Ex-convict Ted Bradley kills Genzo Ikeda and wounds Seattle Police Detective William D. Rehmke during an attempted robbery on March 17, 1932.

  • By Daryl C. McClary
  • Posted 12/17/2011
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9992

On March 17, 1932, Ted Bradley, also known as George Everett Slate (1908-1934), age 23, enters Ikeda’s Green Grocery in Seattle’s Broadway District intending to rob the proprietor, Genzo “George” Ikeda (1876-1932), at gunpoint for the fourth time in two weeks. Ikeda escapes and telephones Seattle Police headquarters from the drug store next door. The same day, two detectives, William D. Rehmke and Felrom G. Sands, assigned to investigate, are in the back room talking with Ikeda’s wife, Konme, when Bradley tries to rob the store for the fifth time. A fierce gun battle ensues during which Ikeda is killed and both Detective Rehmke and Bradley are wounded. Although shot three times, Bradley escapes, but is found an hour later at his girlfriend’s apartment and taken to the hospital. In July 1932, Bradley will be convicted of first-degree murder in King County Superior Court and the jury will vote for the death penalty. On appeal, the Washington State Supreme Court will uphold the verdict and Governor Clarence D. Martin (1887-1955) will deny Bradley executive clemency. He will be executed at the Washington State Penitentiary on May 11, 1934.

Chronic Crime

At approximately 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, 1932, Genzo “George” Ikeda, age 55, proprietor of Ikeda’s Green Grocery, 702 E Pine Street (now Seattle Community College parking garage), telephoned Seattle Police headquarters to report that the same robber, who had held him up three times in the last two week, had just visited his store again. Before the robber could draw his gun, Ikeda bolted out the door, ran down the street, and ducked into Rembaugh’s Pharmacy, 700 E Pine Street. The gunman immediately exited the grocery store, ran north on Boylston Avenue E and vanished.

Chief of Detectives Ernest W. Yoris assigned Detective Lieutenants William D. Rehmke (1899-1966) and Felrom G. Sands (1900-1976) to investigate. At approximately 6:00 p.m. the two detectives were in the storage room talking with the owner of the building, William H. Saunders, and Ikeda’s wife, Konme, when the bandit made his fifth attempt to hold up the grocery store. He came through the front door with his pistol drawn and backed Ikeda and his delivery boy, Tom Uyeno, age 16, toward the storage room. When the detectives stepped out, the robber, believing it was a trap, opened fire. His first bullet hit Ikeda in the abdomen and his second hit Detective Rehmke’s left wrist. Uyeno dived for cover behind the counter.

Taking cover behind the door casing, Rehmke shot the bandit in the lower abdomen and he fell to the floor. As Rehmke approached with his gun lowered, the robber suddenly rolled onto his side and fired, hitting the detective in the right chest. Rehmke shot him again in the left arm, and then Detective Sands and the bandit exchanged gun shots, but neither was hit. While Sands reloaded his revolver, the robber struggled to his feet and went out the front door, reloading his pistol with a full magazine as he ran.

Losing the Chase, Finding the Man

The foot chase led north on Boylston Avenue E to Olive Way. As the men exchanged gunfire pedestrians ran for cover and traffic stopped dead in the street. On Olive Way, Detective Sands shot the robber again in the left arm just before he climbed into a waiting automobile. Sands commandeered a private vehicle and continued the pursuit, but lost the getaway car in the heavy evening traffic on Broadway.

At approximately 7:00 p.m., a woman placed a frantic call to Seattle Police headquarters reporting that her husband had been shot in a drunken brawl and was at their apartment, 2114 7th Avenue (now a parking lot), needing medical assistance. Chief Yoris, believing the wounded man to be the escaped bandit, sent Detective Sands to investigate. Entering the apartment, Sands immediately recognized the gunman and placed him under arrest. He summoned an ambulance which took the bleeding bandit and his female companion to City Emergency Hospital, conveniently located with Seattle Police headquarters in the Public Safety Building (now the Yesler Building) at 4th Avenue and Yesler Way.

While lying on a gurney in the emergency room, the man confessed to Chief Yoris that it was his fifth attempt to rob Ikeda’s grocery, but refused give any personal information. The woman, however, identified herself as "Mrs. Ethel Bradley" age 27, the wife of George French, serving time in Washington State Penitentiary for robbing a bank in Mabton (Yakima County). She identified the wounded man as Ted Bradley, age 23, a Tacoma resident who had been her husband’s cell mate. Before being released from prison, French had asked Bradley to look up his wife, Ethel, and they had been living together in the Seattle apartment for the past two months. Chief Yoris booked her into the city jail and held her for eight days on an open charge. While recovering from his wounds, Bradley was shackled to the hospital bed and placed under 24-hour guard.

Detective Rehmke was treated at Virginia Mason Hospital for a bullet wound to his left wrist and flesh wound on his right side. Bradley’s second bullet, fired at Rehmke’s chest at close range, had been deflected by a fountain pen in the detective’s coat pocket. Rehmke was released from the hospital and sent home to recuperate.

Death of Genzo Ikeda

Genzo Ikeda was rushed to Martha Washington Hospital, 1309 Summit Avenue (Maynard Hospital 1933-1971, now The Summit at First Hill, an assisted living complex) with a bullet wound in his abdomen. He died at 1:25 a.m. on Friday, March 18. An autopsy, performed by King County Coroner William J. Jones and Dr. Pearl C. West, determined Ikeda had been mortally wounded by a .32 caliber bullet which entered his abdomen and struck his spine. King County Deputy Prosecutor William J. Wilkins determined Rehmke and Sands were using .38 caliber Colt Detective Specials whereas Bradley was firing a .32 caliber semiautomatic pistol. The bullet removed from Ikeda’s body was given to Seattle criminologist Luke S. May (1892-1965) for comparative examination with his patented “Revelarescope” in preparation for charging Bradley with first-degree murder.

Ikeda’s body was taken to the E. F. Butterworth and Sons Mortuary, 300 E Pine Street. On Monday, March 21, a funeral service was held in the mortuary chapel, officiated by Reverend Fukumatsu Okazaki, pastor of the Japanese Baptist Church, 901 E Spruce Street.

The Crime and an Accomplice

The Tacoma Police identified Bradley in their rogues gallery as ex-convict George Everett Slate, who had been arrested several times on felony charges. On Tuesday, March 15, he and another bandit had held up a rental-car agency in Tacoma, escaping with $60 and a company-owned automobile. Seattle Police also suspected Bradley robbed a Bartell Drugs in Seattle on Wednesday, March 16 and had been responsible for several other holdups in the city.

On Sunday, March 20, 1932, Chief Yoris received a tip that Raymond R. Prescott, age 40, a driver for the Howell Cab Company, was involved in the shooting at Ikeda’s Green Grocery. Prescott was arrested and taken to Seattle Police headquarters. During questioning, he admitted he had driven Bradley to and from the area but denied he had participated in either the attempted robbery or the gun battle. Preston claimed the company dispatcher had sent him to Bradley’s apartment building, 2114 7th Avenue, twice on Thursday.

The first trip was at approximately 1:00 p.m. when he drove Bradley to Boylston Avenue and Olive Way and told to wait five minutes after which Prescott drove him back to his apartment. He was dispatched to the same address the second time at approximately 6:00 p.m. Bradley told him to drive to the same location and wait five minutes while he collected some money. A few minutes later, Prescott heard gunfire, then Bradley came staggering up to the cab and climbed into the back seat. He told Prescott he had been shot and directed him to the alley behind the apartment building on 7th Avenue. A woman helped Prescott carry Bradley into an apartment and she had him ask the landlady to summon a doctor.

When Chief Yoris asked why he didn’t report the incident to the police, Prescott replied that it was none of his business. He claimed he hadn’t known about the murder until reading about it in the morning newspaper. “And with all this, you wait for us to pick you up” Yoris asked. “You know murder has been done and you cover up? You can talk to the prosecutor tomorrow” ("Police Trap Pal of Killer Bandit; Get Confession"). With that, Chief Yoris booked Prescott into the city jail as an accessory to robbery and murder. He was released a week later, however, after agreeing to testify against Bradley at trial.

Legal Proceedings

On Monday, April 25, 1932, Bradley was transferred from City Emergency Hospital to the King County Jail to await trial for first-degree murder. He was arraigned in King County Superior Court on Tuesday, May 24, before Judge Calvin S. Hall. When Bradley stood mute, Judge Hall directed a plea of not guilty be entered into the record. Seattle attorney Alson A. Booth was appointed to represent the defendant and the trial was scheduled to commence at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 25.

On Friday, July 22, 1932, Captain Silas E. Bunker, superintendent of the King County Jail, disclosed that a letter written by Bradley to man in Spokane had been seized from a out-bound jail trustee. Bradley, who was being held in solitary confinement, requested the addressee purchase four hacksaw blades and send them to woman in Tacoma who would attempt to smuggle them into the jail on a visiting day. The letter, which was basically a signed confession, was turned over to Deputy Prosecutor Wilkins who planned to use it during closing arguments when he asked the jury for a guilty verdict and the death penalty.

Trial began on Monday morning, July 25, 1932, in King County Superior Court before Judge Kazis Kay (1872-1938). Because of the escape attempt, King County Sheriff Claude G. Bannick (1876-1957) assigned three armed deputies and an extra bailiff to guard the courtroom and Bradley closely at all times. For a death penalty case, Bradley’s trial was remarkably short. Before noon recess, a jury, comprised of eight men and four women, plus one alternate, was impaneled and sworn in.

In opening statements, Prosecutor Wilkins explained the state’s case to the jurors. The state was seeking the death penalty because Ikeda was killed by the defendant while in commission of an armed robbery and with premeditation. Either fact qualified Bradley for the death penalty under Washington state law. Rather than surrender or flee, the defendant intentionally shot the victim and then engaged in a running gun battle with police, during which he attempted to kill Detectives Rehmke and Sands. Witnesses positively identified Bradley as the gunman and he confessed to the attempted robbery.

Defense Attorney Booth told the jury that Ikeda’s death was an unintended accident for which Bradley didn’t deserve to die. It was probable, in fact, he was killed by police bullets in the murderous crossfire while Bradley was trying to defend himself. He had no idea the armed men in the store were police officers in plainclothes.

With opening statements concluded, Judge Kay recessed the trial and took the jury, attorneys, and the defendant, closely guarded by six armed Sheriff’s deputies, on a field trip to view the crime scene at Ikeda’s Green Grocery.

The prosecution rested its case on Wednesday morning, July 27, after having called only a dozen witnesses to testify. Included was criminologist Luke S. May, to refute Attorney Booth’s contention Ikeda was killed by police bullets. He identified the fatal bullet as .32 caliber from the defendant's pistol; the detectives were firing regulation .38-Special caliber revolvers.

The defense called only two witness: Cora Blanche Simonsen, Bradley’s mother, and Dr. Pearl C. West, who assisted King County Coroner William J. Jones at Ikeda’s postmortem. Cora Blanche Simonsen testified she had no idea where her son had picked up the alias Ted Bradley. His true name was George Everett Slate, born in Oklahoma, the son of her first husband, David Slate, whom she had divorced in 1909. Now, she lived at 2611 E “C” Street in Tacoma with her husband, Christian Simonsen, a warehouseman, and two daughters, Edna, age 16, and Myrtle, age 17, half-sisters of the defendant. Dr. West testified that Ikeda was killed by a bullet which shattered his spine, but couldn’t swear as to its caliber. The defense rested its case at noon on Wednesday, without Bradley taking the witness stand.

During closing arguments, Prosecutor Wilkins accused Bradley of hiding behind his mothers skirts, which drew a heated response. Cursing, he leaped to his feet, startling the judge and jury, and shouted, “You’re a liar.” Bradley was immediately subdued by the guards and forced back into his chair. In asking for the death penalty, Wilkins continued: “If you send this man to prison for life, some weak-kneed governor will pardon him in eight years. Then he will be out and I hope, God forbid, that no one near or dear to you ever gets in this man’s way. You will remove the cares and worries of his mother forever, remove her worries as to where he may be, who he may be holding up, who he may be killing if you remove him forever” ("Bradley’s Fate in Hands of Jury; Noose Demanded"). In Attorney Booths summation, he curiously portrayed Bradley as misguided, but a man of unusual courage who would have been covered with medals of valor had he been old enough to serve in the Army during World War I (1914-1918).

The Death Penalty and New Trial

The case went to the jury at 3:30 p.m. After deliberating for eight hours without reaching a verdict, the jurors retired for the night in the courthouse dormitory. The lone holdout was Mary E. Stolting, a psychology student, who thought it would be prudent to sleep on the decision to execute Bradley before returning the verdict. The court reconvened at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, July 28, and jury foreman William H. Crowther handed the verdict to bailiff Charles E. Calhoun who delivered it to Judge Kay for review. The verdict was then read aloud by Judge Kay’s clerk, Ross C. Hahne. Bradley was found guilty of murder in the first degree and the jury voted to impose the death penalty. Defense Attorney Booth immediately filed a motion for a new trial and an arrested judgment. Judge Kay scheduled arguments on the motion for Monday morning, August 15, 1932.

Due to conflicting schedules, the appeal for a new trial wasn’t argued until Saturday, November 19, 1932. In the interim, Judge Kay granted a defense motion to replace Alson A. Booth, an inexperienced civil attorney, with criminal attorney Henry Clay Agnew. During a full day of heated arguments, Agnew offered alternative proof that Bradley did not kill Genzo Ikeda in the gunfight, but that instead he was killed by a police bullet. Judge Kay said his decision would be announced on November 26.

An Appeal and a Thwarted Escape

On Saturday, November 26, 1932, Judge Kay denied the motion for a new trial and an arrested judgment and sentenced Bradley to be executed on Friday, January 27, 1933. Attorney Agnew immediately notified the court of his intention to appeal the verdict to the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf of the defendant, based on doctored evidence, jury prejudice, and judicial error. Bradley’s execution date was stayed and he was remanded to the custody of the King County Sheriff until the appeal process had run its course.

On Friday, February 24, 1933, King County Prosecutor Robert M. Burgunder disclosed that a second escape attempt by Ted Bradley had been thwarted. Captain Bunker, the jail supervisor, became suspicious when Bradley requested he be moved into solitary confinement, claiming incompatibility with his cell mate. His plans were disrupted after guards intercepted letters to and from Ethel French containing secret notations regarding the purchase of small hacksaw blades and ammunition written with invisible ink (citrus juice milk or urine is often used). French was arrested on Thursday, February 23, when she arrived at the jail to visit Bradley. Detectives searched her hotel room and found five jeweler’s saw blades and two dozen .32 and .38 caliber cartridges. Bradley got his wish and he was moved permanently into solitary confinement for the duration.

On Thursday, October 5, 1933 the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Bradley case in Olympia. On Friday, December 15, 1933, the supreme court, in a six-to-three decision, upheld Bradley’s murder conviction in King County Superior Court and affirmed the jury’s imposition of the death sentence. In the opinion of the court, “Had any other verdict than a conviction of murder in the first degree been rendered by the jury, it would have been a travesty of justice" ("Ted Bradley Must Hang, Says Court"). Attorney Agnew immediately filed a petition for a rehearing, which the court denied on Tuesday, February 20, 1934. On Saturday, February 24, Bradley appeared before Judge Kay who signed the death warrant and scheduled him to be executed on Friday, May 11, 1934. No further appeals were filed with the court on Bradley’s behalf.

On Sunday morning, February 26, Sheriff Bannick and two armed deputies drove Bradley to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Captain Bunker breathed a sigh of relief when he was finally gone from the King County Jail. He described Bradley, who had been in custody for almost two years, as one of the most troublesome prisoners they ever had. Meanwhile, Attorney Agnew was proceeding with plans to request Governor Clarence D. Martin (1887-1955) commute Bradley’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

Governor Martin agreed to a hearing on Bradley’s appeal, which was held on Tuesday, May 2, 1934. Agnew’s main argument was Bradley had been improperly represented by Alson Booth, a civil attorney appointed by the court, who had never defended a criminal case and had only days to prepare. After hearing summaries of the case from the perspective of both the prosecution and defense, Governor Martin said he would announce his decision after consulting with the trial judge. On Wednesday, May 7, the Governor denied Bradley’s petition on the basis that no new evidence had been presented which would justify interfering with the decision made by the jury and the courts. The defendant had been given a fair trial and was guilty as charged.

The Execution

On Thursday evening, Bradley ate a full-course dinner, which included fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, lemon pie, ice cream, cake, cookies, and coffee. He told the guards he ate too much and felt uncomfortable. At 11:00 p.m., he was moved to an isolation cell nearby the gallows, where he was shaved and dressed in new clothes. He was visited by Reverend James A. Lynch, Catholic chaplain at the penitentiary, but refused the last sacrament and asked the priest not to accompany him to the scaffold.

At midnight, on Friday, May 11, 1934, Bradley walked 40 feet from the isolation cell to the gallows accompanied by two prison guards and Warden James M. McCauley (1890-1940), who then read aloud the death warrant. Approximately 60 men had gathered to witness the hanging. It was the largest group to attend an execution since capital punishment was reinstated in Washington state in 1919 and the second hanging in the penitentiary’s new execution chamber, built in 1932. Before a black hood and the hangman’s noose were dropped over his head, Bradley shouted his last words: “I’d like to say goodbye to all my friends and to hell with all the ____ bulls! Let’er go!” ("Bradley Hanged as He Cursed Law Officers").

At 12:05 a.m. the trap was sprung by four guards, who each pressed a red, electric button, one of which released the door, cutting short a string of profanities and dropping Bradley to his death. His body was taken down at 12:20 a.m. and Dr. Elmer Hill, prison physician, pronounced him dead.

Bradley’s body was taken to Tacoma for burial. On Saturday, May 13, 1934, Bradley’s mother, Blanche Simonsen, and his two half-sisters, Myrtle and Ethel, held a private funeral service for him at an undisclosed mortuary.

Ted Bradley was the seventh person in 30 years to be sent to death-row by a King County jury and the 3rd prisoner to be executed at the Washington State Penitentiary. The first execution at the state penitentiary took place on May 6, 1904 with the hanging of Zenon “James” Champoux for the murder of Lottie Brace in Seattle in 1902.


“Woman Clad as Man Held Driver in Fatal Theft,” The Seattle Times, March 18, 1932; “Detective Saved from Bullet by Fountain Pen,” Ibid., March 18, 1932, p. 12; “Police Quiz Bandit About Missing Auto,” Ibid., March 18, 1932, p. 12; Ibid., March 19, 1932, p. 2; “Women Waiting Detectives Are Always Fearful,” Ibid., March 20, 1932, p. 8; “Nurses Afraid of Bandit; Guards Will Be Doubled,” Ibid., March 21, 1932, p. 2; “Wounded Detective Calls on Bandit He Downed,” Ibid., March 27, 1932, p. 7; “Bradley Taken to Jail from Hospital,” Ibid., April 25, 1932, p. 18; “Slayer of Grocer Refuses to Plead,” Ibid., May 25, 1932, p. 11; “Own Note Foils Jail Escape of Murder Suspect,” Ibid., July 23, 1932, p. 12; “Ted Bradley Murder Trial Opens Monday,” Ibid., July 24, 1932, p. 5; “Bandit Bradley Placed on Trial for Slaying Man,” Ibid., July 25, 1932, p. 5; “No Pistol Found on Woman Friend of Ted Bradley,” Ibid., July 26, 1932, p. 7; “Girl Friend of Prisoner Moved from Nearby Seat,” Ibid., July 27, 1932, p. 1; “Slayer of Japanese Is Unmoved by Verdict,” Ibid., July 28, 1932, p. 12; “Condemned Slayer Will Reopen Fight,” Ibid., August 14, 1932, p. 1; “Trial of Pierce Opens; Bradley Sentence Put Off,” Ibid., September 6, 1932, p. 3; “Bradley Retrial Hearing Will Be Held on September 24,” Ibid., September 14, 1932, p. 4; “Pierce, Comer and Bradley Appeals Set,” Ibid., September 20, 1932, p. 24; “Delay in Hanging Called ‘Politics’ on Judges Part,” Ibid., September 25, 1932, p. 2; “Bradley Retrial Decision Will Be Given Saturday,” Ibid., November 20, 1932, p. 8; “Bradley Is Sentenced To Be Hanged,” Ibid., November 26, 1932, p. 1; “Bradley Escape Plans Thwarted by Chief Jailer,” Ibid., February 24, 1933, p. 2; “Bradley’s Fate in Murder Case Is Step Nearer,” Ibid., October 8, 1933, p. 9; “Ted Bradley Must Hang, Says Court,” Ibid., December 15, 1933, p. 1; “Bradley, Doomed Slayer, to Ask Martin’s Mercy,” Ibid., December 19, 1933, p. 2; “Bradley To Be Moved; Suicide Attempt Feared,” Ibid., January 8, 1934, p, 12; “Slayer Bradley Must Hang, Says State High Court,” Ibid., February 20, 1934, p, 1; “Smile Fades as Bradley Hears Death Sentence,” Ibid., February 25, 1934, p, 2; “Bradley Reaches Prison Where He Will Hang May 11,” Ibid., February 26, 1934, p, 5; “Martin Asked To Save Life of Ted Bradley,” Ibid., May 2, 1934, p, 5; “Bradley Hanged as He Cursed Law Officers,” Ibid., May 11, 1934, p, 8; “Bradley Denied Death Shot in Note to Mother,” Ibid., May 13, 1934, p, 11; “1 Dead, 2 Shot in Holdup Battle!,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 18, 1932. P. 1; “Shot Bandit Will Not Talk About Holdup,” Ibid., March 19, 1932, p. 5; “Police Trap Pal of Killer Bandit; Get Confession,” Ibid., March 21, 1932, p. 1; Forrest Williams, “Bradley Tried To Beat Noose,” Ibid., July 23, 1932, p. 1; “Four Guards Take Bradley Up for Trial,” Ibid., July 26, 1932, p. 1; “Girl Searched for Gun as Bandit Trial Gets Tense,” Ibid., July 27, 1932, p. 1; “Bradley’s Fate in Hands of Jury; Noose Demanded,” Ibid., July 28, 1932, p. 1; “Ted Bradley Guilty; To Be Hanged,” Ibid., July 29, 1932, p. 1; “Ted Bradley Dies on Walla Walla Gallows at 12:05,” Ibid., May 11, 1934, p, 1.
Note: This essay was emended on January 25, 2012, to correct the birthdate of Clarence D. Martin.

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