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

The Jonquil

The women in the mugshots is clearly disgusted. It looks like she just got a whiff of something nauseating and she's angry about it. Given the hair, make-up and clothes, it will come as no surprise that the photos were taken in 1960. The woman was suspected of running a prostitution business out of her … Continue reading The Jonquil

The Woman Without Tears

Thirty-two-year-old Frieda Trost gave the prison photographer a wide-eyed, stoic stare. Despite not showing any sign of emotion, she had plenty of reason to be afraid. Frieda had just been convicted of murdering her husband, William Trost, and was facing the noose. If her sentence was carried out, she would be the first woman executed … Continue reading The Woman Without Tears

Three Mary Graysons

Mary Grayson, Mollie Martin and Louie Vann were charged with “robbing J. Teter at Tulsa." The Claremore Commissioner’s Court in Indian Territory held them for a grand jury hearing on bond of $300 each. Of the three, only Mary Grayson was convicted of a crime: larceny. She was sentenced to three years in prison on … Continue reading Three Mary Graysons

Sophie Lyons on Criminal Broads

Recently I spoke to Tori Telfer, the host of the podcast Criminal Broads, about my biography of Sophie Lyons. I shared some stories with Tori about Sophie's crazy life and her long career in crime. Here's the link to the podcast, or listen wherever you get your podcasts. Women have often been seen as victims … Continue reading Sophie Lyons on Criminal Broads

The Protester

On May 30, 1914, a group of eleven men and one woman—people affiliated with the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, aka the “Wobblies”)—gathered in the public square in Tarrytown, New York. Their intention was to hold an open-air meeting to protest the recent Ludlow Massacre. The massacre occurred the previous month when the National … Continue reading The Protester

Fainting Bertha

A Chicago detective named Clifton Woolridge described Bertha Liebbeke as a “girlish young woman, with the baby dimples and skin of peach and cream, the innocent blue eyes, and the smiles that play so easily over her face as she talks vivaciously and with keen sense of both wit and humor.” Woolridge was clearly smitten … Continue reading Fainting Bertha

The Bank Robber and the Baronet

Harry Featherstone started his bank robbery career in his late teens. By the time he was 22, he had served time in Indiana’s state prison for safe robbery and in the Illinois State Penitentiary for burglary. Harry was born “Henry Featherstonhaugh” and was named for his grandfather. In England, where Grandpa Henry was born, the … Continue reading The Bank Robber and the Baronet