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Robert Cosgrove Greenlease Jr., better known as "Bobby," was born on Feb. 3, 1947, in Kansas City, Mo. His parents were Robert Cosgrove Greenlease Sr. and Virginia Greenlease.

Robert Cosgrove Greenlease Jr., better known as "Bobby," was born on Feb. 3, 1947, in Kansas City, Mo. His parents were Robert Cosgrove Greenlease Sr. and Virginia Greenlease.

As of 1953, Robert Greenlease Sr. was a multi-millionaire auto dealer, owning Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealerships in several states, and one of General Motors' largest stockholders. In 1933, Carl Austin Hall attended Kemper Military School in Booneville, Mo., with Paul Robert Greenlease, adopted son of Robert Greenlease Sr., and older brother of Bobby. It was at Kemper that Hall became aware of the Greenleases' wealth.

Hall, himself, inherited around $200,000.00 from a relative during the late 1940s, $200,000 being comparable to $6 million in 2015. However, by 1953, Hall, 33, had squandered his fortune. Enter Bonnie Brown Heady: Though seven years older than Carl Austin Hall, by 1953 they were living together as a couple. And several commonalities bridged these two: Both were from well-to-do families; both had been disowned by their families; both had large appetites for booze, drugs, and sex . . . and both were broke!

However, Carl had a plan: They would kidnap 6-year-old Bobby Greenlease, and Bobby's father, multi-millionaire Robert Sr., would pay a huge ransom. Sept. 28, 1953, Bonnie Brown Heady appeared at the French Institute of Notre Dame de Sion school in Kansas City, Mo., where Bobby was a student.

Heady convinced the nun in charge that she/Heady was Bobby's aunt, and his mother had just suffered a heart attack, and Heady needed to take the boy to be with his mother. The nun allowed Heady to take little Bobby. Hall was waiting, and they drove off with Bobby. Robert Greenlease Sr. and his wife received a ransom call with strict instructions: $600,000.00 in ransom money and no police involvement if they ever again wanted to see Bobby alive. After several days of back-and-forth phone calls and ransom notes, the Greenleases had someone drop off the $600,000 at a designated location.

After waiting, the Greenleases came to this stark realization: The money was gone; Bobby Greenlease was nowhere to be found; authorities had no idea regarding the identity of the kidnappers. The Bobby Greenlease kidnapping was headlines news the nation over! At that time, 1953, it was the "largest ransom" in U.S. history.

Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady traveled several hundred miles to St. Louis, Mo., where they stopped off at a second-rate apartment. A booze-fueled argument ensued, and Hall left Heady with a paltry $2,500, Hall absconding with the huge balance. Hall then rented a more upscale residence across town.

Fueled by yet more booze, Hall, once again, began foolishly throwing around his money. His true downfall probably was tipping a St. Louis cab driver several hundred dollars, enough to raise eyebrows in 1953, to say the least. It wasn't long before the St. Louis Police arrested Carl Austin Hall, who immediately implicated Bonnie Brown Heady. Hall and Heady admitted murdering Bobby Greenlease the very day they kidnapped him. Authorities recovered Bobby's body buried on Heady's property in St. Joseph, Mo.

Dec. 18, 1953, less than three months after Bobby's kidnapping, Hall and Heady were executed together in the gas chamber at the Missouri State Penitentiary. Only half of the $600,000 ransom money was recovered. A couple of St. Louis policemen were suspected of taking the money.

However, the missing ransom money remains a mystery. As mentioned, the $600,000 ransom was the largest ever, comparable to, say, $18 million nowadays. And these two hapless drunks had pulled it off --t hey were home free! If Carl Austin Hall had given Bonnie Brown Heady her cut --or "silenced" her -- had not thrown around hundreds of dollars to a cab driver, had maintained a low profile, he probably never would've been caught, and could've lived out his life in hedonistic opulence.

Though I'm glad Hall and Heady got what they had coming, you have to wonder about someone pulling off the biggest ransom in history only to throw it away over booze and utter stupidity. This has to be the dumbest crime of the 20th Century.

© 2015 The Murfreesboro Post

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