no previous criminal record; a man who had served on the Lewistown zoning commission; a member of the local chamber of commerce.
"Jared calls me at work and tells me to look at the Web site," recalled his older brother, Garrett. "I look at it. I puke in my garbage can. I was so sure it was him."
His stomach wasn't lying, and the Ginglen brothers didn't flinch: They contacted authorities. William Ginglen was arrested the next morning, Aug. 20, 2004. In July, he pleaded guilty to seven bank robberies, totaling about $60,000.
On Friday, Ginglen, a resident of Lewistown for 60 years, husband of 43 years and father of four well-regarded adults, will be sentenced in federal court in Springfield to a prison term that likely will keep him behind bars until his death.
It has been a near devastating experience for the Ginglens and a shock for others who knew "Al" Ginglen, but not just because he turned out to be, as one local called it, "our very own private Jesse James." What seems to bother friends and family more is the sordid story behind the bank robberies, Ginglen's second life that included a girlfriend nearly 20 years younger and crack-smoking romps with prostitutes in hotel rooms.
"It was really a case of a severe and ongoing depression," Ginglen said Wednesday in a phone call from the Christian County Jail in Taylorville, where he was awaiting sentencing. "It was a bad period in my life and totally out of character. I was in a mental state that I can't really answer directly to."
He certainly tried. In a typewritten journal hundreds of pages long, Ginglen made a detailed account of his exploits.
"That was fictionalized," Ginglen said, "because I was going to write a book on myself. That was, well, sort of an outline."
Before trouble started
The outline of Ginglen's life held together pretty neatly until the late 1990s. He had moved to Lewistown at age 3, graduated from Lewistown High School, married a beloved local girl, enlisted in the Marines and earned an associate's degree in engineering from Spoon River College, relatives and friends said.
He worked as a supervisor at International Harvester in nearby Canton until the plant closed in 1984, his sons recalled. During the next years, Ginglen worked at a welding business he started, a trailer manufacturer in Anna and Komatsu America in Chattanooga, Tenn.
In the 1990s at Rantoul Products in Rantoul, where he met Teri Fluke, a Champaign woman 17 years his junior. The two started a relationship, which his sons learned about while reading his journal.
Around 1998, Ginglen was asked to leave the company for reasons that remain unclear. His last job was at Maytag in Galesburg, until that plant phased in its closings in 2002.
His jobs typically were in management, his sons said, but Ginglen was not an ostentatious or gregarious man. He dressed meticulously, preferring suits and drove Cadillacs, which carried license plates, GDFTHR 5, a hint at his pride of being a grandfather of five.
He also was task-oriented, demanding with his children, community minded and generous. Another son, Clay Ginglen, recalled that his father anonymously would place turkeys and hams on the front porches of families he knew were struggling.
Money woes pile up
Beneath the proud exterior, though, William Ginglen's professional life was fraying.
"He came back from Maytag and didn't have a job and didn't appear to want to work," Garrett Ginglen said. William Ginglen started asking his sons for money. They gave, and their father kept asking. His wife, Donna, took a job at a nursing home, and the couple filed for bankruptcy.
Then, Ginglen told his family he had gotten a job collecting receipts from video games in bars and restaurants throughout central Illinois. His requests for money continued.
At the same time, Ginglen, according to authorities and the journal, was trying to work up the courage to rob banks. He was supporting Fluke, her daughter, a crack cocaine habit of $400 to $900 a week, prostitutes and hotel rooms, authorities said.
"Well, I've pretty much boxed myself in today," he wrote in the journal on June 27, 2003. "I really need to perform, not just to continue my affair with you, but to salvage my economic mess at home. I'm in trouble and there seems to be no way out. ... I'm tired of borrowing from friends, and tired of rejection by employers. What can I do?"
Robbery spree begins
The chunky desperado robbed his first bank in Kenney, Ill., on Nov. 10, 2003. He robbed it again July 12, 2004. Between those heists, he robbed banks in Versailles, Greenview, Tallula and the same bank twice in DeLand.
"He really wreaked havoc on central Illinois banks for a while," said DeWitt County Sheriff Roger Massey, who spearheaded the investigation.
Massey rushed a local Internet designer to produce a sheriff's Web site in July 2004 with the sole purpose of posting the robber's photograph from the second Bank of Kenney robbery. That was the Web site Jared Ginglen saw Aug. 19, 2004.
Jared and Donna Ginglen declined to discuss the case. Garrett and Clay Ginglen said the shock of recognizing their father's picture was equal to the anger they felt about him ruining their reputations.
"That's when the whole world started spinning," Clay Ginglen, 36, said.
Garrett Ginglen, 41, said the three brothers gathered at a fire station where two of them worked and decided to go to their parents' house, where they found clothes that matched those worn by the robber.
They called the Lewistown police. The police contacted Massey, whose officers obtained the journal and some cell phone numbers that led them to Fluke. Massey arranged for surveillances at William Ginglen's home and Fluke's house in Champaign.
The next morning, Ginglen was arrested as he walked to his car parked at Fluke's home. In the car, investigators found, among other items, a dust mask, latex gloves, police scanner and a nickel-plated Colt .45 semiautomatic, similar to the one used in at least two of the robberies.
Awaiting his sentence
In jail, Ginglen spends his days playing cards and chess, writing letters and reading, he said. His wife divorced him in December and doesn't visit but does accept his phone calls. Fluke visits occasionally.
"I love my sons," Ginglen said. "I think they could have helped me get through this thing easier. I could have turned myself in and probably would have but I didn't really have a chance to do that. They did what they thought was right. I can't fault them for that."
His sons don't visit and don't speak with him. Clay Ginglen said he sleeps better knowing his father is in jail. Garrett Ginglen said he is angry, primarily for what his father did to Donna Ginglen.
And, they agree that their father, for all his personal sorrows, gave them a strong moral bearing.
"It was his ultimate demise," Garrett said. "He taught us to do the right thing, and that got him caught."
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune