“Bloody Chicago” was the name given to America’s most corrupt city after the grotesque scene that left seven humans embedded into masonry walls and oil-slickened concrete. Two Thompson submachine guns did the majority of the damage but the masterminds behind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre escaped. Ten months later, on December 14, 1929, St. Joseph, Michigan Police Officer Charles Skelly working a routine traffic crash came face to face with a killer. Shots were fired, the assailant escaped, and the dying Officer Skelly identified his murderer before taking his last breath. The trail led to a home in Stevensville, Michigan where authorities found an arsenal of weaponry, over $300,000 worth of stolen bonds, bulletproof vests, and two Thompson submachine guns. The hideout belonged to Fred Burke, a highly sought suspect in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and now the most wanted man in the nation. The “backwash of bloody Chicago” had made its way into the rural neighborhoods of Southwestern Michigan and Northern Indiana. Citizens who turned a blind eye to crime, helped create “Capone’s Playground,” an environment abundant in all that is illegal and immoral.
Using never before published police reports, interviews with family members of key witnesses, and leading experts, historian Chriss Lyon establishes the foundation for what would develop as a haven for gangsters from the onset of the Prohibition Era through to the mid-twentieth century, while revealing new information about the eventual capture of notorious gangster Fred “Killer” Burke.
Chriss Lyon is a retired public safety professional and historian, who has not only walked the beat, but shot the most famous Thompson submachine guns in the world, all while documenting and researching the historic era of the “The Roaring Twenties.” Using techniques of forensic genealogy combined with investigative research, she has been able to uncover little known facts about the people and events surrounding the St. Valentine’s Massacre, revealing them at presentations at schools, museums, genealogical, and historical societies. Her passion in Prohibition-era gangsters, maritime, and aviation history as well as historical weather has afforded opportunities to write articles for various magazines and journals and assist other authors with historical research. A graduate of Grand Valley State University’s Film/Video School, Chriss began working behind the scenes at CNN Headline News but now is out in front of the camera. She has appeared in an episode of the PBS series, “History Detectives” as well as documentaries on the National Geographic Channel, American Heroes Network, Travel Channel, German Public Television, and Investigation Discovery Channel.
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