Saturday, April 27, 2013
A prominent California legislator was sitting with his wife and son on board the Oakland-San Francisco ferryboat El Capitain the evening of November 3, 1870. They did not notice the woman, dressed entirely in black, wearing a broad brimmed black hat with a black veil covering her face, as she approached them. From the folds of her dress the woman pulled a derringer and shot the man in the chest. The family recognized the woman in black then; it was Laura Fair and she was finally ending her tumultuous affair with Alexander P. Crittenden.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Life insurance has always provided incentive to murder. Depending on the state of their relationship, the beneficiary may come to view the insured as more valuable dead than alive. In the nineteenth century, life insurance fraud was much harder to detect than it is today. There is no telling how many times it succeeded, but here are some notable failures:
William Udderzook - 1873William Udderzook and Winfield Goss devised a plan to defraud an insurance company by passing off an unidentified corpse as Goss. Fearing the Goss would give them away, Udderzook made sure that Goss would never be seen alive.
Benjamin Hunter - 1878When Benjamin Hunter loaned $12,000 to John Armstrong, he required Armstrong to take out a life insurance policy in Hunter’s name to secure the loan. The amount of the policy was $26,000 and Hunter saw an opportunity to make a sizeable profit.
The Blue Eyed Six - 1878Six Pennsylvania men, down on their luck, thought they could make some easy money by insuring the life of Joseph Raber, an elderly recluse. They grew tired of waiting for Raber to die and decided to take matters into their own hands.
Sarah Jane Robinson- 1886Sarah Jane Robinson had a tendency to live beyond her means but she had a simple solution to her debt problems—she would insure the lives of her family members then poison them.
Harry Hayward - 1894Harry Hayward was a handsome rogue with a very persuasive personality. He persuaded Catherine Ging to take out an insurance policy in his name, then persuaded Claus Blixt to murder her.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Little Murders:From Defenders and Offenders:
"At an early hour on Sunday, Dec. 12, 1886, Robert Coleman was murdered by Thomas Riley, at Greensburg, Pa. Riley worked in the Crab Tree Mines where Coleman had been previously employed as a Deputy Sheriff, and against whom Riley had taken a great dislike. On their exit from a restaurant, where they had been together, apparently as friends, Riley struck Coleman on the head with some blunt instrument, killing him instantly. He was immediately arrested."
Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
The winter of 1877 Captain Luther Meservey went to sea leaving his wife Sarah alone in their home in the village of Tenant’s Harbor, Maine. When Sarah was found strangled in her own home, the people of this small but close-knit community were terrified at the thought of a killer in their midst. Nathan Hart, a neighbor of the Meservey’s was tried and convicted on evidence so circumstantial that many in town refused to accept the verdict. The controversy persisted for generations and to this day, the murder of Sarah Maservey is considered one of Maine’s great unsolved crimes.