The Greenlease Kidnapping

Oct 14, 2009 - by J. J. Maloney - 0 Comments

Robert Cosgrove "Bobby" Greenlease, Jr

Robert Cosgrove "Bobby" Greenlease, Jr

A sensation of 1953, $300,000 of the $600,000 paid in ransom has never been recovered.  Two police officers and a gangster are commonly thought to have stolen the money -- but did they?  

by J. J. Maloney

One of the more tragic and fascinating crimes of the mid 20th century was the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Bobby Greenlease in 1953, and the subsequent disappearance of half the $600,000 ransom his family futilely paid for his release.

Bobby was the son of Robert C. and Virginia Greenlease. His 71-year-old father was one of the largest Cadillac dealers in the nation. The Greenleases lived in Mission Hills, Kan., the most elite suburb in the Kansas City area.

The kidnappers – Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady – had both known privilege earlier in their lives. In fact, it was at military school that Hall met Paul Greenlease, the older, adopted brother of Bobby Greenlease. Hall later inherited a substantial amount of money from his father, but blew it failing at a number of business ventures. For robbing a number of cab drivers – his total take was $38 -- Hall was sent to the Missouri State Penitentiary. In prison he dreamed of making "the big score" – a score that would allow him to once again live in luxury.

He later said that kidnapping was the only crime where he could strike once and retire for life.

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