Wednesday, October 31, 2012


11/1/1933 - After months of hunting in the aftermath of the Kansas City Massacre in which government agent Raymond J. Caffrey, officers W. J. Grooms & Frank Hermanson, Police Chief Otto Reed, and bank robber Frank Nash are all killed, the FBI believes it has found the man that orchestrated the bloodbath, lawman turned murderer Verne Miller, and are set to make an arrest.

                                         Moments after the shooting ends

Connecting through a tip nightclub waitress Bobbie Moore to Miller's girlfriend, Vi Mathias, the members of the Chicago branch of the FBI put the Sherone Apartments where the women are living under surveillance, with Special Agent John Madala posing as an traveling auditor moving into a nearby unit.  Three days later, on Halloween, a man wearing horned-rim glasses with a sandy mustache shows up at the apartments.  Is it the sought after Miller?

                                                    Verne Miller

Madala contacts his headquarters and soon the building and street outside are full of hiding law enforcement officers ... some wanting to storm the unit Miller appears to be inside, others wanting a 100% identification before arresting the man when he comes out.  With Melvin Purvis out of town, the senior agent in charge is Ed Guinane who decides on accosting the man when he leaves the apartment with a plan in which a hand chopping motion will unleash six agents now inside Madala's apartment to swarm into the hallway, while the agents outside will be signaled to stream inside by Guinane waving a jacket at them from the apartment window.  Actors in their places, the wait then begins ... and as tensions mount, lasts into mid-afternoon of the next day.  As if an episode of the Keystone Kops was unreeling, accompanied by Mathias in a pair of green silk pajamas, the suspect finally leaves the apartment and is immediately identified as Miller (through a ventilation shutter looking out on the hallway by FBI secretary Doris Rogers and Agent Edward Notesteen, both of whom knew Miller from his days in South Dakota), but at the exact wrong moment ... Guinane who is to receive the hand motion to swarm the corridor has stepped into the living room.  Miller, sensing eyes on him and hearing yelling from inside the apartment he just passed takes off running towards the floor's elevator.  Attack now confirmed with shouts of "It's Miller!", the door to Unit 211 flies open ... and becomes a logjam as all six officers in the room try to get through at the same time.  Out in seconds, they run down the hall, find no one at the elevator, and almost shoot a man that just happens to also be in the corridor ... Miller has taken the stairs!

                                  Mathias and her daughter Betty - 1928

Outside, agents see a man exit the building that looks like Miller, trot over to Bobbie Moore's Auburn and then get into the car's passenger seat.  They do nothing however because no jacket has been waved from the apartment window above ... no jacket waved because Guinane has become caught up in the excitement in the hallway and has forgotten to give the signal.  Action finally begins downstairs when a number of agents come bursting out of the apartment building chasing after Miller.  Unleashed finally, Agent Lew Nichols jumps out of his hiding place on the street as the outlaw begins to drive away, running alongside the vehicle and ordering it to stop ... and is rewarded for his alacrity and awareness to the situation by being fired on by Miller (both shots miss).  Shot at, Nichols returns fires, Agent Allen Lockerman springs from the car he has been waiting in and empties his revolver at the vehicle, and a state trooper fires two machine gun bursts at the Auburn ... all miss doing vital damage to Miller (traces of blood are found later in the car), but do take out the rear window and make the holed vehicle unfit to drive in the rain.  


Despite overwhelming forces being arrayed against him, Miller has escaped ... a result that causes J. Edgar Hoover to become livid when he hears the news!

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