Look Back: Bobby Greenlease kidnapping
Date: 9/22/2009 Album ID: 842577
Photos by Post-Dispatch staff photographers
Pages: 1 2
Bobby Greenlease Jr.ís kidnapping and murder in 1953 was one of the most sensational crimes in Missouri in the 20th Century. His killers, Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady, were captured in St. Louis, and were executed 81 days after their crime. Two St. Louis police officers went to prison over the mysterious disappearance of half of the ransom money.
Robert C. Bobby Greenlease Jr., 6, of Mission Hills, Kan., whose kidnapping and murder in 1953 would become arguably the most sensational crime in Missouri in the 20th Century. He was taken from his Catholic school in Kansas City on Sept. 29, 1953, by Bonnie Brown Heady, who posed as an aunt with news that Bobby's mother had been stricken by a heart attack. He was murdered in a field in Kansas and buried in the woman's back yard in St. Joseph, Mo. Heady and her boy-friend accomplice, Carl Austin Hall, fled with the $600,000 ransom to St. Louis, where they were captured and confessed. They were executed 81 days after the crime, but two St. Louis police officers went to prison over the mysterious disappearance of half of the ransom money.
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Bobby Greenlease and his father, Robert C. Greenlease Sr., 71, owner of Cadillac dealerships and one of the wealthiest men in Kansas City, shortly before the boy was murdered.
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Carl Hall, 34, in the old 11th District St. Louis Police station, at 14 North Newstead Avenue, on Oct. 7, in the early morning after his arrest and shortly after he confessed to having taken part in kidnapping Bobby. Hall denied committing the murder, blaming a man named Tom. (Post-Dispatch)
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Bonnie Heady, 41, also in custody Oct. 7. (Post-Dispatch)
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Patrolman Elmer Dolan shows a revolver, which he and Lt. Louis Shoulders (left) seized after arresting Hall on the night of Oct. 6 at the old Town House apartments, 5316 Pershing Avenue. Police had picked up Heady (also seated) at 4504 Arsenal Street, an apartment that she and Hall had rented to hide after they arrived in St. Louis early on Oct. 5. Police allowed reporters and photographers to see and interview the two suspects and the apparent heroes, Shoulders and Dolan. But by the time they posed, Shoulders already realized that the $300,000 he had taken from Hall and delivered to a mobster, Joe Costello, had been half of the hottest cash in America. Hall hadn't spilled the story until after Shoulders and Dolan brought Hall to the police station, with the suspicion they had nabbed a run-of-the-mill embezzler. Shoulders tried, but couldn't get the shakedown money back. The pistol later proved to be the murder weapon. (Post-Dispatch)
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Heady and Hall are questioned by police in the Newstead Avenue station Oct. 7. Present are Police Chief Jeremiah O'Connell (wearing glasses) and, standing in back, Police Board President I.A. Long. (Post-Dispatch)
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The murder weapon, steel suitcases in which the remainder of the ransom money was found, and other items Shoulders and Dolan confiscated when they arrested Hall. They were on display at the police station. (Post-Dispatch)
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Another photo of Heady and Hall under questioning. In 1953, reporters had access to suspects and investigations that today's reporters can only dream of. (Post-Dispatch)
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Lt. Shoulders holds the murder weapon for photographers on Oct. 8, when his shakedown of half of the ransom still was his guilty secret. Known as the Shadow, Shoulders had a reputation as a crooked cop. Dolan was his driver on the night of the arrest. (Post-Dispatch)
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Crowds gather on Oct. 9 around the front of the old City Hall on 14th Street, in hopes of seeing Hall and Heady being taken to the U.S. Courthouse for a hearing on a federal extortion charge. To the right of the jail is the old juvenile detention center. The juvenile center was demolished in 1995, and the jail in 2000, to make way for expanded City Hall parking. (Post-Dispatch)
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Heady and Hall arrive at the federal courthouse on Oct. 9, guarded by federal marshals James Kearns (left foreground) and Roy Kirgan. (Post-Dispatch)
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Heady and Hall on Oct. 12, after they confessed to murdering Bobby. Escorting them are marshals Les Davidson and Roy Kirgan. (Post-Dispatch)
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Hall at City Hall. Surrounding him, from left, are Post-Dispatch reporter John Hynes, marshals James Kearns and Lester Davison, and Globe-Democrat Reporter Ted Schafers. Schafers, now 95, still remembers many details of the case. (Post-Dispatch)
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Shoulders (left) shakes hands with Police Board President I.A. Long on Oct. 15 during a ceremony at Police Headquarters honoring the officers for their arrest. Dolan stands in the center. Their claim to have known nothing of the missing $303,720 hadn't yet disintegrated into criminal charges. (Post-Dispatch
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Hall and Heady leaving the Jackson County Jail in Kansas City on Nov. 19 for the last day of their trial in federal court in Kansas City. Because they had confessed, U.S. District Albert L. Reeves convened a jury to recommend punishment. The jury needed only 68 minutes to recommend execution, and Reeves took 15 more minutes to impose the sentence and set the executions for Dec. 18. (Post-Dispatch)
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Heady's mug shots upon entering the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City on Nov. 20. She was to be executed there with Hall in the gas chamber. (Post-Dispatch)
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Hall's prison mug shots. (Post-Dispatch)
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Charles Parker, assistant deputy warden at the old prison, standing outside Hall's cell on Death Row on Nov. 21. Heady was kept five cells away. (Post-Dispatch)
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Hall's cell on Death Row. (Post-Dispatch)
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Robert C. Greenlease Sr. (Post-Dispatch)
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