Robert (Bobby) Greenlease Jr. was born on February 3rd 1947. He was born to Robert Greenlease Sr., a multi-millionaire Cadillac dealer, and Virginia Pollock Greenlease. Mr. Greenlease was an auto entrepreneur, and introduced general motor vehicles to the Great Plains. Bobby attended Notre Dame de Sion, a Catholic pre-school in Kansas City. Bobby was the youngest of three siblings, with older sister Virginia Sue Greenlease and an older step-brother named Paul Robert Greenlease. The Greenlease family was very loving, and Mrs. Greenlease was a doting and adoring mother. Mr. and Mrs. Greenlease engaged in philanthropy and were well known throughout the city.
Learn more about the contributions and long philanthropic efforts of the Greenlease Family here...
Carl Hall was 34 year old alcoholic at the time of the kidnapping and murder. He grew up in a wealthy household and had a lavish lifestyle. Carl attended the Kemper Military School in Boonville with Bobby's step-brother, Paul Robert Greenlease. Through his attendance with Paul, Carl knew about the wealth of the Greenlease family. Carl inherited a large sum of money from his father, but spent it on many failed business ventures. In 1951, Carl Hall was arrested for robbing taxi drivers for $33. He was sentenced to serve five years in prison, but was released after two years. During his time in prison, Carl decided kidnapping and ransom was the best way to ensure he could have money for the rest of his life without having to work. Shortly after he was released from his shortened sentence, he met Bonnie Heady in a bar in May of 1953. Hall moved in with Bonnie Heady two days after their initial meeting.
Bonnie Heady was 41 years old when she met Carl Hall and they kidnapped and murdered Bobby Greenlease. She met Hall in a bar in Missouri shortly after he was released from prison. She was known to prostitute herself. Bonnie Heady is one of four women in the United States to be executed by the federal government, and the only woman to be executed by gassing. The three other women who have been executed include Mary Surrett, for being a co-conspirator in the Lincoln assassination, Ethel Rosenberg, for being convicted as a soviet spy, and Lisa Marie Montgomery for the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. Bonnie Heady lived in St. Joseph and was an alcoholic and drug addict. She and Carl Hall were living in her apartment in St. Josephs prior to the murder. She died on December 19th, 1953 at 12:12 am, just 20 seconds after Carl Hall in Missouri's lethal gas chambers at the state penitentiary
Notre Dame de Sion
At 10:55 AM on September 28th, 1953, Bonnie Heady took a taxicab with the Toedman Company to Notre Dame de Sion, Robby's pre-school in Kansa...
Notre Dame de Sion
Notre Dame de Sion
At around 11:30 AM, Sister Marthanna called the Greenlease home to check on the condition of Mrs. Greenlease. When Bobby's mother a...
Notre Dame de Sion
Hours after the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Greenlease, a special delivery letter postmarked at 6:00 PM on September 28th demanded $600,000 in all $20s and $10 to be placed in a duffle bag. The letter stated that Bobby would be returned safely within 24 hours once the money was delivered without any police or FBI involvement. Mr. Greenlease collected the $600,000 in 10s and 20s, and asked that Arthur Eisenhower, the local banker and brother of former President Dwight Eisenhower, to record the serial numbers from all of the 40,000 bills. This letter gave no instructions on the drop, only instructing the parents to collect the money and place it in the duffle bag.
The second ransom note was postmarked for 9:30 PM on September 29th, 1953. The letter contained instructions for the drop of the $600,000 ransom and stated that Bobby was doing okay but homesick. Today, this $600,000 is equivalent to almost 6 million dollars. At the time, it was the largest ransom ever paid in American history. This letter also contained the Jerusalem medal that Bobby was wearing at the time of his abduction. After the second ransom call, Hall and Heady contacted the Greenleases several times, continuously reassuring the anxious parents that Bobby was alive and well. Altogether, the Greenleases received over half a dozen ransom notes, and 15 telephone calls.
At 1:00 AM on October 5th, 1953, the Greenlease received a final phone call stating that the ransom money had been collected and that Bobby would be returned alive within the next 24 hours. When Carl and Bonnie collected the money, they transferred it directly into two metal suitcases and left the duffel bag in an ash pit in south St. Louis. Then, they rented an apartment on Arsenal Street in St. Louis, over 380 miles away from the location of the abduction, murder, and ransom pick up, and fled.
After collecting the ransom and fleeing to St. Louis, Heady and Hall drank heavily. After Heady passed out in their rented apartment in St. Louis, Hall left $2,000 in her purse, and left with the remaining money.
After deserting Bonnie Heady, Hall attempted to bury some of the ransom money. He purchased 2 large garbage cans, a shovel, rented a car, and drove to Meramec River in St. Louis. He claims he could not find a suitable spot to bury the money, so he left the trashcans in a deserted club house and drove to the Coral Courts Motel. Hall enlisted two criminal associates: a former prostitute named Sandra O'Day and an ex-con cab driver named John Oliver Hager. Sandra's intended job was to fly to LA to mail a letter to the Greenlease's written by Hall. Hall used John Oliver Hager as a personal driver, and lavishly spent on clothes, drinks, and drugs with Hager and O'Day. Later, Sandra reported that Hall was drunk and nervous throughout the bender. John Oliver Hager, suspicious of the large sum that Hall was spending, notified local mobster and owner of the cab company, Joe Costello. Joe Costello contacted a dirty police officer, Lt. Louis Shoulders in the 11th district of the St. Louis police department around 3:30 PM on October 6th. Lt. Louis Shoulders and his patrolman Elmer Dolan arrested Hall on the night of October 6th at his flat and took him into custody for questioning over rumors of a large sum of cash and extravagant spending. At the time, Lt. Shoulders thought that Hall was an embezzler and a swindler, as this was the story he had given to the prostitute and the cab driver.
On October 6th, the day that Hall was arrested, he led the cops to his co-conspirator's home on Arsenal Street where Heady was arrested and taken into custody. Hall was interrogated by FBI agents and several law enforcement agencies about the large amount of money he was carrying around. He professed that it was the ransom money from the Bobby Greenlease murder case. Hall insisted that almost all of the $600,000 ransom money was in his possession in his hotel room when he was taken into custody, yet only $300,000 was admitted into evidence by Lt. Louis Shoulders and his patrolman Elmer Dolan. He also admitted to planning the kidnapping, abducting Bobby, burying his body, and picking up the ransom money. He implicated a fictitious individual, Tom Harsh, and stated Harsh alone murdered Bobby Greenlease.
On October 7th at 8:40 AM, Bobby's body was discovered by FBI agents buried near the porch of the Heady residence at 1201 South 38th Street in St. Joseph MO. The body was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag and doused in lime. By 1:05 PM that same afternoon, the body was positively identified as Bobby Greenlease by the family dentist. In the search of Heady's home, blood stains in the basement floor, on a fiber rug, on one of Heady's blouses was discovered, along with, shell casings in the house, and shell casings in Heady's Plymouth station wagon from Hall's revolver.
After days of blaming the murder of Bobby Greenlease on the imaginary Tom Harsh, on October 11th Hall admitted to shooting and killing Bobby Greenlease. He confessed that he and Bonnie drove Bobby from Kansas City, MO, to Overland Park, Kansas, where he shot and killed Bobby. Then, he and Bonnie transported the body ~45 miles back to St. Joseph, MO where they buried him in Bonnie's yard. Bonnie Heady confessed to assisting in the preparation of the ransom notes, helping write the instructions for pay off, and going to school and kidnapping Bobby Greenlease.
On October 30th, 1953, Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady appeared before Judge Albert L Reeves in a federal court in Kasas City Missouri. Hall and Heady both entered guilty pleas to kidnapping and murder. On November 19th, after 1 hour and 8 minutes of deliberation, the jury recommended the death penalty. Just 15 minutes after the verdict was delivered, Judge Reeves sentenced both Heady and Hall to be executed on December 18th, 1953. Judge Reeves is quoted reviewing the case stating, "I think the verdict fits the evidence. It is the most coldblooded brutal murder I have ever tried."
On December 19th, 1953, exactly 11 weeks and 4 days after the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Greenlease, Bonnie Heady and Carl Hall were executed together. They were executed in Missouri's lethal gas chamber at the State Penitentiary in Jefferson Missouri at 12:12 AM.
Bobby Greenlease's body has since been interred in a mausoleum at Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.
One of the most sensational aspects of this case that made national headlines was the issue of the missing $300,000 dollars from the ransom money. Hall insisted during interrogations that almost the entire sum of $600,000 was in his apartment in St. Louis when officer Louis Shoulders and patrolman Elmer Dolan arrested him. Shoulders and Dolan testified that the entirety of the sum was $300,000 and they turned over the entire amount. Shoulders and Dolan testified that they collected the money from the apartment in the same trip that they brought Hall in for questioning, and that they carried a suitcase and footlocker with the money into the station. No witnesses recalled seeing either officer carrying these objects. This also contrasted with Hall's testimony, that the money was left at the apartment when he was taken into custody. Both Shoulders and Dolan were tried and convicted of perjury. Shoulders was found guilty on April 15th 1954, and served three years, but maintained his innocence until his death on May 12th 1962. Dolan was convicted on March 31st, 1954 and served two years. Dolan maintained that he perjured himself because his fear of Shoulders was greater than his fear of prison. Based on this testimony, President Lyndon B. Johnson pardoned him. Over half of the $600,000 (~3 million dollars in 2021) has never been recovered, and is an ongoing mystery of the case.