For many couples, the decision to separate and divorce is not an easy one. But once the “writing is on the wall”, most unhappy spouses summon up the courage and wherewithal to get up and leave the relationship.
But few would choose the route taken by a 70-year-old Kansas man named Lawrence John Ripple in early September of this year. Rather than have to spend any more time with his wife of 33 years, he decided to rob a bank and get himself thrown into jail.
The whole escapade stemmed from a fight he had with his wife over a broken dryer that she had asked him to fix. The dispute got heated, and then – according to police documents – Mr. Ripple finally exclaimed that he’d “rather be in jail than at home.”
In front of his wife, he prepared a handwritten note that said “I have a gun. Give me money.” He then jumped in the car, drove to the Brotherhood Bank and Trust in Kansas City, and handed the note to the bank teller. She gathered $3,000 and gave it to him.
But rather than try to escape as most bank robbers would, he calmly sat down on a chair in the bank’s lobby and waited for the police to arrive to arrest him. (He didn’t have to wait long, because the Kansas City Police Department was located only a few doors down from the Bank, which one would guess was a deliberate choice on Mr. Ripple’s part). As he waited patiently for their arrival, he confirmed to the Bank’s security guard that “I’m the guy you’re looking for”, referring to the stolen money he was still holding.
After being taken into custody, Mr. Ripple explained his criminal conduct by saying that he “no longer wanted to be in that situation”, meaning his unhappy predicament at home with this wife. He was duly charged with robbing and bank and has been moved to a federal facility where he now awaits trial. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. (One has to wonder whether his wife will come to visit him in jail, and if so whether they can keep those visits argument-free!)
Although few will refute that divorce can be hard, most would still choose the Family Law system over the Criminal Justice one.