Arresting Hope Dare

After the Philadelphia police took Hope Dare’s mugshot in 1938, a reporter managed to get access to it and photograph it for a news publication. Was a payoff involved? Very likely, since the ex-Broadway showgirl was a celebrity, albeit a fading one. On the back of her mugshot-turned-news-photo is the comment “not a publicity photo.” … Continue reading Arresting Hope Dare

Can’t Hear Nobody Pray

The body of W.J. Trotter being removed from his shop by police. Collection of the author. Shortly before 8 a.m. on the morning of February 2, 1948, Ples McWilliams discovered the body of William Jonas Trotter, a 59-year-old white man, lying in a pool of blood on the floor behind the counter of his snack … Continue reading Can’t Hear Nobody Pray

Upcoming

I don’t usually collect crime scene photos, but this image caught my eye. It captured the aftermath of sudden death in such an unabashedly voyeuristic way. The photo demands an explanation, but there’s nothing except the name “W. J. Trotter” and the word “murder” typed on the back. That’s it. The photographer who provided this … Continue reading Upcoming

The Dark Closet

When she first opened the door of the bathroom closet, Policewoman Ruby Brandt thought she was looking at a heap of rags on the floor. But as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she realized there was a child under the rags. Ruby bent down, took the child in her arms, and carried her out … Continue reading The Dark Closet

Upcoming

The year is 1931 and the place is our nation's capital. (That's Washington, DC, for those who aren't sure). This pair of pretties — a husband and wife — will be the subjects of my next blog post. But a warning: what they did was not pretty. Check back soon for the full story!

A Defect of the Heart

Herman Perlmutter had a problem with Esther, his 16-year-old daughter. The middle child of seven, she refused to get a job in a factory like her older siblings had done. With nine mouths to feed, Herman and his wife, Celia — Jewish immigrants who came to America fleeing the pogroms in Hungary — desperately needed … Continue reading A Defect of the Heart

The Strange Case of Marie Chin Wore

A young girl was found wandering in the vicinity of New York City’s Bowery neighborhood on a cold day in February 1920. She was taken to a Christian missionary society, where she told authorities a disturbing story about having been forced to become the “child wife” of a much older man. Mary Banta, the missionary … Continue reading The Strange Case of Marie Chin Wore

The Cowboy

Born in Texas on July 14, 1876, 100 years and ten days after the United States, Nathan Bridgeforth became prisoner #2007 at Leavenworth on February 26, 1900. Seven weeks earlier, he pleaded guilty to forgery in the Northern District Court of Muskogee, Indian Territory. The details of the crime that sent him to Leavenworth have … Continue reading The Cowboy

One Knife and Two Diamond Rings

Grace Rogers and Marie Allison didn’t know each other before their arrests in San Francisco. But they were well acquainted by the time they escaped from the Ingleside Jail together. Twenty-year-old Grace and her husband had come to the city by steamer from Los Angeles in late June 1920. Soon after their arrival in San … Continue reading One Knife and Two Diamond Rings

Mother’s Murder

It began as just one more in the long string of quarrels between Dorothy Ellingson and her mother Anna. But this time the argument—their final one, as it turned out—culminated in tragedy: Dorothy shot her mother dead. Later, after the 16-year-old was arrested, some members of the press dubbed Dorothy “The Jazz Slayer.” Others called … Continue reading Mother’s Murder

Her Mona Lisa Smile

The smell must have been horrendous when the police finally entered the apartment, given how long the old man’s body had been lying there. It was murder — there was no question about that. He’d been shot with a single bullet to the back of the head. Robbery was thought to be the motive because … Continue reading Her Mona Lisa Smile

Christmas in the Tombs

Mrs. Catherine O. Neill will have to spend her Christmas in the Tombs Prison, much as she desires to be taken to Connecticut to be tried on the charge of murdering her husband, Joseph Neill, on the night of Dec. 14. Sheriff Rich of Greenwich says that this is due to Gov. Higgins being away … Continue reading Christmas in the Tombs