McElroy, Mary

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Kidnapping of Nell Donnelly

Nell Donnelly and her chauffeur, George Blair, were kidnapped on December 16, 1931. Donnelly had become famous after her 1916 founding of the Donnelly Garment Company, which sold stylish but affordable dresses for daily wear by ordinary women. Backed by the sales of “Nelly Don's,” as the dresses became known, the company grew into a multi-million dollar business with over 1,000 employees in the 1920s.

Kidnapping of Mary McElroy

One of Kansas City's most sensational and ultimately tragic crimes began on May 27, 1933 with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, the daughter of controversial city manager Henry F. McElroy, who had close ties to the political machine operated by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. She was released after 34 hours of captivity, following payment of a $30,000 ransom, but she never recovered from the emotional turmoil that ensued.

John F. Lazia

Johnny Lazia (born Lazzio) gained prominence in Kansas City's politics during the 1920s and ‘30s due to his leadership of the North Side Democratic Club, engagement in local organized crime, and involvement with Tom Pendergast's political machine. Pendergast dominated Kansas City politics not by holding elected offices, but through his machine of alliances and affiliates.

William Simpson and Henry F. McElroy

Clipping entitled "Lay Plan for Kidnapers' Return" from an article in Kansas City Journal-Post on June 3, 1933 documenting the kidnapping of Mary McElroy. The photograph's caption states, "William Simpson, city detective, who was one of the officers who flew to Amarillo to return the kidnapers, is shown here with H. F. McElroy, city manager, completing plans for their return to Kansas City by airplane."

U.S. vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, et al.: Warrant to Apprehend

Warrant to Apprehend for Criminal Case No. 12126: United States vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, Hazel Johnson, Lenora Gilbert, Clarence Click, and George McGee, Defendants. This document calls for the arrest of the defendants charged with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City, Missouri city manager Henry Francis McElroy, and ransoming Mary McElroy for $30,000.00.

U.S. vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, et al.: Indictment

Indictment for Criminal Case No. 12126: United States vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, Hazel Johnson, Lenora Gilbert, Clarence Click, and George McGee, Defendants. The defendants are charged with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City, Missouri city manager Henry Francis McElroy, and ransoming Mary McElroy for $30,000.00.

U.S. vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, et al.: Complaint

Complaint for Criminal Case No. 12126: United States vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, Hazel Johnson, Lenora Gilbert, Clarence Click, and George McGee, Defendants. In this document, Thomas J. Layson calls upon the court to charge the defendants with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City, Missouri city manager Henry Francis McElroy. Layson also charges the defendants with ransoming Mary McElroy for $30,000.00.

Trial of Walter H. McGee

Photograph of Ralph T. Harding, Walter McGee, John V. Hill, and Joseph B. Keenan (left to right) at the trial of Walter McGee. The caption on the back of the image reads, "STATE ASKS DEATH PENALTY FOR KIDNAPER, Photo shows the courtroom of Judge Allen C. Southern at Kansas City, Mo. During the trial of Walter McGee, who is charged with being the ringleader of the gang that kidnaped Mary McElroy, daughter of the City Manager of Kansas City, and held her till a ransom of $30,000 was paid left to right: Ralph T.

Ralph T. Harding, Lillie Knight, and Clarence Click

Photograph of Ralph T. Harding, Lillie Knight, and Clarence Click (left to right) in the court room. The caption on the back of the image reads, "Watch your credit, International Chicago, 8817, 12-8-33, Charged with Kidnaping Mary McElroy: Clarence Click (right), discussing his case with Miss Lillie Knight, young woman attorney, who pleaded with a Kansas City jury not to send click to the gallows; at left is chief counsel for defense, Ralph T. Harding. Click is charged with kidnaping Miss Mary McElroy, daughter of City Manager H. F.

R. K. Cole, T. J. Higgins, and A. H. Kessel

Clipping entitled "Detective Who Got Tip" from an article in Kansas City Journal-Post on June 3, 1933 documenting the kidnapping of Mary McElroy. The photograph's caption states, "R. K. Cole, one of the city detectives, who obtained the information leading to the arrest of the alleged kidnapers of Miss Mary McElroy, is shown here standing beside T. J. Higgins, chief of detectives, as he made his report. Inset shows A. H. Kessel, partner of Cole, who worked with him in obtaining the information."

R. E. Vetterli, James O'Neil, E. C. Reppert, Howard E. Hall, and Frank Collins

Clipping entitled "Police Head Thanks Pilot" from an article in Kansas City Journal-Post on June 3, 1933 documenting the kidnapping of Mary McElroy. The photograph's caption states, "Howard, E. Hall, pilot of the T. & W. A. [Transcontinental & Western Air] plane that brought back the McElroy kidnapers, was congratulated by E. C. Reppert, director of police, when he arrived at the airport. The picture shows R. E. Vetterli, chief agent, department of justice; James O’Neil, secretary to the chief of police; Mr. Reppert, Howard E.

Mrs. L. R. Gilbert

Clipping entitled "Pet Rat to Holdover" from an article in Kansas City Journal-Post on June 3, 1933 documenting the kidnapping of Mary McElroy. The photograph's caption states, "Mrs. L. R. Gilbert, wife of one of the McElroy kidnap gang, insisted on taking her pet white rat with her when she was returned to Kansas City by airplane. She is shown here holding the pet while waiting to board the plane."