Saturday, May 11, 2024

Pantomime Witness.


4-year-old Rosa Lochner witnessed her mother’s murder, but Rosa had been deaf since birth, so no one believed she could provide any information. However, after she regained composure, she gave a detailed account in pantomime: mamma rocked the baby to sleep, then Papa woke her up, pointed a revolver at her head, and fired; mamma fell dead on the floor, papa took off her rings, then fled.

Read the full story here: A Murder in Pantomime.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Falls Field Tragedy.

On December 19, 1857, Nathan Newhafer slipped while crossing the Andrews Street Bridge in Rochester, New York. He fell into the Genesee River, was swept over High Falls, and disappeared. Newhafer was the president of Rochester’s Jewish Synagogue, and his congregation offered a reward for the recovery of his body. The following day, searchers found a man’s corpse on the shore of Falls Field. His skull had been fractured by blows to the head, his face had multiple wounds, and he was not Nathan Newhafer.

Falls Field, Rochester, NY

Saturday, April 27, 2024

"I Myself Have Done This Thing."


In 1883, Edward Rowell of Batavia, New York, suspected his wife of cheating and set a trap to catch her. He told her he would be gone for severl days on business but did not leave. That night he caught his wife in bed with their former neighbor, Johnson Lynch. Rowell burst into the room brandishing a revolver and fired wildly wounding his wife and killing Lynch. The murder caused quite a stir and had far reaching consequenes. Lynch’s uncle, Arthur Johnson was so distressed that he shot himself in the chest. He left a note saying “I myself have done this thing. Please ask no questions about it.”

Read the full story here: Caught in the Act.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Charles and Eva.

The marriage of Charles and Eva Herman had been on the rocks for several years. Their loud and violent fights were so common that neighbors took little notice of their shouting row on November 1, 1885. A few days later, they found Eva lying on the floor with her throat cut from ear to ear. After a night in jail, Charles confessed to the murder. I thought his wife was unfaithful, and he killed her out of jealousy.

Read the full story here: The Confession of a Wife Murderer.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Emma and Samuel.


Samuel Smith and his wife Emma appeared to the world as a happy and affectionate young couple. She was pretty and vivacious with a dazzling wardrobe, and he was energetic with a winning personality. But beneath the surface was a hidden turmoil that did not come to light until Emma was found dead in their apartment, her head blown apart by a shotgun blast, and Samuel nowhere to be found.
Read the full story here: A Shrewd Rascal.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

A Cowardly Assassination.

Henry Clay King and David H. Poston, two prominent Memphis attorneys, were bitter legal opponents in a scandalous civil case involving adultery and fraud. The animosity reached a peak when King shot Poston on Main Street in broad daylight. The case took on national significance when Senators, Congressmen, and even a President weighed in on King’s punishment.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Elizabeth and Arthur.

Elizabeth and Arthur Ragan.

As Arthur Ragan lay dying of a stomach ailment in Piqua, Ohio, on April 3, 1855, his wife, Elizabeth, took the physician aside and told him she believed her husband had poisoned himself. She said she thought the cream of tartar he had been taking for his stomach was actually arsenic. Mr. Ragan died that day, and a post-mortem examination proved his wife correct, he had died of arsenic poisoning. However, there were reasons to believe that Arthur Ragan had not committed suicide, and suspicion fell on Elizabeth as his murderer.

Read the full story here: Love and Arsenic.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

"Give Me Back My Children."

Margaret Howard learned too late that the man she married was a violent, two-timing gambler. After they separated, he kidnapped their children to be raised by another woman posing as his wife. Margaret snapped and took her revenge on the false Mrs. Howard.  

Read the full story here: Margaret Howard.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Bedford Murder.

Dr. John W. Hughes. 

Dr. John W. Hughes was a restless, intemperate man whose life never ran smoothly. When his home life turned sour, he found love with a woman half his age. Then, he lost her through an act of deception, and in a fit of drunken rage, Dr. Hughes killed his one true love.

Date:  August 9, 1865

Location:   Bedford, Ohio

Victim:  Tamzen Parsons

Cause of Death:  Gunshot

Accused:   Dr. John W. Hughes

Saturday, March 9, 2024

John and Maria.

Sudden death seemed to be John Hendrickson’s constant companion. When his six-week-old baby died suddenly, it was viewed as a tragedy. When his father-in-law died suddenly in a farm accident, it raised a few eyebrows. But when his healthy teenage wife, Maria, died suddenly with symptoms of poisoning, foul suspicions ran wild.

Read the full story here: Sudden Death, Foul Suspicions.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

His House His Castle.

Sometime after 11:00, the night of January 15, 1888, Mrs. Emma Belden was awakened by someone ringing the front doorbell. She went to the door and heard the person trying to get inside.

“Who’s there,” she called.

“Let me in,” a gruff voice responded.

“You can’t get in.”

The man outside started kicking the door, trying to break in.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Alice and Lillie.


Alice Hoyle last saw her sister, Lillie, the night of September 1, 1887, in the room they shared in Webster, Massachusetts. Lillie left to use the outhouse, and Alice fell asleep. Lillie never returned. The next morning, Alice went out, thinking Lillie had already left for work. That is the story Alice told the police— as the investigation progressed, she would change it several times.

Read the full story here: The Webster Mystery.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Katie and Albert.

A postmortem examination revealed that Katie Dugan was four months pregnant when her body was found beaten and slashed in an empty field in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1892. A two-year investigation led police to believe that Albert Stout, Katie’s former employer, was her killer and the father of her unborn child. But Stout was a prominent, well-connected businessman, and despite evidence that he and Katie had been together the night of the murder, the grand jury failed to indict him. The case remains unsolved.

Read the full story here: The Katie Dugan Mystery.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

East Side Story.

This week, we have a guest post from Howard and Nina Brown, frequent contributors to Murder by Gaslight, on matters pertaining to the 1891 murder of Carrie Brown. This article chronicles events leading to the release of Ameer Ben Ali, who was convicted of the murder but was released in 1902. 

Howard and Nina have written a book on the Carrie Brown murder, East Side Story: 1891 Murder Case of Carrie Brown, available here:

They also run Carrie Brown: Murder In The East River Hotel, a discussion site on the Carrie Brown case.

East Side Story.

It isn't often that the perpetrator in one case of murder becomes the catalyst for the revision of the narrative in another murder case.

This revision to a crucial aspect within the 123-year narrative in the 'Old Shakespeare' murder case ( the nickname of Carrie Brown, murdered in the East River Hotel on April 23, 1891) came unintentionally from James M. Dougherty when he wrote a letter to NY Governor Benjamin Odell on June 22nd, 1901. Dougherty was a convicted lunatic in Dannemora Prison in 1901.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

A Fool and His Folly.

Orange Terrell, of Terrell, Texas, had, for a number of years, been “paying his respects” to Sophia Wickson. In the spring of 1886, Sophia had another admirer, Miles Henderson, who was proving to be a successful rival to Tarrell. Around 9:30, the night of June 7, Tarrell went to the house of Austin Thomas, where he knew Sophia was stopping. Expecting trouble, he took his revolver with him.

When he got to the house, Tarrell found Henderson already there. Without a word, he opened fire on the couple. He hit Henderson in the chest then turned his attention to Sophia. He emptied his pistol, hitting her once on the leg. Then he fled.

While Tarrell was gone, Dr. J. A. Stovall was summoned to attend to the wounded. After reloading his revolver, Terrell returned to the house. He gave his pocketbook to Dr. Stovall and told him the money in it was to pay his room and board, as he did not expect to leave that house alive. He took off his shoes and lay down on a bed in the front room.

When City Marshal, Jim Keller, learned of the shooting and that Terrell was still in the house, he went with several other men to surround the place. Keller went in the back door, through the kitchen, into the front room. Seeing Tarrell lying on the bed, he ordered him to throw up his hands and surrender. Tarrell’s hands went up, but he was still holding the pistol. He fired at Keller, barely missing him. Keller then fired five or six times, riddling Terrell with bullets, killing him instantly.

Two days later, the coroner impaneled a jury. After hearing the evidence, they ruled that Marshal Keller was justified in his action. 

“Baffled Lover Multiplies Murder,” Akron Beacon Journal, June 9, 1886.
“A Desperate Lover,” Saint Paul Globe, June 10, 1886.
“A Jealous Lover's Act,” National Police Gazette, June 26, 1886.
“Love Leads to Murder,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, June 10, 1886.
“A Texas Love Tragedy,” Lancaster New Era, June 10, 1886.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Robert and Kate.

In 1876, Robert Southern was the most eligible bachelor in Pickens County, Georgia. Kate Hambrick and Narcissa Cowan were rivals for his affection. Kate was the winner; she and Robert married that autumn. But Kate’s victory was short-lived; Robert was still secretly seeing Narcissa. At a Christmas party that year, he danced with Narissa and paid her more attention than Kate thought proper. Kate Southern solved the problem by stabbing her rival in the chest with a penknife. 

Read the full story here: Mrs. Southern's Sad Case.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

A Suspicious Burglary.

On the night of January 2, 1890, a burglary occurred in the home of Dr. Arthur Kniffin in Trenton, New Jersey. While Dr. Kniffin was out of town, someone entered the house and chloroformed his wife Myra and her cousin Emma Purcell. Myra Kniffin died as a result, but Miss Purcell recovered and told of burglars charging through the door and subduing them both. Friends and family accepted this story, but Miss Purcell had a history of crying wolf, and rumors afloat in Trenton said that Dr. Kniffin’s relations with his wife’s cousin “were not what they should have been.” Had they conspired to murder Myra for the sake of their romance?

Read the full story here: Chloroformed to Death.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Willis-Hultz Tragedy.

W. C. Hultz left his law office in Sullivan, Indiana at around 8:30 on the morning of December 24, 1893. He did not notice a tramp, with long hair and whiskers, wearing a long, ragged overcoat, a slouch hat and rubber boots in the doorway across the street.  The tramp walked toward Hultz, and when he was about six feet away, he drew a double-barreled shotgun from his coat and fired a charge of buckshot into Hultz’s back. He ran into a livery stable, and the tramp fired the second barrel into his shoulder. Hultz  staggered and fell onto the floor. Luke Lucas, a stable employee, ran to his aid.


The tramp was in disguise. The hair and whiskers were false, but Hultz recognized him right away.


 “Luke, Lem Willis has shot me,” said Hultz. “Turn me over on my left side.”


Luke turned him as requested. Hultz tried to rise but fell back and died. 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Poor Pretty Maggie.

The body of Maggie Hourigan was found floating face down in a small pool of water outside of Greenwich, New York on October 20, 1889. Dr. S. Walter Scott performed a hasty autopsy and concluded that Maggie had committed suicide by drowning. None of her friends or employers believed that Maggie, who was generally happy and cheerful, had taken her own life. The district attorney ordered a second autopsy with a different team of doctors who found a wound a serious wound on the side of her head. When she entered the water, Maggie was either dead or unconscious. Rumors spread through Greenwich that Dr. Scott had deliberately hidden the information to hide his involvement in Maggie’s death. When rumors became newspaper accusations, Dr. Scott’s practice suffered, prompting him to sue the New York Sun for libel. Meanwhile, the true circumstances of Maggie Hourigan’s death remain a mystery.

Read the full story here: The Maggie Hourigan Mystery.