Three gunmen who for several months had held up and robbed 57 stores in Pennsylvania and Iowa seemed to have met their match when a vigilante patrol caught up with them in August, 1930. But one of the gang, Jack Mercer, opened fire and Bob Sproat, a vigilante, fell dead into a ditch.

The three gangsters, Jack Mercer, his brother Roy and their friend Wain Kile, fled and continued their cross-country rampage, attacking citizens, bootlegging, stealing cars and robbing stores. They managed to evade capture because the two brothers were protected by their father’s wealth and political influence. Incredibly, their crime wave went on for another five years after the murder of Bob Sproat until police cornered them.

Wain Kile was jailed for life and Roy Mercer committed suicide. Jack Mercer pleaded guilty to murder and refused to give evidence on his own behalf. He was hanged on Monday, January 24th, 1938.