On 14 April 1932, William John Burns, known as “America’s Sherlock Holmes” passed away in Sarasota, Florida. Like his predecessor Allan Pinkerton and his successor at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, Burns was a master of self-promotion. He had an instinct for publicity that magnified the major cases he investigated. Burns was a brass band detective—always trumpeting his successes to nearby reporters. He also authored “true” crime stories based on his cases in detective magazines.
In 1906, Burns left the U.S. Secret Service after a distinguished career investigating high-profile frauds. His reputation as an excellent detective who was honest—compared to many corrupt ones at the time—continued to grow in the private sector. In 1909, the celebrated detective organized the William J. Burns National Detective Agency. The 1910 Los Angeles Times Bombing helped make him a household name. Business was booming, and in 1913 the William J. Burns Detective Agency became the Burns International Detective Agency.