During the summer of 1946 the community was riveted to an unfolding story of kidnapping, robbery, a bootlegger and the biggest gangster Dayton had ever seen.
George “Bugs” Moran, a flashy Chicago hooligan whose gang was slaughtered in the infamous 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, was about to electrify Dayton readers.
Moran and two accomplices, his partner Virgil Summers and Al Fouts, a Dayton bootlegger, were on trial for kidnapping and robbing a Moraine tavern keeper.
John Kurpe Jr., the 29-year-old bar manager, had withdrawn $10,000 in $10 bills from the Winters Bank in anticipation of cashing pay checks for workers at the nearby Frigidaire plant at Silas Tavern in “Moraine City.”
Kurpe was hijacked when he left the bank, driven to an area of woods south of Dayton, tied up and robbed by masked bandits
Unknown to Moran at the time of the crime, the FBI had been on his tail for months and the three men were later arrested.
The July 8, 1946 edition of the Dayton Herald trumpeted the upcoming trial to the city. A front page story prominently featured a photo of Moran after his arrest in Henderson, Ky., and on his way to the “county clink”.
“The Dayton police lineup is scheduled to take on an ‘up-town’ air this week when George C. (Bugs) Moran, 49, and his alleged sidekick, Virgil Summers are brought here to stand trial for the June 28 kidnap robbery of John Kurpe Jr.,” the newspaper reported.
“Both men strictly are classed as big-time operators by the police of several states.”
Days of riveting testimony combined with titillating descriptions of Moran’s wife, a former showgirl, wearing “a well-fitting suit that showed her slim figure to an advantage,” kept the community glued to newspaper coverage.
The day Moran took the stand he admitted to being in Dayton at the time of the robbery but said he had no idea why the FBI agents nabbed him.
MORE THROWBACK THURSDAY
“I didn’t know why I was being arrested, but when they came in at 4:30 in the morning with machine guns and shotguns I knew it must be for something I knew nothing about,” he testified.
It took the jury just 92 minutes to find all three men guilty.
Moran and his two accomplices each received 10 years for the crime.
Upon release the gangster was immediately tried for another crime, found guilty and sentenced to the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan. where he died a month later from lung cancer.
SPECIAL REPORT: BUGS MORAN IN DAYTON
In 1999, the Dayton Daily News published a six-day series about Moran and his summer riveting readers of Dayton.
⊳ Day 1: Bugs Moran: Requiem for a gangster
⊳ Day 4: Fanfare, media frenzy greets Moran
⊳ Day 6: 'Old man' Moran dies in obscurity
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.