Wednesday, Apr. 28, 2010

Baby Face Nelson

By age 14, "Baby Face" Nelson (born Lester Gillis) was already an accomplished crook. He was nabbed for auto theft in 1922, but paroled just two years later. From then on Nelson, his wife Helen Gillis and friend John Paul Chase made their livings illegally — liquor smuggling, robbing banks (as part of John Dillinger's gang) and killing. In 1934, the trio was stopped for speeding in a small town. They paid the $5 fine and were released despite being some of the era's most wanted criminals. The car they were in — which contained machine guns, rifles and ammunition — was not searched. Nelson was killed in an altercation with FBI agents on November 27, 1934. His partner in crime, Chase, was finally arrested in December 1934 and convicted of murdering an FBI agent. He was paroled (after having been denied several times) on October 31, 1966. Nelson's wife, Helen, was convicted of violating the conditions of her parole and served just over a year in prison following her arrest in November 1934.