George W. Barrett had a long criminal history, including having killed his mother and shot his sister. That career culminated on August 16, 1935, when two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents investigating a series of car thefts tracked him to College Corner, Ohio, very near the Indiana border. The effort to apprehend him led to a shoot out in which agent Nelson B. Klein was shot and killed and agent Donald McGovern was wounded.
Barrett was convicted of first-degree murder on December 7, 1935. He was hanged on March 24, 1936.
In an era in which federal criminal law was expanding rapidly, Barrett was the first person sentenced to death under a new federal statute that made it a capital offense to kill a federal agent.