William J. Wallace was born in 1887. He lived on the family farm in Hutchinson, Kanson with his mother and father. When his father died and his mother remarried, he was at constant odds with his new stepfather. On top of that, he was growing more and more exhausted by the constant physical strain of daily farmwork. That’s likely why he decided to set off for Wichita, where he learned how to be a barber.
Unfortunately, it also set him on a dark path: in Wichita he met John Callahan, who taught him how to steal professionally. Before long, Wallace was caught up in bootlegging and theft scandals. He married, but his wife took off when she became weary of his infidelity. While Prohibition was still in effect, he became well known for starting a successful gang and committing a string of bank robberies in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.
Eventually he was caught and sentenced to life in prison.
Not long thereafter, he escaped custody in transport. Amusingly he was caught only a few days later when he began another string of robberies, and then sentenced to 10-30 years in Kansas. Ever the escape artist, he managed to flee from imprisonment only months later.
Thus started a massive game of cat and mouse that left seven people dead — three of them police officers. Wallace (who at some point changed his name to Eddie Adams) pistol-whipped an 82-year-old man during the commission of a bank robbery in Haysville. The man died. In the course of the manhunt, Adams came upon Patrolman A.L. Young, and shot him dead. According to witnesses, Young and Adams had been in love with the same woman. For some reason she chose the lawman over the outlaw.
The police caught up with Adams once again on November 20, 1921. In the course of pulling over his vehicle, the police were abruptly shot at, and an officer named Robert Fitzpatrick was killed. Fleeing to Cowley County, Adams and the men he was with ran out of gas near a farm, where they tried to steal George Oldham’s vehicle. Adams killed the man when he fought back.
Adams tried to flee one final time by using an officer’s funeral as cover for the escape. When trying to rent a car, the garage owner recognized Adams and called the police. When three police officers arrived, Adams managed to kill one and wound another before D.C. Stuckey shot him three times. He died on the scene.
Thousands of people came to view his body, which was happily put on display to celebrate the man’s end.