Van Lee Ramsey

The following “case history” was found in Van Lee Ramsey’s prison file in the State Archives. It was typed on Missouri State Penitentiary letterhead. According to the document, Ben B. Stewart was Acting Warden. While unsigned, it appeared to have been written by Joesph T. Lamar, Bureau of Identification.

Van Lee Ramsey – Scheduled for Execution on December 13, 1946.

Van Lee Ramsey a 36-year old (born February 25, 1910) Negro Foundry Worker. Born at Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Reared at Harvey, Louisiana. 5-10″ 155#

Attends the Baptist Church. Is Married and completed the 8th grade in school. His wife –Mrs. Alice Ramsey, 2926 Sheridan, St. Louis, Mo. Brother–Now in Army, Sam Ramsey, formerly resided at 1815a, Papin St., St. Louis, MO. Sister—Mrs. Geneva Ramsey, Koch Hospital, St. Louis County, MO.

Will be the 21st victim of the lethal gas chamber, being sentenced on November 19, 1945 after a Jury trial finding the death verdict on a First Degree Murder Charge in St. Louis City. On March 3, 1946, he also was taken to St. Louis City where he plead guilty to a life sentence on chares of Robbery 1st Degree, under the State Statutes however, the death sentence takes precedence.

Served one term at Missouri State Penitentiary under No. 51217 being received on July 16, 1938 from St. Louis County to serve 5-yrs. from July 7, 1938 on a Charge of Burglary & Larceny. He was discharged under conditional commutation of sentence on March 31, 1941.

In 1942 he served a 8-month sentence at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners at Springfield, Missouri, for theft of government property. He entered the Center April 7, 1942 was discharged on August 11, 1942.

In connection with the present death sentence, he was arrested by the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department on July 10, 1945, after an intensive city-wide man-hunt that alerted the entire police department after a prolonged serious of attacks on women war-workers returning to their homes early in the morning. He followed a Broadway street car with the intent to molest a white war worker, and was almost successful but was scared away at the time. However, a taxi-cab driver secured his license number and it was flashed via radio and the car with Ramsey driving was overtaken in another portion of St. Louis. At the time of his apprehension be had a long butcher knife wedged behind the front seat of the car, which was identified as belonging to him and used in his attacks on the women. Robbery was the sole motive inasmuch as none were assaulted. In this connection, the “finger” was placed on him by an “EX” from MSP (name unknown at the present moment) who was the driver of the Black and White Cab.

As a result of his apprehension the police guards were removed from all the war plant workers who worked the 3-11 shifts, which had been provided as a result of his attacks in the past.

Finger-man on Van Lee Ramsey, was ex David Frank Lovell, St. Louis, Mo. Black and White Cab Driver, who served from 4-23-35 to 5-29-42 in MSP.