"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Crazy Larry

July 8, 1936 saw the bloody demise of Depression Era desperado Lawrence DeVol. A member of the Barker-Karpis gang, DeVol was known as an especially trigger happy psycho who had killed a number of police officers.

DeVol became an associate of Karpis when they both escaped from Kansas State Reformatory in 1929. In 1933 DeVol was arrested after participating in a bank robbery that resulted in the death of three people. DeVol pleaded guilty and was sent away to a prison for the criminally insane. In June of 1936 he lead an escape of fifteen inmates. By early July he and another escapee, Donald Reeder, had robbed a few banks in Kansas and were laying low in Enid, Oklahoma planning future robberies. 

On July 8, DeVol and Reeder stopped into a beer parlor with a couple of dates. The proprietor didn't like the looks of them and thought they might be there to rob him. (Later he would state that a few weeks prior he heard DeVol's description given over the radio on the show Gang Busters and recognized him) Either way, the saloonkeeper called the cops. 

Two police men, officers Cal Palmer and Ralph Knarr, entered and approached DeVol's table and asked him to leave with them. "Let me finish my beer and I'll go with you." DeVol responded. As he drained his stein with one hand, DeVol drew a gun from his pocket with the other and opened fire on the cops, Palmer died immediately and Knarr was seriously wounded. 

DeVol and his companions fled from the place. Other police in the vicinity started to chase the desperado who jumped onto the running board of a car in an attempt to escape but the car came to a halt. Officers opened fire on the gunman who returned the fire as he tried to getaway on foot. After a few rounds the lawmen's bullets found their mark and DeVol dropped to the street dead.

Lawrence DeVol

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Kennedy Shot!


July 7, 1933 saw the demise of Toledo bootlegger and nightclub entrepreneur Jack Kennedy.  Though only in his early twenties, Kennedy was said to be fearless; so when a gang of Detroit gangsters headed by Thomas "Yonnie" Licavoli came to town in an attempt to monopolize Toledo's underworld; Kennedy refused to kneel.

The first attempt came on December 1, 1932 when Kennedy and his girlfriend, Louise Bell, were riding in Jack's coupe in downtown Toledo. When they stopped for a light, an auto, with Michigan plates, containing four men, armed with possibly two machineguns, pulled up alongside them and opened fire. Kennedy got through unscathed but his girlfriend was struck in the head by a bullet and later died at the hospital. According to witnesses, after the shooting, the gunmen headed towards Detroit.

The following summer the boys from Detroit finished the job when they traced Kennedy to his home in the shore community of Point Place just outside of Toledo. (since annexed by the city). Kennedy and his new girlfriend, Audrey Ralls, left his cottage and walked to the store for some groceries. Upon their return, the realized the milk they had purchased was sour, so headed back to the store. While strolling back home, a man grabbed Ralls from behind and pushed her out of the way while another man fired at least six bullets into Kennedy, killing him.

Witnesses were able to identify the killers and armed with this, as well as evidence from a few other gangland murders, cases were made against Licavoli and his gang and all were sentenced to life in prison.

Jack Kennedy

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

By Person Or Persons Unknown

James "Red" McGee was a former Chicago cop (he quit the force in 1927) who made a failed attempt to become an alderman. The summer of '32 found him as proprietor of the Del Rio Cafe; a speakeasy he purchased a month previous, just across the Chicago line in Evergreen Park. 

On the evening of July 6, 1932 McGee stood at his bar with an associate named Bernie Larkin. Larkin was known as a former member of Ralph Sheldon's gang. He also had a brother named Thomas "the Goat" Larkin, a one time member of Spike O'Donnell's mob. 

As McGee and Larkin stood together, two men entered the establishment. One carrying a shotgun the other a handgun. "Hello Red," one of the men said. As McGee turned to see who called him, the gunmen opened fire. McGee and Larkin dropped to the floor dead. 

According to McGee's wife Margaret, who worked as a cashier at another roadhouse, Red knew he was on the spot but she didn't why. She mentioned that earlier she told Red that she would pick him up around 1 o'clock that evening and drive him home. "No Peggy, you'd better not. I'm hot."

A subsequent search of the premises showed that, in addition to owning the Del Rio, McGee had also been financial secretary for the defunct Cemetery Workers Union.  Police chalked the murder up to McGee failing to buy beer from the right vendor. The investigation was closed the following day with the verdict of murder by person or persons unknown.

James "Red" McGee
Bernie Larkin