Transcripts below full story of the Brady Gang
During the latter part of the year 1935, Alfred Brady (pictured), James Dalhover, and Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr., formed a coalition for the purpose of engaging in criminal activities that later were to make them the objects of one of the greatest manhunts in the history of American crime. The depredations of this gang of desperadoes rival those of the characters of the most bloodthirsty novels of our time and were brought to an end by the death of Brady and Shaffer while resisting arrest by FBI agents and the capture of Dalhover in the New England City of Bangor, Maine in October 1937. To this gang has been attributed the statement that they “would make Dillinger look like a piker.” Whether or not they accomplished their avowed purpose is a moot question, but the fact that they met the same fate as the members of the Dillinger gang cannot be disputed.
Although the members of this infamous gang committed in the neighborhood of 150 holdups and robberies and at least one and possibly two murders in the comparatively short period of time between the latter part of the year 1935 and April 1936, the crimes committed were violations of state laws and as such did not come within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI.
On April 27, 1936, however, the Kay Jewelry Store at Lima, Ohio, was held up and robbed for the second time by Alfred Brady, James Dalhover, and Clarence Lee Shaffer. Approximately $8,000 worth of jewelry was taken. On the day of the robbery, a number of boxes in which the jewelry had been kept were found where they had been discarded near Geneva, Indiana, which of course, gave rise to the presumption that the stolen jewelry had been transported from Ohio across the state line into Indiana, thus permitting the FBI to enter the case. Two weeks later, Brady was apprehended by the Police Department at Chicago, Illinois and Dalhover and Shaffer within a few days thereafter by the Chicago and Indianapolis Police Departments, respectively. They were held on a charge of murdering a police sergeant of the Indianapolis Police Department. They remained in jail until October 1936. In the meantime, special agents had been carefully checking the previous activities of the members of the gang in an effort to determine if they were responsible for other violations of federal laws and obtaining all the facts relative to their activities for prosecutive purposes.
The background and activities of this gang of criminals, as contained in the files of the FBI, reflect that Alfred James Brady was born near Kentland, Indiana on October 25, 1910. His early life was that of the average country boy, and his education was received in the elementary school at North Salem, Indiana. His father died when he was only a few years old, and Brady and his mother later moved to Indianapolis where Mrs. Brady married a man by the name of Biddle. Brady’s mother died in December 1926, when Brady was 16 years of age. His stepfather died two years later.
Walter Walsh and the Brady Gang
An excellent sharpshooter who joined the Bureau in 1934, FBI Agent Walter Walsh played a key role in taking down the Brady gang. Walsh, who lived to 106, passed away in 2014. Watch a video below on Walsh’s career with the FBI and his role in battling the Brady gangsters. Other videos on the gang can be found at the bottom of this page.
Little is known of the activities of Brady as a young man, but it is known that he, at one time, worked in a clothing store in Indianapolis and later, after the death of his stepfather, was employed as an errand boy at a hot tamale stand run by a friend of the family. He was so employed during 1931 and 1932. Leaving this employment, he began to wander around, and the people with whom he had been staying saw little of him for several years, until July 10, 1934, when he was arrested under the name of James Reid on a charge of vagrancy. Through the intervention of one of his acquaintances with whom he had previously resided, this charge was dismissed, and he was not heard from again by his former acquaintances until about August 1935, when he returned to Indianapolis and obtained employment in a mattress factory for a short time. He then obtained employment as a welder in an automobile factory, but soon growing tired of this, he gave up his job and informed the family with whom he was staying that he was going to travel as an insurance inspector.
Prior to his return to Indianapolis, he was arrested on July 21, 1934 on a charge of unlawful possession (possessing stolen property) and was sentenced to the state farm at Greencastle, Indiana to serve 180 days. Upon his release from this institution, he proceeded to a farm owned by a friend near Hanover, Indiana, where he visited for a short time and first became acquainted with James Dalhover who was operating the farm adjoining that on which Brady was visiting. During 1935, Brady apparently resided around Indianapolis and visited occasionally the farm of his friend near Hanover. During this period of time, Brady informed friends that he had organized a gang of young boys who were stealing and stripping automobiles in Indianapolis and burglarizing various grocery stores and other business houses. Leaving Brady here, we go to Dalhover who enters the picture at about this time.
Rhuel James Dalhover was born in Madison, Indiana on August 24, 1906 and resided there, attending grammar school until he was 11 years of age. He was sent to a reform school at Plainfield, Indiana, with his brother George for robbing a country grocery store at Plowhandle Point. George Dalhover had recently been released from reform school, and apparently it was he who persuaded James to help him rob the grocery store. James Dalhover remained in the reform school 16 months and was released in December 1918. He then rejoined his mother in Cincinnati, Ohio and later moved to Kentucky. He continued to attend school and work on a farm for about two years, finishing grammar school in 1920. He obtained employment at the National Biscuit Company plant in Cincinnati and worked there during the next two years. He then went with another brother to Douglas, Arizona and worked at various laboring jobs until 1924 when he went to Madison, Indiana, to live with his father. He stayed there until July 1925, returned to Cincinnati, and worked for the Standard Service Company until the Spring of 1926, having in the meantime, in December 1925, married a girl named Anna Moore of Cincinnati. Two children were born of this union.
In the Spring of 1926, Dalhover began making “moonshine” whiskey for his wife’s grandfather, and in November 1926, he and his brother George were caught with a load of whiskey at Union, Kentucky. He was immediately placed in jail and received a sentence of 100 days and a fine of $100. He had served three weeks of his sentence when he and his brother broke out and went to Cincinnati. From there, they went to Madison, Indiana, picked up an automobile, and started toward Arizona. The car broke down, however, and at Roswell, New Mexico, they stole a 1926 Ford coupe. They were apprehended later and sentenced to serve 1 ½ to 2 years in New Mexico State Penitentiary. At the expiration of 13 months, they were given a two-year sentence in the Kentucky State Reformatory at Frankfort for the crime of assault with intent to kill. Upon Dalhover’s release from this institution on November 25, 1929, he returned to Cincinnati, worked at odd jobs there for a short time, and then again began making “moonshine” whiskey at New Richmond, Ohio.
In January 1931, Dalhover and another brother, John, went to California. He obtained a job at the Needles Gas and Electric Company, worked there for two months and then obtained a job with the Santa Fe Railroad until June 1932. He returned to Madison, Indiana and worked part of the time with his father, a cabinet maker, and part of the time made “moonshine” whiskey. In the Summer of 1933, the whiskey business became so good that he gave up assisting his father and devoted all of his time to making whiskey. With the profits from this venture, he purchased a farm near Hanover where the whiskey making was continued through the year 1934.
In the early part of 1935, he met Alfred Brady who was visiting the farm adjoining that was operated by Dalhover. Dalhover later told FBI agents that, at that time, the federal and state governments were shutting down on his yeast supply which he used in making whiskey, and that Brady—on his trips to Hanover—would bring yeast down to him from Indianapolis. In March 1935, Dalhover’s farm was raided and his still destroyed. He was tried in July 1935 at Madison and was sentenced to serve 60 days in jail and to pay a $500 fine. He served the 60 days on the Indiana State Farm at Greencastle and was released on September 8, 1935, returning to his farm at Hanover. Brady visited him there and suggested that he join him in perpetrating robberies and holdups. Dalhover stated that he refused at that time, but shortly thereafter Brady again appeared at his farm with an automobile he had stolen in Indianapolis, and together they robbed a moving picture theater at Crothersville, Indiana on October 12 or 14, 1935. Dalhover advised that they obtained $18 in this robbery of which he received $4 as his share after the expenses had been deducted. On the following Saturday night, both men proceeded to Sellersburg, Indiana, in the stolen car and held up a grocery store, obtaining $190.
During the latter part of October 1935, the Brady gang was formed. Brady brought Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr. (who was then using the name of Lee Jackson), to Dalhover’s farm, and operating together for the first time, these three criminals robbed a grocery store near Indianapolis. For some time, the three of them engaged in the robberies of grocery stores, filling stations, and drug stores on every Saturday night—and sometimes on Sunday nights. Dalhover estimated they had robbed approximately 150 stores.
Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr., the youngest member of the gang, was born at Indianapolis, Indiana in 1916. His parents separated two years later, at which time his mother obtained a divorce, and Shaffer went to live with his grandparents in Indianapolis. He later attended elementary school at Ben Davis, Indiana. Little is known of the early activities of Clarence Lee Shaffer, but there is some indication that when he was 12 years of age, he began stealing and stripping automobiles and continued this practice for some time. In later years, he frequently did odd jobs, such as cutting grass and hauling coal. He was employed hauling coal with Charles Geiseking who, for a short time, was the fourth member of the Brady gang.
While he was hauling coal with Geiseking, he met a young girl in July or August 1935 and started keeping company with her. Later that summer, Shaffer opened and operated a hamburger stand at Indianapolis for a period of three or four weeks. During this time, he regularly called upon this young girl and went with her until November 1935. Subsequently, a child was born which the girl claimed was the son of Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr. Shaffer’s mother, who on numerous occasions pleaded with him to stop his criminal activities, also pleaded with him to marry the young woman and give the child a name, but this he declined to do.
The fact is not definitely known, but Dalhover advised that during the latter part of 1935 when he, Brady, and Shaffer were conducting their holdups from their operating base on the farm of Dalhover, Brady and Shaffer, accompanied by Charles Geiseking, were perpetrating other robberies during the week.
After the three men began perpetrating holdups as an organized gang, it was decided that Dalhover would buy an automobile and register it legitimately so that they would not have to drive the stolen automobiles used in the holdups more than was necessary. At that time they were using a stolen Ford coupe for the holdups, but when business became better they decided they needed a larger car. On January 14, 1936, Brady and Dalhover proceeded to Anderson, Indiana, held up a man and a woman at the point of guns, and took from them a Buick sedan. On this excursion, Charles Geiseking accompanied them and drove the stolen Ford coupe. The Buick was then placed in a garage at Indianapolis to be used in future holdups.
Shaffer, the youngest member of the trio, was inclined to be a braggart and just before Christmas 1935, Brady and Dalhover dropped him as a partner and used Geiseking, as Shaffer started drinking and talking more than they thought was good for them, and they were afraid he might get them in trouble. During January 1936, the gang continued their holdups throughout the state of Indiana and, on one occasion, proceeded to Danville, Illinois and held up two grocery stores on the same night. On one occasion at Danville, Shaffer again accompanied Brady and Dalhover, and as they were making their getaway, they were pursued by police officers. Brady on this occasion fired at the pursuing officers with an automatic rifle.
It was also in January 1936, when, because of the cold weather and bad roads it was necessary to temporarily discontinue their robberies, Brady organized a group of young boys in Indianapolis who would steal cars for him and drive them to various garages. Dalhover and Brady would strip the cars and sell the parts to a fence.
The stolen car business was not prospering to the degree that it satisfied the wants of these bandits, and they determined to go in for bigger things. A conference was held, and it was decided they needed more and better guns than they had been using. They proceeded to Newport, Kentucky, visited a barroom, and made arrangements for the purchase of a machine gun from a bartender who obtained it from a policeman then serving on the police department of a large city in Ohio. The bartender later introduced Brady and Dalhover to the policeman under fictitious names, and arrangements were made for a welding job to be done on the machine guns. At this time, other firearms and ammunition were purchased from the policeman who took them out to the farm of a relative. The machine gun was tried out and found to be in a satisfactory operating condition. (This police officer was later dismissed from the police department as a result of his having supplied the Brady gang with these firearms and ammunition.)
Some time during the early part of February 1936, Brady, Geiseking, and Dalhover proceeded to Springfield, Ohio, and there robbed two grocery stores on the same night, obtaining approximately $600. Shortly thereafter they learned they were suspected of having killed a policeman by the name of Frank Levy at Anderson, Indiana, and decided it would be better for them to leave that section of the country for a few days. They, therefore, took the stolen Buick, drove to New Orleans, Louisiana, and stayed there about a week.
With reference to the murder of the policeman, Frank Levy, the facts were as follows: the officer was making his rounds of the streets and stopped to investigate a suspicious appearing automobile when he was killed by gunfire from the occupants of the car without having been given a chance to draw his gun. Some time later when one of the members of the gang was in jail, a fellow prisoner asked about the killing and one of the gang members stated that they had committed the murder, elaborating on the fact that they had been sleeping in the car when an officer came along and asked them what they were doing there. The answer was, “Killing coppers, that’s what were doing!” The officer was then shot. It is not known, however, whether this actually occurred, because the killing was denied by Dalhover.
While in New Orleans, they met some girls and began taking them out. On one occasion, the girls saw some firearms that the men were carrying. The gang told them that they were federal officers and that was the reason they had the guns.
Returning from New Orleans after their short stay there, the gang, having decided to go in for bigger things, on March 4, 1936, robbed a jewelry store at Greenville, Ohio. They proceeded to the store in a stolen automobile, taking with them a number of pillowcases. Upon entering the store, they held up the employees and patrons, gathered up the jewelry, placed it in nine pillowcases, carried it out to the car, and drove away. This jewelry was valued at approximately $8,000.
On March 19, 1936, the Kay Jewelry Store at Lima, Ohio, was held up and robbed of jewelry valued at approximately $6,800 by Brady, Dalhover, and another bandit who had temporarily joined the gang. The employees and customers were held at bay by the robbers with pistols. During the course of this robbery, one of the owners of the store jumped on Brady’s back and began wrestling with him. The events which followed might almost be considered amusing if it were not for the tragic consequences which often follow such exhibitions of careless disregard for human life. One of the bandits immediately began firing his gun at the intrepid citizen who, with Brady, went down behind the counter out of the bandit’s range of vision. Brady alone arose, and the excited bandit fired at Brady as soon as his head came above the counter. Brady immediately ducked and as soon as he again raised his head above the counter, another shot was directed at him. It was not until he yelled to the other members of the gang to “stop that crazy fool” that Brady was able to get up from behind the counter. Needless to say, the “crazy fool” was not again taken along on a “job.” In the excitement and as a result of the firing, a crowd gathered, but the bandits succeeded in making their escape.
It was just after this robbery that Brady and Dalhover decided to hold up another grocery store. They, therefore, drove to a small store in Ohio and held it up, but since they did not obtain sufficient money there, they went on to another town and spotted another grocery store which looked good to them; Brady entered the front door and Dalhover the back door. Dalhover estimated there were approximately 35 customers in the store at the time.
To show the cold-blooded manner in which this gang operated, the following is Dalhover’s description of what happened: “As I entered the rear door, I estimated there were about 35 customers crowded in the store, and as I was dodging my way through the crowd, I heard a shot fired. The customers immediately began to run to the front door and pushed me out with them. As soon as they had cleared the place, I went back in; Brady was taking the money out of the cash drawer. I asked Brady what the shot was about and he said, ‘some damn fool jumped me and I shot him and shoved him down the cellar stairs.’ We got the money, went out the back door, and got in our car, but because of the fact that there was a great crowd gathered, we had to turn our car around in the middle of the street and then drive out of town. A car followed us for some distance, and I shot three times at it and stopped.”
The young man who had been killed was Edward Lindsay, a clerk in the grocery store. Coming into the store from the basement, he had committed the indiscretion of excitedly asking what was going on, and Brady had killed him.
On April 9, 1936, Brady, Shaffer, Geiseking, and Dalhover, all together again, drove to Dayton, Ohio, in a Studebaker car, which had previously been stolen in Indianapolis, and there held up and robbed another jewelry store, obtaining approximately $27,000 worth of jewelry and again using pillowcases to carry away their loot. Dalhover stated that he figured the value of the loot from the price tags appearing thereon at $68,000. The jewelry obtained in the previous holdup had been disposed of in the same manner, without any difficulty, at prices far below the market value. In this instance, however, they were offered $22,000 by a group of fences, but when they arrived at a designated apartment to deliver the jewelry, they were hijacked by some Chicago crooks who laughingly took their jewelry from what they then thought was a gang of “punks.” They soon learned differently from the underworld, however, and when advised that the “punks” were “real killers,” arrangements were immediately entered into to return the stolen jewelry, but subsequent events developed so rapidly that the return was actually never made.
On April 27, 1936, as previously indicated, the Kay Jewelry Store at Lima, Ohio, was robbed a second time, the gang in the meantime having held up at Chicago an employee of the government and taken from him a DeSoto airflow sedan which they used in perpetrating that robbery.
This operation offers another example of the cold-blooded manner in which the gang operated. While Brady, Geiseking, and Dalhover went into the store and held up the clerks and customers with their guns, Shaffer remained outside at the wheel of the getaway car. During the robbery, a police car drew up and parked in front of the gang car, and one of the policemen got out and went into a 5- and 10- cent store next door. Dalhover, coming out of the jewelry store with four pillow cases full of jewelry, saw the police car but continued on his way and took his automatic rifle from the back of the gang car. Brady then came out of the jewelry store and placed the jewelry which he had brought out on the back seat of their car, walked over to the police car, and held up the policeman with a revolver. Dalhover, approaching from the other side, held his rifle on the policeman and took his gun from him. While this was going on, the other officer came out of the 5- and 10-cent store and started firing at Brady and Dalhover who returned the fire. At this point, Geiseking ran out of the jewelry store among the officers and members of his own gang and was shot in the leg by the officer who had been in the store. The officer then returned to the store to reload his gun. Geiseking was assisted into the gang car, while Brady returned to the jewelry store to get the balance of the jewelry which had been placed in a pillowcase and left near the door. Brady then came out and the gang drove away, pursued by the police car occupied by Patrolmen Jess Ford and Edward C. Swaney of the Lima, Ohio Police Department. During the chase, the police car was wrecked and Patrolman Swaney was seriously injured.
The gang escaped and made their way to Indianapolis where it was decided that it would be necessary to obtain medical aid for Geiseking. They took him to the home of a doctor who treated his wounds, and then they took him to his home. Brady, Dalhover, and Shaffer decided to return to the doctor’s house to insure his silence. They had told him that Geiseking had been shot by a jealous husband who had discovered that he had been playing around with his wife. In the meantime, however, the physician had notified the police department of the incident, and upon the return of the bandits to the home of the doctor, they were met by Indianapolis police officers. A gun battle ensued during the course of which Sergeant Richard Rivers of the Indianapolis Police Department was killed and the gang escaped. Shortly thereafter, the gang took the stolen Buick sedan and the DeSoto outside of Indianapolis and burned them in order to conceal any evidence of their participation in this shooting. They then proceeded to Chicago to dispose of the jewelry, valued at approximately $12,000, through jewelry fences.
The agreed selling price was about $850, but the money was never received as Brady was apprehended by Indianapolis police on May 11, 1936. Shaffer was subsequently apprehended by Indianapolis police the same day, and Dalhover was arrested on May 15, 1936, by the Chicago police. Geiseking was located on September 12, 1936, at Henderson, Kentucky, having, in the interim, been operating with a criminal named Jones and holding up a number of filling stations. They were all returned to Indianapolis to await trial for the murder of Sergeant Richard Rivers.
On September 24, 1936, while Brady, Dalhover, and Shaffer were being held, they were transferred to the Hancock County Jail at Breensfield, Indiana. Geiseking was not involved in this murder and was later removed to Ohio and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary for the crime of armed robbery. The other three remained in the Hancock County Jail until October 11, 1936, on which date, during the breakfast hour, they assaulted the sheriff, took from him his .38 caliber revolver, and escaped in an automobile stolen from a man who attempted to assist the sheriff during his fight with the gang.
It was at this point that the FBI took up the trail of this gang, and on October 13, 1936, a complaint was filed against Brady, Shaffer, and Dalhover before the United States Commissioner at Cleveland, Ohio, charging them with the transportation of stolen jewelry, valued in excess of $5,000 from Lima, Ohio, to Chicago, Illinois, on April 27, 1936. The transportation of this property from the state of Ohio to the state of Illinois gave the FBI investigative jurisdiction in the case, and FBI agents took up the search.
Brady, Dalhover, and Shaffer proceeded from Greenfield, Indiana, into the state of Ohio where they burglarized a house at Gallipolis and obtained some clothing and blankets. Proceeding from there to Wheeling, West Virginia, they considered holding up a jewelry store but decided that they were too “hot” to pull a job at this time, so they continued east to Baltimore, Maryland, obtaining a room in a rooming house there. The gang was really “hot” at this time and knew it. Police of a number of states were seeking them for everything from robbery to murder, and the FBI had assembled a special squad to search for them as violators of the National Stolen Property Act, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, and later for bank robbery.
Shrewd and resourceful, Brady, Dalhover, and Shaffer held a conference and decided to live a quiet, peaceful life in Baltimore and to make the scene of their future criminal operations a sufficient distance away so that they could not be traced. To get ready cash quickly, they held up several grocery stores in Maryland some distance from Baltimore. In November 1936, they located a 1937 Buick sedan operated by a man, and deciding it was the car they wanted, followed it to a point on the outskirts of the city where they held up the man, made him and his woman companion get out of the car, and drove it away. They then placed it in a garage rented for the purpose where it would be available for use in their criminal operations. Brady at this time was using the name Edward Maxwell; Dalhover, the name of Herbert Schwartz; and Shaffer, the name George Riley.
About the middle of October, the three men started taking their meals at a restaurant in Baltimore where Minnie Raimondo, age 18, was employed as a waitress. Shaffer, then using the name Riley, became friendly with Minnie and started taking her home from work. He informed her that he was a cabinet maker from Bangor, Maine in Baltimore on a vacation. He further advised her that Schwartz and Maxwell, in reality, Dalhover and Brady, owned a furniture factory in Maine from which they received a nice income and that they had to go to Maine every few weeks to look after their business. Shortly after Shaffer started going with Minnie, she invited him and his two companions to her mother’s home for an Italian dinner. At this time, Dalhover met Minnie’s sister, Mary, age 20. Shaffer and Dalhover went out regularly with the two sisters for a period of about two weeks during which time they decided to get married.
In the meantime, however, needing more money, the gang decided to rob the State Bank at North Madison, Indiana, and on November 22, 1936, left Baltimore in the stolen Buick and drove to North Madison. There they proceeded to “run the roads,” and, on November 23, 1936, shortly after the noon hour, Brady and Dalhover entered the bank, leaving Shaffer at the wheel of the getaway car, and held it up at the point of guns, obtaining approximately $1,630. Prior to the robbery, they had stolen a set of Indiana license plates which they used on the stolen automobile to more easily effect their getaway after perpetrating the robbery. It is also noted that before leaving Baltimore, they had purchased two long-range rifles and some ammunition to use in case they were pursued by the police.
After arriving back in Baltimore, they resumed their friendship with the Raimondo girls and on November 28, 1936, Dalhover, who already had a wife and two small children, decided to marry Mary and Shaffer, Minnie. On November 30, 1936, these four, accompanied by Brady and a third Raimondo sister, proceeded to Elkton, Maryland, where they had a double ceremony performed. Brady and Josephine, the third Raimondo sister, were witnesses. Returning to Baltimore, Dalhover and Shaffer moved in with the Raimondo sisters at the home of their mother, Brady taking a room in another part of the city. The house in which they were living, however, proved too small for comfort, and after about a week or 10 days, the four of them rented a house at 3632 Roberts Place, Baltimore, and moved there. Dalhover and Shaffer built a workshop in the basement of the house which they continually kept locked. Practically every day Brady would join them, and the three of them would spend a considerable amount of time there. It was later learned that they had been making magazines, extra shot clips, and mechanical improvements on the various guns they were using at that time.
Wanting additional money, the gang decided to rob the State Bank of Carthage at Carthage, Indiana. They left Baltimore on December 15, 1936, drove to Marietta, Ohio, staying there overnight in a tourist camp and going on to Carthage the next day. They stole a set of 1937 Indiana license plates from an automobile parked on a side street in Richmond, Indiana, and on the following day, robbed the bank at Carthage, obtaining approximately $2,154 and some silverware. Returning to Baltimore, the members of the gang lived quietly, spending their time working in their workshop and enjoying life generally until they decided it was time for them to pull another bank job. On April 26, 1937, they left Baltimore in the stolen Buick sedan and drove to Farmland, Indiana, “ran the roads” there, and shortly after noon the next day, they held up and robbed the Farmland, Indiana, Branch of the Peoples Loan and Trust Company, Winchester, Indiana, obtaining approximately $1,427 and returning to Baltimore through the state of Ohio.
Prior to this robbery, the gang, around the first of April, made a trip to Chicago for the purpose of obtaining a machine gun which they had heard could be obtained at a sporting goods store there. They were unsuccessful, however, and on their return to Baltimore, they stopped in Cincinnati and stole a set of 1937 license plates from an automobile parked in a suburb of that city.
Shortly after the robbery of the bank of Farmland, they decided to get rid of the Chevrolet they had stolen at the time of their escape from the county jail at Greenfield, Indiana, and on May 11, 1937, they drove from Baltimore to Bellefontaine, Ohio with this purpose in mind. On May 12, they observed two girls in a new Ford sedan. They drove up alongside the car, held the girls up with a pistol, took the Ford from them, and drove it away. Both the Chevrolet and the Ford were driven to Hamilton, Ohio, where the Chevrolet was burned. Before burning it, however, they removed from it a tire which they had purchased in Baltimore.
This is a good example of the caution with which this gang was operating at this time. They removed the tire because they felt that it might possibly be traced to Baltimore and their residence there discovered. They then went on to Moscow, Ohio, and stole a .30 caliber machine gun from an American Legion Monument where it had been placed as a part of the memorial. They repaired this gun and finding that it worked satisfactorily, they determined to get another one. About a week later, they proceeded to Felicity, Ohio, where they stole another .30 caliber machine gun from an American Legion Monument in that municipality.
Returning to Baltimore, the gang remained there until May 1937. When their money began to run low, they decided to return to Indiana to rob another bank. Leaving Baltimore on May 23, 1937, the three of them proceeded in the stolen Ford to Sheldon, Illinois, for the purpose of robbing a bank there. Arriving at that point, they found that the bank was out of business. They then continued to Goodland, Indiana, and “ran the roads” there preparatory to robbing the Goodland Stateland Bank. They returned to the state of Illinois and stayed in a tourist camp. Leaving there on May 25, 1937, they went back to Goodland and held up and robbed the bank of approximately $2,528.
While making their getaway from this bank, and after driving to a point about 15 miles distant from it, they observed a state police car about half-mile in front of them. When they came to a point about a quarter of a mile from the police car, they stopped, turned around in the road, and started retracing their route, driving to a church at the first crossroads. They drove the car around behind the church, out of sight, and all three got out of the car, Brady taking one of the machine guns and Shaffer and Dalhover taking rifles. A few minutes later, the police car drove up to the intersection and slowed down preparatory to stopping. An Indiana State Police officer, Paul Minneman, opened the car door and leaned out in an effort to determine from the tracks at the crossroads which way the bandit car had gone. The bandits opened fire from their place of concealment, killed Minneman, and wounded Deputy Sheriff Elmer Craig of Cass County, Indiana. Minneman fell out of the car into the road, and Deputy Sheriff Craig staggered from the other side of the car, badly wounded and dazedly seeking cover. One of the bandits took a rifle and followed Deputy Sheriff Craig to where he had fallen and, upon coming up to him, pointed a rifle at him and shouted to the other bandits, “Shall I finish this guy, too?” One of the three members of the gang yelled, “No, come on, let’s get the hell out of here.” Stopping to take the revolver from the policeman’s holster and the medicine kit from the police car, one of the bandits entered their car and another stopped to retrieve the shotgun which had fallen from the weakened hand of the Deputy Sheriff, then walked over to the state policeman and removed the belt and holster and a pair of handcuffs from his pockets. They placed their loot in the bandits’ car and drove back to Baltimore.
After their return to Baltimore, in June 1937 Brady, Dalhover, and Shaffer purchased a motor boat and a Packard automobile motor. Putting the motor in the boat, they placed the boat in operating condition and frequently used it for fishing and pleasure trips during the time they remained in Baltimore. It was at this time that Brady purchased a tavern which he operated for about a month. The bandits also purchased a motorcycle and frequently visited roller skating rinks and taverns, Brady going so far as to purchase a specially built pair of roller skates which he carried with him at all times. On the many trips the gang made to rob the various banks, Dalhover and Shaffer informed their wives that they were going to Maine to look after their business interests there.
Around the first of August 1937, the gang again decided to proceed to the Middle West and perpetrate another bank robbery. In preparation for this trip, on August 7, they drove to the outskirts of Baltimore in the stolen Ford and an old 1931 Buick which Brady had purchased legitimately. They stopped, intending to change some clothing and guns from the Buick which Brady was driving, to the Ford, but were observed by two members of the Baltimore Police Department who were in that vicinity in a squad car. Becoming suspicious, the policemen approached for the purpose of questioning them, at which point, the members of the gang jumped into their cars and started away. As the Buick was old and could not go very fast, the police car soon began overtaking it. The bandits opened fire on the officers, and a running gun battle ensued. The squad car was disabled, and the Brady gang again escaped after abandoning the Buick in which was discovered a .30 caliber rifle. Shortly thereafter, it was determined that the bandits who had engaged in the gun battle with the police were members of the Brady gang. The ensuing investigation developed the information relative to the marriage of Dalhover and Shaffer and their residence in Baltimore during the period of time subsequent to their escape from the county jail at Greenfield, Indiana.
A complete and comprehensive investigation was made of the activities of the gang members during the time they had resided in Baltimore, and with the additional information obtained relative to their habits, likes, dislikes, and activities, one of the greatest manhunts in the history of this country was begun.
Among other things, it was learned that while the members of the gang were residing in Baltimore, Brady frequented several roller skating rinks and had exhibited a particular liking for this sport. Accordingly, a record was made of every roller skating rink in the country and personal contacts were made by agents with the operators of these establishments throughout the country. Prior to this time, Identification Orders had been widely distributed, and a copy of each was on file in every police department in the United States.
On June 15, 1937, Homer Cummings, Attorney General of the United States, under authority vested in him by law, offered a $1,500 reward for information furnished to the FBI which would result in the apprehension of these three fugitives or $500 for information which would result in the apprehension of any one of the three. All banks, filling stations, and other places where it was thought the fugitives might appear, had been furnished copies of the Identification Orders and circulars and requested to watch out for these criminals.
After escaping from the police in Baltimore, the members of the gang returned to their home and obtained clothes and ammunition. Parking the Ford car in a garage, they transferred to the Buick, previously stolen in Baltimore, drove to Buffalo, New York, and stayed in a rooming house there for approximately a week. They then proceeded to Nashville, Tennessee, staying one night in a tourist camp, and from there to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their money again running low, they decided to rob another bank and, after cruising around awhile, settled upon The Peoples Exchange Bank of Thorp, Wisconsin, in Milwaukee. On August 23, 1937, they held up and robbed the Peoples Exchange Bank, obtaining approximately $7,000 and another revolver. That night they stayed in Milwaukee and, on the following day, drove to Buffalo, New York. They resided there quietly until September 3, proceeded then to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and rented an apartment.
On September 21, they journeyed to Bangor, Maine to purchase additional firearms, having heard that they could buy them there without any questions being asked. On this occasion, they purchased two .45 caliber automatic pistols and some ammunition at one sporting goods store and three .32 caliber Colt automatics at another, returning then to Bridgeport, Connecticut. At the sporting goods store where they had purchased the .45 caliber automatics, they had requested that some clips be obtained for them and also inquired if various firearms and special extra clips could be obtained. This aroused the suspicion of the employees of the store, and the manager reported the incident to the police.
On October 5, 1937, the gang returned to Bangor and purchased a third .45 caliber colt automatic again requesting that various clips be obtained for them and asking about a machine gun. After the gang had left, the manager of the store again communicated with the police and advised them that the gang had returned. He also communicated the information to Sergeant F. R. Hall of the Bangor substation of the Maine State Police, informing him that three tough-looking men had called at the store on September 21 at which time they had purchased two Colt automatic pistols and that they had returned on October 5, 1937 and purchased a third weapon of a similar type. He also advised Sergeant Hall that the men had stated they wanted to purchase a Thompson submachine gun and clips for other gun and had requested that these articles be obtained for them, indicating that they would return on October 11 or 12. Sergeant Hall communicated this information to the Chief of the Maine State Police, Wilbur H. Twole, at Augusta, Maine, who immediately transmitted the information to the Boston Field Division of the FBI, offering the full cooperation of his department.
An FBI agent proceeded to Bangor with photographs of known criminal and fugitives sought by the FBI and interviewed the store manager to whom the various photographs were exhibited. He immediately identified the photograph of James Dalhover as being that of one of the men who had visited his store on September 21, 1937 and on October 5, 1937. This identification was confirmed by a clerk and, from the additional information obtained during the course of questioning by the agent, it was determined that it had probably been the members of the Brady gang who had visited Bangor and had indicated their intention of returning. This information was immediately communicated to FBI Headquarters in Washington, and the special squad who had been constantly working on this case proceeded to Boston and quietly drifted into Bangor until the whole squad was assembled. The matter was discussed with Chief Thomas I. Crowley, of the Bangor Police Department, and with his cooperation, a surveillance of the hardware store was arranged and appropriate arrangements made whereby the members of the Brady gang would be apprehended at the time of their return to Bangor. One agent was placed in the sporting goods store where, to all intents and purposes, he was working as a clerk; another was placed back of a partition in the rear of the store with an inspector of the Bangor Police Department, and others were placed in a building across the street from the sporting goods store. The scene was set for the appearance of the members of the Brady gang.
On October 12, 1937, at approximately 8:30 a.m., a Buick automobile with Ohio license plates appeared in Bangor. After riding past the sporting goods store twice, the occupants, apparently satisfied that everything was quiet and that there was no danger, parked the car a few doors from the store. Leaving Brady in the back seat of the car, Shaffer and Dalhover proceeded to the store. Dalhover entered the store while Shaffer remained on guard in front. Dalhover was immediately taken into custody by the agents stationed within the store who, upon searching him, found a .45 caliber Colt automatic and a .32 caliber Colt automatic both fully loaded with two extra loaded clips for each on his person. He was immediately handcuffed and removed to the Bangor Police Department by police. While the handcuffs were being placed on him, he was asked by an agent where his “pals” were. The answer came immediately. Shaffer had drawn his gun and started firing through the front door of the store, one of the bullets wounding an agent in the shoulder. The agents from within the store returned the fire, and Shaffer ran out into the street where he fell and died a few minutes later with a .32 caliber automatic pistol in his hand from which all but one shell had been fired. In the meantime, immediately upon observing the parked car with Brady sitting in it, two agents approached it with drawn guns, one from either side, informed Brady that they were federal officers and ordered him to get out of the car with his hands up. Brady put his hands up and started to slide along the back seat crying, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, I’ll get out.” As he arrived at the door, however, he lunged out, drew a gun, and started firing at the agents. Fire was immediately concentrated upon him, and he fell dead in the middle of the street. At the time of his death, Brady had in his hand a .38 caliber revolver from which four shots had just been fired. A .32 and a .45 caliber automatic were on his person. Ironically, the .38 revolver in Brady’s hand was the gun he had taken from the body of the murdered Indiana State Policeman, Paul Minneman.
It is interesting to note that one of the bullets fired by Brady came so close to its mark that it penetrated the clothing of one of the agents and the gun holster next to his body. Thus, exactly one day less than that a year after the FBI entered the case the criminal careers of two of the most vicious and dangerous criminals ever to have been sought by law enforcement agencies in this country were terminated. Dalhover was removed to Indiana and convicted in federal court for the murder of Indiana State Policeman Paul Minneman and was sentenced to die. An appeal was taken to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and later to the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeals were unavailing and on November 18, 1938, Rhuel James Dalhover was electrocuted at the Indiana State Penitentiary, Michigan City, Indiana.
Throughout the career of these desperadoes, there is evidence of a desire for firearms which amounted to an absolute mania, and in order that there be a clearer understanding of the firearms possessed by the modern organized gang, there follows a list of firearms recovered from members of this gang:
Eight .45 caliber automatic pistols
Seven .38 caliber revolvers
Three .30 caliber machine guns with 350 shot belts, 22 of these mounted for use in an automobile
Five .32 caliber automatic pistols
Five .30 caliber rifles
One .30 caliber automatic rifle
Two 12-gauge shotguns
One .45 caliber revolver
One .32 caliber revolver
Two .22 caliber automatic pistols
These firearms, together with large quantities of ammunition, extra shot clips, drums, and tear gas grenades, were not enough to satisfy the wants of the bloodthirsty members of the Brady gang, and they were ever on the search for more lethal weapons. On one occasion, they journeyed to a town in Ohio for the purpose of holding up a police department which, they had learned, had several submachine guns. Cruising around the town for a short time and making observations, they decided the risk was too great and abandoned the plan. Later they went so far as to discuss visiting the offices of the FBI in Washington for the purpose of raiding the exhibits of guns taken from other notorious criminals, not knowing, of course, that these guns had been rendered useless for all time before they were placed on display. These incidents, however, serve to show the character and trend of thought of the gang members. It was, in fact, this mania for guns which brought about the timely end of the Brady gang, the purpose of their fatal visit to Bangor, Maine to obtain more guns and ammunition with which to carry on their nefarious occupation.
The Brady Gang,
Gun battles, police chases, and a jailbreak—these are the makings of one of the most intense manhunts in the history of American crime. The case begins in the month of October back in 1936, when the Brady Gang broke out of an Indiana jail and sped away in a stolen car. On their trail was a special squad of so-called G-Men. It’s a case that concluded with one of the bloodiest firefights in the history of a New England state.
Mollie Halpern: It’s a historical moment that brings us back 80 years—the end of the manhunt for America’s so-called Public Enemy Number One, John Dillinger. I’m Mollie Halpern of the FBI and this is Gotcha, the Bureau’s closed case of the week.
Dillinger and his gang made headlines in the Gangster Era for their murders, bank robberies, and other crimes. One fateful night in 1934, agents gunned down Dillinger outside of a Chicago movie theater as the outlaw reached for his gun.
With Dillinger dead, a new gang of bad guys looking to make a name for themselves came onto the scene in October of the next year. FBI Historian John Fox…
John Fox: One urban legend has it that they said, “We’re going to make the Dillinger gang look like pikers.”
Halpern: Alfred Brady, James Dalhover, and Clarence Shaffer formed the Brady gang.
Fox: Their goal was to enrich themselves. They wanted money to live an easy life and didn’t want to work at it and were happy to rob whoever they could. The flying squads, as we called them, that would go after the gangsters.
Halpern: Police from multiple states were also after the Brady bandits, who were accused of murdering a police officer, robbing about 150 stores, and transporting their stolen goods across state lines.
The gang managed to elude the law for one year. They lived peacefully in Baltimore but carried out their crimes in the Midwest.
Fox: And so it was hard to figure out where they were.
Halpern: Eventually the U.S. attorney general offered a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Brady gang. On the next Gotcha, how the FBI got its man.
Mollie Halpern: It’s a case that concluded with one of the bloodiest firefights in the history of a New England state. I’m Mollie Halpern of the FBI with Gotcha, the Bureau’s closed case of the week.
The infamous Brady Gang of the Depression Era wanted to restock their weapon supply. So the fugitives ordered guns at a hardware store in Bangor, Maine, where they believed they would not appear suspicious. But as FBI Historian John Fox explains, the clerk told local police, who told the Bureau.
John Fox: We staked out the place. We put two agents in the store acting as clerks. We had two agents upstairs. We had agents out on the street.
Halpern: When the gang returned to pick up their order, a special agent arrested one of them. Another gang member shot and wounded an agent but was killed when agents returned fire. As for gang leader Al Brady, he told agents…
John Fox: “I give up, I give up,” but he starts reaching for a gun. And we fire and he dies in the street there.
Halpern: The gang’s deadly multi-state robbery spree was over that October day—which was just 24 hours short of a year of when the FBI first got involved in the case. The only gang member left standing was sentenced to die for the murder of a police officer. For more on this case, visit www.fbi.gov.