Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. On the morning of June 17,a mass murder committed in front of Union Railway Station in Kansas City, Missouri shocked the American public into a new consciousness of the serious crime problems in the nation. At the time, Nash was in the custody of several law enforcement officers who were returning him to the U.
Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, from which he had escaped on October 19, He was later pardoned. Inhe was given a year sentence at the same penitentiary for burglary with explosives and later pardoned. On March 3,Nash began a year sentence at the U. Penitentiary at Leavenworth for assaulting a mail custodian.
He escaped on October 19, Evidence gathered by the FBI indicated that Nash had assisted in the escape of seven prisoners from the U. Penitentiary at Leavenworth on December 11, Keating, Thomas Holden, and several other well-known gunmen who had participated in a of bank robberies throughout the Midwest. Information gained by the FBI as a result of the apprehension of these two indicated that Nash was receiving protection from his underworld contacts in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was due to arrive there at a. Before leaving, the lawmen made arrangements for Reed E.
Meanwhile, a of outlaw friends of Nash had heard of his capture in Hot Springs. They learned the time of the scheduled arrival of Nash and his captors in Kansas City and made plans to free him. On their way to Kansas City, Floyd and Richetti had been detained at Bolivar, Missouri early on the morning of the 16th, when the car in which they were riding became disabled.
While the two were waiting in a local garage for the necessary repairs to the car, Sheriff Jack Killingsworth entered the building. Richetti, who immediately recognized the sheriff, seized a machine gun and held the sheriff and the garage attendants against the wall. Floyd drew two. Floyd and Richetti then transferred their arsenal into another automobile and ordered the sheriff to enter that vehicle.
The two, along with their prisoner, then drove to Deepwater, Missouri, abandoned that automobile, and commandeered another. After releasing the sheriff, they arrived in Kansas City about p. There Floyd and Richetti abandoned that automobile and stole another car to which they transferred their baggage and firearms. Finally, that same night, they met Miller and went with him to his home.
There Miller told them of his plan to free Frank Nash.
There they took up their positions to await the arrival of Nash and his captors. Upon the arrival of the train in Kansas City, Agent Lackey went to the loading platform, leaving Smith, Reed, and Nash in a stateroom of the train. Caffrey and Officers W. These men surveyed the area surrounding the platform and saw nothing that aroused their suspicion.
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Special Agent in Charge Vetterli advised Agent Lackey that he and Caffrey had brought two cars to Union Station and that the cars were parked immediately outside. At the time, both Agent Lackey and Chief Reed were armed with shotguns. Other officers carried pistols. Frank Nash walked through Union Station with the above-mentioned seven officers.
Frank Nash was handcuffed throughout the trip from the train to the Chevrolet, which was parked directly in front of the east entrance of Union Station. Agent Caffrey unlocked the right door of the Chevrolet.
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When the door was opened, Nash started to get into the back seat; however, Agent Lackey told Nash to get into the front of the car. Agent Smith sat beside him in the center of the back; and Chief Reed sat beside Smith in the right rear seat.
Special Agent in Charge Vetterli stood with Officers Hermanson and Grooms at the right side near the front of the car. Looking in the direction of this Plymouth, Agent Lackey saw two men run from behind a car. He noticed that both men were armed. At least one of them had a machine gun.
Officers Grooms and Hermanson immediately fell to the ground. They were dead. Special Agent in Charge Vetterli—who was standing beside Office Grooms and Hermanson—was shot in the left arm and dropped to the ground. He had been fatally wounded in the head.
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Agents Lackey and Smith were able to survive the massacre by falling forward in the back seat of the Chevrolet. Lackey was struck and seriously wounded by three bullets. Smith was unscathed. Just then a Kansas City policeman emerged from Union Station and began firing in the direction of one of the killers, later identified as Floyd, who slumped briefly but continued to run.
The killers entered the car which sped westward out of the parking area and disappeared. They were uncertain if three or four gunmen staged the assault.
From theirit was apparent that the two Kansas City Police Officers were killed immediately, followed seconds later by Frank Nash and Chief Reed and then by Agent Caffrey, who was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. The FBI immediately initiated an investigation to identify and apprehend the gunmen. The investigation developed evidence that the scheme was carried out by Vernon C. Miller, Adam C. Vernon C. He had enlisted in the U.
Army during World War I and received extensive training as a machine gunner. Following his release from the Army, he appeared at Huron, South Dakota, where he told stories of his heroism in the war. He also demonstrated to city officials that he was a crack shot, following which he was elected to the position of policeman in Two years later, he was elected sheriff and was renominated for the position. Before the election, however, he disappeared and entered a life of crime.
Miller then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and Chicago, where he began his association with underworld gangs.
Miller was reported to have been a hired gunman for Louis Buchalter early in his crime career. Following the Kansas City Massacre, Miller—accompanied by a girlfriend, Vivian Mathias—traveled to Chicago and reportedly arrived there on or about June 19, For a few days, he hid out with a member of the Barker-Karpis gang. From there Miller reportedly went to New York.
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The next day, he escaped a trap set for him there by the FBI. However, Mathias was taken into custody and later pleaded guilty to charges of harboring and concealing Miller. He had been beaten and strangled. Louis, Missouri Police Department on September 16, for highway robbery.
He pleaded guilty to that charge on December 8,was sentenced to the State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri, and released on March 7, Two days later, on March 9,he was arrested by the Kansas City Police Department for investigation and on May 6,for vagrancy and suspicion of highway robbery. In both instances, he was released.
On May 20,Floyd was arrested by the Toledo, Ohio Police Department on a bank robbery charge and on November 24,was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary. Floyd escaped enroute to the penitentiary and was a fugitive when he became involved in the Kansas City Massacre.
Adam C. Richetti, about 23 years old at the time of the Kansas City Massacre, began his criminal career with an arrest in Hammond, Indiana on August 7, for a holdup. Richetti was sentenced from one to 10 years in the State Reformatory, Pendleton, Indiana, for that crime.
He was paroled on October 2, and discharged from the parole on September 23, His next arrest occurred on March 9, at Sulphur, Oklahoma for bank robbery; he subsequently served a sentence at the State Penitentiary, McAlester, Oklahoma from April 5, to August 25,when he was released and placed on bond which he forfeited. From there the four traveled to Buffalo, New York. Ed Brennan, rented an apartment in that city. The other occupants of the apartment building considered the two couples very mysterious inasmuch as they seldom left the apartment, then usually for brief visits to the grocery store.
During their occupancy, Floyd reportedly walked from the front to the rear of the apartment almost constantly, an activity that caused much curiosity on the part of the other building occupants. The two couples never visited with any of their neighbors, though they were friendly toward the neighborhood children who sometimes were permitted to enter the apartment.