The Life of Machine Gun Kelly, a Gangster During Prohibition

George Celino Barnes, or “Machine Gun Kelly,“ was a gangster during Prohibition He got his nickname because his favorite weapon was a Thompson machine gun. Kelly was a bootlegger in their twenties and thirties, but after a couple of run»ins with the police, he decided to move west and to protect his reputation, he changed his name to George R. Kelly. He continued committing small crimes and bootlegging while he lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was sentenced to three years in the Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas. He was released early because he was what seemed to be a model inmate.

After he was released, however, Kelly returned to his life of Crime. When Kelly first moved out west, he married a woman named Kathryn Thorne. This marriage proved to be toxic Kathryn bought Kelly his first machine gun and gave him his nickname, “Machine Gun Kelly.” She supported him in his life of crime and even helped him plot some minor bank robberies. The last crime Kelly committed was a disaster On July 22, 1933 he kidnapped Charles E Urschel and his friend Walter R. Jarrett. Urschel. Kelly was paid a two hundred thousand dollar ransom and Urschel was returned unharmed Although he was blindfolded, Urschel was able to tell the time of day by listening to the airplanes overhead.

He remembered the day and time of a thunderstorm and recalled what types of animals that he had heard It was lucky that Urschel paid such close attention. FBI agents were able to distinguish the fact that Urschel was probably held captive in a farmhouse. Kelly’s father-in-law owned a farmhouse so it was made obvious where he had been hiding out The physical evidence that really gave Kelly away was that while Urschel was being held captive, he made sure to leave his fingerprints on as many objects as he possibly could Kelly was then sentenced to life in prison, but died of a heart attack after twenty-one years in prison.

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