Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

John Vogel

Real Name: John Bryson Vogel
Aliases: J. Johnson, J. Stewart, Robert Timmers
Wanted For: Counterfeiting, Drug Smuggling
Missing Since: January 17, 1995


Details: On January 12, 1995, fifty-two-year-old John Vogel went to shipping office in Brownsville, Texas, and sent a package to his business office in Minnesota. The shipping clerk became suspicious when she asked Vogel about what he was shipping. He asked her what he had written on the form. She told him that he had written "clothes". He responded "That's right, clothes". This made the clerk believe that he was shipping drugs, as the town borders with Mexico. After he left, she contacted U.S. Customs Officials.
A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to inspect the package. The dog confirmed the presence of narcotics. They had the package sent to Minnesota where local investigators inspected it. Inside the package, they found some pieces of men's clothing along with two aerosol containers with fake bottoms. Inside the containers were about four grams of cocaine and thirty-eight $100 bills. Also in the container were strips of test print, often used in counterfeiting; the print reflects the treasury seal and serial numbers. Investigators had discovered one of the biggest counterfeiting operations on record.
Investigators looked into Vogel's past and discovered that he had served time for a 1986 armed bank robbery. He had been captured only after a violent, high-speed chase. After his parole in 1991, he operated a small printing business just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Federal investigators put his cocaine and counterfeit bills back in the package. It was then taken to Vogel's business, delivered by an undercover Secret Service agent. Shortly after the delivery, Vogel was arrested and his business was searched. Large quantities of counterfeit bills were found.
Investigators also searched a storage locker that Vogel had rented. In the locker, they found 196,116 counterfeit bills. The money added up to over $19 million. He had been printing the bills since his release in 1991. Investigators believe that he learned how to do counterfeiting while in prison, as he was assigned to the printing industry.
Investigators had caught Vogel just in time; although he had created millions of dollars of fake bills, he had only circulated $50,000 worth. He had spent his fake money in at least half of the United States. On January 17, 1995, he was released on a personal recognizance. He promptly disappeared and has not been seen since.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 12, 1995 episode.
Results: Captured. On July 12, 1995, the FBI, working on a tip, ended up in a high-speed chase attempting to catch Vogel after he had robbed a bank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Eventually, Vogel drove off the side of the road into a ditch near Rushmore, Minnesota and committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death officially ended one of the most extensive counterfeiting investigations in U.S. history.
Vogel's daughter Jennifer later wrote a book about his life and criminal history.