Recently Erik Rivenes interviewed me for Most Notorious!, his true crime history podcast. I was pleased to talk to him about the life and crimes of one of my favorite crooks—Sophie Lyons. Erik does several true crime podcasts and does a great job as an interviewer! He's also an author, writing about true crime history … Continue reading Most Notorious!
According to the journalist Herbert Asbury, San Francisco's Barbary Coast in the mid-19th century was a place where women were celebrated: There was such a dearth of females in the San Francisco of gold-rush days that a woman was almost as rare a sight as an elephant, while a child was an even more unusual … Continue reading The Lost Chicken
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
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I don't believe it. I think stealing someone else's stuff is just plain lazy. It's also against the law. In August 2017 I published a blog post about Leona and Pearl O'Loughlin. Troy Taylor copied a section of my post and put it in his … Continue reading Stealing Stuff
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 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
Harry Ward and Fred Williams were arrested in Albany, New York, on suspicion of robbing a jewelry store on February 23, 1887, according to an article in the Boston Globe. The newspaper claimed the men were well-known thieves in Boston, and that they had also been “working the carnivals in Montreal,” presumably as pickpockets. Montreal, located in Quebec, is about 220 miles due north of Albany.
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
Last month I presented a talk about Sophie Lyons with fellow author, Denise Testa, at the Oak Park (Illinois) Library. It's now available online. Please check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qottTc_Lx-0
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
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
Please join me and fellow author, Denise Testa, for our discussion of three women who stood on opposite sides of the law: Jessie Levy and Bess Robbins, who defended six members of the infamous John Dillinger gang in the early 1930s, and Sophie Lyons, who was one of the most notorious female criminals of the … Continue reading Women on Opposite Sides of the Law