Book Review: Vallejo

Vallejo native (Brendan Riley) pens book on Vallejo’s old ‘barbary coast,’ holds book signing Saturday

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald

POSTED: 08/14/17, 3:11 PM PDT | UPDATED: 1 WEEK AGO

“There’s a chapter on Baby Face Nelson that was really fascinating for me,” Riley said. He came as a “guest” of  Tobe Williams, an old safe cracker, who ran Vallejo General Hospital. According to FBI reports, though (Nelson) “committed no crime here that we know of, there was a murder during that time that was never solved.”

Nelson and his wife felt safe enough in Vallejo to “walk around town like anybody else, going to the movies, and so on,” despite being, at one point, the most wanted man in the United States, he said.

“The technology we have now didn’t exist which is why he came out to the West Coast; because the FBI was doing most of its searching in the Midwest,” Riley said.

Nelson wasn’t just hanging out in the Bay Area, but ran a bootleg liquor operation from Marin and San Francisco, while on the lam, he said.

Nelson returned to the Chicago area from Vallejo, and was soon killed in a shootout with two FBI agents, Riley said.

“At that time, he was Public Enemy No. One, after John Dillinger died in July 1934,” he said. “Nelson left Vallejo in October 1934 and died that November.”

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