88 Keyes was a piano player and head of a gang of killers-for-hire that murdered the millionaire A.B. Hamlet at the request of Hamlet’s wife. He later murdered his accomplice singer Jinny “the Girl Singer” Lynn after her attempted double cross and kept her corpse in his piano. Keyes tried to put the piano into storage, but it was found by Dick Tracy. While Keyes was on the run with Mrs. Hamlet (and her $200,000 insurance money), she fell asleep in his car. Keyes left the car sitting on some railroad tracks, where it was struck by a train, killing Mrs. Hamlet.
Keyes evaded the police and took a job as a hired hand on George Wheaten‘s farm, under the alias “Mr. Smith”. Wheaten’s adolescent daughter Nellie noticed how well Keyes played the organ and began to show great affection for him. While on the farm Keyes tore up and tossed his musician’s union card into a farm milk can where it would eventually make its way to the city and eventually draw Dick Tracy to the farm.
Taking advantage of Nellie’s affections, Keyes convinced her to help him hide from Tracy. She then agreed to help him steal her father’s car and make his escape. Nellie hid in the car as well, eventually revealing her presence to 88, who was annoyed at the added complication. He had Nellie disguise herself as a boy to avoid detection.
They soon encountered Red Bluff, an AWOL Navy Seaman and old friend of Nellie’s family. Red recognized 88, and tried to use this knowledge against him. When Nellie discovered that Keyes was a killer and fugitive, she tried to wreck the car with all of them in it. Nellie was knocked unconscious while the two criminals escaped the wreckage. 88 killed Red rather than go on the run with him.
Tracy was on 88’s trail and found the body of Red. When Tracy caught up to 88, Keyes had hidden in a cramped tool shack next to a railroad track. Knowing that 88 was armed, Tracy refused to take any chances on the fugitive escaping again. Tracy offered the man a chance to surrender. When Keyes refused to give an answer, Tracy fired bullets from a machine gun into the shed in an X pattern. 88’s body (and loaded gun) fell out of the shed, ending the pursuit. Tracy returned Nellie back to the farm.