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.”

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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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pinko solves another case

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

Pinkerton and Lincoln found here

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

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

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

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

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

learn how to make blood spatters here

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

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

Detective Kate Warne found here

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

kitchen cabinets found here

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

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

Rocky Creek Bridge, Big Sur, found here

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

walking corpse makeup found here

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

ghost girl by Mark Ryden found here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rolls Royce Apparition “concept car” found here

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

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

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

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

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

Pinkerton then obtained a warrant for Drysdale’s arrest:

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

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

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

what the stoner did next

Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867–1935) was an architect born in England, although most of his career was spent in Canada where he designed many notable buildings.

image found here

When he married in 1898, people were surprised at his choice. He picked Florence Nunn, who was quiet and plain, and from humble origins. He had known her for several years, and was presumably very comfortable with her. Otherwise it seemed a strange match.

strange match found here

In the years to come the mismatch became more obvious. When Rattenbury went out socializing he went alone. Florence pottered around the house, and rarely entertained. She grew increasingly stout, prim and dull. The gulf between them widened, growing into outright animosity. By the onset of the war they were no longer speaking to each other.

The Crystal Gardens project saved him. Not only did it give his career a jolt, but it led him to someone new. Alma Pakenham was in Victoria to give a concert. A fine pianist, she had just finished a recital at the Empress. A friend was there, who happened to know Rattenbury. He introduced them, and their friendship began.

image found here

Alma was born in Kamloops in 1895. A lively, vivacious child, she showed great musical ability early on. So gifted was she that at age eighteen she played two different concertos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 1914 she married Caledon Dolling, who was killed two years later at the Battle of the Somme. After the war she married Thomas Pakenham, of the literary Longford family. A son Christopher was born, but the marriage ended disastrously. She resumed her concert career in Vancouver where she met Rattenbury and started an affair.

image found here

Both were starved for passion. Rattenbury was not interested in being discreet, and Alma was never one to hide her feelings. Soon they were the talk of Victoria. Many were angry at the way Florence was being treated. Rattenbury wanted a divorce, and when Florence refused he repeatedly harrassed her. He moved furniture out of their house and cut the power. When that failed he began entertaining Alma in their house, forcing Florence upstairs. Eventually he got his way.

their home found here

What he was not prepared for was social ostracization. His behaviour was so outrageous that respect for him had vanished. Alma too was not prepared. Growing up a musical prodigy, she had always been feted but now she was seen as a bewitching temptress, a disrupter of family life. In addition, she was accused of taking drugs, and introducing Rattenbury to them.

They settled in Bournemouth, England. The choice was undoubtedly Rattenbury’s. Alma was, after all, not yet forty, and she still had career hopes. She would have preferred the bustling life of London. But she was agreeable and willing to go along with his wishes. Getting along with Rattenbury, though, was getting harder. He had not realized how dependent he was on personal status and prestige.

Bournemouth found here

He became a shadow of the man he once was. Along with alcoholism and depression came another development: impotence. He was becoming an old man, while his wife was still young and beautiful. Not surprisingly, she took a lover. George Percy Stoner was just seventeen when he went to work for the Rattenburys. They needed a chauffeur and someone who could do various odd jobs. Alma had not sought out a lover, but the presence of a young man was too much. She succumbed to temptation, and seduced him.

Stoner found here

She took Stoner to London for an intimate weekend alone, and lavished expensive gifts on him. But when they got back he became just a servant again. So when she and her husband decided to go on an overnight trip it drove Stoner wild. 

Exactly what happened next will never be known for sure. The night before Alma and Rattenbury were to leave on their trip they were playing cards. A little later she went to bed, and Stoner joined her. At about 10:30 they heard loud groans from below. Alma rushed out, to discover Rattenbury covered in blood. He had obviously been hit with some implement. Alma’s servant Irene came out, and immediately phoned for a doctor.

The police questioned everyone, particularly Alma. After many wild and contradictory statements, fueled more and more by alcohol, Alma confessed she had done it. She was arrested but later Stoner admitted to Irene he had done it. The police, acting on Irene’s information, arrested Stoner. Both he and Alma were charged with murder.

It was a sensational trial at the Old Bailey. The public lined up for hours to get a seat, and the press had a field day . The main feature was Alma’s testimony. She recanted her confession and pleaded not guilty. The jury acquitted Alma, and convicted Stoner. He was sentenced to hang.

Alma became distraught at his conviction. She was put in a nursing home, and frequently mentioned suicide. One night she had an unknown female visitor who stayed several hours, then left. She insisted Alma come with her, despite protests from the nurse. Alma did go, then returned later alone.

The next day Alma borrowed two pounds from a nurse and bought a knife. That evening she was seen on the Avon riverbank swinging her arms wildly, before falling into the river. When authorities retrieved her body they found multiple wounds. Alma had stabbed herself to death. 

No one ever identified the visitor. But goading Alma into suicide had the desired effect. Reprieving Stoner had been impossible while she was alive. The thought of them together again, even after many years, was intolerable to the public. She was seen as an evil seductress who had led him astray. But with Alma gone something could be done. The Home Secretary was presented with a huge petition. He made an announcement: Stoner’s sentence would be commuted to “penal servitude for life”.

In the end Stoner only served seven years of his sentence. He was released to the army to fight in the war. After the war he faded into private life. He died in  2000, less than a mile away from where Alma had taken her own life.

the debauched grandfather

On 4 July 1862, the maid at the prosperous Fleming household at Sandyford Place was brutally murdered.

image found here

The Sandyford Mystery had two unlikely suspects, a debauched grandfather and a sailor’s wife. Old James Fleming lived with the corpse for three days while his family summered at their coastal villa. When investigators eventually arrived, they found that Jessie McLachlan, a twenty-eight-year-old mother who was a friend of the maid and a former employee at the house, had left three bloody footprints behind.

Grandfather Kirk found here

Old Fleming, who at eighty-seven was a hunched and balding figure with sideburns and a hooked nose, was a rustic who had turned to textile manufacturing. His son had “intimate” ties to the chief investigator. While that must have augured well for the elder Fleming, who collected rents for his son and attended church twice the Sunday after the murder, he also had Scottish law on his side. Scots Law is perhaps most famous for its third courtroom verdict—besides “guilty” or “not guilty” a jury may declare “not proven” and set a suspect free.

knives seized in Scottish courts found here

Even if all parties to a murder shared equal guilt, a suspect turned prosecution witness was guaranteed total immunity. In the end, Old Fleming was made legally white as snow: once a prime suspect with blood spattered on his nightshirt, the old man became the Crown’s chief witness in the murder trial of the hapless Mrs. McLachlan.

Witness for the Prosecution found here

Dozens of witnesses testified; floorboards with a bloody footprint, ripped up as evidence, were displayed before a rapt audience of fashionable ladies, reporters and city officials. McLachlan sat stoical in her white straw bonnet with ribbons and veil, her hands tucked under a black woolen shawl.

black shawl found here

Adam Gifford, gowned and bewigged advocate-deputy for the Crown, said to the jury “It will be my duty to ask a verdict against the prisoner, “Is the prisoner guilty or is she not guilty? Not, had she confederates?” While Old Fleming was indeed under “the gravest possible suspicion,” a crime by multiple parties was not at issue. “If guilt be brought home to one, it will not be enough to say, ‘Somebody else had a share in it.’”

“Lawyer’s Wig” mushrooms found here

The jury took fifteen minutes to find McLachlan guilty. Although the verdict was dramatic enough, next came “one of the greatest sensations in Scottish legal history.” Lord Deas, a judge known as Lord Death for his willingness to hang, allowed McLachlan a final statement. She stood in the dock, lifted her veil, and requested to have it read. For the next forty minutes, her lawyer told her story “amid the breathless attention of the court.”

On the night of the murder, she had visited her friend Jess McPherson. She found Jess in the downstairs kitchen with a drunken Fleming. His whiskey jug had run dry. He asked McLachlan to replenish it at a local pub. When she returned, Jess was lying in her bedroom moaning. She had resisted the drunkard’s advances, and now she had cuts about her face and there was a “large quantity of blood on the floor.”

image found here

McLachlan begged to go for a doctor, but Fleming made her swear secrecy on a Bible. In return “he would make her comfortable all her life.” She again began to leave, but hearing a noise in the kitchen rushed back to see “the old man striking” the maid with a “meat chopper.” Fleming cornered her: “If you tell you know about her death you will be taken in for it as well as me.” Dawn had arrived, and before she left, Fleming gave her a few pounds of hush money and silverware to pawn. It was to look like a robbery.

image found here

Lord Deas was unmoved, his mind having not “a shadow of suspicion” about Old Fleming. He put on his black cap and sentenced McLachlan to hang, directing that until then she live on bread and water and asking that God have mercy on her soul.

McLachlan’s eleventh-hour account in the courtroom hit the presses and galvanized the nation. Fifty thousand Glaswegians signed a petition. Old Fleming was so harassed that he fled to the villa. His family moved away from the city. Finally, new evidence put the verdict in limbo “until further significance of Her Majesty’s pleasure.” The queen’s pleasure was to commute the death sentence. In the fall of 1862, Mrs. McLachlan walked through the gloomy gates of Her Majesty’s General Prison at Perth for a “life” imprisonment, which meant fifteen years in those days. She was released in 1877.

image found here

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 7:35 am  Comments (48)  
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flying a kite

A Letter to The Times from the Reverend Wilfred A Tighe:

“Sir, Aeroplanists should keep their eyes skinned for agents other than human at the earth end of a kite string. I have seen a horse flying a kite.

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It was in Hong Kong twenty years ago. The kite swooped into a paddock where horses grazed: the string snapped, leaving perhaps 30 feet of its length still attached to the frame work: the free end fell across the rump of a horse: a twitch of the tail secured (mysteriously) the string; the animal moved, felt the drag, moved faster, became frightened, began to gallop – and the kite rose and soared beautifully and in partnership with its flier round and round the paddock for almost a minute.

Alexander Graham Bell’s Horse Kite found here

Three others saw this with me; they are all alive today. For the benefit of the unkindly suspicious, this equine feat was observed during the last of three hard sets of tennis and more than two hours after a very light lunch.”

image found here

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 6:54 am  Comments (37)  
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warts and all

Misia Sert (born Maria Zofia Olga Zenajda Godebska; 30 March 1872 – 1950) was a pianist of Polish descent who hosted an artistic salon in Paris.  She married Thadée Natanson, a Polish emigre politician and journalist, who became the editor of a Parisian Dreyfusard journal.

Misia (1947) found here

Thadée started the Revue Blanche. Verlaine, Mallarmé and other famous painters duly gathered. Those who couldn’t paint Misia wrote poems for her. The painters had the privilege of immortalising her miraculous looks, which included a legendary pair of legs and a bosom that kept strong men awake at night thinking.

Misia by Renoir found here

Being published in the Revue Blanche was like getting into a party: you had to know Misia. At a party thrown by Misia’s brother-in-law to celebrate the completion of nine large panels by Vuillard, Toulouse Lautrec was the barman. Misia met Liszt, whom she remembered for his warts, long hair and transvestite travelling companionThree hundred people were present, of whom a large proportion were already famous and all promptly became drunk, since Lautrec’s cocktails consisted of several layers of different-coloured liqueurs. A room was set aside for casualties and ended up jammed with the bodies of Vuillard, Bonnard, etc

Toulouse Lautrec found here

When Natanson was on the brink of bankruptcy, the newspaper magnate Alfred Edwards saved him, on condition that he surrender his wife to him. Misia began living with Alfred Edwards in 1903.

Edwards was a coprophile, among his other charms, but he was also loaded. There were butlers, chandeliers and an endless supply of Louis XVI furniture. Misia played for Caruso while he sang Neapolitan songs, and told him to pipe down when she grew sick of them. Renoir longed to paint Misia with the famous breasts naked, but she would never bare them to him, probably because Edwards was lurking heavily in the adjacent room, ready to exact jealous vengeance even though the artist by that time was an all but total cripple.

Alfred Edwards found here

Misia eventually lost Edwards to the gorgeous young actress Genevieve Lantelme, who had started off as a whore at the age of fourteen. In 1911, Lantelme drowned in the Rhine. The newspapers licked their tabloid jaws over every detail. Referring obliquely to Edward’s bizarre sexual perversion as the cause of the murder, one journalist wrote “An unspeakable idea that I cannot even describe crossed his mind, an idea that he wanted the horrified and indignant actress to put into practice. She struggled and screamed and he threw her body into the water.” Edwards sued for libel and was awarded damages of one franc. 

Lantelme found here

Misia moved on to José-Maria Sert, a colourful, muscular painter of colourful, muscular murals. Sert was a tirelessly fiery Spaniard with enough cash to keep Misia in the style to which she had no real intention of ever becoming unaccustomed.

By 1923 Sert and Misia were both in love with the same girl, Roussy Mdivani, a junior member of the marrying Mdivanis. Roussy was chic as opposed to artistic. She was also young as opposed to old. The triangle lasted for as long as Misia’s pride allowed, plus a bit longer. Then she consoled herself with Coco Chanel, who took her turn to assume the dominant role.

Chanel found here

she goes off with a bang

From a medical journal found here

SIR,-While I was reading the history of a newly admitted patient on the final ward round before Christmas a loud crack, like a pistol shot, rang out from the other end of the ward disturbing the proceedings. We found no commotion and no weapon, not even a prematurely pulled Christmas cracker.

Instead, there was a timid woman of 40, Mrs. A, who called out apologetically that it was her and her capsules. She told us that her general practitioner had prescribed Duogastrone (a special preparation of carbenoxolone sodium), which according to her doctor would dissolve beyond the stomach and heal her duodenal ulcer. She then explained in detail that since taking her capsules a loud shot would occur in her bowels from three to seven hours after swallowing them. She and her husband had many sleepless nights awaiting the “shot” at 2 a.m. after the evening meal at 7 p.m.

pill art found here

Two weeks before Christmas the television repair man had called in the afternoon to adjust the set while Mrs. A sat watching on the settee. Just as he was tuning the set she ” exploded.” The man dropped his tools and pulled the wires from the socket but could not find any electrical fault. He then turned to Mrs. A and suggested that the metal springs of the settee had broken.

image found here

Mrs. A, too shy to explain her abdominal secret, let him examine the settee. The medical and nursing staff and last but not least the patient herself can vouch for the truth of this story, which was not the result of surrender to Christmas spirits. It is felt that this new and somewhat dramatic Duogastrone side-effect should be known to others. We shall indeed be interested to hear if other patients have experienced intra-abdominal shots after taking Duogastrone.

We are, etc.,

C. C. EVANS.

J. B. RIDYARD.

The Royal Southern Hospital,

Liverpool 8

the Baroness balances a birthday cake

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1875-1927) was known as the Queen of the Dada Movement.

Elsa found here

Her father, a mason, sexually and physically abused her in her childhood. She practiced prostitution, and had numerous affairs with both men and women throughout her lifetime, including the writer Djuna Barnes.

Djuna found here

Elsa married August Endell in April 1901 but by 1903 she had left him for his friend Felix Greve. In July 1909, Greve disappeared from Germany after staging his own suicide. Elsa played a part in the faked suicide, she sent a letter to his publishers accusing them of working her late husband to death. He sailed from Liverpool to Montreal, where he renamed himself. Later, as the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove, he described staging his death and reinventing himself in his first autobiography. 

Felix Greve found here

It is unclear how Elsa made her way to New York. However, it was there she met and married Baron Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven, the black sheep of his illustrious family, in November 1913. Through her marriage to Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven she became a Baroness but little is known about their relationship. Baron von Loringhoven hurried back to Germany at the outbreak of the war and then, not liking war, shot himself – an act which his wife characterized as the bravest of his life. 

black sheep found here

From 1917 on, she published a fair amount of her mostly Expressionist and sometimes Dada-style poetry in various magazines. She also created “ready made” sculptures and collages from random items she stole or salvaged from the trash. Her most famous “ready made” is the plumbing pipe irreverently called “God”

God found here

By the early 1920s, von Freytag-Loringhoven had become a living legend in Greenwich Village. Often arrested for her revealing costumes and ongoing habit of stealing anything that caught her eye, she “leaped from patrol wagons with such agility that policemen let her go in admiration“. She continued to pose for artists, and appeared in a short film made by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp descriptively titled The Baroness Shaves Her Pubic Hair.

Duchamp and Ray playing chess found here

Margaret Anderson vividly recalls the Baroness’ first entrance into the Little Review’s office: “So she shaved her head. Next she lacquered it a high vermilion. Then she stole crêpe from a house of mourning and made a dress of it. She came to see us. First she exhibited the head at all angles, amazing against our black walls. Then she jerked the crepe with one movement. It’s better when I’m nude, she said.”

Elsa found here

When many of her friends moved to Paris after the First World War, von Freytag-Loringhoven tried desperately to join them. Eventually she returned to Berlin in April 1923 – a time when inflation of the German currency was at its worst. She was reduced to selling newspapers on a street corner of the Kurfüstendamm in the winter of 1923–1924 and was a more or less permanent inmate of several insane asylums. Her outrageous blackmail attempts and demanding propositions to André Gide, George Bernard Shaw, and perhaps other celebrities for living expenses did little to keep her out of trouble. Her notoriously elaborate costumes were not of much help either. In an undated letter to Djuna Barnes, von Freytag-Loringhoven describes an ensemble she wore to the French Embassy in Germany:

Andre Gide found here

“I went to the consulate with a large, wide sugarcoated birthday cake upon my head with fifty flaming candles lit – I felt just so spunky and affluent! In my ear I wore sugar plumes or matchboxes – I forget which. Also I had put on several stamps as beauty spots on my emerald-painted cheeks and my eyelashes were made of gilded porcupine quills – rustling coquettishly – at the consul – with several ropes of dried figs dangling around my neck to give him a suck once and again – to entrance him. I should have liked to wear gaudy colored rubber boots up to my hips with a ballet skirt of genuine gold paper with lace paper covering it (to match the cake) – but I couldn’t afford that! I guess that inconsistency in my costume is to blame for my failure to please the officials?

Cake Head found here

The true circumstances of von Freytag-Loringhoven’s death are still unclear. On December 14, 1927, she died of asphyxiation when the gas in her room at the Rue Barrault was left on overnight.

show me your bottom

In London between 1788 and 1790, up to fifty women claimed to have been attacked by a man who became known as the London Monster.

According to the victims (most of them from wealthier families), a large man had followed them, shouted obscenities and stabbed them in the buttocks. Some reports claimed an attacker had knives fastened to his knees. Other accounts reported that he would invite prospective victims to smell a fake nosegay and then stab them in the nose with the spike hiding within the flowers.

image found here

When people realised that the Monster attacked mainly beautiful women, some women claimed that they had been attacked to gain attention and sympathy. Armed vigilantes set out to patrol the city. Fashionable ladies began to wear copper pans over their petticoats.

image found here

On June 13, 1790, Anne Porter claimed she had spotted her attacker in St. James’s Park. Her admirer, John Coleman, pursued the man, who realised he was being followed. When Rhynwick Williams, an unemployed 23-year-old, reached his house, Coleman confronted him, accusing him of insulting a lady, and took Williams to meet Porter, who fainted when she saw him.

Williams protested his innocence but, given the climate of panic, it was futile. He admitted that he had once approached Porter but had an alibi for another of the attacks. Magistrates charged Williams with defacing clothing — a crime that in the Bloody Code carried harsher penalty than assault or attempted murder

slashed dress found here

Despite the fact that a number of alleged victims gave contradictory stories and that coworkers testified that he had an alibi for the most famous attack, Williams was convicted on three counts and sentenced to two years each, for a total of six years in prison.

His time spent behind bars was not entirely wasted: he fathered a child who was conceived whilst Williams was imprisoned. He later married the mother of his child on release.

In Paris, in 1819, a similar series of attacks took place

Stabbers, or piquers, were attacking women in the streets, cutting their buttocks with sharp rapiers fastened to canes or umbrellas. There was widespread alarm and it was recommended that married women be accompanied by their husbands at all times and those without husbands should wear bottom protectors. 

bottom protector found here

Police agents and private piquer hunters dressed up as women to tempt the villains to attack but they had no luck. Twenty prostitutes were employed as decoys, they were to walk through Paris followed by policemen in plain clothes. In spite of these bizarre promenades no piquer was caught;  even though over 880 francs had been spent on the harlots and their wine allowance.

Paris prostitutes found here

At the same time, the Madchenschneider, or Girl-Cutter, of Augsberg, began a long and bloody career. Again , several women were cut across the legs or buttocks, apparently without motive. A 37 year old wine merchant was caught after a reign of terror lasting 18 years. 

Another series of attacks took place in Strasbourg in 1880, a man in a dark cloak assaulted respectable women in the streets late in the evening, wounding their breasts or genitals with a sharp instrument. When 29 year old hairdresser, Theophil Mary, was finally arrested, he had clocked up 35 victims. 

Strasbourg Cathedral found here

In July 1894, a French youth was arrested for cutting the buttocks of a large number of young girls in broad daylight. The 19 year old was described as a beardless youth with a timid embarrassed manner. He described how he had, ever since the age of 15, felt a high degree of excitement whenever he saw a woman’s buttocks. 

click image above to play

In Chicago in 1906, a manhunt began for “Jack the Cutter” who stabbed the buttocks of seven females in just one day alone. In the same year, “Jack the Stabber” ran amok in St Louis, also stabbing female bottoms. In 1925 the hunt was on for another American attacker, “The Connecticut Jabber.”

In 1977, “Jack the Snipper” was active on the London Underground. Before the London Transport Police put an end to his fun, he had cut 17 skirts from behind, and exposed their wearers’ backsides to all viewers.  

In 1984, according the The News of the World, a very short and stunted man had attacked nine women in Birmingham, stabbing them in the buttocks. In 1985, this pint sized pervert was still at large…… 

image found here

unlike women, pictures can’t talk back

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen- Bornemisza De Kaszon, who died in 2002, was one of the richest men in Europe (his fortune had been estimated at more than $5.4 billion) and the owner of one of the world’s great art collections.

image found here

During his lifetime, the baron was considered a prime kidnapping target. All his houses were equipped with closed circuit surveillance, bodyguards and dogs. The author Dominick Dunne was acquainted with one of these guards whom he described as a cross between Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. He packed two weapons beneath his suit, a pistol in a holster and what appeared to be a sawed off machine gun tucked into the back of his trousers.

image found here

”Heini” Thyssen inherited from his father, Heinrich, a collection of 400 old masters, to which he added another 200 as well as 900 modern works. By 1986, the collection had overwhelmed the Villa Favorita. Thyssen was concerned that the bulk of it should be kept together after his death and had secured an agreement with his children to that effect.

Villa Favorita found here

He then asked the Swiss authorities to fund an enlargement of his museum, but they offered less than $3 million. Piqued, Thyssen embarked on a search for a new site outside Switzerland which would be worthy of his patronage. Both Prince Charles and Mrs Thatcher flew to Switzerland to put in a bid for Britain; President Mitterrand lobbied for France; the Getty Foundation offered millions of dollars for the United States; and the Swiss Government tried to block the paintings’ export.

image found here

But in 1993 the pressure of the bedroom decided matters in favour of the birthplace of the baron’s fifth wife, Carmen ”Tita” Cervera, a former Miss Spain 22 years his junior and widow of Tarzan of the Apes actor Lex Barker. She negotiated successfully with the Spanish government who donated the Villahermosa palace in Madrid, near the Prado, to house it.

Carmen and Lex found here

Thyssen collected beautiful women rather as he collected homes and works of art – though he once observed that ”unlike women, the pictures can’t talk back”, and, as one newspaper put it, old mistresses tended to be more troublesome to him than old masters. He married first, in 1946, Princess Theresa de Lippe, by whom he had a son, Georg Heinrich.

In 1953 Thyssen began an affair with 17 year old Nina Dyer, an English model, to whom he gave a Caribbean island, two sports cars with gold-plated ignition keys, a black panther and a fortune in jewellery. He divorced Theresa and married Nina in 1954.

Nina Dyer found here

But it soon transpired that Nina loved an impoverished French actor. ”It sounds silly,” Thyssen once remarked, ”but I hate to divorce. It’s a most disagreeable operation.” Nevertheless, he swiftly divested himself of Nina who moved on to marry Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Indifferent to gender when it came to love partners, Nina also dallied with a selection of ladies, who called her Oliver and vied with her husbands to shower her with jewels.

Nina Dyer’s black pearls found here

Heini’s third wife was another English model, Fiona Campbell-Walter, whom he married in 1956. She gave him two children, Lorne and Francesca. But Thyssen divorced Fiona in 1964 and took as his next wife Denise Shorto, a Brazilian banker’s daughter, who was to remain with him for 17 years and bear him another son, Alexander. Denise was known to have had an affair with the baron’s art dealer, Franco Rappetti, described as a playboy, gambler and drug user, who shared women with powerful men. In 1978, 38 year old Rappetti fell or was thrown to his death from the Meurice in New York.

Denise Shorto found here

Heini’s fourth divorce was his most acrimonious. In 1981 Thyssen met his fifth wife, Carmen ”Tita” Cervera, while holidaying on the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, but marriage had to wait until 1985, when the legal battle with Denise was settled. Relations between ”Baron Heini” and his older children were aggravated by this marriage to Tita, whom Francesca described as ”the wicked stepmother”.

Carmen was an amateur painter with flamboyant tastes in interior design. The couple became an almost permanent feature of the pages of Hola!, the Spanish progenitor of Hello! magazine. Thyssen adopted as his fifth child Carmen’s son Borja, whose natural father she never publicly named……

Carmen and Borja found here