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St. Valentine's Day Massacre Connection

 Fred Burke House

Bungalow residence in Stevensville, Michigan thought to be that of Fred Dane but on December 14, 1929, after St. Joseph Police Officer Charles Skelly was gunned down, it was learned that Fred Dane was actually Fred "Killer" Burke. Residence is located on Red Arrow Highway south of Glenlord Road on the east side of road. Structure is still standing, however has been converted over to the business of Coldwell Banker.

Arsenal

When Deputies made entry into the residence of Fred "Killer" Burke, they forced open a locked upstairs closet and found:

Two Thompson machine guns w/ Nine ammunition drums - One gun was assembled, loaded and ready for instant use while the other was in a black suit case

Five 100-shot .45 caliber drums loaded, many other smaller drums

Three 20-shot clips

Two high powered rifles, one was Winchester .350 automatic, other was Savage .303

One sawed off shotgun with pistol grip

Two bags of ammunition estimated at 5,000 shells

½ dozen fruit jars and tin cans filled with misc. ammunition, including smokeless shotgun shells, shells loaded with iron slugs and small shot.

½ dozen tear gas bombs

In addition to the arsenal, deputies found trap doors, several disguises, well-thumbed detective novels and 0,000 worth of stolen bonds from a Jefferson, Wisconsin Bank.

Deputies posing with guns and vests

Sheriff Fred Bryant and Deputy Charles Andrews pose wearing bullet-proof vests from the Burke residence and brandishing two weapons also confiscated, including one of the Tommy Guns.

Burke Wanted Poster

Wanted Poster put out by the Michigan State Police for Fred "Killer" Burke in 1929.

 

Calvin H. Goddard

Colonel Calvin H. Goddard, 1st Director of privately funded scientific crime detection laboratory which later became the Chicago PD Crime Lab as a result of St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

 

Goddard

The gun room at the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Goddard

Firearms technician Allen P. Wescott test firing a weapon in a container of cotton at the lab.

 

Goddard

Calvin Goddard at work.

 

Goddard

Calvin Goddard examining a weapon from breech to muzzle to see whether it had been fired since last cleaning.

 

Coroner Herman N. Bundesen and Calvin H. Goddard examine a bullet proof vest sold by Von Frantzius Sporting Goods Shop.  The same type of vests were recovered in Burke's hideout in Stevensville, Michigan.

Tommy Gun

Berrien County Sheriff's Department Historian and 911 Supervisor Chriss Lyon holding one of two Thompson Sub-Machine Guns seized from the Stevensville residence of Fred "Killer" Burke in 1929.  Also pictured are Sheriff Leonard Paul Bailey and Quartermaster Lt. Michael Kline.  Photo by John Madill, The Herald-Palladium, October, 2006.

 Burke house 2008

Fred "Killer" Burke house in 2008, now home of Coldwell Banker.  Photo by Chriss Lyon, 2008.

 

Thompson Specs

The two Massacre Thompsons numbered #7580 and #2347 were positively identified by Colonel Calvin Goddard in December of 1929 after investigating many Thompson guns found in the Chicago area.

Thompson #7580 was marked Exhibit "A" and was determined to have fired one twenty-round magazine at the Massacre scene. Thompson #2347 was marked Exhibit "B" and was determined to have fired one fifty-found magazine at the Massacre scene.

Microscopic identification was made of the bullets fired from each of the test guns. Identification was made of the ejector piece from gun #7580, Exhibit "A" and of the irregular firing pin from gun #2347, Exhibit "B". The cartridges fired in this case from both Thompson submachine guns at the Massacre scene were of the United States Cartridge Company. They were manufactured only between July, 1927 and July, 1928. The jacketed bullets were an alloy of copper and 5% zinc and were given a nickel wash which gave them a shiny appearence sometimes mistaken for steel.

The Colt Thompson submachine gun had a six groove barrel 10 1/2 inches long, one turn in 16 inches, "right hand" twist.  Only two guns at the time had a "right hand" twist, the Colt Thompson submachine and the Model 1917 Smith & Wesson Revolver, which also fired the 45 auto ammunition.

Gun History as Taken From The Coroner's Inquest

Thompson serial #7580 was shipped from Auto-Ordnance Corporation of New Haven, Connecticut on October 19, 1928 as part of a shipment of three Thompson submachine guns, serial #6926, #7580, #7699. This shipment also included three "L" type fifty round drum magazines.

Shipment was received October 23rd by Peter Von Frantzius Sporting Goods of 608 Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois, a noted Sporting Goods dealer in the area. On October 23rd, a "dummy" box was shipped by Railway Express to one Victor Thompson (aka Frank V. Thompson), of Fox Hotel, 100 Douglas Avenue, Elgin, Illinois. This entry in the ledger would account for the destination of the three guns. As agreed the serial numbers were filed off by gunsmith Valentine Guch at a cost of two dollars for each gun.

Frank V. Thompson (aka F. V. Thompson, Victor Thompson, Frank Russell), paid cash and took the guns over the counter on October 23, 1928.  These three Thompsons were in turn sold or delivered.

This "dummy" package had been at the Railway Express office about seven months. The package was subpeonaed May 4, 1929 from the American Railway Express Company in Elgin, Illinois by Officer Frank Donahue of the Chicago Police Department. It was kept sealed until brought into the Jury room, then opened in the presence of the Coroner's Jury. The box alleged to hold three Thompson submachine guns was actually found to contain some excelsior and four bricks but no Thompson submachine guns.

Frank V. Thompson testified in 1929 at the Coroner's Inquest that Thompson submachine gun #7580, with numbers removed, was sold to a Bozo Shupe of Chicago.  When confronted by the Chicago Police Department, Bozo Shupe refused to testify or make a statement.  Sometime later, he was found murdered on the west side of Chicago near Cicero. At some point, Thompson #7580 passed from Mr. Bozo Shupe to Fred R. "Killer" Burke (aka Fred Dane) of Stevensville, Michigan.

Today the address of Peter Von Frantzius Sporting Goods, 608 Diversey Parkway in Chicago does not exist. In its place is a small city park which takes up most of that block.

Research on the Cook County Coroner's Inquest courtesy of Gordon Herigstad, Burbank, California, January 1996.

Sources:

Book 695 session 4/13 page 20-23

Book 696 session 4/30 page 194-196

Book 697 session 5/1 page 275-276

Book 718 session 12/23 page 26, 37-40, 42-44, 45-50

 

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