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

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 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

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

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.

The Postmistress

The strongest weapon Ella McClendon had in her bag of tricks was her spotless reputation. As a storekeeper and assistant postmistress to her father, who was the postmaster in the town of Sturdivant, Missouri, no one suspected her of wrongdoing. In fact, it took years to uncover her criminal misdeeds. It started innocently enough. The … Continue reading The Postmistress

San Diego’s Joan of Arc

The year was 1912 and revolution was in the air. The California Free Speech League, a coalition of socialists, single-taxers, church organizations and left-leaning labor groups, including the International Workers of the World (The "Wobblies), was ready for action in San Diego. The group planned a large parade to protest a San Diego ordinance that … Continue reading San Diego’s Joan of Arc

Sophie Lyons’ Adventures in Stockholm

Sneak thief, con man and husband of Sophie Lyons, Billy Burke pulled a bank heist in Sweden during the summer of 1911. He got caught while attempting to grab a stack of kronor off a bank counter, employing his favorite technique of pincers on the bottom of his walking stick. This led to his conviction … Continue reading Sophie Lyons’ Adventures in Stockholm