Crime Scene Photography · Missouri · unsolved

Unsolved: Gangster killed in car by machine gun

February 17, 1943
St. Louis, Missouri
Politician, plumber, and gangster William “Dinty” Colbeck is killed by machine gun fire

Colbeck led a group of gangsters called “Egan’s Rats,” specializing in robberies, bootlegging, and pin-ball (at the time, pinball was illegal and used as a form of gambling). The group was founded by Constable William T. Egan, though Colbeck took over after Egan was killed in 1921.

On the evening of February 17, witnesses heard machine gun fire directed into Colbeck’s vehicle. Eight shots were fired; three struck Colbeck, one penetrated his head. None of the witnesses saw an assailant nor any additional information the police could use in their investigation.

Police gathered and questioned some 20 people — rivals, “youthful toughs,” fellow gangsters, and the like — looking for leads or suspects. No one talked. Colbeck’s murder went unsolved, the motive behind his killing remaining a mystery.

Sources:
O’Neil, Tim. “Feb. 17, 1943: Egan’s Rats mob boss is killed in a blast of machine-gun fire.” St. Louis Today. February 17, 2019. Accessed: February 17, 2019. https://www.stltoday.com/news/archives/feb-egan-s-rats-mob-boss-is-killed-in-a/article_25148622-6c7e-50af-8e46-d77fdea349af.html
“Colbeck a Plumber Who Turned Gangster; Leader of ‘Egan’s Rats’ in 23-Murder War.” St. Louis Dispatch. February 18, 1943

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