DATE OF EVENT: Monday, Sept. 28, 1953
DATE PUBLISHED: Monday, Sept. 28, 1953, in The Kansas City Star
Editor’s note: The case of Bobby Greenlease attracted nine days of national attention after the boy was kidnapped from his private school and taken away in a taxi. His two abductors, Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady, demanded $600,000 in ransom from his father, a wealthy Kansas City Cadillac dealer. The ransom was delivered, and the kidnappers were arrested Oct. 9 in St. Louis. They confessed to killing Bobby hours after his kidnapping and burying him in a flower bed in Heady’s St. Joseph backyard. Tried and convicted, the two were executed the same year.
Robert C. (Bobby) Greenlease, jr., 6 years old and son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Greenlease, 2920 Verona road, Johnson County, was kidnapped from school about 11 o’clock this morning, police reported this afternoon.
Chief Bernard C. Brannon said the boy was taken from Notre Dame de Sion, 3823 Locust street, by a woman who posed as the boy’s aunt.
The woman, Brannon said, told a nun at the Catholic school that she had been shopping with Mrs. Greenlease in the Plaza district and she had suffered a heart attack.
The woman said Mrs. Greenlease had been taken to a hospital and she had been sent to take the boy to her bedside.
A few minutes after the woman and young Greenlease left the school, a nun telephoned the Greenlease home to inquire about Mrs. Greenlease’s condition and ask the name of the hospital where she had been taken. The woman who took the boy did not name the hospital.
Brannon said Mrs. Greenlease answered the telephone and told the nun that she was not ill and there must be some mistake.
The nun then notified the police.
Police said the woman and young Greenlease left the school in a taxicab. They are believed to have left the taxi near the Katz drug store parking lot at Westport road and Main street.
A nun at the school described the woman as young, with reddish-brown hair. She was wearing a white blouse and dark brown skirt.
The nun said that while she went to call young Greenlease from his classroom, she suggested that the woman step into the school chapel and pray for Mrs. Greenlease. The nun said the woman went into the chapel and kneeled, as if she was saying a prayer.
“I’m not a Catholic,” the nun quoted the woman as saying as she left the chapel, “but it did me good to pray.”
Brannon said the woman and boy left the school in a Toedman cab, driven by Willard Creech, 62, of 3344 Baltimore Avenue.
Creech told detectives that after the woman and boy left his cab in the Katz lot, they walked to a late model blue Ford sedan parked there. The car had a Kansas license plate, Creech said.
Creech said the woman entered his cab at 3834 Main street and asked to go to the school.
Creech said as the cab drove away from the school, he overheard the woman ask the boy about his two dogs. Young Greenlease has two dogs at the home.
“The boy just answered ‘fine’,” Creech said. “Then she asked him about his black parrot. The boy didn’t answer.”
The Greenleases have a green parrot at the home, police said.
As the cab neared the Katz store, Creech said, the woman asked young Greenlease if he wanted any ice cream.
“I didn’t hear what he said,” Creech said, “but they left the cab and started walking toward a 1952 blue Ford sedan with Kansas license tags. The car was empty.”
Greenlease is the distributor here for the Cadillac Motor company. He and Mrs. Greenlease, the former Miss Virginia Pollock, also have a daughter, Virginia Sue Greenlease, 11. Greenlease has another son, Paul R. Greenlease, an adopted son.
Wesley Grapp, assistant special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said his agency was maintaining a liaison with local law enforcement officials in the case.