The Hollywood Bandit: The Absolutely True Tale of Washington’s Most Prolific Bank Robber

The tale of the infamous Hollywood Bandit seems to be just that, a tale. A tale of high-speed chases, police shootouts, elaborate disguises, unrelenting law officials, double lives, flamboyant tree houses, and adrenaline junkies. A screenplay in the making. And that is exactly how Scott Scurlock liked it.

heritage bank LogoWilliam Scott Scurlock lived for adventure. Born and raised in Virginia, he moved to Olympia in 1978 to attend school at The Evergreen State College. Studying to become a doctor, he soon became involved with illegal substances. After being granted his own lab on campus (an honor not everyone received), Scurlock would sneak in after hours to make crystalized methamphetamine.

With a very lucrative amount of money coming in from drug operations, Scurlock no longer worried about future education. Using this new money, he began designing and building his infamous three story, 60-foot treehouse on land located close to Evergreen. The treehouse itself was described as “Robin Hood land.” Decks meandered on and on, a fireman’s pole led to the lower levels and the ground, the windows were as tall as full-grown men, there was even running water and bathtubs! It looked like something taken right out of a fairy tale. Scurlock continued building and travelling. If anyone ever asked, he told them he worked in construction.

A portrait of Scott Scurlock. The picture perfectly depicts his movie star good looks and carefree spirit. He routinely wore raggedy clothes even with his lucrative lifestyle. Photo credit: Tammy Diamond

Scurlock was highly manipulative, and usually got exactly what he wanted. His brazen good looks and endless charm did not hurt either. He was the definition of a man with a double life. “This person embodied the light and the dark of a person.” Miss. Tammy, a local community member and old friend of Scurlock’s, says. So, in 1990, when Scurlock left the drug business due to a dangerous close call, it did not take him long to recruit people to help with his next escapade. More specifically, it did not take him long to recruit Mark Biggins.

Mark Biggins was a close friend of Scurlock’s from college. He was described as a mellow, earthy man who wrote poems and played the guitar. He was one of the last people anyone would suspect of being involved with violence. It appeared pure desperation led him to help Scurlock: a failing marriage, a drug problem, and a daughter to provide for left him in need of finances. He also felt he owed Scurlock, who had helped him out in the past.

On June 25, 1992, two men entered a Seattle bank. One wore a Ronald Raegan mask, the other theatre makeup, a fake nose, a wig, and sunglasses. It was obvious one was much more excited about the robbery than the other. Quiet, calm, and intimidating, the two figures immediately took control of the room… and then things went south. According to HistoryLink.org, in a state of panic, Biggins flooded their poorly sought out getaway car. They ended up having to escape on foot! Even though they successfully evaded capture with $19,971, the stress was too much for Biggins, who promptly quit. Of course, Scurlock had the exact opposite reaction: the rush was marvelous for him. He wanted to repeat it as soon as possible. He turned now to Steve Meyers.

A picture of the back of Scurlock’s tree house. It was so large the camera had to be positioned on it’s side to capture the whole thing-and this did not even capture the whole width of the building. Photo credit: Tammy Diamond

Meyers was a struggling sculptor caught up in a nasty custody battle. He had been hired by his friend Scott Scurlock to model a certain tree house. Again, here was a man with financial issues who owed Scurlock a favor. According to 48 Hours: The End of the Dream episode, Meyers refused to actually rob the banks, he did agree to help by scanning police radios and looking out for incoming law enforcement. He also laundered the stolen money via gambling trips to Vegas and Reno.

By 1995 Scurlock and Meyers had stolen over a million dollars from Seattle and Portland banks. Scurlock was famous for his immaculate disguises, and was dubbed the Hollywood Bandit. A $50,000 reward was offered to anyone who had information leading to his arrest. Shawn Johnson, the FBI officer assigned to the case, declared the masked thief to be the best bank robber he had ever encountered. In the 48 Hours Episode, Detective Mike Magan drove around in the middle of the night in areas Hollywood had visited, and even slept on the roofs of banks he had robbed.

After a successful year, Scurlock reached out again to Biggins, who accepted. The most unlikely bank robbing trio in existence was born. Little did they know it would last no more than a year. Scurlock needed higher stakes. The three men planned originally to rob five banks in one night, but after the Seattle police convinced every bank in the area to put electronic tracers on their money, they settled for one lucrative bank. The final robbery took place on November 27, 1996. Meyers and Scurlock entered the last bank they would ever rob. Biggins waited nearby in a getaway car. The moment Scurlock and Meyers entered the bank, a teller who had been told about Hollywood pressed the silent alarm. The police wasted no time whatsoever, and began driving to the scene as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, due to a heavy storm and holiday traffic, the robbers were slow to leave the scene. Soon, Scurlock noticed police cars following him. Calmly, he leapt out of the car, gun loaded. Shots went off on both sides. Scurlock hopped back into the car, which sped off again. It stopped quickly once more a few blocks away. This time Meyers jumped out of the vehicle, and opened fire.  At the same time, Scurlock cut the headlights and jumped out of the van, leaving his two accomplices. The police found a very wounded Meyers and Biggins, and a little over a million blood-soaked dollars. Scurlock had vanished.

Scurlock stayed hidden for a whole day. The police spared no effort searching for him through the horrendous storm, but in the end, it was a civilian who found him. Robert and Ronald Walker were visiting their mother for Thanksgiving. After hearing about an escaped robber, their mother convinced the two men to check out the camper in the backyard. They became suspicious after seeing a top window open. Glancing through the windows, one of the boys saw the outline of a man. They immediately dialed 911. After the police threw two cans of pepper spray into the camper and had no response, one tried to open the door. He was greeted with a single gunshot and retreated immediately. After a few hours of trying to contact Scurlock, ERT officers in gas masks entered. They found the dead body of Scott Scurlock with a single bullet hole in his head. In the end, Scurlock chose to take his own life rather than spend it behind bars.

A newspaper clip released months after Scurlock’s final robbery by the News Tribune. The picture depicts the complete transformation Scurlock used in his disguises. Photo credit: Hailey O’Hara

Those closest to him were shocked. A construction worker. A man living in a treehouse who spent his afternoons hiking and biking. The most prolific bank robber in Washington’s history, and one of the most successful bank robbers in America who, by the time of his death, was responsible for 17 robbed banks and about $2.3 million stolen. The Hollywood Bandit’s reign came to an end just like a Hollywood film would, leaving behind a story fit for the screen.

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