Suburban Family Turns to a Life of Crime

To pay the bills, Scott Catt resorts to robbing banks, eventually recruiting his children.
9:17 | 12/28/14

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Transcript for Suburban Family Turns to a Life of Crime
tonight here, a father, son and daughter who weren't home for the holidays this year. As we come on the air tonight, they are all behind bars. It's all in the family. Locked up after that father asked his children to do the unthinkable. He convinced them to rob banks with him. And tonight, they're all telling all about their disguises, the guns and the getaway cars they used. And "20/20" goes one-on-one with that father, as Matt Gutman looks him straight in the eye and asks, how could you turn your only children into criminals? It's an all in the family crime spree. That's dad in a mask and son in a fake mustache. Reporter: It was a family affair all right. A father on an outing with his two kids, but they weren't out for fast food. They were hungry for a fast buck. These three, the Catt family, didn't look like the typical jailbirds in the FBI's most wanted list. Nope, they looked like they belonged in your church group, the balding dad, his pimpled son and the pretty blonde sister, still a high school senior. But apparently, the family that stayed together robbed together. Have you ever seen anything like this? In my 20-plus years in law enforcement, I haven't, Matt, a family, a bank robber. Reporter: If news of daddy's misdeeds bewildered local cops and journalists, it blew away their own family members. Horrible. Horrible. How can I wrap my brain around this? The fact is they pointed guns at people. That's terrifying to me. My little nephew, who has the sweetest heart, has been turned into that. It's just -- it's sad. So sad. Reporter: How could this have happened? We spent 13 months piecing together this story, talking to every major character. It begins where it ends, with dad, Scott Catt. We met the father of this felonious family here. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Reporter: Behind two inches of glass at the ft. Bend county jail in Texas. It's just shocking to me because I've never been in trouble before. Reporter: That would be the first of many lies he would tell us. Back then, we couldn't have known this tale would have more twists than a knotted rope, especially given how Catt started life, with a homemaker mom and a dad who worked at the local bank. Good student? He was a football star. Reporter: Everyone, especially his mom, remembers him being so likable. Scott, he was so much fun, great sense of humor, always wanted to make us laugh. Reporter: Scott Catt fell in love and married his high school sweetheart Beth, a champion swimmer. She called him her handsome cowboy. What was Beth like? Beth? Oh, very, very loving, good mommy, terrific mother. Reporter: Seemed like they had it all. They really did. Reporter: He became a structural engineer. And the all-american family settled into a four-bedroom house with a front porch tucked into Oregon's wine country. They both had great jobs. They both had great cars. They had the two kids. They had the dog. Everything that you work so hard to do. Reporter: Money, family, love. Scott and Beth had everything until Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer when daughter Abby was just a baby. The only memory I have of my mom, she was on a bright Orange stretcher being carried down the stairs, and I remember her face. Reporter: So your first memory of your mother, your only memory, is one of her being carried away on a stretcher? Yeah. That's all. But I -- I hold onto it maybe as a good thing. Reporter: Because it would be the only thing she had. Beth Catt would die at the age of 32, leaving behind 4-year-old Hayden and 2-year-old Abby. Suddenly, Scott Catt was a widower, a single dad with toddlers. How did you deal with it personally? I didn't deal with it. Reporter: You were in denial? Completely. I was in denial about not needing help, about grieving, about depression, about my ability to raise them by myself. You know, I started drinking heavily. Reporter: What does heavily mean? Well, a fifth a day. A fifth of vodka or jack Daniel's a day. Reporter: That's a lot of booze. That's a lot of booze. Reporter: While dad was drowning his sorrows, the kids were thriving in the pool. The star swimmers were also decent students. And when he was sober, their dad was the proud president of the swim club. And the kids idolized him. He was my best friend for a long time. Reporter: He was a whole lot of fun, loved water parks and disneyland almost as much as the kids. We'd all be on the ride together. It was just fun. We're all screaming and yelling. And he went on all the rides with us. And that -- that's cool. Reporter: So cool that he was really more a friend than a parent. There wasn't really a disciplinarian. I mean, there was no one there hounding us to do homework or keep up our grades. I knew it wasn't Normal, but to me, it was my Normal. Reporter: Abby and Hayden, by this time young teenagers, soon realized dad was fun, but they could only rely on each other. We were very close. My sister's the only consistent thing I've had my whole life, and I'm -- I'm the only consistent thing that she's had, too. Well, my brother is my best friend. He was basically the only one that was there for me. I can just look at her and know what's on her mind, what she's worried about. Reporter: What Scott's kids worried about most? Their dad's drinking. I lied to them about it. I told them I was going to quit, I didn't. But I did do quite a bit behind their back. Reporter: And some of it in plain sight. There were arrests, there was brawling, disorderly conduct and a new, more expensive vice, cocaine, he says. I'd say probably three, four grams a week. Reporter: And the kids often found themselves assuming the roles of parents. There was times when on my lunch break in school, that I was going to pay the light bill. And I picked up his clothes from the dry cleaner's. Reporter: Scott partied away their savings. They went bankrupt. They lost their home. The lights went out. For a fresh start, and Scott says, a new job, Catt traded the Oregon greenery for this scenery, an apartment in a Houston suburb with a whole lot of banks nearby. Money was tight, and I was really depressed. And, you know, I had complained to him saying, you know, if we didn't have to worry about money, there wouldn't be any of this stress or any of these negative things happening in our life. Reporter: Now at this point, most parents would urge their kids to earn money the old fashioned way, with a job. Scott Catt offered a job, all right. A bank job. And a career of crime. That's when he approached me and said, "Would you be willing to do something to get some money more illegal than selling drugs?" And I said yes. Reporter: So, you're 18 years old. You need money. Your father says, "I have a plan to rob a bank." Shouldn't your first reaction be, "Are you crazy?" Looking back on it, I can't believe that wasn't my first reaction to say, "Are you insane?" Reporter: Why did you go along with it so easily? I had a real struggle. I knew it was wrong, but I was really motivated by the money. The night before the first bank I was supposed to rob with him, I had kind of a panic attack all night, deciding, do I want to go down this path of evil, or is this not for me? Reporter: Ultimately, Hayden Catt would agree to walk down that path of evil. He really wanted my help. In his mind, two people could be much more successful at it. Reporter: But maybe a third would even be better, and there was just one Catt left to choose. Scott told Hayden to talk to his sister into joining their gang. She was a high school senior, just three months shy of graduating. My dad sent my brother to ask me. Reporter: Your dad sent your brother to ask you -- Yeah. Reporter: To rob banks with them? Yeah. And then the next day, my dad just basically laid it all out. You know, "I'll buy you a new car and I'll get you an apartment." Reporter: Could you have asked, "Well, why don't you just give me the money? Why do I have to be a bank robber with you?" No, I never asked. I mean, it was just, in some way, I was led on, like, this is how I protect them. And these are the only people I have. Reporter: Now, son and daughter say this is when they crossed over to the criminal side. A plan was in motion. The mark, the comerica bank, just down the block. The morning of the first bank, I asked my dad, you know, "Are you the devil here to tempt me?" And his answer's what really scared me. He said, "Yeah, probably. I'm asking you to rob a bank." Reporter: So, he knew, full well, the world he was bringing you into. The biggest point he made to me was the plan for all the details. Reporter: The details would've been what you've seen in the movies, the fake mustaches, fake guns, in the hopes of getting real cash. But what the kids were really banking on was beginner's luck. I was actually shaking so bad that the employees grabbed the bag and started throwing money in for me. Reporter: The family robberies, what could possibly go wrong? When we come back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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