(Will's notes: For those of you who may have been unaware, my book Infernal Machines is now available to the public. You can pick it up either on Amazon or at Barnes&Noble(.com) .
Which is great. I mean, I couldn't be happier about getting the book published. But when I started this blog, I always wanted it to be the sort of place where folks could come by, have a laugh and maybe find out about some cool shit they never knew - you know, the secondary reason for the existence of the Internet [The primary reason being, of course, Porn.]
So, with that in mind, I'd like to get back to the business of blogging about the weird shit that I either come across while researching stuff for other sites, or otherwise just pops into my head due to whatever bad chemistry I have cooking up there. This week is some stuff about the Kansas City Massacre. Rock on.)
Verne Nash & The Kansas City Massacre
So in the 1930’s, Hot Springs Arkansas was kind of like the Post-Prohibition Era Vegas. Not current Vegas mind you, but more like the Meyer Lansky/Bugs Moran era Vegas, only with way, way more syphilis. It was a favorite retreat of Al Capone along with the rest of the Chicago Syndicate, and the Hot Springs PD had absolutely no problem looking out for the gangsters as long as they were funneling a Mississippi River-sized stream of cash into the burgeoning villa’s array of crooked casinos...
...And oddly enough, bait and tackle shops.
(Fact: You could ask for a “Red Wiggler” at 2/3rds of the aforementioned businesses and get, well… something)
For about 10 years, a guy named Frank “Jelly” Nash was inconveniencing much of the Midwest by robbing every third or fourth business he walked into and then more often than not shooting his co-conspirators in the back after the robberies were complete. While there’s no confirmation on whether or not he was actually in fact The Joker, Nash still maintained enough underworld clout to establish a hiding place for himself in Hot Springs once Federal Agents began looking for him in earnest.
FBI Agents Frank Smith and F. Joseph Lackey discovered Nash’s whereabouts and enlisted the help of a decorated Oklahoma cop named Otto Reed to hunt down Nash and bring him to justice. While this might seem like an uncharacteristic merging of law enforcement jurisdictions, bear in mind that in 1933 most FBI agents were still not permitted to carry firearms.
Somehow, Agents Smith and Lackey were able to Jedi-mind-trick Frank Nash into cuffing himself and climbing into their car, after which the Agents and their Police escort wisely decided to get the fuck out of Hot Springs, and fast. However, Nash’s gangland connections were already on the line with Verne Miller, who was pretty much the Post-Prohibition Era’s answer to Anton Sigur.
(Imagine this guy, only without all the warmth...)
(Told ya so.)
Miller had already made his bones as a competent Yegg Man (which was Post-Prohibition Era slang for Bank Robber), having worked with both the Barker Gang and the infamous Machine Gun Kelly, although unlike them, his name wasn’t splashed across the papers. This may have been due to the fact that his moonlighting as a hit man with the New York based Murder Incorporated required him to stay somewhat “low-pro”. Verne Miller was one industrious evil motherfucker.
More likely though, his anonymity was on account of before any of that stuff began, he was the Sheriff of Huron, South Dakota.
Well, Nash’s underworld connections asked Miller to handle the situation with the Federal Agents, and handle it the former Sheriff did, intercepting the arrest party at the Kansas City Union Station with enough hardware to bring down fucking Robocop and basically shooting everyone to smithereens, including Frank Nash, whom he’d been dispatched originally to rescue.
The nationwide manhunt for Verne Miller lasted more than a year, culminating with a sit-down between the Chicago SAC and Syndicate Mob Boss Frank Nitti, after enough leads confirmed Miller’s whereabouts to be somewhere in the Windy City. Well aware that the Chicago Mob also had just about enough of Miller’s antics, the Feds asked Nitti to keep the Mob out of it, and just let the feds handle this one. Nitti, being the helpful sort of Kingpin, said of course, no problem.
Coincidentally, about a week later the FBI did locate Miller in a vacant lot not far from Bridgeport, laying naked next to a hammer and missing most of his head.
(He died as he lived, pretty much up to his armpits in blood.)