the cone of confabulation

This excerpt is taken from a longer article written by Lawrence Weschler for Harper’s Magazine in 1994. You can read the whole piece here. Or you could visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver city, California and see these things for yourself.

image found here

“Donald R. Griffith, Rockefeller University’s eminent chiroptologist and author of Listening in the Dark, was reading the field reports of an obscure nineteenth century ethnographer named Bernard Maston. While working in 1872 among the Dozo of northern South America, Maston reported having heard several accounts of the deprong mori, or piercing devil, which he described as “a small demon which the local savages believe able to penetrate solid objects,” such as the walls of their thatch huts and, in one instance, even a child’s outstretched arm.

Deprong Mori found here

Griffith, as he later recounted, “smelled a bat.” He and a band of assistants undertook an arduous eight month expedition to the Tripsicum Plateau, where Griffith grew increasingly convinced that he was dealing not with just any bat but with a very special bat indeed, and specifically the tiny Myotis lucifugus, which though previously documented had never before been studied in detail.

bat found here

Furthermore, these particular bats had evolved highly elaborate nose leaves, or horns, which allowed them to focus their echowave transmissions in a narrow beam, which could account for the wide range of bizarre effects described by Maston’s informants.

needle felt bat found here

Griffith devised a brilliant snaring device consisting of five solid lead walls, each one eight inches thick, twenty feet high, and two hundred feet long — all of them arrayed in a radial pattern, like spokes of a giant wheel, along the forest floor. The team affixed seismic sensors all along the walls in an intricate gridlike pattern, and proceeded to wait.

radial pattern found here

Early on the morning of August 18, the sensors recorded a pock. The number three wall had received an impact twelve feet above the forest floor, 193 feet out from the center of the wheel. The team members carted an X-ray-viewing device out to the indicated spot, and sure enough, at a depth of 7 1/8 inches, they located the first Myotis lucifugus ever contained by man, “eternally frozen in a mass of solid lead.

x ray device found here

The story of Myotis lucifugus, the Dozo and the deprong mori, Bernard Maston and Donald R. Griffith can be found in a small, nondescript storefront operation located in Culver City in the middle of Los Angeles’s pseudo-urban sprawl: the Museum of Jurassic Technology.The door is likely to be opened by David Hildebrand Wilson himself, the museum’s founder and director.

David H Wilson found here

I suppose I should say something here about Wilson’s own presence, his own look, for it is of a piece with his museum. I have described him as diminutive, though a better word might be “simian.” His features are soft and yet precise, a broad forehead, short black hair graying at the sides, a close-cropped version of an Amish beard, sans mustache, fringing his face and filling into his cheeks. He wears circular glasses which accentuate the elfin effect. He’s been described as Ahab inhabiting the body of Puck (a pixie Ahab, a monomaniacal Puck), but the best description I ever heard came from his wife of twenty-five years, Diana, who one day characterized his looks for me as those of “a pubescent Neanderthal.”

Puck found here

After my museum visit I went to the library and looked up the ethnographer Bernard Maston: no record found. I typed in “Donald R. Griffith”: no record found. I tried that reference by title too — Listening in the Dark — and that time I hit pay dirt, except that the book had a different subtitle and its author was Donald R. Griffin, not Griffith. I went upstairs to look over the book’s index but found no references to Maston, the Dozo, or any deprong mori. I went back downstairs, tracked down Griffin’s whereabouts, and called him. I started out by explaining about the museum (he’d never heard of it) and its exhibit about Donald R. Griffith — “Oh no,” he interrupted. “My name is Griffin, with an n, not Griffith.” I know, I said, I know. I went on to ask him if he’d ever heard of a bat named Myotis lucifugus. “Of course.” he said, “It’s the most common species in North America. We used it on all the early research on echolocation.” Did its range extend to South America? Not as far as he knew, why? As I proceeded to tell him about the piercing devils and the thatch roofs, the lead walls and the X-ray emanations, he was laughing harder and harder. Finally, calming down, he said, “No, no, none of that is me, it’s all nonsense — on second thought you’d better leave the spelling of the name Griffith the way it is.” 

********************

He never ever breaks irony — that’s one of the incredible things about him.” says Marcia Tucker, the director of New York City’s New Museum, about David Wilson. It turns out there’s a growing cult among art and museum people who can’t seem to get enough of the MJT — I encountered it everywhere I turned: the L.A. County Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty. “When you’re in there with him,” Tucker went on, “everything initially just seems what it is. There’s this fine line, though, between knowing you’re experiencing something and sensing that something is wrong. There’s this slight slippage, which is the very essence of the place. And Wilson’s own presence there behind the desk, the literal-minded way in which he earnestly answers your questions — it all contributes seamlessly to that sense of slippage. Visiting the Jurassic is a bit like being in psychoanalysis. The place affords this marvelous field for projection and transference. It’s like a museum, a critique of museums, and a celebration of museums — all rolled into one.”

image found here

I SO want to go there…… don’t you?

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm  Comments (41)  
Tags: , , , ,

I dream of Genia

Queenwilly alerted me to this story about Eugenia Falleni via the Sydney Morning Herald from the archives at Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum 

Eugenia found here

The case of a transgender husband, Harry Crawford (Eugenia Falleni) convicted of murdering his wife had 1920s Sydney society in thrall, writes Tim Barlass.

By all accounts, Annie Birkett died a horrible death. Her charred body was found in open land near a flour mill in Chatswood, with cracks to her skull that could have formed through intense heat or by violence.

see larger image of Annie Birkett here 

Photographs of Mrs Birkett recently obtained by the Justice & Police Museum reveal her to be a refined and attractive woman, described later by one witness as ”very ladylike, a very quiet reserved woman never seen under the influence of liquor”.

But when she disappeared, Crawford told others that she had ‘‘cleared out with a plumber”, that she was a heavy drinker and that he had seen her a couple of times since then in Sydney.

It was not the victim that gave the case such notoriety in 1917, but her transgender husband, Harry Crawford, who was eventually convicted of her murder. 

Eugenia found here

On 19 February 1913 at the Methodist Parsonage in inner city Balmain, claiming to be a widower aged 38, Crawford went through a marriage ceremony with Annie Birkett, a widow of 35 with a 13-year-old son. Annie set up a confectionery shop in Balmain, evidently unaware that her husband was not a man, while Harry continued as a peripatetic manual worker.

Now Adriano Zumbo makes confectionery in Balmain

In 1917, after Annie had apparently threatened to report her husband to the authorities for his deception, the couple quarreled and Annie disappeared. Her body was discovered in October that year, partially burned and with cracks to the skull, in a forested picnic area near the Lane Cove River, but it remained unidentified for over two years. In the meantime, in September 1919, Harry Crawford underwent another marriage ceremony with Elizabeth King Allison, a spinster.

Spinster found here

Also in the intervening time, Annie’s son had alerted the police to his mother’s prolonged disappearance; the body of Annie was exhumed and identified, and Harry was arrested on 5 July 1920. At the time of his arrest, while living with Elizabeth in a house in Stanmore, he asked to be placed in the women’s cells and requested that his wife be not apprised that he was not a man. Among male clothing in a locked leather suitcase, police located an ‘article’, later exhibited in court, made of wood and rubber bound with cloth in the shape of a phallus or dildo.

image found here

At Falleni’s preliminary hearing and trial for murder at Darlinghurst courthouse in October 1920, the ‘Man-Woman case’ created a press sensation, with the accused appearing in the dock first in a man’s suit and then in women’s clothes. Falleni pleaded not guilty to the murder, but her alleged immorality in passing herself off as a man was made much of in the popular press, which portrayed her as a monster and a pervert.

Chief Justice Sir William Cullen in his summing up said: ”It would almost seem incredible that two people could live together for three years without Mrs Birkett discovering that an imposition had been practised …”

female johnny depp impersonator found here 

She was convicted and condemned to death, but her sentence was commuted to detainment at the Governor’s Pleasure. When released from Long Bay Prison eleven years later in February 1931 she became the proprietor of a boarding house in Paddington, Sydney. On 9 June 1938 she stepped off the pavement in front of a motorcar in nearby Oxford Street, and died of her injuries the following day.

Paddington Reservoir Oxford Street found here

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.

image found here

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)  
Tags: , , , ,

the daring acts of a smiling bandit

Roy G. Gardner (1884 – 1940) was once America’s most infamous prison escapee.

image found here

He was the most dangerous inmate in the history of Atlanta Prison and was dubbed by newsmen the “Smiling Bandit”, the “Mail Train Bandit”, and the “King of the Escape Artists”. He was said to be attractive and charming, standing just under six feet tall, with short, curly auburn hair and blue eyes.

red haired David Wenham found here

Gardner began his criminal profession as a gunrunner around the time of the Mexican Revolution. He smuggled and traded arms to the Venustiano Carranza forces until he was captured by soldiers from Huerta’s army and was sentenced to death by firing squad, but, on March 29, 1909, he broke out of the Mexico City jail along with three other American prisoners after attacking the guards.

Mexican revolutionaries found here

Eventually, Gardner ended up in San Francisco, where he robbed a jewelry store. He was arrested, and spent some time in San Quentin, but was paroled after saving a prison guard’s life during a violent riot. Gardner landed a job as an acetylene welder at the Mare Island Navy Yard, married, fathered a daughter, and began his own welding company. 

San Quentin prisoners found here

Gardner then gambled all of his money away on a business trip in Tijuana at the racetracks. On the night of April 16, 1920, Gardner robbed a U. S. Mail truck of about $80,000 in cash and securities. The job went smoothly, but the outlaw was arrested three days later burying his loot.  He was sentenced to 25 years at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary but vowed he would never serve the sentence. As he was transported on a train with Deputy U. S. Marshals Cavanaugh and Haig, Gardner peered out of the window and yelled, “Look at that deer!”. The lawmen looked, and Gardner grabbed Marshal Haig’s gun from his holster. He then disarmed Marshal Cavanaugh at gunpoint. The outlaw handcuffed the two humiliated lawmen together and stole $200. He jumped off the train, and made his way to Canada.

Muntjac deer found here

He slipped back into the United States the next year, and started robbing banks and mail trains across the country. Gardner tied up the mail clerk to Train No. 10 eastbound from Sacramento and robbed the express car of $187,000 on May 19, 1921. The next morning, Gardner told the mail clerk of Train No. 20 to throw up his hands or he would blow his head off. When the train reached the Overland Limited, the elusive bandit darted down the tracks with an armful of mail. 

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Gardner was recognized at the Porter House Hotel and a convoy of police arrived in Roseville . Three federal agents captured him while he was playing a game of cards in a pool hall and he was sentenced to another 25 years at McNeil Island for armed robbery.

Trying to reduce his sentence he told Southern Pacific Railroad detectives that he would lead them to the spot where he buried his loot. The officers found nothing, and Gardner announced, “I guess I have forgotten where I buried it”. He was heavily shackled, with the addition of an “Oregon Boot”, and was once again transported on a train to McNeil Island, this time by U. S. Marshals Mulhall and Rinkell, both fast shooting veterans. During the journey, Gardner asked to use the bathroom, in which an associate had earlier hidden a .32 caliber pistol. Gardner came out of the bathroom, pointed the gun at Mulhall’s protruding pouch, and ordered another prisoner to handcuff the two humiliated lawmen to the seat. He relieved the officers of their weapons and cash before hopping onto another moving train.

Oregon boot found here

He arrived in Centralia, Washington, where he plastered his face with bandages to hide his identity, leaving one eye slit. Gardner told the Oxford Hotel staff that he had been severely burned in an industrial accident near Tacoma. Officer Louis Sonney became suspicious of the bandaged man, and when he saw a firearm in Gardner’s hotel room, he accused him of being the “Smiling Bandit”. Gardner fought back, but was arrested and a doctor removed the bandages to show that he was indeed the notorious train robber. This time Gardner, who was sentenced to another 25 years, was heavily ironed, and finally brought to McNeil Island.

Bandaged Berlusconi found here

After six weeks at the penitentiary, Gardner had convinced two other prisoners, Lawardus Bogart and Everett Impyn, that he had “paid off” the guards in the towers. On Labor Day, 1921, at a prison baseball game, they ran 300 yards to the high barbed wire fence where Gardner cut a hole, and the three men made it to the pasture as bullets whirled about their heads. Gardner was wounded in his left leg, but hid behind a herd of cattle. About the same time, he saw Bogart fall, badly wounded. Impyn was shot dead; his dying words were, “Gardner told us those fellows in the towers couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn“.

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Guards scoured the beaches and confiscated every boat on the shoreline, but no trace of the dangerous outlaw could be found. Gardner lived in the prison barn, getting nutrition from cow’s milk, and then swam the choppy waters to Fox Island where he lived off fruit in the orchards. Roy Gardner was now the “Most Wanted” criminal, and committed several crimes in Arizona before he was captured by a mail clerk during a train robbery in Phoenix in 1921. He was sentenced to an additional 25 years, this time at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Headlines screamed, “Gangster Gardner brags, ‘Leavenworth will never hold me'”.

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In 1926, he tried to tunnel under the wall and saw through the bars in the shoe shop. The following year, he led a prison break and attempted an armed escape with two revolvers holding the Captain and two guards hostage, but the escape failed. In 1934 he was transferred to Alcatraz. While at Alcatraz, his wife divorced him. Gardner was paroled and released in 1938 after his appeal for clemency was approved.

On the evening of January 10, 1940, Garder wrote four notes at his hotel room in San Francisco, one of which was attached to the door warning: “Do not open door. Poison gas. Call police.” He sealed the door from the inside, then killed himself by dropping cyanide gas into a glass of acid and inhaling the poison fumes. 

“Please let me down as light as possible, boys,” Gardner wrote in a letter to newsmen. “I have played ball with you all the way, and now you should pitch me a slow one and let me hit it.”

Published in: on February 11, 2012 at 8:48 am  Comments (49)  
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a cavity of humour

Orson Squire Fowler (1809 – 1887) was the foremost proponent of phrenology in the United States when that pseudo-science was all the rage. He was the creator of the architectural design of octagon houses, a form which spread across the nation; and he was the author of one of the more notorious sex manuals in Victorian times.

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From 1838 to 1854 Fowler’s office in Clinton Hall in Manhattan attracted notable Americans who wished to have their character analyzed by the new science. Mark Twain, ever the skeptic, had his head read by Fowler a number of times.

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“When I entered his office, Fowler received me with indifference, fingered my head in an uninterested way, estimating my qualities in a bored and monotonous voice. He said I possessed amazing courage, an abnormal spirit of daring, a pluck, a stern will, a fearlessness without limit.

head knife block found here

I was simply astonished at this, and gratified, too; I had not suspected it before. But then he foraged over on the other side of my skull and found a bump there called “Caution.” This bump was so tall, so mountainous, that it reduced my “Courage” bump to a mere hillock by comparison. Although that “Courage” bump had been so prominent up to that time—according to his description of it—that it ought to have been a capable thing to hang my hat on—it amounted to nothing now in the presence of that Matterhorn which he called my “Caution.”

Matterhorn found here

He explained that if the Matterhorn had been left out of my scheme of character, I would have been one of the bravest men who ever lived. But that my “Cautioness” was so prodigiously superior to it that it abolished my courage and made me almost spectacularly timid.

“Timid Imp” found here

He continued his discoveries, with the result that I came out safe and sound at the end, with a hundred great and shining qualities—but which lost their value and amounted to nothing because each of the hundred was coupled up with an opposing defect which took all the effectiveness out of it.

However, he found a CAVITY in one place where a bump should have been in anybody else’s skull. That CAVITY, he said, was all alone, all by itself, occupying a solitude, and it had no opposing bump, however slight in elevation, to modify and ameliorate its perfect completeness and isolation.

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He startled me by saying that that CAVITY represented a total absence of a “Sense of Humor!”

He now became most interested. Some of his indifference disappeared.. He almost grew eloquent over what he had discovered. He said he often found bumps of HUMOR which were so small that they were hardly noticeable, but that in his long experience this was the first time he had ever come across a CAVITY where that bump out to be.

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I was hurt, humiliated, resentful, but I kept these feelings to myself. At bottom I believed his diagnosis was wrong, but I was not certain. In order to make sure, I thought I would wait until he should have forgotten my face and the peculiarities of my skull—and then come back again and see if he had really known what he had been talking about, or had only been guessing.

After three months I returned, but under my own name this time, heralding my arrival with a card bearing both my name and my nom de guerre. Once more he made a striking discovery—the CAVITY was gone, and in its place was a Mount Everest—figuratively speaking – 31,000 feet high, the loftiest BUMP OF HUMOR he had ever encountered in his life! Again, I carried away an elaborate chart. It contained several sharply defined details of my character, but it bore no resemblance to the earlier chart. These experiences have given me a prejudice against phrenology which has lasted until now.”

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Society was not surprised when Fowler also wrote on sex, for what else could one expect from a man who was opposed to tight corsets and who had been married three times?  The end to his popularity came with the release of a 1,052-page tome entitled Creative and Sexual Science, a volume intended to teach married couples how to love scientifically. Its topics included:

How to promote sexual vigor, the prime duty of every man and woman.

 How to judge a man or woman’s sexual condition by visible signs.

 How young husbands should treat their brides.

How to increase their love and avoid shocking them.

How to increase the joys of wedded life, and how to increase female passion.

With this publication poor Fowler’s reputation was shattered, and he died in obscurity in 1887.

Published in: on February 1, 2012 at 7:14 am  Comments (52)  
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Albert takes a bubble bath

In 1989, Albert Spaggiari, a photographer who confessed to being the mastermind of an elaborate 1976 bank robbery on the Riviera, was found dead outside his mother’s house.

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He was 57 years old and had reportedly suffered from lung cancer. Before his death, Mr. Spaggiari had evaded and taunted law enforcement officials for 12 years, since his escape through a window in a magistrate’s office. His picture periodically turned up in newspapers and magazines, above captions such as ”Hello from Albert.”

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The robbery took place in Nice in 1976. A team of 20 men, led by Mr. Spaggiari, burst into the vault of the Societe Generale bank from a 25-foot tunnel they had carved over the previous several weeks between the bank and a branch of the city sewer system. They worked from Friday to Sunday, emptying safe-deposit boxes and seizing most of the bank’s cash reserves. The group, which became known as the ”sewer gang,” escaped with $8 – $10 million in gold, cash, jewelry and gems. During their stay in the vault, they cooked meals, drank wine and used antique silver tureens as toilets.

image from the movie found here

When officials discovered the scene on Monday, July 19, they found a message from the gang, ”Without Guns, Without Violence, Without Hate,” scrawled on one wall of the vault. 

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After a lengthy investigation, detectives closed in on Spaggiari in Nice and pried his confession from him. He was jailed shortly thereafter but escaped on March 10, 1977, from a magistrate’s office. He complained of the heat, got up and opened a window, and leaped out of it, landing on a car nine feet below. He was whisked away on the back of a motorcycle. The driver, Gerard Rang, was later arrested, and Mr. Spaggiari was sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

Six other men were arrested with Mr. Spaggiari in the robbery, which inspired a film, ”The Sewers of Paradise.” Three of them were acquitted and the others were given prison sentences of five to seven years.

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In his book Mr. Spaggiari complained of the messy conditions under which he worked to bring off the Nice heist. He also mourned that he was unable to open 3,500 safe-deposit boxes because he lacked the proper equipment, and described using massive quantities of bubble bath to help scrub off the sewer slime.

scrubbing off in the bath found here

Published in: on January 16, 2012 at 7:39 am  Comments (47)  
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pinko wins again

Allan Pinkerton tells us of yet another case he solved

“Captain Sumner was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts with a moderate fortune, and he was a most estimable man. He was about fifty years of age, but well preserved.  I was very favorably impressed by his appearance and much pleased with his frank, manly simplicity.

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“Mr. Pinkerton, when I retired from the sea I thought my cares were over. My father trained me when I was quite a boy,  putting me through a thorough course of seamanship and navigation. My most intimate friend back then was Henry Thayer. Whenever we returned from a voyage, I would bring Henry out to the farm where he became warmly attached to my sister Annie.

Annie Oakley found here

The first voyage in my new ship was a long one, and on my return I found there had been many changes in my absence. Henry and Annie had been married for some time and seemed more devoted to each other than ever. 

When I next arrived in New York after another lengthy absence, I visited Annie. Much to my surprise, I found that she was teaching music in Brooklyn, at a very high salary. I had called in the evening, intending to ask her to accompany me for a walk, but she was surrounded by company, among whom were several gentlemen who were paying her great attention.

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It appeared that Annie had plunged into all the gayety and dissipation of New York fashionable life. I saw some things in her deportment, which were far from proper; she showed a carelessness of appearances not at all becoming a married woman. I felt compelled to ask about Henry.

On hearing Annie relate in an off-hand manner that she had separated from one of the best husbands that ever lived, I was thunderstruck. Henry had loved her passionately, and her conduct must have driven him away in despair. I determined to search for him in the hope of bringing them again together, and effecting a reconciliation.

Henry VIII as a child found here

On my next visit to New York, I hurried over to see Annie. She introduced me to a gentleman friend with whom she was about to go to the opera. He was a man of about forty-five years of age, with easy manners. His eyes were restless and snaky; I noticed that he never looked straight into my face when speaking to me.

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I felt great anxiety about Annie, and I was decided to resign my command immediately, to live on a farm with her, and remove her from the temptations of a gay city. Having settled my affairs, I hurried to fetch her but found she had moved to Greenville, where she was teaching music to Mr. Pattmore’s children.

I went to Greenville where Annie was glad to see me, but confessed that she was enceinte, and that Pattmore was the father of her unborn child.  Mr. Pattmore loved her, and she returned his affection; it was true that they were both married, but she preferred to obey the laws of nature to those of society. I fear she had forgotten her husband Henry, who was liable to return at any moment. After much deliberation she decided to undergo an abortion, return to Springfield with me and never see Pattmore again. She seemed so deeply and truly penitent that I was won over to her wishes, and agreed to stay with her until the operation was performed.

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There was a physician in Chicago who was a noted operator in such cases and he brought Annie through in safety. She was recovering fast, when one day, on entering her room, I found Pattmore there. I besought Annie never again to admit him to her presence. She would make no promises to me and fell back in a swoon.

Pattmore had told her that he was in great hopes of receiving the democratic nomination to Congress. He also said that his wife was in failing health and growing weaker every day. I could see by Annie’s manner that she hoped to be Pattmore’s partner in enjoying the gay life of the National Capital.

National Capital Brewery found here

A day or two after, she received a letter from him saying that his wife was seriously ill, and the physicians considered her life in danger. Our conversation then turned to the subject of wills, and I told her that I had made her my sole legatee, and that she would be in comfortable circumstances when I died. She was very much pleased at this but said she hoped it might be a long time before she should become heiress to my property.

Skipping gaily into the next room she brought out a bottle of ale to reward me for being good. She poured us both a glass and we drank to each other’s health. In about half an hour I became very sick; I vomited and retched terribly, while my bowels seemed to be on fire. I casually glanced at my lucky ring, and was surprised to see that the stone had turned to a creamy white—a sure sign that my life was in danger.

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“Mr. Pinkerton,” he said “I have positive knowledge that Annie has attempted to poison me three times. She put poison in that ale; she afterwards gave me some in a cup of coffee; and, the third time, it was administered so secretly, that I do not know when I took it. The first time, I recovered because the dose was too large, and I vomited up the poison so soon that it had not time to act. The second time, I took only a sip of the coffee, and found that it tasted bitter, so I threw it away, though the little I had taken distressed me exceedingly. The third time, I nearly died, and it was only by the prompt attendance of a physician that I was saved.”

When I recovered, I accused Annie of trying to poison me; she denied it vehemently at first, but I said: “The ring tells me that I have an enemy nearby, and you must be that enemy.” I spoke as if positive of her guilt, and, as she is a firm believer in the ring, she burst into tears and confessed having given me the poison three times.

three poisonous frogs found here

She was so wholly contrite, that I thought she would never undertake such a terrible crime again, and I freely forgave her. Pattmore had encouraged her to put me out of the way. He had told her that he would marry her when his wife was dead; that I was bitterly opposed to him, and would never consent to their marriage; and therefore it would be well for her to poison me before Mrs. Pattmore died.

“Mr. Pinkerton you are the only person who can help me; and so I have come to you to save Mrs. Pattmore and my sister.” I told the captain I needed time for reflection and asked him to leave me alone while I formulated a plan. 

I reflected that his sister was very superstitious, as shown by her belief in the Captain’s ring; it occurred to me that I might take advantage of that trait to draw her secrets out. I should entrust the case to one of my female detectives; she would be told all of Mrs. Thayer’s history; she would be required to learn enough of astrology, clairvoyance and mesmerism to pass for one of the genuine tribe.

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Just as I had concluded my deliberations, the Captain returned, perspiration standing in great beads on his forehead. “Mr. Pinkerton, we are too late! Annie has received a telegram from Mr. Pattmore, saying that his wife is dead.”

“If that is the fact, we must undermine his plot with a deeper one. I will accept a retainer from you, Captain, and we will proceed to work up the case.” I then told the Captain that he ought to have a quarrel with Annie, at the end of which he should burn his will in her presence, which would prevent her from again attempting his life as she would have nothing to gain by his death.

The Captain accepted this. All he desired was to save Annie from Pattmore, and from the ruin which would inevitably result from their further intercourse. He then went home to have his quarrel with his sister.

quarrelling brother and sister found here

I sent a detective named Miller to obtain board at the Pattmore House and to become intimate with the proprietor. He was to say that he wished to start in the lumber business in Greenville, if the prospects were good. The same day I sent for Miss Seaton, a female detective, and ordered her to take board in the same house with Captain Sumner and Mrs. Annie Thayer. Miss Seaton was very sharp, and nothing could escape her piercing black eyeBy pretending to be in poor health, she could obtain Mrs. Thayer’s sympathy, and their progress toward intimacy would be accelerated.  

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That evening Mrs. Thayer left the house shortly after the Captain. Miss Seaton followed her to the post office, where Mrs. Thayer deposited a letter, and received another at the ladies’ window. She tore it open, read it hastily, and crumpled it in her hand. I was anxious to know to whom she had written, and also who had written to her and immediately wrote to Miller to watch Pattmore’s mail to see whether there were any letters from Chicago.

Miller reported that Pattmore had received four such letters. I started for Greenville, to see the coroner about a possible exhumation of Mrs Pattmore’s body.  I also telegraphed for two detectives, Mr. Green and Mr. Knox, to meet me at the Clarendon House in Greenville.

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I instructed them to go into the office of the hotel and begin a conversation about Mrs. Pattmore’s death and to say it was due to poison. My men were soon surrounded by an excited crowd, all of whom were anxious to know the grounds upon which their suspicions were based. They replied in vague terms and insinuations, as if they knew a great deal more than they would tell. The news that Mr. Pattmore was suspected of having poisoned his wife was soon buzzed all round town.

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Sheriff Tomlinson was appealed to by the citizens to require the coroner to investigate the matter. An order was written to have Mrs. Pattmore’s body disinterred and a call for an inquest the following day. The coroner then told Pattmore he was investigating rumors that were circulating at hotels and on the street. Pattmore became very much excited when he heard this, and went immediately to his hotel office.

Mr Knox, playing the part of a confused guest, stumbled into Pattmore’s office where he found him writing a letter. Apologising for his mistaken intrusion he withdrew and reported to me what he saw. 

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“Mr Green,” I said, “go to your hotel, pay your bill, and proceed to the Pattmore House. When you register your name, you must hail the clerk as an old acquaintance. This will be an easy matter, as hotel clerks are known by hundreds of people. Miller, you must be in the office at the same time, and you must both remain there until Pattmore puts his letter in the mailbox. Then, Green must ask the clerk out for a drink, and while he is gone, Miller must get possession of the letter. When you have secured it, meet me at the Globe Hotel.”

mailbox found here

My men followed these instructions perfectly and Miller arrived at the Globe. He gave me the letter; I carefully opened it by a simple process, which did not leave any evidence of tampering. The letter began: “My own dear Annie,” and went on to caution Mrs. Thayer that she must not be alarmed at what he was about to tell her. Some of his enemies had started a report that he had poisoned his late wife. He begged her to excuse the haste and brevity of the note, as he could only dash off a few lines of reassurance. The letter was signed: “Your loving and devoted husband, Alonzo Pattmore.”

I resealed the letter and gave it back to Mr. Miller, with instructions to return to the hotel and keep a general watch on all that went on. As Miller went out Knox came in to report that Pattmore had been driven off in a hack toward the southern part of town. On the hack’s return, he had questioned the driver about Pattmore’s destination.

zebra driven hackney cab found here

He said he supposed that Mr. Pattmore had gone out to pay the grave-digger, since his visit had been made to that individual at the graveyard gate. Knox, Green and I then drove to the graveyard where we came upon three men. Their smoky lantern threw a ghastly light upon their work, it was evident that these grave robbers were professionals, for they had already succeeded in getting the coffin out of the grave.

We approached as quietly as possible then made a general rush forward. The ghouls were too quick however, running away at break-neck speed. After keeping watch for several hours, we returned to the city, convinced that the body-snatchers would not make another attempt to rob the grave now that it was daylight.

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The following day Dr. Forsythe testified he had attended the late Mrs. Pattmore in her illness, and dysentery was the cause of her death. As no other witnesses were called, the jury returned a verdict that Mrs. Pattmore’s death had resulted from natural causes. Her body was returned to the cemetery where I bribed the grave diggers to open the coffin long enough for a different doctor to remove the intestines and place them in a jar of alcohol to await analysis

braised intestines found here

Having completed all arrangements we returned to Chicago where I asked Miss Seaton to ask if she had been able to examine any of Mrs. Thayer’s drawers or trunks. She had succeeded in getting into her drawers, and there found a quantity of Alonzo Pattmore’s letters. 

At this moment, one of my clerks entered and said that Captain Sumner wished to see me. I requested Miss Seaton to step into the next room where, by leaving the door ajar, the conversation between the Captain and myself could be easily heard. We had a friendly chat about his family. I drew out the particulars of Annie’s history and obtained a full account of her, necessary for the next part of my plan.

I then engaged my chief female detective, Kate Warne, to play the role of a fortune teller. The tricks of the trade are easily learned and I gave her a book explaining all the secrets of the profession. It was called ‘The Mysteries of Astrology and the Wonders of Magic by Dr. Roback.’ 

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Next morning I received a telegram from Miller stating that Pattmore had left Greenville for Chicago. I sent word to Miss Seaton to call upon Mrs. Thayer. When Mrs. Thayer opened the door, Miss Seaton saw that she had been crying, and that she was evidently much disturbed. She asked to be excused, for she had company from the East.

As Mrs. Thayer did not come down to dinner, Miss Seaton again visited, and found her about to go out with Pattmore. On their return they went to Mrs. Thayer’s sitting room. At four o’clock, Miss Seaton found the door was locked and she was therefore obliged to withdraw to her own room to watch. It was six o’clock before Pattmore came out, having been nearly three hours in Mrs. Thayer’s room with the door locked.

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Mr. Knox shadowed Pattmore and saw him take the nine o’clock train for Greenville. I immediately notified Mr. Miller by telegraph, directing him to renew his intimacy with Pattmore, and to remain there until further orders. Mr. Miller had not been idle during the time that Pattmore was away and had managed to locate the nurse attending Mrs. Pattmore in her last illness. 

He learned that when she first became sick, Mr. Pattmore showed a tender solicitude for her health. He insisted upon preparing her medicine and giving it to her himself. Mrs. Pattmore did not seem to appreciate his watchful care, she told the nurse that she did not like to take her medicine from her husband; she also asked very particularly whether the medicine was that which the doctor prescribed.

The nurse had not liked the effects of the medicine at all. It came in small yellow papers, and when Mrs. Pattmore took a dose she was taken with violent vomiting and the pain would be so severe as to cause her to scream terribly. Then Mr. Pattmore would give her a dose of another kind of medicine, which would cause her to fall into a deep sleep.

Gaddafi’s nurse found here

In the meantime, Mrs. Warne reported that her Temple of Magic was in complete order and that she was ready to see me. At the appointed hour I called at the rooms, where I was received by a young negro of the blackest typeOn the walls hung several charts and mystic symbols, while the floor was painted with signs of the zodiac. A pair of skeletons stood facing each other and their ghastly appearance added to the unnatural effect.

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While I was examining them, Mrs. Warne slipped into the room and swept toward me. I should hardly have known her, so great was her disguise. “Now, Mrs. Warne, nothing remains to be done but to advertise you thoroughly,” I said, after I had inspected her preparations.

An advertisement for “Madam Lucille” was inserted in the daily newspapers and a number of  handbills were printed for street distribution. At that time fortune-telling was not common, and those engaged in it rarely had the means to advertise themselves extensively; hence Lucille’s half column in the newspapers attracted an unusual amount of attention.

image of Lucille Ball found here

The next morning Miss Seaton saw Mrs. Thayer eagerly reading Lucille’s advertisement. Miss Seaton asked whether she would like to go to Madam Lucille’s on their morning walk. “I have a desire to test her powers” replied Mrs Thayer. They therefore went to the published address and rang the bell.

Mrs. Thayer entered the room but what with the superstitious terror inspired by the strange appearance of the room, she was hardly able to walk to the visitor’s chair. She slowly removed her veil and sat motionless, regarding the fortune-teller as a frightened bird watches a snake. 

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Lucille examined the lines of her hand and commenced speaking: “Your parents are dead, and you have a brother who was a sailor. Your father left you moderately wealthy but you desire more, and you are not too scrupulous as to how you get it. Why, what means this?” she exclaimed, starting back and fixing a piercing glance on the cowering woman before her. “You are in danger! Yes; there is danger all about you. There is a man who claims to love you; and there is a woman who comes between you. Ah! what is she doing!” she cried starting back with a look of horror.

Mrs. Thayer was greatly agitated at this first interview with Lucille and left immediately. In the evening she wrote a long letter, which she asked Miss Seaton to post, being too weak to go out herself. Of course, Miss Seaton immediately brought it to me. It began, “My dear husband,” and went on to give an account of all that Lucille had said. She said she had been much alarmed by the references to the woman who came between them, for the inference was that Lucille meant Mrs. Pattmore. However, she was going to have her full fortune told the following day, and would write all about it in her next letter.

fortune teller found here

Meanwhile I asked my New York correspondent to make a thorough search for Henry Thayer, as I wished to learn definitely whether he was alive or dead. We found that Henry was in command of an English whaler in the South Sea. At the latest advice, he was nearly ready to sail for England,  needing only a few more whales to complete his cargo

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Shortly before ten o’clock the next morning, I took my place behind the curtain. In a few minutes Mrs. Thayer arrived and was admitted to Lucille’s presence. “You live with a relative some years older than yourself. He wears a peculiar ring obtained in the East Indies. He often consults this ring, and it informs him whether he is in danger or the reverse. As for the woman whom I mentioned yesterday; I cannot tell whether she is living or dead. The man you love has been with her; he gave her something in a spoon which she was forced to take. Ah! I see! it was a medicine, a white powder—but now it all fades into obscurity. 

“And here is yet another man” she said; “he, too, is a sailor; he is handsome; he is brave; he is an officer commanding a ship but he is now far away. This other man has come between you.” Then, pausing a moment, she announced: “Madam, you have deceived me! This captain is your real husband!”

Captain Beefheart found here

“That other man is not your husband, and you cannot be happy with him. Something terrible is about to happen to him and you are in danger; there is a strange fatality attending your fate where it comes in contact with that man.

That evening Mrs. Thayer was again not able to go out, and asked Miss Seaton to put a letter in the post for her. It was an account of the second visit to Lucille, and betrayed great fear of discovery. She begged Pattmore to come to Chicago and have his fortune told; to learn the extent of Lucille’s powers and decide what course to pursue.

Next morning Mrs. Thayer proceeded straight to Lucille’s rooms. “This man, whom you so wrongly love, does not return your affection; he loves you only for selfish, sensual purposes; he will fondle you as a plaything and then cast you off for a younger rival, as he has already put away his wife. When he wearies of you, have you any doubt that he will murder you as he has murdered her?”

young Lucille Ball found here

“I see an inquest; a sham investigation where he was cleared by a jury; but other eyes have been regarding the proceedings; keen detectives have been at work, and they now step in and take quiet possession of the corpse; the stomach is removed for analysis, and a chemist of great reputation takes charge of it; poison has been found; proof of your lover’s guilt has been obtained, and he will suffer the penalty of his crime. Only if you tell the truth will you be saved.”

“If you return to your brother and confess all, he will forgive you. If you do as your brother wishes, you will regain your light heart and sweet disposition; your real husband will come back to you, and your future will be one of happiness.” 

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“There is another man near you, whose presence you do not suspect; but he is watching you all the time. He is only of medium height, but he is very well built and powerful; he has a ruddy complexion, brown hair, and gray eyes; with full whiskers all around his face. He is a very determined man, and he never gives up until he has accomplished his object. He can save you from harm; but you must tell him the truth, for he can instantly detect falsehoods and it is dangerous to you try to deceive him.

Seeing that the fortune-teller had dismissed her, Mrs. Thayer drew down her veil and left the room. I walked at a distance behind until she was across the bridge; where I overtook her and said: “Mrs. Thayer, I believe?” Addressed thus by a stranger, whom she at once recognized as the man about whom Lucille had given her a forewarning, she was struck almost speechless with fear.

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I helped Mrs. Thayer into a carriage and told the driver to proceed to my office. She spoke of her early married life, when Henry made several long voyages. While he was away she became acquainted with Pattmore and his wife. Afterward Pattmore frequently came to Brooklyn alone, and he always spent time in her society. She did not realize the danger of his intercourse at first; but, gradually, he began to make love to her and finally, he accomplished her ruin.

dangerous intercourse found here

When she discovered that she was enceinte she was much alarmed, and decided to return to her brother after an abortion had been performed, but Pattmore had a strong control over her still. As soon as she was able to go out Pattmore wrote to her to get a certain prescription from a druggist. She did so, and sent the powders to him. Shortly afterwards he told her that he had arranged to poison his wife. She was much shocked at first, but he said that Mrs. Pattmore could only live about a year anyhow, and that she would suffer a great deal during her rapid decline; he argued that there could be no harm in hastening her death to save her from many weeks of pain.

Then Pattmore told her to poison her brother in order that she might inherit his property. Accordingly she made three attempts but was not successful. After Pattmore returned to Greenville, his wife died. She knew then that he had carried out his plan.

I told her I had received information that Henry was returning from the South Seas. “He may be willing to forgive and forget if you show yourself ready to return his affection. However, we must circumvent Pattmore, and you must lend your assistance. If you attempt to deceive me I shall be obliged to put you in prison.”

read about prison beauty contests here

My lawyer prepared an affidavit for Mrs. Thayer to sign. That evening I took the train to Greenville and read Dr. Stuart’s analysis. He had found enough poison in Mrs. Pattmore’s bowels to make it certain that she had died from that cause, and not from natural disease. Pattmore was charged with murder and I filed Mrs. Thayer’s affidavit in the court. Everything was done quietly, so that he was arrested before anyone except the sheriff and the judge knew that a warrant had been issued. 

The testimony of Mrs. Thayer, the nurse and the grave-diggers made a strong case; but when I clinched the matter with the testimony of Dr. Stuart, there was no longer any doubt as to Pattmore’s guilt. He was indicted for murder in the first degree.

The trial took place soon afterward and the defense team put up a strong fight to clear their client. They were successful to the extent of saving him from execution, and he was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary. As for Mr and Mrs Thayer, they were reunited and moved to China where they made a lot of money and raised two lovely and healthy children.

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Gentleman Gerry and the upright jerker

Gerald Chapman (1887 – 1926), called the “Count of Gramercy Park”, and “The Gentleman Bandit” was an American criminal who spoke with a near impeccable English accent.

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After being convicted on a bank robbery charge and transferred from Sing Sing, he first became acquainted with ‘Dutch’ Anderson, a swindler and ‘gentleman’ crook, while imprisoned in Auburn State Prison in 1908. Following both men’s paroles in 1919, they conducted successful bootlegging operations in Toledo, Miami and New York City.

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They also managed to amass $100,000 through confidence trickery. Chapman rented an apartment in exclusive Gramercy Park and acquired a pretty English “wife” named Betty, who was as much a born lady as he was a born gentleman.

more photos of old New York here

In 1921, along with another former Auburn inmate, Charles Loeber, Chapman and Anderson began committing armed robberies. On October 24, the three men forced a U.S. Mail truck to stop at gunpoint on Leonard St, successfully taking $2.4 million in cash, bonds and jewelry. 

mail truck found here

While the police were searching frantically for leads, Chapman was back at 12 Gramercy Park, throwing dinner parties for his wealthy neighbours. In another robbery at an American Express office, the gang added a further $70,000 to their capital.

Eluding capture for more than eight months, Chapman and Anderson were eventually arrested after being betrayed by Loeber. While Chapman sat with a detective in the Federal Building on Broadway, he feigned some kind of attack, slumping in his chair and gasping for water. As the detective left the room, Chapman, with hands shackled, rushed out a window and ran along a narrow cornice. He was recaptured but the escape attempt made headlines and he was described as a modern day Robin Hood.

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In an Atlanta penitentiary, faced with a 25 year sentence, Chapman swore he would escape. He stole small pieces of cord from the workshops and braided them into a rope. From stolen cutlery he made a file and a crude hook. When he complained of stomach pains he was admitted to hospital for observation. There he persuaded a “trusty” in the same room to join him in an escape attempt.

more prison weapons found here

They filed through the bars, severed an electric cable (plunging the prison into darkness) then used a rope of bed sheets to get to the ground and over the wall. Two days later they were tracked by bloodhounds and recaptured. Chapman was shot twice as he tried to run away and was transferred to a civilian hospital. While he was there Betty came to visit him and managed to smuggle in a gun. He used it to force an intern to hand over his white coat and walked out of the hospital to freedom once more.

NOT this Betty (found here)

Chapman and Anderson joined forces again and drove east in a stolen car, committing burglaries as they went. They were foiled in an attempt to rob a department store when police arrived and blocked their exit. Shots were fired and Chapman managed to escape once more.

On 17 January 1925, Chapman’s luck ran out and he was arrested leaving the house of a doctor friend and extradited to Connecticut. During the six-day murder trial in Hartford, crowds gathered due to his status as one of the “top 10” criminals in America. The jury deliberated for 11 hours, after which Chapman was found guilty and eventually sentenced to hang. He proclaimed his innocence to the end, asking in his final appeal for “justice, not mercy”. Chapman was executed by the upright jerker** on April 6, 1926.

**The upright jerker was an execution method and device intermittently used in the United States during the 19th and early 20th century. Intended to replace hangings, the upright jerker did not see widespread use.

As in a hanging, a cord would be wrapped around the neck of the condemned. However, rather than dropping down through a trapdoor, the condemned would be violently jerked into the air by means of a system of weights and pulleys. The objective of this execution method was to provide a swift death by breaking the condemned’s neck.

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm  Comments (48)  
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Black Will and Loosebag play backgammon

Thomas Arden was a Kentish gentleman and the Mayor of Faversham, who was murdered in 1551 by his wife Alice, described as  “young, tall, well favoured of shape and countenance” and her lover Thomas Mosby.

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“Business-obsessed Arden made a poor husband and Alice sought affection elsewhere. Thomas Mosby may not have had her husband’s background, but he had passion. In time Alice came to loathe Arden and considered disposing of him. She made an early attempt on his life by mixing milk and poison within a porringer, serving it to Thomas for breakfast. She had failed to account for the taste of the poison used. Thomas only took “a spoonful or two” before quitting his breakfast and complaining of its quality.

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Another idea to accomplish the deed was stillborn. Valentine’s Day was approaching and there would be a fair. Moseby would have to pick a fight with Thomas in public and then end the life of his rival in a duel. But with Thomas’ known reluctance to fight, the idea of him accepting a challenge was deemed absurd.

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Several attempts on his life were bungled in London and elsewhere before finally a pair of war veterans, Black Will and Loosebag, killed him in his own home while he was playing a game of backgammon with Mosby. Alice herself stabbed the body seven or eight times. Finishing the task, “the doubly wicked Alice and her companions danced, and played on the virginals, and were merrie.”

virginal found here

All this noise had a purpose. They wanted the neighbours to think that Thomas Arden was still alive and entertaining friends. The corpse dressed in night-clothes would convince them of the hour of its death. Meanwhile, Alice, her daughter Margaret Arden, Mosby’s sister Cicely Pounder and maid Elizabeth Stafford carried the corpse outside the house and into a field adjoining the churchyard, making it seem that Thomas was murdered outside.

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That night, Alice made a show of her supposed worry for her spouse’s disappearance. She had her servants search for him late into the night, wept and lamented, alerted the neighbours. When the corpse was discovered, the people involved with the search started doubting the innocence of Alice. It was a cold winter night and there was fresh snow on the ground. But the body was only dressed in night-gown and slippers making it unlikely he was going about his business in town when killed. The fresh snow had preserved footprints of several people in the distance between the location of the body and the residence of the Ardens, making it plain the body had been transported from the house to its current position.

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The two Arden ladies (mother and daughter), the servant and the maid were immediately arrested and sent to prison. Moseby was found sleeping at the nearby “Flower-de-Luce”. With blood on his stockings and a coin purse in his possession, this conspirator was also arrested. 

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Alice Arden was found guilty of murder and sentenced to burn at the stake. The crime had caused a sensation and her execution was a huge event. It is reported that she met her fate bravely. Her co-conspirators were all rounded up and executed by various means at different locations.

The Chamber Book of Days mentions the event entering local legend. “It was long said that no grass would grow on the spot where Arden’s dead body was found; some, in accordance with the superstitions of the times, attributed this to the murder.”

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 8:53 am  Comments (43)  
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An acrobatic Raffles

Robert Fabian, in his book Fabian of the Yard, wrote about a new type of burglar.

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Robert Augustus Delaney will be remembered at Scotland Yard as the man who started a new fashion in crime that was to become known as cat burglary.

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Delaney trod the crags and precipices of Park Lane’s roofs with nonchalant skill. Wearing faultless evening clothes, he could apparently climb the sheer side of a house. I think he imagined himself as a kind of acrobatic Raffles.

Raffles found here

He certainly made the great criminals of the past, like Charles Peace, who carried a collapsible ladder disguised as firewood, look clumsy. In his pocket was a slender tool like a putty-knife for slipping window catches. Around his trimly tailored waist coiled four yards of black silk rope. 

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In 1924, when the rich and noble residents of Park Lane were trooping splendidly into dinner, Delaney would crouch beneath their windows, unwinding his gossamer rope. It was not really my case, nor was my pal Tommy Sykes assigned to it. But we kept an eye on the area hoping for a lead.

One night in October we saw a shadowy intruder flit across one of the white balconies. Tommy raced into the house and through bedrooms and corridors, with the alarmed householders behind him. The thief reappeared on the balcony, made no attempt to descend, but ran light footed and leapt a nine foot gap to the next balcony then vanished. The last thing I saw was the glint of a diamond stud in a dress shirt front.

world’s most expensive dress shirt found here

The next morning we went to the scene of the previous night’s burglary. By daylight that leap from one balcony to another seemed no less remarkable. I noticed a footprint on the ledge, so small and so exquisitely pointed that it might have been made by a woman’s dancing shoe. We found another imprint clearly showing the porous tread of crepe soles. “Rubber soled evening shoes” exclaimed Tommy. “He’d need to get those made specially.”

Louis Vuitton evening shoes found here

I spent the day visiting the exclusive shoe emporiums of Jermyn Street and Shepherd’s Market, where craftsmen took pride in handmade shoes to suit clients’ whims. In Albemarle Street I was lucky. The proprietor gave me an address in Half Moon Street which proved to be false but I thought it worth investigating the bars and lounges nearby.

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A man wearing good evening clothes passed me. A diamond sparkled in his laundered shirt bosom, his tiny pointed shoes moved soundlessly on the tile floor. I followed him back to a house in Vine Street…..

On his first conviction he received three years penal servitude at the Old Bailey. That was in 1924. Would you like to know what this daring, well educated and quick witted young man did with the rest of his life and that superb acrobat’s body that fate had given him?

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By the time he died in Parkhurst Prison in 1948, he had spent twenty years in various gaols. In his brief intervals of freedom, his pointed immaculate shoes had scarcely time to become worn down at the heels…..”

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 11:01 am  Comments (44)  
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