Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eddie Cudahy and Pat Crowe

Crowe Writes, Disappears

Pat Crowe, wherever he was, took note of the jurys robbery verdict.

In October 1901, six months after the first Callahan trial, Cudahy received a letter from Crowe postmarked Elgin, Ill. The kidnapper offered to return $21,000 of the $25,000 ransom if Cudahy would agree to withdraw the reward, which Crowe apparently saw as an affront to an honorable criminal.

Cudahy replied he would spend my last thousand dollars rather than compromise.

But Crowe continued to press the issue. That October, he contacted Chief Donahue and offered to surrender if the $50,000 total reward was dropped and if authorities would agree to set a bond of $500.

At Donahues insistence, the city and Cudahy agreed to drop the rewards.

Omahans scratched their heads at the idea that the kidnapper had negotiated away the reward.

The World-Herald said Crowes exchange of courtesies with the Omaha police is apt to pass down into history as one of the most humorous passages in the annals of crime. The citys Daily News added, One cannot but respect the infinite genius of the man. He is a character unique in criminal annals.

Rid of the bounty on his head, Pat Crowe broke his promise of surrender and disappeared for five years.

Where did he go? No one knows for certain.

By one account, he never got farther than Chicago and frequently returned to Omaha. By another, he was a world traveler, fighting as a mercenary in the Boer War in South Africa.

The second account was another detail - whether true or false - that helped burnish the Pat Crowe legend. The New York Times first reported the anecdote in July 1901. As evidence the paper cited a mail-order payment of $250, postmarked Johannesburg, from Crowe to a Missouri lawyer.

That timeline conflicts with the October 1901 letter to Cudahy Sr. that was postmarked from Illinois. To this day, the matter is unresolved.

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