Wednesday, April 3, 2013

THE MURDER OF EDDIE GREEN

4/3/1934 - Made aware as a result of Saturday's gun battle at the Lincoln Court Apartments that Dillinger and members of his gang have been hiding in St. Paul, Department of Justice agents fan out through the city and using a phone number found in the outlaw's abandoned unit, hit paydirt when they locate an apartment on Marshall Avenue that has recently been used by Homer Van Meter and Eddie Green.  At the hideout the authorities find an assortment of bandit paraphernalia ... a shoulder holster, a array of ammunition for a variety of weapons, a two-foot dynamite fuse, three notebooks full of getaway routes, maps of Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota, fourteen silver dollars, license plates, airline schedules, a stock for a Thompson sub-machine gun, and seven empty bank wrappers.  Processing the site, agents are still in the apartment dusting for fingerprints when Lucy Jackson and Leona Goodman, two black sisters who do household work for a host of St. Paul crooks, show up to clean the unit and retrieve a number of suitcases for their employer, a white man calling himself D. A. Stevens.  Questioning Jackson and Goodman, and threatening them both with multiple years of jail time if they don't cooperate, a plan soon forms to greet the mysterious Mr. Stevens when he comes to pick up his luggage from the women.

                                  
                                                    Eddie Green

Mr. Stevens is actually Eddie Green, a thirty-four-year-old bandit with the specialty of casing banks before their robberies, an outlaw that has sold his services to Frank Nash, members of the Barker-Karpis gang, Baby Face Nelson, and now Dillinger.

         
The FBI's plan to deal with Mr. Stevens is simple, stupid, and criminal ... upset at recent gunfights and escapes, on orders from Inspector William Rorer, instead of attempting to capture the man who comes to claim the suitcases from Goodman's home, agents of the Department of Justice will shoot him.  Returning to Goodman's Rondo Avenue home, an ambush is quickly set up featuring several agents hidden on the street, a gunner in an upstairs window of the house, and in killing positions on the ground floor, Special Agents George Gross and Edward Notesteen.  Ready to take care of business, Gross is armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun, while Notesteen carries a lethal shotgun.  For three hours the agents anxiously wait until finally, at 5:30 pm, a green Terraplane sedan pulls up to the address, parks across the street, and a man in a dark overcoat gets out.  It is Eddie Green (he is accompanied by his common-law wife, Bessie Skinner, who stays in the car reading a magazine and listening to the radio) come to claim his property.

          
                                                         Rondo Avenue

Moving to the kitchen door of the home, Green knocks and Goodman answers, giving the outlaw his suitcase.  However, before he can give the cleaning lady the $10 for the job that had been promised, Goodman shuts the door in his face.  Perplexed, Green pauses for a moment, then turns and starts back to his car.  Inside, Notesteen asks whether the man outside is the one involved in the apartment assignment.  When Goodman's assent is given, Notesteen yells, "Let him have it!"  Doing as commanded, Gross smashes the barrel of his weapon through the front room window and opens up on Green, firing off a burst of bullets that smash the outlaw's right shoulder and tear through the back of his skull, coming to rest above his right eye.  And just in case, to insure escape is impossible, Noteseen takes out the car's tires with his shotgun while the upstairs sniper blasts a hole in the Terraplane's radiator.  It is all over in seconds.  Searched as he lays bleeding on the sidewalk, Green is found to not be carrying a weapon and the government claims begin of furtive hand movements towards the outlaw's pants pocket that cause the shooting.  No gun, no request for surrender, and shot in the back ... the FBI tries to justify its actions after the fact, but the killing is, and remains, an outright murder.

                              
                                         Ancker Hospital - 1900s

Taken to nearby Ancker Hospital, Green lingers for nine delirious days of agony before dying ... nine days in which a government agent is at his bedside the entire time, taking down every word of his ravings for later analysis, and nine days in which rumors begin of medical treatments being withheld to elicit information from the wounded man (and agents will pretend to be doctors, lawyers, and members of the gang to keep the bandit talking).  Also, it is a period of time in which agents press Green's wife on the activities of her husband and his associates, pressing hard enough that she identifies hiding places, lists the members of the Dillinger gang and their girlfriends, and verifies the participation of the Barker-Karpis gang in the kidnappings of both William Hamm and Edward Bremer.  Green passes on the 12th, the first of the new Dillinger gang to go down, but not the last ... next up to meet his maker, by way of lawman slugs, will be Tommy Carroll.

                                   
                                               Dillinger poses for his family

The shooting and arrest are the end of St. Paul being a haven for bank robbing outlaws, and recognizing that fact, Dillinger leaves town as soon as the news breaks that Green has been shot.  Boldness personified, or stupidity, for a temporary hiding place he selects a location fraught with dangers ... the most hunted man in America, accompanied by his girlfriend Billie, the outlaw is now headed for a family reunion at his father's Indiana farm.


2 comments:

  1. I'm looking for more in formation on Bessie. Any ideas where I could look?

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  2. Yes, I recommend the book "Don't Call Us Molls" by Ellen Poulsen ... lots of info on Bessie and the other women the Dillinger Gang was involved with.

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