The Kidnapping of Bobby Greenlease Part 2

August 14, 2017

As word of the kidnapping hit the media, it became a nationwide sensation. Kansas City was already a city famous for crime ever since the Union Station Massacre. The Greenlease ransom of $600,00.00 was the largest ever paid in the history of the nation.

Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady drove to St. Louis after they buried the child’s body. Once the arrived, they had no local connections and were at a loss as to what to do next. They ditched their and used taxicabs to go on a round of bar hopping. Carl hall rented a small apartment and deposited a drunk Bonnie, leaving her a few thousand of the ransom and then took off for his life of luxury.

He found an ex-con cab driver who hooked him up with a prostitute. The trio ended up at the Coral Courts Motel or Route 66 in St. Louis County. John Carr, a brothel proprietor and mob associate, owned this motel. While there, Hall spent money lavishly on the cabbie and prostitute. Hall used the cab driver as his personal valet. He would give him a wad of cash money and send him out for new clothes, more booze and whatever else he and his prostitute wanted. The cab driver was connected to local mob figures and he told gangster Joe Costello, owner of the cab company, about his free-spending customer. Costello called a corrupt St. Louis police officer, Lt. Louis Shoulders.

The cabbie steered Hall to an apartment just inside the city limits of St. Louis. He rented it with cash. Lt. Shoulders and his driver, Officer Elmer Dolan came to the apartment and arrested Hall and took him to the Newstead  police substation in North St. Louis for questioning. It was at this time, that the story about the chain of custody of this money gets cloudy.  The officers claimed they brought the suitcase and a footlocker stuffed with all the money into the station. By the time it was counted, the police found only $300,000.00. Once arrested, it didn’t take long for Hall to break down and told the cops where to find Bonnie Heady. They sent officers to the south St. Louis apartment where she’d been dumped by Hall and she was arrested.

On Oct. 7, 1953, police and reporters were racing for Heady’s house in St. Joseph, where Bobby’s body was dug up. The F.B.I. started an immediate investigation into the missing ransom money. The glory that Shoulders and Dolan might normally have enjoyed – leading to almost certain promotions – became a scandal that the St. Louis Police Department has never quite shaken off.

Hall and Heady quickly confessed to the crime and put up little defense. A federal jury in Kansas City returned the guilty verdict, it was reported that Heady smiled when the judge sentenced them to execution in the gas chamber. It was as if she was able to find repentance with the death sentence.

Prior to Hall’s execution, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Edward Dowd went to the penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo., and took a statement from Hall concerning the missing money. In part, Hall’s statement said: ”Realizing that my execution for the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Greenlease is near at hand, I am giving this statement as being exactly the truth of my handling of the ransom money in St. Louis, Oct. 5 and 6, 1953…’I feel sure that all of the money was with me in the Town House at the time of my arrest. I could see the keys on a bureau in the closet after Lt. Shoulders had taken them from me. There was a light on in the closet and I could see the keys as I left the apartment with the police. I was the last to leave the apartment…I have given the above statement freely and voluntarily, knowing that my death is near at hand, and being very anxious to tell the entire truth about this matter. signed Carl Austin Hall, Cell 25, State Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Mo. Nov. 30, 1953.”

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