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Jack "Three fingered" White
Alias Henry J. Cerny, "Three fingers " His nickname comes from his missing two fingers on his hand.When wearing gloves, White stuffs cotton in the missing digits.
William J. White starts his career as follows;
December 29,1919 -Sent to Joliet penitentiary for one year to life for robbery.
October 28,1921 - Transferred to Chester state hospital for criminal insane.
August 18,1923 - Returned to Joliet penitentiary.
October 3,1924 - Paroled
April 1,1925 - Special discharge from parole board.
June 22,1925 - Arrested in Kansas City for robbery. Disposition of case unknown.
March 23,1926 Jack White is arrested in a road house in Evergreen Park.He is suspected of being the leader of eight bandits who held up the tractor plant of the International Harvester company on March 5 and escaped with $80,000. Three witnesses also point him out as being the one who shot a motorcycle policeman in a Mannheim roadhouse. The treasurer of the McVicker's theater asserted he was robbed of $10,000 by Jack White referring him as the gloved bandit. Another witness claims Jack White was one of four who robbed the McHenry State bank of $18,000.
June 19,1926 White is acquitted of the Harvester robbery.Other charges are still against him.More importantly killing a policeman.
October of 1926.
When arrested Jack White is a walking armoury.Two loaded .45's, two .38's and a sawed off shotgun are in his possession.
January 21, 1927- Found guilty of murder in Judge Philip Sullivan's court. Sentenced to Joliet for life.
Chicago American January 21,1927. Jack White sent to prison for killing a policeman. He is released from jail in July of 1929.
(Mario Gomes Collection)
February 25,1929 - Sentence reversed by Supreme court.
July 10,1929 Jack White is freed of charges against him in the murder of policeman Edward Pflaume of Forest Park.The policeman was shot and killed on Dec 13,1925 when he tried to question White and his companion Jimmie Johnston in a Mannheim roadhouse.The two were suspected of robbery. Twice he was tried for this crime and twice it was overturned until the case was finally nolle prossed in May of 1932.
At this, Jack White is in partnership with Murray "The Camel" Humphreys. Both are bosses of a trucking association which nets them $40,000 a month called TNT ( Trucking and Transportation exchange).Drivers of various trades cough up membership fees and pay dues.Other partners connected to this enterprise are Marcus Looney, Charlie Fischetti and William "Klondike" O'Donnell.
May 1933 White is convicted on a charge of carrying concealed weapons. He was sentenced to one year and fined $300 by Judge James F. Fardy.This conviction drags on appeal.
Jack White and his bride showgirl Nancy Kelly
William J. White is killed on January 23,1934 at 920 Wesley Avenue in his third floor apartment.His body is found slumped over a dresser drawer whilst reaching for two pistols that was located there.There had been a struggle after drinking with two other men. Whiskey and beer bottles were plenty in the living room. He was shot once in the body and once fatally in the head.Neighbours had heard a total of three shots fired. His wife, showgirl Nancy Kelly White is questioned. When she left the apt. two hours before the shooting, she mentioned that two men were with her husband and they were addressed as Bill and Joe.These were presumably the killers. White was dressed in trousers,shoes and socks, but was wearing no shirt.There was some theory advanced that White was killed for letting down his friend James "Fur" Sammons. Sammons needed financial support for his defense whilst facing prison time.Sammons had accumulated money for this purpose, which was looted by White and company. Others contend the Touhy gang seeked revenge on behalf of friends of Timothy J. Lynch, a union leader who was slain on orders of White and Barker. Melvin H. Purvis, head of the Chicago bureau division of investigation claims White had been cooperating with federal agents.
Murray Humphreys, Claude Maddox and Willie Heeney are also suspected of White's demise. January 25,1934, a witness (Mrs. Lena Puetz ) who lived on the first floor, points out William "Klondike"O'Donnell and Murray Humphries from police photographs, as the two men last seen fleeing after the shooting.
White's body is moved to the mortuary at 624 North Western avenue. The funeral for Three fingered White is held on January 29,1934. He is buried in Mt. Carmel close to his childhood friend,gangster George"Red" Barker. The two had once been 13 year old thieves on Chicago's west side.
Their bodies rest in a section known as "unconsecrated ground."
White's funeral was a simple one, with only a dozen cars.His $1,000 silver and bronze coffin was carried to the plot as his wife sobbed.White's sister and two brothers (Melvin and Frank) were present, along with two detectives. White's lawyer , W.W. Smith was also present. The floral pieces counted totalled eighteen. The biting cold wind chilled the handful of spectators.With a simple wave of the hand from the undertaker,the coffin was lowered and the crowd quickly dispersed.
See discounted story in relation to Frank Farrell 's FBI letter, and supposed assertion placing Jack White as the killer in the St. Valentine's day massacre here.
First Posted August 2006