THE TRUE STORY OF GEORGE EMIL BANKS
Beginning to an End
George Emil Banks was born on June 22, 1942. Born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, he was the son of a white woman and a black man. Banks parents never married and the racial mix seemed to torment him throughout his life. He was educated at St. Marys Catholic School, where he was an underachiever, despite having been tested with an IQ of 121. George believed that he was shunned and abused by both whites and blacks throughout his childhood because of his bi-racial status.
Ive dealt with racial cowards all my life. A lot of things happened during that time, said Banks referring to his childhood. There was this kid named Bones who punched me in the back of the head and kept harassing me just to see if I had enough nerve to fight, Banks stated.
According to Banks, his problems seemed to get worse as he grew older. During his late teens, racist problems amplified and Banks felt he was constantly harassed. In 1959, I almost got lynched for drinking a soda and eating a doughnut on a sidewalk.
While in his early twenties, George saw the military as a possible way of escaping his troubled youth and signed up for a tour of duty in the United States Army. This dream, however, was short lived as he was discharged just two years later in 1961 because he couldn't get along with the officers. Following his general discharge from the Army, Banks life continued on a downward spiral.
During the early morning hours of September 9, 1961, Banks and two accomplices attempted to rob the Brazil and Roche bar on Pittston Avenue in south Scranton. The crime was doomed from the start. Saloonkeeper Thomas Roche was doing some late night work at the tavern. When confronted by the assailants, Roche refused to cooperate. Angered, Banks pulled out a pistol, shot Roche directly in the chest and fled empty-handed with his two accomplices. Shortly after the tavern robbery, the Wilkes-Barre and Kingston police apprehended the suspects. For his part in the crime, Banks earned a sentence of six-to-fifteen years in prison. He was sent to the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Graterford, Pennsylvania to serve his time.
In March of 1964, Banks escaped SCI Graterford while on farm detail. Apprehended just three hours later, George received an additional term of one and one-half to five years for the escape. Paroled on March 28, 1969, after serving seven and one-half years behind bars, Banks was now a free man. Following his release, Banks held a number of jobs and married long-time friend Doris Jones, a black woman with whom he had two daughters.
In 1971, Banks acquired a position as a technician with the bureau of Water Quality of the State Department of Environmental Resources (DER) regional office in Wilkes-Barre. The job was the most notable one George had ever held and paid quite well. Banks filed a request in 1974 for commutation of the maximum term of his sentence. Former Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp granted the release, thereby ending Banks days on parole.
Perpetual domestic arguments and continued infidelity on Georges part caused him and his wife to separate in 1976. Doris took the children and moved to Ohio. Surprisingly, it was George not Doris who filed for the couples ultimate divorce.