Robberies in Cook County Post Offices

In 1893, several post offices experienced robberies throughout the Cook County area around Chicago. The following year, postal inspectors arrested three men and their wives in connection with the robberies.

The Crime

In 1893, the post offices at Rhodes, Grant Park, Rodgers Park, and Arlington Heights, Illinois, were robbed of petty amounts. On September 18,1894, Chicago police arrested Frank Steadman (alias Wheeler), William Kelley, Harry Turner, and their wives, Minnie Turner, Mary Kelley, and Mrs. Frank Steadman (first name unknown) for a different theft.

Upon searching the stolen goods, they discovered several thousands of dollars worth of goods and some of the postage stamps were taken from the Arlington heights Post Office. Through further investigation, law enforcement discovered that Frank Steadman was an escaped prisoner from San Quentin who went by the name of Ohio Fatty.

Punishment and Escape

On May 23, 1894, the three men were each sentenced to seven years in prison; Mary Turner and Minnie Kelley were each sentenced to two years. Mrs. Steadman was acquitted of the crime. Postal Inspectors and law enforcement claimed one of the most notorious criminal rings that had flown under the radar for years was disbanded with their convictions.

However, Frank Steadman, the leader of the gang, would not be behind bars for long. On the evening of October 28, 1894, Frank Steadman escaped Joliet, Illinois, prison. While he was out in the prison year, the guards were distracted, and Steadman took this opportunity to scale the walls and run.

Capture and Punishment

It was thought that he would go to Missouri, where his family and wife were thought to be residing. Yet, he never showed. For four years, Frank Steadman remained on the run from law enforcement. in 1898, rumors spread that the infamous Ohio Fatty had been killed. But when questioning his wife, she denied the accusations, claiming he was still at large.

Then on September 29, 1899, the Joliet Prison authorities received notice that Steadman had been taken into custody after being arrested in California under the name Frank Wheeler. Frank Steadman was taken back to San Quentin, where he first escaped prison walls, then to Illinois to complete his previous sentences.


Explore the history of the United States Postal Inspection Service.