History

The Newton Boys: Charming Texas Outlaws Who Robbed 85 Banks & Half a Dozen Trains

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The sentences for Jess and Joe were light, since neither of them had records. They came back to their hometown of Uvalde and lived as honest citizens. Willis and Dock were sent to Leavenworth and served hard time. In the 1950s, Willis returned to Uvalde and lived a quiet life until he was suspected in a 1973 bank job in Brackettville, Texas. Willis wasn’t arrested, however, because the evidence was insufficient. Dock, on the other hand, was arrested for bank robbery in Rowena, Texas, in 1968. The arrest of the 77-year-old bank robber become national news. The charges were ultimately dropped in consideration of his old age.

Video: Trailer of The Newton Boys (1998) courtesy of Video Detective Youtube channel

WWI-veteran Jess Newton died in a VA hospital in 1960. Dock passed away when he was 83 years-old in 1974, having lived with complications from a beating he’d suffered during his final arrest. Willis lived to be 90 years-old, a small businessman in Uvalde. He passed away in 1979. Joe, the youngest of the Newton boys, died in 1989 at the age of 88. In 1998, director Richard Linklater made a movie about the brothers, starring Uvalde-native Matthew McConaughey as Willis Newton.

“When I first begin to think of robbin’ banks,” Willis said in a 1970s documentary, “I never thought of hurtin’ anybody. And I knowed all them bankers was rich and they didn’t care about hurtin’ us poor farmers. So why should I care about hurtin’ them?” Willis looked directly into the camera, a fire in his eyes. “Why shouldn’t I steal from ’em? It’s just one thief a-stealin’ from another.”

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