April 24, 1917, two men were driving from St. Paul to Minneapolis when
the capital city police arrested them for speeding. The driver gave his
name as Howard Lux, 325 Morgan Avenue, St. Paul, and furnished $25.00
cash bail, which took nearly all their ready cash. The two men then
proceeded toward Minneapolis.
Avenue and Union Street SE., they drove into a speed trap set by
Minneapolis Patrolman Charles E. Ziegler and F.X. Kort. Kort signaled
them to stop. They failed to heed the command and Patrolman Kort sprang
to the running board of the speeding machine and forced the driver to
A block away, on his beat, stood Patrolman George
Connery, who was called by Kort to take the prisoners to the east side
station. The driver gave the same name to Patrolmen Kort and Connery as
he had given the St. Paul police.”We’ve just been arrested in St. Paul
for speeding, and it took all our money to give bail,” he pleaded. The
plea was in vain. Patrolman Connery climbed into the rear seat of the
men’s car, the curtains of which were closely drawn. The prisoners
occupied the front seat.
The car turned into Pleasant
Avenue, headed toward the east side station, 18 blocks away, the
closest route to which lay through the University of Minnesota campus.
Patrolman Connery failed to report from his beat at 3 p.m. and again 4 p.m., when he was scheduled to go off duty.
after 4 p.m., Patrolmen Ziegler and Kort, their day’s work ended, went
to the station and began checking over the disposition of the prisoners
caught in their speed trap. They could find no record of the men
Patrolman Connery had stopped. Inquiries revealed that Connery never
had appeared at the station with his captives.
policemen were baffled about the mysterious disappearance of George
Connery. Since he was a quiet, married man with a good departmental
record, he seemed to have no reason for an abrupt departure.
6 p.m. Connery’s wive called the station and inquired for her husband,
saying he had not come home at the usual time. This caused the first
real alarm over the patrolman’s disappearance, but the east side
station failed to report the matter to headquarters until nearly 10
From 10 p.m. on, the entire night police force
searched for Patrolman Connery. Every detective in the department was
sent out. In seven automobiles they covered all of Minneapolis, but it
was then approximately eight hours after Connery’s disappearance and
the trail was cold.
“It is highly possible,” said
Lieutenant P.J. Quealy, commanding the east side police precinct, “that
the two men, before the station was reached, gained Connery’s consent
to return with them to St. Paul after bail money. If they did this and
took the East River Road, the car had to pass through miles of timbered
and sparsely populated territory, where an attack on Connery would have
“Connery naturally would not have been
looking for violence from two mere speeders and might easily have been
caught off guard. He was armed with a pistol but may have had no chance
to use it. They may have killed him and hidden his body in the woods.
They may have knocked him senseless and thrown his body over the bluff
into the river. They may have overpowered him and left him tied to a
tree in the woods.”
It was in line with this theory
that Lieutenant Quealy sent a score of detectives and policemen from
the east side station out along the east bank of the Mississippi River
to search the woods and bases of the bluffs between Minneapolis and St.
Paul, in the belief that Patrolman Connery might have been kidnapped
and tied to a tree.
Patrolman Connery had a wife and
five children. Mrs. Connery was near a breakdown as the hours passed
with no word on her husband. “I want to do all I can to help find
George. Our neighbors are helping, too. I know he’s tied somewhere. He
isn’t dead,” she said.
The name and address given by
the driver of the car was found to be fictitious, the detectives said.
The police broadcast the descriptions of the two automobilists over the
entire northwest, as follows:
DRIVER – About 22 years old, 5 feet 7 inches; slender, dark, smooth face, dark clothes.
SECOND MAN – About 34 years old, 5 feet 10 inches; slender, fair, smooth face, dark clothes.
Connery was in full uniform, and this would make his body easily
recognizable, even at a distance. His description follows: Age, 46
years; height, 5 feet 8 inches; weight, about 150 pounds; bald, what
hair remains is gray.
Connery has been on the police for for almost eight years, having been appointed under the J.C. Haynes administration.
John Galvin said he was convinced the two automobilists had killed or
disabled Connery or had locked him up somewhere. He said the men,
without bail money, probably feared detention as speeders would reveal
that their car was stolen. He said it was also possible they had used
the car to commit robberies and feared exposure on this score. In
either case, he said, there would be sufficient motive for an attack
upon Connery to escape detention.
The next day, April
25th, t 5 p.m., the automobile in which Patrolman Connery was whirled
away in by the two men, was found unattended in the rear of the Rex
theatre in St. Paul.
The discovery of blood in the rear
seat of the car and the fact that the crank was also in the rear seat,
shattered the hopes of the police that Patrolman Connery would be found
Convinced that he was deliberately beaten to
death because the men he was taking to the east side station were
criminals who feared detection, the whole police department gave its
attention to the mystery. Squads of police, national guardsmen and
civilians now searched both sides of the river between Minneapolis and
St. Paul, and detectives searched other routes between the cities. At
least 500 men were engaged in the hunt in the Twin Cities.
fact that the car was found to have been stolen from La Crosse,
Wisconsin, was further indication that the occupants feared arrest for
the theft and attacked the policeman.
In the meantime,
Patrolman Connery’s record in the police department from the day he
began his service on October 1, 1909, was gone over to see if revenge
might have figured in his disappearance. While the record showed he
figured in many cases of daring and that he had forced convictions
against bandits, the defendants were still in prison. It was also
argued that the circumstances of his disappearance disproved the
In an effort to hasten the solution of
the mystery in the disappearance of Patrolman Connery, who had now been
missing for 48 hours, Minneapolis Mayor Thomas Van Lear said he would
offer a reward for information that would clear up the case. He said he
would ask the city council and Governor J.A. Burnquist to offer
additional rewards. Chief of Police Lewis Harthill said the reward
should be large enough to make it worthwhile for those who knew
something, to tell it.
Minneapolis policemen offered a
reward of $50.00 from their own pockets for the finding of the body of
their comrade. The Automobile Club of Minneapolis offered $100.00
reward for the finding of Patrolman Connery or his body, and a call was
issued for members to volunteer their services to the searching
Superintendent of Schools, B.B. Jackson,
commissioned 52,000 school pupils to become volunteer searchers and
help the 1,000 policemen and firemen of the two cities who were combing
the Twin Cities and Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Leading the pupils
were the boys from Motley School, Oak Street and Washington Avenue SE.
Patrolman Connery was the policeman on the Motley beat and he watched
the crossings at the busy hours, helping the small children across the
street, hurried the tardy ones along and was looked on by the boys as
one of them.
Mrs. Connery asserted that she believed
her husband was attacked and injured by the men with whom he
disappeared and that he was being held in the hope that rewards would
be offered. She appealed to the searchers to redouble their efforts.
In her belief that her husband was still alive, she stood out against the police departments of the two cities.
know he is alive, though he may have been wounded,” Mrs. Connery said.
The search, which answer her appeal, will be so thorough that every
foot of east Minneapolis and the northern ends of Hennepin and Ramsey
counties will be combed.
Meanwhile across the river, on
April 26th at about 1:45 a.m., St. Paul was shocked to learn that
burglars had entered a rear window of the house at 793 Selby Avenue,
and murdered Alice McQuillan Dunn with three shots from a .44 caliber
colt revolver. It was a puzzling burglary because the thieves did not
take anything of value, and a younger sister who shared the bedroom
with Alice was unharmed.
The family summoned the St.
Paul police at once, and under the direction of John J. O’Connor, chief
of police, detectives worked swiftly and, as event proved, brilliantly.
They took measurements and impressions; they classified fingerprints;
and they questioned, questioned, questioned. They also lost no time in
calling upon Frank Dunn, the victim’s estranged husband, for
questioning at 3:30 a.m. After being questioned, he was released when
he was able to explain his whereabouts during the entire night.
April 29th, three days after the murder. St. Paul detectives had
uncovered several critical facts. They worked patiently to unravel the
details of an involved assassination plan involving Frank Dunn.
May 3rd, through the combined efforts of the Twin City police
departments, they knew who murdered Alice Dunn in St. Paul, and
furthermore, believed that the same man killed Patrolman George Connery
in Minneapolis. Fingerprints found on the windowsill at the Dunn
residence identified the murder as a notorious teenage gunman from
Kansas City named Joseph P. Redenbaugh. The police also had reason to
believe that Frank McCool, another Kansas City underworld character,
had acted with Redenbaugh. A coast-to-coast manhunt had begun for the
It was not until May 5th, after eleven days of
intense searching, that the police came upon Patrolman Connery’s body.
An anonymous telephone call, which proved accurate, directed them to
look in the woods one and a half miles north of Fridley in Anoka
His body was found in a spot so remote, its
chance for discovery would have been almost impossible. The man who
phoned police with the tip, described the hiding place of the body so
accurately that it was easy for the police later to find it in the
Apparently the murderers had driven to the point
near where the body was found and dragged it a considerable distance
through the woods with a rope.
There was every evidence
that Patrolman Connery battled desperately with his captors for his
life. His wounds indicated he was struck by the crank of the car when
he leaned over to tell the men how to drive to the east side station.
head was literally beaten in by the blows from the heavy crank handle
of the car. His uniform was in tatters. There was a deep cut on
Connery’s chin, his nose was broken and lacerated by a blow, and there
was a wound on top of the head. This wound apparently had bled freely.
policeman’s coat had been unbutton and his pockets searched. His
service revolver was missing. Connery’s murders took his police book
and silver crucifix, which they threw away, and left the body face up
and covered. His feet were crossed, but his arms lay at the sides of
In his right leg there was a wound that
looked as though it had been made by a pistol bulled. After the murder
the slayers placed the policeman’s cap back on his head and pulled it
down tightly over the shattered skull, apparently to check the flow of
blood while they were looking for a place to dispose of the body.
searching the woods near Fridley found Patrolman Connery’s holster and
a pocket knife which was believed to have been used by one of his
assailants. The knife had been tossed away, and it was bloodstained.
autopsy was conducted by Coroner H.P. Thurston of Anoka County. It
showed the wounds on Connery’s chin and nose were knife wounds. Connery
did not own the knife, the police said. The autopsy also showed
Connery’s skull was fractured on top. The bullet wound, believed to
have been inflicted after he was thrown from the car, entered the leg
and passed upward to his back. He had bled profusely from this wound.
clearing in which the body lay was 10 miles from Washington Avenue SE
and Church Street, where Connery got into the car to take the two
speeders to the east side station. It was believed that Patrolman
Connery was slain in the car, for streams of blood were found in it.
tracks found in this remote area showed that an automobile equipped
with peculiar tires and chains had taken Connery to the lonely spot.
Comparisons confirmed that these tire tracks were made by the
automobile abandoned behind the St. Paul theatre, presumably by the
Patrolman Connery’s body was found near the
place where the police had been dragging Rice Creek in their search. It
was here they found a bloodstained automobile rug which was positively
identified as the one that had been in the murder car stolen by
Connery’s slayers in La Crosse, Wisconsin, early on the day Connery was
kidnapped and slain.
After police determined that the
.44 caliber bullet found in Patrolman Connery’s right leg, and the
bullets that killed Alice Dunn had been fired from the same revolver,
there was no question that the two murders were connected.
May 8th at 8:30 a.m., Patrolman Connery’s funeral took place from the
family home at 3009 Taylor Street NE. All policemen who were not on
duty, and all those who could be spared from their beats, and the
entire mounted force attended the service. The mounted men and others
in uniform formed an escort, and marched from the house to St. Clements
Catholic church, where services were conducted at 9:00 a.m. At the
conclusion of these services, the body was escorted to St. Anthony
cemetery for the interment.
On the same day that
Patrolman Connery was buried, police captured Frank McCool in North
Platte, Nebraska. At the time of his arrest, he had in his pocket a
police weapon identified as the one carried by Connery, even though the
number had been filed off. McCool admitted living for two weeks prior
to the policeman’s murder at 1012 Nicollet Avenue, but he protested
that he had nothing to do with the officer’s death.
F.X. Kort of the east side station in Minneapolis, and the men of the
Prior Avenue police station in St. Paul, who detained and collected
bail from Connery’s abductors a few minutes before they were stopped in
Minneapolis, positively identified McCool as the taller and older of
the two men in the Connery case.
The grand jury in Hennepin County indicted Frank McCool for the murder in the first degrees.
of the grand jury then subscribed $86.00 to start a fund for the relief
of the widow and five children left by the death of Patrolman Connery.
The grand jurors turned the money over to the Minneapolis Journal
newspaper, suggesting in a resolution that the public should add
generously to the fund.
Alderman H.H. Downes said he
would seek the mayor’s consent to a plan to place small tin boxes in
all parts of Minneapolis to collect the small coins the public might
wish to give the Connery family. He said he found a man who would
donate the work of making the boxes.
While Frank McCool
was being apprehended in Nebraska, the police of the entire country
sought Joseph Redenbaugh, declared as the actual slayer of both
Patrolman Connery and Mrs. Alice Dunn.
his wife, Pearl, were finally apprehended in San Francisco, California,
on May 11th, seventeen days after the murder of Connery. Redenbaugh
admitted that he was in the Twin Cities on April 25th and 26th.
Although he strenuously denied having anything to do with the Connery
and Dunn murders, he and his wife were returned to Minnesota.
was nineteen. Neat and well dressed, five feet six inches tall, and of
fair complexion, he looked more like a high school student spruced up
for a prom than a criminal. Nevertheless, he had committed his first
crime when he was nine years old, had spent much time in reform schools
and prisons, had progressed steadily in criminal expertness, and in
1917 was known as the “toughest kid in America.”
reaching the Twin Cities, Redenbaugh was coldly advised that the
authorities planned to indict his wife as a principal in the murder,
along with McCool and himself. Threatening his eighteen year old wife
seemed to have been the one way to reach him. In order to save Pearl
from standing trial, he broke down, admitted killing both Patrolman
Connery and Alice Dunn, and revealed to the St. Paul police who had
hired him. It was Frank Dunn, Alice’s estranged husband, he said. On
April 24th, Redenbaugh admitted that Frank Dunn had agreed to pay him
four thousand dollars to do the job. Dunn wanted to get rid of his wife
because he claimed she was bleeding him. It was suggested that a
divorce would be far simpler, but Dunn’s conscience as a Catholic would
not let him accept this solution because, as he said, “under the rules
of my church I can never get married again.”
claimed that the killing of the policeman was not planned. On April
24th he and McCool were speeding in Minneapolis when they were stopped
by police. Patrolman Connery made the arrest and entered the automobile
to guide them to the precinct station. Having no money with which to
pay the fine, and having an important murder to commit in St. Paul,
Redenbaugh admitted that he and McCool were not going to let themselves
be jailed for a traffic offense. McCool drew a pistol and held Connery
prisoner while Redenbaugh drove the automobile into the woods north of
Minneapolis where Patrolman Connery was shot and beaten to death.
disappearance would inevitably lead to increased police activity,
making it unhealthy for Redenbaugh and McCool to linger in the Twin
Cities. Frank Dunn had told them that Alice Dunn planned to move to
Minneapolis in a few days and asked them not to kill her in St. Paul.
The Connery matter, however, changed everything. Redenbaugh reasoned
that if Mrs. Dunn’s murder “was to be done at all it would have to be
done right away,” so the two men completed the job, collected the money
from Frank Dunn and left town.
On the same day Joseph
Redenbaugh pleaded guilty to the murder of Patrolman George Connery, he
was sentenced to life imprisonment, and was immediately transported to
the state prison in Stillwater.
McCool pleaded not
guilty, stood his trial, and was convicted of third degree murder. He
was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment at hard labor.
man was ever brought to trial for the Alice Dunn murder, although
Redenbaugh was to appear in Ramsey County district court again on
August 30, 1938, where he pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree
and received a sentence of from seven to thirty years imprisonment for
shooting Alice Dunn.
Frank Dunn was also indicted for murder in the first degree. His trial, which began on June 14, 1917, was a local sensation.
Redenbaugh was brought in under guard to testify against him. The case
went to the jury on June 29th, which promptly found him guilty of first
degree murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor and
sent to Stillwater prison.
Dunn died in prison on February 26, 1958.
the boy killer, served forty-five years in prison. During that time,
attitudes toward criminals changed, and the emphasis shifted from
punishment to rehabilitation. On May 9, 1962, the graying,
sixty-four-year-old Redenbaugh was released.
Although Joe was still married, he had not seen or heard from Pearl for twenty-five years.