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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Van B. Baker

Little Murders:
From Defenders and Offenders:

Van B. Baker.

Mrs. McWha and her daughter, Mrs. Eliza Baker, lived at Holliday Cove, W. Va. At about half-past three on a Monday afternoon, two female friends called upon hem. They rang the door-bell; it not being answered, one of the women went around to the back door and pushed it in, but it was immediately slammed in her face and bolted. The blinds were all down. The next day, not receiving any replies to repeated calls at the house, it was broken into and the two women vere found murdered. They had been stabbed, then washed and put to bed in their night clothes. Trunks were broken open and rifled. Baker was arrested for the crime.





Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Unsolved Axe Murder

From Lizzie Borden: Warps & Wefts:
Another Unsolved Axe Murder

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Thayer Brothers

The year 1825 was a momentous one for Buffalo, New York. The Erie Canal opened, connecting Lake Erie to the Hudson River, a celebration honoring the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution was held in Buffalo, and the city held its first and only public hanging. At least 20,000 witnesses gathered in Niagara Square to watch thee brothers—Nelson, Israel, and Isaac Thayer—hang from the same gallows.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Confession of Manuel P. Garcia

In January 2011, I posted a story on the 1821 murder of Peter Lagaordette by Manual Phillip Garcia from the Torch Light and Public Advertiser, Hagerstown, Maryland. At the time I doubted that I could find any additional information, but I have since found a picture and summary of a pamphlet on the murder printed and sold in 1821. Here is the summary from The Annals of Murder by Thomas M. McDade:
In an empty house in Portsmouth, Virginia, the police found the butchered body, the head, hands and feet partially burned in the fireplace. In an early use of laundry marks, the initials “P.L.” and “M.P.G” helped identify the people involved. Lagoardette had been courting a girl in Baltimore; Castillano was himself interested in her. The three men all were criminal characters.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Kerri Mahon of Scandalous Women


Murder by Gaslight is pleased to welcome guest blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon of Scandalous Women She will be sharing the story of Mary Ellen Pleasant, one of several dozen brazen ladies— famous and infamous—profiled in her fascinating new book Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women

Mary Ellen Pleasant and the ‘House of Mystery’


Mary Ellen Pleasant’s (1814-1904) is one of the most enigmatic women of the 19th century American West and that’s exactly the way she wanted it. During her long life, she was an entrepreneur, abolitionist, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in California, confidante of the rich and crazy, but was she also a murderer? What actually happened that rainy night in October 1892 at 1661 Octavia Street when Thomas Bell died? Did he fall, did he jump or was pushed down stair? A coroner’s inquest ruled that his death was accidental, and he was buried in a grave in a plot owned by Mary Ellen. At the time of Bell’s death, neither his widow, nor his children, nor the San Francisco police raised questions about foul play. So how did the myth begin that Mary Ellen Pleasant was somehow responsible for his death?