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

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

  1. John D.:
    I like this story because of the use of fingerprint ID as well as whatever “respect” these criminals showed by actually RELEASING Mr. Hamm.
    Hard to find such criminals THESE days…heh.

    Good call.

    Stay safe out there.


  2. At about the same time, the Chicago Outfit (not Capone per se, he was already in the pen) pulled a fake kidnapping of Jake Factor (Max Factor’s brother), a hanger-on who was awaiting deportation to England, then got Touhy convicted for the kidnap. Touhy did about 20 years, got out, wrote a book about what happened, and was immediately murdered.
    (The Outfit also took care of Touhy’s political connection, Ten-Percent Tony Cermak, at about the same time as the Factor kidnapping. They did such a good job on the Cermak hit that a lot of people still think it was a botched assassination attempt on FDR.)


    • I don’t know. I’ve always had a tough time wrapping my head around the idea of Zangara being part of any plot. Dude was nuttier than a fruitcake. Maybe if there was a second shooter that day in Miami…


      • Allegedly, Zangara was a failed horse player deeply in debt to you-know-who. He had been a sniper in the Italian Army and was told if he offed Cermak, the debt would be forgiven; if he refused, his life would be very short and unpleasant.
        One of the Miami coppers on the scene said, “He was no more shooting at Mr. Roosevelt than I was.”
        Zangara’s last words before they pulled the switch were, “Viva Italia! Viva Camorra!”
        The idea that Zangara wanted to kill FDR because he blamed imperialists for his chronic tummyache is much more ridiculous than the Cermak-hit theory. To me, anyway.
        But as always, it’s America. You go to your church and I’ll go to mine.


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