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Eddie Adams - Killer of
the Prohibition Era
Edward J. "Eddie" Adams
(1887-1921) - A notorious outlaw and
murderer in the Midwest, Eddie Adams was born on a farm in Hutchinson,
Kansas in 1887 as W.J. Wallace. When he was very young, his father
died and his mother remarried. Eddie didn't like his stepfather and
soon began to get in trouble. However, he learned to be a barber
and moved to Wichita,
Kansas in the early 1900s. There, he met a
bootlegger named John Callahan and quickly became involved in the
business as well as petty robberies and car theft. Somewhere along the
line, he married, but his wife soon left him for his criminal
activities and many infidelities. He then formed a gang and began
committing bank and train robberies throughout
In 1920, he was in Kansas City,
where he hooked up with outlaw brothers Ray and Walter Majors. On
September 5, 1920, they attempted to rob a an illegal gambling den and
a shootout erupted between the would-be robbers and the tough
employees, resulting in the death of a gambler and gunman named Frank
Edward Adams was a brutal criminal in
the early 1920s.
The three were soon apprehended and Adams was
sent to life in prison on February, 1921. His partners, however, were only
sentenced to five years. But, Adams escaped while being transported to the
Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City,
Missouri, by jumping off the
train. Within just a few day, he and a man named Julius Finney robbed a
bank and a general store in Cullison,
Kansas on February 11, 1921. Pursued
by a posse, he was arrested six days later. Convicted of bank robbery, he
was sentenced to serve 10-30 years at the
Kansas State Prison in Lansing,
in addition to his life sentence in
Missouri for murder.
Obviously quite an escape artist, Adams made another getaway from Lansing
on August 13th, when he sabotaged the prison power plant and scaled a
prison wall along with inmates Frank Foster, George Weisberger and D.C.
Brown. Waiting for them in a getaway car was outlaw, Billy Fintelman. D.C.
Brown was captured just a few days later, but the others continued a life
of crime. The very next month, the newly formed Adams Gang robbed about
$10,000 from banks in Rose Hill and Haysville,
Kansas. During the
Haysville robbery, Adams pistol-whipped 82-year-old man named James Krievell, who later died of a fractured skull.
On October 8, police attempted to trap the gang near Anoly,
once again they were able to escape after a gun battle that left Deputy
Benjamin Fisher wounded. Eleven days later they stole some $500 in silver
from a bank near Osceola, Iowa. the gang was pursued by law officers who
caught up with them near Murray, Iowa and when Sheriff Ed West and other
law enforcement officers confronted the gangsters, another shootout
occurred and several policemen were wounded. When a local farmer named
Jones intervened, he was killed.
The ruthless robbers and killers then returned to
where they robbed eleven stores in Muscotah,
Kansas before making
their way to Wichita. along the way, they abducted two motorcycle officers
outside of Wichita and set their motorcycles on fire. On November 5, 1921,
Adams shot and killed Wichita Patrolman A.L. Young in cold blood while
Young was on duty. It is believed that Adams ambushed Young because Young
had the affection of a girl Adams was interested in, and rejected by.
While walking his beat, near the corner of Lewellen and
Eleventh Street, nine shots were heard by witnesses and Young was dead,
his revolver empty. Adams was nowhere to be found.
then committed their most successful robbery, making off with some
$35,000 from a Santa Fe express train near Ottawa,
Kansas. The gang
then returned to Wichita, where their luck would soon run out.
evening of November 20, Eddie Adams, along with Frank Foster, a local
madam named Nellie Miles, a bootlegger named George J. McFarland, and
two prostitutes were joyriding around Wichita. Behind them followed
another car carrying Billy Fintelman and his wife, George Weisberger,
a man named P.D. Orcutt, and two unnamed ladies. Racing along at high
speeds, two motorcycle cops soon pulled over the vehicle carrying
As they lawmen approached, a shot was fired from the
vehicle killing patrolman Robert Fitzpatrick and the
sped away. They then dropped off the "ladies" and fled south
into Cowley County. Later that night when they ran out of gas, Adams
attempted to steal a vehicle from farmer George Oldham who resisted.
Adams shot and killed the farmer before he and Frank Foster took off
with the car. George J. McFarland took off on foot. Adams and Foster soon returned to Wichita
and the next day Adams, along with Billy Fintelman went to George
McFarland's house to look for him. However, instead of finding their
bootlegger buddy, they found two police officers waiting. Eddie Adams
immediately shot Officer Ray Casner, while the other officer hid. Casner
survived and Adams and Fintelman made their escape.
Two days later, on November 23, 1921, Adams attempted to
rent a car in Wichita but was recognized by the owner. the police were
alerted and soon Detective Charles D. Hoffman and two other officer entered
the back door of the business. Adams drew his gun and Detective Hoffman
lunged forward, seizing Adams, but the killer worked his gun hand free and
fired, killing Hoffman instantly. He then fired on one of the other
officers, Charles Bowman, hitting him. The third officer, D.C. Stuckey,
hidden behind a pillar took careful aim and finally killed Adams. Eddie
Adams' body was publicly displayed in the City Undertaking Parlor, celbrating the end of the outlaw's reign of terror. More than 9,000 people
viewed his dead body. Adams, was attributed with seven murders, including
three Wichita policemen, in just a little over 14 month's time. He wounded
at least a dozen others.
In the end, 18 people were arrested as Adams' accomplices. Four were sent
State Penitentiary, Frank Foster for life.
of America, February, 2010.
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