Machine Gun Kelly

By: Patrick Dawson


George Kelly Barnes, known as "Machine Gun Kelly" was born in Memphis Tennessee in 1895. He became a criminal in his young adult life committing crimes like bootlegging and armed robbery during the 1920's and 30's Prohibition Era. He married Kathryn Thorne who not only became his partner in crime, but she bought him a machine gun and gave him the famous nickname "Machine Gun Kelly" among the gangs. This was all false intimidation because in truth, Kelly didn't have the guts to do what he did. Sometimes before committing a crime he would vomit profusely. But he and his wife always kept committing crimes.
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Most infamous crime

His most infamous crime was the kidnapping of oil tycoon and businessman Charles F. Urschel in July 1933 for which he, and his gang, collected a $200,000 ransom. The kidnapping, however, went wrong. Urschel, while blindfolded, was able to pay close attention to clues around him like sounds and leaving fingerprints. The FBI was able to use these clues to find out where the crime was committed. He was soon captured and sentenced to life in prison.
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Prison and Death

Kelly and his wife were sentenced to life in prison and were taken to Alcatraz for 17 years and then transferred to Leavenworth for the remainder of Kelly's life. Kelly died at Leavenworth on July 18, 1954, his 59th birthday, of a heart attack.
The Myth of Machine Gun Kelly was Built by His Wife