pinko solves another case

Allan Pinkerton published several accounts of the many real robberies and murders solved by Pinkerton Agencies. This is one of them.

Pinkerton and Lincoln found here

The circumstances of the case were, in brief, that George Gordon, the teller, had been brutally murdered in the bank, and over one hundred and thirty thousand dollars had been stolen. 

George was in the habit of remaining behind after office hours to write up his books. Occasionally customers would come to the bank after the regular hours, and George would accommodate them. 

His body was found lying near the vault door. A one hundred dollar bill of the Planter’s Bank of Georgia was found in his hand. It was clutched tightly, and he had fallen on his side so the murderer had not noticed it. The fireplace showed that clothing had recently been burned in it and several buttons were found in the ashes.

image found here

A piece of paper twisted up and charred at one end indicated that it had been used to light the fire in the grate. On unrolling it carefully, it proved to be a fragment of a note for $927.78; part of the date, and the amount of the note were left uncharred. The signature was that of Alexander P. Drysdale, the esteemed county clerk.

A fragment of paper, about three by six inches in size, stained a brownish red by Gordon’s blood, was also found beneath the body. Under the stain were visible the pen marks of the murdered man. A number of figures on one side were arranged like examples in addition. The numbers were $927.78, and $324.22. One of them was the amount of the half burned note of Drysdale; the other was the amount of his current bank balance.

learn how to make blood spatters here

Pinkerton immediately suspected Drysdale of committing the murder and set about proving it thus:

I sent for Timothy Webster, one of my most expert detectives, to whom I gave full charge of the case and instructed him in the plan I had arranged. Mrs. Kate Warne and a young man named Green were assigned to assist Webster, and all the necessary disguises and clothing were prepared at short notice.

Detective Kate Warne found here

Timothy Webster, as John Andrews, and Kate Warne, as Mrs Potter, then arrived in town several days apart, booking into a local hotel. “John Andrews” struck up a business relationship with Drysdale while “Mrs Potter” wangled an introduction to Drysdale’s wife. In the meantime, young Mr Green also came to town and found work with a local cabinet maker.

kitchen cabinets found here

Over a period of several days, “John Andrews” and Drysdale spent much time together, inspecting plantations and hunting.

“It was early dusk when they reached the banks of Rocky Creek, about a mile from Drysdale’s house. Having paused an instant, Andrews spurred his horse forward just as Drysdale uttered an exclamation of horror. As he came up, he saw that Drysdale had stopped and was holding his reins in a convulsive grasp; all color was gone from his face, and he was trembling violently.

Rocky Creek Bridge, Big Sur, found here

At a distance of about fifty yards the figure of a young man was moving down the slope. He walked slowly on, with a measured pace, turning his eyes neither to the right nor left. His course was parallel to the direction of the road, and only his profile could be seen. He wore a business suit of light gray clothes and his curly hair was tossed lightly by the evening breeze. As he moved further away, the back of his head was directly exposed, presenting a most ghastly sight. The thick brown locks were matted together in a mass of gore, and large drops of blood slowly trickled down upon his coat; the whole back of the skull seemed to be crushed in, while the deadly pallor of his face gave him the appearance of a corpse.

walking corpse makeup found here

Drysdale seemed to rally his faculties a moment and shouted in hoarse tones: “Say! you, sir! Who are you, and where are you going?” The figure continued its course without indicating that he had heard the hail. “What in the devil has got into you, Drysdale?” asked Andrews. “God help me,” muttered Drysdale, as the figure disappeared in the woods, “it must have been a ghost.”

ghost girl by Mark Ryden found here

The following week, Mrs. Potter set out for a horseback ride. She faked a fall near Drysdale’s house and was taken there to recuperate for a few days. During this time, large amounts of blood were seen on the stairs to the house and around the front door. Then Drysdale and Andrews went out riding again….

On reaching the spot where Drysdale had seen the ghost before, he kept close to Andrews’ side, and endeavored to appear unconcerned. Suddenly, he grasped Andrews by the arm and with a faint groan said:

“Look! look! for God’s sake, tell me, don’t you see it?” As he spoke, he pointed toward the same ghastly object which he had seen before. There passed the image of the murdered George Gordon. “I tell you, my dear fellow,” replied Andrews earnestly, “that you are laboring under a most unpleasant hallucination. There is absolutely no person, or any moving object in sight, except you and me.”

image found here

That evening Mrs Potter again managed to surreptitiously scatter blood up the front walk, in the hall, and even, by slipping into Drysdale’s room, leave crimson drops on his pillow.

Drysdale was now confined to his bed, and he would see no one except his wife and Andrews. He insisted that he was not sick, but only run down by overwork, and refused to have a doctor. Andrews’ influence over him was greater than that of any one else, and it was plain that the latter had completely secured his confidence. Pinkerton felt convinced that Drysdale would surely confess in a short time.

image found here

A few nights later Mrs. Potter heard footsteps and saw Drysdale pass her window on the veranda. He was dressed in slippers and night-dress, and his actions were so strange that she determined to follow him. He walked rapidly to the creek then he paused a few minutes, as if reflecting. This enabled Mrs. Potter to hide herself nearby so she could watch him more carefully. She saw him walk into the creek at a shallow spot, where he stopped and leaned over with his hands in the water, as if he were feeling for something. A few minutes later he walked out of the stream and crossed a footbridge leading toward his house.

image found here

Neither Mrs. Potter, nor Mr. Andrews could imagine what Drysdale’s object was in making his pilgrimage to the creek at that time of night. Pinkerton was equally puzzled and instructed Green to watch the house every night, dressed in his apparition suit.

Rolls Royce Apparition “concept car” found here

Green kept up his vigil for over a week, and he began to think there was no use in it. One night, however, as he lay behind a bush, he became aware of a white figure gliding noiselessly by him. He immediately followed and noted its every movement. In the same way as he had done at first, Drysdale now proceeded, and after walking up the stream a short distance, he reached down, felt for something at the bottom, and then waded out. As he slowly walked home, he passed within a few feet of Green, who made a considerable noise to attract his attention; but, Drysdale passed straight on, looking neither to the right nor left, and Green was unable to play ghost for the lack of an audience.

A similar extraordinary scene occurred a few nights later and the Pinkerton team realised that Drysdale was sleepwalking.

image found here

So great was the man’s anxiety and nervous dread of discovery, that he could not rest in quiet, and he was forced to visit the spot where his blood-stained treasure was concealed, even in his hours of repose. Pinkerton and his men investigated the spot for themselves.

“In a few minutes, we struck a piece of wood which gave back a hollow sound. This encouraged us and we were richly rewarded by unearthing a large cheese-box, whose weight gave ample proof of the value of its contents. We put the box on a barrow, and wheeled it to the bank, where we broke it open and discovered that it was full of gold coin in rouleaux.

image found here

Pinkerton sent instructions to Mrs. Potter to again make use of the blood about Drysdale’s house, and ordered Green to keep watch during the night. The next morning Andrews reported that Drysdale’s terror on discovering the blood had been greater than he had ever shown before, and that he was fast breaking down.

Pinkerton then obtained a warrant for Drysdale’s arrest:

“I have the unpleasant duty, Mr. Drysdale, of charging you with the murder of George Gordon; have you any denial to make?”

This was the signal to Green, and as I finished speaking, he passed from behind the desk, where he had been seated, across the spot where Gordon’s body had fallen. He was made up exactly like Gordon, as on previous occasions, and though he was in sight only a second, it was enough. Drysdale gave a shriek, and fell down, as the apparent ghost disappeared in the vault.

When he recovered, he admitted his guilt. He asked for a private word with John Andrews and begged him to break the news of his arrest to his wife. The  latter stepped to the door, but before he had reached us, we heard the report of a pistol shot. We made a rush for the little room, but were too late. There, quivering on the floor, with a bullet in his brain, lay the murderer of George Gordon. The somnambulist had walked on earth for the last time.”

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50 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Quite an elaborate plot to get a confession, but it sure seemed to work.

    • An ingenious plan

  2. I’m not entirely sure obtaining a confession by those methods would hold up in court nowadays, but it’s a brilliant story and some brilliant images to go with it- very nice work indeed. Those cabinets are great.

    • they have quite a retro look to them

  3. I love it – excellent work as usual Nursie!

    But I love the blood spatter tutorial. I have a week off work ahead of me and need a new hobby …

    • By the way, I love Hitchcock. That poster is excellent.

      • I’m a Hitchcock fan too! but you’d probably already guessed that

  4. It’s like a Hitchcock novel itself. Very atmospheric – one to tell my daughters I think, on a dark winter’s night. Thank you.

    • Don’t you be scaring them now….

  5. i have to agree with Kirk – that would lead to ‘entrapment’ charges here in the States…. but i like it. murder used to be so much more fun!

    • I think it’s a case of brilliant policing; the cops in SA should take a lesson from it ;p

  6. I love this story — like Gaslight, but less evil.

    I’m not sure whether the confession would hold up today. The fact that these were private detectives apparently not associated with the police might be relevant.

    • “Like Gaslight, but less Evil”…. that’s a good quote

  7. This is almost too odd to believe. o_o

    • Yes it is. But Pinkerton swears it’s true

  8. Riveting story! I have no problem with the tactics they used – and, they got their man!

    • Do you think it would still work in this day and age?

  9. They’d call it entrapment now…
    Actually, the Pinkerton crew probably drove him to suicide (madness & guilt) – a crime in itself?

  10. What a delightful story. Where on earth do you find these little gems?

    • click on the link at the top of the page and you can read the original story by Alan Pinkerton

  11. I wish I could do make-up like that. I could work for movies.

  12. Hmm … a bank, a large sum of money, and a character named Drysdale. Can Jed Clampett be very far off in the wings? ;)

  13. I’m definitely not game to click on that blood-spatters link

    • Oh that one is perfectly safe Bluebee. Unlike a lot of my links ;-)

  14. This was completely COMPLETELY fascinating!!! I know they pale in comparison but Special Victims Unit & those American cop house shows are my faves, solving crimes etc.

    Saw your comment on another blog & thought I’d see your style. This was just fantastic. LOVED the pictures & links – you had me absorbed for half an hour … and now I gotta get ready for work!

    Thanks for the entertainment!

    • Welcome to the gimcrack Ms Words

  15. Sometimes an over vivid imagination can lead to one’s downfall.

    I remember Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid being pursued by a Pinkerton’s man.

    • there was one in Deadwood too

  16. Another great tale Nursie. Sadly when I think of the Pinkerton Agency I think of a bunch of violent thugs and strikebreaking sons of bitches….

    • I don’t know too much about them. It sounds like they’re worth investigating further. I like that they employed the first woman detective.

      • Sadly they were heavily involved in putting down labour disputes, usually with a lot of violence against the strikers

  17. I love photos of Lincoln…
    you can really sense something of his extraordinary nature in them…

  18. Marvelous as always, makes me want to eat Deadwood pancakes.

    The King

  19. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!!!!

    • Thanks and the same to you. I tried leaving a comment on your blog but i think it’s gone to spam. Can you check?

  20. Nothing like a ghost story to grace the Yuletide :)

  21. Tehee … guilt is a master, and greed is king.

    I want one of these kitchen thingies!

  22. Oh and here’s wishing you and your boys a very happy Christmas

  23. Such an interesting way to get a confession! Love your stories :)

  24. Happy Christmas! And thank you for these stories.
    Sxxxxx

  25. Happy Christmas, Nurse, I look forward to meeting up in Newtown or Surry Hills (you in your stilettoes, me in my sensible Canberra shoes) in 2012

    • If you’re expecting stilettos you’ll be disappointed – I’m a big fan of comfortable flats!

  26. A very merry Christmas to you and your delightful son! We’re still on for this game of monopoly, aren’t we? ;)
    Hugs
    Jon

    • Yes indeedy :-)

  27. This would make an amazing CSI episode! What a great way to make someone confess…

    Merry Christmas to you, Nursemyra.

    • HMH, can you check your spam folder? I think my comment on your blog has ended up there :-(

  28. Merry Christmas Nurse Myra! I so admire your writing and research and your blog.

  29. Happy Christmas, Nursie! x

  30. Those semi-spherical cabinets are awesome, and would make a great addition to any room. Oh, and I know some ex-Mormons who would love the Joseph Smith hallucination image.

  31. Oh, and Merry Christmas, Nurse Myra.


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