A Burning Cold Morning (Part 55)

The Selma police never really had much on Leo up to this point.  They knew he was associated with the criminal gang he worked for and had made a note of that along with his connection to Jim Tunney and Max Miller. He had been rousted a few times during police sweeps but they had never made anything stick and always released him after a few minutes of questioning.  It had been on the previous Saturday, the twenty-fourth, that a Be On The Lookout had come across the wire at the station, mentioning a Lee O’Dare and being accompanied by a picture.  Two of the officers recognized the man and had went out to look for him, taking until Monday to track Leo down.  They spotted him walking along a street about three blocks from the boarding house and pulled up alongside.  After a few minutes of discussion by the side of the road they arrested him and booked him into the local jail under the name Lee O’Dare.  

The initial BOLO had been issued from Kansas City, part of a routine transmission from them that also listed several other persons they were looking to find in connection with crimes committed in and around that city.  Leo sat in jail for three days as the Selma police department relayed the information that they had captured the, “requested subject and will extradite upon request.”  The reply came three days later and surprisingly it stated that Kansas City would not seek extradition.  As it turned out, although Tom Pendergast’s control of the police had slackened by this time, he still had the power to get the extradition refused.  He mentioned to a colleague at the time that he, “owed this fella Lee a favor and this’ll be a good time to pay it out.”  

So, Leo was set to be released on Thursday, March 29th as the Selma police still had no solid evidence against him, at least nothing for which they could book and hold him.  He was actually at the counter of the jail, about to retrieve his personal property, when a police sergeant called out from an office down the hallway.

Leo Humbert aka Lee O'Dare

Leo Humbert aka Lee O’Dare

“Just got a notice from Marianna.  Hold up there at the window with that inmate.”  The sergeant then walked down toward Leo holding a print-out in one hand and waving at another officer to accompany him.   Once they were next to Leo the sergeant held up the paper, a wanted notice for Robert O’Hara, suspect in the stealing of a vehicle tag.  Leo recognized the photo, one taken when the Marianna police had briefly held him on a theft charge they had ultimately never been able to prove.  He sighed and shook his head slowly as the sergeant lowered the paper and spoke.

“So, you’re Lee O’Dare here, you’re Robert O’Hara there, that’s a lot of names don’t ya think?” 

Leo did not reply, just staring back at the man who tried again.

“I doubt these are the only two names you have, am I right?”

Again Leo replied with silence after which the sergeant motioned to the officer with him who took Leo’s arm and escorted him back to a cell.  There was bit of a disagreement in the Selma PD after that, with the sergeant and a couple of detectives wanting to keep Leo and see what they could turn up about other names he may be wanted under, and the police chief wanting him immediately sent to Marianna.  The chief won of course and on April Fools Day Leo was transported back down to Florida by the Jackson County Sheriff and and booked into the jail.  Incredibly, the next day when Leo was arraigned, the prosecutor chose to drop all of the charges and he was released before noon into a slightly brisk April day.  As he walked away from the jail, having even received all of his property and money back,  Leo remarked to himself that, “the streak continues!” After that he stole a vehicle, drove to Selma to quickly collect his belongings and cash from the rooming house, and then sped off in a northerly direction.  

He drove without a specific plan other than to put a lot of distance between himself and the south and appears to have wasted little time along the way.  He arrived in Louisville, Kentucky on April 8th and checked into a small motel on the outskirts of the city.  After a little research the next day Leo heard about the Seelbach Hotel and its reputation for being the place to be, especially for a large collection of well-known gangsters including Al Capone.   Excited by the thought of getting up close and personal with just the kind of men he wanted to be like, Leo walked into the hotel at four-forty p.m. that day and approached the registration desk.  He was quite surprised to find, standing behind the desk in a well-tailored but sloppily worn suit, the same diligent clerk who had recorded such detailed observations on Leo when he checked into the motel in Marianna back in September of 1927.  He did not know about those written observations of course but he recognized the man, who had a prominent buck-tooth smile and a deep scar above his left eye, immediately.  The man returned the favor as Leo recovered his wits quickly.

“Hello again sir, and good day.  A bit of a long way from Florida for you, isn’t it Mr. O’Hara?”

Leo winced at this recall of his alias from Marianna as he had intended to use a different one here in Kentucky.   His only consolation was that he felt that also meant he must have made quite an impression on the man.  

“Well, its been a long time since we last met.  A bit of a ways for you also I think,” he replied, making a point to look around the elegant lobby and inferring the man’s previous employment had been in a far less glamorous location.  “It’s really very odd that I should find you here.”

…to be continued

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