CRIME: Floyd Flushed

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In Kansas City early one June morning last year, four Federal agents, two local detectives and an Oklahoma police officer led a runaway convict named Frank Nash out of Union Station to a waiting car. As they were getting in, machine gun fire mowed down Frank Nash, all three policemen, one Federal agent. Terrified bystanders hardly noticed the killers as they fled from the second largest gangster killing on record.* Not until last month did Federal or State officers have a shred of courtworthy evidence in the Union Station case. Then police picked up a sniveling little gangster named Michael LaCapra, questioned him about the death last July of John Lazia, late first lieutenant of Democratic Boss Thomas J. ("Big Tom") Pendergast (TIME, July 23). To their surprise La Capra began talking about the Union Station killings. By last week they had pumped the following story out of him : On the day that Runaway Frank Nash was taken prisoner in Hot Springs, Ark., his friends got in touch with a gangster in Kansas City named Verne C. Miller and enlisted his help in a plan to free Nash on his way back to the Federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Miller went to Assistant Boss John Lazia for help. Genial, bespectacled Lazia was sorry, but he made it a point never to involve his own men in outside affairs. However, he knew two very good outsiders who were in Kansas City at the moment — Charles ("Pretty Boy") Floyd and Adam Richetti. Next morning it was Miller, Floyd and Richetti who manned the guns outside the station. Twenty-four hours later Lazia's men helped the trio flee town. Before the police released this much of LaCapra's story they had rounded up nine of Nash's friends for obstructing justice. But of the actual killers they had none. Miller was dead and as usual, Floyd, with Richetti, was at large. Born 30 years ago on a Georgia farm, Floyd moved with his parents at an early age to the Cookson Hills District of the Oklahoma Ozarks. There he got the nickname of "Choc" and a bad reputation. At 18 he robbed a neighborhood post-office of $350 in pennies. A three-year apprenticeship in the St. Louis underworld landed him, in 1925, in Missouri Penitentiary for a payroll robbery. There he peddled drugs, struck down guards, and met "Red" Lovett, who teamed up with him on his release in 1929. For the next four years he robbed rural banks, taking on new partners as his old ones fell dead by the wayside. Whenever pursuit got too close, he retired to the Cookson Hills where he reputedly keeps a string of mountaineers in funds in exchange for their close-mouthed hospitality. A murderously cool shot, his trigger finger has already accounted for at least six deaths. Fond of flashy clothes, he likes to show his bravado by returning to his home town, Sallisaw, Okla., for brief visits. He is wanted by the Federal Government for two murders, two mail robberies. Less than 24 hours after Federal agents announced that Floyd was wanted as one of the Union Station killers, he was flushed out of an Iowa farm by two peace officers. In his first brush with authority this year, he showed that he had lost none of his finesse. Jumping into a car with two companions, he led the police on a wild chase to an empty house at the dead end of a road. There he turned on them with a machine gun and automatic rifles, shot his way out and away. A general alarm was broadcast

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