Edwin "Eddie" Chambers Dodson, 54, one of the busiest bank robbers of the 20th century, died Friday at UCLA Medical Center of liver failure related to hepatitis C and cancer.
A native of Shelby, N.C., Dodson for many years owned and operated a successful, trendy antiques and decorator shop on Melrose Avenue. He drove expensive cars and partied with such celebrities as John Belushi. But he became addicted to cocaine and heroin.
To support his drug habit of more than $900 per day, Dodson turned to robbing banks, and proved adept at it, using a starter's pistol, a gentlemanly manner and a broad grin. Dubbed the "Yankee Bandit" for the baseball cap he wore, Dodson was rated by the FBI as the most prolific individual bank robber of his era after he held up 64 banks from July 1983 to February 1984. He robbed six banks on his best day, Nov. 29, 1983, for a total take of about $250,000.
Dodson served 10 years in prison for that episode, and became a landscaper. In 1999, he returned to his old habits and robbed eight banks, averaging $8,500 each time. By then he was unkempt and ill-looking, according to bank surveillance photos, so the FBI labeled him the "Down and Out Bandit." Police followed him to a Fairfax Avenue motel after he carjacked a Mercedes-Benz, and when they arrested him, he reportedly begged, "Kill me! Kill me!"
Dodson served three years in prison and was released in October.