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.


maddog said...

You've done your homework for sure. Most writers it seems are still unaware the Pierpont-Makley guns were carved of soapstone rather than soap. Although one once commented to me that Makley would make a suitable subject for a book. Don't know how marketable it'd be but I'd probably buy one.

bestyegg said...

Makley now doubt would make a great subject for a book. His personality and personal history are very interesting. He was also a good bank robber. If someone wrote a book on him I'd definitely buy it (hint)!

maddog said...

Makley's story I think would make for a great biography but not sure his name is saleable enough to interest a publisher. John Hamilton might be a possibility, owing to the plausible stories of relatives that he survived, but I'm not convinced of that by a long ways. Actually, I think several members of the Dillinger Gang are deserving of further exploration. Walter Detrich (Detrik, Dietrich, whatever) and James Clark are good examples, with their early connections to Jack Klutas and Tom Bell aka Baron Lamm and Clark's supposed involvement in the Denver Mint job.