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Charles Frederick Urschel (March 7, 1890 – September 26, 1970) was an American oil business tycoon and kidnap victim of George Kelly Barnes (Machine Gun Kelly). Urschel eventually thwarted the crime by carefully noting every piece of evidence of his whereabouts during his captivity despite being blindfolded and leaving fingerprints on every surface he could reach.
After being released after the ransom was delivered, Urschel was able to supply ample information for the FBI to solve the crime.
Charles F. Urschel was born in Washington Township, Hancock County, Ohio in 1890 to Daniel Urschel and Emma (Anna) M. Bangert.
Urschel's first marriage was to Flored Slick the sister of Thomas Baker Slick Sr., oil magnate known as "The King of the Wildcatters". Tom Slick died on August 16, 1930, from a fatal stroke following surgery. After Flored's death in 1931, Charles Urschel, Tom Slick's brother-in-law and a trustee to his estate, then married Slick's widow, Berenice. Their combined fortunes created one of the wealthiest couples in Oklahoma City.
Later life and death
In 1945, Urschel and his wife relocated to San Antonio, Texas, where he ran the Slick-Urschel Oil Company and was a founding trustee of San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute and the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education, alongside other philanthropic work. Despite his belief that Kathryn Kelly was the mastermind behind the criminal operation (as stated by Kent Frates, Urschel's nephew, in his 2014 book Oklahoma's Most Notorious Cases), Urschel anonymously funded the college education of her daughter Pauline, this only being discovered by author Stanley Hamilton much later, in the course of writing his 2003 book, Machine Gun Kelly's Last Stand (University of Kansas Press).
Urschel died September 26, 1970, having survived his wife Berenice by four months.