HOUSTON (AP) -- Lon Perry -- college graduate, veteran, computer programmer -- was out of work for the second time in a decade. His house payment was overdue. Taxes were unpaid. His daughter was pregnant, his son in college.
Perry briefly considered suicide, but eventually settled on crime.
So began his career as the solicitous "Gentleman Bandit," a two-year spree of some 100 robberies in Texas and Louisiana that ended when Perry -- a gentleman to the end -- surrendered yesterday rather than see an innocent man go to jail.
Perry, 49, of Spring, said he turned to robbery in May 1989 but intended the streak to last "for a short period to sustain the family financially until an opportune occasion to take my life presented itself."
"My demeanor during the course of the robberies was to show the utmost courtesy to the victims, reassure them that I was not there to harm them, and make them as comfortable as possible during my stay and after my exit," Perry said in a seven-page statement released by his lawyers.
Most of the victims were businessmen staying at hotels. The bandit brandished a gun -- Perry said it was a .22-caliber pistol with a frozen hammer -- and demanded cash.
The bandit, who wore a suit, once called an ambulance for a victim who suffered a heart attack during the robbery. He also called a few victims at home to see if they had recovered from the ordeal, authorities said.
"Also, there were many occasions when a potential victim would say something to me that would touch my heart, and I would not be able to rob him," Perry said.
He surrendered after working out a deal in which he will plead guilty to two aggravated robbery charges in exchange for a 35-year prison term, with parole possible after about 8 1/2 years. Perry remained jailed today.
Police hope to clear dozens of cases because Perry kept records of the crimes by collecting identification from his victims in the hope that he could repay them someday.
Perry turned himself in after Michael Harvey of Cibolo was arrested and jailed in the spree June 28.
"Under no circumstances would I let Mr. Harvey go to prison for something I did," Perry said.
Perry had invented a night job to explain his absences -- and the source of income -- to his family.
"He just couldn't leave me with all those bills so far behind so that's why he started and then he was going to do away with himself," said his wife, Judy.