George "Machine Gun Kelly" Barnes
George "Machine Gun Kelly" Barnes was a small time bank robber and bootlegger who became famous for the kidnapping of american oil tycoon Charles F. Urschel and the time he spent on Alcatraz.
Who was Machine Gun Kelly?
George Celino Barnes was born in a small town in Memphis, Tennessee in July 18, 1895, as a kid he received little schooling from his mom. Growing up he was known to be a petty thief and a bit of a rebel.
Early Life as a Criminal
In his mid 20's he started a bootlegging business in Memphis. But as soon as the business was becoming more important he left Memphis to avoid getting into fights. In 1927 he tried to get into the bootlegging business in New Mexico but got caught while delivering liquor to a client. Three months later after leaving jail he continued his business in Fort Worth, Texas.
While delivering alcohol in Fort Worth Texas he met a woman and fell in love with her, Cathryn Thorne. Thorne and him quickly got together, and she started to turn him into something he wasn't, a big time crook. Supposedly she made him practice so much that he could shoot a walnut of a a fence without damaging the fence, When in truth he hated violence.
A Thorn by his Side
Still involved in the bootlegging business he went to jail in 1930 because he drove a car full of liquor in the Oklahoma Indian Reservation. He was given a brief stint at the Leavenworth prison where he was a model prisoner. Cathryn had told him to befriend bank robbers that could help them when he escaped, and he did. He was a really good inmate both for the guards and for the other inmates, so he landed a job in the prisons record office. Working there he helped bank robbers Tomas Holden and Francis Keating. In 1931 his prison sentence was over.
After leaving jail he married Cathryn Thorne. He worked with multiple gangs planning robberies from his release in 1931 to 1933 in Texas, Mississippi and Washington. in job in Wilmer, Texas when 1 guard died Thorne bragged that he did it but probably it was another gang member.
A Step up
His bank robberies didn't bring in enough money to satisfy Thorne, who liked expensive things. So in July 22, 1933 one of the member of their gang, Alfred Bates sneaked into the house of american oil businessman Charles F. Urschel and kidnapped him. Urschel was blindfolded and taken to Thorne's family ranch on Texas, where he was kept on a 1 room shack. After negotiating the gang eventually got the money they wanted $200,000 (around $3,000,000 adjusted to inflation) from a fiend of Urschel E. E. Kirkpatrick. Then they dropped off Urschel in the side of the road in Oklahoma city where they gave him $10 for a Taxi.
The Aftermath of the Kidnapping
After being picked up by the police Urschel who had an excellent memory lead them to the ranch where they arrested Thorne's father, her mom and her stepbrother. After that the gang moved to Chicago. After the FBI found Bates near Denver, Colorado thorn and him moved to Memphis, Tennessee near where he had grown up. People there quickly identified him and called the police. On September 26, 1933 three Memphis detectives found him and Thorne in a small bungalow, where the first thing he said was "I've been waiting for you all night".
Life in Jail (Again)
In 1933 Thorne, Bates and Machine gun Kelly where sentenced to a lifetime in prison. Kelly died from a heart attack in the Leavenworth state penitentiary on July 18 1954 after having been recently transferred from Alcatraz, he died in his birthday. He died at the age of 59.
Machine Gun Kelly