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Victims of Crimes

Much has been discussed and documented about the notorious kidnapping of oil tycoon Charles Urschel in 1933 by George “Machine Gun Kelly” Barnes and his in-laws, the Shannon Family.  Mr. Urschel and his family were most certainly victimized by his kidnapping at the hands of two armed assailants during a warm Oklahoma evening; however he was released, virtually unharmed, 10 days later and transported from his hiding place near Paradise, Texas back to Oklahoma just a few miles from his home.

Machine Gun Kelly; crime partners Albert Bates and Harvey Bailey; Kelly’s wife, Kathryn; and Kathryn’s mother, Ora Shannon and father-in-law, Boss Shannon were all tried and convicted of the kidnapping and extortion of $200,000 and sentenced to life in prison.  Boss’ son, Armon, was also convicted, but received a probated sentence.

Another victim; one who is rarely mentioned, was Kathryn Kelly’s daughter (by a previous marriage), Pauline Fry.  Pauline, born in 1919 in Oklahoma, was only a teenager when the kidnapping took place.  She was living with grandmother, Ora, on the Shannon family farm near Paradise and attended school at Paradise School.  Her mother, Kathryn, left her in her grandmother’s care while she scoured the surrounding states committing robberies with her husband, George “Machine Gun Kelly” Barnes.  (Pauline is pictured at left with her grandmother, Ora).

Pauline was most likely very naïve and knew little, if anything, about the true life of her mother and the well-dressed George Kelly, who drove fancy cars and often brought her very nice gifts.  During a time of economic depression, this lifestyle was practically unheard of and Pauline was probably very enchanted by her new step father who told everyone he ‘worked in the banking business’.

The women of the Shannon family were all conveniently ‘displaced’ during that week of the Urschel captivity on the Shannon farm.  Pauline, along with her mother, grandmother, Boss’ daughter Ruth and Armon’s pregnant wife, Mary, all took a week-long shopping trip to Fort Worth and stayed in a house owned by Kathryn.  Only Kathryn and possibly Ora knew of what was taking place back at the farm.  Mr. Urschel was actually held in the house which Armon and Mary occupied with their infant daughter, Ora Maudene. 

The women-folk returned home on Sunday night, just a few hours before Urschel was removed and transported blindfolded back to Oklahoma and released.  Urschel immediately alerted the FBI and began to relate to them all he had experienced while held captive at the secluded farm house.  Within 30 days, all the Shannon adult occupants were arrested leaving 14 year old Pauline and 12 year old Ruth behind.  Ruth had family nearby she went to live with, but Pauline was shipped off to an aunt in Oklahoma she knew little about.

Pauline completed high school in Oklahoma and began a correspondence with Judge Edward S. Vaught, the federal judge who

conducting the trials of Machine Gun Kelly and her family members.  Pauline had plans to continue her education and become a school teacher, but she had no funds.  She petitioned the court to have her mother’s personal belongings returned to her so she could sell them and fund her education.  The FBI and other local law enforcement agencies had confiscated all of Kathryn’s clothes, shoes, jewelry and furs as evidence.  Judge Vaught was unable to locate any of the ‘evidence’; however he eventually advised her that an unknown benefactor had offered to pay for her tuition and living expenses while enrolled in school.  Pauline received her education as planned and received her teaching degree.  She later married Olin Glenn Horn in 1938 and they had two children.  Her mother, Kathryn, and grandmother, Ora, were released from prison in 1958 while awaiting an appeal and she was eventually reunited with them.  Pauline (Fry) Horn died December 31, 2005 and is buried in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

For years, many people assumed that the unknown benefactor who provided for Pauline’s education was Judge Vaught, himself, as he was the one who sent all the payments for her schooling.  Many years later, after Judge Vaught’s death in 1959, his family located files among his personal belongings which indicated that Judge Vaught had received periodic checks from Charles Urschel for the same amounts as Pauline’s education payments.  

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