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welcome to Kansas City

June 19, 2012

I’m continuing to have problems downloading photos onto the blog, so let me tell you a

story for which I have no pics.  I referred to it recently in a post about my grandson Sean

and I traveling through Kansas City.

 

Frank “Jelly” Nash was a career criminal specializing in bank robberies.  He may have

knocked off as many as 200.  He was often described as friendly and charming, although

one of his partners in crime, Nollie Wortman, might have taken exception.  Nash killed

Wortman after a heist.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Oklahoma in 1913.  Five

years later he convinced the warden that he wanted to rejoin the Army to fight in World

War I.

 

He chose to serve his country by committing more crimes, however.  He returned to

prison in Oklahoma in 1920 for a 25-year-stretch, but got out two years later.  This guy

really was a charmer.  Two years after that, he started another quarter-century stretch

at the federal pen in Leavenworth, Kansas.  He escaped in 1930, prompting an intensive

search throughout the U.S. and much of Canada.

 

He didn’t go very far.  In 1931, he helped seven other prisoners escape from Leavenworth.

Two years after that, FBI learned that two of Nash’s colleagues had been arrested in Kansas

City.  They revealed that Nash was hiding out in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Agents Frank Smith

and F. Joseph Lackey, along with McAlester, Oklahoma, Police Chief Otto Reed found him

there.

 

The trio drove Nash to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and boarded a train for Kansas City.  Word of

Nash’s arrest reached more of his colleagues, including Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd.  When

the train arrived in the morning, Smith, Lackey and Reed were joined by two more FBI agents,

R. E. Verletti and Raymond J. Caffrey, and two Kansas City policemen, W. J. Grooms and

Frank Hermanson.

 

As the seven lawmen moved Nash into a car in front of Union Station, three gunmen opened

fire on them.  Grooms, Hermanson, Reed, Caffrey and Nash were killed.  It was first thought

that the gunmen killed all of them, but it later came out that Agent Lackey, who had borrowed

a shotgun from Chief Reed, killed Nash, Reed and the policemen by firing the shotgun in the

vehicle.

 

Because of the massacre, FBI agents were authorized to make arrests and carry weapons,

including Thompson submachine guns.  Floyd, Vernon Miller and Adam Richetti were sought

out for planning the shootout.  Miller’s mutilated body was found five months later.  Richetti

was convicted exactly two years after the incident.  He was executed in 1935.

 

“Pretty Boy” Floyd had his own personal shootout with the FBI in Ohio in 1934, shortly after

agents were allowed to have firearms.  With his dying breath, Floyd denied being involved

in the Union Station slaughter.  Evidence has since surfaced that supports his claim.

 

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