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Union Station Massacre Part 1

Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. Gary thanks long-time subscriber Greg Scavuzzo for his continuing support and input. This and the next two episodes about the Union Station Massacre were In a recent enthralling episode of Gangland Wire, Gary hosts KC Mafia expert Terence O’Malley, and they examine the Union Station Massacre, a pivotal event in the history of Kansas City’s underworld. today is June 16th, the day before the actual Kansas City Massacre.

The tale unfolds around Frank Nash, a notorious criminal figure involved in train robberies, whose career spanned from horseback holdups to bank heists using fast automobiles and Thompson machine guns. Nash was a character of intrigue, skilled in handling nitroglycerin and elusive to photographs, making him a charming yet dangerous criminal.
The narrative weaves through Nash’s apprehension in Hot Springs, Arkansas, by FBI agents Joe Lackey and Frank Smith, setting off a chain of events that would culminate in the Union Station Massacre. As Nash is transported to Kansas City, other criminals like Pretty Boy Floyd and his sidekick Adam Ricchetti traverse towards the same destination. Floyd, a charismatic yet lethal figure, gravitated towards Kansas City due to existing connections and a history of evading capture. The episode unearths the convergence of different criminal elements in Kansas City, with Nash’s associate Vern Miller seeking assistance from Johnny Lazia’s gang to liberate Nash from custody. Through discussions between Lazia and Miller, Pretty Boy Floyd’s involvement in the plan emerges. We learn that KC mafia boss Johnny Lazia directs an underling named Sam Scola and Jimmy “Needles” LaCapra to help equip and connect Vern Miller with a traveling bank robber named Pretty Boy Floyd. The stage is set at Union Station, tensions rise, and a web of criminal affiliations and motives interplay in the lead-up to the tragic event. The host elucidates the intricacies of each character’s background, painting a vivid picture of Kansas City’s criminal underworld during the 1930s. From Nash’s multifaceted criminal career to Pretty Boy Floyd’s enigmatic personality and connections, the episode expertly navigates the complexities and alliances culminating in the fateful Union Station Massacre. As the narrative unfolds, listeners are immersed in a world where crime, power, and deceit intertwine, leading to a dramatic and tragic climax at Union Station.


Please click here to see Terence O”Malley’s mafia work, Black Hand Strawman

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[0:00] Hey, all you wiretappers out there, back here in the studio of Gangland Wire.
This is the first of three special encore performances of my friend Terrence O’Malley, who did a documentary about the entire span of the mafia in Kansas City called Black Hand Straw Man.
Now, unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to find that online, I don’t think.
I know it’s not on Amazon. If you’re really interested in that, get a hold of me, and I’ll get a copy from him. I’ll tell you how much it is, and we’ll send it to you.
The Union Station Massacre

[0:33] But today, we’re going to talk about the Union Station Massacre.
A friend of ours, big Kansas City fan, also a guy that I know a little bit about his family, Greg Scavuzzo, famous grocers in Kansas City.
Greg, you asked why couldn’t we show a little bit of the Life of 30 stuff, and so I thought, well, I’ve already done that, but I know it’s not on YouTube.
And the people who are on the audio app now maybe have not heard it because it was so long ago.
I’m talking about maybe six years ago that I did this.
It’s a three part story about the union station massacre.
And it talks about all the Kansas city guys and, you know, John Lazzia, the, the mob guys in Kansas city, one of the Scolas, these names, a Scola has passed on to the day. Actually.

[1:26] Greg Scavuzzo’s got an ancestor in there.
Jimmy Needles LaCapra was involved with this and the the aftermath of the Union Station massacre and the attempt to solve it.
Lead-up to the Massacre

[1:37] So in the very first episode, we’re going to talk about the lead up to this.
You know, how did this even come about?
What were the what was the chain of events that led up to this?
Now, 1934 is when it happened.
Impact of the Massacre

[1:49] You got to understand this. This crime, four law enforcement officers were killed in Kansas City, and it just reverberated throughout the whole United States.
And believe me, in the Midwest especially, and especially in Missouri, the state patrol and all the county sheriffs and everybody were on the alert for the people who did this massacre.
And it caused Bonnie and Clyde, I know, to take some diversionary tactics away from Kansas City.
And one of them went on up to Iowa, and then they got in a shootout in Iowa because everybody was looking for these traveling bank robbers and these traveling criminals, which that’s what Union Station Massacre was all about, trying to break out one of the 30s Depression-era traveling bank robbers, a guy named Frank Jelly Nash.

[2:36] So without any further ado, let’s get on with episode number one. It’s an encore episode.
If you’re a longtime listener on the audio apps or you’ve gone back and listened to all of them, you know, you’ve heard this before, but it’s good.
And Terrence is really a good storyteller and a real expert on the Union Station Massacre and that era of criminal activity in the Midwest, the traveling bank robbers, you tell. Thanks a lot, guys.
That I didn’t really even know when I started to research the Union Station Massacre, whether I would even include it in my story of organized crime in Kansas City, because they didn’t really have a very good appreciation for what the nexus and connection of the event was to organized crime.
The Yeggs of the Day

[3:21] Because objectively, if you look at the event, it really appears as if it was perpetrated by.

[3:28] Independent or rogue gangsters, as you might call them. Sure, correct.
The Yeggs of the day was a term that they- Oh, was that the term of the day? Yeah, Y-E-G-G-S.
Interesting. Yeah, I’m not sure of the etymology of that. Well, one of the reasons why, there’s a lot of reasons why the Midwest was very popular for bank robberies.
And if you think about this, say that you perpetrated a bank robbery in Phoenix, Arizona in 1933.
Say, well, Well, what were there, six roads out of town and they all went into the desert?
Whereas in the Midwest through the corridor of crime is what they called it from basically Texas up through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and then up into Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The Corridor of Crime

[4:14] That’s kind of the corridor of crime. That’s where a lot of rogue gangsters – the reason why the whole Bonnie and Clyde and Dillinger and, of course, Pretty Boy Floyd and Harvey Bailey and the Barker gang and it goes on and on and on.
The reason why they stayed in the Midwest was because –.

[4:34] What they would do is they would create a get, and that was a little getaway map.
And they would scope out a bank or whatever the target institution was, and then they would devise this getaway.
And they would avail themselves of what were called the cat roads.
And the cat roads were roads that only a cat could see at night.
And these were basically farm roads that farmers would use for their tractors, but they would create these, you know, intricate getaway.
So, like, they may say go 325 yards north, then sharp left, 212 yards, then south.
And they would, you know, have all of these road, and they could get away real quickly.

[5:19] And so it just worked for them. Sure. And back then they didn’t have radios.
The Midwest Criminal Network

[5:23] The police didn’t have radios. and you got across the state line.
I remember in that Bonnie and Clyde movie, the police were chasing them and they said, oh, we don’t want to mess with them. They’re in Oklahoma now.
Well, and that was another thing. There were jurisdictional limitations during the day.
And frankly, if you were a local law enforcement officer, why would you want to go chasing, you know, baby face Nelson across state lines, you know, maniac.
And so, you know, I think a lot of them were happy to say, you know, good riddance, you know, glad that, you know, they’re no longer here.
So that is one of the reasons why we had so many bank robberies and we had so many gangsters of the era in and around the Kansas City area.
Mafia in 1930s Kansas City

[6:02] And back to the mafia in the 30s Kansas City. And so John Lazy, I believe, was kind of the mob boss at that point in time.
He was the front man. He was the front man. He got killed about a year later.
But he pretty well had his finger on all all the action.
And with these guys, like pretty boy Floyd, who was hiding out in town, or Vern Miller, Vern Miller was hiding out in town at the time.
Would the local mafia know about him as a traveling criminal?

[6:32] Would he have to do what they said and lay low, or if he got in any trouble, would they help him out, or would they use him to do things and take a piece of the action? That’s exactly what the situation was.
Basically, Kansas City was a popular place with professional criminals because it was a machine-controlled town, and the machine was terribly corrupt because it had such strong ties with organized crime in Kansas City.
Pendergast and Lazia Relationship

[7:03] And, of course, it stemmed from the relationship between Tom Pendergast and Johnny Lazzia.
And the way that relationship really got off the ground was in 1928 when Lazzia, on election day, in a relatively minor municipal bond election, kidnapped four of Pendergast’s men and held them at gunpoint and threatened to kill them if the Italians didn’t get home rule over their own political district.
And after boss Tom capitulated, he then essentially was closely associated with organized criminal elements.
And as a result, what they did was they operated and ran all the sin businesses in town, the prostitution, the gambling, the illegal liquor manufacturing and distribution and other various criminal activities.
Activities and Tom Pendergast would get a cut off of all of that.
And in exchange, the mafia was allowed to run these businesses.

[8:01] And there was an informal agreement that they were allowed to.

[8:07] Perpetrate this kind of ongoing low level of crime.
And the attitude was, well, the rich men, the rich people of Kansas City, they have their bars, they have their clubs, they gamble, they drink.
You know, would you deprive the average man of his entertainment and his vices?
And so there was kind of, you know, a nod, nod, wink, wink attitude toward what were clearly illegal legal activities during Prohibition, but Kansas City was one of the wettest of that particular dry period, wettest cities at that time.
And so, as a result, you had this real close relationship between the head of the political organization and the head of the organized criminal organization, Asian, Pendergast, and Lazia.
And so it was a culture here that was attractive to professional criminals to come to Kansas City and lay low, don’t pull off any major crimes, don’t do any major heists, just behave yourself and you can stay here and we’ll leave you alone.

[9:11] And that’s basically what the deal was. And so the mob was more or less tasked with keeping big crime under under control while they were allowed to perpetrate this kind of misdemeanor crime, if you will.
Interesting. And so Vern Miller, who we know will end up in the middle of this Union Station massacre, and he was living out here in what is Brookside today.
That house is still out there. Beautiful home.
Beautiful. I’ve seen it. It’s really nice. It’s about the 6,600 block.
6,612 Edgevale. I’m sure the people who own it are weary of having their…
Mafia Influence on the Massacre

[9:44] The mafia in Kansas City, in a way, set up.

[9:48] Set the scene for the Union Station Massacre in some way, not directly involved.
I sure, I doubt if they knew about it was going to happen because of how it went down, but they set the scene for this to happen.
Yeah, the Union Station Massacre was not supposed to happen.
It just was a mistake on many, many levels.
And it ended up involving organized crime in Kansas City, simply because organized crime, the leadership was put upon to engage.
It’s not that they really had any stake in the event, so to speak, but there’s a criminal code, if you will, and they were helping out one another.
But I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves in the story because if you really want to understand this story, and this is why I put it in the film, is that it stars a central character who, Two but four, his interesting character would just be a footnote in the history of crime in America.
But instead, he takes his very important role in crime in America.
Frank Jelly Nash’s Criminal Career

[10:54] And, of course, we’re talking about Frank Jolly Nash.
And the reason why I think he’s such a fascinating character is because his criminal career transcended from holding up trains on horseback.
Jesse James. Yeah, exactly.
Throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas.

[11:14] And he, as a matter of fact, that’s what he was serving his time for when he was at Leavenworth was for having held up a train that happened to have mail on it. And so that made it a federal offense.
And so that’s how they were finally able to nail it. But he was a career criminal.
He was a bad boy, got in trouble from his early days He was a young man in Oklahoma, and his middle name or his nickname is Jelly. Jelly, his moniker.
Yeah, and he got that because he was supposedly quite adept and skilled at handling nitroglycerin.
Interesting. Yeah, which they called Jelly back in the day. And so he blew up a lot of bank vaults and things like that.
So he was no angel by any means. But what makes him really interesting is not only the fact that he went from riding horses and holding up trains to riding in fast automobiles with Thompson machine guns and holding up banks.
A lot of people are interested in him. One of the things is, though, Frank Nash was scrupulous about not getting his photograph taken.

[12:27] There’s only, to my knowledge, there really are only two known photographs of Frank Nance. I think I got them both.
There’s a sketch drawing of him that they were using back in the day.
And then there was a picture of his mug shots when he was at Leavenworth.
And then there’s a picture of when he was wanted for train robberies by the post office.
It wasn’t like Bonnie and Clyde posing pictures with these friends.
No. No. And no photographs of his childhood. There’s pictures of the hotel that his dad owned in Hobarth, Oklahoma.
The Mystery of Frank Nash

[13:02] So, you know, he’s a little bit of a mystery man.
But what is in contravention of his avoidance of cameras is the fact that he had this real garrulous personality.
He was always the life of the party. He’s a back slapping, happy, go lucky, you know, let’s do it.
I’m in, you know, a drinking guy, which served him well, because he would always ingratiate himself to his jailers from an early time on and they liked him.
And so in many ways, those who were his captors were, you know, abetted his- They’ve been a little bit lax. Yeah, exactly right.
Because he had such a disarming personality.
When he walked off his job.

[13:46] On October 19th, 1930, he was serving as a chef for the Deputy Ward Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth while he was serving a 25-year sentence for bank robbery.
And he was at large for 32 months, so not quite three years he was out on the lam.
Frank Nash’s Capture and Escapes

[14:02] During that period, he actually came back to Kansas, and he assisted in helping some other convicts escape. And I believe that was – and there were so many of these going on.
I believe that one was an escape from Lansing prison, but it was still in Leavenworth.
And he managed to get a bunch of weaponry snuck into the prison.
And then the prisoners who escaped knew where to look for it and they were able to get their guns and then they took the warden and they made their getaway.
So that’s one reason why when Frank Nash was picked up down in Hot Springs, Arkansas on June 16th, 1933, and the word went out, hey, they picked up Frank, that the underworld was willing to go to bat for him because he was popular and he had helped a lot of cons escape and given them safe harbor and helped them hide.

[15:01] And he was just kind of part of the criminal network, if you will.
Vern Miller’s Criminal Background

[15:05] And so it should come as no surprise that there would be people who would be willing to step up and give assistance to Frank Nash, which kind of brings you to the next character of all of this, the guy Vern Miller, who was the polar opposite of Frank Nash.

[15:22] Vern Miller was taciturn. He was stoic.
He didn’t talk a whole lot. He would get upset when people would use foul language around women.
He had these kind of, you know, turn of the century patrician ideals of, you know, how people should behave in society.

[15:41] And Vern Miller’s background was he was raised in South Dakota and he was a sharpshooter during World War I.
He was a decorated marksman and sniper in World War I and was awarded the French Cross of War for bravery by the French government.
And then he came back to Beatle County and was the sheriff, but he embezzled $2,000 in 1922.
And so he was sent to prison.

[16:08] And basically, when he came out of prison, he was essentially a criminal.
You know, he could not be entrusted to be a law enforcement officer, obviously.
And Vern Miller then hired himself out to known organized organized criminal entities like the Purple Gang in Detroit.
And then, of course, he was a gunner for Al Capone’s outfit in Chicago.
And it was said that he could operate a machine gun so efficiently that he could basically shoot his initials with a machine, a VM.
And so anyway, Vern Miller and Frank Nash became – Yeah, how did they know each other?
Yeah, well, they became part of a gang that was up in Chicago and up in Minnesota that included a lot of lesser-known – the Holden Keating gang is one of them.
Vern Miller and Frank Nash’s Association

[17:05] And some people that were not as famous, but George Machine Gun Kelly was part of this gang.
And they spent a lot of time together in Chicago, and they spent a lot of time together in St. Paul, Minnesota.

[17:17] So Vern Miller and Frank Nash robbed a lot of banks together with various other people.

[17:23] And so it’s understandable why he would be the guy that would, if he was around, he’d call on to help break him out. Absolutely.
Terrence, going back to that arrest in Hot Springs, none of this would happen if it had not been for that arrest.
He had been on the run from Leavenworth for a while, for a year or more.
He had helped some other people break out of Lansing.
He probably had done some robberies. Did he have a crew going at that time when they were doing robberies? No, he did not.
As a matter of fact, they had split up from the heat in Chicago.
And when I say they, I’m talking about Vern Miller and Frank Nash and then other people.
And they had all just split and gone their different ways.
And so Frank Nash was hiding out in or laying low in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was part of the corridor of crime.
And that was in many ways like Kansas City in the sense that it was safe harbor.
Yeah, talk a little bit about Hot Springs.
That was a hotbed of criminals down there, and they basically had sanctuary even more than Kansas City.
Hot Springs Sanctuary for Criminals

[18:27] Yeah, it was a notorious haven for criminals to lay low, and people like Richard Galatis, who was the owner of the White Front Cigar Store in Hot Springs, he –.

[18:41] You know, ran this pool hall and kind of like you might call a C-store today, a convenience store, cigar store.
And basically, it was a hideout or it was a hangout for unsavory characters like Frank Nash.
And essentially, that’s where Frank Nash was when the two FBI agents who were tracking Frank Nash’s movements, Joe Lackey and Frank Smith, and they enlisted the help of a gentleman named Otto Reed, who was the police chief of McAllister, Oklahoma, to help them go arrest.
What did Otto Reed know what he looked like? Yeah, and that’s why.
It was because Frank Nash at the time, he was bald, just like you, Gary. Yeah.

[19:30] Folks, I tell you, you have to envision that. Or look at my website, website, www.ganglandwire.com.
I’m just teasing. He looks just like Frank Nash. I mean, he was sporting a wig and he had a mustache at the time.
And so it was interesting. So they snatched him there at the, and they were very nervous because of the corrupt environment there in Hot Springs.

[19:54] And when they snatched him, this Richard Galatis, he actually contacted the local constabulary Larry.
And they were going to try and in fact, they did get stopped on their way out of town by the local gendarme.
And basically, the federal agents flipped up their badges at him and said, we’re federal agents and we’re recapturing him.
Frank Nash’s Recapture

[20:19] And I think the local guys went, well, we’re not going to get involved in this.
What happens is then that he gets snatched there at, or I should say, rearrested, apprehended, those would be the proper terms, there in front of the White Front Cigar Store.
And his putative wife at that time was a woman named Frances Nash.
And I say putative because Frank had been married before, but just kind of forgot to do anything about the marriage.
And so he… Now, folks, putative, that’s a lawyer word, and that means Yes, there you go.
And so Frances Nash, she gets all hysterical.
She’s living there in Hot Springs.

[21:02] With Frank Nash and the way that Francis Nash and Frank Nash hooked up was she was actually a waitress, bartender at Doc Stacy’s place in Chicago.
And that was a place where they used to hang out quite a bit.
This Doc Stacy that gets involved in this little conspiracy, he was from Chicago.
Yes, he was. So this went from Hot Springs to Chicago to Kansas City to put it together. Yes, it did.
Coordinated Efforts in Joplin

[21:28] It’s really interesting. Yeah, it’s amazing that they could, in such a short amount of time, that they could trace the communications among the various actors here.

[21:40] And Doc Stacy, he ran a tavern in Chicago that was basically a place for, you know, criminals to hang out.
So Galettas in Hot Springs then calls Frank Stacy, I think he’s called Doc Stacy in Chicago. Yeah.
To me, the proper pronunciation would be Stacey because he’s Italian, you know, but I’ve heard it anglicized to be Stacey.
But yes, that’s essentially it.
What Richard Galatis, the owner of the White Front Cigar Store in Hot Springs, he chartered a Ryan Mono plane to take Frances Nash, Jelly’s wife, and her daughter, Danella, to Joplin, Missouri, where the lawmen with prisoner Nash were supposed to be passing through.
But at the last moment, Galatis hops in the plane to go to Joplin with them. Really? Yeah.
I hadn’t heard that story before. Boy, this guy must have been valuable to them. I mean. Oh, yeah.
And he was doing something. He was making somebody some money.
But boy, did he come to regret that move because that really.
Setting the Scene for the Massacre

[22:43] And cemented his participation in all of this. Yeah.
And so then they met up in Joplin, which, of course, was another fairly notorious place for criminals to come and lay low.
And they would go to places like Herbert Duffy Farmer and his wife, Esther.
They had a little farmhouse outside of Joplin.
And Bonnie and Clyde went through there. Well, that’s the Joplin place that Bonnie and Clyde stayed.
Yes, but I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a guy named Wilbur the Tri-State Terror Underhill.
I don’t know. I have not. He was a bad boy, and he’s one of the guys that escaped from Lansing.
Wow. And interestingly enough, this story has so many tentacles to it. It does.
Frank Smith, who was one of the FBI agents who was in the Caffrey car at the Union Station massacre, who was not injured.
Six months later, he was involved in the tracking and the shootout, and I believe he killed Wilbur Underhill, the tri-state terror.
Wow. Yeah. So these were – the men that were tracking them, the FBI agents, were certainly as seasoned at what they did as were the criminals who were out there. These are tough guys is what I’m saying.

[23:59] And the rules weren’t the same back then as they are now. What’s interesting about all of this, though, is that when that plane arrives in Joplin, Missouri, and it’s got Frances Nash on it and her daughter, and it’s got Galatis on it, Richard Galatis, and they’re meeting up with Daffy Farmer. That’s D-E-A-F-Y.
And the reason why he’s called Daffy is because he was mostly deaf.
Yeah, he didn’t hear real well. But he and Frank Nash had been incarcerated together when Frank first served his sentence for killing Nolly Wharton.
And when I speak to live audiences about the Union Station massacre and I’m asked to present it, I always tell people just – I said there are so many characters in this story.
Just relax. It is just a real foster clock to try and tell this story because you got all these different players that play important roles in the story.
Timeline of Events

[24:56] Well, and that’s what I did in my book was I actually created one, you know, kind of a timeline flow, you know, to show.
OK, so here’s where this person comes in. Here’s where that person comes in.
And so so what we got then is we got the.
Yeah, let’s go back to Joplin. OK, phone calls start happening from Joplin to Doc Stacy’s place.

[25:17] In Chicago, Doc Stacey calls a local hood here in Kansas City whose name is Fritz Malloy.
Now, Fritz Malloy is the great uncle of several Kansas City police officers.
Correct. I know several of them. The Malloy family, right.
But Fritz, well, Fritz, as a matter of fact, Eddie Malloy, what the heck, I’m going to say Eddie, I’m talking about you, buddy. Yeah.
He said he didn’t even know he had an Uncle Fritz Molloy. They wouldn’t talk about it. I bet not.
Yeah. He said that this was one tough son of a gun. He used to, for exercise, he used to swim the breadth of the Missouri River.
He was a tough dude. Yeah, he was a tough guy. And so, okay, so you got, they land in Joplin. They call Doc Stacy in Chicago.
They get hold of Fritz Molloy and tell them that, look, they’ve apprehended Frank Nash. Nash.
Vern Miller’s Involvement

[26:07] And so then Fritz Malloy goes and finds Vern Miller on a golf course here in Kansas City and pulls him off the golf course and tells him, look, Frank Nash has been recaptured.

[26:20] Rearrested, and they’re going to bring him through Kansas City the next morning.
Now, you may be asking the question, why did they go to Joplin?
Originally, the officers were going to to take Frank Nash through Joplin.
But instead, instead of getting on the Joplin train, they decided to take a different train.
And so. So the Fort Smith train, it went straight to Kansas.
Yes, exactly. And so there was no stop in Joplin. I remember now.
Exactly. So that’s that explains why those all those people were assembled in Joplin is because they were anticipating Frank was going to come through there.
And so they were going to try and liberate him in Joplin.
Well, Well, that all, you know, it didn’t work.
They quickly found out that, no, the train’s going to go be traveling all night and be in Kansas City in the morning.
And so Vern Miller gets pulled off the golf course.
This would have been June the 16th. Yes, that’s right. So what’s going on?
What else is going on? And this is what’s fascinating about it is that the parallel to all of this is that early in the morning in Missouri, Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Ricchetti are on the run together.
Adam Ricchetti is Pretty Boy Floyd’s 24-year-old alcoholic sidekick.

[27:35] And they’re in Bolivar, Missouri, and they’re actually having their car worked on at the Bitzer car dealership in Bolivar, Missouri.
And the reason why they were there is because Adam Ricchetti’s brother worked there as a mechanic.
And so pretty boy Floyd and Adam Ricchetti – and Adam Ricchetti – it’s 730 in the morning. Adam Ricchetti is already drunk.
He’s already been drinking. it. And so the local constabulary there, a fellow named Jack Killingsworth was the sheriff of Bolivar, Missouri.
He comes strolling into the car dealership basically just to get a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze a little bit. You know, it’s a little town.
Everybody knows each other. You know, they didn’t know that pretty boy Floyd and he were there and or Killingsworth didn’t know this.
Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Ricchetti

[28:20] So he innocently goes strolling into the car dealership. Well, Adam Ricchetti is not well composed because he’s drunk and he’s you know immediately blurts out that’s the law and he pulls out a gun well next thing you know pretty boy floyd has to pull out a gun too next yeah now now they’re holding the sheriff at gunpoint and well now the whole game plan’s changed now because.

[28:45] They’ve got you know they’ve elevated escalated this whole thing and so is their car fixed yet Yeah, no.
So they took a new car, said, well, we’re taking a car off of the lot.
And then they put Killingsworth into the car and they went off into the cat roads of Missouri.
And then they were driving for a while, zigzagging back and forth through the, you know, making their way up to Kansas City. And then they took as another hostage a fellow named Walter Griffith, who was a salesman.
And so now they’re traveling.
Ruschetti and Pretty Boy Floyd have Killingsworth and Walter Griffith as hostages as they make their way up to Kansas City.
Now, the interesting thing is that a couple of Missouri highway patrolmen had been killed, I believe, either the 14th or 15th of June.

[29:38] Everybody thought Pretty Boy Floyd had done it. And so there was this huge manhunt on for Pretty Boy Floyd. Logical suspects. Right. They were there.
Exactly. But he didn’t do it. And they did find. They find who did it. Yes, who did it.
But nevertheless, so there was this huge manhunt going on for Pretty Boy Floyd.
And when I say man, I mean, they’re planes flying overhead and you’ve got these parallel events going on that are otherwise disconnected because pretty boy Floyd and Frank Nash did not know each other.
Pretty boy Floyd and Vern Miller did not know each other. They ran in different criminal circles.
Separate Parties Converging

[30:15] They were not associated. They were not affiliated.
They never met each other. There was no nexus or connection, which is what made – That’s going to become important later on.
Very important because the FBI is scratching its head saying, well, we think that these are the people that are involved, but how could that be?
Because they don’t have any connection with each other. There’s no rationale.

[30:35] So we’ve got all these guys are converging on Kansas City. Right, right.
And why don’t we – let’s go ahead and wind that down right now, and then we will reconvene and we’ll do the day of the massacre because that’s an important day.
Okay, yeah. Well, let’s get there. We’ll set the stage. So you’ve got two federal agents.
You’ve got Joe Lackey, Frank Smith, and then you have Otto Reed, who is the McAllister, Oklahoma sheriff.
He wants to see Frank make it back to his home in Leavenworth, Kansas, courtesy of the federal government.
And so they’re on the train.
Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Ricchetti with Walter Griffith and Sheriff Jack Killingsworth are making their way up to Kansas City.
And it’s really interesting because they took breaks and they took picnics together and they stopped.
And Killingsworth said that – and he talked at length with Pretty Boy Floyd, who –.

[31:35] Waxed nostalgically and reflectively over his life and what had led him to where he was and how he regretted a lot of his actions and how he had a little boy that he cared about so much, all of which was true, and that he didn’t really mean for things to turn out this way.
It’s just the way that it did.
And that he didn’t mean to be mean to people and he didn’t want to hurt anybody or anything like that.
But sometimes they had to do things that obviously obviously resulted in people getting hurt.
And Killingsworth, he later described it. He said that me and Pretty Boy Floyd, we’ve come to become plum good friends.

[32:13] Just a good old boy. I just love that. Plum good friends.
A great idiomatic bit of speech.
Pretty Boy Floyd Arrives in Kansas City

[32:22] But so you have these separate parties making their way to Kansas And what happens is Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Ricchetti arrive with Walter Griffith and Sheriff Killingsworth, and they go into the West Bottoms down at 9th and Hickory.
And Pretty Boy Floyd gets out of the car, and he makes a phone call.
And about 20 minutes later, a car comes pulling around, and Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Ricchetti, they offload all their guns and all their personal items into the car that’s picking them up.
And then they threaten Killingsworth and Walter Griffith to start walking and don’t ever say anything or else we’ll come back and hunt you down. Yeah. And and.

[33:07] Pretty Boy Floyd gave Sheriff Killingsworth his golf clubs when he exited the car.
And so what happened when Pretty Boy Floyd came to town?
Well, Pretty Boy Floyd was a – he gravitated toward Kansas City all the time.
Kansas City was Pretty Boy Floyd’s favorite city because he obviously had a network of people here.
If he could call somebody and have them come and pick him up right away and take guns. Absolutely.
And Pretty Boy Floyd had already been in a big shootout in Kansas City at the Lusko Noto flower shop, which was a front for alcohol distribution, but also was just part of the mob.
There was a warren of rooms above the flower shop where all kinds of notorious and unsavory characters hung out.
And Pretty Boy Floyd was involved in a prohibition bust there, and he shot it out with federal agents.
And he managed to escape, and a federal agent was killed in that.
And an innocent bystander was killed as they were shooting at him as he was running out into the street.
And one of the things is that after Pretty Boy Floyd served his original sentence at the Missouri Penitentiary in the mid-1920s and was released, first place he came was Kansas City. Of course, got arrested for vagrancy.

[34:27] And, you know, they said, look, just leave town and we’ll drop the charges.
But he kept coming back to town all the time.
But one of the things is he had said, I am never going to prison again.
I will not be taken alive. I will do whatever it takes, but I am never going back to prison.
And, frankly, he never was taken back to prison. And that’s what made him so dangerous to lawmen.
Correct. Because he had nothing to lose.
And he meant every word. And Preboy Fuller is a stocky, athletic, tough guy.
He looks like he would have been a great high school wrestler or something like that.
And he grew up on a farm and a loving family. And so he was a people person.
He enjoyed people. He had a beautiful wife, a wonderful wife.
He had a great little boy, and so in many ways, he had a lot of positive attributes, although he also killed the husbands of the two women that he eventually went on the lam with when he went up to Buffalo, New York.
He and another guy killed these two guys because, well, they just basically needed him out of the picture.
So Pretty Boy Floyd developed into a real murderous character.
So anyway, they get dropped off there at 9th and Hickory in the west bombs.
Dominic Bonaggio’s Involvement

[35:44] They get picked up by a car. Well, the car was sent by Dominic Bonaggio.

[35:49] Now, Dominic Bonaggio is the older brother of… Charlie Bonaggio, who would later lead the mafia in Kansas City in the 1940s and of course be executed in Democratic headquarters on Truman Boulevard underneath a huge picture of Harry Truman, a very notorious mob hit.
Well, this is Charlie’s older brother, Dominic, who ran a bar in downtown Kansas City. It was the Sexton Hotel Bar.
Trust me, he was no shrinking violet. He killed a man in his bar one time.
And so when pretty boy Floyd gets into town and Bonagio sends the car around for him to pick him up, Bonagio also – now this is – it’s unknown whether he went and personally saw Johnny Lazio or he somehow got hold of him on the telephone.

[36:37] But Johnny Lazio used to hold court down at the Harvey restaurant at the Union Station, and Johnny Lazio was there on June 16th, the night before the massacre went down.
Lazzia and Pretty Boy Floyd

[36:50] And it was there that Johnny Lazzia came to learn of the fact that Pretty Boy Floyd was in town because Dominic Bonagio, comporting himself with the rules of governance of organized crime in Kansas City, he reported to Lazzia, said, hey, I want you to know Pretty Boy Floyd is in town.
I’ve got him. I’m providing him safekeeping right now and everything’s fine.
But I just want you to know he’s here.
OK, well, thank you very much. That’s just good information to have.
And then, you know, shortly thereafter, Vern Miller.

[37:26] Arrives down at Union Station. And Lassie is down there with his gang.
You know, it’s Gaetano Lococo and Mad Dog Gargata and Sam Scola and Gus Fasone and Charlie Carolla and all these guys, right?
They’re all, you know. I got a picture of all those guys with Judge Louis Mazzucci. Is that right?
He was a sitting judge when I came on the police department, but he was sitting right in the front row of them getting ready to make a political speech.
Oh, yeah. I just saw that that recently on Facebook. That is a great picture.
In fact, I wrote this fellow. I said, man, that’s a very important picture.
It is. You know, Johnny Lassie is down there. Another guy that’s down there is a guy named Jimmy Needles LaCapra. And he was called Needles because he was a heroin addict.
And he was Sam Scola’s brother-in-law. And he was actually part of the coterie of Lassie’s gang at that moment.
Vern Miller Meets Pretty Boy Floyd

[38:17] And so, Vern Miller comes down to see Lassie and he He says, I want to liberate my good buddy, Frank Nash, who they’re going to bring through Union Station tomorrow morning. Can I use some of your men?

[38:29] And Lazio says, no, no, you can’t use my men. We don’t have any interest in this. But I’ll tell you what, pretty boy Floyd’s in town.
How would you like to use him? There you go. And so that really is how they came together because when Vern Miller said, yeah, that’ll be fine, then Lazio told Sam Scola, he said, fix him up.
Get whatever weapons they need, and introduce Vern Miller to Pretty Boy Floyd.
Now, how all of that went down and what exactly was said, we’ll never know, but it’s fairly certain that those phone calls occurred and the meeting occurred. Yes, absolutely.

2 thoughts on “Union Station Massacre Part 1”

  1. Very informative. Too bad the Black Hand Strawman book isn’t made available in Kindle if it wasnt going to be available again another print run.

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