He probably never uttered those now famous words,“Don’t Shoot G-Men, Don’t Shoot.”
But George “Machine Gun” Kelly—really, George Kelly Barnes—earned a notorious place in FBI history after kidnapping a wealthy oil magnate in 1933 and being associated with that phrase.
Following the abduction, the Bureau coordinated a multi-state investigation, drawing investigative information from its own field offices as well as from other police sources, as it identified and tracked down the gangster, his wife, and their criminal colleagues across the country.
At 11:15 p.m., on Saturday, July 22, 1933, Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Urschel, one of Oklahoma’s wealthiest couples, were playing bridge with their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Jarrett, on a screened porch of the Urschel residence at Oklahoma City.
Two men, one armed with a machine gun and the other with a pistol, opened the screen door and inquired which of the two men was Mr. Urschel. Receiving no reply, they remarked, “Well, we will take both of them.”
After warning the women against calling for help, they marched Urschel and Jarrett to where they had driven their car, put them into the back of the Chevrolet sedan, and drove rapidly away.
Mrs. Urschel, in accordance with the attorney general’s advice to the public, immediately telephoned J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI. Special agents were sent to Oklahoma City, where an extensive investigation commenced.
At 1:00 a.m., Sunday, July 23, 1933, Jarrett made his way back to the Urschel residence. The victims had been driven to the outskirts of the city, where they had turned right on a dirt road parallel to the 23rd Street Highway and had proceeded northeast to a point about twelve miles from the city. After crossing a small bridge and arriving at an intersection, they had put Jarrett out of the car after they had identified him and had taken $50 which he had in his wallet, warning him not to tell the direction the kidnappers had gone. He stated that after he was released the car proceeded south.
After the kidnapping became known, numerous letters, telephone calls, and other leads were received, many of which were anonymous, indicating possible leads. All had to be followed, although few were of value. Leads of this nature were developed simultaneously in all parts of the United States.
Several days elapsed before word was received from the kidnappers.
On July 26, J.G. Catlett, a wealthy oil man of Tulsa, Oklahoma and an intimate friend of Mr. Urschel, received a package through Western Union. It contained a letter written to him by Mr. Urschel, requesting Mr. Catlett to act as an intermediary for his release; a personal letter from Mr. Urschel to his wife; and a typewritten note directed to Mr. Catlett, demanding that he proceed to Oklahoma City immediately and not communicate by telephone or otherwise with the Urschel family from Tulsa.
The package also contained a typewritten letter addressed to Mr. E. E. Kirkpatrick of Oklahoma City, which read in part:
“Immediately upon receipt of this letter you will proceed to obtain the sum of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS ($200,000.00) in GENUINE USED FEDERAL RESERVE CURRENCY in the denomination of TWENTY DOLLARS ($20.00) Bills.
It will be useless for you to attempt taking notes of SERIAL NUMBERS MAKING UP DUMMY PACKAGE, OR ANYTHING ELSE IN THE LINE OF ATTEMPTED DOUBLE CROSS. BEAR THIS IN MIND, CHARLES F. URSCHEL WILL REMAIN IN OUR CUSTODY UNTIL MONEY HAS BEEN INSPECTED AND EXCHANGED AND FURTHERMORE WILL BE AT THE SCENE OF CONTACT FOR PAY-OFF AND IF THERE SHOULD BE ANY ATTEMPT AT ANY DOUBLE XX IT WILL BE HE THAT SUFFERS THE CONSEQUENCE.
RUN THIS AD FOR ONE WEEK IN DAILY OKLAHOMAN.
‘FOR SALE —- 160 Acres Land, good five room house, deep well. Also Cows, Tools, Tractor, Corn, and Hay. $3750.00 for quick sale. . TERMS. . Box # _____’
You will hear from us as soon as convenient after insertion of AD.”
The ad was inserted.
On July 28, an envelope addressed to the “Daily Oklahoman,” Box H-807, was received. It was from Joplin, Missouri. A letter to Kirkpatrick read in part:
“ . . . You will pack TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS ($200,000.00) in USED GENUINE FEDERAL RESERVE NOTES OF TWENTY DOLLAR DENOMINATION in a suitable LIGHT COLORED LEATHER BAG and have someone purchase transportation for you, including berth, aboard Train #28 (The Sooner) which departs at 10:10 p.m. via the M. K. & T. Lines for Kansas City, Mo.
You will ride on the OBSERVATION PLATFORM where you may be observed by some-one at some Station along the Line between Okla. City and K. C. Mo. If indication are alright, somewhere along the Right-of-Way you will observe a Fire on the Right Side of Track (Facing direction train is bound) that first Fire will be your Cue to be prepared to throw BAG to Track immediately after passing SECOND FIRE.
REMEMBER THIS — IF ANY TRICKERY IS ATTEMPTED YOU WILL FIND THE REMAINS OF URSCHEL AND INSTEAD OF JOY THERE WILL BE DOUBLE GRIEF — FOR, SOME-ONE VERY NEAR AND DEAR TO THE URSCHEL FAMILY IS UNDER CONSTANT SURVEILLANCE AND WILL LIKE-WISE SUFFER FOR YOUR ERROR.
“If there is the slightest HITCH in these PLANS for any reason what-so-ever, not your fault, you will proceed on into Kansas City, Mo. and register at the Muehlebach Hotel under the name of E. E. Kincaid of Little Rock, Arkansas and await further instructions there.
THE MAIN THING IS DO NOT DIVULGE THE CONTENTS OF THIS LETTER TO ANY LAW AUTHORITIES FOR WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF FURTHER COMMUNICATION.
YOU ARE TO MAKE THIS TRIP SATURDAY JULY 29TH 1933 . . . "
The Bureau’s first concern in all kidnapping cases is the safe return of the kidnapped victim. Accordingly, no effort was made on the part of the Bureau to identify the writer of these letters or to interfere in any way with the negotiations until after Urschel was returned.
As a result of the above letters, $200,000 in used $20 notes of the Federal Reserve Bank, Tenth District, was obtained and the serial numbers recorded. They were placed in a new, light-colored leather Gladstone bag. At the same time, another identical bag was purchased and filled with old magazines, fearing an attempt at hijacking.
As a precaution, it was decided that Catlett would accompany Kirkpatrick to Kansas City. By prearrangement, Catlett sat just inside the rear end of the observation car, while Kirkpatrick sat on the observation platform with the bag containing the magazines. Kirkpatrick remained on the observation platform all night, riding there all the way to Kansas City, but no signals were observed.
Upon arrival at Kansas City, Kirkpatrick and Catlett proceeded to the Muehlebach Hotel. Kirkpatrick registered under the name of E. E. Kincaid and waited in his room, where he received a telegram from Tulsa, Oklahoma, as follows:
“Owing to unavoidable incident unable to keep appointed. Will phone you about six. Signed, C. H. Moore.”
About 5:30 p.m., on Sunday, July 30, Kirkpatrick received a telephone call from a party who asked if this was “Mr. Kincaid,” and upon being advised that it was stated, “This is Moore. You got my telegram?” to which Kirkpatrick replied in the affirmative. Kirkpatrick was then instructed to leave the Muehlebach Hotel in a taxicab and proceed to the LaSalle Hotel and walk west a block or two. He requested permission to be accompanied by a friend, which request was curtly refused.
Accordingly, Kirkpatrick took the bag containing the $200,000, arriving at the LaSalle Hotel at about 6 p.m. He walked west. After proceeding no more than half a block, he observed a man approaching him who, upon reaching Kirkpatrick, said, “Mr. Kincaid, I will take that bag,” and reached out and took it. Kirkpatrick then stated, “I want some instructions. I must telephone someone who is very interested immediately.” The man who had taken the bag told Kirkpatrick to return to the hotel and Urschel would be returned within the specified time. Kirkpatrick then returned to the hotel and from there, proceeded to Oklahoma City. Catlett returned to Tulsa.
Urschel arrived home exhausted at about 11:30 p.m., July 31, stating that he had been able to sleep but very little during the nine days he had been held in captivity.
As soon as he recovered from the shock and regained his strength, he was interviewed by FBI special agents. A detailed statement was obtained including every movement and action taken by himself, the kidnappers, and those with whom they came in contact during his period of captivity.
Urschel’s statement concerning the kidnapping and transactions that occurred immediately thereafter was substantially the same as Jarrett’s recollection. Urschel stated that immediately after Jarrett’s release one of the men produced some cotton, a short bandage, and adhesive tape, and he was blind-folded.
Approximately one hour after being blindfolded, the car passed through either two small oil fields or the end of two large fields approximately 30 minutes driving time apart. He could smell the gas and hear the oil pumps working. The first stop was made about 3:30 a.m., when he was taken from the car into the brush by one of the abductors, while the other man was gone approximately 15 minutes after gasoline.
About one hour later, a stop was made to open a gate, and approximately three minutes later, another stop was made and another gate opened. Within a minute after the last gate, the car drove into what he took to be a garage. In this building, the men, from their movements and actions, transferred license plates from the Chevrolet sedan to a larger car, which Urschel believed to be a seven-passenger Cadillac or Buick. A berth had been made up in the back of this car and he was told to lie on this bunk. They left this place immediately and after a drive of two or three hours, a stop was made at a filling station, where a woman attendant filled the car with gas. Urschel overheard one of the men asking the woman about crop conditions and she replied that, “The crops around here are burned up, although we may make some broom corn.”
Urschel stated that about 9 or 10 a.m., it rained and the road became very slippery, to the extent that on one occasion one of the men was compelled to alight and push the car. In his opinion, at no time on this trip did they drive on pavement. At the next stop, the car was driven directly into what he considered a garage, and at this point, he asked one of the men the time and he replied that it was 2:30 p.m. They remained in this building until dark, when he was taken outside. They passed through a narrow gate and proceeded on a boardwalk. He was led into a house and into a room where he was told there were two beds. The bed he occupied was apparently an iron cot and one of them occupied the other. Shortly after entering this house, he heard the voices of a man and woman in an adjoining room. He stated that his ears were filled with cotton and adhesive tape was placed over them.
Urschel stated that he stayed in this house until the next day—July 24—when he was taken in an automobile by the two men to a house about 15 minutes driving distance. While in the first house, he ate from a small table and he heard barnyard animals outside.
Upon entering the second house, he was led into a room where he was told to lie upon some blankets in a corner of the room. He also heard voices of a man and a woman in the adjoining room which did not resemble the voice of either of the two men who abducted him. Shortly thereafter, this man and woman left the place.
Urschel stated that on the first night, at the second house, a handcuff was placed on one of his wrists and attached to a chair. Next morning, the two men brought up the matter of a contact. They asked Urschel if he had a friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who could be trusted, and he suggested the name of John G. Catlett. The men instructed him to write a letter to Catlett and he did.
In addition to the two men who kidnapped him, Urschel was guarded by an old man and a younger man. Urschel stated that, during the time he was held in captivity, one of his two kidnappers discussed freely with him the fact that the had been stealing for 25 years, mentioning Bonnie and Clyde, referring to them as, “Just a couple of cheap filling station and car thieves,” and stating that his group did not deal in anything cheap. He also freely discussed a number of bank robberies, advising that he and his friend had been invited to participate in a bank robbery at Clinton, Iowa, but after making a survey of the place, they did not take part in the robbery because the chances of making a “get-away” were unfavorable.
Urschel stated that one of the two kidnappers returned to the house on Friday and brought with him a chain. Thereafter, this chain was attached to his handcuffs, which enabled him to move about to some extent. He observed chickens, cows, and hogs around the place, and he was advised by one of the guards that the had four milk cows. Urschel stated that he was given water in an old tin cup. The well from which this water was obtained was northwest of the house, and the water was obtained from the well by a rope and bucket on a pulley, which made considerable noise. He stated that each morning and evening a plane passed regularly over the house. He managed to get a look at his watch and determined that the morning plane would always pass at approximately 9:45 and the evening plane would pass at approximately 5:45. On Sunday, July 30, when it rained very hard, the morning plane did not pass.
Urschel stated that on Monday, July 31, at about 2:00 p.m., one of his kidnappers returned and told him that he was going to be released, that they had to leave at a certain time, and that another car was going ahead as a pilot car. He was then driven to a point near Norman, Oklahoma, where he was given $10 and released.
As early as July 24, two days after Urschel was kidnapped, information was obtained at Fort Worth, Texas, indicating the probability that George R. and Kathryn Thorne Kelly were involved in this crime. Consequently, an exhaustive investigation was commenced concerning the history and whereabouts of these individuals.
It disclosed that Kathryn Thorne Kelly was the daughter of James Emory Brooks and Mrs. Ora L. Shannon; that Kathryn’s mother had divorced Brooks and later married Lonnie Fry at Asher, Oklahoma, and had a daughter, Pauline Fry, now 14 years of age; that Kathryn and Fry were divorced soon after their marriage and she married Charlie Thorne of Coleman, Texas; that Thorne was later found dead under mysterious circumstances pronounced “suicide” by the coroner; and that after Thorne’s death a note was found which read, “I cannot live with her or without her.”
The investigation also disclosed that after Thorne’s death Kathryn married George Kelly Barnes, under the name of George R. Kelly. He had served a sentence in the New Mexico State Prison and was known to be enjoying many luxuries, including high-powered automobiles and expensive jewelry, without any visible means of support.
Kelly was born in Tennessee in 1897 and spent his early years in modest surroundings. He attended public schools before becoming a salesman and, later, a bootlegger. He married Kathryn Thorne in 1927. She encouraged Kelly to become deeply involved in a life of crime, bought him a machine gun, and gave him the nickname, “Machine Gun.” He concentrated on running illegal alcohol and also robber some banks prior to the Urschel kidnapping.
After Urschel was debriefed, the Bureau’s activities centered on locating the houses in which Urschel was held and bringing about the apprehension and conviction of the kidnappers. It appeared from the information submitted by Urschel that the best possible clue as to the location of these houses was his statement concerning the weather conditions and the fact that airplanes flew over one of the houses at approximately 9:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. daily.
Accordingly, a review was made of all airplane schedules within a radius of 600 miles of Oklahoma City. A check of the Fort Worth-Amarillo Line of American Airways disclosed that a plane left Fort Worth daily at 9:15 a.m. and Amarillo, Texas, at 3:30 p.m. From this information, it was determined that these two planes would be in the vicinity of Paradise, Texas, between 9:40 and 9:45 a.m. and between 5:40 and 5:45 p.m. The daily reports concerning the movements of these planes indicated that from July 23 until July 29, they flew according to schedule; that there was no rain recorded over the route during that period; and that on Sunday, July 30, the plane left Fort Worth at 11:45 a.m., after being detained by a storm, and subsequently, took an extreme northerly course to avoid the storm.
The records of the meteorologist of the United States Weather Bureau of Dallas, Texas were consulted and disclosed that rain was recorded at and in the vicinity of Paradise, Texas, on July 30, 1933; that Paradise and vicinity had an exceedingly dry season; that the first real rain since May 20 in this vicinity was that on July 30; and that the corn began to burn in June.
It will be recalled that the airplane schedules and the weather conditions of Paradise, Texas, corresponded with the weather conditions and airplane schedules Mr. Urschel had noted during his period of captivity. From this information, a check of the suspects who had been under investigation by the Bureau, since the kidnapping of Mr. Urschel, disclosed that Mrs. Shannon, Kathryn Kelly’s mother, lived near Paradise.
A closer look at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. R.G. Shannon was needed. Accordingly, a Bureau agent, under a pretext, visited the Shannon residence on August 10, and while there noted the similarity of the house and surroundings with that described by Urschel. It was also determined that R.G. Shannon’s son, Armon Shannon, lived on a ranch about a mile and a half from that of his father. An inspection of this house was also made that disclosed a well, a water bucket, a tin cup, a baby’s chair, and general surroundings substantially the same as described by Urschel. Further investigation disclosed that Kathryn and George Kelly had been seen in the vicinity during the period in question.
After obtaining the above information, it was decided to raid the Shannon residence in the early morning of August 12. Arrested was Harvey J. Bailey, a notorious criminal and gunman, who had escaped form the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas, on May 30, 1933, where he was serving a sentence of 10 to 50 years on a charge of robbing a bank at Fort Scott, Kansas. He also was wanted in connection with the murder of three police officers, an FBI special agent, and their prisoner, Frank Nash, at Kansas City on June 17, 1933. Robert G. Shannon, his wife, Ora L. Shannon, and Armon Shannon were also taken into custody. Bailey had beside him at the time of his arrest a machine gun and two automatic pistols. He was captured before he had an opportunity to use any of these arms. On his person was discovered $1,100, $700 of which was promptly identified as the money used in the payment of ransom for Urschel’s release. Subsequent investigation developed that this machine gun had previously been purchased at Fort Worth, Texas, by Kathryn Kelly.
Urschel viewed the residence of the Shannons and immediately identified the house of R.G. Shannon as the house in which he was first held, and that of Armon Shannon as the house in which he was held until his release. Urschel also identified R.G. Shannon and his son, Armon Shannon, as the individuals who stood guard over him during the absence of the two kidnappers. He was able to identify many things, including the men by their voices, the residences by the number of steps which he had taken to enter same, the baby’s chair, the galvanized bucket, the tin cup, the squeaking well, the mineral taste of the water, the fowls and animals around the houses, and the chain to which he had been handcuffed.
The Shannons were questioned thoroughly and readily admitted that Urschel had been held at their residences and that they stood guard over him. They advised that Urschel was kidnapped by George Kelly and Albert L. Bates.
Bates, a hardened criminal with a lengthy criminal record, was taken into custody at Denver, Colorado on August 12, 1933, on a local charge. At the time of his arrest, he had in his possession $660, later identified by Bureau agents as part of the Urschel ransom money. He also had a machine gun.
The serial numbers of the ransom bills had been circulated to banks throughout the United States and a number of these bills had been exchanged at the Hennepin State Bank at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Investigation there disclosed that Sam Frederick, a truck driver of Wolk Transfer Company, had presented $1,000 of the ransom money to that bank. Frederick was immediately located and revealed that on August 5, 1933, his boss, Charles Wolk, requested him to accompany two unknown men to the bank, where he obtained a cashier’s check under the name of S. H. Peters, in the amount of $1,800, which he immediately gave to the two unknown individuals.
Wolk, upon interview, stated on August 5, he received a telephone call from a person known to him as “Barney,” who requested him to get a cashier’s check from a bank for $1,800. Subsequent to this call, “Barney,” with an unknown individual, came to his office and requested that he accompany them to the bank for the purpose of obtaining a cashier’s check. Wolk stated that the did not go with them but sent his driver, Sam Frederick.
It later developed that the cashier’s check had been presented for payment by Peter Valder, who upon interview, advised that he was well acquainted with Barney Berman and that on August 2, Berman gave him a check for $1,000 drawn on a bank in Fargo, North Dakota, with the request that he cash the same, which he did. On August 5, the First National Bank and Trust Company of Minneapolis called Wolk and advised him that this check had been returned marked, “insufficient funds.” He then advised Berman who, subsequently, gave him a cashier’s check drawn to the order of S.H. Peters on the Hennepin State Bank of Minneapolis in the amount of $1,800 and requested him to take out the $1,000 check which had been marked “insufficient funds” and to get the balance of $800 in $100 bills.
It was also discovered that on August 7, 1933, $500 of the Urschel ransom money was deposited in the First National Bank at Minneapolis by Sam Kronick. He was later located and he advised that he obtained this money from his cousin, Sam Kozberg, on August 5. Sam Kozberg was later taken into custody and he advised that on August 5, Barney Berman, at his request, gave him the 25 $20 bills, totaling $500, which he had deposited.
Edward Barney Berman was later interviewed and he advised that on August 3, 1933, he was approached by a man who gave his name as “Collings” and stated that he wanted to buy some liquor. Berman referred him to his associate, “Kid” Cann, who sold Collins 125 cases of whiskey for $5,500 which was paid in bills, a number of which were of the $20 denomination and which had been identified as part of the Urschel ransom money. Berman admitted that he had accompanied Sam Frederick to the Hennepin State Bank and purchased the cashier’s check for $1,800. He stated he was accompanied by Clifford Skelly.
Berman’s associate, referred to as “Kid” Cann, was later identified as Isadore Blumenfeld, who advised that on August 3, 1933, a man came into their office at the West Hotel in Minneapolis and talked to Barney Berman, who referred this individual, known as Collins, to him. Blumenfeld consummated the deal for 125 cases of whiskey for $5,500 with Collins and turned over the money to another associate, Clifford Skelly. Skelly, upon interview, told the same story as that of Blumenfeld and Berman.
The above-named individuals, together with the parties arrested at Paradise, Texas, Albert Bates, George R. and Kathryn Thorne Kelly, were indicted at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on August 23, 1933, on a charge of conspiracy to kidnap Charles F. Urschel. All were in custody except the Kellys. On September 30, the jury returned a verdict of guilty against R.G. Shannon, Ora L. Shannon, Armon Shannon, Albert L. Bates, Harvey J. Bailey, Clifford Skelly, and Barney Berman and a verdict of not guilty against Isador Blumenfeld, Sam Kozberg, and Sam Kronick. Peter Valder and Charles Albert Wolk had previously been discharged by virtue of a demurrer to the indictment against them being sustained. On October 7, 1933, Harvey J. Bailey, Albert L. Bates, R.G. Shannon, and Ora L. Shannon were each sentenced to life imprisonment, Armon Shannon to 10 years probation. Edward Barney Berman and Clifford Skelly were each sentenced to serve five years.
On September 4, 1933, Harvey J. Bailey, arrested on the Shannon ranch on August 12 and who had previously escaped from the Kansas State Penitentiary, escaped from the Dallas County Jail at about 7:10 a.m. An examination of Bailey’s cell, located on the tenth floor of the jail, disclosed that he had escaped by removing three bars from his cell by means of hacksaws which had been smuggled to him together with a revolver. Bailey’s freedom, however, was short as he was taken into custody on the afternoon of the same day of escape at Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Investigation disclosed that the hacksaws and revolver were smuggled in to Bailey by Thomas L. Manion, a deputy sheriff and jailer at the Dallas County Jail, and that one Groover C. Bevill of Dallas, Texas, had purchased the hacksaws and assisted Manion in making it possible for Bailey to escape. For this offense Manion and Bevill were indicted at Dallas, Texas on September 25, 1933, and tried and convicted on October 5. Manion was sentenced on October 7 to pay a fine of $10,000 and to serve two years in the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth. Bevill was sentenced to serve 14 months in the same institution.
While the Bureau was collecting evidence for the trial of Harvey J. Bailey, et al, at Oklahoma City, and for the trial of Manion and Bevill at Dallas, Texas, it was also pursuing efforts to apprehend George and Kathryn Kelly. During the trial at Oklahoma City, the Kellys sent a number of threatening letters to Urschel and Joseph B. Keeyan, Assistant Attorney General, who was in charge of the prosecution at Oklahoma City, threatening their lives and intimidating government witnesses.
An investigation conducted at Memphis disclosed that the Kellys were living at the residence of J.C. Tichenor. Special agents from Birmingham, Alabama were immediately dispatched to Memphis, where, in the early morning hours of September 26, 1933, a raid was conducted. George and Kathryn Kelly were taken into custody by FBI agents and Memphis police.
Caught without a weapon, George Kelly allegedly cried, “Don’t shoot, G-Men! Don’t shoot, G-Men!” as he surrendered to FBI agents. Whether or not he actually said those words (probably not), the term—which had applied to all federal investigators—became synonymous with FBI agents. The couple was immediately removed to Oklahoma City.
On October 12, 1933, George and Kathryn Kelly were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Investigation at Coleman, Texas disclosed that the Kellys had been housed and protected by Cassey Earl Coleman and Will Casey and that Coleman had assisted George Kelly in storing $73,250 of the Urschel ransom money on his ranch. This money was located by Bureau agents in the early morning hours of September 27 in a cotton patch on Coleman’s ranch. They were both indicted at Dallas, Texas on October 4, 1933, charged with harboring a fugitive and conspiracy, and on October 17, 1933, Coleman, after entering a plea of guilty, was sentenced to serve one year and one day, and Casey after trial and conviction, was sentenced to serve two years in the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.
J.C. Tichemor and Langford Ramsey were indicted at Jackson, Tennessee, on charges of conspiracy and harboring and concealing a fugitive, for their part in concealing the Kellys at Memphis, Tennessee. On October 21, 1933, they were each sentenced to serve two years and six months imprisonment.
Investigation also disclosed that while the Kellys were in Chicago, Illinois, they were shielded by Abe and Charles Kaplan.
During the time in which Urschel was being held a kidnap victim, Kathryn Kelly maintained a residence at Fort Worth, Texas. She had been living with Louise Magness. Shortly after the payment of the ransom money, and in response to a telegram, Louise Magness flew from Fort Worth, Texas to Des Moines, Iowa, where she joined George and Kathryn Kelly. She then drove the Kellys to Brownwood, Texas and posing as the sister of George Kelly, purchased for Kelly and his wife a 1928 Chevrolet sedan.
On February 22, 1934, Magness was indicted at Fort Worth, Texas, charged with harboring George and Kathryn Kelly. On April 30, 1934, she entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to serve one year and one day in the Federal Industrial Institution for Women at Alderson, West Virginia.
Investigation disclosed that Albert Bates had married Mrs. Clara Feldman, who had a son, Edward George Feldman. Clara Feldman had a brother-in-law, Alvin H. Scott, who was also a close associate of the above-mentioned parties. After the Urschel kidnapping, Bates joined Clara and Edward Feldman in Denver, Colorado, and later visited relatives in Portland, Oregon. Bates then returned to Denver, Colorado, where he was arrested shortly thereafter.
Clara and Edward Feldman had no knowledge of Bates’ arrest until a prisoner, who had recently been released from the county jail in Denver, left a message at the Feldman apartment to the effect that Bates was in custody and that Clara Feldman should “look in the suitcase.” The suitcase was found to be filled with $20 bills. Clara and Edward Feldman then proceeded to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they buried this money.
Shortly thereafter, Ben Laska, a Denver attorney, communicated with the Feldmans, advised them that he was defending Bates and that he would get in touch with them when he needed some money. Laska then took from Edward Feldman all identifying papers and told Feldman to use the fictitious name of Axel C. Johnson. Laska advised Edward and Clara Feldman to go east and live in large cities where their identities would not become known. Thereafter, at Laska’s request, Clara and Edward Feldman paid Laska $8,000 of this ransom money to cover his expenses in the defense of Bates. Laska then asked for a diagram of the place where the remaining ransom money was buried. Edward Feldman furnished him with a fictitious diagram.
Laska subsequently demanded of Edward Feldman an additional $2,000. By prearrangement, Edward Feldman met Laska at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where $2,000 of the Urschel ransom money was delivered to Laska.
On December 4, 1934, Clara Feldman advised special agents of the location of additional ransom currency in the sum of $38,460 that had been cached away. On November 2, 1934, Alvin H. Scott, a brother-in-law of Clara Feldman was seriously injured in an automobile accident at Roseburg, Oregon. At the time of this accident, Scott had in his possession $1,360 in Urschel ransom money. A search of the premises of Alvin Scott disclosed the location of an additional sum of $6,140 in Urschel ransom money. Clara Feldman and Edward Feldman were taken into custody at Dunsmuir, California, November 9, 1934, $1,100 in ransom money being recovered from their possession. Immediate questioning of them by special agents disclosed the location of $1,520 additional ransom currency which these parties had cached at a point near Woodland, Washington. Continued questioning of Alvin H. Scott disclosed the location of additional ransom money in the sum of $5,000.
On December 14, 1934, the following persons were indicted by a federal grand jury at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, charging them with conspiracy to violate the Kidnapping Statute: Ben B. Laska, James C. Mathers, Clara Feldman, Edward Feldman, and Alvin Scott. Accordingly, Clara and Edward Feldman and Alvin Scott were removed to Oklahoma City. On December 17, 1934, Ben Laska was taken into custody by agents in Oklahoma City. It was alleged that Mathers had accepted from Laska $2,000 of the Urschel ransom money, with knowledge of the character of the money.
On December 17, 1934, Clara Feldman entered a plea of guilty to the indictment. Edward Feldman and Alvin Scott pleaded guilty on January 2, 1935. Alvin Scott, Clara Feldman, and Edward Feldman were sentenced on June 15, 1935, to serve five years each in a federal penitentiary. These sentences were suspended for five years, and each was placed on probation.
James C. Mathers and Ben Laska were tried in federal court at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 10, 1935. On June 14, 1935, Mathers was acquitted by a directed verdict. On June 15, 1935, Laska was sentenced to serve 10 years in a federal penitentiary.
Laska was released on a $10,000 bond pending an appeal. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit at Denver, Colorado on March 27, 1936 rendered a decision affirming the District Court at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Laska surrendered to the U.S. marshal at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on August 1, 1936 and was removed to the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, on the same date.
Mrs. Mollie O. Bert, a Denver, Colorado attorney, furnished some untruthful testimony during the trials of Laska. As a result of this testimony, a complaint filed against Mrs. Bert at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 15, 1936, charging her with perjury. She was released on a $5,000 bond after a plea of not guilty.
On October 1, 1936, Mrs. Bert withdrew her plea of not guilty and entered a plea of nolle contendere and was sentenced on the same date to serve one year and one day imprisonment, which sentence was suspended pending good behavior for one year.
Twenty-one persons were convicted in this case, the sentences including six life sentences and other sentences totaling 58 years, two months, and three days.
George “Machine Gun” Kelly died of a heart attack at the Federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, on July 17, 1954. Kathryn Kelly was released from prison in Cincinnati in 1958; she passed away in 1985.