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A particularly notorious moment in the life of the motel was the Greenlease kidnapping case. On September 28, 1953, six-year old Bobby Greenlease Jr. was kidnapped from his Kansas City, Kansas school by Carl Austin Hall and Hall’s mistress, Bonnie Heady. In a series of phone conversations, Hall repeatedly assured Bobby’s parents that the boy was alive and well. Unaware that his child had already been murdered, millionaire Robert C. Greenlease paid $600,000 in a desperate effort to save his son. Hall and Heady collected the ransom, crossed the state line and fled to St. Louis. Hall hid out for two days at the Coral Court Motel. An odd assortment of St. Louisans—a policeman, a crook, a cab driver and a prostitute—were all instrumental in the capture of Bobby’s killers. The incident received national attention and is often compared to the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping.

Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Heady both pleaded guilty. A jury in Kansas City recommended the death penalty. Eighty-seven days after the murder, Hall and Heady were executed in the gas chamber at the state penitentiary in Jefferson City. Somewhere, somehow, half of the ransom money—$300,000—disappeared. Many people believed that the missing money was stashed on the premises of the Coral Court Motel.

The mystery of what happened to the $300,000 has never been solved. Recently, I spoke with a lady whose husband was an FBI agent assigned to the Greenlease case. She told me the case is still open, 50+ years later.
(I haven’t phoned the FBI to confirm that, but I thought it was interesting.)