this day in crime history: june 15, 1933

On this date in 1933, William Hamm Jr., heir to the Hamm’s Brewery, was kidnapped by the Barker-Karpis gang in St. Paul, MN. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $100,000, which they received. After the ransom was paid, Hamm was released near Wyoming, MN.

The Barker-Karpis gang’s crime spree would continue as the government arrested and unsuccessfully prosecuted Chicago bootlegger Roger Touhy and members of his gang (thanks to informants working for Touhy’s rival, Al Capone). The true culprits were eventually located and prosecuted, thanks in large part to the emerging forensic science of latent fingerprint examination.

Further reading:

FBI – Latent Prints in the 1933 Hamm Kidnapping

Placeography – Hamm Brewery, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Wikipedia – Alvin Karpis

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8 thoughts on “this day in crime history: june 15, 1933

  1. John D.:
    Imagine that…kidnappers with a modicum of “honor” who keep their word.
    Who’da thunk THAT, hmm?

    Latent fingerprint ID…a godsend to law-enforcement agencies all over.
    (and it only got better from there)

    Very good story.
    Stay safe out there.

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  2. I read a book called Dillinger Slept Here, which said that St. Paul was a refuge for gangsters as long as they paid off the local political machine. Presumably they were supposed to keep their noses clean in the city itself, but folks like the Barkers and Karpis weren’t likely to care.

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  3. I may have mentioned this before. The Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico was owned by the Phillips family of Philips 66 oil. When I was there in ’84 or so a counselor told the story that one of the remote cabins had a secret exit built in the ’20s or ’30s. Kidnapping was big then and the parents wanted a way for the children to escape if needed.

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