Monday, March 26, 2012



Technology is wonderul!  

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


I've been Silent since last September because I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I am going to do with this blog. I think the best thing is to leave off on writing about other people's books and such. It's just time to take my writing in a different direction.
For everyone who has told me that you enjoyed Best Yeggs and shared your stories and research with me-- THANK YOU!!! I never considered myself as much of a writer or researcher, but now with your encouragement I'll never say never.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Can't Let it Go

I wish I could let it go. Things would be so much easier if I didn't take the FBI's no as a challenge. You see in each of the FBI's responses I got a pat response that "neither confirms or denies" that the files I'm looking for are still in existence. Essentially, they just hide behind a bunch of statutes that allow them to do the minimum unless something compels them to do more. Big IMO! I hate saying anything negative about anyone but I'm getting close. All it would take is a "no this file has been destroyed" or a "no this file is still within the FOIA statute of limitations" or anything that lead me to believe that yes they actually did the work in finding out whether the files are still in existence. I don't think there's any one person in the FBI's records division whose sure of what they still have; what went to the Archives; and what's been destroyed. Wait! I may have a contact I can call!!! Just thought of it!!! Actually, you know before I got the Cherryvale file by surprise; I had talked to a lot of different people who gave me no encouragement. Then the file showed up at my door one day with a bill for copying! So maybe this is part of the process? Strange.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Gloves Off

Just got a reply from the FBI on my appeal for information. This time around I got a new response. Evidently, the FBI does not have to affirm or deny that files exist because
  1. 1. Affirming or denying that the files exist might provide the requester with insight into Agency internal practices; and
  2. 2. the release of such knowledge may provide the requester with information on the techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations (well duh!).

The injury served with the insult is the last sentence where if I am dissatisfied with the response I may file a law suit in accordance with 5 U.S.C. section 552(a)(4)(B).

Well, what did I expect? Did I honestly believe that getting something from them would be so easy? The only thing easy to get from the FBI are the materials in their reading room which at this point are not files that I am interested in. Why couldn't my interest in the Midwest crime wave have stopped with Dillinger? Truly, I think that basically the FBI has covered it's ass in saying no we are not going to look for the file.

So many things go through my head (I have wicked imagination!) I think the FBI is saying the following in their response to my file request:

  1. It's been 70 years women give it a rest! We don't know where those files are and we are way too busy to look. Crime marches on and we are not the F@#% National Archives.
  2. How were we supposed to know that our files would be the subject to historical inquiry after the statute of limitations ended! Were we supposed to keep track of where all this &#*!
  3. Maybe we destroyed the files, maybe they are gathering mildew in some damp basement, maybe they are in a climate controlled acid free environment where they will remain until the onion skin disintegrates naturally. It doesn't matter we know were the files are and you don't need to know. Because if we told you where the files were or whether they were destroyed you might begin to infer what our internal practices are for keeping matters of historical record. Transparency does not apply to US.
  4. God forbid we give you access to files that are 70 or more years old that we haven't carefully screened. Everything we want you to know has been made available to you.

So along with retaking an exam at the end of the month (I flunked Asset Management in December) and handling my confusing personal life I now get to look up legal code sections. It would be easy to say that I'll just give up and find another hobby. Truth of the matter is my ornery nature doesn't allow me to just slink away. Just gonna have to give it another go. Third times the charm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

FBI File Requests

Another person has asked me how I go about requesting FBI case files. So I’d thought I’d post my method which is basically by the book of how the FBI tells you to request files. If you go to it’s an abundant source for doing research with the FBI. If you’re interested in case files, you'll need to make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Now the first thing to remember is that if you’re interested in current case files you may be out of luck. Much of that information is still sealed. I have an interest in crimes that occurred in the 1920’s and 1930’s when the FBI was the Bureau of Investigation so it’s easier for me to get records if they still exist and have not been destroyed.

I usually just use the FBI FOIA request form and send it to the field office where the case originates. This is an important point. If you make your FOIA request directly to the headquarters in Washington, DC (FBIHQ) they will search for your records by consulting an FBIHQ list of files they have. The only problem with this is that the more obscure the person or crime you are looking for the less likely they are on the HQ list. If you are looking for information on Dillinger, you will not have a problem (except for getting access to a file that hasn’t been “redacted”). If you contact the field office first, because that’s what the rule says you should do, the field office will send your request to FBIHQ and they will do a more thorough search. I usually write on my request to search all medium available paper files, microfilm, and microfiche. I don’t know if the FBI stores anything on microfiche, but just in case. You can find the field offices on .

After where to send the initial request, the next most important thing is how to ask for the file. As with any confidential information there are rules as to what available to you. Also, never take for granted that the FBI personnel know your subject. The person involved must be deceased (death is assumed if 100 years have passed since birth). Information about an individual may actually be in a case filed under the crime itself, or the leader of the criminal gang and not the individual’s name. If you have the file number (lucky you), include it. Sometimes I’ve included old newspaper clippings that demonstrate that the FBI was active in investigating the crime. Whatever you have that will help them find your info include.
Now if you’ve included everything and you still get a letter saying that the FBI doesn’t see any reason why they would have ever done an investigation on your subject—DON’T GIVE UP! I always take that letter to mean that they don’t think I’m serious about getting the information. You have the right to appeal so do so. Something tells me that there is some ‘Public Information Officer’ at the Dept. of Justice who got a chuckle when I sent in my appeal for the Cherryvale Bank Robbery file because I said I was appealing because I didn’t think they looked for it hard enough! If you get a letter back saying the files have been destroyed that’s when cussing is allowed. How about going to the National Archives first? Don’t unless you know that the file you want is already there and what it’s filed under and if that’s the case make arrangements for the file to be waiting at the archives for you when you visit so you don’t have any nasty surprises.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Charles Arthur Floyd

Funny, I don't know much about Pretty Boy Floyd. Of course I know that he was shot down in 1934. I know that in the pantheon of A List depression era desperadoes he ranked up there with Dillinger. In fact, he might have been bigger than Dillinger (at times). So it's odd that I am only vaguely aware of the details about his criminal career.

So reading Jeffery S. King's The Life and Death of Pretty Boy Floyd gave me an education. Truthfully, if you want to know about “Charles A. Floyd-Criminal” it's all here. From the beginning to the end, King concentrates on Floyd's criminal career in succinct prose. He discusses Floyd’s early life and early exploits and the period when “they just wouldn’t leave him alone”. As an ex-con, Floyd was subject to multiple arrests for ‘suspicion’. From what I understand suspicion was a catch all to arrest people whether they’d committed a crime or not. They looked like the type who might commit a crime or they associated with ‘known police characters’ or they just hadn’t paid the bribe money to be left alone.

It’s funny how one colossally bad decision can define the remaining periods of your life. King relies on the FBI files about the Kansas City Massacre and gives convincing evidence that yes Floyd did participate. Basically, Verne Miller and two other gunmen attempted to free Frank "Jelly" Nash from federal custody when he was being escorted back to Leavenworth. In the attempt, five men including Nash were mowed down in a torrent of gun fire. Floyd denied having anything to do with the Kansas City Massacre, an event which turned public opinion against depression era bank robbers. In his book King relates credible witnesses such as Vi Mathis (Verne Miller's woman) and James "Jimmy Needles" LaCapra (Kansas City underworld power) who detail Floyd and his sidekick Adam Richetti's participation in the massacre. Excellent evidence although Floyd's family continually denied that he participated in the killing, it looks like he was there.

I picked this book up on Saturday and was done by Sunday afternoon, not because it's short --it's not short on anything. It's excellently researched and perfectly paced. King never gets lost describing characters or events that are immaterial to Floyd. The book is an excellent narrative about Floyd's life and the chapter on his death is great. Even though I knew how Floyd's life ends, King provides a wealth of detail that made the story fresh. He also includes details about the aftermath of Floyd's death and the various reactions. There were a few people who objected to ambushing a man and shooting him in the back…but only a few.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Robbin' Banks & Killin' Cops

Yeah! It's always fun to find a book on someone whose a little off the beaten path and Lawrence DeVol is about as off as the come. So in our roster of bad guys we have a bio on someone who usually merits about a paragraph when people write about the Barker-Karpis Gang. Robert R. Ernst has written a detailed account of Lawrence DeVol's life in the book Robbin' Banks & Killin' Cops.
If you want to read a bio on someone who appears completely unrepentant then this is the book for you. It was a good read, but it does get slow in the middle. But I think that's due more to my being familiar with the Barker-Karpis Gang thank anything else. There's nothing new about the Barkers in this book so it was almost a relief when DeVol's story separates from the gangs. DeVol's final years in Minnesota are very detailed as is his last shoot out. I'm still not sure whether DeVol was insane enough to be institutionalized. Maybe it was men like DeVol who could and did kill whenever he got the chance who made society and the justice system say OK simply being immoral is not crazy. See back when DeVol was captured in St. Paul they judged him 'criminally insane' and he was sentenced to the state mental hospital. Where he, with five other men who were 'criminally insane' broke out. Ernst makes it a point to show that this sentence is what DeVol was hoping for. He knew he'd have an easier time breaking out of the mental institution. Hey what am I doing? I'm not going to give the story away. Let's just that he who lives by the gun is headed for a bloody shootout that probably inspired Hollywood.
Speaking of Hollywood I've decided to wait for the DVD for Public Enemies. I just can't get a definite yes from anyone that the film is worth spending precious weekend hours on. Oh..the FBI and I are beginning our dance again. I sent FOIA requests to the Kansas City, MO offices who promptly sent it to HQ who sent me a letter saying to paraphrase 'we see no reason why you would believe the FBI has files on these individuals. You may appeal....' I send death certificates I sent news clippings FINE!!! FINE!!! Here we go again. You know in my vision of Utopia every file that the FBI has is in order and digitized and easy to access. I love my utopia but since it only exists in my head appeal I will.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Decisions Decisions

OK, I have to decide if I'm going to see the new Public Enemies movie with Johnny Depp. I know it sounds silly but making up my mind about this isn't easy.

On the one hand, I've always wanted to see a movie about Dillinger that was true to the historical facts. You know you really don't have to add anything to this tale. I know 'artistic licence'. UGH! Honestly, if you want to make up dialogue that's one thing but please don't make up events... At least that's my viewpoint.

Then there's Johnny Depp as Dillinger. Well, I think Johnny Depp (he really should start asking to be called John now!) is a wonderful actor. I'm sure he's believable in the role as he's been in all of his roles. I just don't really see him as Dillinger. He's 10 years too old and he lacks the simplicity I always felt Dillinger possessed. I know Depp will bring an intensity to the role, but what about the lightness. In the beginning Dillinger enjoyed his work!

Well, maybe I'll see it this weekend if I get the chance. I usually get to see at least one movie a summer. Haven't seen one yet. If I can just empty my mind of my preconceived notions I might just enjoy the flick!