The “No-Tell Motel” and the Bobby Greenlease Kidnapping
One of the more tragic and fascinating crimes of the mid 20th century was the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Bobby Greenlease in 1953, and the subsequent disappearance of half the $600,000 ransom his family futilely paid for his release.
Bobby was the son of Robert C. and Virginia Greenlease. His 71-year-old father was one of the largest Cadillac dealers in the nation. The Greenleases lived in Mission Hills, Kan., the most elite suburb in the Kansas City area.
The kidnappers – Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady – had both known privilege earlier in their lives. In fact, it was at military school that Hall met Paul Greenlease, the older, adopted brother of Bobby Greenlease. Hall later inherited a substantial amount of money from his father, but blew it failing at a number of business ventures. For robbing a number of cab drivers – his total take was $38 — Hall was sent to the Missouri State Penitentiary. In prison he dreamed of making “the big score” – a score that would allow him to once again live in luxury.
He later said that kidnapping was the only crime where he could strike once and retire for life.
Once out of prison, Hall, stocky and with thinning hair, was living in St. Joseph, Mo., and started going with Heady – a plump but not entirely unattractive woman, who was known to sleep around and prostitute herself. Heady owned her own home. They got drunk routinely, and sometimes Hall knocked her around. In fact, when she was arrested for the kidnapping she bore the marks of a Hall beating.