Winfield Scott Goss was a chemical experimenter with a well-known fondness for intoxicating spirits. When his workshop, in a cottage outside of Baltimore, exploded in February 1872, no one doubted that the badly charred corpse found inside was his. No one, that is, but the four insurance companies who had sold policies on Goss’s life totaling $25,000. They had many questions, and Goss’s friend and brother-in-law William Udderzook had all the answers. But rather than quelling their doubts, Udderzook’s “plausible stories” only fuelled them—he seemed to know too much.
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