(Doris Lockerman was born Doris Rogers in Huron, South Dakota. She worked in the FBI, eventually becoming Melvin Purvis' secretary in the 1930s. During an attempt to capture Verne Miller in the Sherone Apartments in Chicago, Lockerman was one of two people summoned who could identify Miller by sight.)
How did you come to be in that apartment building in Chicago?
I was with Chicago office of FBI, when young. I'd come there from another office in Birmingham. To a nineteen-story building. I was a clerk, stenographer to Melvin Purvis, the Special Agent in Charge. We did what we could around office, I was the youngest person and probably the least qualified. Among about 100 agents, no women.all young men. The Bureau was quite new as a career. Many of these men were just out of law school or accounting school. This was the Depression, one had to find work quickly. The result was that everyone was young, including me, we were assigned the category of bank robberies.for criminals looking for. or searching for. and..
You are a native of Huron, SD, which is in part why you were at that Chicago apartment..
I lived in Huron, grew up there, went to Huron High School and Huron College..and was.but was living in Alabama and then Chicago, when I was with the FBI. I had married and gone to Alabama, I had taken a job there with their office..and had asked to be transferred to Chicago or Minneapolis, with my roots more. That's how I got to be in Chicago. And I knew, like everyone else in small town, one knew everyone. And Verne Miller was sheriff of Beadle County. I was young and he was much older. I didn't know him socially...he was in the paper know now and then...and he.was considered a noteworthy sheriff because seems he'd been at World War I and learned how to use machine guns which were new in domestic artillery at time. We thought Verne Miller was a brave sheriff. But during the time he was sheriff, there were an unusual number of bank robberies. They were not traced to him while I was first a resident in Huron for college. But later on with FBI, he showed up as subject we were looking for in our connection with searching for bank robbers and bringing them to justice.
Anyway, it was told around the office that I probably could recognize him and I said that I believed I could. And I did not know that I'd ever have the necessity to do so. But the time came when the agents were aware that they had him fairly strongly located in a building on the near north side of Chicago which is very heavily populated area and an area where furtive people come and go very often. But they weren't sure it was he. And they wondered if I could identify him if I could just catch a glimpse of him. And I was a little afraid to do this. Because in the first place, I had some sympathy for him because as far as I knew he only robbed banks. And it was like Willie Sutton who said, when someone asked him why he robbed banks, he said "because that's where the money is."
And, I always understood that in the poverty of the Depression, robbing banks was not the same thing as they were doing in Chicago's Al Capone's area, where they were tying concrete to people's feet and drowning them. But anyway, I reluctantly said I'd try. And then we realized another agent - named Bill (William) Notesteen - his father - was not a native Huronite - his father had come to Huron College which was a very brave Presbyterian college at the time. It's changed hands several times since. But at any rate, Bill would not have known him but might have seen pictures of him in local papers there.
And so we agreed that we'd take turns and sit - both of us --where we could see the door where Verne Miller and his woman companion.whom they unattractively called her his "moll", were living, er -- not living but holed up there for security and rest probably. So they fixed me and Bill a high stool in a little room where the dumb waiter traversed up and down carrying whatever things a dumb waiter carries.I suppose soiled clothing, garbage, whatever..which looked out on front door of place where Verne Miller was staying.
So Bill and I taking turns most of the time because we had had him on watch for many hours, I think maybe a whole day and night. We took turns on stools seeing if we recognized anyone who left. Well after a very long period of time, the door opened very furtively and this man with a hat pulled very low on his head -- but slender.and Verne Miller was quite a natty dresser and quite.uh..he didn't look like a thug, stepped out. And I looked at him, he couldn't see me. And I nodded "yes", I was afraid to speak - I didn't have much voice anyway...because didn't want him to hear him, but I nodded.. and Bill I think, looked too and he agreed with me. the message thus was signaled to men downstairs.fourth floor, hard to recollect..
But the message was sent that it was probably Verne Miller .he ran as soon as he heard rustlings, maybe from our building. But there's an apprehension these criminals are built with anyway, or develop. And he ran very hard and got into his car and outsped the Bureau boys, men, and did get away. But Billie or Bobby..all of them were named either Billi or Bobby.Moore, could be wrong..anyway she was apprehended..they got her before she got to car.he got in the car first, she stayed behind to lock the door.or do whatever the women do..and he got away and she was apprehended..
At the time there was a joke - a rather bitter joke but interesting.. that the FBI rarely got their men but they always got the women. (laughs) they could always find a mate somewhere...and it was of course, a ragged joke. But we did get Billie and brought her back, to the office to be questioned.