DEAD: Machine Gun Kelly

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Machine Gun Kelly (aged 59)
American gangster, kidnapper and bank robber

George Kelly Barnes (July 18, 1895 – July 18, 1954), better known by his nickname “Machine Gun Kelly”, was an American gangster from Memphis, Tennessee, during the prohibition era. His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun. He is most well known for the kidnapping of the oil tycoon and businessman Charles F. Urschel in July 1933, from which he and his gang collected a $200,000 ransom. Urschel had collected and left considerable evidence that assisted the subsequent FBI investigation, which eventually led to Kelly’s arrest in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 26, 1933. His crimes also included bootlegging and armed robbery.

DEATH: Machine Gun Kelly spent his remaining 21 years in prison. During his time at Alcatraz, he got the nickname “Pop Gun Kelly”. This was in reference, according to a former prisoner, that Kelly was a model prisoner and was nowhere near the tough, brutal gangster his wife made him out to be. He spent 17 years on Alcatraz as inmate number 117, working in the prison industries, and boasting of and exaggerating his past escapades to other inmates, and was quietly transferred back to Leavenworth in 1951. He died of a heart attack at Leavenworth on July 18, 1954, his 59th birthday, and was buried at Cottondale Texas Cemetery in Kathryn Kelly’s stepfather’s family plot with a small headstone marked “George B. Kelley 1954”. Kathryn Kelly was released from prison in 1958 and lived in relative anonymity in Oklahoma under the assumed name “Lera Cleo Kelly” until her death in 1985 at the age of 81.

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