When was the Union Station Massacre? What is the story behind it?

Union Station Massacre
Union Station Massacre

The Union Station Massacre took place on the morning of June 17, 1933. Convicted bank robber Frank Nash had escaped from the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, only to be recaptured in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was brought by train back to Kansas City, and from here, federal and local law enforcement officers planned to drive him back to Leavenworth.

As Nash’s custodians, however, led him in handcuffs across the Union Station parking lot to a waiting car, three Nash allies, intending to free him, drove up in another car. The resulting gunfight led to the deaths of Nash, a federal agent, two Kansas City, Missouri, police officers, and a police chief from Oklahoma. Two more federal agents were wounded in the clash.

The car carrying Nash’s would-be “rescuers” sped away, and a subsequent federal investigation into the events of June 17, 1933, led to the execution of Adam Richetti, as well as uncovering the involvement of some of Kansas City’s own hometown crime bosses in harboring and aiding the conspirators in their escape.

Two big names emerged from the nationwide publicity surrounding the Union Station Massacre. It has long been rumored, although never proven, that Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd was one of the three men who intended to rescue Nash outside of Union Station that morning. And leading the federal investigation of the massacre was a young J. Edgar Hoover, who would gain momentum and funding for the growing agency he headed, which would eventually become known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

For more information search the Local History Index.

Librarian Dan Coleman
April 2006

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