Bank Robber Pretty Boy Floyd: Wasn’t Pretty or a Boy, But Cold Blooded Killer

Pretty Boy Floyd 1904-1934

Despite his nickname Pretty Boy Floyd was neither pretty or a boy. He was a hard-boiled criminal who was first arrested at the age of 18 for stealing roll of coins from a post office.

Floyd had been born in Adairsville, Georgia on February 3, 1904 but grew up in Oklahoma.

When he robbed a paymaster the victim told police that one of the robbers was a “pretty boy with apple cheeks” and he was Pretty Boy Floyd the rest of his life though his friends called him “Chock”. Floyd hated the Pretty Boy nickname, not exactly the way he wanted to be portrayed.

Attempted To Find Work

Floyd married 16-year-old Ruby Hargrove in 1921 and when times got tough for the young couple Floyd started his life of crime. He had tried to find work, but became discouraged after not finding work.

With no work in sight, Floyd took a train to St. Louis where he would rob a Kroger store of $16,000. but was arrested when he was seen with new clothes and a new car. Officers found what was left of the money from the robbery.

He served five years in prison. While he was in prison his wife gave birth to a son, Jack Dempsey Floyd and divorced him. There were no reports of her being arrested, since she had to have known the money came from the robbery.

Used Bank Officials To Shield Him

He sometimes made bank officials stand on running boards of his vehicle as he made his getaway to avoid being shot at by law enforcement. He was known as the “Robin Hood of Cookson Hills” a name which he liked and he said that he only robbed moneyed men. He never wore a mask to conceal his identity, sometimes even introducing himself to his victims.

Although he had sworn he would never return to prison, he was sentenced on November 24, 1930  to a 12-15 year sentence for robbing a Ohio bank. However, he escaped and in March of 1931 was a suspect in the murders of two bootlegging brothers, Wally and Boll Ash of Kansas City.

Car used by Pretty Boy Floyd while getting away from FBI.

Killed Three Law Enforcement Officials

Members of his gang or Floyd himself would kill three more law enforcement officials starting with the murder of patrolman R.H. Cashner on April 23, 1931, then went on to kill ATF agent C. Burke in Kansas City on July 22, 1931. Then on April 7, 1932 an attempted ambush on Floyd, resulted in the death of former sheriff Irv Kelley of McIntosh County, Oklahoma.

Targeted By FBI After Kansas City Massacre

It wasn’t clear that Floyd had been involved in the “Kansas City Massacre” of June 17, 1933 but he was suspected as being one of the killers who killed four police officers at the Union Railway Station in Kansas City. The FBI made an even stronger effort to arrest Floyd, although it is questionable if he was involved even though he was in Kansas City at the time.

Bank robber Alvin Karpis claimed that Floyd admitted he was involved in the massacre, but there has been so much conflicting testimony that it is unlikely we will never know what really happened.

Floyd And Accomplice Encounter Police In Ohio

Four days prior to his death, Floyd and Adam Richetti left Buffalo, New York on October 18, 1934. They were driving through heavy fog and ran into a telephone pole. They asked their female companions to get a tow truck, since they didn’t want to be recognized. The tow truck driver would then bring the females and the car back when it was repaired.

However, someone calls the police when they see the two men on the side of the road, thinking they were looking suspicious at dawn on October 19. Wellsville, Ohio Police Chief John H. Fultz and two officers arrive at the scene to investigate. Floyd’s accomplice Richetti runs into the woods with two of the officers running after him.

Floyd fires at Fultz, wounding him in the foot and then runs into the woods. Meanwhile, Richetti is eventually captured, but Floyd is still in the woods hiding from police.

Floyd Gunned Down In Cornfield

Pretty Boy Floyd’s death was as controversial as the Kansas City Massacre. The only thing known for sure is that Floyd  was killed in a cornfield on October 22, 1934 in East Liverpool, Ohio.

FBI agent Melvin Purvis regarded as the man who got John Dillinger, another notorious criminal in the era, was there when Petty Boy Floyd met his death.

To sort out the different accounts of his death, it would be easier to read the accounts at Wikipedia than for me to confuse readers, even further by my interpretation of the events:

This website has an excellent timeline of what transpired starting with the Kansas City Massacre to the death of Pretty Boy Floyd.×482.jpg


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “Bank Robber Pretty Boy Floyd: Wasn’t Pretty or a Boy, But Cold Blooded Killer”

  1. You don’t really do a good job of showing him to be a cold-blooded murderer. The only thing we know for absolute sure is a nice shot somebody in the foot. Who was pursuing him. Gosh.

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