THEODORE CAMPBELL KIDDER ( 12 Apr. 1899 ) - ( 4 March 1934 )
Headlines on Monday 5 March 1934, in the “The Minneapolis Tribune” were “Gang Trails Autoist Home, Kills Him”, below that “St. Louis Park man slain as wife watches”. Theodore Campbell Kidder with his wife (Bernice Duxbury) and mother-in-law in his car were trailed by five gang men, as the 35 year old paint salesman and family were returning home from a birthday party they attended earlier that evening. “The five gang members tried to run Kidder off the road, still following them, Kidder finally stopped his car near his residence and walked to the sedan and said something to its occupants. There was a reply. The two woman got out of their car. There was three shots, two striking Kidder in the abdomen, he died at the scene. “The large sedan with California license plates sped off”. Newspaper accounts theories it was a case of mistaken identity.
Headlines in the “Minneapolis Journal” Monday evening, 5 March 1934, “Mystery Veils Gang Killing in St. Louis Park”, picture of Theodore C. Kidder with his wife on front page, similar story as above. The “St. Paul Dispatch” and “St. Paul Pioneer Press” on 5 March 1934, ran similar stories and pictures.
Theodore Kidder was employed by the National Lead Co., St. Paul, and sold ammunition as a second job. He had an excellent employee record.
[ In 1995, I contacted the City of St. Louis Park Police Department, they searched their records and couldn’t find any record of incident, and they referred me to the Hennepin Co. Sheriff’s Office. In 1995, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, they to couldn’t find any records of the homicide investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, replied in 1995, no records were located, “it is possible that the FBI only assisted in the investigation?.” Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Minneapolis, MN, in 1995, provided the medical examiner report, ME case number 34-128. Theodore C. Kidder of 4055 Alabama Ave., St. Louis Park, born in Iowa. Cause of death, homicide, multiple gunshot wounds. The Medical Examiner report stated what appeared in newspaper article above. The investigation was done by St. Louis Park officers Andrew Nelson and Arthur Hagen and Deputy Sheriff’s were Stanley Hurley and A. D. Meirority.]
During the mid-2000, the St. Louis Park Historical Society had a different conclusion below:
On March 4, 1934, 35-year-old Kidder was originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa (also reported as LaCrosse, Wisconsin) and was survived by a brother, E. Dean Kidder of St. Paul. He had spent most of his life in St. Paul, and was an avid sportsman, fisherman, swimmer, and hunter. He married Bernice Duxbury in about 1926. He worked as an ammunition salesman for the National Lead Company, 102 West Fairfield Ave. He also worked other part time jobs, one in particular at the Kennedy Brothers Arms Company. St. Paul in the 30's was a known haven for gangsters, and Kidder was clearly associated with them. Besides the fact that he often played golf with them, he was probably procuring ammo for them on the side.
Around this time the St. Paul sales office of National Lead was merged with the facility in St. Louis Park, which would explain why Kidder had moved to 4081 (then 4055) Alabama in St. Louis Park in about October 1933. Incidentally, his wife had recently left the Glen Lake Sanitarium after a five-year bout with tuberculosis, and probably knew nothing of her husband's gangster activities.
For whatever reason, his former associates were not happy with him, and the gunmen were looking for him that night. Neighbors reported that a large sedan had circled his block several times, flashing a light on his house each time. Another car found him on Chicago and Lake, where Kidder, his wife, and mother-in-law Effie were driving home from a child's birthday party in Minneapolis. Four men in fedoras in a blue Hudson with California plates bumped Kidder's car from behind, leading his wife to believe the men were angry about the fender bender.
The men in Fedoras followed Kidder home, and when he saw that they were still there, he drove around the block. He pulled over on Brookside, and the Hudson pulled in behind him. Kidder walked to the back of his car and had words with one of the men who had also exited his car saying "Come over here, Ted, we want to talk to you." After their "talk," one of the men in the car pulled out his gun and shot him through the window with 17 copper-jacketed .32 caliber bullets. Three of them made their mark. Kidder's mother-in-law screamed "What have you done?" and the gangster shouted "Keep your damned mouth shut or we'll give it to you too."
The car sped off backwards toward 41st Street and went west on 41st, as observed by "Jack" Thomas, 4090 Brookside Avenue. Mrs. Kidder went for help inside the Brookside Inn, a cafe and confectionery run by C. Wesley Smith, later to be known as Brookside Drug. Kidder was carried inside by Smith and two 17-year-old neighbors Robert Nylander (4301 Yosemite) and Carl Mohlin (3950 Alabama). Bullet holes penetrated the side of the stucco building, and proprietor Smith was pictured in the Minneapolis Journal pointing them out. Kidder died in the Inn.
The women had no choice but to return home, and the press descended on them, even to the point of trying to climb in the bathroom window. Mrs. Kidder and her sister moved back to Minneapolis shortly afterwards. Mrs. Kidder eventually lived in the Episcopal Hall in St. Paul, and never spoke of the incident, except that she was once heard to say, "I should have asked more questions." She never remarried, and died at age 87. Theodore Kidder is buried in Lakewood Cemetery.
Although the killing took place in St. Louis Park, the case was investigated by the County Attorney's Office. There were few clues to the shooting at the time, although the FBI supposedly traced the car with California plates to James Rogers, an alias used by Baby Face Nelson. Speculation ran the gamut: One theory was that he was suspected of snitching on the perpetrators of the Park Post Office robbery of 1933. Some said that that Kidder might be some kind of Government agent and that the incident was being hushed up. One man attributed the incident to a shoot-out between rival beer distributors. Relatives are pretty sure that it was just a case where he had gotten over his head, and could not meet increasing demands.
The Kidder case has never been solved, and absent a deathbed confession by one of the men in the fedoras (probably all long dead), it probably never will be.