Book Title: KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey
Category: Adult non-fiction, 196 pages
Genre: Biography / true crime
Publisher: Strategic Media Books
Release date: February 2016
Available for review in: Print, PDF
Will send print books: Internationally
Tour dates: May 2 – 13, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 (There are some expletives and descriptions of crimes, although nothing gory or too graphic)
Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is a biography of the woman who made a career of crime. With a lust for danger, she masterminded the crimes that took her and her husband, and others who included her own mother and stepfather, on a spree across Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Starting with smaller crimes that included bootlegging, smuggling liquor onto an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and other petty crimes, she encouraged her husband, George Barnes aka George Kelly, toward a life of more serious criminal activity that eventually escalated into bank robberies, kidnapping and extortion.
Many believe that it was Kathryn, after giving him a machine gun, who developed George’s feared persona and the name of Machine Gun Kelly. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was even convinced that the two were somehow connected in the Lindbergh kidnapping. Kathryn and Machine Gun Kelly were eventually captured after kidnapping Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma City oilman, and collecting a $200,000 ransom the largest ransom ever paid at that time.
Eventually, the two were captured in Memphis, where Kelly had grown up as a boy. During their trial in Oklahoma City, movie cameras were allowed into the courtroom for the first time as curious spectators across the nation watched. Kathryn, while claiming to be an innocent victim in a bad marriage, remained unrepentant, smiling and primping for the cameras, and writing threatening letters to the judge and attorneys assigned to the case as well as her victims.
Convicted in 1933, Kathryn served twenty-five years of her life sentence at FPC Alderson, West Virginia, when in 1958 she was finally released into obscurity. Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn.
Through narrative, FBI files, rare quotes from George Kelly’s son and other relatives and associates, extensive research, and several photographs, Kathryn Kelly ¬The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.
Meet the author:
Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.
Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.
Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
Connect with the author: Website
KATHRYN KELLY and the “Trial of the Century” by Barbara Casey
Several years ago, thousands of our citizens shivered in fear of a kidnapper whose name had much to do with the terror he engendered: he was called Machine Gun Kelly. However, there was someone far more dangerous than Machine Gun Kelly. That was Machine Gun Kelly’s wife.
J. Edgar Hoover, 1938, Persons in Hiding
In Oklahoma City, the case was being tried in the building that housed the post office, federal offices, and courthouse. Surrounded by armed officers, entry into the courtroom was allowed only with a pass after taking an elevator to the seventh floor and then climbing two flights of stairs to the ninth floor. In addition, everyone was required to be “patted down.” Inside, there wasn’t an empty seat available, the “electric air charged with excitement,” as it was reported on film. It was the first time movie equipment with sound had been permitted in a federal courtroom.
There were other “firsts” as well. It was the first kidnapping trial after the passage of the “Lindbergh Law,” making kidnapping a federal crime. It was the first major case solved by J. Edgar Hoover’s evolving and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the first crime in which defendants were transported by airplane. And, at the time, it was the largest ransom ever paid—two hundred thousand dollars, the equivalent of about three million dollars in today’s currency. The date was October 12, 1933, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, were on trial for the kidnapping of wealthy Oklahoma City oil man, Charles F. Urschel.
From the old photographs and film footage that have survived, George appears uneasy and sullen, wearing a dark suit, silk tie, and white shirt; and even though smoking was forbidden in the courtroom, cameramen captured him smoking several cigarettes. The facial cuts and large bump on the side of his head that he had received from federal agent J. C. White two days earlier are also visible.
Kathryn seems to have enjoyed the attention as she fluffs her hair and smiles confidently into the flashing and whirring cameras and posing for newsreel cameramen from Fox, Paramount, and other agencies that had followed them to Oklahoma City from Memphis where they were arrested. Fashionably dressed in high heels, a black satin dress decorated with feather epaulettes, and a hat perched jauntily on one side of her head, the members of the press and spectators alike were captivated by this tall, attractive, green-eyed brunette.
Many brought their lunch so as not to lose their seats. Some members of the press noted the “Roman holiday” atmosphere. Everyone watched as Kathryn and her husband, the notorious Machine Gun Kelly, awaited their much-anticipated verdicts.
Who likes a good gangster movie? Then this book is just for you. Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly recounts the tumultuous activities of Kathryn and George Kelly as they rise from petty crime, bootlegging, bank robberies and eventually into kidnapping. Both were raised during the 30’s when poverty was rampant and prohibition was spawning bootleggers all over the country.