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 bonds 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

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

Firebug

A fire broke out in a multi-family apartment building at 114 Wyckoff Street in Brooklyn on the night of December 10, 1907. The building was located in the heart of what was then one of the borough’s most populous tenement districts. Heat from blaze damaged the water pipes, causing water to drip through the floor … Continue reading Firebug

Hats On, Ladies

Annie Stocinski was arrested on December 18, 1909 for larceny from a shop near the "Boston Stone," a tourist attraction in that city. She was arrested with another person whose name and number went unrecorded.

Escape from a Bordello

Fay Bucke was arrested for stealing clothing and furs valued at the princely sum of $540 (worth about $16,000 today) from her landlady in 1904. Despite the dire circumstances she found herself in, Fay took the time to style her hair—the updo she sported in her mugshot is nothing short of magnificent. If you’re wondering … Continue reading Escape from a Bordello

The Allotment

Pink Bruner was serving a life sentence at Leavenworth Penitentiary for a murder he didn’t commit. It happened on a Saturday night in early May 1900. The city marshal, Hugh Myers, had ridden on horseback to the western edge of Davis, a small town in Indian Territory, to investigate gunshots. There he found three Black … Continue reading The Allotment

Sherlock Holmes in a Skirt

After watching The Alienist: Angel of Darkness I wondered about Sara Howard, the protagonist in season two of the show. Did a woman like Howard, who works as a detective, actually exist in New York of the 1890s? Author Caleb Carr said he based the character of Howard on a flesh and blood woman named … Continue reading Sherlock Holmes in a Skirt

The Real Inspector Byrnes

No one who follows this blog will be surprised to find that I’m a fan of The Alienist, currently in its second season on TNT. The show, based on the novels by Caleb Carr, vividly brings to life crime in gritty lower Manhattan in the late nineteenth century, complete with dimly lit saloons, dogfights in … Continue reading The Real Inspector Byrnes

Lena’s Scarlet Letter

A young woman going by the name of Lena Duarte was sent to prison on Halloween day in 1901. Her crime? Sending an “obscene letter” via the US mail to her friend Mabel Smith when she was in Fresno. This was a felony and Lena’s conviction earned her a sentence of six months in San … Continue reading Lena’s Scarlet Letter

Portrait of a Drug Dealer

The first hint of trouble came when Elmer Tuttle deserted from the army. He’d enlisted in his home state of New York for a three-year stretch on September 14, 1901. He made it through just over a year and a half, deserting on April 2, 1902. Captured six months later, he was dishonorably discharged. Four … Continue reading Portrait of a Drug Dealer

Silent Phil

With a crisp straw boater sitting squarely on his head, the young man doesn’t look like a hardened criminal. His clothes are clean and neat. The American flag pin on his label showed off his support for the American troops fighting in the Spanish-American War when his mug shot photos were taken. His unflinching gaze … Continue reading Silent Phil