The Covington hitman started his career as an armed robber | News
On August 11, 1980, Roy L. Cooper, 51, brother of Covington Mayor Ernest Cooper, shot dead his daughter’s former boyfriend, Charles Olan Thrash, 52, ending the long-time convicted and notorious burglar. criminal career of the Dixie Mafia hitman.
In 1956, Charlie Thrash led the Louisiana State Police on a 30-mile chase, driving a stolen brown 1951 Pontiac. Running from Bunkie, Louisiana to Alexandria, the 25-year-old crashed through police roadblocks in two parishes with patrol cars from three jurisdictions after bumper to bumper. The chase ended when the Pontiac reverse-engineered a state police car blocking Highway 71.
Surrounded by police officers with guns drawn, Charlie exited the driver’s side with his hands in the air. A second man climbed on the passenger side with his hands on his head. State Trooper Wilmer Beebe recognized the second man as 20-year-old William S. Cooley, a Pineville escapee from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
Turning to Charlie, Rider Beebe asked, “And you?” Have you ever had trouble? To which Charlie shook his head, saying, “You name it. I did it.”
The Louisiana State Police began their first search for Charlie Thrash in 1943, sending out a statewide bulletin. After telling friends he would get a job as a bellhop at a hotel in Alexandria, the 12-year-old disappeared. His parents, Robert Bennie and Arah Thrash, found him hiding in a closet later that evening, having never left the Louisiana Avenue family home in Slidell.
The next time the police looked for him, the charge was more serious. In October 1946, federal authorities turned the 17-year-old over to Vernon Parish authorities, charging him with breaking and entering. Charlie, they reported, entered Warrant Officer EP Neill’s home at 1619 Kings Road in Leesville, Louisiana, and stole a counterfeit $500 bill. He exchanged the bill for small bills at a local bank, which passed the bill on to various clearing houses until a Dallas bank discovered the fraud.
Sheriff WC Turner told the Leesville Leader that Warrant Officer Neill came into possession of the counterfeit note while abroad and had the memento displayed in a picture frame on the wall of his den.
When questioned by sheriff’s deputies on Christmas Day 1946, Charlie admitted to robbing the house and taking the bill, but insisted he had not knowingly passed counterfeit notes. He thought the stolen change was a real $500 bill.
Arrested as a minor, his sentence for this crime is unknown. However, five months after his 18th birthday, Judge WA Bahns granted clemency to Charles Olan Thrash, on the condition that he enlist in the US Army, where he served overseas in a technical service unit in South Korea.
Released in 1952, Charlie took a bus back to Louisiana. Soon after, Uncle Sam found him a job using the skills he had learned in the service. He reportedly works as a dental technician, making dentures for a New Orleans company. However, Charlie had a problem. Greyhound dropped him off in Baton Rouge, 80 miles from where he works.
To solve the problem, Charlie loaded his service revolver and hijacked a car.
Two years later, in August 1954, paroled from Angola, Charlie finds himself in Baton Rouge again without a driver and steals another car. In 1955, Louisiana State Police found him driving the same stolen car in Lake Charles.
In January 1956, Louisiana State Police charged Charlie, then 25, with reckless driving after his 1955 Jaguar Roadster swept away a 1948 Chevrolet truck near Alexandria. The prosecution estimated the damage to the truck at $400, but Judge Walter M. Hunter fined Charlie one hundred dollars and released him.
Two weeks later, Charlie led the State Police in the 30-mile chase mentioned earlier. That night, Charlie and Willie Cooley were fleeing an armed robbery when Bunkie police identified the stolen car they were driving.
Charlie and Willie robbed record store owner LJ Pichler two hours earlier, leaving the man bound and gagged. Pichler told investigators the pair wore silk stockings over their faces and spoke Pig Latin throughout the robbery before walking away with $1,020 in cash and a Fats Domino album.
Police found the stockings and stolen property in the car, along with a blue steel .38 snub-nosed revolver, a .410 shotgun and an autographed photo of Bourbon Street dancer Blaze Starr.
The following April a 12-person jury found Charles Thrash guilty of armed robbery and public corruption, sentencing him to nine years in the Angola State Penitentiary, but in July 1957 Charlie escaped through the window while undergoing treatment at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation tracked him down in New Orleans in 1958, wounding him in a shootout before charging him with robbing a bank in Metairie and a jewelry store in Hammond. In 1959 and 1960 he asked the court for clemency, and in 1961 he again fled Angola.
Charlie remained free until March 1962, when Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Lester Comeaux shot him in the foot. It happened an hour after Charlie stole $1,600 from a Bayou Sorrel beer distributor and kidnapped a delivery driver to escape.
A month later, Charlie pleaded guilty to insanity, and District Judge Fred LeBlanc added another 58 years to his previous sentence. However, Charlie would soon riot at Angola Penitentiary and later be pardoned by a Louisiana governor before moving on, trading his life of armed robbery and carjacking for another occupation, working as a killer. hired for the Dixie Mafia and New Orleans. crowd.
“Bayou Justice” is a weekly true-crime column featuring notable crime-related stories in South Louisiana, most of which are still unsolved. If you have information that can help solve the case, contact Crime Stoppers or your local police department. HL Arledge receives an email at [email protected]