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

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

The Lost Chicken

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

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.

Murder by Moonlight

It was the tail end of the summer in 1937 when these men were arrested in St. Louis, Missouri. They were suspects in a murder that had taken place a few days earlier in Chicago. The photo was taken with a flash, which adds to the film noir flavor of the image. Note that the … Continue reading Murder by Moonlight

Family Secrets

Note: I'm breaking with my usual blog routine. This is a story about a possible crime that happened in my own family. Family secrets tend to lurk, like rotten apples, in family trees. But eventually they have to fall on the ground. One of the best-kept secrets in my family was the fate of my … Continue reading Family Secrets

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

The Milkman

What do rattlesnakes have to do with crime? In this case the answer is nothing. Why are the two young men in the news photo holding a large, venomous snake? The explanation is on the back of the photo: Leonarde “Nard” Keeler, the young man on the left, was one of the fathers of the … Continue reading The Milkman

Granite Man Walks

After a pathetic Christmas day spent along the banks of the drainage canal in the vain hope of clearing up the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her mother, Mrs. Kate Mitchell Trostell, 11 year old Eleanor Trostell was taken to the detective bureau last night to confront Arthur Foster, charged with the murder of her … Continue reading Granite Man Walks

Gambling with Gangsters

Large amounts of money have been found cleverly concealed about the persons of J. J. Kellogg and J. MacDonald, held here for questioning. The men were arrested Wednesday as suspicious characters. — The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), October 12, 1931 Nothing says “crook” quite like cash concealed in your clothing. One man had $1400* ($23,172) … Continue reading Gambling with Gangsters

The Family Gems

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., July 13--Paroled from the Pontiac reformatory, Arthur Groves, alias Harry Williams, a negro, has repaid former Governor Yates, his benefactor, by stealing $3,000 worth of diamonds from the former executive’s handsome new residence in Washington Park. The robbery occurred on June 7 last, at a time when the former Governor was in Kentucky … Continue reading The Family Gems