Greene County, Arkansas

Free-Lance Mobster, All but
Forgotten Was a Pawn in
Kansas City Massacre



Gazette News State Service

PARAGOULD - The simple inscription on the marble slab in the mausoleum in Paragoulds Lindwood Cemetery is unpretentious and belies the history of the violent life and death of one of America's forgotten outlaws.

Frank F. (Jelly) Nash was an unsuspecting pawn in one of the most premeditated mass murders recorded in the annuls of law enforcement--"The Kansas City Massacre."

A free lance mobster, who at various times in his 20-year-career as a self-styled bandit worked with the Barker gang, the Dillinger mob and several independent groups, Nash met his death at the hands of two old friends.

The Massacre, in which four law officers and Nash were slain, was an escape plot engineered by Adam Richetti and assisted by Charles Arthur (Pretty Boy) Floyd and Vernon Miller.

Nash Captured
At Hot Springs

Nash was in custody of federal officers on June 17, 1933. He had been captured at Hot Springs the previous day, climaxing a 2 1/2 year search by FBI agents following Nash's October 19, 1930, escape from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan.         

During his 30 months of freedom, Nash was linked to at least three bank robberies, a kidnapping and ad been accused of assisting in the escape of seven prisoners from Leavenworth in December 1931.

But it was at Hot Springs, where Nash was known to have many underworld contacts and was receiving "protection" according to an FBI report, that he was apprehended.

After his capture in a Hot Springs hotel room, Nash's guard roster was impressive.

Accompanying him to Kansas City by train for transportation to Leavenworth were four FBI agents,

  Otto Reed, who was Chief of Police of McAlester, Okla., and Kansas City Police Officers, W. J. Grooms and Frank Hermanson.

Official FBI Files
Outlines the Events

The official FBI file on Nash outlines the massacre as follows:

"Frank Nash, upon being removed from the train [at Union Station] was immediately taken to the waiting automobile of Special Agent Caffery where he was placed in the right front seat. Two Special Agents took position in the rear seat. Reed, Police Officers Grooms and Hermanson, together with the head if the FBI's Kansas City Office [unnamed] were standing at the right side of Agent Caffery's auto.

It was when Agent Caffery approached the door of this automobile that the three assassins surprised the officers from a point in front of and about 15 to 20 feet to the west of the automobile.

"These men were observed carrying machine guns and other weapons, and in approaching the automobile, shouted: "Up Up.'

"An instant later, the voice of one of the gunman was heard to say, Let'em have it."

"Immediately a fusillade of gunfire came from the weapons of the attackers. Police Officer Grooms and Hermanson were instantly killed. Reed was also badly wounded by bullets, which entered his back, and he was confined to bed several months. Caffery was killed by a bullet which passed through his head as he stood beside the car.

Misdirected Shot
Kills Frank Nash

"The prisoner, Frank Nash, was also killed by a misdirected gunshot that entered his skull, thereby defeating the very purpose of the conspiracy to gain his freedom. [There was some speculation Nash was killed, to keep him quiet.]

  "One Special Agent escaped injury, while the head of the FBI Office received a wound in the arm."

After months of work and investigation, the FBI uncovered evidence that the "scheme" was executed by Richetti, Floyd and Miller, and that also involved the conspiracy were known gangsters Richard Tallman Galatas, Herbert Farmer, Louis Stacci and Frank Mulloy.

The latter four were apprehended in the crime and indicted by a federal Grand Jury the following year.

All were found guilty of conspiracy to cause the escape of a federal prisoner and received the maximum sentence -- two years in the penitentiary and a fine of $10,000.

Miller's body was found in the outskirts od Detroit in November 1934. He was apparently killed after becoming involved in an altercation with Detroit hoodlum.

In October 1934, Floyd and Richetti were ambushed near Wellsville by federal agents Richetti was captured, but Floyd escaped.

On October 22, Floyd was spotted at a farm near East Liverpool, O., and local law officers and federal agents surrounded the farm. He was shot while resisting arrest and died before a doctor could be summoned.

Richetti was tried for the death f one of the agents killed at Kansas City, found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.

At a later hearing, following a sanity study, he was re-sentenced to death in the gas chamber of the Missouri State Penitentiary  at Jefferson City. The execution was carried out October 7, 1938.

And Frank Nash?

Two days after the abortive escape plot in Kansas City, he was quietly entombed on Paragould's Linwood Cemetery by relatives.

Arkansas Gazette Sat. Oct., 20, 1973
Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin 2006

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