Gwen Kubberness from Criminal’s Genealogy shares this blog as part of our “How I Solved It” series. 

Gwen’s research takes an alternate route into genealogy by studying criminal cases and digs into their backgrounds, sharing what has been discovered regarding her ancestors and their pasts. 

Amil Steven Weller was born in Pittsburgh, PA on 30July 1920 (His daughter said he was born in Rhode Island) to Katherine Stager his father Frank Stager.

His mother came to America from Czechoslovakia, Naturalization record is below. 

Her name Katherina Stager born 6 Jan 1891 in Katenberg, Czechoslovakia, married Frank Stager 10 Aug 1915 in Pittsburgh, PA. He was born in Vienna, Austria 10 Mar 1890. She came to America with the last name Weller. She lists she has four children:  Wilma born 30 Jul 1916, William born 14 Aug 1918, Amil born 30 Jul 1920, Anna born 10 Nov 1923, She states her last name was Weller upon her arrival. She landed in NYC on 1 Feb 1911. 
I could not find a death date for husband. The family left Pennsylvania for Los Angeles, CA in the late 1930′ early 1940’s. She worked with her sister as a housekeeper.

Katherine Stager


I noticed Amil took mom’s name of Weller or she gave him that last name I am not sure where the genealogy confusion of all this starts but I would think since they were all born after her arrival, these children would be Frank Stager unless he died sometime in between and she re-married but I did not find any records. He was alive according to census records in 1930 and 1940. I found a Frank Stager that died in 1971, maybe they divorced. I believe Weller is her maiden name. She knew what she was doing and plotted it from the beginning. I found out from a family member that all the children had her last name of Weller except her son William F Stager. They were all Frank’s children.
I found the oldest child Anna as Anna Weller, she was also indited on the 1943 charges with her Mom and brother and other’s. 
Name: Ann Theresa Duron

[Ann Theresa Stager] 

Social Security #: 568204837

Gender: Female

Birth Date: 10 Nov 1923


Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Death Date: 27 Jun 1996
Death Place: Los Angeles
Mother’s Maiden Name: Weller
Father’s Surname: Stager
Wilma the 2nd child born
Name: Wilma Stager Seeman
[Wilma Morales]
[Wilma Stager]
[Wilma Hampayan]
[Wilma Osborne]
Gender: Female
Race: White
Birth Date: 30 Jul 1916
Birth Place: Pittsburgh A, Pennsylvania
[Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]
Death Date: 5 Oct 1996
Father: Frank Stager
Mother: Katherine Weller
SSN: 557364303
Signature on SSN Card: Wilma Val Seeman
Relationship of Signature: Signature name differs from NH’s name.

Notes: Apr 1945: Name listed as WILMA STAGER SEEMAN; Sep 1961: Name listed as WILMA MORALES; May 1963: Name listed as WILMA STAGER; Jun 1966: Name listed as WILMA S HAMPAYAN; Oct 1966: Name listed as WILMA STAGER OSBORNE; 24 Oct 1996: Name listed as WILMA S OSBORNEBrother: William F Satger He got married to a night club singer June White Ganahl secretly and they got into an argument and she shot him and he died from the wounds. Here’s some newspaper articles I found. 1939





Katherine Weller distraught over her son William’s death
I would guess she was married several times.
As for William I did not find anything on him and I tried both Stager and Weller for last names.


Amil Weller had a hard childhood he entered Whittier Reform School for Burglary and was sentenced for 2 yrs when his term was up he wanted to stay my interpretation of record. 
At age 19 on  4 Apr 1940 was in the Los Angeles County jail California Robbery. He’s sent to San Quentin rec’d 27 Apr 1940. Things from here only grew worse for this poor lad.
San Quentin Prison Card


San Quentin Prison Mugshot Card
 People v. Gilpin
Annotate this Case
[Crim. No. 3290. Second Appellate District. March 14, 1940.]
THE PEOPLE, Respondent, v. THOMAS E. GILPIN et al., Defendants; AMIL S. WELLER, Appellant.
R. H. Smith and P. V. Davis for Appellant.
Earl Warren, Attorney-General, and L. G. Campbell, Deputy Attorney-General, for Respondent.
McComb, J.
From a judgment of guilty of robbery in the first degree after trial before the court without a jury appellant appeals.
Viewing the evidence most favorable to the people, the essential facts are:
February 21, 1939, the complaining witness while in his liquor store at 3415 West Eighth Street, Los Angeles, was robbed of $35 by appellant and another masked man.
Appellant relies for reversal of the judgment upon these propositions:
First: There was no proof of the corpus delicti.
Second: There was no substantial evidence to show appellant’s participation in the crime.
Third: The trial court committed prejudicial error in instructing a codefendant, when called to the witness stand by appellant, of his constitutional right to refuse to testify on the ground that it might tend to incriminate him.
[1] The first proposition is without merit. The complaining witness, Harry Kaplin, testified that on the night of February 21, 1939, at about midnight, two masked men entered his store, located at 3415 West Eighth Street, Los Angeles, and while one pointed a gun at him the other went to the cash register in the store and took $35 from it, after which both men left.
Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another from his person or immediate presence and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear, and when done by a person armed with a deadly weapon is robbery in the first degree. (Secs. 211 and 211a, Pen. Code.) We fail to see wherein there could be clearer evidence of the corpus delicti of the crime of robbery in the first degree than in the instant case.
[2] The second proposition is likewise devoid of merit. Police Officer Tetrick testified that appellant freely and voluntarily, without hope of immunity or promise of reward, [38 Cal. App. 2d 26] confessed to him that he and his codefendant Gilpin had robbed a liquor store. Officer Tetrick took appellant in an automobile and drove out West Eighth Street in the city of Los Angeles. Appellant picked out the complaining witness’ store as the one which they had robbed. This evidence clearly identified appellant as a participant in the crime.
[3] The third proposition is also untenable. At the time of the trial appellant’s codefendant was called to the witness stand and the trial judge explained to him in detail that any testimony which he gave might be used to convict him of the charges which were then pending against him, and advised said defendant of his constitutional rights to refrain from giving testimony that might tend to incriminate him. The trial judge’s statement is a recitation of the constitutional guaranty afforded by the Constitution of the State of California, and certainly error may not be predicated upon the trial judge’s advising a defendant of his rights.
[4] The unsworn statement of Thomas E. Gilpin, which was not received in the trial court and appears for the first time in appellant’s opening brief, cannot be considered by us for any purpose.
For the foregoing reasons the judgment is affirmed
Moore, P. J., and Wood, J., concurred.
San Quentin Prison


San Quentin Prison

He was in and out of prison his whole life then in 1943 he was sentenced to life in prison and I wanted to know the whole story So I put my investigation skills into gear and started searching the internet and newspapers and this is what I found. I was so stunned. Let;s start first with the prison sentence and records.






If you notice while reading through these records it tells you where his mother is and who his partners were. If your not familiar with California prison’s you may miss it. 
His mother is at Tehachapi prison a women’s prison which was fairly new it was constructed in 1932. Before that there were no places for women and they were kept in separate corrodes in  San Quentin. 
Tehachapi  Women’s prison 1932


Tehachapi Women’s prison, they called it a cottage
So why was his mother in prison at the same time he was???
She was the leader of a gang called “House of Fagin Gang” She had her son and some young boys robbing people and places. One boy was only 16 years old. So this is starting to get exciting, Right? Below you can read the newspaper clippings about how crazy this women is, not insane just plain crazy. 











If this isn’t crazy enough Amil was married to Pauline Eldridge 20 years old, she is memtioned in the article below.
House of Fagin Trial Started
LOS ANOELES, Feb. 15.-A 16-year-old confessed bandit and gunman, who admitted shooting a dancehall owner during an attempted holdup, said today that he received less than $3OO for his part in robberies that netted several thousand dollars for a “House of Fagin” gang headed by Mrs. ‘Katherine “Ma” Stager, 52-year-old grandmother. Donald Davidson testified in the trial of Mrs. Stager and three others that he was the triggerman of the gang which committed robberies while Mrs. Stager stayed home and listened to police calls. She kept the small arsenal which they used in robberies and passed out revolvers, automatic pistols and knives when “we pulled jobs,” he said. “We were sent on so many jobs it’s hard to keep them straight,” he said, “but she helped split the money, keeping a large share for herself, and always lighted candles and prayed for our safety when we went out.” Mrs, Stager, her 23-year-old son, Amil Stager, Edwin Easley, 23, and Robert La Plante were named in an eight-count indictment which also named Davidson, but the youth escaped trial when he was turned over to juvenile authorities.
There was a dramatic escape orchestrated by Amil I found a few newspaper clippings but of course the one I really wanted cost extra money.
Then in 1945 his mom come up for parole 
As far as I can tell they both got out of prison I just couldn’t find any dates to confirm it. But Amile gets married in 30 Dec 1959 in Los Angeles, CA so he might have gotten married while in prison. Then the same women and him get married again 2 Nov 1988 in Carson City, Nevada Lucille Lois Vaclavik (1920-1994). 
Amil Weller has 3 known children names will not be revealed . He died 19 Jul 1994 in Coos, Oregon. His mother Katherine dies 13 Oct 1972. They are buried in the same cemetery.
 Lone Mountain Cemetery  Carson City, Carson City, Nevada, USA
His Findagrave Memorial 118968205
                                                    Her Findagrave Memorial 119658805
The boys involved:


Edwin (Joseph Edwin) Easley Jr. born 21 Jul 1920 in California to Joseph Edwin Easley Sr. (1897-1945) & Marine I Martin (1901-)

1931-1933 He was committed to Whittier State Industrial School
1937-1938 He was committed to Preston State Industrial School
Both in California.

At some point he joined the US. Marines I did not find a record.
He did have a tattoo of a dagger & emblem with these word “Death Before Dishonor” 

Terminal Island Prison



I think he may have deserted because he was placed in a Federal Prison called Terminal Island in California Inmate #1353 on 6 Mar 1940 this written on record. N.M.V.T.A. got 18 months then he was transferred  to El Reno, OK 24 May 1940 Inmate #7457 He violated parole 5 Nov 1941 and was discharged on 5 Jan 1942.
He had 2 alias “”Eddie O’Brien” & John Law”

He died on 14 Apr 1995 in Reno, Nevada

He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery  Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, USA  Findagrave Memorial # 122078833

I do not know when he was released or if he ever married or had children he was only 23 years old when he was in the “House of Fagin Gang” and convicted of Murder, Kidnapping and Burglary. 
FBI #1594390
Folsom Prison Record




If you look at his mugshots you will notice how young and innocent he was to how hard he became.
San Quentin Prison


San Quentin Priosn
San Quentin prison Record
Robert LaPLant born 20 Dec 1920 in Oklahoma to John Louis LaPlant (1898-1955) & Margaret Johnson (1901-1989).
He was in the U.S. Navy from 1931-1935
2 Apr 1938 Robbery 6 yrs San Quentin Inmate # 61762 Paroled 19 Dec 1940.
Rec’d San Quentin Inmate # 61762 27 Feb 1942
Parole Violation Rec’d 27 May 1942 Folsom Inmate # 24214 he was transferred to San Quentin 8 May 1946 Inmate # 24214
He was married at the time of his last prison sentence she is listed as nearest relative and her address. It doesn’t have her full name just Mrs. LaPlant.
At the time he was a part of the “House of Fagin Gang” he was 24 years old.





FBI #148072
I found a photo of his parents & on of his mother who was a nurse
John Louis LaPlant & Margaret Johnson


Margartet Johnson-LaPlant


Robert LaPlant died 12 Apr 1970 in Solano, CA 
He is buried Sunny Lane Cemetery  Del City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Findagrave Memorial 171453360
Donald Donaldson was only 15 at the time born about 1929 and had escaped from a Utah Reform School, I found nothing else about him after this ordeal.
Katherine Stager was 52 years old at the time of this trail. She was a very dominate women. Her children all taking her last name over her husband’s is odd. Instead of being a good role model to the youth involved she was their ring leader. She must of ruled the roost in her dwelling. I wonder what her husband would of said if he had been alive.  
This gives a whole new meaning to me when it comes to a Life Sentence. I believe none of them died in prison and they all at some point got out.
The Victim:
William Lederer was 63 years old married and had a son. He owned a Dance Hall and was killed for $7,700 he was taking to a safety box vault. He had just sold it.
The only person that felt a genuine guilt of any kind was Donald Donaldson. He could of gotten away with this crime, the police had no idea who did it. He broke down gave himself up and felt horrible through the whole ordeal crying often. Some of said he is the same person as Easley I disagree, none of his alias come up as that, plus several newspaper clippings say he was 15 at the time of the shooting and 16 during the trial, Easley was older than that.
William Lederer was buried at Home of Peace Memorial Park  East Los Angeles,  Findagrave Memorial # 156633630
This story started out with me finding a prison card with murder on it and I felt I needed to know more. I sure did. I feel horrible for William and his family and I don’t want to seem brass. I also feel bad for some of these boys being  corrupted even more than they were by a grown women who should of been a better influence on them. These boys were already broken in some way. Then there’s her own son, why would you use him in that manner? 
In writing this story I ended up with more questions than answers. I got to chat with a granddaughter and she was delightful. 

I hope someone from Tru Tv can do a story on this or it’s turned into a movie. It would be truly wonderful. There is so much more to it.
If you have a story idea or a blog that you’d like to share as part of this series, please let us know about it in the comments.
Gwen Kubberness
Gwen has been doing genealogy for 30 years. Her Great Aunt Ella introduced her to this fascinating adventure when she was a teenager and boy did she get hooked. Great Aunt Ella inspired and taught her the importance of her roots and where she came from. She is proud to be a genealogist. Gwen also has a criminal justice degree so the detective in her just has to search for all those treasure's out there. She has four daughters & nine grandchildren to leave this legacy too. She can research almost anything and loves to write, someday she will finish her novel about a slave girl and a ghost. It may never get published and that's ok. She will leave it for her grandchildren, they will love that. She collect strange things like old telegrams, prison mug shots, wanted posters, missing person posters, anything old and seems to gravitate to it. Her genealogy is somewhat complicated because her dad was adopted so he has two trees, she found his biological mom but she had already passed and they found out he had 5 1/2 sister's looking for him. His mom didn't them until she was on her death bed. They may never know who his biological father is, unless she can get him to take his DNA, he's 85 yrs old so they best be moving on this adventure soon. At age 52, she is still looking for her dream job maybe Tru Tv (Court Tv) will hire her, or maybe she can be a genealogist to the stars in Hollywood? No matter as she loves what she does.You are never too old to have dreams Visit Gwen's Website
Gwen Kubberness

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