Chief Desmond Brings Fugitive Home

     St. Louis Chief of Detectives William Desmond would be primarily responsible for the security of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  Prior to the fair opening in April 1904, Desmond played a critical role in St. Louis’ boodling investigation.


Chief Desmond Article from the Sunday, October 30, 1904 edition of St. Louis Republic

     During his boodling investigation, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Joseph “Holy Joe” Folk indicted City Councilman Charles Kratz for taking bribes or “boodle” for his vote on certain bills.  Kratz claimed innocence but took the curious step of fleeing St. Louis for Guadalajara, Mexico.

     Eventually, Mexican authorities arrested Kratz on April 28, 1902 but the extradition took significant time.  Kratz exercised every legal tactic he could to prevent being returned to the United States.

     The United States and Mexico were also not at a high point of their relationship.  The process drug out for almost two years between 1902 and early 1904.

     Chief Desmond traveled to Mexico three times before he secured Kratz’s return to the United States.  Desmond’s first trip to Mexico in 1902 lasted two months.  He made the 5,488 mile round trip to lay the ground work for Kratz’s return.

     Chief Desmond’s second trip only lasted two weeks but he would be forced to make the trip one more time.  By the time Chief Desmond returned to St. Louis with Kratz, he logged 16,464 miles over three trips.  He also spent three months in Mexico during 1903.


Early St. Louis Police Badge from the Public Domain

     Finally on January 9, 1904, Mexican officials turned Kratz over to Chief Desmond and St. Louis Sheriff Dickmann, who made the last trip with Desmond.  Chief Desmond breathed a sigh of relief after the entered U.S. territory on the train bringing them back to St. Louis.

     All the effort expended to bring Charles Kratz back to St. Louis were foiled by a legal manuever.  In 1904, Kratz secured a change of venue to Butler County, Missouri.  After his trial was delayed repeatedly for illness, a Butler County jury needed less than two hours to return a verdict of “Not Guilty” in his case.

     Kratz was one of the final defendants in the “boodling investigation”.  Unlike most of the other defendants, he escaped conviction.  The investigation would end the career of St. Louis’ elite like “Boss” Ed Butler.

     For Chief Desmond, his involvement with the case ended with Kratz’s return to St. Louis.  He quickly had to switch gears and prepare his army of detectives for the challenge of protecting the Fair during St. Louis’ crowded hour.  Chief Desmond could find no time to rest.

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