Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pretty Boy Floyd

Another chapter in my Murder and Mayhem book concerns the so-called Kansas City Massacre, which occurred at Kansas City's Union Station on June 17, 1933, when three gunmen tried to rescue underworld figure Frank Nash as he was being escorted to federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas. According to the FBI, one of the gunmen was Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, although certain modern-day historians have claimed Floyd was not involved.
What is known for sure is that Floyd and his sidekick, Adam Richetti, started driving from Springfield toward Kansas City early on the morning of June 16 along Highway 13. South of Bolivar, their car broke down, and a passing farmer towed them into Bitzer's garage in Bolivar. Richetti had formerly lived in Bolivar, and his brother still worked at the garage. While the mechanics worked on the disabled vehicle, Sheriff Jack Killingsworth dropped by the garage. Although he was simply paying a friendly visit, Richetti grew suspicious, pulled a machine gun from the floorboard of the car, and threatened to start shooting. A customer pulled into the garage and, seeing the situation, made his escape to a drugstore across the street, where he called the cops.
As the situation started to get out of hand, Floyd took over inside the garage, ordering the hostages to stand against a wall and instructing Richetti to go find a getaway car. Richetti commandeered his brother's car and brought it back to the garage, where he and Floyd transferred guns and other items from the disabled vehicle to the getaway car. Floyd forced Killingsworth into the backseat of the car as a hostage, and it sped away with Richetti at the wheel. Officers gave chase and at one point got very close to the fugitives, but the sheriff, at the point of a gun, waved for the lawmen to back off.
In the late morning, the gangsters exchanged vehicles by waving down a passing motorist and then continued their trip toward KC with the motorist as an additional hostage. Late that night, they let both hostages loose in Kansas City, and early the next morning the Kansas City Massacre occurred.
The FBI identified the ringleader of the gang who pulled the crime as Verne Miller, and Floyd and Richetti were identified as his two sidekicks. Miller was killed in a gang-style murder a few months later. Floyd was killed by police a year or so later, and Richetti was captured, convicted for his role in the crime, and sentenced to death.

5 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 22, 2013 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Larry -

Where can we find your book? I'd be interested in buying a copy.

August 22, 2013 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

In the Springfield area, the book is available from Half Price Books of the Ozarks. In Joplin, it's available at Always Buying Books. Don't know for sure about other brick and mortar stores, but it's also available online directly from the publisher (www.historypress.net)or from places like Amazon.

August 25, 2013 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Chris Rackley said...

my grandfather told a pretty boy Floyd story. The sheriff in Tahlequah Ok was named Billy Blue. He got word that Floyd was going to pass thru and he should "make himself scarce"....Sheriff Blue locked himself in the jail until the bandit went on his way.

March 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

Interesting anecdote, Chris.

April 1, 2014 at 10:11 AM  

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