Saturday, December 30, 2006


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Busy Bee

2 days y from Christmas and I have a list of stuff to do. I've already been to the grocery to get the ingredients for Peach Pie. I've decided that I must have at least 2 desserts at Christmas dinner. The store was quiet since it was so early. More people than usual, but not a mad house.

I have laundry, sauces, table setting, and vacuuming on my list. At least the house is reasonable orderly. This festivity can be done. Just got a great book to add to my list of others in the mail Pubic Enemies America's Criminal Past by William Helmer with Rick Mattix. I got the book because the authors have a much more complete encyclopedia of criminals coming out but unfortunately it's been delayed for 6 months now so I will make do with this. I've come to the conclusion that there is much more to writing a book than slapping together some facts. There must be...otherwise the books that I wait for would not take so long.

I am doomed. I just can't bear to look at that junk again. Executive Retirement Arrangements--Bah Humbug! Oh well, maybe God has something better planned for me. But I will take the test who knows maybe this will be a miracle again. There is just so much boring stuff. I guess I wasn't meant for top management? I feel that if I don't pass this test then I will be stuck where I am at. Is that good? Who knows. We have a new player with the New Year. Maybe the chemistry will improve and it can be a winning situation?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Good Mail

Yeah! I got Walter Detrich's prison file from the Indiana Archives. Detrich is best known as one of the men who escaped from the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City in September 1933. It was a huge escape in itself and became more newsworthy as escapees Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley, Russell Clark, and Edward Shouse freed J. Dillinger from the Lima, OH jail.

I'm looking forward to writing about Detrich because he was a good yegg. Very professional. Supposedly, while in the pen with Pierpont et al, he taught the gang the Lamm bank robbery process. Which must have been really helpful, because the "Terror Gang" as Dillinger's group was known after the escape did much better than could have been anticipated by their individual records. Really, one of my posts is going to have to be funniest stories from Dillinger Gang members heists.

You know cleaned up I think Detrich probably was quite the ladies man. Supposedly, he was connected enough in Michigan City to have trysts with his mistress while incarcerated. At least he didn't have to settle for boys like J. Dillinger! I love getting stuff like this. I wish I was as interested in the FASB 35 and IPG contracts. The Exam is in 2 WEEKS. Doomed am I.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

NOT Vivian

FBI Woes

Violet is insisting on sleeping where I normally do my studying so in deference to the boss I thought I'd just post my latest "crisis".

I've been trying to get the
FBI information on Vivian Chase. Well even though she is a well known dead hood (at least to those of us who study dead hoods), the FBI would not consider my request unless I provided her death certificate. So I got a copy of her 1935 death certificate and sent it to them. Well, the FBI does not like this death certificate, because the coroner listed her approximate age as opposed to listing date of birth. How inconsiderate of him (it was always a him back then). Well you know in those days everyone figured if you were alive once and lying on a slab then obviously you were born and exact dates weren't all that necessary.

So, OK, do I give up on the G-men? Well, the head of the records dept. sent me a rather lengthy FOIA law that I can look up to see if I can find some common sense approach when the death certificate is 70 years old. I also have to ask my self what do I hope to find; those old files more than likely won't give me any added insight into her life. Let's face it they are mostly surveillance history and Vivian did an astounding disappearing act. They would have had to have found her to watch her. After the Luer kidnapping she didn't surface again until they found her corpse. Maybe I will just ask for the Luer kidnapping files.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Choosing Crime

I read Confessions of a Jack Roller by Clifford R. Shaw; it's a sociological case study showing the life history of a juvenile offender written in the early 1930's. For me one of the most startling aspects of the book (OK the only startling aspect) was the part where there describing his childhood. His mother died when he was young. He didn't get along with his stepmother (old tale right?) so the six year old kid takes to staying out on the streets sometimes for days on end. Remember the child is SIX. Policemen finds him and takes him home. Kid stays for less than a night (evidently enough time to get a beating) and takes to the streets again. Over and over it happens. What's startling for someone reading this in 2006 is that never is there a concern by officials that something could be wrong with the child's home life. He's branded incorrigible. A six year old who would rather live in the street and eat out of the trash than go home and no one thinks to put him foster care!

For those who don't know a "jack roller" is a term for rolling drunks and homosexuals of their money. It's a particular form of petty larceny (not high on the criminal hierarchy). I started thinking about some of our more famous yeggs from the 1930's. Those whose home life we know something about. Take John H. Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Baby Face Nelson. Well all of these thieves came from decent homes. Hardworking parents. Fairly comfortable surroundings. Dillinger's home appears to have been slightly more affluent; both Karpis and Nelson came from rough neighborhoods in Chicago.

Writers who tell the Dillinger story, must have a very hard time reconciling his childhood. On the one hand you have family members who describe the young Johnny D. as a normal high spirited boy, who enjoyed hunting and the tales of Jesse James. Then you have a litany of petty offenses: such as stealing coal, getting other children drunk (which led to some shady business with a few farm girls), destruction of property. All for laughs. It seems clear to me from an early age John Dillinger enjoyed being bad. I don't think anyone was that surprised when he mugged that grocer with Ed Singleton! Surprised at the harshness of his sentence yes, but not surprised that he'd finally landed in jail.

I am trying to decide which delinquent was worse: Alvin Karpis or Lester Gillis (Baby Face Nelson). It's a hard choice. Both just didn't seem to enjoy the normal activities associated with childhood playing games. Each seemed to enjoy activities with a more unlawful bent. Gillis was a member of a kiddie gang that enjoyed stealing and such. Karpis enjoyed riding the rails and stealing. Each had picked up these habits before their tenth birthday. Both went to reformatories and came out unreformed. Confessions of a Jack Roller is great in it's description of the various types of juvenile corrections facilities. I think that's important because it does show that as much as these individuals chose a life of crime their stays in reformatories aided that choice.

The sexually predatory nature of these institutions is public knowledge (and was back in the day); but what is so surprising to me again is the fact that very young children were thrown into these institutions. If you place a child in a world where might prevails and that child is on the low end of the food chain I don't think you can expect the child to choose to reform. The child has to live on it's instincts and do what's necessary to survive. I'm not just talking sexually, but morally. Lying, cheating, stealing (really just different forms of deception) become the things that are necessary for survival. The task is to become an expert at these arts. For extreme cases of this take a look at Carl Panzram . I honestly believe that Clyde Barrow is another one.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vivian Chase Bio

This is a picture (mug shot) of Vivian Chase taken in 1926; supposedly, she was much prettier. The circumstances of her arrest (she'd been drinking and participated in brawl) may have something to do with her looking so mean!!

When she was sixteen years old she left her home in Dade County, Missouri.  She married George Chase on April 1, 1921. The circumstances of her marriage are unknown; however, George Chase by this time was considerably older (30) and had begun to make a name for himself as a thief. {unfortunately there is no documentation about her home life. Nothing to determine if she ran away with George to escape a bad home or whether she was already on her own at the time. During the 20's it wouldn't have been unusual for a 16 y.o. girl to leave home to start working. But we just don't know}
Vivian Chase first gained notice as George’s wife. On December 23, 1923, George Chase was arrested for an altercation during which he was shot by Ella Keller. Ms. Keller stated that George and his companions attacked her because she had reported them to the police and that she had to shoot George in self-defense. After arresting George, the police went to his home where they found Vivian wearing six diamond rings. Since she could not explain possessing the rings, Vivian was arrested for “suspicion”. She was released after three days.
Vivian does not surface again for three years and when she does she is in the company of Charlie Mayes, also known as Pighead Hardman. {I can't find a definitive reference for George's death. He is believed to have been killed in a bank robbery soon after the Dec 1923 escapade) On February 15, 1926, Vivian, Mayes, Lee Flournoy and Flournoy’s wife were arrested after a free for all fight in a rooming house in Wichita, KS. During the arrest Vivian refused to talk. The investigation led investigators to her brother in law Charles Chase and allegations of involvement with the Joe Bratton liquor gang. { Charles' wife Grace was also arrested it is telling that Vivian maintained contact with them. She also used Grace's name from time to time as an alias.} On June 9, 1926, following a “drunken party and joy ride”, Flournoy and Mayes were fatally shot in a Picher, OK gun battle. Vivian Chase was with them. {this is the second man with whom Vivian has been involved who is shot down during a crime. It's interesting to note that we don't know if Vivian participated in Mayes' and Flournoy's crimes or whether she was just the girlfriend. }
The three of them had been under surveillance by Ottawa County Oklahoma officers for several days because the deputy sheriff informed the Sheriff of Montgomery County, KS that he had found the people who robbed the Cherryvale Bank on May 29, 1926. Vivian was placed in jail where she refused to talk to reporters.She was released on June 13, 1926, after insufficient evidence was found to charge her with a crime.
Once again the record goes silent on Vivian Chase. {It's unknown what she was doing with herself after Picher, OK. The money from the robbery was never recovered; but no one has ever said that she had it. She was known to live in style though. R.D. Morgan says that she worked at prostitution during this time in a well known road house; but she was never charged with the crime. Besides if she was comfortable making a living selling herself why steal?}
She resurfaces in June 1932. She is arrested with Jackie Forman and Enos Weeks for the robbery of the First National Bank in North Kansas City on April 9, 1932. She is held on $50,000 bond. It was a small robbery; no more than $1,500 was taken. Vivian was held at the Clay County Jail in Liberty, MO. She escaped after four months by sawing through the bars of her cell and lowering herself down with a rope made of bed sheets.{Conditions in County Jails were particulary grim during this period. It's surprising that she had sufficient bedding, but it would have been easier to bribe the guards to get more as was the custom (see Crucibles of Crime)}
After her escape from the Liberty County Jail, Vivian fled to St. Louis, MO. She became involved with Walter (Irish) O’Malley. On July 10, 1933, Vivian participated in the Kidnapping of banker August Luer. Vivian, O’Malley, Percy ‘Dice Box’ Fitzgerald drove to Mr. Luer’s home in Alton, IL. Vivian accompanied by O’Malley rang the doorbell and requested to use the phone. When she was let in and shown the phone’s location she cut the line. O’Malley wrestled August Luer to the floor and gagged his mouth. Mr. Luer was taken to a farm where he was hidden in a damp underground cellar while his captives tried to ransom him. Mr. Luer was not a well man and fearing that he would die before they were able to receive any ransom his kidnappers released him after 123 hours. Both Vivian and O’Malley fled from Illinois back to Missouri after the bungled kidnapping. O’Malley managed to elude capture for two years until he was apprehended in Kansas City on May 23, 1935. Vivian eluded capture.
In the early fall of 1935, Kansas City experienced a series of drug store robberies. The robbers were described as a man and a woman. The woman was further described as approximately 5 ft. 6 in. tall, slender, with hennaed hair. When victims were shown a photograph they identified Vivian as one of the robbers. On November 3, 1935, Vivian’s body was found in a parked car at St. Lukes Hospital in Kansas City, MO. She had been shot in the neck with the bullet exiting through her chest.
Newspapers speculated that she had been double crossed by an accomplice and was shot before she could him. She had a .22 caliber pistol on her with .45 caliber bullets in her handbag. She was shot with a .45 caliber gun. When she was found the coroner estimated that she had only been dead 2 hours or less leading to speculation that her killer drove her to the hospital while she was still alive expecting her to be found before her death.
She seemed destined for burial in a potter’s field. The owner of the funeral home she had been removed to received an anonymous call asking about the cost of providing her with a funeral. The next morning the funeral home received an envelope of money for the costs; also received were a blue dress and undergarments (her own) for Vivian to be buried in. Nine mourners outside of reporters and law officers attended her funeral. No one signed the guest book.
  • 1910 USA Census Missouri State Greene County
  • Marriage License Jackson County MO at Kansas City, MO
  • Kansas City Times December 26, 1923
  • Wichita Beacon February 16, 1926
  • Wichita Eagle February 17, 1926
  • Miami News Record June 10, 1926
  • Miami News Record June 13, 1926
  • Kansas City Times June 8, 1932
  • Startling Detective Magazine June 1936
  • R. D. Morgan: “Irish O’Malley & the Ozark Mountain Boys” (unpublished)
  • Kansas City Journal-Post November 4, 1935
  • Kansas City Times November 9, 1935

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Verne Miller

I gave myself a treat this Saturday and read Brad Smith's Lawman to Outlaw: Verne Miller and the Kansas City Massacre. I enjoyed the book because Mr. Smith provides a comprehensive look at a complex individual. Individuals who have never heard of Verne Miller should know that he was on the A list of criminals in the Mid-West crime wave during the prohibition era.

The book details Miller's lawman period and shows him to be a dedicated professional; however, the book does not shed any light on why Miller embezzled funds from Beadle County, South Dakota. It is interesting to note that Verne Miller never provided a reason to anyone for this character lapse; he plead guilty at his trial and never spoke of it again.

Although he provides no fresh insight about Miller's initial crime, Smith does provide a concise analysis of Miller's character. Smith states that Miller is a "natural soldier" a man who is excited by his mission who will kill if the mission calls for it. Natural Soldiers also place a high premium on male bonding. It's telling that killings attributed to Miller outside of a job were done to avenge a friend. Smith shows how Miller's loyalty to good friend Frank "Jelly" Nash precipitated both men's deaths. Smith also points the finger at Lepke Buchalter (another person Miller considered a friend) as the person responsible for ordering Miller's death. The attempted rescue of Nash (Kansas City Massacre) was a pivotal point in crime history because it marks the turning point for public opinion against criminals and it provides Herbert Hoover with the basis for turning the Bureau of Investigation into an armed national police force. After the massacre Hoover made sure that all criminals received so much heat that it was impossible for them to function. Buchalter ,who controlled an enforcement group commonly known as Murder, Inc., had Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss kill Miller.

Smith also relates the story of Vivian Mathis, Verne Miller's consort through his criminal period. Most interesting is the treatment she received from the Bureau of Investigation. She was kidnapped and tortured until she signed an "official" statement about the Kansas City Massacre. Hoover's G-men don't come out well in Brad Smith's book he gives proof that it was Nash's escort that killed him, not Verne Miller.

All in all a good read. For pictures on Verne Miller take a look at the Verne Miller Photo Gallery.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Maybe I am a little crazy to be obsessed with early crimes! That is the conclusion I come to after being away from work for a week. I did the Thanksgiving Dinner thing and during the work that was involved I think that time was the only time I wasn't thinking about old dead criminals!

Man, talk about a nut! Oh well, we all need a hobby. I also believe it's in my nature to be obsessive about topics. So I won't sweat it. I will sweat an hour a day studying Trust Fund arrangements and such. Ain't I the lucky one!!

I got the Barker-Karpis Cd's from the FBI. It's so funny because before they sent them out the records assistant called to let me know there had been a mistake. The letter the FBI sent me to let me know that I could get the Barker-Karpis gang information for $30 bucks was a mistake. $30 would get me the individual files on the Barkers and Alvin Karpis not the files on the gang. Those files take up over 20 Cd's and cost in excess of $400. Needless to say I will not be getting those. You can see all of those files on the FBI FOIA website . The Karpis file is really Hoover congratulatory file. Loads of letters and newspaper clippings congratulating Hoover for Barker's capture.

I think I have enough to write a couple of paragraphs on Vivian Chase. We'll see...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thanksgiving Vacation

I am way too swamped. Shopping, cleaning, & cooking, and the ever present half hearted attempt at studying. Let's factor in work in a crazy local government Pension office and what do you have? Someone who will be thankful for the new year! My treat for this holiday will be taking a class at the Library of Congress on how to do research there. I am so looking forward to the newspaper collection. The librarians are so helpful too, they act like my stupid questions are not a waste of their over educated time. So while I am thinking of Vivian, Pete, and other yeggs I will have to wait on the writing.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mean Men

I just got this in the mail! The author Robert Winter kindly sent me a copy and some materials on Vivian Chase. I can not wait to read everything I am making headway, maybe just enough to write a short bio that contains more than she was born on and was found dead on such and such a date.
I have the marriage certificate, but not the application. I did find her family in the 1910 census by that time they were in Greene County Missouri. Still can't locate them in the 1900 Nebraska census. All of the children in this family were born in Nebraska, the last Vivian in 1905; therefore, I should be able to find them in Nebraska in 1900. Cross your fingers. I can think of several reasons why they wouldn't be there. Most glaring is that census takers were not always conscientious. We'll see.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blah Blah Blah

I have got the Blahs! I am sitting here and not studying on a Saturday. Nothing was sinking in. I'm doing my laundry and trying to prepare for my small dinner party tomorrow. It's going to be a simple menu: "oven" grilled chicken, spinach with bacon & mushrooms, seasoned rice with chocolate cake for dessert. I just have to make sure everything is nice and that my ironing and such are done so I can have an easy week and start to get set for Thanksgiving.

The picture above is of Crown Point, Indiana around 1911. You can tell it's early by the absence of cars. Everyone is aware of Dillinger's escape with the wooden gun from the Crown Point jail. Some people insist that one of the Trustees smuggled a real gun into him, but the FBI files have affidavits from other prisoners that Dillinger and his accomplice in the escape Herbert Youngblood that refutes that. Evidently, the two whittled the gun from a wooden piece of a wash table that was in the communal washroom. The rest as they say is history, but what what fails to be mentioned is that these high profile escapes by Dillinger and others have a responsibility for the controls and such that we have in our modern correctional institutions.

It's interesting how changes come about. Think about it typically we have to learn the hard way before we correct mistakes. I am having a bear of a time trying to find Vivian Chase's family prior to the 1920 census. If she was born in Nebraska then I thought it would make since to look for her family in Nebraska during the 1900 census but so far no luck. It doesn't help that Davis is such a common name. Oh well, Nebraska didn't start having actual birth certificates until well after Vivian's birth. Hmmm....what's interesting is that if this family is hers then she is a puzzle. While the family wasn't rich they owned there own home in 1920. I can trace the parents to the same house in the 1930 census and they list that they have $3500 worth of income for the year that's around $42,000 in today's currency.

Her sister Hazel, I found in boarding house and she worked as a registered nurse. What's interesting about all of this is that in 1935 when Vivian was shot to death no one claimed her body. There was sufficient coverage in the newspapers to doubt that her family did not know of her death. So if these are the people she was related to by blood, they wanted nothing to do with her by the time of her death and allowed her to be buried in a potters grave.

Friday, November 10, 2006


YES!! Ellen Poulsen, who wrote a great book Don't Call Us Molls, put me in touch with Robert Winter, who wrote a book on the Barker Gang Mean Men, Mr. Winter kindly telephoned me after I wrote him introducing myself and requesting information on Vivian Chase. Her maiden name is Davis; she was actually born in Nebraska not Missouri! Her full given name Vivian Grace Chase. He was able to tell me some of her criminal history and where she got married. He's a wonderful source. He's also doing research on the Michigan City Prison break of 1933; so I agreed to send him a copy of some of my stuff. He doesn't have a computer though so hard copy only. Both Ellen and Bob are very kind to share information with me.

After speaking with Bob, I was able to research the 1920 census. Bob had told me the family was in Springfield, MO by this time. Lo and behold easy as pie there she was. So now I have maybe 3 sentences of information about her! Hopefully, when I start getting into the old newspapers I'll be able to find more information about her Liberty jail break and the bank job she was on. Bob gave me a whole list of gangs she ran around with. We'll see.

Now, if I could just get that Karpis data from the FBI....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dead End

Well, fortunately it was fairly uneventful today. I did get Vivian Chase's death certificate in the mail. Unfortunately, there isn't any information other than she died. Good news only cost me a $5 from Missouri State. Here it is in all it's enigmatic glory:Ah me, ah my...will I ever find more information about Vivian Chase? I only found one entry for a Vivian Chase in the National Archives online data search. The woman had the right name and possibly the right age, but she was in Arizona and a Native American. Now, it's not unusual for those in Missouri to have an Indian connection; but, I have nothing that links those characteristics to the Vivian Chase I am looking for. I found an article about a Vivian Chase who was arrested for bank robbery in TX, but again. How do I know it's the same person. She used a number of aliases. The woman in TX was visiting her sister (in jail) when arrested, but with out Vivian's maiden name I can't research records to find out if she had other family. Man..if I only knew what county in MO she was born in I could find her!

Well, on a brighter note I should have better luck with Walter Dietrich. He's easy to find and that's his real name. Yeah!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Night Bad Info?

Good News: I got information for a new contact who may be able to shed light on Vivian Chase

Bad News: I misplaced the source for the Vivian Chase Edna Murray connection? Perhaps I am losing it and making up stuff?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Morning Blues

This picture is Indiana State Prison at Michigan City circa 1910. Almost looks like you are going to some place nice! The modern entrance does not look like this it is much uglier.

I posted this picture because I have some new research about the 1933 prison break that I am deciphering through and I can't wait to write about it. Some insights some questions loads of fun if you are a yegg head!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Charley Makley Bio

I decided to work on this before I started studying. Get the juices flowing I guess!

Charles Makley was born on November 24, 1888, in St. Mary's Ohio to Edward Makley and Martha Sunderland Makley. He had two Brothers: George and Fred and two sisters: Florence and Mildred. Charles was the oldest. Little is known about his early life. His father worked as a stone cutter and in the 1910 Ohio census a 20 year old Charles is listed as working in his father’s profession. His parents had divorced by this time. On his intake papers to the Indiana State prison at Michigan City, Charles lists his occupation as salesman. He also lists his wife as Edith Slife Makley, a woman who had previously been married to his brother Fred.

Criminal Career
Evidently, Makley began his criminal career late in life. According to his criminal record in his file at Ohio State Penitentiary, Charles first arrest occurred on November 21, 1921 when he was 33 years old. He was arrested for receiving stolen property in Chicago, Illinois. He was found not guilty. Makley had various arrests from 1922 through 1924 in Missouri. On July 30, 1924 he was arrested using the alias of Charles McGray for bank robbery. He was sentenced to a 15 year term. On October 15, 1924 he was admitted to the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City. On June 6, 1925, Makley’s sentence was reversed and remanded by the Missouri Superior Court. In 1926 Charles was wanted by the Sheriff, Jefferson County Missouri for robbing the Citizens Bank of Festus, MO of $18,000 (over $200,000 in 2006 dollars). The Law caught up to Makley again on June 2, 1928 when he was arrested for a bank robbery in Hammond, Indiana. Sentenced to a term of 10 to 20 years, Charles entered the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City on June 25, 1928.

Michigan City
At the time of Charles Makley’s incarceration, the Michigan City Prison was on the silent system. Prisoners remained silent during work hours and in the dining hall. Charles was a member of Harry Pierpont’s prison clique, which included John Dillinger. His inside record, while not perfect, has only minor infractions: possessing contraband cigarette papers, having an electric stove, and wearing first grade uniform to a ball game. On September 26, 1933, Charles Makley was among the ten men who escaped from Michigan City through the main gate of the prison.

Terror Gang
Immediately after leaving Michigan City’s main gang the ten escapees split into two groups. Makley remained with the group headed by Harry Pierpont. They went to the home of Mary Kinder, Pierpont’s girl, to get to a safe house and change out of their prison togs. It was a this time that the gang learned that John Dillinger had been arrested for bank robbery and was being detained at the Allen County jail in Lima, Ohio. Determined to liberate Dillinger, gang members went to the jail. Pierpont, Makley, and Russell Clark entered the jail, while Ed Shouse remained outside as a lookout. According to the Bureau of Justice (FBI), on October 12, 1933 the three men went into the jail and stated that they were from the Indian State Prison and had come to take John Dillinger. The Sheriff Jess Sarber asked to see their credentials; Pierpont pulled out a gun and said “this is our authority”. The Sheriff made a move for his weapon; Pierpont shot Sarber in the abdomen. Two of the men then beat the Sheriff senseless. The report states that it is the beating that resulted in death. The Sheriff’s wife would later testify that she witnessed Makley beating Sarber. Dillinger liberated, the gang proceeded to on a crime spree that included bank robbery and robbing small town police arsenals.

In January, 1934, the gang decided to take a vacation in Tucson, Arizona. Firemen responding to a fire at the Congress Hotel, where the gang stayed, recognized gang members after reading a magazine article. One by one the Tucson police rounded up the gang members. Makley was apprehended at the Crabtree Electric Company while looking at a radio. Pierpont, Makley, and Clark were sent back to Michigan City prison and later extradited to Lima, Ohio to stand trial for the Sarber killing. All three were found guilty; Pierpont and Makley received the death penalty while Clark received a life sentence.

On March 27, 1934, Clark, Makley, and Pierpont, entered the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. While waiting for their turn for the electric chair, Pierpont and Makley fashioned revolvers out of soapstone. On September 22, 1934, Pierpont and Makley used their homemade guns to attempt to escape from the death house. They were unsuccessful. Makley suffered gunshot wounds to his thorax and abdomen. His death certificate states that internal hemorrhaging from these wounds caused his death. He is buried in the Sugar Ridge Cemetery in Leipsic, Ohio.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Morning and Vivian Chase

I am looking for information on Vivian Chase. A bandit from the late 1920's and early 1930's. She is unique because she was a gangster herself. Of course there is not a lot of information on her.

I figure that a good plan of action will be searching in: newspaper archives and requesting information from the FBI. I'm wondering if the FBI search is going to be fruitful. It's easier to get information on historical figures from the FBI these days through the Freedom of Information Act, but Chase is marginal. She is not big time like Dillinger and Karpis. She was involved in the Luer Kidnapping. A truly botched job! Since this kidnapping is post Lindbergh the form Bureau of Investigation may have some info on her. Nothing beats a failure but a try.

I love this picture simply because I think she's looking the world square in the eye. Unflinching.

So Vivian Chase..She met her doom in a car. The speculation is that she was meeting up with an accomplice to split some booty. Either the accomplice or another party put a bullet through her head. Crime does not pay, but still for those like me who are hopelessly strait & narrow, it is interesting. She looks like it was all business to her. I am going to try to sketch her, because that picture does not look like a pretty woman, but I think it might be misleading. She was a red head, so she must have had a fair complexion, her skin looks smooth (even mug shots show up bad skin). It's stupid but I think of stuff like that. Yes I'm superficial. I believe you should find your fun where you can and as long as you aren't hurting anyone--have at it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

OK, I have finished studying for the day and have ordered dinner. I love those estimates about how well you do based on the amount of studying you do. I don't believe they take into consideration the total lack of comprehension that is going on!'s a miracle if anything sticks in my brain.

Here's my latest obsession about the Midwest crime wave during the 1930's: Did Russel Clark actually participate in freeing John Dillinger from the Lima Jail and the subsequent killing of Sheriff Jess Sarber? Here's a look at both of these men:

I'm sure that if I were to see these two close up I could clearly tell them apart; however, no one ever got a close up view of the third person involved in the escape attempt. Initial reports listed Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley, and Harry Copeland as the perpetrators. Copeland is listed in all news articles and in the Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports. It isn't until the the "terror gang" is captured in Tuscon, AZ several months later that Russel Clark is identified as involved.

Now, Copeland had been sent back to Michigan City prison for violating his parole by the time Clark was named. He admitted to a number of robberies done at the time of the murder. Because this murder was definately a death penalty case being a defendent in the Sarber killing probably sounded like a much worse deal than copping to a few more robberies!

Clark on the otherhand, of course maintained his innocence (as did Pierpont and Makley), but he also acted strangely when he was recaptured. He was morose and uncharacteristicly quiet. Depressed. Now a person on trial for his life has a right to be depressed. But Clark's demeanor was commented on that he appeared in a "stupor" and only showed any signs of life when he didn't get the chair, as Pierpont and Makley did, but received a life sentence instead.

Historians typically attribute Clark's depression as deriving from his responsibility for the gangs capture in Tuscon. Firefighters were tipped off to the gangs identity after Clark and Makley tipped them a large sum to carry down heavy bags (loaded with weapons). When one of the firefighters was looking through a detective magazine and saw wanted photographs of the gang it was like "Hey! that's the guy who gave me that big tip". Well maybe that was not the cause of his depression. I think it was because he was on trial for a crime he didn't commit. Not only that, I think he was sure that he was going to get the chair. The publicity of the trial made conviction a sure thing. During the trial, potential jurors were asked if they were pro death penalty and anyone who was not was excluded. I really think Clark believed he was gonna die for nothing.