Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

One of the best American crime films, in my opinion, was made in 1973, and was based on the book by George V. Higgins, and that was "The Friends of Eddie Coyle."   At the conclusion, you are left with the view that with friends like that, who needs enemies?  The so-called "honour amongst thieves" mantra, was well and truly blown to smithereens in this picture.  Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) is a small time Boston villain and supplier of guns to villains.  At that moment, a gang is doing the rounds of New England, abducting bank managers from their homes and holding his family as hostages.  Coyle has trouble in New Hampshire and is facing a couple of years in jail.  So he contacts the local District Attorney (Richard Jordan) and tries to persuade him to help him out.  The D.A. says he must help them.  Coyle buys a new batch of guns for the bank gang and sees machine guns in the boot of the car, owned by the gun seller (Steven Keats).  He is going to sell them on to some young radicals.  Coyle passes this information on to the D.A.  They set up a trap and catch him.  The guy realises that it was Coyle who sold him out.

    But despite arresting a man selling machine guns to radicals, the D.A. insists it is not enough to justify him putting a word into the authorities in New Hampshire.  Now, if he knew who this gang were....?  Coyle spends time in a local bar and gets on well with the bartender (Peter Boyle)  The barman is well known in the underworld and is known to be a man you could rely upon.  The gang are getting wary of Coyle after receiving a new batch of firearms. The leader (Alex Rocco) warns them all to be vigilant.  One of them (Joe Santos) states that Coyle is a stand up guy.  The gang enter a house early in the morning, waiting for the occupants to rise.  They heard them come downstairs but in walks the D.A. armed, backed up by heavily armed Police.  They are convinced that Coyle has sold them out.  Coyle approaches the D.A. and offers the gang up.  The D.A. puts a newspaper in front of him, telling him he is too late.  The gang have been arrested.

    Coyle goes to his local bar, drinking and talking to the bartender about the arrests.  A telephone call to the bar is from an associate of the gang.  The barman tells the caller that Coyle is there making a big thing out of the arrests.  Later he meets a man who tells him that Coyle has to go.  The barman insists he will do it his way.  He takes Coyle out to an ice hockey game, plies him with plenty of drink, and when he falls asleep in the car, the barman shoots him, then makes an exit.  The D.A. is out a day or two later, meeting his informant who gave him the gang.  It was the barman.

     There was no "cor blimey guv!" rhetoric so beloved of the London underworld.  There is a massive difference in sentencing in the USA and there is no doubt in my mind that that plays a huge part in villains informing on everybody.  Even friends.  A dog eat dog world.  The film was directed by Peter Yates, previous films were "Robbery" and "Bullitt."  The chase scene in Robbery got him the Bullitt job.  A truly under rated film.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Con Artistes - Not Figures of Fun

Time for a switch on criminal targets, away from the bodies and killers, and have a look at the world of the conman, flim-flam man, grifter and whatever else term is used to describe them.  The common image in a 50`s/60`s British crime comedy is that of a smooth talking, well dressed man who could sell you the Eiffel Tower, and is looked upon as a kind of comedy act.  The reality is very much different.  These are very nasty people who will use every conceivable type of manipulation and lies to achieve the end result; money.  Carl Hildebrandt was such a person.  He pulled con after con over here in the UK, resulting in him shaving off all his hair and passing himself off as a cancer sufferer and fooling everybody he came across into believing him and parting with money for "treatment."  What was much more sinister, was that Hildebrandt visited graveyards and stole the identities of deceased children.  He would find a suitable headstone with enough details for him to apply for a "new" birth certificate.  Hildebrandt then headed for the USA and carried on his activities, obtaining new"identities."  But his reign came to an end when a diligent Florida patrol officer did substantial research into the background of a suspect, and discovered he was wanted in the UK.  Quite a feather in his cap!  An example of good police work ending the run of a nasty character.

    Then there was a case of a woman in the States who ended up virtually losing everything, and almost her children, all for the sake of a promise of a "dream home."  She fell under the spell of a man who run a company making kit cars/accessories.  He claimed that the Mafia were after him and had shown him photos allegedly of his girlfriends` daughters and that she had to keep a low profile. He later claimed to have cancer but she was not to visit him, as he wanted to get through this ordeal by himself.  Yet, through all the claims, now matter how outrageous or strange, she kept thinking about the "dream house" that would be waiting at the end.  When the truth emerged, he was in debt and the stories about cancer, the mob, etc, was complete garbage.  She took in all his crap, solely for the sake of a house, and almost lost everything.  Do I feel sympathy?  No.  The old adage there is "if it`s too good to be true, then it isn`t."  Money and materialism takes over people.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Freemasonry - Is It as Innocent as It is Claimed?

There was a recent newspaper article about the alleged involvement of the Freemasons in events that have blighted this country.  Did these Brotherhoods wield such power or are conspiracy theorists desperate for people to point the finger at?  Obviously it was true that many decades ago, the members were the wealthy, powerful and influential, but now ordinary members of the public are now Masons.  It now no longer matters if the man is a cabbie or a binman.  One organisation that has long had strong links to the Lodge, is that of the Police.  Leonard "Nipper" Read recalled how he was passed over for promotion because he was NOT a Mason,  and the man who gained the promotion WAS a Mason.  The fact that he was unsuited to the post, was irrelevant.  There was a claim that you could not get into the Flying Squad in the 1960`s unless you were a Freemason.  Plenty of back scratching was obviously rampant.

    The examples cited in the article were the Ripper Murders in Whitechapel, the sinking of the Titanic and the escape of Kenny Noye, to the continent.  Let us start with Jack.  Another book is claiming that the murders were part of a Masonic plot.  The cuts in the face of one victim were Masonic marks!  Not exactly very new.  This was mooted by Stephen Knight back in the 70`s and a film made in 1978 - "Murder By Decree" starring Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes and James Mason as Dr Watson.  Some of the people at the top were Masons and conspired to conceal a brother Mason.  Do I believe this?  No. Not exactly as effective as investigations today, so with a local population with a deep mistrust of authority, could Police really make effective headway?  Were these women random victims or were they targeted?  If so, why?  Never have so many potential suspects been in an area of a murder zone at the right time.  All of these theories have outlandish plots, worthy of a slot in Criminal Minds, rather than a mundane and unspectacular suspect, as Trevor Marriott has presented.  A German sailor.

    What about the Titanic?  Some of the Enquiry board were Freemasons, and so were some of the people behind the ship.  Was there a conspiracy to keep blame away from the Board of Trade, over the lack of lifeboats?  There was also the report of a fire in one coal bunker that was kept from the authorities.  My humble opinion is that this great country can never be responsible for tragedies.  Other countries cause tragedies, not the good old Brits.  There was also the claim of the ship being unsinkable.  That soon fell apart.  Something had to receive the blame, so it was the iceberg and the speed.  

    Then we come to Kenny Noye.  Did he receive help from the Brotherhood in his escape over the road rage murder?  The article mentioned his membership of a lodge.  It also mentioned his role as a police informer.  Did he receive help?  To me, the article overlooked two important words; police informer.  To a number of cops, no victim was ever as important as a grass.  Even if he was a killer.  The grass always came first.  Even if he was acquitted of the murder of a police officer.  So, if he got assistance from cops, it would have been to protect a high level informant.  This is my take on the subject.  No doubt others will disagree, but at least it makes good debate.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Russell Johnson - The Balcony Killer

This is about another serial killer that is unknown outside his own country.  In this case, it is Russell Johnson, a sick killer dubbed "The Balcony Killer" in Canada.  His reign of terror ran from 1973 to 1977, in which he ran up a body count of seven victims.  His nickname came from the fact that he used to climb up apartment buildings and try the balcony doors.  He was known to have climbed up to fifteen floors, looking for victims.  Victims suffered sodomy, strangulation, and if that was not enough, he committed necrophilia on some of his victims.  he also attacked another ten women,choking them until they passed out.  Johnson is locked up in a maximum security mental hospital in Penetanguishene, Ontario.  

    But he craved a transfer to a less secure hospital at Brockville, Ontario.  The fact that this facility housed both male and female inmates, in separate wings, though they were not locked up at night.  One objector pointed out that Johnson would have a victim pool awaiting him at Brockville.  Incredibly, one psychiatrist said that Johnson felt "very bad" about his crimes!!!  Johnson only had one aim; getting into a less secure hospital.  And women being there would have been a very nice bonus as well.  The shit hit the fan when the families of the victims heard that authorities were preparing to transfer him to a medium security hospital.  The outrage of the families and views of other professionals put a halt to this madness.  But nothing can ever be ruled out when you have maniacs telling mental health experts, what they want to hear.

The Execution 0f Willie Trottie

Another tv show following in the footsteps of  "Most Evil" that was hosted by the brilliant Dr Michael Stone, is called "Inside the Mind of a Murderer," hosted by a Dr Michelle Ward.  She does not seem to be all that impressive, certainly not in the league of Dr Stone.  She interviewed a man facing execution for a shooting slaughter, and listened to his relentless excuses.  She did not believe anything he said, but she seemed to put forward excuses for his rampage.  Willie Trottie was a control freak, who had a very volatile relationship with Barbara Canada, had a child between them, but she ended up taking out a restraining order on him.  Trottie admitted that he hit Barbara a number of times but claimed she pushed and provoked him into lashing out.

    He was recorded issuing a death threat to Barbara and her family, if she did not return to him.  Anybody with the tiniest brain could work out that she dared to leave him, and he could not abide it.  He went to her home in Houston ARMED WITH A GUN.  He claimed it was for his own protection!!!!!!!  He shot her brother, seriously wounding him.  He then proceeded to shoot and wound her sister and mother.  All in self defence of course!!!!  He cornered Barbara in a bedroom and shot her.  But her brother, despite his injuries, managed to get a gun and shot Trottie three times, catching him in the legs.  Trottie staggered into the living room and cold bloodedly shot the brother twice in the head.  He then went back into the bedroom and emptied the gun in Barbara.  He shot her ELEVEN times!!!  He then left and drove to hospital to get his wounds treated. Two cold blooded murder and two attempted murders, and he tried to make out he was a wronged man.  Barbara and her family were to blame for everything.  Yet, the state of Texas did not believe him for the May 1993 massacre and executed him by lethal injection.  No doubt somebody will speak up for this much "maligned" man.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Demands For a Mobile Phone Leads to Death Row

It never ceases to amaze me just what lengths people will go to, just to obtain something trivial.  In this case, it led to a brutal murder of a lad of 16.  He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Eric Sergeant was out walking in the town of Hemet, in California, when three young men approached him, telling him to hand over his phone. They were 17 year old Francisco Siordia, Joseph Venegas, 15, and 21 year old Roy Zavala.  He stood his ground and then tried to escape from them, but he was caught.  Zavala then proceeded to stab him ten times with a big knife.  They then fled.  People coming upon the scene, desperately tried to stem the bleeding.  A helicopter rushed him to hospital, but he passed away in the operating theatre.

    Two years on, at the trial, Zavala received the death penalty.  Siordia was under the age for the death penalty but was still charged as an adult.  He was convicted of first degree murder and was given life without parole.  Venegas took a plea bargain and accepted 12 years for manslaughter.  All for the sake of a mobile phone.  The murder of a lad just out walking and the perpetrator facing a needle in the arm.  Another leaves prison in a box.

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Black Panther Film - Now out on DVD

The local newspaper published a double page spread about the film made about the Black Panther - Donald Neilson - that is now being released on DVD.  I remember the headlines when it was reported that  film about the murders was being planned, and indeed, a clip was shown on Barry Norman's film show.  But the film remained virtually unseen as some authorities refused to show it.  Donald Sumpter played Neilson, though physically he was not suited.  It was reported that Ian Holm had originally agreed to play him, but upon hearing that the family of Lesley Whittle objected to the film, he backed out.  Not only is he a superb actor but physically, was closer to Neilson than Sumpter.  The film cost £100,000 to make - a low budget - and was filmed in just two weeks.  The sort of shooting schedule that Roger Corman did on many of his low budgeters!  The Whittle family reportedly said that they could not stop the film being made but they made it clear that they were unhappy about the situation.

    The scriptwriter, Michael Armstrong, pointed to films made about murderers such as Christie.  A number of reconstructions of cases are made about murders, such as Sutcliffe, Dennis Nilsen, Griffiths, The Wests, etc, so I can see Armstrong`s point.  Whether it is right or wrong, everybody will have an opinion on it.  But seeing the name of Michael Armstrong brought back certain films.  The Mark of The Devil, made in 1969 in Germany, by Armstrong, and starring Herbert Lom,  Udo Kier and Reggie Nalder.  This was banned in the UK (and I believe it still is - anybody know otherwise?) but I saw it on video around 1983.  Think of Witchfinder General, only very much nastier.  He also did a sex film called "Sex Thief" which featured a then unknown Diane Keen without her clothes!  

    A titbit about Neilson; one customer of mine, a former cop, claimed he once dated Nielson`s daughter, and when he took her out one night, Neilson warned him to have her back by a certain time, or "he would kill him!"  I have no way of knowing if this is true, it is only what he told me. Will people view the film that was largely shunned by the authorities and people?  Only time will tell.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The "Nanny State" What a load of shit!

It is interesting to hear views on the radio or tv on the debates of dealing with crime and its perpetrators.  I previously have posted about a discussion on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show, in which fire crews attended fires and other incidents, but were being pelted with stones and other missiles.  It was sickening to listen to some fucking dickhead carping on about "disenfranchised and marginalised youths!"  There is a simple way of explaining things: they're just fucking troublemakers.  It is pricks like these, sitting there wringing their hands and excusing thuggery, that create the mindset that these hooligans can simply do what they want.  After all, what are these dickheads going to do?  Explain to them just how bad their behaviour is?  Do me a favour!!!!!

    I recall an incident years ago, reported on Granada Reports, about an attack on a circus by a mob of hooligans.  Circus staff said that with no exaggeration, there were at least 500 yobs involved.  This happened in Liverpool.  Nowadays, they provide educational units for "special needs children."  What they really mean is troublemakers kicked out of normal school.  This is where my part comes in.  I deliver to a newly opened school for yobs, and in a week, lodged two complaints to my employer.  Pelted with stones the first time, then a gobby little twat, showing off to his buddies, gave me ten seconds to get out of the place.  No, it was not threatening but you do not have to put up with this sort of behaviour.  I stood there and let him count down to zero.  Then he threw a slow punch, just stopping it about an inch from my face.  I knew I could not react, but what was worse, a male teacher stood three feet away, and did NOTHING!  He simply said "you shouldn't dò things like that, blah, blah, blah!"  Then another behind me said "There`s two of us here"  To which I replied "It`ll fucking need the two of you!"  Then I left, getting more verbal from this mouthy little bastard.  What is incredible, is that a copper is based there. Yet, all it seems is that he tries to "talk" to them.  What he needs is a present of a boxset of "Life On Mars" and learn how to deal with shit.  Too many hand wringing wankers about making excuses for trouble.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

High Treason!

The famous cases of treason and the culprits being executed were William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) just after WW2 and Sir Roger Casement in WW1. A name not generally thrown into the mix is that of John Amery.  Is the reason because his father was a member of the Churchill War Cabinet?  However, Amery led a spoiled life due to the prominent position, and expected daddy to be there to bail him out every he ended up in financial trouble.  Amery had married whilst a young man but he ran in trouble in Paris when he could not meet his expenditure by cheque.  He was arrested by French Police and sent to prison.  After release, he was extradited back to England and taken to court by his creditors.  But his parents finally refused to clear his debts and so he was made bankrupt.  He then left the country to travel to Spain and joined the Spanish Civil War and began gunrunning for Franco`s forces.  He then became a fascist.  He moved onto France after the conflict ended and the Germans recruited him in 1940.  He began making propaganda films for the Nazis and tried to convince British prisoners of war, to fight the Russians on behalf of the Fuhrer.

    He was so well thought of by the Nazis that he was asked to go to Italy and meet Mussolini but this did not occur.  Amery was taken prisoner by Italian partisans who in turn, handed him over to the British.  He was immediately transported to England to face charges of high treason.  His defence was that he was officially a Spanish citizen and therefore could not be charged as a traitor.  Asked to produce proof, all he had was a residence permit.  He decided he was on a loser and so he put his hands up.  He pleaded guilty.  He was prosecuted by Sir Hartley Shawcross and defended by Mr Slade.  The judge, Mr Justice Humphreys passed the sentence of death.  The proceedings lasted just under ten minutes.  Amery was hanged at Pentonville Prison on December 19th 1945 by Albert Pierrepoint and Henry Critchell.

Carroll Edward Cole - Serial Killer

How often do we hear about a person detained in a psychiatric facility, or to cut the bullshit, a secure mental hospital, is released by a review board.  This is over the objections of professionals who have seen through the facades that these people can weave, and know that people in society are going to pay for the refusal of people who are "great judges of character" to listen.  One such man was Carroll Cole, a man who later admitted to murdering thirty five women.  His rampage was finally halted on December 6th 1985, when he was executed by lethal injection at Carson City Prison.  No doubt there would have been plenty of people weeping at his death, though I doubt the families and friends of his admitted near three dozen victims, would have themselves.  He told a reporter after his conviction and death sentence that if he was ever released, he would instantly kill more women.  You cannot make it clearer than that.

    Born in 1943, Cole had spent his twenties, in out of trouble with the law.  His arrest sheet carried crimes such as, assault with intent to kill, arson, pimping & car theft.  He received a two year stint in prison in Texas.  His crime?  He attempted to murder his first wife by setting a Dallas motel ablaze with her inside.  This man had done a nice little circuit of mental institutions around the USA.  Stays in hospitals in Missouri, Nevada, California and also in Dallas in 1967 after his release from prison and a suicide attempt.  One Psychiatrist who examined him, declared him to be a menace to society.  Another stated that Cole hated the female form and wanted to kill first, then rape!  Despite these serious warnings, the good and proper people of the review board let him out.  Many women were to fall foul of this decision.

    A woman was found murdered outside a bar in Dallas on November 12th 1980.  She had been seen in the company of a man that turned out to be Cole.  When questioned about the victim who had been raped as well, he started talking about a murder Police knew nothing about.  When they started to get back to the woman in the carpark, he replied "Which one?"  He then began giving details of eight murders, but said the total was much more.  One was the murder of a woman in Oklahoma City.  His story was that he woke up in bed, next to her dead body, after picking her up in a bar.  He then committed necrophilia, claimed to have cannibalised part of her body, dismembered her and put her remains in bags, before dumping them in a rubbish skip.  Cole told the reporter that the authorities should not prolong the life of a dangerous man like himself.  The authorities agreed and 42 year old Cole received the needle.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Martha Marek - Murderess

Martha Lowenstein was an orphan from Vienna and was just 15 when she met and became the constant companion of a much older and very wealthy man; Moritz Fritsch.  The year was 1919.  Fritsch died in 1924, and to be expected, Martha inherited his legacy.  Martha then went on to marry insurance agent Emil Marek, and lived the good life........ until all her money had been spent.  They hatched a plan to cheat the insurance company with an injury to Emil`s leg.  They had tried to sever his leg with an axe!  But the ceiling came down upon them when it was discovered that Martha had bribed medical staff into giving false evidence.  They were both jailed for four months.  Whilst incarcerated, Martha had shared a cell with Leopoldine Lichtenstein.  She had poisoned her husband with a rat poison, Zeliopaste.  One of the ingredients was Thallium.

    Emil died in July 1932 and soon after, their young daughter died too.  Martha upped and moved in with her aging aunt, Susanne Lowenstein.  But now a pattern started to emerge.  Susanne died, and Martha gained a home.  In order to boost income, Martha began to take in lodgers, one of was Felicitas Kittenberger, who worked as a seamstress.  She too, suddenly died.  Now she attempted another insurance fraud, but this was a failure.  Police began to take an interest in her and decided to undertake some exhumations.  Felicitas was exhumed and taken for examination.  The pathologist stated that her death was due to Thallium poisoning.

    Now the Police stepped up the investigation.  The bodies of Susanne, Emil and two children were exhumed.  All had Thallium in them.  Enquiries about Martha learned that she had purchased Zeliopaste from a chemist in the city.  Police arrested Martha and she was charged with five murders in 1938.  She was convicted of four of them and sentenced to death.  She went to the guillotine on December 6th 1938.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Is Old Murder Mystery Solved?

Recently, a newspaper report stated that a man of 91 had confessed to Canadian authorities that he was responsible for a murder way back, just after WW2.  He had emigrated to Canada in 1951.  He was now living in a care home, but had no memory of his alleged victim`s name or precisely when it had occurred.  Scotland Yard were informed and a search of unsolved murders in Soho, London, produced the case of 26 year old Margaret Cook, who had been shot by a man in an alleyway in Carnaby Street in November 1946.  The files revealed that she had argued with a man who was carrying a firearm, and shouted that he was armed.  A former Policeman approached but was told by the man that it was none of his business.  Then a shot was heard and the woman collapsed.  Some passers-by chased the man but he managed to elude them by Oxford Circus Tube Station.  A description was distributed and within days, a construction worker from Scotland was named as a possible suspect.  However, this lead fizzled out.

    Margaret Cook had been working as a dancer and singer at The Blue Lagoon nightclub but it was said by Police that in reality she was a prostitute, hailing from Bradford.  Her maiden name was Willis and had married a Bradford labourer named Joe Cook.  She had a criminal record of delinquency and had been sent to a borstal unit - in the USA, this would be called Juvenile Hall - and that she had left her husband within a year and moved down to London.

    The old man claimed that she was giving him a verbal volley and that she had also conned him out of money.  He was shown a line up of photographs and he correctly identified Margaret Cook.  He was now diagnosed with cancer and it seemed he wanted to clear his conscience.  British authorities are said to be applying for his extradition, but he has not been named, quite rightly, as he has not been charged with any crime.  Will it go through?  Only time will tell.

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Killing Spree of Jennifer Sanmarco

Jennifer Sanmarco carried out a shooting spree at the U.S. mail centre where she was formerly employed, in which she shot dead six former colleagues, before turning the gun on herself.  She had already shot her old neighbour dead.  She ran the gauntlet of extremely bizarre behaviour, bringing herself into contact with Police, but despite obvious signs of extreme delusions, she remained free.  What was the cause of her mental breakdown?  Was it an inherent trait?  Bollocks - here I go again with my "trouble stirring guesswork!"  Did everyday events totally overwhelm her and distort reality in her vision?  Who was she?

    Jenny Sanmarco was born in New York on December 6th 1961, attending Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, and later going on to Brooklyn College.  However, she did not graduate.  She then worked in a number of differing jobs, such as a guard at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe.  She quit her job just a couple of days before her probationary period ended, with no explanation.  Her work was found to be good.  In the mid 90`s, she gained work as a Police dispatcher.  She passed a background check AND a psychological evaluation!  But, as in other jobs, she left that job after some months.  She was employed as a clerk at the Galeta mail centre in Santa Barbara County in California.  But she was attracting attention as she would frequently talk and argue with somebody..... that was not there.  Her behaviour turned more bizarre and unpredictable that she had to be removed from the centre by the Police.  The company paid her a psychological disability pension.

    She now moved to Milan in New Mexico, where she attempted to obtain a license to publish a newsletter entitled "The Racist Press" - she was well known for making racist comments at the mail centre - and now believed she was the victim of a conspiracy concocted by the mail centre.  Police had been called after she continuously harassed a female worker, plus, she had been reported for going to a gas station in the nude!  She had dressed herself when cops arrived on the scene.  But things changed dramatically on January 30th 2006.  She had virtually shaved all her hair off so was not immediately recognised when she made her way to the Galeta mail centre.  She gained access to the plant by driving right behind another car.  She then took an ID card from a worker at gunpoint and then made her way inside.Employees were not know that she had already killed her former neighbour, Beverly Graham, 54.  Many shots rang out, and six people died;Ze Fairchild, 37, Maleka Higgins, 28, Nicola Grant, 42, Guadalupe Swartz, 52, Dexter Shannon, 57, & Charlotte Colton, 44.  She then turned her gun on herself and ended it all.  Numerous explanations were sought.  Rambling letters were found in her home, but they did not make much sense.  This is one of those episodes in which the perpetrator truly was disturbed.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Murder of PC Raymond Summers

Back in the 1950`s, one period still viewed by the elderly with rose tinted glasses, was a seething mass of bloody gang fights throughout the UK.  There were confrontations between Teddy boys and other gangs in the same vein of twenty years later, with the new wave of gangs being named as "tribes."  There was one incident that resulted in the killing of a young Police Constable attempting to break up a brawl, and the assailant being executed.  Events began on December 14th 1958.  Ronnie Marwood, a scaffolder, had been having a night out drinking when he found himself with friends outside Gray`s Dancing Academy in Seven Sisters Road in the Holloway area of London.  A fight broke out between two groups of Teddy boys.  During the brawl, a small axe was swung at Marwood, who received a small wound.  Then a constable started separating people and Marwood saw him talking earnestly to one of his friends.  Marwood tried to intervene but was told by PC Sumers to move on and was pushed away.  Marwood was to later claim Summers punched him.  But he instantly struck back and the constable collapsed from a stab wound.  Marwood then made off into the night.

    Marwood was questioned the following day by Police but they had no evidence to charge any of the men questioned and was released.  But this was now a Capital Crime, that fell into one of the five categories of the 1957 Homicide Act that was a hanging offence; the murder of a Policeman.  He remained free until 22nd January 1959 that he voluntarily went into the station and admitted that it was he who stabbed PC Summers.  He was charged with Capital Murder, and went on trial at the Old Bailey in March 1959 before Mr Justice Gorman.  He maintained that he had had plenty to drink, was not aware of the knife in his hand and had no intention of killing Summers.  But he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.  He was hanged at Pentonville Prison on May 8th 1959 by Harry Allen and Harry Robinson.

    For some years afterwards, on the anniversary of his execution, wreaths were laid in memory of him by the Nash brothers, at that time, the strongest crime family in London.  The story goes that they helped keep Marwood out of sight until he decided to give himself up.  Another claim is that the "Holy Two" - Krays! - had helped hide him as well, but there is nothing to substantiate that claim.  They claimed that was why the Police went after them.  Others involved in the brawl were jailed for periods ranging from six months to fifteen months.  

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Murder of Abraham Levine

Here is a case from 1949 that took place in Leeds on November 16th.  Abraham Levine, 53, who ran a jewellers in Albion Street, was working alone when two men came into the shop, saying that they had some old watches for sale but Mr Levine was not interested and believed they may have been trying to sell stolen property.  The two young men wore raincoats but no hats, which was a familiar trait of the time, so Mr Levine would have been able to identify them.  One then hit him with a gun, but he fought back and was grappling with one of them in the shop doorway, when a shot was heard by passers-by and Mr Levine collapsed.  They scattered shoppers in the street by firing shots in the air.  Onlookers tried to give chase but more shots were fired.  Frantic calls to Police produced carloads of armed officers who proceeded to set up road blocks.  Abraham Levine died the following day.

    A driver saw the two suspects turn into a street but when they saw the car trailing them, they opened fire on him, and then ran into the Leeds College of Technology.  Police quickly surrounded the college but the gunmen had escaped.  From descriptions given by witnesses, Police were certain that the killers were 19 year old Walter Sharpe and 17 year old George Lannen.  They put out a nationwide alert and were quickly arrested in Southport.  They went on trial at Leeds Assizes in March 1950 for Capital Murder.  Sharpe admitted firing the shot that killed Abraham Levine, but claimed it was an accident that happened during the struggle.  (What about the shots fired at people giving chase?)  The jury were out for a mere twenty minutes, coming back with two guilty verdicts.  Lannen was under eighteen, so he went to prison.  For Sharpe, it was an appointment with hangman Steve Wade at Armley Prison on March 30th 1950.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Unsolved Murder of Jean Townsend

I had a communication from people at a place called Ivor Court, in regards to the 1954 unsolved murder of 21 year old Jean Townsend, who worked in the west end of London as a costumier.  Here is a summary.  She was killed on September 14th in Ruislip, after leaving South Ruislip train station at 11.45 pm and walking towards her parents home.  Her body was discovered the following morning on waste ground.  She had been strangled with her own scarf.  Some of her clothing had been removed but the post mortem did not reveal any signs of rape.  One witness told Police of hearing a scream and two men talking.  The witness described one voice as American.  The was an air station nearby manned by U.S. personnel.  Claims were later made that the authorities at the base refused to cooperate with the Police.  Then some women came forward to speak of encounters with men in the immediate vicinity of where Jean was found.  One woman described an American with a high forehead.  Another woman reported an attack by a strange man, days before the murder, on the road Jean was walking on after leaving the station.  The description reported the man had a high forehead.

    People were now asking if the murder of a woman in Pimlico, just before Jean`s, were connected.  She had been seen with a US airman.  She too, had been strangled.  Were they linked?  Police never said.  Then there was another attack on a woman who left a train.  He followed the woman off the train at North Harrow, so she confronted him and a struggle ensued, in which she managed to tear one or two buttons off his overcoat.  She described him as having a high forehead.  Three years later, Muriel Maitland was murdered a couple of miles away from Ruislip, in Cranford Woods.  Connected?

    The case came under review in 1982 following a series of telephone calls, but Police refused to disclose any details.  They were confident enough to believe that no US servicemen were involved and there were no connections to any other murders and assaults, which included the 1971 murder of Gloria Booth, murdered a mile away from where Jean was murdered.  Then, more than twenty years later, an attempt was made via the Freedom of Information Act, to gain access to the case files, now held at the National Archives.  But the application was denied.  They are to remain closed until 2031.  However, a suspect was named during the hearing, a Count Francesco Carlo Dalatri, a man of mixed English and Italian parentage and lived in London at the time.  Why did this man`s name crop up?  Due to allegations made on a radio show hosted by the late John Peel, in which he interviewed the now deceased Count's landlady.  The claims made, but never substantiated, were that the mysterious Count had a habit of commuting on trains, simply to stare at other people.  Late at night.  He allegedly vanished, presumably to Italy, shortly after the murder.  The landlady claimed that she and a friend forced open a locked door in his now vacated room and found an army great coat with buttons torn off.  Cynics would say "Why was this coat not handed to Police?"  His habits being known should have been brought to their attention.  But this could also spark suggestions of a cover up.  His family used influence or bought the cops off.  The tribunal ruled there was no connection with the Count, and rumours and reports of a button found in Jean's hand, torn from a coat, did not match the case file.  Therefore it had no basis in truth.  But stories have surfaced that a woman was attacked just before Jean, as she left Ruislip Station but she managed to escape and hide.  Due to the closure on the case files, it is not known if she reported it to Police.  So it cannot be said for certain if this actually happened.

    So, was there a cover up?  There is an explanation for alleged reluctance for the US Air Force to assist Police.  During WW2, acts of rape and murder were Capital Crimes in the US military, and eighteen soldiers were hanged at Shepton Mallet.  During a time of war, strict discipline was called for.  But in 1954, we were not at war, and possibly it was decided to refuse to cooperate with Police when some member of their forces could face the hangman.  Executions took place months after conviction, not many years later, as in the US.  As for the "Count", we need to have some sort of bogeyman in a mystery.  Was there actual evidence to back up the allegations against this man?  Scottish serial killer has been put forward as a suspect.  It is thought that he resided in the South Ruislip area at the time of the murder, and did he commit some murders in England?  Manuel piled up the bodies in Scotland, so it IS possible.  But as for the closure on files at the National Archives, there is no conspiracy there.  I have found that obscure murder cases have closure for up to one hundred years.  It is usually newspapers who whip up the conspiracy theories, simply to spark attention and rumour.  Those are the rules.  There is nothing special about murder cases that demand secrecy, it is simply the rules.  The daughter of a murder victim contacted me to tell of her battle with the Archives to have the files opened on her mother`s killer.  But this case has an eighty three year closure.  It did not matter that the killer then went on to commit a second and premeditated murder, for which he served less than twenty years.  What do I think?  It is possible that the killer was the man harassing and attacking other women.  Was he a military man?  Wearing a great coat was not positive proof, as they were fine for keeping warm and dry.  He could have been a former military man who had decided to stay over here.  But the thorn in the side, is that the reports from women of attacks and harassment, were only made after the murder.  There was a claim that Police were fairly certain who the killer was but could not find the proof to exact an arrest.  A mystery that will never go away.


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Escape From Alcatraz

Alcatraz.  The island prison located in San Francisco Bay, that was deemed escape proof.  The Rock was a mile away from land and it would be thought of as reachable by swimming.   Until you saw the very strong and treacherous currents that could tire out any swimmer and drag them under.  Could a powerful swimmer overcome these currents?  There were in total, fourteen escape attempts by thirty six convicts.  Guards had shot six of them, two had drowned, five were listed as missing, and were pronounced drowned, and the rest were captured.  But of the five "missing" three were Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin.  A film was made about this incident starring a certain Mr Eastwood, and Patrick McGoohan as the Warden.

    The plan was put into operation in June 1962, with them climbing through holes they had made in their cells over a period of months, using old sharpened spoons, blades and anything else that chipped away the stone.  They had placed paper-mache heads that had real hair on them, courtesy of the barber shop, on their bunks, and put towels under the blankets to replicate their bodies.  The trio had made a makeshift raft out of dozens of stolen raincoats.  But after they escaped, there was no sign of them ever again.  Until recently.  There is the claim that the brothers managed to escape and made it to Brazil, and a photograph has emerged allegedly depicting them.  The man responsible for the photo was criminal Fred Brizzi, who claimed he met the brothers in Brazil and snapped the picture in 1975.  He said that they had managed to reach a ferry in mid-bay and attached a very long piece of stolen cord they had with them, to the ferry rudder and were pulled along until they met up with a boat waiting for them.

    Is it the brothers?  Family members presented postcards with their writing on, postmarked after the escape.  Cynics would point out that the two men in the photo were wearing sunglasses, and cannot be clearly identified.  The story by Brizzi is that he was asked to give the photo to their family, but was strangely, unable to, for seventeen years.  It could also be made that a criminal would say anything to "stick it to the feds" and is any villain a reliable witness?  There was no mention of Frank Morris, or what became of him.  But it is possible that a successful break was made from The Rock in 1962.  The prison ran from 1934 until 1963.  The most famous inmate was Big Al - Capone, that is.  Anybody out there with their theories?

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Ghost Squad

Back in the days when a great number of Scotland Yard detectives were household names and some even had tv series made of their exploits, such as Superintendent Robert Fabian, Police had intelligence gathering squads such as the Special Duties Squad.  Because of their habit of appearing and then disappearing, they became known to the Underworld as "The Ghost Squad."  Set up at the beginning of 1946, under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner Sir Ronald Howe, the new squad was put under the command of DI John Capstick, a dedicated cop known throughout the criminal fraternity as "Charlie Artful."  The only other well known officer in the ranks was DS John Gosling, who rose to the rank of Chief Superintendent.  The squad operated for over three and a half years, until September 1949, and Gosling was the sole officer served with the team throughout it`s tenure.  

    The team mingled with the criminals and their haunts, gathering intelligence, which was immediately passed on and they then melted into the background.  At the time, regulations forbade any officer associating with criminals, and would be subject to disciplinary procedures.  Officers did everything to look as less like cops back then as drug squad cops did in the seventies.  Some were seen by the public as nothing more than down and outs, which was perfect.  Many villains liked to dress the part and show well they were doing, so looking like criminal failures or the dregs of society worked in their favour.  They cultivated informers and had many villains talking to them about their thefts they had done or who was doing what.  A shabby looking fellow in the pub could not be a cop.  So they thought.

    The information gathered brought hundreds of arrests for thefts of every conceivable type of commodity, but one of their biggest cases was the Cricklewood Whisky Robbery on September 19th 1948.  A couple of lorries parked up near a railway embankment in the early hours of the morning, and a number of men left the lorries and disappeared amongst some railway trucks.  Soon they reappeared carrying cases of whisky which were slid down the embankment and were put into the waiting lorries.  The haul was worth £15,000, a huge haul equivalent to £300,000 in today's terms.  But as soon as they finished loading, lights went on and members of the Flying Squad poured out of a nearby yard.  The villains tried to make a fight of it but were outnumbered by the "Heavy Mob" though one lorry took off with some men inside.  It did not get far before The Sweeney had them all in custody.

    The Ghost Squad were responsible for nearly 800 arrests, the solving of over 1,500 crimes and the recovery of more than a quarter of a million pounds worth of stolen goods - five million plus today.  Nowadays, undercover is so much different, with  operatives not just consorting with criminals but with political groups and individuals with claims of some being Agent Provocateurs.  How times have changed.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Three Day Week Murder

Way back in the glorious days of the early seventies when we had a three day week, power cuts, shortages, and all manner of things industrial heading down the pan, was the backdrop to a savage murder.  Kay O`Connor, a 37 year old typist, had done a deed for her mother on March 1st 1974.  She had collected her pension for her from the local post office in Colchester, but decided to first, go back to her own home, just a couple of doors away.  Like many others, she was working a short week due to a shortage of orders at the clothing factory she worked at.

    It was just after 4pm that a neighbour made an horrific discovery.  Mrs O`Connor was lying in a pool of blood.    A bloody knife was lying near her body, and it was determined that she had sustained a brutal assault, in which she had been stabbed, punched, kicked and strangled.  Enquiries brought a description of a man seen near her home, but the assailant has never been caught.  It was believed that he watched Mrs O`Connor draw the pension, followed her home and then gained entry to her home, and attacked her.  Was it a robbery gone wrong?  If so, then why the overkill of violence?  These days, it would be automatically assumed the assailant would be a junkie desperate for a fix.  But could it have been the same back then?  After all, there were enough junkies about, but it was never broadcast loudly like it is now.  More than forty years on, the families need answers, and if anybody knows something, then please call the Police.  And help put a killer away.

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Murder of Winnie Evans

Returning to the murder file, this is a case from 1944 and the murder of 27 year old Winifred Mary Evans, a member of the W.A.A.F.  She had been found battered and raped , on November 9th 1944, though the actual cause of death was Asphyxiation.  Her killer had held her face down in mud in a ditch, causing her to suffocate.  Police were called to the ditch in Ellough, which was near Beccles, in Suffolk.  She had been to a dance with another WAAF, Corporal Margaret Johns.  They left the dance, and walked back to the billet.  Winnie went off to report for duty at the Signal Office, whilst Margaret visited the ladies toilet.  She had a shock to see a drunk airman in there.  He claimed he was lost and was this Camp Number One?  Corporal Johns took him outside and pointed him in the proper direction of Camp One.

    This gave Police their first break and started questioning people in that camp.  They learned that one man came in the camp around 1.00am and later was seen cleaning his uniform.  His name was Arthur Heys, a 37 year old airman.  Under questioning, he admitted that he was found in the toilets by Margaret Johns and told where his billet actually was.  It took him in the direction of where Winnie Evans had gone.  He insisted he had not attacked her, but had a huge problem.  It took him nearly an hour to get from the toilets to his billet.  His uniform was taken for forensic examination, and despite the cleaning, brick dust and dirt from the ditch was found on it.  There were also hairs.  They corresponded to hair from Winnie Evans.  But to dispel any claims of tunnel vision, scientists took hair from Heys` wife, which was also a match.  Nevertheless, Heys was charged with murder.

    The trial was set for Bury St. Edmunds on January 22nd 1945, in front of Justice MacNaughten, but prior to the trial, a letter was received by Heys`commanding officer.  It was allegedly from the real killer, saying that Heys was innocent, and gave details of the crime that pointed to the letter being genuine.  The lost and drunk airman had been wrongly charged.  This proved to Police that it had been written by none other than Arthur Heys.  The only people that had known Heys had been "drunk and lost" were the Police, Margaret Johns and........ Arthur Heys.  He was convicted of murder, sentenced to death and hanged at Norwich Prison on March13th 1945.

"....... therefore I am nothing"

Sorry for being offline again, but my first post back is a summarisation of something that has burned at me for some years.  I once tried to ghost a book about somebody but later made numerous discoveries in regards to my subject.  I later put on an old blog that a number of his stories were total bollocks - I admit I made many mistakes but I was a complete novice at this game.  I rebutted a number of his tales with facts I uncovered, but some crying fucker corresponded back that I was nothing whilst his hero was something special.  He certainly said nothing about what I wrote - no surprises there. I am nothing?  Ok then.

    I am not a criminal, therefore I am nothing.  I am not a jailbird, therefore I am nothing.  I have no criminal record, therefore I am nothing.  I am not an out and out liar, bullshit merchant and fantasist, therefore I am nothing.  I do not alter military history in order to put myself in combat zones that I was never involved in, therefore I am nothing.   I do not immerse myself into other people's`s stories, therefore I am nothing.  I do not proclaim myself to be a "legend" therefore I am nothing.  I do not claim to have been involved in armed robberies, shootings and other assorted bouts of mayhem but refuse to backup my claims, therefore I am nothing.  I do not throw screaming fits when somebody has the audacity to ask "who are you?" therefore I am nothing.  Many people rely on me in my job, and repay me with small tokens of appreciation, especially at christmas, therefore I am nothing.  My apologies for this small rant but it has bugged me for a long time and I always wanted to get it off my chest.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Massacre at Wolf Farm

When you look at the criminal history in the USA, mass murderers were usually dispatched by the gallows or the chair.  Yet, incredibly, on April 22nd 1920, in North Dakota, Henry Layer went on a killing rampage, slaughtering eight people, for what would have been a ridiculous reason.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment.  He was extremely upset with Jacob Wolf, because Wolf`s dog had bitten one of his cows!  He confronted Jacob Wolf but Wolf held his shotgun to him and told Layer to leave his property.  Layer grabbed at the gun and in the struggle, it fired twice, killing two people stood close by;  Mrs Wolf and a young neighbour, Jacob Hofer, aged 13.  Wolf ran but Layer went into their house and discovered more shells.  He found Jacob Wolf and shot him dead.

    Now Layer was in a kill mode.  He searched the barn and house and killed five more people.  The Wolf children, whose ages ran from 13 down to 3.  There was a baby aged 8 months but she was found alive.  The slaughter was discovered two days later by a neighbour, John Kraft.  He called the Police, but they were perplexed by just who could have carried out such a murderous attack.  He hung around the farm whilst the local Sheriff was investigating, then brought great suspicion, then arrest, upon himself at the funeral.  It was attended by more than two thousand people, but Layer insisted on opening all the coffins, and gazing at the bodies.  On May 11th, he confessed to all the murders, saying he used the shotgun and a hatchet.  He received a life sentence, and died in prison five years later, in 1925.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Recollections of Miss Molly

Miss Molly was the name given to the assistant to legendary pathologist Professor Keith Simpson, simply because many could not pronounce her surname: Lefebure.  Miss Molly started working for Dr Simpson in 1941, and kept meticulous records of all the work undertaken.  This is one of the early cases she recalled.  It was the brutal robbery murder of 71 year old Leonard Moules, who was attacked in his shop in Hackney Road, Shoreditch, on 30th April 1942.  He died from his injuries nine days later.  The man leading the hunt for his killer(s) was legendary detective, Superintendent Ted Greeno.  Mr Moules had been severely beaten over the head.  The intruders had also killed his dog, presumably to silence it.  

    Greeno had two clues going for him.  There was a palm print on the safe in the shop, plus a tale told by a soldier.  He had been in a cafe and seen two young men talking, then one brandished a gun.  He gave Greeno good descriptions, and also heard names: Sam & George.  Soon Greeno had arrested and charged two young men with murder.  They were 23 year old Sam Dashwood & 22 year old George Silverosa.  When questioned, they put the blame on each other.  Dashwood was known to have a gun, so it was believed he battered Mr Moules with the gun.  Silverosa had left the print on the safe.  They went on trial at the Old Bailey on July 17th 1942.  They were defended by the well known Barrister Serjeant Sullivan, and a Mr Fordham.  But they threw the trial into a spin by dismissing their counsel and defending themselves.  Needless to say, it only made things worse for them.  Dashwood tried to have the guilty verdict overturned at appeal by saying he was obviously of unstable mind, but the Appeal Judges said that this would set a dangerous precedent, with other accused using the same tactics to claim they were insane.  The appeal was dismissed.

    They were executed at Pentonville Prison on September 10th 1942 by Albert Pierrepoint, assisted by Steve Wade, Herbert Morris & Harry Kirk.  Miss Molly is not very complimentary about these two killers, citing criminality stretching back to their early teens, various unsuccessful attempts at "reforming" them.  Cosy chats with psychologists, many reports for magistrates, all to no avail.  And with a caveman mentality, that led to a brutal murder.  These days, it is even worse.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Possession - Then Death Follows.

It never ceases to astonish me just how jealousy and total possession can drive somebody to kill, simply for the sake of controlling a partner.  I have witnessed some acts of violence and aggression out delivering the mail.  One lad was arguing with his girlfriend, and he butted her!  Further up the road, she had her arm around him!  Then one lad, yesterday, was kicking and throwing some punches at this girl, yet seconds later, she was kissing him!  It seems that some women enjoy being punch bags, but there are those who are too afraid to say "no more. I am not putting up with this anymore!"  There is no doubt how the man will react to this betrayal.  Threats and violence.  A female has dared to stand up to a male.  He is going to lose the person he controls.   Is there another girl willing to put up with his aggression?  It is not about love.  It is about total control.  He wants to demonstrate to his friends how she does what he tells her.  She is his possession.  On the other hand, there was a woman who worked as a model and her boyfriend was very possessive and jealous.  But my oh my, she discovered that her jealous and very possessive man was in fact, screwing her best friend!  She upped and went.  I must admit I found it amusing as she tended to look down her nose....

    Why have I started off with this?  Jealousy and possessiveness abound in murder cases for centuries and the old green-eyed monster has a lot to answer for.  The case of Jeremy Akers, from Mississippi, springs to mind.  Akers came from an ordinary working class family, but he had a problem about his size.  So he pushed himself as hard as he could to achieve the best of everything.  But he went at it too hard.  To be the best came before anything else.  He was labelled an overachiever.  He obtained the highest grades, became a bodybuilder - what is the point of "being the best" but not having the body to go with it?  He was a fanatical competitor at everything. (Think of Monica in "Friends")  Akers was able to graduate from Law School and then join the military, doing tours of duty in Vietnam.  When he left the military, he married, but the in-laws hated him because of his attitude and abruptness and behaviour.  He became a very domineering, jealous and possessive man.  His over the top masculinity became a joke.  Somewhere along the line, matters were going to deteriorate.

    His wife had given birth to their third child but suffered from depression and gained weight.  Like a caring man, Akers constantly criticised her over her weight gain, so she did all she could to get it back to her usual level.  This included cosmetic surgery.  But she still was unhappy.  But something came over the hill that brightened her day.  A truck driver she befriended.  Akers thought there was more to their friendship than a love of writing.  Soon, she filed for divorce, left Akers, and lived with the truck driver.  Akers said he would kill her rather than have a divorce.  This turned into reality, when he persuaded her to return to the family home to discuss what to sort out in the divorce settlement.  Once there, Akers shot her to death, then later, shot himself dead.  Was he delusional?  No chance!  He persuaded her to return home, showing clear thinking and the murder was planned.  A rational decision to kill.  Any sympathy?  For her, not him.


Monday, 5 October 2015

Tommy Ball - Death of a Footballer

There have been few footballers killed or that have killed but one player was said to have had the abilities to have become a star player of the period.  He was Tommy Ball aged 23, and a lad from County Durham who was on the books of Aston Villa.  He was coming into his own as a player when he took over the defensive role of Frank Barson, whom Villa had sold to Manchester United.  Villa were one of THE top clubs, with six championships and six FA cups to their name by 1923.  But the troubles began for Ball and his wife Beatrice, when they rented a cottage from a former soldier and Policeman, George Stagg.  The Balls lived next door to Stagg in Brick Kiln Lane, perry Barr, just on the edge of Birmingham.  Ball had two problems with Stagg.  Stagg hated his dog and that he kept chickens.  They had a nasty habit of wandering onto his property, but it seemed that it never occurred that it needed a fence to keep them on one side.  The problems seemed that as a landlord, Stagg was a difficult man to please and Ball, as a tenant, seemed a little thoughtless.

    It was August 1923 that the Balls were given a notice to quit by Stagg, but this was not enforced.  The Balls were still there three months later, and still paying Stagg rent. November 11th saw tensions ease. Stagg was to claim later in court that they were on good terms but this was firmly denied by Mrs Ball.  Mr & Mrs Ball had a couple of drinks in the Church Tavern, then went home.  But when they reached their home, Mrs Ball went in to make some supper and Tommy Ball went out with the dog.  An argument outside ensued with Stagg, then a shot rang out.  Tommy Ball had died from shock and haemorrhage.  He was buried on November 19th 1923 in St Johns Churchyard.  George Stagg went on trial at Staffordshire Assizes on february 19th 1924.  Stagg claimed that Ball was drunk and had threatened him with violence, and that he had also threatened his wife.  The claim of drunkenness was disputed by Mrs Ball, the landlord of the Church Tavern and a bus conductor.  Stagg also claimed that Ball inflicted domestic violence on his own wife.  He said that Mrs Ball had told him that Ball kicked her about.  She said that Stagg`s story about her saying that the shooting was an accident, was untrue.  Stagg claimed to have fired a shot to frighten Ball away, reloaded the gun, a single shot sporting gun, then a struggle began with Ball, then the gun accidentally went off.  Mrs Ball said that this was untrue.  He shot her husband with the first shot, reloaded the gun, then took a shot at her, missing her.

    The Jury convicted Stagg of murder, rejecting manslaughter.  They gave a strong recommendation of mercy.  This is passed on to the Home Secretary when reviewing the case as to a reprieve.  Stagg was reprieved and sentenced to life.  Three years later, he was transferred to Broadmoor, having been declared insane.  Stagg died in 1966 in a mental hospital in the Midlands.  Cynics would say that the only reason Stagg was reprieved was that he used to be a Policeman.  The Home Secretary at the time, Arthur Henderson, was thought to be a hanging abolitionist.  He had reprieved two double killers, then Stagg, but he refused reprieves for the next half dozen killers.  He had a change of heart about abolition.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Glasgow Double Murder

A senseless shooting spree occurred at a remote Glasgow railway station in December 1945 that left two dead and one slightly wounded.  Events began on December 10th at Pollockshields East station, on a fog bound early morning when a man rattled the locked door of the waiting room.  Staff opened it assuming it was a passenger wanting to wait inside.  But to the horror of the three staff inside, the man was holding a gun.  Booking clerk, Anne Withers, 36, screamed in fear.  Suddenly, the intruder opened fire repeatedly.  Anne withers collapsed, 15 year old porter, robert gough fell to the floor and William Wright, a 42 year old Porter and clerk, fell on top of them.  They heard the gunman searching through drawers and a safe.  He then ran out.  Bill wright was slightly wounded and ran to the signal box to call the Police.  Anne Withers lay groaning from two bullet wounds, young Robert Gough had staggered out of the waiting room then collapsed. 

    A train pulled in but had to carry on, so the three waited for the Police and an ambulance to arrive.  Police poured into the station, but Anne Withers died on the way to hospital.  Robert Gough died two days later, but not before giving Police a description and his recollections of events.  His story matched Bill Wright`s.  Fingerprints were found on the safe but there were no matching prints on file.  The amount stolen was the equivalent of a week`s wages.  A huge manhunt ensued but despite a substantial reward offer, nothing surfaced.  Until February 1946.  A man talking to a friend asked if he would like to earn the reward money.  The friend asked him how.  The man replied that if he said he was the double killer, what would he say?  The friend, and others were well used to exaggerated and tall stories that railway fireman Charles Templeman Brown always told.  The friend gave this no further thought.

    Police doggedly kept up the hunt and it was October 1946 that a tip said that somebody in the south of Glasgow possessed a Luger, the gun said by forensics to be the murder weapon.  Soon, the Police visited the home of a Mrs Brown, and asked if Charles Brown was at home.  She told them he was working away.  They requested she tell him to contact them as soon as possible, but would not give her any details.  But the following day, October 9th, Brown spoke to a Constable on traffic duty to tell him he was the killer being sought.  Constable John Byrne immediately took him to a Police Box, searched him and found something bulky.  Brown reached into his pocket and handed the officer a Luger and ammunition.  Brown`s fingerprints matched those on the safe.  Bill Wright immediately identified Brown from an ID parade.  He was sent for trial on December 10th, exactly a year to the day of the murders.

    Brown was described as having a compulsion to talk or brag about anything, according to friends, in evidence.  It was thought that as his friends did not believe anything he said, then the Police would listen.  But in describing the shooting, he claimed that Robert Gough had thrown himself at him, causing him to fire.  However, the young man`s dying declaration was read out to the court, saying he threw himself in front of Anne Withers to protect her, then the gunman opened fire.  Various medical opinions were given about Brown`s mental state.  Incipient Dementia Praecox, medically but not legally insane, a borderline case, and a third was that he needed to be kept under observation.  One friend told of Brown`s obsessions about Communism, the band leader Joe Loss, and an American Crooner named Frank Sinatra.  The Judge asked if this Sinatra was notorious or known for outlandish dress.  Yes, was the reply, he always wore dicky bows and camel hair coats.  (an obvious evil influence on the young of Britain!!!!!!)

    Brown was convicted of murder and sentenced to death with his execution set for January 3rd 1947, but within days, he was reprieved and given life.  But as was the norm, Brown served just ten years for a cold blooded bloodbath.  But Brown slipped into complete obscurity until a few years after his release.  He had a serious car crash near Dunblane in 1960 critically injuring his female passenger, but dying himself.  The date:  December 10th.  God working in mysterious ways?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Halifax Gibbett

Learning the sort of history that you will never be taught at school can be very eye opening.  Various forms of execution have always been carried out but the most common form was hanging.  The French had a decapitation device devised by Joseph-Ignace Guillotine, which carried his name.  But remarkably, it was nothing new.  Naples in 1266 saw the execution of Conrad of Swabia, allegedly by decapitation.  Germany certainly had some kind of device because five men lost their heads in Zittau in 1300.  Incredibly, there are reports that a decapitation device was used in Ireland in 1307.  Yet there are claims of a chopping device used in England 1000 years ago, in an area of West Yorkshire; Halifax.  But Halifax certainly did have something in operation for hundreds of years; The Halifax Gibbett.  It was known to have been used as a form of execution during the 50 year reign of Edward 111 -1327 - 1377.  But an execution was witnessed in Halifax in 1565 by the Regent of Scotland, the Earl of Morton.  He was sufficiently impressed to go back to Scotland and make a version of it himself.  It was known as "The Maiden" but it is not known exactly how many Scots people were executed by it.  But it is known who the last person was.  None other than the Earl of Morton himself.  His crime was high treason.  He went to his own apparatus on June 2nd 1581.  Resonates with Charles Justice going to an electric chair he helped improve.

    The sentence of death was usually carried out within a week of conviction, on the town market days.  This area of Yorkshire was heavily involved in the manufacture of cloth so stealing cloth was a capital crime.  Amongst many others.  So what was this contraption?  It had a large square base of stone, with steps on one side, which the condemned walked up.  The uprights stretched for 18 feet, a 4 feet cross beam secured the sides, and had grooves in the uprights for the blade to move up and down.  The blade was 18 inches long and 12 inches wide.  A rope was used to pull the blade up, usually pulled by a horse, pegged in place, then released upon a signal from either a bailiff or a member of the jury that convicted him/her.  Between 1541 and 1650, a number of 49 people were executed.  More than six condemned were women.  The last victims of the Gibbett were Tony Mitchell & John Wilkinson, executed in 1650 for stealing horses and cloth.

    After this period, it was forgotten about.  The blade was put into storage and kept there for well over 300 years, before being put into a museum.  The base was actually uncovered by workmen, still intact.  The huge stone base and the steps.  There is a model of the Gibbett on display in the Bankfield Museum.  The base is on Gibbett Street - the street where one Emily Pye was murdered in her shop.

Ted Bundy - An Opinion

There has been so much written and broadcasted about one Theodore Robert Bundy - born Cowell - and many have come up with different explanations for his subsequent rampage.   One consistent theory is that when he found out he was illegitimate, this changed his mindset.  Many children are born out of wedlock, and how many of them turn into monsters?  To me, it is how you deal with it.  When a small child, whilst an aunt slept, Bundy place knives all around her with the points sticking at her.  Warning sign?  He became a peeping tom.  Author, the late Ann Rule, believed Bundy committed his first murder in 1961 at the age of 15.  A child of around eight years of age.  The general consensus is that his victims starting in 1974, were his revenge against Stephanie Brooks, the woman who rejected him.  Yes, there were many similarities; long hair parted in the middle, young and attractive.  Young women started disappearing, including a girl of 4.  Were these early victims of Bundy?

    Yet Bundy was a trailblazer.  He was the personification of "How can this young, good looking, intelligent man, be this monster?"  It is like a man on trial for rape and his lawyer tells the jury, "Does this man need to rape?"  Yes, he does, if a woman has the audacity to reject him!  And proof of this was the amount of women who flocked to his trial.  But one fact was not revealed for a very long time.  He had decapitated the heads off five women and kept them.  When they were found, they were all decaying at the same time, indicating he had kept them refrigerated or frozen.  He went back to his victims, redoing their hair and make-up, having sex with some of their bodies.  Look at his attacks on the campuses.  Revenge on Stephanie Brooks or just pure evil?  He used his time working in politics, law school, and for the Samaritans, to lie, manipulate and deceive people.

    In the final interview he gave before his execution, it was to Dr James Dobson, a preacher or evangelist.   Naturally, he told Dobson what he wanted to hear.  It was totally different to what he said to BAU man Bill Hagmeier.  He admitted that he was completely responsible, planned the murders, selected his victims and then killed them.  To Detective Robert Keppel, he talked in graphic details of other murders that sickened Mr Keppel, who simply got up and walked away, not having any more to do with him.  He blamed it all on pornography, starting with magazines in stores and progressing to harder stuff.  Author Stephen Michaud, who grew up in the same town as Bundy, around the same time, totally disputes Bundy`s claim of soft core magazines in the shops.  He says that they were not around, and Playboy had only just started being sold.  But dear old Teddy did drop a clue, completely ignored by the anti-porn crusaders.  He avidly read detective magazines.  These had covers featuring women in peril, bound and gagged, knives held at their throats, blouses open showing some cleavage.  The mental images would be stronger than a simple picture of a woman with her tits out.  Of course, now with the internet, there is no comparison or limits. And porn does convey a false message about women.

    But at least on January 24th 1989, Starke Prison ended his reign of murder and manipulation.  Robert Ressler stated that Bundy was the only killer that scared him.  But let us not forget the women he slaughtered. Lynda Healy, Donna Manson, Susan Rancourt, Roberta Parks, Brenda Ball, Georgann Hawkins, Denise Naslund, Janice Ott, Caryn Campbell, Laura Aimee, Debra Kent, Melissa Smith, Lisa Levy, Margaret Bowman, Kimberley Leach, et al.  

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Death of Emma Sheard

Another obscure case from West Yorkshire was that of 75 year old Emma Sheard, who mysteriously disappeared in 1942 and it never raised suspicion amongst her neighbours for a number of years. It took a resuming of pit inspections that was to uncover the truth, and put another woman in the dock.  Emma shared her cottage in the tiny village of Walton with her great niece, Winnie Hallighan, a married nursing orderly.  One day, neighbours noticed that Emma was not around and asked her niece where Emma was.  She told them that her aunt had decided to go away for a short time.  This they accepted and eventually forgot about her.  A year later, the cottage was sold, and as Emma`s signature appeared on sale documents, this meant that Emma was alive and well.

    But it was in December 1948 that an inspection of the pit shaft by a mining inspector that uncovered it`s grisly secret.  Inspections had been halted during the war but now it was over, inspections were slowly being reintroduced, even in flooded shafts.  This particular shaft had flooded decades earlier and had been abandoned.  But it was still given periodical examinations.  December 20th 1948, and an inspector moved in to check the pit shaft, moving away debris away from the top and shining his lamp into the shaft, saw thing gruesome.  The shaft measured over 700 feet in depth with the water at least 130 feet from the top.  The inspector thought he saw human remains in the water, so summoned Police from West Riding Constabulary.  They brought in more powerful lights and grappling hooks and managed to bring all the remains to the surface that they could see.

    The bones were taken to the Pathological Laboratory in Wakefield and to be examined by Dr David Price.  He concluded the victim was a small female but unable to deduce cause of death.  A number of body parts were still missing, including the head, so Police asked the mining company for an expert.  They provided a man from the rescue squad, and he was lowered down the shaft to the water.  He had protective clothing and oxygen, and actually recovered all the rest of the bones from within the water.  Police had already started door to door enquiries, and neighbours remembered the sudden disappearance of Emma.  Her great niece was living close by in a terraced house, and told Police that Emma had moved away then later, sold her cottage.  They looked into the sale of the house but could find no trace of her.  With the neighbours remembering her suddenly going away, Police took Winnie in for questioning.  Soon, under intense pressure, she confessed that she had killed Emma but not murdered her.  She said they argued and she hit Emma after she claimed Winnie`s husband was having an affair.  Winnie said that Emma struck her head as she fell.  She started to panic and decided to put her in the old pit shaft which was nearby.  She used her nursing skills to move the body and drop her her into the flooded pit.  She also admitted forging Emma`s signature on the sale documents.  Put before a magistrate, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to justify a murder charge and changed the charge to manslaughter.  In March 1949, she appeared at Leeds Assizes on  a Manslaughter and three forgery charges. She was jailed for five years.

The Unsolved Murder of Emily Pye

Halifax, the West Yorkshire town, has an unsolved murder that stretches back to 1957, but despite the best efforts of the Police, the killer got away with it.  The events began on June 8th 1957, when an intruder entered the premises belonging to 80 year old Emily Pye and inflicted severe head injuries to the elderly lady.  That particular day was a public holiday, resulting in many people going away for the day.  But Emily's niece and husband arrived at the shop to find it firmly locked, but with no sign of her aunt.  They had arranged to meet that day and go out for the afternoon.  Despite banging on the door and shouting, there was no response.  The niece went for the Police, and a Constable arrived.  He tried knocking but with no answer, he asked for permission to force entry.  They consented and he smashed the door in, and upon entering, found the body of Emily.  She had been partially covered with a rug, and showed severe injuries to her head.  The Constable immediately sent for reinforcements.  The Chief Constable, Gerald Goodman, decided that this required vastly experienced murder investigators, so asked Scotland Yard for help.  Two officers were dispatched to Yorkshire.  Detective Superintendent Herbert Hannam & Detective Sergeant Chris Rowe.  Hannam had been involved in solving the Towpath Murders & the unsuccessful prosecution of Dr John Adams, in which he was torn apart in the witness box by Adams`barrister, Geoffrey Lawrence.

    The first task for the two, was to find people who had been in Gibbett Street that afternoon, but only came up with four witnesses.  One stated that Emily was alive at 12.20pm but soon there was a severe thunderstorm, which naturally made people stay indoors.  The autopsy by Dr David Price, determined death had occurred between noon and 3pm.  He also deduced that Emily had first suffered a physical beating before being struck with a blunt object.  This turned out to be one of her irons.  Money had been taken from the shop till but it was not much as it had been quiet due to the holiday and the weather.  Hannam believed that Emily knew her killer, as he did not immediately flee.  Did he decide to kill her after punching her, and that she recognised him?  Possible.  Or was he simply an evil brute?  Another pointer for a local was the fact that the killer securely bolted the shop door and left by a side door.  Hannam`s enquiries led him to check out hotels, hostels, boarding houses, places where drifters or homeless people would go.  Cars leading out of Halifax were stopped and drivers asked about hitchhikers.  Nobody reported seeing a man n bloodied clothes, none were found, and it seemed he had vanished completely unseen.  By christmas of that year, the investigation was halted and Hannam & Rowe returned to London.  So, did a local man commit this brutal crime?  Anybody out there with suggestions?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Man Who Was Not A Man!

Here is a truly bizarre case that just ended in Chester, just down the road from where I originate from.  Gayle Newland, 25, was convicted of three charges of sexual assault.  What makes it bizarre, was that her accuser thought she was a man!  She was said to have disguised her appearance, spoke in a lower tone, and her aim was to have sex with her.  But to continue the deception, she insisted the other woman, also aged 25, was to wear a blindfold when it came to intimacy. This she complied with for a number of trysts but one day, she decided to take off the blindfold.  To her horror, he realised that the "man" was in fact, a woman!  You do not need to be a genius to work out that Miss Newlands was wearing a strap on penis!  Miss Newlands claimed that she knew she was a woman and willingly engaged in sexual role playing, because they were both experiencing problems with their sexual identities.  The relationship had been going on for two years.  The court clearly did not agree with her claims and convicted her.  It does raise a number of questions about how this was not discovered sooner.  Everybody will ask certain questions.  Feel free to comment.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Anthony Jackson - Serial Killer

This is a case that showed that the so-called "Boston Stranglings" - a case that still divides opinions.  Some firmly believe that Albert DeSalvo was the Strangler whilst many others believe there were several killers at large.  But in the early 1970`s, Boston was plagued by another series of murders, namely those attributed to the "Hitchhiker Murderer."  This monicker was through that a number of the victims were known to have hitched a lift either to school or to their job.   One victim was Ellen Reich.  This young woman from Emerson College was discovered in a closet in an empty apartment in Seaver Street, in the Roxbury district.  An autopsy revealed that sexual activity had taken place before her murder but it was unknown if it was consensual or rape.  Ellen had been strangled, then shot.

    Another victim was Damaris Gillespie, 22.  This young lady was seen on November 29th 1972, and then she was discovered more than twenty miles away in Billerica, on February 8th 1973.  The Cambridge student had been strangled.  A  Police Officer on routine patrol had seen a man in driving a Cadillac, pestering a young girl walking down the street.  Officer Conroy stepped in, but upon seeing him, the perpetrator sped off.  During the chase, the driver fired at Police, and one officer returned fire, hitting the driver, and arrested him.  It was December 26th 1973.  He was Anthony Jackson.  This murderer had an exceptionally high I.Q. but despite having the intelligence to reach any goal, he was a man who operated as a pimp and had a serious taste for violence and cruelty to women.  He was convicted of a number of murders and received life without parole.  Jackson has been linked to as many as twenty seven homicides, all the victims were young women.  Police believe one victim was deposited in foundations of a building that was ready to be concreted over, in the Cambridge district.  At least he is out of the way.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Mother Poisoned her Children

For some unknown reason Clara White committed what was thought to be the absolute unthinkable: murdered her own children.  Clara was a woman who always worried about everything, no matter what.  Her husband had packed his belongings and left her,even abandoning his two children, Patrick, 3, & Lillian, close to two years old.  It was early in 1912 that Clara found herself alone with the children, but she was able to move in to the home of Walter Riley, a man separated from his wife, in Edmonton, in Middlesex.  But Walter received injuries that prevented him from working, and so this put 30 year old Clara back in her worrying mode.  Walter received compensation for his injuries and so this was able to tide them over for a while.  But it could not last indefinitely.  Now Clara started worrying about how they would be able to afford the rent, and wished to know how they would pay the bills.  Walter replied that she should not worry, and left the house on the morning of 30th September 1912 and went to the Bricklayers Arms, joining Clara's brother Alfred.

    Clara joined them later for a drink and some lunch, then returned to the home.  Walter returned home at 12.15pm and found a neighbour and her child in the house with Clara and her two children.  The children were in a very playful and noisy mode, as youngsters are, but Walter found it a bit too much and asked that they went and played outside.  This angered Clara and a furious argument broke out.  Walter was actually very good to the children at all times, as he had a very gentle and soft nature.  Walter went and had a  sleep but was startled awake by screams from downstairs.  Clara had rushed outside shouting that "she had done it" and ran to a neighbours` house.  Walter went back into the house to find Patrick and Lillian foaming at the mouth.  Clara arrived back in the house with the neighbour, who helped gave the children salty water, in order for them to vomit up whether they had consumed.

    Clara announced that she was giving herself up to the Police and left the house, where she ran into Police Constable Ward.  A doctor also arrived, John Shaw.  The officer found a bottle of "Spirit of Salts" or Hydrochloric Acid.  Clara had given this to the toddlers.  Soon, they both died in hospital.  Clara was charged with double murder.  She appeared at the Old Bailey in October 1912 but she had a successful defence as it was shown that mental illness run deeply through her family.  She was found guilty but insane, and sentenced to an indefinite period in a secure hospital.  Were her actions the result of the constant worrying affecting her judgement and eventually leading her to be a ticking bomb?  Then the argument was the spark that set it all off?  Or was it the family history of mental illness that was going to lead to an horrific act?  What do you think?