Friday, May 16, 2014


4/16/1931 - The vacation of outlaws Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd and William "Billy the Killer" Miller comes to a sudden end in the college town of Bowling Green, Ohio.


Seeking a respite from the heat that has come their way due to the recent gun murders of the Ash Brothers in Kansas City, the two men and their new girlfriends, sisters Rose Ash (23) and Beulah Baird (21), formerly the amours of the dead brothers, decide to take a "honeymoon" vacation in northwestern Ohio ... one they pay for by taking several thousand dollars out the Mount Zion Deposit Bank of Ellison, Kentucky and the Whitehouse Bank of Whitehouse, Ohio.  Wallets full, then it is time to relax and prove that crime does actually pay by treating themselves to fine clothes, expensive meals, first-class accommodations, and all the "spicy" entertainments the area has to offer.  Living the good life ... and the citizens of Bowling Green noticing they are brings an abrupt end to the outlaw's fun.

                                      Downtown - Site of the Shootout

Checking out a series of tips that have accumulated over a week about a foursome of well dressed strangers driving a sedan with Missouri license plates that are spending money all over town, Police Chief Carl "Shorty" Galliher and twenty-eight-year-old Officer Ralph "Zibe" Castner decide to investigate when they receive yet another call about the visitors.  Taking their squad car downtown, in only a few minutes of cruising the lawmen sight their quarry outside of Main Street's Uhlman's Clothing Store.  Just done casing a nearby bank and having themselves freshened up at a local barbershop, Floyd and Miller are there to treat their girlfriends to one more shopping spree; seeking fancy dresses for a night on the town the outlaws have planned for later that evening.  The gunmen and their girls are just about to enter the store when Bowling Green's finest pull up in front of the dress shop.

Always alert to the presence of police officers, Floyd is the first to react when he sees Galliher and Castner exiting their vehicle with their revolvers already in hand.  Quiet Thursday afternoon over in a heartbeat, the outlaw draws his .45, yells, "Bill!  Duck!" and begins firing a split second before the other three men also unload on each other.  In the mayhem that follows as bullets fly up and down the street with pedestrians scrambling for cover, Miller collapses to the ground from the fatal chunk of lead deposited in his belly, Castner crumbles to the pavement with Floyd bullets in his abdomen and right thigh (he will continue firing from a prone position until his gun is empty, dying of his wounds later that night at a local hospital), and a hysterically screaming Beulah is dropped by a ricochet round to the back of her head (she will survive and both sisters will be released from custody after being questioned by authorities).


Fight ... and flight!  Having assuaged his first instinct to attack, Floyd instantly goes into secondary survival mode when his automatic clicks on empty, and jumping out from the parked car he has been hiding behind, breaks into a full out sprint, bowling over people and dodging between parked and moving vehicles, as he runs for the assumed safety of the car he and Miller have stashed on the nearby street of East Wooster.  A former star tackle for his high school football team, a panting Chief Galliher chases after Floyd but fails to catch the quicker bandit before he reaches the sedan.  Jumping into the car as a last bullet from Galliher pings off its rear fender, the outlaw pushes the car to its maximum performance as he grinds gears, drives up a sidewalk, flies through red lights, careens over a lawn, and then speeds down an alley heading south, leaving Bowling Green forever.

Vanished, vowing never to return to Ohio (a vow he will fatally forget in 1934) ... Floyd's next public appearance will not be until July 20th, when raiding prohibition officers accidentally discover his hiding place above a Kansas City flower shop (and another lawman dies).


Just another Depression Era thug at the time of his badly ended vacation, Floyd leaves Bowling Green as a notorious Public Enemy with a catchy nickname the public can follow as he forges a legendary and infamous career as an outlaw and murderer.  Still upset about the recent killings of her two sons, when newsmen approach Sadie Ash at the madam's Kansas City home to discuss the Bowling Green shootout, her first response is to ask, "Did they get Pretty Boy?"  Pretty Boy?  A nickname never heard before outside of gin joints and brothels (his closest friends and family call him "Choc"), the journalists are entranced, and Charles Arthur Floyd will be known by that moniker, a name he hates, until the day he dies ... and beyond.


  1. Love this article! I live in East Liverpool, the town where Mr. Floyd lost his life. I am looking for a picture of Billy the Killer Miler and hoped you had one. But loved reading the article!

  2. Been looking for a picture of him myself ... strange sometimes how there is a ton of material on some folks, and others not much past a name ... oh well ... search goes on!