John Paul Chase was born on December 26, 1901 in San Francisco , California and spent his formative years in Marin County , California. There were five boys in the Chase family: Frank, Samuel, John, Charles and Ambrose. They grew up in Sausalito, California . After their parents died the younger ones were raised by a foster mother, Ima Hicks Cheney, in the McNear beach area of San Rafael.
Childhood ended early for John. He dropped out of school after the sixth grade and started working at a farm in San Rafael to earn money for the family. He then took a job as a clerk for the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, and then spent five years as a merchant seaman.
He did come back to the Bay Area – as this was where all his family lived – and started bootlegging alcohol. He was also closely connected to a Sausalito club, The Oasis. John Paul Chase made his connections to Lester Gillis (Baby Face Nelson, or "Jimmie") through smuggling rackets. They met in March 1932. While at first John did not like this young stranger from Chicago, in a short time they became close friends and confidants.
John was invited to join Lester Gillis in his bank robbing and murdering enterprises. Over the next two years John assisted "Jimmie" with whatever was needed. This included buying cars under assumed names, getting supplies for the group, and most likely as wing man on contract killings. In their two-year association they crisscrossed the country spending lavishly and living an outlaw's life. On November 27, 1934 this crazy lifestyle came to an end. There was a gunfight with two separate cars of FBI agents. In the end, special agents H.E. Hollis and Samuel Cowley were dead, as was Lester Gillis.
After a month on the run, John Paul Chase was captured in Mount Shasta, California . He was found guilty of murder and was the first man ever sent directly to Alcatraz after sentencing. He was there from 1935 to 1954. He was then transferred from Alcatraz to Leavenworth, Kansas and served time there from 1954 to 1966.
After his release he worked as a manager of 10 or so janitors for St. Joseph's College until his death of cancer on October 5, 1973.
This page was last edited on 8/24/2012 and is work in progress. Anyone who has any information on John Paul Chase I very much want to hear from you. I am looking for those who knew him, wored with him, has photos or original artwork.
John Paul Chase was my grandfather's foster brother and I am looking to gather as much information as I can. I have much more on Johnny than is represented on this site. I'm in the process on organizing it all.
People related to this story who I would like to know more about.
Sally Backman (Circa 1934)
Ima Hicks Cheney (Foster Mother)
Charles Chase (Brother)
Frank Chase (Brother)
Ambrose Chase (Brother)
John Michaels (Circa 1925) Auto mechanic
Joseph Ray Negri (Fatso) (Circa 1934)
Anthony Marino (Soap) Bartender at the Bank Buffet, 2228 Twenty- second street
Eugene Mazet (Circa 1934) filling station man at San Rafael.
Louis Tambini (Circa 1934)
Joseph Parente (Circa 1934) (Boss – Bootlegging)
Hans Strittmatter (Circa 1934) (Boss – Bootlegging)
Jack Hale (Circa 1934)
Frank Constantine (Circa 1934) (Nippi Constantine)
William Schivo (Circa 1934)
Ross Turney (Circa 1934)
A.L. Roberts Chief of Police Sausalito
E. P. Guinane, San Francisco chief of the Department of Justice
Arthur R. Pratt (Was accused of tipping off Chase that he was wanted for complicity in nelson's crimes)
The Old Gang:
Homer Van Meter
Jack Perkins Chicago gangster, and his wife, Grace.
Theodore W. Kidder (Circa 1934)
Roy J. Frisch (Circa 1934)
Inspector Samuel Crowley
Special Agent T.M. McDade
Special Agent W.C. Ryan
Joseph N. Shore
James V. Bennett, director
Zeigel W. Neff (Circa 1966) Key person
Charlotte Anne Reese
Joseph W. Vance
James C. McKay
Thomas C. Williams, known as “Toby,” manager of the Vallejo general hospital
Henry O. (Tex.) Hall
Father Joseph E. Clark
J.T. Willingham, Warden – USB – Leavenworth