July 26, 1909


Johnny and Tommy, 10 and 8 Years
Old, Respectively, Had High
Time While Folks Had
Visions of Kidnaping.


Without permission of their respective parents, Johnny Sinclair, 10, and Tommy Beels, 8 years old, took a day off from home and spent the whole of Saturday night and Sunday in wandering about the towns and parks surrounding Kansas City, much to the consternation, grief and anxiety of their families.

When the boys were missed Saturday night it was learned that they had gone with an employe of Electric park. Mont Shirley, 29 years of age, who has a longing for the companionship of small boys, being evidenced by his having led other urchins on several days' tours of the surrounding country on previous occasions.

Johnny Sinclair is the only son of Aaron Sinclair, janitor of the Boston flats, 3808 Main street. Johnny's father gave him a dollar Saturday noon and told him to do what as he wanted with the money.


Barefooted and without his coat, Johnny looked up his younger friend, Tommy, youngest son of H. T. Beels, 107 East Thirty-ninth street, and proposed a trip to Electric park. Tommy was willing and thought it best not to go into the house for his hat and coat, for his mother might thwart their schemes. So the boys left the Beels home about 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon.

When 5 o'clock came Mrs. Beels missed her son. Within a few minutes, however, he telephoned his mother that they were at Electric park and were going to take a boat ride with a man whom they had found congenial. Mrs. Beels told the boy to come home immediately.

Tommy had other views in the matter and when Shirley suggested an extensive tour of the city, to include Kansas City, Kas., Lansing, Leavenworth, Forest, Fairmount, Swope and Budd parks and all at his own expense, the boy readily fell in with the plan. Mothers were not interviewed.

Dire thoughts of drowning, kidnaping and disaster beset Mrs. Beels when her boy did not materialize at supper time. Persons in charge of the park were questioned and it was learned that the two boys had gone away from the park with Shirley. None knew where.


Mrs. Beels, at midnight, went to the Sinclair home and inquired there for her son and learned that Johnny Sinclair was also missing. That was the first idea of Johnny's whereabouts which the Sinclairs had. Search parties were organized and the park secured.

Yesterday morning a young man went to the Sinclair home and told that he had seen the two boys and Shirley at the Union depot and that they were going to St. Joseph and H. L. Ashton, a friend of the Beels family, who is well acquainted with the mayor of that city, called him over long distance 'phone and had the town searched for the runaways. Then came a telegram that the three had been seen early Sunday in Leavenworth.

Meanwhile Mrs. Sinclair and Mrs. Beels were beside themselves with fear and anxiety for their children. They secured the promise of the park authorities to drag the lake in the park this morning, and the search for the missing increased in strength and vigilance each hour.

Shirley's family had been notified of the disappearance, and Charles J. Blevins, Shirley's brother-in-law, hastened to Leavenworth, hot on the trail. He returned empty-handed.


About 11 o'clock last night the boys returned home, dusty, wet and tired. They had a wonderful story to tell of their trip and adventures. They had been through every park in the city, and seen the National cemetery and Soldiers' home at Leavenworth from a car and had a jolly time in general. Saturday night was spent in Kansas City, so Tommy Beels says, and the three went to a rooming house. He did not know the location. Late last night Shirley gave the two boys their carfare and put them on a Rockhill car at Eighth and Walnut streets and left them.

Shirley is said to have a habit of giving young boys a good time at his own expense. Two years ago, it is claimed, he took two boys to Leavenworth and stayed there for three days, after which the boys returned safe and sound.

Shirley works in the park and every Saturday he has been in the habit of spending his week's wages upon some boys whom he might meet. His brother-in-0law, Mr. Blevins, said that Shirley is nothing but a boy himself. When he was 4 years of age, according to relatives, Shirley fell upon his head, and he has remained stunted, mentally, ever since. Shirley longs for the companionship of children, and he is attractive to them since he plays with them and talks with them as though he were 9 rather than 29 years of age.


Johnny Sinclair, nervous, excited, scared and tired, last night told a clear and fairly consistent story of how Shirley and Tommy Beels and he passed the time between Saturday at 2 p. m. and 11 o'clock last night, when the boys returned home.

In the main details Johnny clung to his story. He fell asleep while being questioned by his father, and that ended the questioning. In substance, he says:

"Shirley invited Tommy and me to go to Swope park, while were were at Electric park, where he was working. We went to Swope park with him and in the evening we went down town and went to several nickel shows.

"Then we went out to Swope park again, but late that night. Shirley wanted to go down town to cash a check. When we got down town the saloons were all closed, and we finally went to bed at a place near Eighth and Main streets.


"The next morning we had a nice breakfast of beefsteak and potatoes and coffee, and then we went over to Kansas City, Kas., and there we took a car for Leavenworth. We saw the penitentiary and the Soldiers' Home from the car, and the National cemetery, but we didn't stop there.

We went to Leavenworth and spent the time just running around. That's all we did. I was never there before, and it was fun. We had a dinner of bologna sausage and cheese, and about 8 o'clock we started for home."

Besides the fright which was occasioned the two families of the boys no harm was done, except one of the boys was forced to take a hot bath and swallow a dose of quinine after he reached home. Johnny's original $1, which started the trouble, remains intact. Shirley stood the expense on his pay of $12, which he drew from the park on Saturday afternoon.

Shirley lives one block southeast of the park.