For 75 years, one of the most important cases in FBI history lay forgotten. While dozens of books describe how the Feds took down John Dillinger, Ma Barker, Pretty Boy Floyd, and other gangsters in the 1930s, another audacious crime went un-noticed by historians. Had the G-men not received credit for solving this case, the FBI would look much different today. In fact, it might not even exist.
How could such an important case fall under the radar?
It happened a few months before the beginning of World War II. From that point on, news of the war dominated headlines. After the war, the case was all but forgotten, except by the unfortunate parents of the murdered child and their friends and neighbors.
On the night of May 28, 1938, five-year-old James Bailey “Skeegie” Cash, Jr. disappeared from his home. A search mounted by the parents and townspeople failed to turn up the child. They did, however, find a series of notes that demanded $10,000 for the return of Skeegie. Within hours, the FBI had been notified. Soon the small town of Princeton, Florida was crawling with more than 100 agents.
Why did the FBI care so much about a missing boy in a backwater town?
It all boils down to cold, hard cash. By May, before the fiscal year ended, the FBI had run out of money. In fact, J. Edgar Hoover had furloughed half his G-men. This embarrassment allowed his political enemies to publicly denounce him. But when Hoover got wind of the Cash kidnapping, he realized that if he could solve it, he might re-establish the FBI’s credibility with skeptical Congressmen.
The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash plays out against a back-drop of weird characters, heart-pounding suspense, and the overwhelming presence of the FBI.
The book would make a fine Christmas gift.