Winfred E. Hopton's Account

Setting the Record Straight

I must take issue with the article titled "Blasting a G-Man Myth" about the capture of Charles ("Pretty Boy") Floyd [Sept. 24]. You reported that Chester Smith, a former member of the East Liverpool, Ohio, police department, said that he decided it was proper to set the record straight now because of the several men involved, only he remains alive.

I was one of the four special agents of the FBI (known at the time as the Division of Investigation) who apprehended Floyd on a farm several miles from East Liverpool on Oct. 22, 1934, and I am very much alive.

To begin with. Mr. Smith did not capture Floyd. The truth is he was shot by two of the four FBI agents present when Floyd aimed his gun at them. After he was shot, two or three members of the East Liverpool police department who were in the immediate area at the time came up to us and offered assistance in directing us to the morgue in East Liverpool. Floyd was then transported to the morgue in my Government-owned car.

According to your article, Smith said that "Purvis ran up and ordered: 'Back away from that man, I want to talk to him.' Pretty Boy glared and cursed, at which point, said Smith, Purvis turned to G-Man Herman Hollis and said: 'Fire into him.' Hollis obeyed, said Smith, killing Floyd with a burst from a tommy gun."

For your information. Agent Hollis, whom I knew personally, was not even present when Floyd was apprehended. The allegation that Purvis ordered an agent to "fire into Floyd" as described above is absolutely false. The truth is that when the several members of the East Liverpool police department came up to where Floyd was lying on the ground, he had already been mortally wounded.


Winfred E. Hopton Franklin, Tenn.

Source:  Time Magazine