Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders PT2

The FBI analysed a number of unsolved homicides and came to the conclusion that they were all committed by the same man.  The same man that carried out the Santa Rosa murders.  These victims were:  Rosa Vasquez, 20, whose body was discovered May 26th 1973, near to the Arguello Boulevard entrance to Golden Gate Park.  Rosa had been strangled and then thrown into shrubbery.  She had been employed at Letterman General Hospital. 2.Yvonne Quilantang was just 15 when she met her death.  She too, had been strangled.  The fact that she was seven months pregnant meant nothing to her killer.  She was discovered on October 10th 1973, in an empty lot in Bayview. 3.  Angela Thomas was 16 when her body was discovered on July 2nd 1973.  She had been smothered in a playground at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School in Daly City.  Angela had been seen the night previously in San Francisco.

    4.The next victim was 24 year old Radiographer Nancy Gidley.  Like the others, she had been strangled, and then dumped behind the gymnasium of George Washington High School on July 15th 1973.  She had also been stripped.  Nancy had served in the US Air Force for four years.  She had met family and told them that she was hoping to get a job as a freelance writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and whilst there, she was going to be a Maid of HOnour at a friends` wedding.  But these stories were pure invention.  Why?  Nobody knows.  5.Next on the Bureau list was the murder of 22 year old Nancy Feusi, who had vanished after going out dancing at a club in Sacramento.  She was found stabbed to death on 22nd July 1973.  In 2011, at Redding, one of her five children went on trial for the torture and starvation to death of one of the daughters` own children.  Angela McNulty received the Death Penalty for the death of daughter Jeanette Maples.

    6.Laura O`Dell aged 21, went missing on November 4th 1973 and found three days later behind the Boathouse at Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco.  Laura had been found with her hands tied behind her back and death was thought to have been strangulation or through a head injury.  7.  Brenda Merchant, 19, had been stabbed to death and then dumped in a ditch on February 1st 1974 at Marysville.  8.The last victim was another young girl.  Donna Braun was just 14 years of age. She had been strangled, then dumped in the Salinas River near Monterey.

    Did the Police have any suspects?  A few.  Teddy was thought to be a good one but credit card records showed that Bundy was nowhere near some of the murders when they were perpetrated.  Then comes the Zodiac.  Whoever it was.  Arthur Allen was dismissed as the Zodiac through DNA testing and hand writing analysis, despite the efforts of Robert Greysmith to go to any lengths to back up his claim that Allen was the Zodiac.  But a very plausible suspect cropped up.  And he was not a name!  He had been a creative writing tutor at Santa Rosa Junior College, who died on August 24th 1976 in a car crash on Highway 12.  After his death, drawings were discovered belonging to him that featured none other than Kim Allen.  The pictures were of a sadomasochistic nature.  Naturally, such a trait would make him a person of interest but nothing has been substantiated, so he remains simply a suspect. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders PT1

This is one of those cold cases that featured many victims and possible victims, stretching back in a period running from 1971 to 1974.  If it was the same perpetrator for all, as the FBI believes, then he was a very busy boy.  The victims were murdered in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa and San Francisco.  The known victims were all hitchhiking, were dumped near embankments, in creeks or ditches and were all close to major roads.  The first victims were very young girls.  Maureen Sterling & Yvonne Weber were both 12 years of age, attended Herbert Slater Middle School and had gone to the Redwood Empire Ice Arena on February 4th 1972.   The last seen of them was they were hitchhiking on Guerneville Road, north west of Santa Rosa.  They vanished.  Their remains were not discovered until December 28th 1972 by an embankment, two miles north, on Porter Creek Road, off Franz Valley Road.  It was not possible to determine a precise cause of death.

    The next victim was 19 year old Kim Allen, a student at Santa Rosa Junior College.  She was employed at Larkspur Natural Foods in San Rafael.  She accepted a lift from two men, who say they dropped her off at 5.20pm and she was trying to hitchhike the rest of the way to her college. The two men saw her move on to the Bell Avenue entrance to Highway 101.  Kim was found the next day, dumped down an embankment and into a creek on Enterprise Road, in Santa Rosa.  The poor girl had been bound, raped and strangled.  But autopsy revealed that the killer had used a length of cord to kill her but took his time, prolonging her agony and torture.  Semen was recovered, and there were marks on the embankment showing the killer had had to struggle to get her down into the creek.

    The next victim was another very young girl, 13 year old Lori Lee Kursa.  She was attending Lawrence Cook Middle School, when she disappeared whilst out shopping with her mother who reported her missing on November 11th 1972.  She had run away.  She paid a visit to some of her friends around the 20/21st November.  Then she vanished.  Her body was discovered on December 14th, thrown over an embankment and into a ravine that was off Calistoga Road, north east of Rincon Valley in Santa Rosa.  She did not suffer sexual assault but her neck had been broken.  There had been compression and hemorrhage on her spinal cord.  But there was a possible witness to her abduction.  Somebody had reported seeing a girl matching Lori being forced into a van by two men.  The driver was reported as white and having an afro hair style.  This led to two men being suspects but who were later eliminated.  These were Buono and Bianchi.  Bianchi had a very tight curly/afro type hairstyle, leading cops to suspect them.  But no sexual assault?  Their victims were never spared that.

    Yet another young schoolgirl fell victim to the mysterious killer.  This was 14 year old Carolyn Davis.  She was another runaway, hailing from Anderson in Shasta County, running away on February 6th 1973.  She vanished from sight on July 15th after being seen hitchhiking near Highway 101 at Garberville.  She was found on July 31st practically at the same spot that the first victims, Maureen and Yvonne, had been left.  It was determined that she had been thrown from a car.  Cause of death was determined to be poisoning by strychnine. A rather odd way for a sexual predator to kill, but looking at the death of Kim Allen, it could have been another sadistic way of prolonging the agony.

    Theresa Walsh, 23, hailed from Miranda, she fell victim next.  She vanished hitchhiking from Zuma Beach in Malibu to Garberville on December 22nd 1973.  She was found six days later, half submerged in Mark West Creek.  She had been hogtied, had suffered sexual assault and had been strangled.  It was thought that she had been murdered soon after she vanished.  The area had suffered a lot of heavy rain and it was possible that the body could have floated for a couple of miles.

    The last known victim has never been identified.  This Jane Doe skeleton was actually discovered on July 6th 1979, but was thought to have been killer some years before, hence the linking her to this series of deaths.  She was found in a ravine off Castiloga Road.  Initially, it was thought it was Jeanette Kamahele who disappeared in 1972, but dental records of Jeanette showed that it was not her.  Jane Doe was approximately 19 years old, had worn contact lenses, had reddish hair and did have an old injury of a broken rib.

    There are two more possible victims of this killer - indeed if they all were the work of a lone killer.  One is Lisa Smith, 17, from Petaluma.  She was last seen at 7pm on March 16th 1971 when she was hitchhiking on Hearn Avenue in Santa Rosa.  Then on March 29th, the Press Democrat reported that a girl called Lisa Smith had been released from Novato General Hospital after receiving treatment.  She claimed that she had been given a lift by a man who had then beaten her.  This girl then went missing and is now officially "missing."  It is not known if it is the same Lisa Smith.

    Jeanette Kamahele, 20, was a student at Santa Rosa Junior College, who vanished on April 25th 1972, after hitchhiking near the Cotati ramp to Highway 101.  A friend of hers saw her get into a brown chevrolet pick up truck with a home made wooden camper attached.  The driver was a white male with an afro hairstyle, but was never traced.  Jeanette has never been found.  What do we make of all this?  Time for my "trouble stirring guesswork."  If anything, if the same man is responsible, then they were all opportunist kills.  The hitchhiking says all that.  The killer could have spent time cruising the on/off areas for potential victims.  Thumbing a lift was very prevalent amongst young women back then, and if they were very young, well, so what.  When in Rome......  He could have just happened to be in that particular area at the time and said to himself "she`s mine!"  But he varied his kill methods.  Strangulation, torture - the slow strangulation with a cord of Kim Allen and the poisoning of Carolyn.  What is the significance of embankments and small rivers or creeks?  It gave him the opportunity to pull off the main road, dump the body and probably drive back onto the highway and put distance between him and the body.  He is driving in a virtual straight line, not through urban roads and residences.  The reports of a man with an afro, can point to Bianchi, but that was never proven and he and Buono were excluded as suspects.  What do you think?

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Unsolved Murder: Joan Woodhouse

This well known unsolved murder goes back to 1948 and it did result in the very first private prosecution for murder  in nearly ninety years but it never made it to trial.  It was ruled as having insufficient evidence to justify a trial, at the Magistrates Court.  The case began when a man named Stillwell, came across the semi-naked body of a young woman, in a wooded area known as Box Copse.  This was a secluded spot popular with courting couples wishing for a little privacy.  This was in the vast grounds of Arundel Park, overlooked by a Norman Castle, in Sussex.  Joan Woodhouse, 27, was a librarian living at a WYCA facility in Lee Green, South East London.  Her family home was in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

    Joan had told friends that she was going home to visit family but instead she took a train to the south coast on July 31st.  She left a case at the left luggage office at Worthing Station.  The ticket stub was found in her bag.  Her body was discovered on August 10th, close to Swanbourne Lake.  Her clothes were found nearby, neatly folded.  Professor Keith Simpson was called in to examine the body.  Joan had been strangled and raped.  But her valuables were still with her clothes, ruling out a robbery and murder.  Her diary contained dozens and dozens of names and all were checked out in the hunt led by Chief Inspector Fred Narborough of Scotland Yard.  There were the usual people ready to confess; two did but it was quickly established that they not the killer.  The case eventually ran cold.  But the family of Joan hired a private detective to investigate and his findings were sufficient for the case to be reopened.  This time the inquiry was led by Detective Superintendent Reg Spooner, one of the "star" detectives of the Yard.  Strangely, Spooner did not investigate with his usual enthusiasm.  He believed Joan had committed suicide, a view that stunned Dr Simpson.  Spooner did do a thorough job but it seemed his heart was just not in it.  Joan had been raped and strangled, so it was odd that Spooner had such a contention.  Then Mr Stillwell faced the private prosecution which failed at the Magistrates Court.

    So what had led to the death of Joan?  She had been seen in the company of a man in the George & Dragon pub in Burpham, which was three miles away from Arundel.  They had been overheard talking about going for a walk, which would take in the river, walk over a couple of bridges and then into the grounds of the castle.  This man was never traced.  Joan was a very shy woman but one thing she did enjoy was sunbathing, as long as it was in private.  The copse was also a good spot for sunbathing, away from the crowds that had gathered around the castle and the general area.  Her clothes had been neatly folded, so she was sunbathing.  Her camiknickers had one button torn off at the crotch, but not the other.  Disturbance at the scene showed that Joan had tried to flee but had been caught and dragged to the ground.  Dr Simpson, due to decomposition, had been unable to discover if Joan had been a virgin.  Despite her shyness and strong religious faith, Joan obviously enjoyed stripping off for a touch of sun but only in seclusion.  She enjoyed certain aspects of life as long as it was on her own terms.  Nothing wrong with that.  If she had the mystery man with her in the copse, would such a shy girl willingly undress in his company?  It would seem logical then that the killer came across her catching the sun, and seeing a young woman in her bra, panties and stockings, in a secluded spot, took advantage and then decided that he did not want a living witness to his crime. (Darn it - there I go again with my "Trouble stirring guesswork."  That remark is for the benefit of some supercilious twat!)
The sad thing is that she would have been safe amongst the huge crowds that were nearby but some sick individual ensured she never left that copse alive. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Dr John Bodkin Adams

We have had a tiny number of doctors convicted of numerous murders.  Dr Neil Cream was a poisoner.  Dr Crippen was convicted of the murder of his wife, although more modern forensic and scientific analysis has thrown a new light on this, and thrown doubt into the conviction.  Dr Buck Ruxton murdered his wife and housekeeper, but scientific work by Professor Robert Glaister proved the identity of his wife.  Then in modern times we had the murderous doctor, Harold Shipman.  But one man is noted in some murder forums as a Shipman before his time.  This was Dr John Bodkin Adams.  Some put a "Possible" number of victims as high as 160!!  Without any proof!!  Dr Adams was put on trial for just one murder.  That of elderly, wealthy, Edith Morell, in Eastbourne in 1956.

    Dr Adams, a General Practitioner of 60, had enjoyed a successful career as a doctor, and had a sizeable patient roster.  Many were elderly women in retirement, and as you grow older, you are more and more susceptible to illness and ailments.  As to be expected, patients die, that is life.  But what led Dr Adams to be on trial for his life, was common gossip.  He was rewarded for his care by many of his patients in their wills.  But in reality, he did not receive huge payments.  One patient left him a Rolls Royce.  But in truth, it was an ageing one.  This tittle tattle attracted the attentions of the Police.  Scotland Yard was brought in with Superintendent Herbert Hannam leading the investigation. The body of Gertrude Hullett was exhumed, but Dr Francis Camps could not find any evidence of foul play.  Camps asked for two more exhumations of former patients, but only one was good for re-examination.  Both Camps and Professor Keith Simpson agreed on the cause of death, which matched the reason given by Adams.

   Months later, Hannam arrested Adams for the murder of Edith Alice Morell and put on trial at the Old Bailey.  The prosecution was led by Attorney General Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, also known as "Bullying Manner" for his prosecuting tactics.  The defence was led by Geoffrey Lawrence, a very quiet, polite Barrister.  In the subsequent trial, Mr Lawrence completely destroyed the case against Dr Adams.  He destroyed the credibility of the four nurses who tended Mrs Morell with their own written words.  He did the same to a redoubtable Physician, Dr Arthur Douthwaite, and to top it off, the cop in charge, Superintendent Hannam.  Hannam never forgave Mr Lawrence for the mauling he gave him in the witness box, bitterly resenting him until his dying day.  It was a true masterclass in cross examination.  The jury cleared Dr Adams in just over forty minutes!

    Dr Adams was later prosecuted over some technical laws over the use of drugs and lost his practitioners licence but had it restored a few years later.  During the build up to the trial, Dr Adams had been convicted by oth public opinion and by the media.  Only one reporter believed in his innocence and that was Daily Express crime reporter Percy Hopkins.  He stood alone in a sea of guilty before trial.  As to the supposed tally of 160, it seems to be jumping to conclusions.  Obviously he had to be guilty of some murders.  So goes the reasoning.  Yet there was never any proof presented.  People can point the finger and say so and so must have done more, but if a person has no blood on their hands, courtesy of a Court of Law, how can Adams be labelled as being a true mass murderer.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Spike Island

A book that I have possessed for a long time is "Spike Island" written by James McClure, detailing the day to day activities of Police in "A" Division in Liverpool.  Published in 1980, before the Toxteth riots, it does not contain none stop serious crime, or as it could be cynically put, a "Bang bang you`re dead, tyre squealer" it relates the low level crime, up to very serious incidents.  The young hoodlums or "scallies" were referred to as "bucks."  Typical incidents such as fighting when it is kicking out time at the pubs.  Trying to sort out trouble inside pubs and clubs, and knowing where the real trouble could lie.  They are used to the mouthy ones attempting to throw their weight about, but were exceedingly wary of the tough looking onlookers who were totally relaxed but obviously not missing a beat.  Incidents included putting weights on the accelerators of stolen cars and then aiming them at buildings or shops.  Officers expressed their disbelief at magistrates letting off car thieves as young as ten, because children of that age could not possibly drive a car!  One case had a young kid steering the car, whilst his mate was on the floor operating the pedals when his mate told him when he wanted to change gear!!

    This district had a small red light area had a steady stream of clients.  None of the working girls there fitted the television and film version of good looking women.  The men spotted cruising checking on the girls available, were usually men taking a lunch break from the office.  One prostitute, known as "Fat Agnes" was copped(!) at it with a young Jewish lad.  A beat officer actually walked up to them whilst they were engaged in a knee trembler.  He tapped the lad on the shoulder, startling him.  He quickly said that they were just talking, but the cop opened his coat and saw he was still stood to attention.  The magistrates actually jailed Agnes for a month, so she must have had numerous convictions.  The desk sergeant explained to the lad how to get out of a very troublesome situation in regards to his job, when he appeared in court.  The lad followed his advice, received a fine and his employers none the wiser.  

    The CID are engaged in crimes of varying seriousness, burglaries, car thefts, porn, vice, but  one made a surely incorrect observation.  He said that protection rackets did not exist in Liverpool; a notion shot down in interviews both on tv and radio.  An on call doctor described how he was asked to examine a man arrested for murder, and admitted being completely terrified of the man.  He "examined" his mental state without going too close to him in case he tried to attack him with whatever he could get hold of.  He said that he was in no doubt this man was a psychopath, despite his calm nature.  The area characters are featured such as the man who came screaming into the station that "George was after him!"  After a couple of minutes of deranged rantings, he suddenly straightened himself up, apologised for his behaviour and started to leave.  The desk man asked him why he behaved the way he did.  The reply was that it was expected of him, so he did not disappoint others` conception of him.  In many trades, you meet all kinds.....

The San Mateo Slasher

1976 saw a spate of murders thought to have been committed by just one person, nicknamed "The San Mateo Slasher" or alternatively the "Gypsy Hill Killer."  Five murders, plus two others thought of as being committed by the same hand, began on January 8th when the body of 18 year old Veronica Cascio was discovered.  She had been dumped in a creek by the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, California.  She had been stabbed numerous times.  Police did arrest a drifter but was released through lack of evidence.  The next victim was 17 year old Paula Baxter.  She was reported missing on February 2nd and found dead two days later.  She had suffered a sexual assault, there was blunt force trauma to her head and had been stabbed multiple times, just like Veronica.  Forensics had linked these two deaths so Police knew it was one man.  Paula had been dumped behind a Mormon Church on Ludeman Lane.  She had been stripped naked.  She had been seen leaving her car, as it had broken down.

    The killer did not slow down or take the time honoured "cooling off period" that was favoured by profilers and analysts.  (I believe they kill simply because they want to)  Next to meet a grisly death was Denise Lampe, from the Broadmoor area.  She was discovered dead in a parking lot of the Serramonte Center, on April 1st.  She too followed the pattern of many stab wounds.  Then in May, the body of Carol Booth was discovered on the 6th in a shallow grave in Calma Creek, just off Grand Avenue in South San Francisco.  She had been reported missing in mid March by her husband.  Victim number five was a schoolgirl, 14 year old Tatiana Blackwell, who had been reported missing from her home district of Pacifica.  Her body was discovered by Sharp Park Road in Gypsy Hills.  She had been stabbed multiple times.

    Police linked two other murders to this series but there has been no positive evidential proof that these were all committed by the same person.  There is just circumstantial links.  The first was that of Michele Mitchell, 19, from Reno, Nevada.  On February 24th, she suffered mechanical failure and witnesses saw a man helping her push her car into a parking lot on Evans Street.  Later that night, her body was discovered in a garage on East 9th Street.  She had been bound and her throat slashed.  This remained unsolved for three years until a woman named Cathy Woods, a patient at a mental hospital, Louisiana State University Medical Center, confessed to murdering a girl named Michelle, a couple of years previously.  The second murder is that of Idell Friedman aged 21, who worked for an import company.  She was found naked and stabbed to death in the kitchen of her home in San Francisco on March 17th.  She had also been physically assaulted.

    In March 2014, the FBI formed a task force to reinvestigate these cold cases.  Advancement in DNA testing showed that a cigarette found by the body of Michelle, yielded DNA matching evidence left on the body of one of the first five victims.  Cathy Woods was released and awaits a new trial.  Then the Police arrested and charged a man with two of the murders in January of this year.  He awaits trial.  The circumstantial links were that all the victims were young brunettes, so many had suffered car trouble - indicating that possibly the killer targeted women in distress.  Damn, there I go with my "trouble stirring guesswork!! - and most of the bodies were dumped in wooded areas.  To top it off, all suffered multiple stab wounds.  Was it one man, or more?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Herbert Balmer - Liverpool Cop

In all the major cities, there have always Police Officers that have had less than complimentary reputations amongst the general public.  In Liverpool, Herbert Balmer was a man who rose from uniform constable to Assistant Chief Constable of Liverpool.  Yet his name still provokes revulsion to this day, primarily over two cases that resulted in three men being hanged.  One of the three, George Kelly, was given a posthumous pardon in 2003 by the Court of Appeal, but over fifty years too late to save him.  These cases were the Cameo Murders in 1949, and the murder of Alice Rimmer in August 1951.  Eddie Devlin & Alf Burns were hung for this crime.  The huge contention was that, like George Kelly, Devlin & Burns were fitted up all the way to the gallows by Balmer.  Both cases have books written about them by George Skelly, the youngest brother of Jimmy Skelly, who was out on the beer with George Kelly whilst Kelly was supposed to have been committing a brutal double murder.  In both cases, Balmer is said to have used criminals involved in the crimes to ensure the fit up.  So what kind of man was Bert Balmer?  

    Born in 1902 into a sea going family, he grew up near the docks, and his father tried to instill in him that the best career was that of a sailor.  After leaving St Silas`s Church of England school at 16, he took up apprenticeship for shipbuilding at Graysons, who had a dock at Garston.  But a couple of years later, the company ceased trading due to lack of orders and a number of strikes by the workforce.  Being unable to complete his apprenticeship, Balmer bore resentment to the working classes, despite being part of it himself.  He joined the Liverpool City Police in 1926.  He was ambitious and hard working, ensuring that by 1930, he was promoted to the CID.  When war came, he was involved in security at the docks, and was instrumental in stopping a black market trade in goods, operating from the base at Burtonwood.  This was run by the US Air Force.   His standing rose significantly - in his own head - when he received a letter of commendation from none other than J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI.

    But faults in his character were apparent.  He saw his role as ridding the scum from the streets of Liverpool, that he was the Liverpool equivalent of Eliot Ness, was a relentless publicity seeker and to top it off, he had a weakness for women, despite being married with children.  Even the wives or girlfriends of villains.  This was to rear it`s head in the Cameo Murders.  After the execution of Kelly, came the murder of Alice Rimmer and the subsequent hangings of Burns & Devlin.  There was a surge in violence against people said to have been used by Balmer in framing them.  Two women were given numerous beatings, and a man allegedly shot and wounded.  Balmer was said to have been involved in around one hundred murder investigations.  By the beginning of the sixties, he said up a squad nicknamed "The Commandos," who met fire with fire.  They were as tough as the villains they faced.  But despite rising to Assistant Chief Constable, he could not receive the top post because he had not served in another force, a requirement.  He retired just after the mid 60`s and died in 1970.

    Was Balmer as bad as he was made out to be?  People in Liverpool still say so.  Former cops looked up to him with admiration.  THE criminal lawyer in Liverpool was the legendary Rex Makin, who did not like him at all.  He commented that Balmer was a publicity seeker, a bully, unscrupulous, who believed that the ONLY evidence you needed was a "confession" no matter how it was obtained.  Balmer was a very intimidating man, stocky and a former boxer.  He seemed to do as he pleased, an attribute that made him feared by villains.  He seems to have been a copper who was bent for the job.  In other words, he would do anything to achieve a conviction. Even if it sent somebody to the gallows.  Anybody wishing to read up on these cases should seek out the books by George Skelly.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Arnfinn Nesset - Norwegian Mass Murderer

We remember a couple of years ago when a gunman ran amok on a small Norwegian island with an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, and killed just over seventy people.  What was outrageous was that he was sentenced to just 21 years prison - the maximum under Norwegian law.  But this man, Anders Brevik, was not the first.  Back in 1983, Arnfinn Nesset was convicted on twenty two counts of murder, and sentenced to the maximum penalty.  Twenty one years.  What is unbelievable is that his actual tally of victims is thought to be as as 130.  Putting him up there with the "Doctor of Death" Harold Shipman.  Whilst Shipman went about his killing as  doctor, Nesset ran a nursing home.

    Nesset was born in 1937, an illegitimate child, and never found any happiness.  He was unmarried.  It was in 1977 that in Orkdal, Sor-Trondelag, he was appointed as manger of a nursing home.  But an unusually high number of deaths of residents did raise eyebrows amongst the staff.  Four years after his appointment, in 1981, he bought a large quantity of a very powerful relaxant, Curacit, brought further suspicions.  He was questioned by Police as to why he purchased such a large amount of this particular muscle relaxant.  It was to kill a pack of wild dogs was his response.  Police kept up the pressure when Nesset suddenly confessed to killing 27 people.  Police were stunned to hear him say that he had killed so many that he was unsure as to the true total.  So Police did  thorough background check on Nesset and traced his career working in care homes as far back as 1962.  His years at these care homes showed a potential 62 victims.

    The drugs he used to "humanely" kill people, resulted in a slow and excruciating death.  On trial, he claimed to be suffering from Schizophrenia, and this was responsible for him getting a kick out of playing "God" with peoples` lives.  Four Psychiatrists examined him and deemed him to be sane.  He pleaded not guilty and withdrew his confessions.  But he was still charged with 25 counts of murder.  He was convicted of 22 murders, one attempted murder and five counts of forgery.  His sentence, naturally, was 21 years.  Incredibly, he was released on conditional parole after just 12 years, because of good behaviour.  If you want to slaughter loads of people and receive virtually nothing in return, go to Norway.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Murder At Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a time of rejoicing, but for many, it can be a time of sadness and loneliness.  There are also those who will not let this special time of the year get in the way of their pursuits.  It was also to be the last christmas for 17 year old Sherrall Cartwright.  A jilted boyfriend saw to that  Her crime?  Ending their relationship.  This tragic occurrence took place in 1965 in the small Welsh town of Bargoed.  Sherrall offered to babysit for her sister and her husband.  She was not fussed at what time they returned, as she was looking forward to watching the night`s television.  It was approaching midnight when she fed the baby and put her to rest in her cot.  She then went down to make herself a hot drink.  To her horror, she found herself face to face with Raymond Oliver, 21, the boyfriend she had finished with.  He was then said to have slapped her around hard around the face.  She started screaming at him to get out of the house.  His response was to grab a pair of scissors and stab her in the chest. She staggered into the lounge, where she heard him rummaging through a drawer in the kitchen.  He then came into the lounge and tarted stabbing her with a knife.  He then strangled her.

   Her sister and brother-in-law came home to a scene of horror.  They immediately summoned an ambulance and the local doctor.  The doctor arrived quickly, and examining her injuries, injected morphine into her and kept giving mouth to mouth until the ambulance arrived.  Sherrall died on route to the hospital.  The local Detective Inspector, Glyndwr Evans, went to the home of Oliver immediately, who stayed silent but later gave a statement of his movements and denying any knowledge of the murder.  His clothes were taken for examination and his alibi checked.  DI Evans knew there was an important omission from his statement.  Sherralls`brother-in-law, David had spoken to Oliver earlier in the evening and during the conversation, had mentioned that Sherrall was babysitting for them.

    Later, Oliver made a second statement that told a different story.  He admitted going to the house to see Sherrall.  He said the rear door was open and pon seeing him, Sherrall screamed, so he slapped her to shut her up but she did not.  Losing his temper, he grabbed the scissors and stabbed her.  He then put the scissors under the tap, put them in a rawer and left, returning home.  He made no mention of getting a knife and carrying on the attack.  He stood trial at the Assizes in Cardiff in February 1966.  He pleaded guilty in a hearing that lasted less than ten minutes.   Sentenced to life, he served just eight years.  Eight years for the brutal murder of a teenage girl.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Was Elizabeth Short a Victim of San Diego Serial Killer?

The Black Dahlia murder of Elizabeth Short on January 15th 1947 is one of the great murder mysteries in the USA, along with Lizzie Borden & The Zodiac.  But it has been speculated that the killer of Elizabeth could have been the same man who committed eight murders between 1931 and 1936.  The inclusion of Elizabeth, eleven years late, only arose because she spent some time in San Diego.  A very tenuous link, but the sheer sadism and brutality of the killings brought the possibility of the perpetrator being the same man.  The eight murders began in February 1931 and escalated in violence with each murder.  Police and Psychiatrists believed one man was responsible for all of them.

   The first victim was 10 year old Virginia Brooks.  She was enticed into a vehicle and then not seen for months.  Her body was found trussed up in a sack.  Then two months later, in April 1931, widow Dolly Bibbens was found dead in her home.  She had been sexually assaulted and then brutally beaten to death.  But the killer (if it was the same man) did not let up.  Two weeks after the murder of Mrs Bibbens, telephonist Hazel Bradshaw was discovered in Balboa Park.  Hazel had been attacked in a frenzy, and stabbed a total of 17 times.  Whilst cops frantically investigated these killings, another body popped up.  Divorcee Maud Detwiler had been killed in a sadistic fashion.  But the series of killings stopped.  There were no more murders marked by sadism.  For three years.  March 1934 saw a Mrs Adams murdered, and her body showed the hallmarks of the earlier killings.  Authorities believed the man was back.

    Now the killer upped the shock on San Diego.  April saw the nude body of Louise Tueber, hanging from a tree on Black Mountain.  The autopsy concluded that he had been murdered, then transported and hung from the tree.  Then, a couple of months later, another young girl, 17 year old Celia Cota, was found very close to her family home.  She had suffered rape, torture and then was strangled.  The last victim was Ruth Muir, a Riverside YWCA secretary.  It was in September 1936 that she went for a walk during the night along La Jolla shore.  She was found near the Casa Manana Hotel.  She had been sexually assaulted, slashed and stabbed.  Then everything seemed to stop.  Because Elizabeth Short spent time in San Diego, did her killer spot her and follow her to Los Angeles?  In deed, could it have been the same man?  Did one man commit the eight murders?  We`ll probably never know.

The Violent World of the Bluesman

A personal favourite form of music to me, is that of the blues.  My first real immersion into this genre, although I never realised it, was towards the mid 1970`s, when I purchased the Greatest Hits of Fleetwood Mac.  The guitar solo that Peter Green ripped out in "Black Magic Woman" had a very profound effect on me. It felt like my heart had been torn out!  But towards the end of the 70`s, I started looking deeply into the world of the blues, and discovered just what truly appalling lives they led and it reflected in their music.  Some of the bluesmen were extremely violent, and met violent ends.  So where do we start off?  How about one of THE most influential; Robert Johnson.  The man who made a pact with the devil at the crossroads.  This tale is firmly entrenched in blues legend, and with the superstitions that ran through black people for generations, many actually believed it.  His prowess as a musician could only have come through a deal with Lucifer.  His soul for talent.  He married a couple of times, travelled all over the south, played at parties, in juke joints but had a great weakness for womanising.  The tale goes - well, one does - that he was poisoned by an irate husband or boyfriend in 1938.  His 29 recorded songs are amongst the most influential in blues and rock.

    Pat Hare was a singer and guitarist in the highly influential band of Muddy Waters - real name McKinley Morganfield - in the late 1950`s and had recorded a song that was later to prove deadly accurate. "I`m gonna murder my baby" was recorded in 1954 for Sun Records, the label run by legendary producer Sam Phillips.  Hare was by nature, an extremely jealous man, and in 1963, this proved fatal when he murdered both his girlfriend and a Minnesota Police Officer.  He was jailed for the rest of his life.

    Huddie Ledbetter, otherwise known as "Leadbelly" personified the wild man.  He once had his throat cut during a brawl.  He was big, tough and had a furious temper.  A man to avoid in a desperate situation.  His first serious brush with the law was when he was 15. (in 1904)  He shot a man.   The victim was said to have been the father of a newly impregnated girl!  Ledbetter already had two children by then!  He was fined and told that it would be better for him to leave town.  By 1915, he had shot and wounded another man.  He was fined and jailed for a month!!  But he actually escaped and vanished.  He then committed a murder.  He killed his friend Will Stafford and received 20 years.  He behaved himself in jail and after so many years, he actually sang a song to the State Governor, in order to win parole.  I believe it was one of his most famous songs "Goodnight Irene" but some stories say that this Governor did not parole him but the next one that came into office.  After a five year period of good behaviour when he was paroled, he then stabbed a man, a white man at that! and jailed for between 6 & 10 years.  He was incarcerated in one of the toughest jails in the country.  Angola, in Louisiana.  It was in the 30`s that he came to the attention of field producer Alan Lomax, where he recorded him and  set him on a path to a much wider audience.  But there was trepidation, after his release, wherever he went, as his violent reputation preceded him.  One nickname he was given was "The Murderous Minstrel." Ledbetter died in 1949.

    The last person to be featured is a man rated one of, if not the best, blues harmonica player: Little Walter Jacobs.  He was born in 1930, and in the 50`s he found himself in Muddy Waters` band.  He had a good voice and the most exquisite harmonica playing.  But in the tradition of many bluesman, he drank a great deal and had a volatile temper.  Not a good mixture.  Strangely enough, despite many bluesmen who found that the white audiences truly appreciated their music, and people like the Rolling Stones and Clapton ensured they received royalty payments for covering their songs, and bringing them to a much wider audience, Jacobs hated performing to whites!!   His volatility whilst in drink, resulted in him being beaten to death by some men in 1968.  A real waste.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Toni Jo Henry - The Woman Who went To The Chair With a Smile

There were a number of women who faced execution without fear, and it has been said that they faced up to the ultimate punishment with more courage than their male counterparts.  Some spat death in the eye.  Irene Schroeder, faced it with a Cagney-like demeanour.  Lynda Block - the last woman electrocuted - went with the contempt she held for authority and the law.  Toni Jo Henry went with a smile on her face.  Her downfall started in the late 1930`s when she was working in a San Antonio brothel.  She was also a chronic drug addict despite her good looks.  She met Claude Henry whilst working as a prostitute and was so smitten with him, she quit the brothel and married him in 1939.  The problem was that he out on bail awaiting a retrial for murder.  His first task was to help her withdraw from drugs, which he achieved by forcing her to cold turkey.  Then he was summoned back to court for the new trial.  He was convicted of killing a Police Special, Arthur Sinclair, and received 50 years.  Toni Jo publicly vowed to set him free.

    Toni Jo - real name Annie Beatrice McQuiston - recruited a man to help her in her plan.  His name was Harold Burks, a serviceman who was AWOL, but wanted to be known simply as "Arkinsaw."  He was confident they could spring Henry and acquired some guns.  They started by stopping a car and taking the driver hostage.  Joe Calloway was forced to drive into the countryside and told to strip naked.  Toni Jo told him to kneel and then shot him in the head.  Burks was horrified at this unwarranted murder and whilst stopped at Camden in Texas, he drove off, leaving her stranded.  She made her way to Shreveport in Louisiana, where she visited a brothel madam she once worked for.  The madam told her to get in touch with relatives living locally but inexplicably, she went to the Police.  She was so calm and matter-of-fact that they disbelieved her.  Until she took them to where the body of Joe Calloway still lay.  Then she handed her gun to cops.  Who was her partner she was asked.  She did not know his true name or decided to stay quiet.  She now refused to say anything about him.  They set to work and soon discovered his real name; Harold Burks.  He was soon arrested without incident.  He kept saying "She is nuts!"

    On trial for murder, Toni Jo blamed Burks for the murder of Joe Calloway but she was convicted and sentenced to death.  Burks later received the same sentence.  Toni Jo altogether had two retrials over technicalities but still she was sentenced to death.  But when her D.O.E. was set for November 28th 1942, she came clean and admitted that she alone was responsible for the murder.  Five days before her execution, Claude Henry escaped from prison, intent on saving her from death.  He was captured 66 miles away from her prison.  Authorities allowed them a final phone call.  There is a photo of a priest leading her to the death chamber.  She has a pleasant look on her face and a scarf around her head, covering where her hair had been shaved off.  The death chamber guards where stunned by her casual and cheery approach to her death.  She was the only woman to be strapped in the Louisiana chair.  Burks was despatched in March of the following year.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Huffey White - Highwayman

We are well used to hearing the romanticised tales of Dick Turpin & Jack Sheppard, plus the deceitful career of Jonathan Wild - he planned and committed robberies, was the leading criminal and fence in London but was also a thief taker.  He sent many of his cohorts to Tyburn without the slightest trace of conscience.  But a notorious highwayman you will never hear of was Huffey White.  He operated throughout the country, but one of his abilities, was to escape from the prison ships, time and again, after he was sentenced to transportation.  He robbed banks, waylaid travellers on coaches and his notoriety grew.  He was arrested in 1809 and sentenced to be transported for life.  He escaped from the prison hulk before it could sail.  He returned to his criminal career but was arrested again, this time in Stockport, in 1810.  He was to be transported yet again.  But as before, he escaped from the ship.  Then he was arrested for robbing the Paisley Union Bank, but as usual, he escaped yet again. (Amazingly, exploits like this would have received the usual Hollywood bullshit with truth the perpetual loser!)  He then set off around the country, robbing at will.

    His crimes included robbing the Leeds Mail coach, then heading south out of the way.  He became well known to the authorities in Birmingham, so he ventured to the south west, to Bristol.  But he was lucky to evade capture, as the Post Office offered a huge reward for his arrest.  This brought informers and criminals out in force, looking to cash in.  He decided in 1813 to head for Liverpool. But the authorities received word and were waiting for him.  He teemed up with a villain called Richard Haywood.  But the forces of Law & Order closed in, after informers gave word to constables that they were in a house in Scotland Road.  A number of officers went to the house but the occupants refused to let them in until they identified themselves.  The reply was that the door will be kicked in unless it was opened. It duly was, and a search found the two in the cellar, where a furious fight broke out before the two were subdued and arrested.  They found plenty of evidence of their crimes in the house and were jailed.  Huffey White continued his long criminal career but eventually, his time ran out when he was hanged at Northampton in 1841.


Hands up if you have not seen any of the Peter Cushing Hammer films as Baron Frankenstein, or any of the subsequent films.  Let us not forget the first two films about the most infamous body snatchers Burke & Hare - "The Flesh & The Fiends" 1959, with Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance & Billie Whitelaw.  There was "Burke & Hare" 1971, with Harry Andrews, Darren Nesbitt & Yootha Joyce.   But the gruesome trade of the "Resurrectionists" went on all over the British Isles.  Wherever there was a medical school, there would be resurrectionists going about supplying the schools with freshly interred bodies, for the doctors to teach their students about anatomy, with the real thing.  Despite the high social standing of these doctors, they had no qualms about paying for nice, fresh bodies, for dissection.  Burke & Hare operated in Edinburgh, supplying Dr Alexander Knox.

    Bodies that were legally allowed to be taken to medical schools were those were executed, children who died before they were baptised, and children who were not in any apprenticeship.  Another source of "trade" was the local workhouse.  These were institutions where the homeless, destitute and ill, went because there was nowhere else for them, except begging and starving on the streets.  Because of the state and desperation of the people in there, there was also a nice supply for the dissectionists.  Not all in charge of workhouses were philanthropists!  The price paid for bodies was high, so this outweighed the consequences of being caught.  In many areas, grave robbing was so frequent, watchmen were employed to keep guard at night.  As long as they did not kill, the resurrectionists would face very heavy fines and jail.  Two caught in Liverpool, William Stewart and a baker by the name of Armstrong, were fined £50 - a fortune to most people -and six months in Kirkdale Jail.  This was in 1824.

    Another case of the 1820`s in Liverpool concerned a huge discovery of bodies of men, women & children, stored in sacks in a cellar in Hope Street.  The bodies of the children were pickling in brine in barrels.  There were three barrels of "salt" waiting at George`s Dock, to be shipped to Leith, stunk.  The captain of the ship had the barrels and discovered eleven bodies of men and women, and a couple of children.  The captain immediately summoned the Dock Police.  At that time, Liverpool had three Police divisions; The Night Watch, Dock Police & Corporation Constabulary. The task fell to Robert Boughey of the Dock Watch.  He soon had two of three men in custody.  A man named Donaldson was jailed for one year, the second man, Gillespie, was released without charge but the third man, Henderson, was never found.  After this horrific discovery, local people were asked to check the cemeteries to ensure their loved ones had not been disinterred.   Gruesome! 

Pervert & Thief Locked Up

A reoccurring theme in court cases here in Bradford is that of sex crimes.  Perverts, groomers, sexual assault, the whole list!  The latest case is the jailing for eight years of Anthony Simpson.  He stole around half a million pounds from Hammonds Direct, a finance company located in the Little Germany district of the city.  The company went bust in 2009 and stored up a cash pot to pay all liabilities.  Unfortunately for the firm, Simpson, a chartered accountant, had access to this cash pot.  They were not to know that Simpson had a very serious addiction to cocaine, and a predisposition for women, in particular prostitutes, dressed as schoolgirls!  Simpson found himself being dismissed for very poor work, but then the firm discovered that he had withdrawn £107,500 in cash, had forged a number of cheques, and also carried out a number of internet transfers.  Hammonds brought in the Police.

    Police investigations revealed that he had used the money to rent an exclusive apartment in Leeds, and much money on an escort agency.  This totalled £107,000!!  He had used the rest of the money to fuel his chronic cocaine addiction, bought a house in Heckmondwike and paid for a young woman to have cosmetic surgery.  But whilst on bail, the Police caught him in the act of downloading child porn.  He had over 300,000 pornagraphic images of very young children.  And I mean very young!!!  He told the judge he did not know why he downloaded child porn and kept the images stored on computer.  Would it have something to do with a fetish for school uniforms?  He said he was attracted to adult women.  So what was it about adult women dressed as schoolgirls?  Getting pictures of children by-passes having to persuade women to dress as schoolies. Prostitutes will do what the client pays for, but ordinary women would think that he as a bit on the strange side.  Well, I think most would.  Plus, to me, any man who wants a woman to dress like that, has to have paedophilic tendencies.  Damn, there I go again with my trouble stirring guesswork!!

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Green Bicycle Murder

This is another one of those puzzling cases in which a suspect is acquitted of murder leaving the questions of just who was responsible for another person`s death and more importantly, why?  The victim in question was 21 year old Bella Wright, whose body was found in a lane close to Long Stretton, in Leicestershire, on July 5th 1919.  Bella had a nasty bullet wound to her head and Police discovered a spent bullet near to her body.  The Police enquiry established that Bella, who worked in a factory, had left the home of her uncle, three miles away, and was witnessed riding her bicycle in the company of a man whose bicycle was green.  The man was later spotted in the immediate vicinity of where Bella was found deceased.  The investigation ran cold, but was reawakened seven months later, when the frame of a green bicycle was pulled from a canal.  But there was much more discovered in the canal.  A holster for a revolver and some ammunition.   The serial number was still visible but identifying features had been removed.  The serial number led Police to Ronald Vivian Light.

    Light, a former officer in the Army, was now a teacher at Cheltenham School.  He had reason to be in the area.  His disabled mother lived in Leicester.  Light was charged with the murder of Bella.  He went on trial at Leicestershire Assizes in June 1920, and finally had to admit that the green bicycle found in the canal was his own.  He had previously told Police that the bicycle was not his, despite the serial number linking him to it.  The reason for this deception, he told the court, was he feared the effect of the case and he being arrested, would have on his disabled mother.   He empathically denied the charge.  Light had a formidable attorney fighting his corner.  None other than Sir Edward Marshall Hall.  The prosecution's case was that the holster and ammunition belonged to Light.  These, said the prosecution, were the same calibre of the round that killed Bella.  But Marshall Hall said that a .45 calibre bullet would have made a larger exit wound.  His hypothesis was supported by a firearms expert who stated that the fatal wound could have been caused by a rifle shot.  

    Hall maintained that Bella could have been hit by a shot from a nearby field.  There was no known motive for the murder, and there were no signs of attack on Bella.  Hall brought up Light`s excellent war record, and he gave a good account of himself in the trial, so the jury voted for an acquittal.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Triple Killer Finally Gets His Just Desserts

How many times does somebody have to kill before the authorities decide to take a firm stance?  We have had a couple of cases where people stood in court facing a third charge of taking somebody's life.  Over here, you will have all the usual suspects spouting the usual load of bollocks about childhood, poverty, alienation and all kinds of excuses.  Yet, despite the extremely heavy sentences handed out stateside, there are cases where convicted killers do not serve much time.  Randy Gay was one of those people.  56 year old Gay was finally condemned for the murder of a girlfriend Connie Snow, 49,  in May 2011.  He drove to a worksite he previously worked at, a logging site, in Garland County, Arkansas.  They had an argument, and in return he shot her in the face with a shotgun!   In front of witnesses!  He wrapped her body in a plastic sheet, loaded it on to a truck and drove it away to Ouachita National Forest and dumped the body.  He was helped in putting the body into his truck by one of the witnesses.  Unsurprisingly, he was quickly arrested and charged.

    But what of Gay`s murderous past?  It was back in 1978 that Gay murdered his father-in-law with a shotgun.  He took a guilty plea in return for ten years.  Yet five years of this was suspended, and incredibly, he was released after nine months!!  He struck yet again in 1992, killing his father.  With what else but a shotgun.  This time he was sentenced to twenty years.  Yet again, the authorities set him free after less than half of his sentence.  Just eight years.  He was up in court again in 2008 for making "terroristic threats."  Three years later, he committed his third shotgun killing, but now authorities decided to wake up.  He was sentenced to death.  His lawyer pleaded with the jury not to nominate death, but if you keep killing people with firearms, how long can you expect to keep getting away with it?

Execution of Cop Killer

March of this year saw the State of Missouri put to death a cop killer.  74 year old Cecil Clayton was the oldest person to be executed in that particular state since 1944.  What brought Clayton to the death chamber was the completely senseless murder of 29 year old Deputy Chris Castetter in November 1996.  It all that sparked it off was an argument with his girlfriend.  Clayton had a row with her at a convenience store in Barry County, and she went off.  Clayton started to look for her, and decided to see if she was at her mother's house.  The Police were called and Officer Castetter drove to the residence.  Clayton was still there as the officer pulled up.  He wound down his window to speak to Clayton who responded by drawing a firearm and cold bloodedly shot the officer in the head.

    The POlice car was found collided with a tree, it`s engine running and the wheels still spinning.  The stricken officer was rushed to hospital but died hours later.  Clayton had disappeared but started telling a friend about what he had done.  It was not long before the Police arrested him.  His death was delayed for some hours due to a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, however, they voted five to four in favour of the sentence of death.  Clayton`s lawyer argued that an injury to his head in the 1970`s working at a sawmill, made him mentally incompetent.  This was rejected and he was executed on March 17th 2015 by lethal injection.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Tales of Bradford`s Past

I have been living here for over ten years now and I do like to dig up tales of a dark past for this city.  But this is not going to be a comprehensive look at a case or two, but more, a montage of events and people.  Bradford produced the most famous hangmen in British history.  The Pierrepoint family lived in the Clayton district(BD14), whilst James Berry, before becoming an executioner, was a Bradford Policeman.  After he quit his job, he ran a pub on Cutler Heights Lane, The Travellers Rest.  A private investigator and former Policeman in Bradford, William Lane, had the ultimate downfall.  He was hanged for murdering his lover, Elizabeth Dyson.  She worked in theatres around London, but as her jobs dried up, she worked as a pianist in pubs around Bradford.  But Lane was married with two children and lived in one of the better districts of the city.  But, as ever, events get out of hand and Lane slashed the throat of Elizabeth, resulting in an appointment with executioner James Billington.  He was hanged at Stafford Prison on August 11th 1902.  Lane had moved his family to West Bromwich and Elizabeth showed her private eye skills by turning up on his doorstep.....

    Doing some research, I discovered four unsolved murders from decades gone by.  A young girl of 11 was murdered in Little Horton Green in 1938, taxi driver Harry Graham in 1944, Catherine Ogden in Bowling park in 1953, and one that happened in Garner Street in 1955.  Bradford Police had a good detection rate for murder but since the 70`s there have been 40 unsolved cases - I have covered a number of them.  We know the famous cases such as Sutcliffe, Sams, Griffiths, but we have had Ernie Wright, Mark Rowntree, Neal Adamson.  The cops who fitted up Stefan Kisko for the murder of Lesley Molseed, were from here.

    But what about tough guys?  The most well known is actually a shock to people; wrestler Les Kellett.  Everybody knew he was a clown in the ring, but in reality, he took no shit from anybody.  Inside the ring and out of it.  He was the man you avoided trouble with.  He was a real hard man.  Other names include Frank Birkin, a former rugby player and later, pub landlord.  He was convicted a number of times for violence whilst running the Blue Lion.  He hospitalised one of his barmen, for the audacious crime of kissing his sister.  I have heard a couple of tales about Birkin trying his hand at boxing but could not find any evidence of it.  Birkin was about 6`4" and built like a tree trunk.  Ken Jubb was another former rugby player who ran pubs in town.  He had a reputation as a hard nut.  Then there was Big John Amelia.  He was an old style, hard punching doorman.  If you started trouble where he was on the door, you got a smack.  Simple as that. But this did not make him very popular.  Later on, I was told that he became a minder for a popular tenor of the 40`s and 50`s, Josef Locke, and moved to Blackpool.  Locke had a regular seasonal spot there in the 50`s.

    Local history has shown a proliferation of brothels in the 19th century.  We even had female boxing just before WW1.  I found this out doing research in the archives, looking into the fight career of Jerry Delaney.  He and his boxing brothers lived in what was then called Broomfields, but is now called East Bowling.  A century ago, this was an extremely rough area where Police walked in twos and threes.  Poverty was very rife so kids growing up either turned to crime or as the Delaneys did, turned to boxing.  Jerry was thought to be a potential World Champion but died in France in 1916.  There has been bare knuckle fighting throughout the centuries and it still goes on.  There was a fight behind the disused Delacey pub on the corner of Prince Street, a couple of years ago.  Fights can be for money or to settle an argument.  Just a few tales from the darkside.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Richard Cooey & Clinton Dickens - Murderers

What exactly drives young men to abduct, rape and torture, then murder two young women for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  Are we regressing backwards to a caveman mentality?  Is it that the world is full of  psychotic people that believe that they have to kill or are entitled to do that, just because they feel like it?  Richard Wade Cooey and Clinton Dickens did just that, and the end result is that it saw Cooey finish up on a gurney in a death chamber.  Cooey was born in 1967 in Akron, Ohio, and saw himself shunted between his father and grandmother.  The usual story of a troubled and violent upbringing have been aired - though many thousands endure unpleasant childhoods but rise above it, and after leaving school in 1985, Cooey joined the Army.  The following year, in September 1986, Cooey was on leave in Akron, when he was with a friend, 17 year old Clinton Dickens, they were on Stoner Street Bridge, throwing lumps of concrete at passing cars that were travelling on Interstate 77.

    They managed to smash the windscreen of one car, and they made a show of running to help the occupants, but had other ideas.  The driver was 21 year old Wendy Offredo and her friend, 20 year old Dawn McCreery.  They were abducted, taken to a field close by, where they were systematically raped, tortured and then murdered, over a prolonged period of time.  They had an X carved into their bodies.  But it all came unstuck due to the fact that Cooey could not stop bragging about what they had done and soon they were arrested by Police.  Then the finger pointing began, with one claiming the other was the instigator.  But it did them no good.  Cooey was sentenced to death in November 1986, whilst Dickens, classed as a minor, received life.  Soon Cooey was saying that he was an innocent man, but later admitted the attacks on the victims but claimed "duress" and had consumed drugs and alcohol.

    In an attempt to stave off his execution, he claimed he was too fat to be humanely executed.  Not by the chair, but by lethal injection.  His appeals process eventually ran out and he lay on the gurney in October 2008.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Charles Ponzi - Conman

In the world of financial crime where the money illicitly gained dwarfs all avenues of crime, bar, probably, drugs, it is not a generally well covered subject.  In the last few decades, we have heard about Bernie Madoff, the so-called "Wolf of Wall Street," the stealing of pension funds, most famously by Robert Maxwell, though most certainly not limited to him.  There are the numerous companies registered offshore, for no other reason than tax avoidance, but it runs much deeper if you trace financial crime throughout history.  One man, a pint sized Italian, in less than nine months, became synonymous with one particular type of crime; Charles Ponzi.  He originated a simplistic form of fraud that quickly turned him into a millionaire, but as with all scams, inevitably they crumble.

    Ponzi emigrated to the U.S.from Italy, hoping to make it in the land of opportunity.  But despite his later "reputation" as a financial "genius" Ponzi, in all sense and purposes, was as thick as pigshit!  How did he gravitate to such heights?  Simple.  Telling people what they want to hear and letting talk of money override any suspicions.  When he arrived in the States, the only job he could acquire was that as a waiter, which he was not very good at.  So he moved on to Montreal in Canada, where he started acquiring a taste for the better things in life.  His first scam was persuading people that he could send money to their relatives in Italy at cheaper rates than the postal service.   Naturally, he spent all the money entrusted to him and it earned him his first prison sentence.

    Ponzi had turned 36 when he moved to Boston, married a girl called Rose and somehow managed to persuade his father-in-law to let him run his grocery business.  Ponzi soon ran it into the ground.  Then he got a job at an import/export firm because he could speak Italian.  He had no interest in the job but in 1919, a letter from abroad changed his outlook.  It contained a postal reply coupon.  Abroad, they cost one cent, redeeming in the U.S. brought five cents.  He had found his niche. So he thought.  He resigned his job, and made big plans to have people buy them en masse abroad and send them to him in the States.  Big money was waiting.  Except this was scuppered by postal regulations.  But he was not deterred.  With a number of these coupons to show off to people, he made a promise he could make them 50% profit in 90 days, adding that the Rockefeller empire was built on the same principle.  The suckers could not resist.  Soon he was getting thousands of dollars and paying 50% interest on the repayment date.  He urged them to keep reinvesting and tell their friends.  More and more people "invested."  Soon he formed his own company, Financial Exchange Company, and bought himself into the Hanover Trust Company, having enough clout to get the President`s job.  Everybody seemed to love this guy who could not stop making people profits.  Except one.  The newspaper the Boston Post openly questioned where Ponzi acquired his money.  But Ponzi was vain and wanted the adulation, so he hired a PR man to rebuild his image.  But it backfired.  The Pr man, Bill McMasters discovered Ponzi had absolutely no head for mathematics.  Everything in finance and foreign exchange bedazzled him.  So he insisted on examining the books.  They resembled gobbledy gook.  His millionaire lifestyle was about to topple.

    He took $2 millon dollars from the company vault and went to gamble it, in the hope of winning more millions to keep afloat.  He blew the lot.  It was estimated he received $20 million and paid back $15 million.  He had a shortfall of $5 million.  It was the simple task of paying back with other people`s money.  The Government got him first, giving him a five year stretch, then the state of Massachusetts gave him another seven years for Grand Larceny.  After release from prison, Ponzi went back to Italy but achieved nothing.  He died in Rio de Janeiro in poverty in 1949.  But in less than nine months, December 1919 to August 1920, the five foot two inch Ponzi was on top of the world and his name lives on with this type of fraud.

Keith Jesperson - "The Happy Face Killer"

Keith Jesperson is a notorious serial killer incarcerated for the rest of his life in the U.S.  He has a known tally of eight victims, but has boasted of in excess of one hundred victims, but this seems to be an example of playing games with the Police and the media.  He has said to have given details of other murders but nothing has been substantiated at present.  The huge truck driver has had one book written about him by Jack Olsen - "The Happy Face Killer" - but now it seems that a new one is to emerge by a renowned crime writer.  I have just been informed by a contact in the U.S. that a book and a documentary are being readied for release, written and hosted by Matthew W. Phelps. a prolific researcher and author on serial killers and murder cases.  He is the host of the tv series "Dark Minds."  My contact said that I could announce it on this blog for UK readers.  Some press releases have gone out Stateside.  So now it is just waiting for it`s official release.