How Michigan Was a Part of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Michigan is indeed part of the history of the infamous 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre…
There are two pieces of evidence locked away in the sheriff’s office of Michigan’s Berrien County: two machine guns. These were part of the arsenal used to murder seven members of Bugs Moran’s gang in a Chicago garage, located at 2122 Clark Street. There were no survivors, except a German Shepherd, and no witnesses that were willing to talk.
How did these guns get to Michigan?
On December 14, 1929, a policeman named Charles Skelley was gunned down in the street in St. Joseph, Michigan. Police officers wasted no time in raiding the house of a well-known gangster, Fred “Killer” Burke, who lived in nearby Stevensville, just 5 miles south. When police arrived, Burke was not around…he was hiding out in Missouri. Police entered the house and discovered quite an arsenal: two machine guns, rifles, handguns, and rounds of ammunition. The machine guns were matched with bullets found at the scene of the Valentine’s Day Massacre, proving that Burke was indeed one of the gunmen that day.
Burke was finally found a year later, brought back to Michigan, tried, convicted, and sent to prison, thanks to eyewitnesses of the policeman’s murder. Burke was sent to Michigan’s Marquette State Prison where he died on July 10, 1940 at age 47, due to a heart attack brought on by heart disease and diabetes.
The Stevensville house where Burke lived is currently a real estate office, as you’ll see in the photos below. Officer Skelley is buried in the Crystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Harbor, under his correct family name spelling, “Skalay”. No other murderers in the St. Valentine’s Day were positively identified.
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