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John S. McCain POW CIA-Defense Department Documents

 Greenlease Kidnaping FBI Files


231 pages of files copied from FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., covering the Greenlease Kidnaping. Considered at the time to be one of the more tragic and fascinating crimes of the century, the kidnaping and murder of 6 year old Bobby Greenlease, the son of a wealthy businessman, captured the public's attention in 1953 to a degree near that of the Lindbergh kidnaping. The Greenleases paid $600,000 of ransom, the highest ransom paid in American history at that time, most of it was never recovered.

The FBI investigated the September 28, 1953, abduction of Robert Cosgrove Greenlease, Jr. On October 5, 1953 and October 7, 1953 respectively, Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady were apprehended for the kidnaping and murder of the Greenlease boy. Documents summarizes case information including the apprehension of Hall and Heady, statements of Hall and Heady, chronology of events, elimination of suspects, corroborating and physical evidence.

Hall and Heady were executed together in Missouri's gas chamber at the State Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Missouri, on December 18, 1953, 81 days after the kidnaping. Hall was pronounced dead at 12:12 a.m. and Heady was pronounced dead twenty seconds later.

At approximately 10:55 a.m. on September 28, 1953, Sister Morand of the French Institute of Notre Dame De Sion, a school for small children in Kansas City, Missouri, answered the door and was confronted by a woman who said she was the aunt of Bobby Greenlease. Robert Cosgrove Greenlease, Jr., known as Bobby, was six years old and the son of Robert Cosgrove Greenlease, Sr., a wealthy automobile dealer who resided in Mission Hills, Kansas City, Missouri. The woman informed Sister Morand that Bobby's mother had just suffered a heart attack and had been taken to St. Mary's Hospital.

A few hours after the kidnapping, the Greenleases received the first ransom letter concerning the return of their son. The first letter, mailed special delivery and postmarked 6:00 p.m.on September 28, 1953, demanded $600,000 in 20-dollar and 10-dollar bills which was to be placed in a duffle bag. The kidnappers promised Bobby's safe return in 24 hours and as long as there were no tricks in delivering the money.

The second ransom letter was postmarked 9:30 p.m. on September 29, 1953. Inside the envelope in which this letter was mailed was the Jerusalem medal which had been worn by Bobby Greenlease. The letter again contained demands for $600,000 and stated that Bobby was okay but homesick. Overall, the Greenleases received over a half dozen ransom notes and 15 telephone calls.

The final communication between the Greenleases and the kidnappers was a telephone call received at 1:00 a.m. on October 5, 1953, at the Greenlease residence. The kidnappers stated that they had received the $600,000 ransom money and assured the Greenleases that their son was alive and that he would be returned in 24 hours.

Unknown to the family, the kidnappers, Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady, had killed the boy soon after the abduction and buried the body near Heady's house in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Hall was interrogated by FBI Agents and other law enforcement agencies several times after his arrest and emphatically insisted that practically all of the $600,000 ransom money was in his possession at the time he was arrested by the St. Louis Police Department. Over half of the $600,000 was never found. FBI investigation established that the two suitcases which reportedly contained the ransom money, and which were in Hall's possession at the time of his arrest, were not brought to the 11th District Precinct Station as testified by the arresting officers, Lieutenant Louis Ira Shoulders and Patrolman Elmer Dolan. Both officers were subsequently federally indicted for perjury. Lieutenant Shoulders was convicted on April 15, 1954, and sentenced to three years in prison, and patrolman Dolan was convicted on March 31, 1954, and sentenced to two years. After they were released from prison, both returned to the St. Louis area. Shoulders died on May 12, 1962. Dolan received a full pardon from President Johnson on July 21, 1965.


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