Illinois · Newspaper clippings

The death of “Baby Face” Nelson

November 26, 1934
Barrington, Illinois
George “Baby Face” Nelson is fatally shot by federal agents

Nelson, born Lester Joseph Gillis, was given the nickname “Baby Face” due to his youthful appearance, though it was a nickname few used to address Nelson directly. Instead, colleagues called him “Jimmy.” Nelson was a career criminal and had many run-ins with the law for bank robbery, armed robbery, gangster affiliations, and jail escapes, eventually finding his way to Public Enemy No. 1.

On November 27 near Barrington, Illinois, around 30 miles (50km) outside of Chicago, a gun battle between federal agents and Nelson broke out after both parties recognized the other. In the car with Nelson was his wife, Helen Gillis, who was driving the stolen vehicle, and John Paul Chase, one of Nelson’s associates. In the agents’ car was Inspector Samuel P. Crowley and Special Agent Herman Edward Hollis. Hollis was killed at the scene while Crowley was mortally wounded; he died the following morning.

Chase, Gillis, and Nelson abandoned their stolen car to take the agents’. Nelson had been fatally shot, receiving five shots to his stomach, five to his legs, and two to his chest. His body was found the following morning clad only in his undergarments.

Gillis was arrested November 29 and sentenced to one year and one day for parole violations. Chase was arrested in December 1934 and convicted for Crowley’s murder. He was paroled in 1966 and died of cancer in 1973.

Sources:

  • “Lester Gillis (‘Baby Face’ Nelson)”. FBI. Accessed: November 28, 2018. https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/lester-gillis-baby-face-nelson
  • “Baby Face Nelson Dies of Wounds After Gun Battle With Federals.” Marshfield News-Herald [Marshfield, Wisconsin]. November 28, 1934
  • “Hollis, Slain Agent, Native of Des Moines.” Belvidere Daily Republican [Belvidere, Illinois]. November 28, 1934

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