They shot at cops! The sister’s a stripper! It’s like Bonnie and Clyde! These were the irresistible beats of the media’s giddy coverage of one of the most bizarre crime sprees in recent memory. GQ’sKathy Dobie retraces the eight-day, fifteen-state, AK-47-inclusive journey of Ryan, Dylan, and Lee-Grace Dougherty, and discovers that the siblings’ saga is even weirder than you thought. Below, an especially entertaining section from Dobie’s story; the whole thing is here.
PASCO SIBLINGS SOUGHT IN SHOOTING ALSO WANTED IN GEORGIA BANK HEIST. By the evening of August 4, the FBI had issued a press release stating that the three Georgia bank robbers and the three Zephyrhills shooters were one and the same. The image of a gun-toting, bank-robbing trio of siblings hit reporters like a shot of Jack Daniel’s; it was exhilarating; it was old-school. DOUGHERTY GANG ON THE LAM! Lee-Grace made the biggest splash. “A gun-toting stripper—what’s not to like?” asked one commenter. A series of X-rated photographs she had taken for some guys who ran an illegitimate poker club where she gave lap dances later found their way into the public domain, most likely with a price tag.
Chris Nocco, the Pasco County sheriff, appeared on Good Morning America, Inside Edition, CNN, and Fox News, addressing some of his comments to law enforcement: “Remember, if you engage them you’ll be going into a battle. But I promise you, we will win.”
As news of the siblings’ escapades reached the carpenters who worked with both brothers at Carpenter Contractors of America, most of them fingered Dylan as the mastermind. Mike Young, who knew Dylan first, and then Ryan when Ryan was “just a little jitterbug” learning the trade, says, “Dylan was always the go-getter. He’s got that I’m-the-leader, this-is-how-we’re-gonna-do-it attitude, and Ryan, because of brotherly love, he always just followed along.”
Dylan had a reputation for being hot-tempered and crazy strong. He liked collecting and shooting guns, riding his motorcycle, drinking whiskey, smoking weed. On construction sites, you could hear his voice clear across the street; he was always bantering, pontificating, philosophizing. The foreman would say, “Don’t you ever shut up?” But Dylan could motivate the guys on the meanest, hottest day.
Ryan often told friends how glad he was to have a brother like Dylan, “someone I can look up to, someone who’s got my back.” Both boys loved to drive fast, and Dylan would take his Honda out on weekends, pushing the speedometer as far as he could, more than once tapping out at 196 miles an hour. He didn’t stop for cops; that was the rule, almost the game. They couldn’t catch him, so why pull over? At CCA, the foreman would often joke: “The only people who can kill Ryan and Dylan are Ryan and Dylan.”
A couple of days after the bank robbery, the siblings’ mother, Barbara Bell, made a brief televised appeal to her children to turn themselves in: “Lee-Grace, Dylan, and Ryan, only Mom knows what good people you are inside. Please prove me right and everybody wrong by doing the right thing now and turning yourselves in.”
Barbara’s last contact with the kids had been on the Monday of Ryan’s court appearance. On the way home from court, he had texted her a number of times:
"You can give up or stand up and fight what do you think your son will do I’m gonna go out with my boots tied and stand up for what’s right."
When his mother texted him not to do anything stupid or crazy and get himself hurt, he wrote her back: “There’s a time for all of us to die”.