When gangsters Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Adam Richetti started north out of Springfield along U.S. Highway 13 in a 1933 Pontiac Coupe on the early morning of June 16, 1933, they were, according to later reports, merely headed to Kansas City to visit their girlfriends.

When gangsters Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Adam Richetti started north out of Springfield along U.S. Highway 13 in a 1933 Pontiac Coupe on the early morning of June 16, 1933, they were, according to later reports, merely headed to Kansas City to visit their girlfriends.
If that was their plan, it went terribly awry.
The 29-year-old Floyd had a criminal history dating to 1925, while the 24-year-old Richetti had a record dating back five years.
A few miles north of Springfield, the desperate duo’s car broke down. A passerby towed them into Bolivar, where Richetti once lived. They went to the Bitzer Chevrolet garage, where Richetti’s brother, Joe, worked.
As the mechanics went to work on the disabled Pontiac, several men gathered around to look at the fancy, new vehicle. When Polk County Sheriff Jack Killingsworth, a regular visitor at the garage, stopped by, Richetti grew alarmed and pulled a machine gun from the backseat floorboard. He lined the bystanders against a wall and threatened to shoot the sheriff, but Joe tried to defuse the situation, telling his brother Killingsworth was only there for a visit.
Taking charge, Floyd convinced his sidekick to put the gun back in the car, but he ordered the bystanders to stay put. When a customer drove into the garage, however, and left his car for a lube job, Killingsworth made a move to join the man as he started walking out of the building.
Richetti again grabbed the machine gun and ordered the sheriff back in line. Killingsworth obeyed, but the customer ran out of the garage and across the street to give an alarm.
Pulling out an automatic pistol, Floyd told Richetti to put away the machine gun. He ordered his partner to find them a getaway car while he covered the hostages.
Outside on the street, Richetti commandeered his brother’s 1933 Chevy and drove it into the garage, where the gangsters transferred the machine gun, some ammunition and other supplies from the Pontiac to the getaway vehicle. Floyd ordered Killingsworth into the backseat and slid in beside him. With Richetti at the wheel, the desperadoes roared out of the garage and sped out of town with their hostage.
Already alerted by the fleeing customer, law officers gave chase as the fugitives sped along the back roads north of Bolivar with the sheriff piloting them. At one point, the lawmen got within firing range of the speeding Chevy, but Killingsworth, prodded by Floyd’s pistol to his ribs, waved them back.
Near Deepwater, the gangsters decided to change vehicles. Ditching the Chevy, they flagged down a passing motorist named Griffith and piled into his Pontiac. They resumed their flight, taking Griffith along as an extra hostage.
At about 10 o’clock that night, Floyd and Richetti released their hostages at a downtown Kansas City intersection. They drove a short distance away, where they abandoned the Pontiac and got into a waiting vehicle.
Killingsworth and Griffith walked to the Pontiac and drove back to Griffith’s hometown of Clinton. Killingsworth called home, and a citizen of Bolivar drove to Clinton to bring him home in the wee hours of the morning of June 17.
The same morning, according to FBI reports, Floyd and Richetti participated with gangster Verne Miller in the infamous Kansas City Union Station Massacre that left four lawmen dead and killed gangster Frank “Jelly” Nash, whom Miller and his sidekicks were trying to free.
Some historians claim Floyd and Richetti were not involved in the Kansas City shootout. Even in the immediate aftermath of the incident, some lawmen were not convinced of the pair’s guilt.
Killingsworth was one of the doubters. He said Pretty Boy had treated him well and that the only time he felt in danger was when the lawmen chasing the fugitives got too close.
J. Edgar Hoover, however, wasted little time in naming Floyd and Richetti as prime suspects in the KC massacre. Floyd was hunted down and killed a little over a year later in a shootout with law officers in Ohio. Richetti was captured, convicted of murder and executed in 1938.

Larry Wood is a freelance writer specializing in the history of Missouri and the Ozarks. This column is condensed from a chapter in his book “Murder and Mayhem in      Missouri.”