Volney Davis

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Volney Davis
Volney Davis.jpg
Born(1902-01-29)January 29, 1902
Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
Died July 20, 1979(1979-07-20) (aged 77)
Sonoma County, California
Other names Curley
Occupation Bank robber
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment
Criminal status Paroled from Alcatraz in the 1950s
Spouse(s) Daisy I. Graham
Conviction(s) Kidnapping

Volney Everett "Curley" Davis (January 29, 1902 – July 20, 1979) was an American bank robber and Depression-era outlaw. A longtime Oklahoma bandit, he was the boyfriend of Edna Murray and an associate of both the John Dillinger and Alvin Karpis-Barker gangs during the 1930s. [1]

Edna "Rabbit" Murray (1898–1966) was a criminal associated with several high-profile gangs in the Depression-era of the early 1930s. Although popularly known to the press as the "Kissing Bandit" for kissing a male robbery victim, she was known in the underworld as "Rabbit" for her skills in breaking out of the penitentiary.

John Dillinger American bank robber

John Herbert Dillinger was an American gangster in the Great Depression-era United States. He operated with a group of men known as the "Dillinger Gang" or "The Terror Gang" which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations, among other crimes. Dillinger escaped from jail twice. He was also charged with the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest during a shootout, prompting him to return fire; he was not convicted of this crime, however. It was Dillinger's only homicide charge, despite his infamy.

Alvin Karpis American gangster

Alvin Francis Karpis, a Depression-era gangster nicknamed "Creepy" for his sinister smile and called "Ray" by his gang members, was a Canadian-born criminal of Lithuanian descent known for being a leader of the Barker–Karpis gang in the 1930s. Karpis led the gang along with Fred Barker and Arthur "Doc" Barker. There were only four "public enemies" ever given the title of "Public Enemy #1" by the FBI and he was the only one to be taken alive. The other three, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson, were all killed before being captured. He also spent the longest time as a federal prisoner at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, serving twenty-six years.



Born in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, Volney Davis's criminal career began in 1919 when he was sentenced to three years imprisonment for grand larceny at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. [2] Davis was an early member of the Oklahoma-based "Central Park Gang" during the 1920s, where he first met the Barker Gang, and committed his first major robbery with Arthur "Doc" Barker when they burglarized St. John's Hospital in Tulsa. The night watchman, Thomas J. Sherrill, was killed during the robbery. Barker was arrested about 5 months later for the murder; however, Davis evaded authorities for nearly a year before he was captured. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the robbery. [3] In February 1923 (or January 1925), he briefly escaped from the state penitentiary in McAlester, participating in a mass escape with several other convicts by using ropes and a ladder to climb over the wall, but was recaptured almost two weeks later. [1] [4]

McAlester, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

McAlester is a city in and the county seat of Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 18,363 at the 2010 census, a 3.4 percent increase from 17,783 at the 2000 census, making it the largest city in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, followed by Durant. The town gets its name from James Jackson McAlester, an early white settler and businessman who later became lieutenant governor of Oklahoma. Known as "J. J.", McAlester married Rebecca Burney, the daughter of a full-blood Chickasaw family, which made him a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

Seven years later, Davis applied for a 20-month "leave of absence" from the prison which was granted on November 3, 1932. [4] Such leniency was common in Oklahoma during that time, even with such a criminal record as his, although Alvin Karpis later claimed that the state's decision was influenced by a $1,500 bribe. He was scheduled to return to the prison on July 1, 1934, but Davis went on the run instead. A month after his release, he reunited with girlfriend Edna Murray, who herself had escaped from prison for a third time. The couple joined the Alvin Karpis-Barker Gang who were then at the peak of their success and in the midst of a major crime spree. Davis and Murray were later implicated in the kidnapping of St. Paul banker Edward Bremer [4] [5] [6] who was successfully ransomed for $200,000. [1]

Kidnapping of Edward Bremer

The kidnapping of Edward Bremer was the last major criminal enterprise of the Barker-Karpis gang. Though successful in netting the gang a large ransom, it brought down the full force of the FBI on the gang, resulting in the death or capture of its main members in the months afterwards. The kidnapping was organized by racketeer Harry Sawyer, and the principal kidnappers were Fred Barker, Alvin Karpis, Arthur Barker, Volney Davis and George Ziegler.

Davis received an unscheduled visit from John Dillinger and Homer Van Meter at his home in Aurora, Illinois. They had brought John "Red" Hamilton, who had been mortally wounded days earlier in a running gunfight in Minnesota hours after their escape from Little Bohemia Lodge. Davis agreed to hide Hamilton in his home and, with Murray, looked after him until he died of his wounds a few days later. [7] Dillinger, Dock Barker, Van Meter, and Davis later buried Hamilton in an unmarked grave. [1]

Homer Van Meter American gangster

Homer Virgil Van Meter was an American criminal and bank robber active in the early 20th century, most notably as a criminal associate of John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.

Aurora, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Aurora, a suburb of Chicago, is a city in DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Will counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. Located primarily in DuPage and Kane counties, it is an outer suburb of Chicago and the second most populous city in the state, and the 114th most populous city in the country. The population was 197,899 at the 2010 census, and was estimated to have increased to 200,965 by 2017.

John Hamilton (gangster) Canadian criminal and bank robber

John "Red" Hamilton was a Canadian criminal and bank robber active in the mid 20th century, most notably as an associate of John Dillinger. He is best known for his lingering death and secret burial after being mortally wounded during a robbery.

Davis and Murray were never charged with the holdups he committed while part of the Karpis-Barker Gang. However, they were indicted for the Bremer kidnapping on January 22, 1935. A little over two weeks later, Davis was captured in St. Louis by federal agents on February 6 but escaped from federal custody the next day. He had been traveling under escort to stand trial in St. Paul when their plane was forced to land in Yorkville, Illinois. Once on the ground, Davis knocked out a guard and stole a car. He evaded capture for nearly four months before being traced to Chicago by the FBI and arrested by Agent Melvin Purvis on June 1. He was eventually returned to St. Paul where he was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to life imprisonment. [1] [4] [6] Davis cooperated with the government and gave information as well as testified against other members of the gang.

Yorkville, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Yorkville is a city in Kendall County, Illinois, United States. The population was 16,921 at the 2010 census and was estimated at 19,388 as of 1 July 2017. It is the county seat of Kendall County.

Melvin Purvis FBI Agent

Melvin Horace Purvis II was an American law enforcement official and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. Given the nickname "Little Mel" because of his small boned 5′4″ frame, Purvis became noted for leading the manhunts that tracked such bank robbers as Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd, but his high public profile was resented by local law enforcement.

Like the rest of the Karpis-Barker Gang, Davis was sent to Alcatraz, where he spent the next several decades. He did not participate in the escape attempt organized by Arthur Barker in 1939. There are claims that he became involved in a violent fistfight with Karpis, which he won. By the time of his release in the late 1950s, however, he was in poor health. [1] Davis married Daisy Irene Graham on May 21, 1960, in Contra Costa County, California, and resided in Guerneville, California. He died on July 20, 1979, in Sonoma County, California.

Contra Costa County, California County in California, United States

Contra Costa County is a county in the state of California in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,049,025. The county seat is Martinez. It occupies the northern portion of the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is primarily suburban. The county's name is Spanish for "opposite coast", referring to its position on the other side of the bay from San Francisco. Contra Costa County is included in the San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Guerneville, California census-designated place in California, United States

Guerneville is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, California, United States. The town is historically known for the logging community, formed in the late 1800s. Guerneville is also known for its natural environment, liberal atmosphere, and proximity to wine-tasting and redwood forests. It was founded by the Guerne family in the 1850s.

Sonoma County, California County in California, United States

Sonoma County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 483,878. Its county seat and largest city is Santa Rosa. It is to the north of Marin County and the south of Mendocino County. It is west of Napa County and Lake County.


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