Here’s a good diagram of the scene of the crime. It’s from the Tribune in July 1937. It matches well with Jimmy James’ son’s account of what happened…except for a few elements we will get to later.
It was July 2, 1937 and Clark County was recovering from the famous flood in the Spring that laid waste to Jeffersonville. Walters Inn was a place run by Walter Maddox a fellow who had tried, and failed, to make a go in the gambling business. He had run the “Log cabin club” and the “Silver Creek Club” . He had been reduced to selling bootleg liquor in this joint which was near “Club Greyhound”. As you can see from the diagram, it was in the intersection of 31 E and Applegate Lane in Clarksville. (Today, I-65 is built over where this site was).
The Municipal had hosted the famous and the infamous, including Bugs Moran and John Dillinger and his gang. James didn’t care for Dillinger. He was bad for business as everyone was scared to death of him. He posted a man on the front porch of the Municipal armed with a machine gun when he gambled inside. The Municipal was “City” and the other gambling joints at that time were “County”. The former enjoyed the political protection of Jeffersonville and the Chief of Police, the latter enjoyed the protection of the County Sheriff, Hal Hughes…and perhaps others. Poor Walter Maddox however, couldn’t seem to find anyone who made him ‘go’.
Maddox was connected to Chicago mobster Spike O’Donnell. He slid into Clark County and wound up meeting Jane Maddox who was working at Club Greyhound as an entertainer. She had enjoyed a career in theater and boasted bit parts in Hollywood “B” Melodramas. Meryl Streep she was not….but a pretty spiffy dame for Jeffersonville in 1937.
In news accounts of the crime, there are frequent speculations on what the motive was. It is pretty clear that the public believed, because of news reports, that Walter Maddox was the target of the wrath of the powers that be surrounding the Municipal Bar.
But….that isn’t true.