The Greenlease Kidnapping
Virginia Greenlease learned that her son had been snatched from school at about the time the killers were enjoying their nerve-settling whiskey at
Robert Cosgrove Greenlease Sr., was a self-made man. Born in 1882 on a
Before he was 21 the ambitious Greenlease and a partner had designed an automobile they called the Kansas City Hummer. They manufactured four of them before the enterprise went belly up. Greenlease next opened an auto repair shop, then parlayed that into a car dealership. He hung up his overalls, donned a suit and began selling the Thomas Flyer.
Fortune came knocking the next year when he won a franchise to sell Cadillacs. That company merged with General Motors, and Greenlease soon owned a string of Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealerships in
As an early Cadillac franchisee, he was able to win wholesale distribution rights for a vast swath of the country. His bank account grew every time a Caddy rolled out of dealerships from
But as he reached his moneymaking prime, Robert Greenlease felt a niggling dissatisfaction with his personal life. He had married young, but he and his wife had failed to conceive a child. After years of trying, they adopted a son they named Paul in 1917, when Robert was 35.
He gave his adopted son everything he could, including a private education at
The couple had a daughter, Virginia Sue, three years later. Bobby followed in 1947, when his father was 65. They raised their children in a Tudor-style mansion on
Greenlease spared no expense on his family. A staff of maids, nannies, gardeners and chauffeurs reported for duty each day. He treated his wife and kids to extravagant vacations, and he enrolled his children in two of
From the moment he learned of his sons disappearance and presumed kidnapping, Robert Greenlease decided that no price would be too much to pay for his namesakes safe return.