On February 16, 2013, The Needham Channel and The Needham Historical Society will be presenting a new documentary called The Millen-Faber Gang at Powers Hall in the Town Hall. The film was produced and directed by Derick Risner, a local film maker and volunteer at The Needham Channel.
The film follows the story of the three men who robbed The Needham Trust Company on February 2, 1934 and killed two Needham police officers. The bank robbery was historic, as it not only was the first and only time Needham officers were killed in the line of duty, but also the first machine gun murder in Massachusetts history. “To this day, I think if people know one thing about Needham history, the one thing they know tends to be the bank robbery,” says Gloria Greis, Director of the Needham Historical Society. “People know stuff about it. They may not know the details or the complete story, but it is something that people are aware of as part of the local history in a way that a lot of other local history events are not.”
Despite the robbery being so well remembered, the story of the Millen-Faber gang is relatively unknown. Abraham Faber, Murton Millen and his younger brother Irving grew up in Roxbury, MA. Abe and Murton were both born in 1909 and attended school together through high school. In 1927, Faber graduated from Boston English High School and was accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1931, he graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
Though Abe and Murton did not know each other well in their school days, they met again after 5 years apart and they struck up an unusual friendship. “Faber was a cerebral type of guy,” says Wayne Urquhart, a former Needham police sergeant and prosecutor. “Murt was very athletic and I think he was somewhat of a bully. He was a tough guy. He was a fellow that was very macho and he, I think, had a chip on his shoulder.”
Murton, along with his brother Irving, had both been truck drivers for rum runners during prohibition. They had also committed several petty crimes together, usually of gas stations and grocery stores.
After becoming friends with Murton, Faber became frustrated with his inability to find work. He blamed society for not being able to provide him with the dream job he so desperately wanted. In the summer of 1933 Faber joined with Murton and Irving to form a “business organization” with the sole purpose of making money. Over the next six months they caused havoc in Massachusetts with their bold and deadly robberies and left police baffled as to their identity. Their quest for riches and glory would eventually bring them to the streets of Needham on February 2, 1934.
This is Derick Risner’s first film. He has been a volunteer at The Needham Channel since October, 2009. He has been an integral part of many TNC productions including the Needham Channel News, Inside Talk, Clelia’s Cucina Italiana and their sports programs. He has been making this film over the past two years. In the of spirit last year’s documentary, “Big Little Town”, Derick hopes to bring light to a fascinating crime saga that has been relatively unknown until now.
The February 16th event kicks off at 3pm and is free and open to the public. Seating is limited to the first 250 people to attend. The program will subsequently make its debut on the Needham Channel. For further information on this documentary, email producer Derick Risner at firstname.lastname@example.org.