Tuesday, February 5, 2013


2/7/1935 - Tracked from Glasgow, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri by FBI agents, Barker-Karpis gang member Volney "Curley" Davis is arrested for the 1934 kidnapping of St. Paul businessman Edward Bremer when he goes to retrieve his Pontiac from a local garage the authorities have under surveillance.  He will not remain in custody for long.  

                                              Kidnapping headlines

An outlaw with back robbery, kidnapping, murder, and multiple prison escapes, the decision is made to get Davis to St. Paul as quickly as possible ... by way of the air.  Chartering a small plane for the mission, in the custody of Special Agents Garrity and Trainor, everything is okay until the plane requires a Chicago refueling before moving on to St. Paul.  Finding solid overcast hides the airport, the plane heads west and finally finds clear weather and a bumpy place to land in the fields of Eugene Matlock's farm south of Yorkville, Illinois.  Not a common occurrence, neighbor Bill Ford drives over to the plane to find out if he can be of assistance ... assistance that becomes driving the agents and their prisoner into town where they can make a phone call to check in with the Chicago office.  Jangled by the landing, feeling that Davis has gone through enough for the time being, the agents decide to make it easier for the outlaw to move to the car over the muddy field by removing their docile prisoner's leg shackles ... and in the drive into town, so as not to start talk or create a panic among the locals, they also remove Davis' handcuffs.  Both decisions are serious errors of judgment.    

                                                    Volney Davis

At the Hotel Nading, the men enter the establishment's tavern to take care of business ... Trainor to call Chicago from the pub's phone booth and Garrity to have a beer to settle his nerves.  Being a gentleman, the FBI agent also buys Davis a brew.  Very uncordially   though, instead of drinking his beer, the bandit uses the glass it comes in to clobber Garrity over the head, sending the agent on to his back over his bar stool.  By the time Garrity staggers to his feet, draws his weapon, and fires three shots in the outlaw's direction, Davis has jumped head-first through a nearby window, run across the hotel's lawn, and hurdled an iron fence.  All the bullets miss.  In flight, Davis zigzags his way southwest through a number of alleys, removes his blue overcoat to change his appearance and better his running abilities, and in a few moments luckily finds what he is seeking on a deserted street ... a Ford V-8 with a full tank of gas and with its keys in the ignition.  Goodbye Yorkville, goodbye FBI! 

                                                      Alcatraz mugshot

It is only temporary freedom however.  Davis will be corralled again by the FBI in Chicago in June, and found guilty of participating in the Bremer kidnapping, will be sent off to Alcatraz for life (he will eventually be paroled in the 1950s and quietly live out his life in Oregon, dying of natural causes on July 20, 1979 at the age of 77).

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