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
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
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
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
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
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
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