Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Dougherty Gang

A Family Affair


Crime of some kind, it turned out, seemed to be a family affair. Lee herself had five felony and six misdemeanor charges. Among the five felonies—three were related to an incident in May of 2011, when she had been allegedly involved in a hit and run in the Cocoa Beach neighborhood where she worked. At the time of the bank robbery and car chase, the charges were still pending. The other felony charges were for a probation violation in Brevard County for aggravated battery and simple battery.

Dylan Dougherty Stanley
Dylan Dougherty Stanley

Her brother Dylan, had the shortest record—with one arrest for driving with a suspended license and one for possession of marijuana. Later in the investigation, police revealed that there was a strange bunker in Dylan's home in Lacoochee, which seemed to have been used for growing marijuana.

Ryan, though he was the youngest, had already racked up quite a rap sheet. He had 14 felony arrests (and the conviction for two counts of sending a minor harmful Information). He'd been arrested for obscenity, destroying evidence, hit and run (just like his sister), drug possession, burglary, and, on the first Friday of their spree, police filed a warrant for his arrest for stealing his girlfriend's car and failing to register as a sex offender.

As a whole, the family painted quite a colorful picture for the media. As they continued to hide out, driving along through the southern states, their friends and neighbors, and their mother, pleaded with them via TV and newspapers.

One former neighbor Yvonne Clayton expressed disbelief to the Tampa Tribune. "When I heard Ryan and Lee Grace's names, I said, 'Oh my God! Then I started looking online and I have to admit, I was surprised. I knew there were a lot of guns around the family, and I knew they had some issues, but I was surprised they shot at a cop. I hope they turn themselves in peacefully, but I do not see that happening," she said.

Lee Grace Dougherty
Lee Grace Dougherty

Brenden Bookman, Lee's fiancé in Orlando, also expressed doubt that the trio would turn themselves over quietly, instead imagining a Thelma and Louise-like ending. He told WTSP in Tampa Bay, "I would prefer to see her living than not living, but it's very difficult for me to imagine the three of them wanting to live the rest of their life in a cage." Bookman, a college math professor, 45, met Lee Grace at an Orlando college where she was a student. The two had been living together for seven months before the Doughertys' wild ride began. In an interview with the Tampa Tribune Bookman spoke fondly of Lee Grace, saying, "she touched me in a way neither of my wives came close." Bookman was shocked by the news of his fiancé's alleged crime spree, but was aware of her recent arrests. Interestingly, Bookman was arrested on a battery charge on May 17th, the same night as Lee Grace's hit and run arrest, though any connection between the two arrests remains unclear.

Ryan's girlfriend, pregnant with his child, left this message on his Facebook wall, "I know y u did what u did. But buddy, ur supposed to be there when I deliver."

The gang's mother, Barbara Bell, also took to the press to reason with her children. She said: "The only safe thing, the only right thing, the only good thing to do is turn yourselves in," she pleaded via the Associated Press. And on the local Florida news, she tried again to appeal to them directly. "Only Mom knows what good people you are inside, please prove me right ... You've made some bad mistakes, but so far, no one has been physically harmed. I love you."

She was responding in part to an alarming text message she had received from them. "There's a time for all of us to die," it read.

The police also believed the trio was headed for a "death by cop" situation, which they wanted to avoid.

"It sure seems like they have a death wish," Valdosta Police Commander Brian Childress told the Associated Press. "We're just hoping they surrender, and they do it peacefully so no one gets hurt." Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco agreed: "May the Lord look over all of us, because these three are on some type of mission. And it is a violent mission."

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