© 2014 Enfys McMurry All rights reserved.
July 11 1940: The headline in the Iowegian read: “Killer Burke, Wed in Centerville, Dies in Prison.” Fred Burke, the notorious murderer, the hit man for Al Capone, the assassin of the Bugs Moran Gang at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the slayer of Frankie Yale in New York City, the killer of 24-year-old policeman Charles Skelly, was dead of a heart attack at Marquette State Penitentiary, Michigan. In Centerville under the assumed name Richard F. White, he had married Bonnie Porter of Sullivan County, Missouri. They met when Burke under his assumed name was staying at the farmhouse of Mrs. Amanda Bailey, a neighbor to Bonnie’s parents, near Green City,some 20 miles south of Centerville.
Burke’s arrest was the result of identification by the 29-year-old attendant in Green City’s Shell Gas Station. Joe Hunsaker was the insatiable reader of detective magazines. In 1929 and 1930 those magazines were full of the story of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and the murder of policeman Charles Skelly. Hunsaker was already suspicious of Burke, When one of the magazines carried a photograph of wanted man Fred Burke, and despite surgical changes to Burke’s nose and teeth, Hunsaker was sure. For a year and a half he observed Burke, secretly contacted J.Edgar Hoover, and waited for Burke’s arrest on March 26, 1931.
Burke served a life sentence for the murder of Charles Skelly. Bonnie, her family, friends and neighbors were all shocked at the arrest of Burke. They claimed no knowledge of his real identity or of his record. Bonnie moved to Chicago. She visited Burke in prison several times, divorced him and remarried. (365-368)