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.”

serenity now

The Kumari, Nepal’s living goddesses, are real little girls worshipped as deities.

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“The best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. A Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.

Kumari Ghar found here

Once Taleju has left the sitting Kumari, there is a frenzy of activity to find her successor. The selection process is conducted by five senior Buddhist Vajracharya priests, the Panch Buddha, the Bada Guruju or Chief Royal Priest, Achajau the priest of Taleju and the royal astrologer. 

Eligible girls are Buddhists from the Newar Shakya caste of silver and goldsmiths. She must be in excellent health, never have shed blood or been afflicted by any diseases, be without blemish and must not have yet lost any teeth. Girls who pass these basic eligibility requirements are examined for the ‘thirty-two perfections’ of a goddess:

eyelashes found here

A neck like a conch shell

A body like a banyan tree

Eyelashes like a cow

Thighs like a deer

Chest like a lion

Voice soft and clear as a duck’s

In addition to this, her hair and eyes should be very black, she should have dainty hands and feet, small and well-recessed sexual organs and a set of twenty teeth.

Toothsome Natalie and Lana Wood found here

Once the priests have chosen a candidate, she must undergo yet more rigorous tests to ensure that she indeed possesses the necessary qualities. Her greatest test comes during the Hindu festival of Dashain. On the kalratri, or ‘black night’, 108 buffaloes and goats are sacrificed to the goddess Kali. The young candidate is taken into the Taleju temple and released into the courtyard, where the severed heads of the animals are illuminated by candlelight and masked men are dancing about. If the candidate truly possesses the qualities of Taleju, she shows no fear during this experience. If she does, another candidate is brought in to attempt the same thing.

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As a final test, the living goddess must spend a night alone in a room among the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes without showing fear. The candidate has then proven that she has the serenity and the fearlessness that typifies the goddess who is to inhabit her.

image found here

The Royal Kumari’s new life is vastly different from the one to which she has been accustomed. Whilst her life is now free of material troubles, she has ceremonial duties to carry out. Although she is not ordered about, she is expected to behave as befits a goddess. She has shown the correct qualities during the selection process and her continued serenity is of paramount importance; an ill-tempered goddess is believed to portend bad tidings for those petitioning her.

angry goddess cake found here

From now on, when she ventures outside of her palace, she will be carried or transported in her golden palanquin. Her feet, like all of her, are now sacred. Petitioners will touch them, hoping to receive respite from troubles and illnesses. The King himself will kiss them each year when he comes to seek her blessing. 

Chinese foot binding found here

Petitioners customarily bring gifts and food offerings to the Kumari, who receives them in silence. Upon arrival, she offers them her feet to touch or kiss as an act of devotion. During these audiences, the Kumari is closely watched and her actions interpreted as a prediction of the petitioners lives’, for example as follows:

Crying or loud laughter: Serious illness or death

Weeping or rubbing eyes: Imminent death

Trembling: Imprisonment

Hand clapping: Reason to fear the King

Picking at food offerings: Financial losses

If the Kumari remains silent and impassive throughout the audience, her devotees leave elated. This is the sign that their wishes have been granted. Popular superstition says that a man who marries a Kumari is doomed to die within six months by coughing up blood. In reality, however, it seems that most Kumaris do not have trouble eventually finding husbands. All of the living former Kumaris with exception of the youngest ones have married.

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 7:27 am  Comments (53)  
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the original female dandy

Luisa, Marquise Casati Stampa di Soncino (1881 – 1957) was an eccentric Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts in early 20th century Europe.

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“A celebrity and femme fatale, the marchesa’s famous eccentricities dominated and delighted European society for nearly three decades. She astonished society by parading with a pair of leashed cheetahs and wearing live snakes as jewellery. During a stay at the Paris Ritz, one of her boa constrictors escaped, causing much consternation among other guests and staff.

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In 1910 Casati took up residence at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on Grand Canal in Venice (now the home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection). Her soirées there would become legendary. Casati collected a menagerie of exotic animals, and patronized fashion designers such as Fortuny and Poiret. Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her. Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table, some of them even rumoured to contain the ashes of past lovers.

wax mannequin found here

She was tall and thin, with a pale, almost cadaverous face. Her huge green eyes were flanked by false eyelashes, slathered with black kohl, and she regularly used belladonna eyedrops to dilate her pupils. It is said that she once wore a freshly-killed chicken as a stole, and that on a separate occasion, she had her driver kill a chicken and pour the blood down her long white arms so that it dried in a pattern which pleased her.

blood spatter cushion found here

In 1896 she was one of the wealthiest women in Europe but by 1930, Casati had amassed a personal debt of $25 million. She fled to London, where she lived in comparative poverty and was rumoured to be seen rummaging in bins searching for feathers to decorate her hair. She died at her last residence, 32 Beaufort Gardens in Knightsbridge, on 1 June 1957, aged 76.

image found here

Casati was buried wearing not only her black and leopardskin finery but a pair of false eyelashes as well. She also shared her coffin with a stuffed pekinese dog.

Taxidermied Pekingese found here

alligators from heaven

The story that alligators haunt the sewer system of New York City is thought to be an apocryphal one, possibly started by Thomas Pynchon’s mention of it in his novel V. But tales of out-of-place crocodilians have persisted for years.

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“On December 26, 1877, no less than the New York Times reported the following: “Dr. J.L. Smith of Silverton Township, South Carolina, while opening up a new turpentine farm, noticed something fall to the ground and commence to crawl toward the tent where he was sitting. On examining the object he found it to be an alligator. In a few moments a second one made its appearance. The doctor looked around to see if he could discover any more, and found six others within a space of two hundred yards. The animals were all quite lively, and about twelve inches in length. The place whereon they fell is situated on high sandy ground about six miles north of the Savannah River.”

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A similar story emerged in 1957, courtesy of writer John Toland, who told the story of the U.S. Navy airship Macon. In 1934 the Macon had participated in maneuvers in the Caribbean and was sailing westward on its return trip. As it was entering the sky over California on the afternoon of May 17, the commander, Robert Davis, heard a loud splashing over his head from one of the ballast bags.

Concerned, he climbed into the rigging as the splashing grew louder and louder. He opened the ballast bag and looked in. Swimming around excitedly was a two-foot alligator. No one had any idea where it came from. They had been in the air for several days and it seemed highly improbable that this big, noisy creature could have been with them all that time without being heard. Moreover, Davis had been up and around the ship ever since their departure, and he had seen nothing so out of the ordinary as an alligator.

The only possible explanation – though it made no sense at all – was that the reptile had fallen on the ballast bag from above.

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Most people have heard of fish and frogs falling from the sky. The explanation usually given is that a tornado or strong whirlwind picked up the animals from a shallow body of water and carried them some distance before dropping them back on land.

Mouse rides frog during Indian typhoon

In 1890, Popular Science News reported that blood rained down on Messignadi, Calabria in Italy – bird’s blood. It was speculated that the birds were somehow torn part by violent winds, although there were no such winds at the time. And no other parts of the bird came down – just blood.

J. Hudson’s farm in Los Nietos Township, California endured a rain of flesh and blood for three minutes in 1869. The grisly fall covered several acres.

“Blood Rain” India

The American Journal of Science confirmed a shower of blood, fat and muscle tissue that fell on a tobacco farm near Lebanon, Tennessee in August, 1841. Field workers, who actually experienced this weird shower, said they heard a rattling noise and saw “drops of blood fall from a red cloud which was flying over them.”

The most amazing of these stories was actually proven factual… but not supernatural. Sometime around 1990, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk in off the eastern coast of Siberia by a falling cow. When the crew of the wrecked ship were fished from the water, they told authorities that they had seen several cows falling from the sky, and that one of them crashed straight through the deck and hull. At first the fishermen were arrested for trying to perpetrate an insurance fraud, but were released when their story was verified. It seems that a Russian transport plane carrying stolen cattle was flying overhead. When the movement of the herd within the plane threw it off balance, the plane’s crew, to avoid crashing, opened the loading bay at the tail of the aircraft and drove them out to fall into the water below.

image from Canstructions

Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 6:25 am  Comments (38)  
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