It was a pair of gloves that brought the culprit down.
The following information, which was provided by Judy Hinnergardt, comes from an account by Hiram T. Burr and the March 31, 1910 issue of the Dodge City Globe Republican.
The night of March 29, 1910 was a windy and stormy one. The disappearance of $3,300 mostly in $20 gold pieces from the home of Fred Baeder added to the turbulence of the evening. That $3,300 would be worth almost $90,000 in today's money.
The burglar got away with a fireproof messenger safe which the A.T. & S.F. Railway had used to transport valuables. Baeder had hidden the safe inside a wall in his home on East Chestnut.
The criminal obviously gave this crime a lot of planning and effort. He strategically placed a wheelbarrow outside the home to haul the safe away. Then he simply walked through a door on Baeder's front porch and entered the cellar.
With an auger, he expertly drilled 26 holes in a square shape forming a hole through which he drug the safe and placed it into the wheelbarrow.
After removing the heavy metal lockbox from the residence to nearby ditch, he enjoyed the luxury of time and distance to attempt to remove its valuable contents by making a hole into it with a pick. Here the thief made a big error.
The hole was jagged and he scratched his hands in his eagerness to remove the contents. And apparently his efforts proved unsuccessful.
The next day, John Wells, a carpenter and real estate man, attended a land action wearing canvas gloves.
Being a warm day, this odd behavior did not escape the attention of City Marshal John Madden. Upon questioning by Madden, Wells stated his hands were cold. Madden didn't buy this explanation so he took Wells to the office of Dr. Walter F. Pine.
When Pine removed the gloves he noticed the scratches on Wells' hands which Wells explained he got by chopping wood. Madden, still not buying this, went to the hotel Wells was staying at and found out he was having trouble paying his rent and had indeed been gone during the time of the burglary.
And the manner in which the safe was removed from the residence indicated the burglar had a knowledge of carpentry - Wells' line of work.
With this evidence Madden arrested Wells who vehemently protested his innocence.
In the meantime, Fred Baeder had offered a $500 reward for the recovery of his $3,300. Many people searched, including lawmen, H.B. Bell, who found the safe with the money inside in a ditch where Dodge City Brewing is today.
Bell, who didn't get along with Madden, simply removed his $500 reward and deposited the rest of the loot into the Bank of Commerce.
It looks like things ended poorly for John Wells. A document in Boot Hill Museum's collection is a June 23, 1910 receipt to H.B. Bell and W.J. Caster from Kansas State Penitentiary, Lansing for the bodies of two prisoners, Stray Waddell and John Wells.