Bucholz and the detectives

Another true adventure from the pen of Allan Pinkerton

image found here

(Reading between the lines, I think there may have been some shenanigans in the jail cell. See if you agree…..)

One sunny day in August 1878, there descended from the train at South Norwalk, an old German man, accompanied by a much younger one of the same nationality. The old gentleman was not prepossessing in appearance. He wore a wretched-looking coat, and upon his head a dingy, faded hat of foreign manufacture. His shoes showed frequent patches, and looked very much as though their owner had performed the duties of an amateur cobbler.

not this old man (found here)

The real estate agent shrugged his shoulders as the newcomer entered his office, the old man looked like a beggar. But instead of asking for charity, the visitor desired to make a purchase of land. The young man who accompanied him was discovered to be his servant, and the old gentlemen, in a few words, completed a bargain in which thousands of dollars were involved.

Roton postcard found here

The land in question was a farm of nearly thirty acres, situated upon Roton Hill. A few days after this, the old gentleman, whose name was John Henry Schulte, formally entered and took up his new abode. It was occupied at this time by the Waring family who had been tenants under the previous owner, and arrangements were made to continue their residence in the farm house.

The servant to the old gentleman was a fine looking fellow, with clean cut features and prominent cheek-bones. His blue eyes were large, his complexion clear and bright, but his mouth was stern and his teeth were somewhat decayed. It was a matter of surprise that a young man of his appearance should occupy so subservient a position under such a singular master. Such was William Bucholz, the servant of Henry Schulte.

image found here

The disposition and habits of the master were regarded as eccentric and were subject for comment and speculation among the gossips. Miserly and penurious, the supplies for his table were provided by himself and prepared by Mrs. Waring. In this regard the utmost parsimony was shown, consisting of the cheapest items he could find. All food was carefully locked up in his room, and doled out to the servant for cooking with a stinting exactness painfully amusing to witness.

small food found here

Schulte was in the habit of making solo journeys to New York; William would meet him upon his return and the two would then walk home. One day, after a visit to the metropolis, he brought with him a large iron box which he consigned to the safe keeping of the town bank, promoting more gossip.

still from the 1927 film Metropolis found here

William Bucholz did not possess the morose disposition of his master and he made acquaintances in the village. In response to questioning, he would relate wonderful stories about his master, of large sums of money which he daily carried about his person, and of  wealth still in Germany.

On the second day after Christmas, Henry Schulte told William he was going to spend the day in New York on business. That evening William met his master off the train and the two men proceeded upon their journey home.

image by Caspar David Friedrich found here

Sometime later the Warings heard a startled cry; the voice of a man in distress. Their door was thrown open and Bucholz  fell fainting upon the floor. Upon examination it was discovered his face was bleeding, and the flesh appeared lacerated as though by a sharp instrument. 

“What’s happened William?” cried Samuel Waring. “Oh, Mr. Schulte has been killed! We were walking through the woods, and just as I was about to climb over the stone wall, I heard him call out, ‘Bucholz!’ ‘Bucholz!’ It was dark, I could not see well, and as I turned around a man sprang out and hit me in the face. I jumped away and then I saw another one on the other side of me and ran for help. Mr. Schulte is lying dead out there in the woods. We must go find him!” 

Bucholz and Waring roused the neighbors and went in search of  Schulte. Their flickering lanterns fell upon the prostrate form of a man who was clearly dead. Those glassy eyes, with their look of horror; that pallid, rigid face, with blood drops upon the sunken cheeks, told them too plainly that the life of the old man had departed.

image found here

They at once went to the village and after informing the office of the coroner of the sad affair, they proceeded to the drugstore to have the wounds on Bucholz’s face dressed. These were found to be of a very slight character, and a few pieces of court-plaster dexterously applied were all that was required.

Victorian court plaster found here

The coroner took charge of the body, and the physician who accompanied him made an examination into the cause of  death. Upon turning the body over, two ugly gashes were found in the back of his head, one of them cutting completely through the hat which covered it and cutting off a piece of the skull, and the other penetrating several inches into the brain, forcing the fractured bones of the skull inward.

From the nature of the wounds the physician declared that they were produced by an axe. In the inner pocket of Schulte’s coat, evidently overlooked by the murderers, was a yellow envelope containing twenty thousand dollars in German mark bills, and about nine hundred and forty dollars in U.S. government notes. His watch had been wrenched from around his neck and carried off, while by his side lay an empty purse and some old letters.

German money found here

Meanwhile, Bucholz, returning home with his friend, had thrown himself upon the bed with Sammy Waring, and during his broken slumbers frequently uttered moaning exclamations of  fear. In the morning he arose feverish and unrefreshed. 

A rumor passed through the village, and was eagerly accepted as the solution of the seeming mystery. It appeared that several people on the night previous had observed two foreigners, who had reached the train depot at about ten o’clock. They seemed to be out of breath, as though they had been running a long distance, and in broken English, had inquired when the next train was to leave for New York. They were told there were no more trains running to New York that night. This information seemed to occasion them considerable annoyance; they walked up and down the platform, gesticulating excitedly.

suspicious types found here

Soon after this an eastern-bound train reached the depot, and these same individuals, instead of going to New York, climbed on board. They took seats quite apart from each other. The conductor recollected that they did not present tickets, but paid their fares in cash. He also remembered that they were odd and acted awkwardly. They both left the train at New Haven, and from thence all trace of them was lost.

Meanwhile the coroner made arrangements for an inquest. William Bucholz described meeting Mr. Schulte at the depot and their journey home. “I had not walked very far when I heard him call from behind me. Turning around I saw a man on my right about six paces away; at the same time I heard a noise on my left, and received a blow upon my face. I was frightened so I ran for help.”

image found here

The State’s Attorney took over, and his questioning of  various witnesses soon showed he had formed a theory, and the assumption of Bucholz’s guilty participation in the murder of his master was unfolded. 

Bucholz was returned to the Waring house upon the conclusion of the testimony for the day, in the charge of two officers of the law, who were instructed never to allow him out of their sight.

cartoon found here (click to enlarge)

Meantime action was required in regard to the effects of which Henry Schulte was possessed at the time of his death. It was discovered that his only living relatives consisted of a brother and nephew, who resided in Prussia; they too were apparently wealthy and extensive landowners.

Shortly after this the German Consul arrived to take charge of the remains, and to make arrangements towards having them sent to Europe. The iron box which had proved such an object of interest was opened at the bank, and was found to contain valuable securities and investments which represented nearly a quarter of a million of dollars.

image found here

It was at first supposed that the murderers had failed in their attempt to rob as well as to murder, or had been frightened off before they had accomplished their purpose. The finding of twenty thousand dollars upon his person seemed to be proof that no robbery had been committed, and friends of Bucholz pointed to this as proving his innocence. An examination of the accounts of the murdered man, however, disclosed that a sum of over fifty thousand dollars had disappeared, and must have been taken from him on the night of the murder.

Remember this; Bucholz, physically worn out, had retired with Sammy Waring that night and had not left the house at all. If he had committed this deed he would still have the money, but the house was thoroughly searched, and no trace of it was discovered. 

image found here

The evidence was considered by the jury who returned the following verdict: “That John Henry Schulte died from wounds inflicted with some unknown instrument, in the hands of some person or persons known to William Bucholz, and that said William Bucholz has a guilty knowledge of said crime.” Before nightfall the iron doors of the jail closed upon him, and he found himself a prisoner to be placed on trial for his life.

Leaving the young man in this distressing position, let us retrace our steps, and gather up some links in the chain of  testimony against him.

19th century surveyor’s chain found here

It will be remembered that he had been placed in the charge of two officers of the law who accompanied him wherever he went, watching his every move. Bucholz developed a talent for spending money which had never been noticed in him before. He became exceedingly extravagant, purchased clothing for which he had apparently no use, and seemed to have an abundance of funds with which to gratify his tastes. He displayed a disposition for dissipation, smoking inordinately, and indulging in carriage-rides, always in company with the officers, whose watchful eyes never left him and whose vigilance was unrelaxed.

 Meanwhile, the German Consul-General was an interested party in the recovery of the money which had disappeared. Also it was at this time that the services of my agency were called into requisition, and the process of the detection of the real criminal was begun.  

image found here

That this eccentric man should have moved to a land of strangers and lived the secluded life he did was a mystery which I resolved to become acquainted with. I considered this necessary to guide me in my dealings with any suspects who might be found.

To the inhabitants of his previous home in Hagen, the story of his past was well known. Many of the old men could remember when he was as gay a lad as any in the village, and had joined in their sports with an unrestrained disposition.

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It was at one of the May Day festivals that Henry had met the beautiful Emerence, daughter of the local brewer, and the course of their true love for a time flowed smoothly.

But in the village there lived a wild, reckless young man by the name of Nat Toner, who spent his time drinking at the tavern with other idle fellows who hailed with delight his stories of adventure.

image found here

Nat was a bold, handsome fellow, whose flashing black eyes and careless manner played havoc with the hearts of the young girls of Hagen, and many a comely maiden would have been made happy by a careless nod of greeting from this reckless vagabond.

Not so with Emerence Bauer. She shrank from the uncouth manners of handsome Nat; stories of his extravagances filled her with loathing. To Nat Toner the aversion manifested by Emerence only served to create in him an uncontrollable longing to possess her for his own.

One evening as Henry was passing the tavern, he found Nat and his companions in the midst of a wild and noisy revel. Henry would have rode on, but Nat, spying his rival, insisted upon his stopping and drinking some wine, which invitation Henry reluctantly accepted.

Nat filled his glass, and rising to his feet said: “Here’s health to pretty Emerence, and here’s to her loutish lover.” Saying which he threw the contents of his glass in the face of the astonished Henry who sprang to his feet and with one blow planted firmly in the face of his insulter, laid him prostrate upon the floor. 

more unusual glasses here

Nat struggled to his feet, and drawing a murderous-looking knife from his bosom, plunged at his assailant. Quick as a flash, the iron grip of Henry Schulte was upon his wrist, and with a wrench of his left hand the knife was wrested from him and thrown out of the window. 

A few days later, Emerence was walking towards a stream where she was to meet Henry. Turning her head, she saw a shadow so distinctly traced that she had no difficulty in recognizing it, the newcomer was none other than his enemy and hers, Nat Toner.

image found here

Emerence turned to flee from the fiend before her. But, alas, too late! A murderous weapon came down with a heavy crushing sound upon that fair, girlish head, and she fell lifeless at the feet of the madman who had slain her. He lifted up the body of the unfortunate girl and threw it from the bridge into the rippling water beneath. When Henry Schulte came walking along the bridge that led to Emerence, he saw in the bright reflection of the moon, the figure of his murdered love lying in shallow water.

image found here

No words were needed to tell Henry of the author of this crime. He knew the murderer, and resolved upon the course to be pursued. Immediately after the funeral rites had been performed, and the body of  fair Emerence  placed in the ground, Henry disappeared. 

Some weeks later a party of hunters discovered the lifeless body of Nat Toner, with his pistol by his side and a bullet hole through his head. No one knew whether, suffering the pangs of remorse, the miserable man had put an end to his own life, or whether the wound was planted there by the man whom he had so dreadfully wronged.

image found here

After this Henry’s character changed. He became suspicious of all, imagining his life was in danger, and there was a conspiracy to murder him for his money. Nothing occurred to justify these thoughts until the morning he was awakened  by a party of gunners passing his home. One of them (a nephew of Henry’s, the son of his elder brother), knowing his weakness in regard to being assassinated, and from a spirit of mischief, took aim and fired through the window of his uncle’s bedroom, then laughingly passed on.

The terrified old man was convinced his nephew had tried to take his life and immediately booked passage to America. Henry Schulte arrived in New York and together with one servant made his way to the Crescent Hotel. This servant, Frank Bruner, went to the bar and joined a group sitting around the table. His job was distasteful to him, and he was anxious to make inquiries in regard to a change of position from the locals drinking at the bar.

New York bar found here

While they were talking, a young man entered and joined in. William Bucholz was an inmate of the hotel, having arrived from Germany in July. Here he distinguished himself principally by leading a life of dissipation and extravagance. Now, having spent all his money,William was compelled to seek work. On meeting Frank Bruner, the servant of Henry Schulte, and learning of the old man’s eccentricities and wealth, he encouraged Frank to leave this distasteful employment, and offered himself instead as an applicant for the vacant position. 

So now I was in possession of the facts in the history and murder of Henry Schulte. Meanwhile back at Bridgeport things were happening…..

In the jail there was one person who held himself aloof from the rest, declining to make acquaintances or friendships, and this was a quiet man named Edward Sommers. He avoided his fellow prisoners, maintaining a reserve which induced respect.

NOT this Edward (Elgar found here)

But there appeared to be some almost unaccountable feeling of personal attraction between Bucholz and this newcomer, for they soon quietly, almost imperceptibly, drifted into a friendship for each other seemingly as profound as it was demonstrative. 

One day, as they were sitting together, Bucholz opened a German newspaper, glanced at its contents, then threw it on the floor, burying his face in his hands.

image found here

Sommers picked up the discarded paper and read the article Bucholz pointed out. It was in regard to a statement he made at the time of his arrest. In explaining the large a sum of money in his possession, he had declared his sister had sent it to him from Germany. This statement was discovered to be untrue, and was the basis of the article in question.

“This looks rather bad for you, William,” said Sommers, sorrowfully.

“It does look bad,” he replied, “but I didn’t say that I received any money from my sister. I never said anything of the kind.”

They ate their breakfast in silence. At visiting time, Samuel Waring was announced as desiring to see the prisoner, and together they went into his cell. He reported that a man working in the fields adjoining Schulte’s farm had discovered a watch lying upon the ground, which had previously been hidden by snow. This watch was identified as the murdered man’s.

antique watch keys found here

The watch was found not far from the road along which Bucholz  had traveled on his way to give the alarm. Another link had been forged in the chain of evidence that was being drawn around him. 

While these events were transpiring, I was following up the two suspicious individuals who had made their mysterious appearance on the night of the murder. It will be remembered that their actions attracted attention, and that, after inquiring for a train to New York, they had taken one going in the opposite direction.

more unusual train stations here

I ascertained that they were two respectable Germans who had come to Stamford to attend a frolic at the house of another friend who lived nearby. They had left the house under the impression that by hastening their steps they would be in time to catch the train home. They had consequently run to the station which accounted for their breathless condition. They had then inquired for a train from New York, and not to that city, and upon being informed that no further trains from that direction would come that night, they had indulged in an extended altercation. When the train did arrive, contrary to their expectations, their ill feelings had not subsided, and they sat sullen and apart on their journey home.

This destroyed the theory that foreign emissaries had been employed by the relatives of the deceased in order to secure his wealth; and so that glittering edifice of speculation fell to the ground. A visit was also paid to the hotel where Bucholz had first met Mr. Schulte. The barkeeper was talkative, and said when Bucholz entered the employ of Mr. Schulte he had left unpaid a bill for board and that his trunk had been detained in consequence. After the murder he had visited the hotel in company with the officers who had him in their charge, paid his bill and taken his trunk away. 

From this person it was also discovered that a mail package, evidently containing some money, had been received at the hotel, addressed to William Bucholz. It purported to come from Germany, but an examination of the seals disclosed that the package had been manufactured in the city, and had been designed to give credence to the story of Bucholz having received money from relatives in Germany. There were too many suspicious circumstances surrounding the package to successfully deceive anyone. This package was the subject of discussion in the German paper, whose comments had produced such a marked effect upon the prisoner when he read it.

image of returned post (1938) found here

Meanwhile Edward Sommers succeeded in having his bail reduced and was released from jail. He was then able to work more successfully in the interests of his new best friend when freed from the restraint of  prison. 

The following week he returned to the jail and was warmly welcomed by his incarcerated friend. Sommers had called upon the Warings who still resided at the Schulte farmhouse but told him of their intention to move.

Bucholz started suddenly, as though the information conveyed an unpleasant surprise.

“You must not let them move, Edward,” he exclaimed with fear in his voice. “That will never do.”

“I cannot prevent it,” replied Sommers. “They will do as they please. Besides, what has their moving got to do with us?”

“Everything, everything,” exclaimed Bucholz. “The money must be got. Oh, Edward, do not betray me, but one of the pocket-books is in the barn.”

Bucholz then drew a sketch, showing the hiding place of the money under the flooring of the first stall.

renovated barn found here

The reader is no doubt by this time fully aware of the character of Edward Sommers. He was a detective, and in my employ. After obtaining the information as to where William had secreted the money, Sommers and a trusted operative went to the barn and found at once the place where the pocketbook was hidden.

The German Consul was notified and given the package to open. It contained four thousand seven hundred and thirty-seven dollars in U. S. money. This was but a small portion of the stolen money, and Edward Sommers was directed to return to Bridgeport to cajole Bucholz for more information.

On his next visit Sommers related to his friend: “I heard that the Schulte estate has been sold, and that the new owner will tear it down. He bought it on speculation and expects to find Schulte’s money.”

“My dear Edward, you must get the rest of money—it is in the barn also. In one corner there is a bench, and under this bench there is a large stone. Dig beneath and there you will find it.”

Texas Prison Rodeo found here

Sommers did so and immediately located the missing wallet. The contents were again counted in the presence of the German Consul. Gold pieces were found to amount to one hundred marks. There was also a pocket-book enclosed in a wrapper and fastened with sealing-wax. It contained two hundred and four thousand marks, in one-thousand-mark bills—or nearly fifty thousand dollars. 

image found here

All this occurred in May, but the trial would not take place until September. It was necessary that the utmost secrecy should be maintained,  especially so far as William Bucholz was concerned.

The visits of Edward Sommers to the jail must be continued.  To Sommers this experience was a trying one. Bucholz was extravagant in his demands, and required the choicest delicacies that could be procured. In fact, he became so importunate and so ridiculous in his fancied wants, that Sommers was compelled to emphatically refuse to gratify his wishes.

image found here

The trial of William Bucholz for the murder of Henry Schulte began in September, and a ripple of excitement pervaded the city. Frank Bruner identified the watch as belonging to Henry Schulte. He testified to the conversations which took place between himself and Bucholz before he had left the service of Mr. Schulte, and also that the old gentleman had called upon him on the morning of that fatal day, telling him of his intention to dismiss Bucholz and requesting Frank to come back to him instead.

On the third day, after the examination of two unimportant witnesses, Mr. Olmstead arose and said: Call Ernest Stark.”

Remember Koo Stark? She’s not related to Ernest

The prisoner and his attorneys had never heard the name before, and no uneasiness was manifested upon their faces, but when Edward Sommers stepped on the witness stand, a change came over them, wonderful to behold.

Under examination, Ernest/Edward told his story. He detailed the various experiences of his prison life and of his intercourse with the prisoner. He related the admissions which Bucholz had made to him, and testified to the influence which he had gradually acquired over the mind of the accused man.

He graphically described their intimate conversations, and detailed at length the finding of the victim’s money, hidden in the places to which Bucholz had directed him. 

“Gentlemen of the jury, how say you? Is the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?”

Without hesitation the foreman replied: “Guilty of murder in the first degree.”

William Bucholz fell back in his seat, and bowing his head upon the railing, sobbed wildly.

The trial was over. Justice had triumphed, and the murderer would pay for his crime.

The mystery of the murder of Henry Schulte had been judiciously solved and once again Pinkerton’s Detective Agency had triumphed over an assassin.

image found here

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm  Comments (49)  
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Lemonade Ley

Thomas John Ley (1880 — 1947) was an Australian politician who was convicted of murder in England. It is highly likely that he was also involved in the deaths of a number of people in Australia.

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The Australian Minister for Justice became known as the Hanging Minister because of his enthusiasm for the death penalty. In fact, the evidence suggests that he was a serial killer.

Ley was a millionaire in his 60s. He had a mistress and owned properties across fashionable London. As a young man, he lied about his age, raising it so that he could marry a wealthy older woman named Lewie Vernon. When it came to social status, Ley was unstoppable.

Fashionable London 1920s found here

Not only did he lie about his age but he lied his way into the NSW Parliament. In 1917, he campaigned against the evils of alcohol and called himself ‘Lemonade Ley‘, as if he were the scourge of the publicans. And the voters fell for it. But once he got inside he sold them out. In fact, ‘Lemonade Ley’ was in the pay of a brewing company.

Lemonade Pie found here

By the mid-1920s, Ley was riding high, revelling in the privileges of a conservative politician. Appointed Minister for Justice, he earned hatred from both sides of politics with his brutal enthusiasm for capital punishment. State Labor leader Jack Lang wrote of Ley, “There were many times in the NSW Parliament when we believed he was not only mad, but bad.

Hanging coffins found here

By 1925, Ley had his ambitions trained on the prime ministership of Australia and targeted the Federal seat of Barton. Ley’s campaign was to have deadly consequences for the man who held the seat, Labor’s Fred McDonald. He tried to bribe McDonald so that McDonald would effectively run dead in the election.

Fred McDonald found here

A defeated McDonald pursued Ley with allegations of bribery. But the wealthy Ley retaliated by threatening to ruin him with a defamation suit. McDonald backed down, he apologised and even, it was claimed, signed a document exonerating Ley. Then McDonald changed his mind. He would charge Ley with bribery after all. This placed Ley in a very sticky situation. But on 15 April 1926, his problem – Fred McDonald – simply disappeared.

Fred McDonald’s body was never found. Another politician, Hyman Goldstein,  fell prey to T.J. Ley some months later. Ley had set up a company to rid Australia of prickly pear, the weed that threatened the nation’s farmers and graziers. Goldstein had invested heavily in a business scheme of Ley’s to manufacture poison but he didn’t realise just how poisonous the scheme – or scam – would become.

Read how Australia eradicated prickly pear here

The Prickly Pear company went bust. Ley had stolen the funds and spent the shareholders’ money on a holiday with his mistress. Shortly after, Hyman Goldstein left his Coogee home at twilight for a stroll up on the cliffs. But he never came home. He was found later at the bottom of Coogee cliffs, stone dead.

Coogee cliffs found here

Under pressure to disappear, Ley beat a hasty retreat to England. Stanley Bruce, the Prime Minister of Australia, assisted by writing letters of introduction for Ley to take with him. He left behind his long-suffering wife Lewie and took along his mistress Maggie Brook instead.

As the years passed, Ley grew fat and rich. But then, sexual jealousy brought him unstuck. Ley became so delusional that he accused Maggie of having an affair with John Mudie, a barman half her age. Mad with jealousy, he paid to have Mudie kidnapped and killed.

When Mudie’s body was discovered in a chalk pit, the media went into a frenzy, with eager journalists digging up every last detail of Ley’s public life back in Australia. It had the sex angle: he had wealth, he had a mistress, he had a wife, he’d been a politician and he was a murderer. Front-page news right through the trial.

Ley denied the charges to the end. At the last minute, his death sentence was commuted on the grounds that he was insane. A petition from Australia probably helped his cause. The ‘Hanging Minister’ escaped the gallows.

Roof of the Gallows by Laszlo Baranyai found here

just a tiny slither please

Ever since I read Stolen World by Jennie Erin Smith I’ve become fascinated by the people who are fascinated with snakes. There is even a religion devoted to the slithery creatures.

Snake (or serpent) handling in Alabama is practiced primarily by the members of the Church of God with Signs Following. The eccentricities and inherent danger of the church’s practices have made it an attractive subject for social scientists.

image found here

In addition to handling serpents, members of the sect also engage in glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and “laying on of hands” (a belief that illnesses and wounds can be healed with the mind) and drink the deadly poison strychnine. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of serpent handlers who live in Alabama—or nationwide for that matter—because the sect is not public or open in its practices.


image found here

One of the most recognized names in Alabama’s Church of God with Signs Following is Glenn Summerford of Scottsboro. Summerford had risen to a high level of church hierarchy as a preacher when his wife, Darlene, accused him of attempted murder in 1991. She was hospitalized with a series of snake bites and accused Summerford of forcing her hand into a box full of snakes. He was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in jail.

The highlight of the trial was when wife Darlene was on the stand. When asked if the congregation kept snakes, she replied “Yes, sir.” Then asked if they fed the snakes Darlene replied “Yes, sir.” Then when asked if they bred the snakes Darlene—without a pause—replied, “Oh no, sir…they do that all by themselves.” The court broke into hysterics. Darlene was a hit.

image found here

By the way, if you’re planning a visit to Israel, please stop off at Barak’s Snake Spa. Apparently snake massage has therapeutic value…

image found here

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 9:26 am  Comments (38)  
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this is your captain speaking…..

The story of the bogus “Captain of Kopenick” made nearly all of Germany rock with laughter.

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Between 1864 and 1891, Wilhelm Voigt was sentenced to prison for a total of 25 years for thefts and forgery. The longest sentence was a conviction for 15 years for theft. He was released on 12 February 1906.

Voigt then hoboed from place to place until he went to live with his sister in Rixdorf near Berlin but police expelled him as undesirable, based solely on the fact that he was a former prisoner. Officially he left for Hamburg, although he remained in Berlin as an unregistered resident.

Rixdorf

On 16 October 1906 Voigt was ready for his next caper. Previously he had purchased parts of used captain’s uniforms from different shops and tested their effect on soldiers.  Voigt took the uniform out of baggage storage, put it on and went to the local army barracks, hailed four grenadiers and a sergeant and told them to come with him. Indoctrinated to obey officers without question, they followed. He dismissed the commanding sergeant to report to his superiors and later commandeered 6 more soldiers from a shooting range. Then he took a train to Köpenick, east of Berlin, occupied the local city hall with his soldiers and told them to cover all exits. He told the local police to “care for law and order” and to “prevent calls to Berlin for one hour” at the local post office.

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He had the treasurer von Wiltberg and mayor Georg Langerhans arrested, supposedly for suspicions of crooked bookkeeping, and confiscated 4002 marks and 37 pfennigs – with a receipt, of course (he signed it with his former jail director’s name). Then he commandeered two carriages and told the grenadiers to take the arrested men to the Neue Wache in Berlin for interrogation. He told the remaining guards to stand in their places for half an hour and then left for the train station. He later changed into civilian clothes and disappeared.

pfennig

Voigt was arrested on 26 October and on 1st December sentenced to four years in prison for forgery, impersonating an officer and wrongful imprisonment. However, much of the public opinion was on his side and Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him in 1908. There are some claims that even the Kaiser had been amused by the incident, referring to him as an amiable scoundrel, and being pleased with the authority and feelings of reverence that his military obviously commanded in the general population.

Wilhelm

The English were also amused, seeing it as provided confirmation of their stereotypes about Germans. In an October 1906 issue, the editors of The Illustrated London News would note gleefully:

For years the Kaiser has been instilling into his people reverence for the omnipotence of militarism, of which the holiest symbol is the German uniform. Offenses against this fetish have incurred condign punishment. Officers who have not considered themselves saluted in due form have drawn their swords with impunity on offending privates.

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chewing an ear off

The Whyos were one of the infamous gangs of New York.

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The Whyos had several leaders, but longest reigning were Danny Lyons, his girlfriend (“Pretty” Kitty McGowan) and Danny Driscoll. The members were predominantly Irish, but unlike the Irish gangs of the past, victimized anyone – not just white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Driscoll and Lyons eventually decreed that in order to be a real Whyo, the person must have killed at least once. They were so powerful that most of the other gangs at the time had to ask their permission to operate.

Pretty Kitty Bento Box found here

A prominent member, “Dandy” John Dolan, is noted for inventing several unique gang weapons including a set of shoes in which pieces of an ax blade were embedded and a copper eye gouger (worn on the thumb), first used in a robbery in the summer of 1875. As he attempted to rob a local jewelry store, the owner James H. Noe tried to stop Dolan who then proceeded to use the eye gouger on Noe, taking the eyes with him.

David mourns the eye gouger found here

Aside from committing many crimes, the Whyos also offered specific criminal services for a price. The following list was found on Piker Ryan when he was arrested by the NYPD in 1884.

Punching $1

Both eyes blacked $3

Nose and jaw broke $7

Jacked out (knocked out with a Blackjack) $15

Ear chewed off $15

Leg or arm broke $19

Shot in the leg $20

Stab $21.50

“Doing the big job” (murder) $100 and up

Hedgehog with three broken legs found here

Over a century later, prices have risen accordingly. According to slate.com, they also vary quite widely.

Undercover investigator Gary Johnson has been hired by more than 60 Texans to off their enemies in the past 20 years. At the high end, a wealthy socialite who wanted her husband dead gave Johnson $200,000 in jewels as a down payment on the killing. At the low end, a teenager once offered him “seven Atari computer games, three dollar bills, and $2.30 in nickels and dimes” to take out a romantic rival.

$200,000 pendant found here

The FBI works undercover on an average of 70 to 90 murder-for-hire cases a year. According to bureau press releases, recent quoted fees have ranged from $25,000 to kill a spouse to $600 to kill a girlfriend. And a drug dealer in New Orleans tried to pay for a contract killing in crack. Richard Kuklinski, a man who claimed to have killed more than 100 people as a Mafia hit man, said in an HBO documentary that he received just $1,600 per victim.

Kuklinski as a family man

The Australian Institute of Criminology studied 163 attempted and actual contract killings between 1989 and 2002. The average rate received was $12,700. The lowest was $380, and the highest was $76,000. In Russia, where murders-for-hire are on the rise, contracts start at a couple of hundred dollars. An expert quoted in the Moscow Times says the most expensive Russian hit may have been the 1998 killing of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova, which may have gone for $150,000 because of the long chain of people allegedly involved.


Russian soldiers found here

a resort for disorderly women

In 1890s New York, the worst dive on the Bowery was McGurk’s Suicide Hall.

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***Located in the heart of the old Red Light District, McGurk’s saloon had the distinction of sporting one of the first electric signs in the city. The clientele typically consisted of sailors, pickpockets, waterfront thieves, gang members, morphine addicts, and prostitutes—or as the police reports frequently described them, “women of no occupation.” Entertainment was provided by singing waiters and a small band. Whiskey was the drink of choice, selling for five cents a glass. Liquor was often mixed with water and liquid camphor (also used as moth repellent and embalming fluid) to strengthen the drink—sometimes fatally. Waiters were armed with chloral hydrate (the ever-popular Mickey Finn) for doping unsuspecting guests as preparation for back alley robbery, or worse.


The headwaiter was Charles “Short-Change Charley” Steele, once arrested for burglary and attempted murder, but released when none of the witnesses could identify him. According to rumors another McGurk employee was Commodore Dutch, a freeloader and con artist later famous for his forty year stint chairing a “society” whose sole purpose was to collect funds for himself.

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On hand as “mayhem specialist” was a pock-marked ex-prizefighter with cauliflower ears known as Thomas “Eat ‘Em Up Jack” McManus who, according to a newspaper account of the time, wore “a flaming cerise tie and a derby at a tilted angle.”

image found at chateauthombeau

What distinguished McGurk’s Saloon from the other roughneck dives on skid row was that it soon became the suicide den of choice for Bowery prostitutes down on their luck. Figures are hazy, but there were reportedly from six to a dozen self-administered deaths in the year 1899 alone. Swallowing carbolic acid was the most popular method of offing oneself. Later known as Phenol, carbolic acid was typically used as a disinfectant and was easily available at pharmacies.

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Blonde Madge Davenport and Big Mame were two such prostitutes who chose the carbolic acid route, possibly mixing the acid into their booze to make it more palatable. Blonde Madge died of internal chemical burn. Big Mame was less successful. She spilled most of the acid on her face, disfiguring herself, which got her permanently barred from the saloon.

Mamie Van Doren NOT Big Mame

The suicides “got to be quite a fad,” an observer later recounted, and the saloon was quickly rechristened McGurk’s Suicide Hall as a shrewd marketing ploy to attract the morbidly curious. With this kind of reputation the police led countless raids on the saloon. Newspapers gave lurid accounts of sailors and gamblers, women “conducting themselves indecorously” and all manner of “indiscretions” happening in the upstairs rooms.

“Indiscretion” recipe found here

Tom McManus, by now having acquired a second moniker of “The Brute,” opened a music hall of his own called Eat ‘Em Up Jacks. In 1905 he got in a dispute over a woman with a notorious gangster named Chick Tricker who owned a joint of his own called The Fleabag. A pistol duel left Tricker with a bullet in his leg and one of his associates with six knife wounds. The next day, as McManus was leaving work someone crept out of an alley and cracked his skull with an iron bar wrapped in newspaper. His murderer was never arrested.

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During the Suicide Hall’s heyday a woman known as the “Pride of the Stevedores” and her husband Big Barney were regulars at the saloon. They would waltz down the middle of the saloon as everyone would push their tables against the wall to clear space. Big Barney and the woman later disappeared. She resurfaced many years later with a new husband named Billy the Gink, called so because his right eye had been knocked out. By then the woman was known as Deaf Lilly, and in 1910 Billy the Gink beat her to death in their apartment and fled.

read the story behind the one eyed man ad campaign here

The Suicide Hall was a natural for literary material. Soon after it closed a play appeared by Theodore Kremer called The Bowery After Dark, which was partially set there. The Hall also provides the setting for Mae West’s novel Diamond Lil, in which the second chapter is titled “Suicide Hall.”

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As for the building itself, from World War I until the 1950s it was known as the Liberty Hotel, a Skid Row flophouse with a sign above the door that read “When did you write to mother?”

In 2005, the building which housed McGurk’s Suicide Hall was bulldozed to make way for the Avalon Bowery Place apartment complex. Avalon Bay advertised their new development as “one of Manhattan’s finest locations in Soho”. Future residents should not be surprised to discover their crisp new apartments haunted by the ghosts of women of no occupation, rifling through the medicine cabinet in search of an antidote.

***by Rob Hill

More excellent artwork by Ellen Rixford here


the Citizen Kane of stag movies

Burlesque dancer Candy Barr was born Juanita Dale Slusher on July 6, 1935, in Edna, Texas.

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“At age 16, though she appeared much older, she appeared in the most famous and widely circulated of the early underground pornographic movies, Smart Alec. It was the Deep Throat of its day. Film critic, Phil Hall, calls it the Citizen Kane of stag films.

For her signature striptease, she would walk on stage wearing a full Annie Oakley buckskin get-up. By the time her five-minute routine was up, she would have stripped off everything but her panties, pasties, cowboy boots, white cowboy hat and the twin holsters slung low across her hips.

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Offstage, Candy enjoyed hanging out at the Carousel after hours, where owner Jack Ruby became a close friend and father figure. In 1953 she hooked up with Troy Phillips, a nightclub denizen who became her husband and manager. The marriage had fallen apart by the holiday season in 1955, but Phillips was not the sort to walk away without one last dustup.

Jack Ruby and friends

When he showed up at her door Candy refused to answer so he kicked it in and stumbled drunkenly around her apartment. When he got 6 feet away, she leveled the rifle barrel on her husband and pulled the trigger. She hit him in the lower belly near the groin, later claiming her aim was off. The charges were dropped two weeks later, when Phillips acknowledged that he’d been very drunk and ornery.

Candy briefly became the squeeze of Mickey Cohen, the L.A. mob kingpin, whom she met while headlining on Sunset Boulevard. (He was a sucker for strippers; Tempest Storm and Beverly Hills had been in his bed too). Following their breakup she married Hollywood hairdresser Jack Sahakian, the Vidal Sassoon of his day, in Las Vegas in 1959.

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In October 1957, Dallas police detectives knocked at Candy’s apartment door. They told her an informant had tipped them off that she had marijuana.

After a brief give-and-take with the cops, Candy dug down into her bosom and pulled out a pill bottle that contained less than an ounce of pot, the equivalent of the tobacco in 25 cigarettes. Her trial was a spectacle, with men elbowing their way into the courtroom to ogle the stripper and the jury sending her away for 15 years. Some time later, a Dallas police official stated that Candy had been convicted because of her occupation. He said the 11 men on the jury would have been mortified to go home to face their wives after acquitting her.

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On April 2, 1963 — after three years and three months — she walked out of prison carrying a Bible and holding a $5.70 one-way bus ticket back home to Edna. As a condition of her parole, she was barred from working as an exotic dancer.

Jack Ruby, her old nightclub pal, visited Candy after her release and gave her a getting-out gift of two dachshund puppies. The dogs were about six months old when Ruby’s name popped up on every newspaper front page in America. She said she knew nothing, but to this day some view Candy as a cog in the arcane machinery of the Kennedy conspiracy.

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In 1972, she published a slim volume of poetry, “A Gentle Mind…Confused,” some of which she had written in prison. She was lured out of retirement by a $5,000 payday when she posed nude for Oui magazine in 1976, at age 41.

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In 1999, she was named on Playboy’s “Most Desirable” list, and she made Texas Monthly’s list of “perfect Texans.” “Of all the small-town bad girls,” the magazine said, Candy Barr “was the baddest.” Copies of her book of poetry now sell for as much as $3,000.

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Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 8:11 am  Comments (45)  
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