Legendary Lawman Melvin Purvis

His dogged determination and painstaking diligence aided him in tracking down some of the most notorious criminals of the nineteen-thirties. Most notable of these was John Dillinger.

Following his resignation from the FBI, Purvis was unable to secure a job in law enforcement due (speculatively) do Hoover’s black listing him. He retuned to his law practice and would marry Marie Willcox, the daughter of his former law partner. They would have three children: Melvin, Alston and Christopher. He also volunteered during World War II, serving as a Lieutenant Colonel. Even in his law practice Hoover had a hand in trying to keep him from succeeding. Hoover tried to block Purvis’ nomination as special council to the Senate Judiciary Committee but his efforts failed.

Despite all the ill feelings between Purvis and the Bureau he never had a bad thing to say in public about it or Director Hoover. He would always remain faithful to the FBI. On February 29, 1960 Purvis died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head. It was originally deemed a suicide but later accounts deemed it to have been accidental as he was trying to clear a tracer round that had lodged in the barrel. There was no note left and he gave no indication that he would commit suicide.  The final word was sent to Hoover by the Purvis family after his death. Hoover did not attend the funeral or send condolences. Marie Purvis wrote, “We are honored that you ignored Melvin's death. Your jealousy hurt him very much but until the end I think he loved you."


About The Author:

Charles Bennett was born in our Nation's Capital and grew up in the Maryland suburbs. Mr. Bennett has been working in all aspects of the publishing industry since the late 1980s primarily in the fields of commercial photography and magazine production. Moving to California in 1992 to attend college resulted in B.F.A and Masters degrees. California also supplied Mr. Bennett with his wife. The two of them are avid sports persons and participate in shooting, scuba diving, surfing, running and bicycling. As a long time hobby Mr. Bennett has studied the legends of American law enforcement which led to his writing these columns.

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