Saturday, July 19, 2014
Saturday, July 12, 2014
A Woman Found Guilty of Murder in the First Degree—Her Husband Awaiting Trial.
The Larsons lived on a farm owned by Guild, who was a single man, sixty years of age. In 1883 he deeded the farm to Mrs. Larson on condition that she should furnish a home during life. On the first of August in that year Guild died suddenly, and the contents of his stomach being analyzed, ten and a half grains of arsenic was found. During the trial a neighbor of the Larsons testified to having purchased a package of “Rough on Rats” for Mrs. Larson, a few days before the death of Guild. It was also shown that the Larsons paid a number of bills that they owed and had considerable money after Guild’s death, and that not a dollar of several hundred that Guild was known to have in his possession a day or two previous to his death could be found by his friends.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
|Bent on Murder.
James M’Cambrick, After trying several ways of killing Mrs. Cline,
finally succeeds by throwing her out of the window.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Saturday, June 7, 2014
About two months ago Dean and Brown had quarreled, but shortly after made it up, and apparently became friends again. On Monday night there was a dance at New Market, at the house of a man by the name of Smith. Brown and Dean both came to the dance riding one mule. During the night Dean borrowed Brown’s knife, for what purpose he did not state. The dance lasted until daybreak, when Dean and Brown both left Smith’s, seemingly good friends.
Now, right here is where this case proves to be one of premeditation and cold blooded murder; Dean, apparently to give Brown the best place on the mule, compelled, him to ride on the saddle while he rode behind. A little distance from Smith’s he stabbed Brown through the back, killing him almost instantly. Brown was about twenty-one years of age, and a single man. Dean is described as being slender built, about six feet high, sharp feature, and very large, prominent teeth. In features he is rather repulsive. He is twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, and unmarried. The murderer is still at large. Let our detectives up this way look out for him.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
In the nineteenth century (as now) accused murderers were tried in the court of public opinion before ever entering a court of law, and sometimes the verdicts did not agree. Whether through prejudice, money and influence, legal maneuvering, or simply lack of evidence a defendant is set free when the community “knows” he is guilty. Here are a few notable defendants who, very likely, got away with murder:
Helen Jewett, a high-end New York City prostitute was murdered in her bed by an axe wielding killer. Though it was fairly clear that Helen was murdered her ex-lover Richard Robinson, the jury found him not guilty. The judged was prejudiced against the testimony of prostitutes, and it was rumored that Robinson bribed at least one juror.
James Reeves Walkup died of arsenic poisoning less than a year after his marriage to sixteen-year-old Minnie Wallace. Minnie was tried for his murder but her charm and beauty drove witnesses to perjury and jurymen to acquittal. Her second husband died under similar circumstances.
Jenny Cramer was almost certainly raped by Jimmie Malley then murdered by him with the help of his cousin Walter and Walter’s girlfriend Blanch Douglas. Walter’s father, Edward Malley, the richest man in New Haven, Connecticut, paid for the defense that won their acquittal.
Ned Stokes, with premeditation, shot Jim Fisk in the Grand Central Hotel. Any question of his guilt disappeared when Fisk, on his deathbed, identified Stokes as the shooter. But stokes had political connections and after three trials was found guilty of manslaughter and served only six years.
Dan Sickles shot his wife’s lover, Phillip Barton Key, in front of eye witnesses. Sickles did not deny the murder, but his attorney argued that his wife’s infidelity had driven Sickles temporarily insane. Sickles was set free in the first successful use of the temporary insanity plea in America.
Albert Tiirell was acquitted for the charge of murdering Maria Bickford on the grounds that he was sleepwalking at the time and not responsible for his actions. While the “sleepwalking defense” never caught on as a legal ploy, in 1849 it was enough to free Albert Tirrell.
Most people today believe that Lizzie Borden killed her father and stepmother in a vicious daylight axe murder. But in 1893 there was not enough evidence to convict her, and given the same evidence, she would probably be acquitted today as well. Either way, someone got away with murdering Andrew and Abby Borden.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 2014
An old man named Thomas J. Poyntz, living at Bay Shore, was found dead in a bed at the house of Nathaniel Evans, near Thompson’s Station on the Long Island Railroad, Jan. 29, with a deep wound in the left side, apparently inflicted with a carpenter’s gouge. Evans was a cabinetmaker and upholsterer, and apt to be in possession of such a tool. This, with other circumstances, excited strong suspicion against him. After an investigation by Coroner Preston of Amityville, in which it was shown that Evans and Poyntz—possibly Kennedy and others—had been carousing on the day previous. Evans was held for the murder, although there was doubt of his guilt, and there seemed to be a probability that the Grand Jury would refuse to find an indictment against him. There has been a suspicion, strengthened by the actions of the woman herself, that Evans’s wife knew more about Poynitz’s death than Evans himself—who, according to the evidence at the inquest, was very drunk on the night of the occurrence, and probably incapable of committing the deed. The Grand Jury, which has just adjourned, indicted both husband and wife for murder in the first degree. The impression is strong that though Evans may have a guilty knowledge of the crime, his wife is the principal criminal. They are both now in the County Jail at Riverhead awaiting trial at the next term of the Oyer and Terminer, which will be held in April. This is the first indictment for murder in the first degree found by a Suffolk County Grand Jury since Nichols Behan for the Wickham murder 22 years ago.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
“In the early part of 1887, the good city of Lewiston, Maine, was thrown into considerable excitement by the discovery of a young woman dead on the street, with her newly born babe beside her. Upon investigation by the police, Elmer D. Morrill was arrested for the crime of murdering her, and the grand jury found an indictment against him for murder. The cause of the murder was at first considerably shrouded in mystery; but subsequent events pointed to the above individual.”
Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Cincinnati, March 11. – Further particulars in regard to the murder of a woman and three children, near Dayton, Saturday night, indicate the murder was committed by the father, Leonard Marquardt, who is evidently insane from a spiritual cause. The story the man himself tells is that a few days ago he read a chapter to his family from the Bible, and then rising up, accused his wife of being a witch and using witchcraft. He says his eldest daughter confirmed him in his suspicions. He says also that on Saturday night he told his wife he wanted their children to leave; then he and his wife stripped naked, and knelt down and prayed for fifteen minutes. They then stripped two of the children and took them out and drowned them and laid them side by side on the bank of the stream. They then dashed out the brains of the infant and left it in the woods, after which they returned home and went to bed. After lying there for fifteen minutes he told his wife that he wanted to send her to heaven also, and immediately fell upon and strangled her to death. After that he arose and prayed until three o’clock in the morning, when he went to the nearest neighbor and told him the whole story. Marquardt is a Germen farmer, and has been in this country about eighteen years. The murdered woman was his second wife.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
In an era when sensational murders were followed in the daily papers as if they were serialized mystery stories, avid readers could not help but notice how many of these juicy murders took place in Connecticut and it was just as obvious how many of these murders remained unsolved. A murder story should end with an execution or at least a conviction and this was not happening in Connecticut. Eventually newspapers in other states would run headlines such as “Another Connecticut Murder” as if to warn readers not to become too invested in a story without a decent ending.
Puck, a national magazine of politics and humor who published the picture above in 1883, blamed the officials in Connecticut’s incompetent legal system who managed to twist the most obvious clues into baffling mysteries. “It is our firm belief,” said Puck, “that if a man were to walk into the most frequented street of a Connecticut town, in broad daylight, among a gaping crowd of villagers, and chop a well-known resident into fine-cut with a meat-axe, it would be considered and treated as a mysterious murder.”
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
The other debate around serial murder is how to define it. For simplicity we will use the definition agreed upon at a serial murder symposium sponsored by the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime: “The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events.” This differs slightly from a federal law which defines serial murder as “three or more killings,” but, as we shall see, two murders are usually enough to identify the problem. In both definitions motivation was intentionally omitted to avoid complexity.
So here, in reverse chronological order of the year each started killing, is Murder by Gaslight’s list of nineteenth century murderers who fit the FBI’s definition of serial killer:
|1895||Theo Durrant||Known as “The Demon of the Belfry” Theo Durrant raped, murdered and mutilated Blanche Lamont in the Emanuel Baptist Church on April 3, 1895. Nine days later he did the same to Minnie Wallace. Durrant was captured and executed before he could kill more.|
|1888||H. H. Holmes||Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes, may have murdered many as 230 people between 1888 and 1894. While only convicted of one murder, Holmes confessed to killing 27 and police believed he burned, asphyxiated and tortured many times that. |
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Murder by Gaslight is pleased to be a stop on Harold Schechter’s The Mad Sculptor (Of True Crime) Blog Tour. The works of Harold Schechter have been a part of Murder by Gaslight from the beginning, providing invaluable information on a number of historical murders. His books always deliver compelling stories based on meticulous research, and his new book, The Mad Sculptor, is no exception.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
“One most important reason why it is hard to punish murder in San Francisco is that in a great number of cases the majority of the people do not want it punished. They rather approve of murder in certain contingencies, and consider it the best redress for injuries that cannot be righted through the courts.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Five women of New York have been murdered by a fiend. Their cases are similar to that of the woman whose body was found in the courtyard in the rear of the tenement at No. 27 Monroe Street. The police accuse John Brown, a sailor, with this last murder. Is he the fiend who strangled the other women?
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Mrs. Downing, housekeeper at 27 Monroe, said she had seen a group of men standing in the courtyard at around 2 o’clock that morning. Hoey changed his story then, and said he and two friends, wagon driver Thomas Cosgrove and mandolin player Charles Weston, had seen their friend John Brown leaning over the body. Brown was a “deep water” sailor whom the press would refer to as “Sailor” Brown. None of them knew who the woman was.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
"On Friday, the 21st day of October 1882, William D. Sindram was hanged in the Tombs, New York City, for the murder of his landlady, Mrs. Cave. The murder was committed a year earlier. Sindram had been drinking, and entered his boarding house, and without provocation shot his landlady. He maintained a bold front up to the minute of his execution, and walked without flinching to the gallows, and showed more nerve than one would suppose possible under the circumstances."
Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Saturday, December 28, 2013
This post summarizes the Burdell murder using engravings from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and other contemporary sources. The details of the Burdell murder can be found here: The Bond Street Tragedy.
The murder took place in a boarding house at No. 31 Bond Street in Manhattan, owned by Dr. Burdell and managed by his paramour, Mrs. Emma Cunningham. All of the murder suspects boarded there.