Kansas City Massacre Trial Day 5
The court reconvened at 9:30am June 15, 1935 and the prosecution called it’s first witness F.J. Lackey who currently lived in San
Antonio, Texas and had lived there since September, 1933 and was a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
United States Department of Justice. He had been with the department for 7 and 1/2 years. He recounted his story as to being
present at the arrest of Frank Nash and transporting him to Kansas City, Missouri. He had carried on his person a .38 Colt
revolver, and a 12 gauge pump shotgun. He had also said that Otto Reed carried a 12 gauge pump shotgun. When they had
disembarked from the train and had met the other agents and police officers he did not notice any of them carrying any weapons.
He explained how they proceeded through the station and that he and Otto Reed as far as he knew were the only two individuals
carrying guns in the open. Once they got to the parking lot he tried to load Nash into the back seat but then told him to get into the
front, that they were going to ride as they had been riding from Arkansas. Nash sat in the drivers seat temporarily. Lackey then
sat in the right rear seat with Frank Smith sitting in the center and Otto Reed behind the driver. He had sat down and placed his
shotgun muzzle down into the floor and the butt was between the seat and the side of the car resting there. He had also noticed
that Otto Reed’s gun was in the same position as his. He had just sat down and secured his gun when he heard somebody
holler, “Up, up, up, get ‘em up.” He looked over to the right and saw a man standing there with a gun, then he saw another man
right behind him, running north. The man that was standing pointing the gun at them was heavy set broad shouldered man, and
had on a Leghorn or a brown, faded Panama hat turned down all the way around and was round faced. The second man that
he saw he could only identify that he was wearing a coat and it was a brown, summer material of some kind and a felt hat that
was turned down all around with a narrow brim. He was about 5’8” and medium build with his weight about 130-135 pounds
with a rather darker than usual complexion. A very short time later shots were fired. He then identified a picture of the crime
scene. When asked if he saw the man that he had just described he replied “Yes, that man right there”, pointing to Adam. As
Agent Lackey tried to pull his gun up he was shot in the back 4 times, of which only 3 rounds penetrated. He never got off a shot.
He was to never have two of the rounds removed from his body.
Mr. Latshaw was to cross examine Agent Lackey. He was asked if Otto Reed’s gun was ever fired and he could not confirm or
deny anything concerning that gun. It was also asked of him if Reed’s gun was a 16 gauge shotgun, to which he replied that to
the best of his knowledge that it was a 12 gauge. He had given Reed ammunition for that gun at McAlester. When asked if either
of the guns carried ball bearings he replied that they did not. He was then asked if he only had a fleeting glimpse of any of the
men that did the shooting to which he replied that he didn’t take long to look at them. He had made that statement in federal
court in the conspiracy case, and that he had also told the newspapers that he couldn’t identify anybody because of the blur on
the window of the Plymouth parked next to the Chevrolet. When questioned whether or not he had seen any circulars or
identifications orders on Adam he said that he had concerning the massacre which were issued shortly after the one’s on Floyd
had been issued however the circular did not say that Adam was wanted in conjunction with the Union Station Massacre. Within
a few days circulars were distributed for Harvey Bailey, however there were none sent out for Adam Ricchetti. He was then as if
on that day he was interviewed by any of the Kansas City Police Officers as to a description of any of the men he thought he saw.
I didn’t or couldn’t definitely state as to that. The first two or three days he was in the hospital and was pretty sick; he didn’t
definitely remember. When ask about a lengthy interview in the Kansas City Journal Post of Tuesday, June 20, 1933, he didn’t
remember that. He did remember some newspaper men being there but didn’t know what date it was. He was then severely
badgered by the defense concerning the facts in that newspaper article, but continuously stuck to his story.
He was then reexamined by Mr. O’Hern concerning the policy of the Justice Department in giving interviews to newspapers
reporters, at which time he had stated that he did not give all of the information to the newspaper reporters as he was not allowed
to and he did not tell the truth to the reporters concerning this matter.
He was then under a re cross examination by Mr. Latshaw. He was asked if those orders of the Justice Department concerning
not telling the whole truth applied to a court of law, at which time he said that he had never made a statement in a court of justice.
And he did testify to that fact regardless of orders, that when this thing first happened he had made the statement that he couldn’t
see who those men were, and that he didn’t know because of the blur on the windshield of the Plymouth next to the Chevrolet
and that he had told the newspapers that, however he did not testify in court that he could not see who those men were, and that
he told them that he had told the newspapers that at the time. The witness was then excused.
The next witness called for by Mr. Boyle was Harry Turner, who lived at 2723 Troost and was the Deputy Sheriff of Jackson
County, Missouri. He worked in the Bertillon Department which take the finger prints and photographs of all prisoners, and keep
the records of them. He was then handed Exhibit no 24 and identified it as Adam’s finger print records when he had come into
the jail. Where upon after some minor questioning by the defense the witness was excused.
The next witness called by the prosecution and questioned by Mr. Boyle was John E. Brennen who was a Special Agent of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and had been employed in that capacity for 16 years. He had proceeded
to the house on 6612 Edgevale Road on 29 June, 1933, along with Dwight Brantley of the Department of Justice and Jack
Jenkins, Chief of Detectives of Kansas City. There intentions were to look for fingerprints.
Whereas the defense objected vehemently concerning the questioning and the idea that they would look for fingerprints 12 days
after the fact. Mr. Latshaw then asked Judge Cowan to dismiss the jury from the room while this objection was being made as it
was prejudicial to the jury, at which the judge complied. The Bailiff then escorted the jury out of the room.
The defense continued to make their objection as that it was too remote from the time of the shooting, which was on June 17,
1933, and that there is evidence in the record that Tom Higgins and Agent Vetterli were in the house searching on the 26th for
finger prints, that there had been other people there, that moving men had been in there and furniture had been taken out and
there were many people there, that the house had not been under surveillance, and that the admission of any proposed
testimony as to finger prints is too remote, not proper for that reason, and of such a speculative nature as not to be proper in
evidence in this case; that many people had been in the house and there has been no showing that the defendant in this case
had been in the house. Because of the speculative character and the remoteness of the finding, the alleged finding of these
finger prints, the defendant objects, and we want to make this objection to all the testimony concerning the alleged finding of
these finger prints. Judge Cowan then overruled the objection. At which time the prosecution asked that the witness be
withdrawn, and that Sheriff Bash be called. The jury was then asked to return to the court.
Sheriff Thomas Bash was then called. He was the Sheriff of Jackson County and held Adam Ricchetti in custody. He recalled a
conversation he had with Adam while he was being held in the county jail. In that conversation with Adam, Adam had told him
that he had never been to Kansas City but had arrived on the night of the 16th of June, 1933, and had left Kansas City sometime
in the middle of the night, or early morning. At which time the witness was excused.
Once again the Mr. Boyle called John E. Brennen, and the defense objected as to which the judge again overruled. He was 35
years old and had studied finger printing for 20 years. His father instituted the finger print system in the St. Louis Police
Department in 1904 and he followed in his fathers footsteps. They again started with the house on 6612 Edgevale Road and
proceeded to investigate in for fingerprints for approximately 2 hours in the morning. They had found latent fingerprints on 2 beer
bottles which they took to the lab and had processed for pictures. These finger prints were labeled exhibits 25 and 26 and were
identified as Adam Ricchetti’s finger prints. It must be noted here that there was a constant legal battle with continuing
interruptions by the defense attorney’s to allow the submission of these finger prints, and the nature of the accountability of the
beer bottles, which the judge continued to overrule.
The next witness called for by Mr. Boyle was Jerry R. Murphy who had worked for the Bureau of Investigation, Department of
Justice for almost 5 years and 6 months as a finger print expert. He went over the detailed explanations of how finger prints are
lifted off of objects, what type of power was used and the classification system used to identify fingerprints with the 12 points of
similarities. He had received the fingerprints off of the beer bottles in February of 1934 and proceeded to make enlargements of
them for comparison purposes. He then had compared the finger prints made off of the beer bottles exhibits 25, 26 to the finger
print card of Adam, and said that they were a definite match. The defense attempted to object to several facts concerning finger
printing, however were continually overruled. The defense did question the witness at length in an attempted cross examination
to no significant findings.
The next witness called by Mr. O’Hern was Dr. C.G. Leitch who was the Chief Deputy Coroner for Jackson County since
December 1, 1932. He had been a practicing physician and surgeon since 1927. He had examined the body of Mr. Hermanson
at the scene of the crime and had pronounced him dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Later on they had moved the body to
the O.V. Mast Funeral Home at 3146 Main Street. There he did an autopsy on Frank Hermanson and found a single gunshot
wound to the left side of his head, with the point of penetration just anterior and above the ear with the exit point in the rear of the
Mr. Latshaw questioned him concerning what he felt caused the wound, to which the doctor replied a bullet. When asked if it
could have been caused by a ball bearing the doctor replied “no”.
The defense then recalled Mrs. Lottie West, and questioned her concerning her identification of Detective Grooms going through
the Station. In her deposition about Mr. Grooms she described him as a rather tall man, well built and weighing around 175
pounds, and around 33 years old. However she had been asked if she hadn’t described Officer Grooms as being a man about
the size of Mr. Boyle which she agreed, however Mr. Boyle was a rather slender man. Officer Grooms was however a great, big
man, much larger than Mr. Boyle, with broad shoulders. The witness was then excused.
The jury was then placed in recess until 9:30am, Monday, June 17, 1935. In the mean time the jury had been sequestered for
just under a week but the Judge ordered the Sheriff to take them out on a bus for a Sunday joy ride and allowed them to read the
comics. During the trial the jury had been deprived of newspapers. They were happy to be out and to read the comics.
|Fallen Officers at Union
17 June 1933
Detective William J.
b:19 June 1904
d: 17 June 1933
Chief Otto Reed
d: 17 June 1933
Detective Frank E.
Hermanson b: Nov 8
d: 17 June 1933
Special Agent Raymond J.
Caffrey b: May 19902
d: 17 June 1933