|Mary McElroy (1907 - 1940)|
Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City city manager and member of the Pendergast political
machine Henry McElroy, was kidnapped on May 27, 1933 from her Kansas City home. She
was released after 34 hours of captivity, following payment of a $30,000 ransom, but she never
fully recovered from the emotional turmoil caused by the publicity and the ensuing trial.
Three of the four accomplices were quickly arrested, one of them on June 3, 1933.
Walter McGee was sentenced to death, the first time in the United States that such
a harsh penalty had ever been exacted for a kidnapping. George McGee, the younger
brother of Walter, received a life sentence. Clarence Click, owner of the property where
Mary McElroy was held captive, was sentenced to eight years. After Walter McGee's
appeals reached Supreme Court, the sentence of death was upheld. Ironically, it was Mary
and her father who convinced the governor to issue a stay of execution. Eventually
McGee's sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Henry McElroy died in 1939, shortly after he was forced to resign as city manager following the
downfall of Tom Pendergast. Mary never managed to adjust to life without her father and
and continued to feel pressure from members of the media who were eager to capitalize on
stories of her kidnapping and the plummeting political legacy of her father. The pressures ultimately
became too much for her, and on January 20, 1940, Mary McElroy committed suicide.