Pinkertons Capture William Rudolph

Over the next three weeks, I will be releasing posts, which are excerpts from the book I’m currently working on and one from a previously published book.  The following unedited story is from the book I’m working on which will be released in the Fall or early Winter 2017.

William Rudolph proved elusive after his Independence Day escape from the St. Louis City Jail.  Authorities thought Rudolph would soon be captured.  However, as 1904 opened the Pinkertons had still not been able to lay their hands on him.

By January 1904, the pursuit of Rudolph was the most costly manhunt in U.S. history for a burglar.  The Pinkerton Agency alone spent about $140,000 since his July 1903 escape.[i]


William Rudolph from the March 15, 1903 edition of the St. Louis Republic

The Pinkerton Agency put a 24 hour a day surveillance on Rudolph’s sweetheart Marion Wade in Hartford, Connecticut.  Shortly after his escape, Rudolph sent Wade a letter asking her to meet him in Manitoba, Canada.  Pinkerton Detectives intercepted the letter and sent officers to the rendezvous point.  However, Rudolph had been tipped off and did not make the appointment.[ii]

William Pinkerton was frustrated at the lack of progress and began examining every picture sent to the Pinkerton Agency from banks, police departments and prisons.  Before the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Pinkerton Agency had the most extensive database on criminals in the United States.

In February 1904, William Pinkerton struck gold.  Due to their contract with the national banking association, the Pinkerton Agency receives photographs of every bank robber and burglar in the association.[iii]  In early February, he received two pictures from the Chief of Police of Paolo, Kansas.

Albert Gorney and Tom Rodgers robbed the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Companies’ safe in Louisburg, Kansas on January 16, 1904.[iv]  Authorities captured the robbers near Paolo, Kansas on January 19, 1904.

Authorities also believed Gorney and Rodgers made an unsuccessful attempt on the bank at Cleveland, Missouri earlier in the day on January 16, 1904.  When authorities arrested the men on January 19, 1904, both men were carrying nitroglycerin and blasting caps.[v]

William Pinkerton had studied William Rudolph’s picture for months and gasped as he looked down at Albert Gorney.  Reaching behind him on his desk, Pinkerton grabbed the picture of Rudolph.  Spending several minutes comparing the two photos, Pinkerton let out a yell of victory.  After 8 months, they finally had their man.  William Rudolph, the killer of Pinkerton Detective Schumacher, was sitting in the Kansas Penitentiary under the name of Albert Gorney.

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[i] Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, January 31, 1904 edition, p 51

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Saint Louis Republic, February 14, 1904, p. 1

[iv] Ibid

[v] Ibid

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