Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Greenlease Kidnapping

The 38-Hour Binge

The kidnappers brief, booze binge with the loot makes it all the more remarkable that this pair of staggering drunks managed to pull off a kidnapping and murder, then extract a record ransom.

They arrived in St. Louis thirsty at about 6 a.m. Monday, after the five-hour drive across Missouri, and found their way to the Sportsmans Bar on South Jefferson Street. After a few drinks, Hall phoned Bernard Patton, his lawyer friend back in St. Joe, and asked him to remove Headys name from the rental agreement on the Ford they were driving. He explained they had some trouble in Kansas City. Patton said he doubted he could.

Hall and Heady left the car at the Sportsmans, hoisted the conspicuous duffel into a cab and headed downtown to find a shop where they could buy more discreet luggage. While Heady drank Walkers Deluxe whiskey at Slays bar on North Broadway, Hall went to a nearby Army surplus store and bought a green metal footlocker and a large black suitcase.

They took a cab back to the Sportsmans, drove the Ford into a nearby alley and transferred the cash from the duffel into the new luggage, then drove to the Hi-Nabor Bar on Wyoming Street for more whiskey. It was the third bar they had visited in St. Louis. The clock said 9:30 a.m.

They abandoned the rented Ford and took yet another cab to yet another saloon, Colombos, on South Kingshighway. While Heady drank, Hall went to a nearby car lot and bought a used 1950 Studebaker with $425 in ransom money.

At about noon the couple rented a cheap furnished apartment at 4504 Arsenal St. Hall all but carried Heady inside because she was falling-down drunk. He noticed the landlady watching and called out that his wife was ill. The woman also watched Hall carry in their luggage the footlocker and suitcase.

Although she couldnt see straight, Heady was not satisfied with the accommodations. She demanded to know why they were staying in a dive now that they were rich. Hall ended the discussion with a left cross to her kisser.

She passed out on the bed.

Hall went back out, drove the Studebaker a mile away, abandoned it and flagged down a cab, which dropped him at the Old Shillelagh Bar on Morganford Road. This was followed by another cab ride that included a stop at the Post Office, where Hall mailed $500 cash to lawyer Patton in St. Joe.

The cabbie dropped him at the Squeeze Box bar, down the street from the Old Shillelagh. He had whiskey there, then took a cab to Brownies Tavern for more of the same. When he finally returned to the flat Heady was still asleep.

He left $2,000 in ransom money beside a note: Had to move bags in a hurry as report came in on radio Girl next door looked funny Couldnt wake you Stay here and Ill call when I can.

He got in a cab with his ransom money and headed downtown, where, at about 3:30 p.m., he hooked up with one more hack, Johnny Hager, who doubled as a one-girl pimp.

Hall introduced himself as Steve Strand. He put five crisp $20 bills in Hagers palm and asked him to find a hooker.

As the cabbie would later say, I said to myself, What a fare Ive got here. I decided I was going to stick with this guy.

Hagers girl, a big-boned blonde named Sandy ODay, was in the cab within half an hour. The three stopped at McNamees Bar on St. Louis Avenue for a get-acquainted drink. Hall asked about a motel, and Hager suggested the Coral Court, a landmark no-tell joint just west of St. Louis on famed Route 66.

Hall rented room number 49A and dragged his luggage inside. He put $200 on the bed for ODay, then counted out $2,500 and asked Hager to buy him a shirt, socks and underwear. Hager split at 7 p.m. to give the couple privacy, but ODay later said Hall was physically incapable of sex owing to drunkenness.

Hager returned at 10:30 p.m. Hall donned his new clothes. He wanted to stay in the room and drink, but ODay insisted on dinner. They went down the road to the Harbor Inn, where ODay and Hager ate while Hall drank.

Hager dropped his client and hooker at the Coral Court after midnight, then sped to the home of his estranged wife. He woke her up and told her about his deep-pockets fare. The man seemed to have a lot of money, Hager said, and he was making plans to get some of it.

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