February 15, 1940
John “Jack” Kramer shoots and kills his long-time lover Frances Jones
Kramer had met Jones (who at the time was Mrs. Frances Wilson) in 1922 at a Tonopah, Nevada dance hall where she was employed. Kramer moved to Kimberly, Nevada (approximately 170 miles/275km away) the following year, and Jones followed shortly after. Jones later married a man named Vince Andrews and, during her marriages to Wilson and Andrews, Kramer would provide her with gifts of money or clothing “and ‘kept company’ with her during the absence of her husband,” as the Reno Evening Gazette [Nov. 28, 1941] reported. Jones eventually married Harry Jones which seemed to cause a rift between her and Kramer.
On February 15, 1940, days before Jones’ 40th birthday, Kramer approached Jones on the street. She was conversing with a man, whom Kramer told to “keep moving” before he grabbed Jones’ hand and shot her with a .32 caliber revolver. Three of the bullets hit Jones in the abdomen while a fourth struck her heart. Kramer fled the scene but was identified immediately by several witnesses.
Kramer was found the following day by a firefighter as he was hiding from police. He asked the firefighter if he had heard of the shooting and, when the firefighter answered in the affirmative, he asked, “Did she die?”
“She was dead before she hit the ground,” the firefighter recalled telling Kramer.
“Well, maybe it’s better this way,” Kramer responded. “I’m the guy who shot her.”
The firefighter was instructed to continue his day as usual while the police were notified of Kramer’s whereabouts, so as not to alert the fugitive before authorities could arrive. Once law enforcement arrived on the scene, Kramer barricaded himself inside the fire station. He was extracted with tear gas following an hour-long standoff.
Kramer would not, or could not, answer questions regarding Jones’ murder. “My mind was blurred,” he stated, after explaining he had been intoxicated at the time of the killing. “I know I did the shooting but I don’t remember why. The first thing I remember clearly after the shooting was when I came to in the Ely fire station the next morning.”
Kramer was convicted of Jones’ murder and sentenced to death, with his sentence scheduled to be carried out in April of 1940. A series of 11th hour stays of execution delayed his death, however. After a total of five separate execution dates, Kramer was executed in the gas chamber on August 28, 1942 at the age of 63.
“Pipefitter Dies In Gas Chamber For Love Murder.” Medford Mail Tribune. August 28, 1942
John A. Kramer. Nevada State Department of Health. Division of Vital Statistics. Standard Certificate of Death. Digitized: https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/60974/images/45339_302022005549_0156-01065?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=8f0e7610a0f11b3c1c797289e7a581b6&usePUB=true&_phsrc=vpJ3&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.36833568.1029792422.1613178861-1974064398.1608518424&pId=46020
“Kramer Loses Last Appeal.” Reno Evening Gazette. August 21, 1942
“U.S. Supreme Court Orders Stay Execution for John Kramer.” Reno Evening Gazette. April 11, 1942
“Kramer Appeal Again Denied.” Nevada State Journal [Reno, Nevada]. March 22, 1942
“Supreme Court Refuses Plea Of Ely Slayer.” The Salt Lake Tribune. March 1, 1942
“Kramer’s Appeal For Life Term Is Hard.” Reno Evening Gazette. November 28, 1941
“Legal Maneuver Gives Kramer Reprieve.” Reno Evening Gazette. January 29, 1941
“Guns, Tear Gas Siege Subdue Nevada Slayer.” The Salt Lake Tribune. February 17, 1940
Frances Wilson Jones. Nevada State Department of Health. Division of Vital Statistics. Standard Certificate of Death. Digitized: https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/60974/images/45339_302022005549_0151-00471?treeid=&personid=&rc=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=nXK1&_phstart=successSource&pId=16214