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From the Dean of American Crime Writers

See the REAL Stories of the REAL Criminals

Jay Robert Nash's Annals of Crime is offered on syndication as five daily columns per week. Each 1,000-word column is accompanied by photos from Nash's image collection (more than 6 million images). One column per week is accompanied by six or more images presented as a feature. The remaining 4 columns are accompanied by one or more images, some of which are colorized by Mr. Nash's artists (such as those shown above and in the examples that follow). 4 weeks of columns appear on this page, viewable as features or as 1- or 2-column galley proofs.

Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "the dean of American crime writers," Jay Robert Nash is one of the world's foremost historians, encyclopedists, and leading crime experts. He is the recipient of the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America and is the only author ever to receive four "Best Reference" awards from the American Library Association. Mr. Nash has published dozens of books on the subject with several best-sellers to his credit, including Hustlers and Con Men, Among the Missing, and his classic work Bloodletters and Badman with on-going sales of more than three million copies. In addition, Mr. Nash has personally interviewed some of the crime personalities in his column, offering fresh information and insights into these amazing characters.

Jay Robert Nash's Annals of Crime is sure to gain a significant audience from not only the millions of readers of Mr. Nash's books, but also from legions of online viewers, who will find this distinctive column-feature fascinating, riveting and, most importantly, revealingly informative in the gripping and always-evergreen subject of crime (view index).

Releases for Week One (Monday-Friday)

Column/Feature 1

The Real Bonnie and Clyde

by Jay Robert Nash

Bonnie gets the drop on Clyde
Bonnie gets the drop on Clyde in this snapshot of the two lethal bandits clowning; this and many other photos were left in an apartment the gang abandoned in Joplin, Missouri, on April 13, 1933, where they killed two officers when escaping police. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Clyde Barrow (1909-1934) and his petite gun moll mistress Bonnie Parker (1910-1934) were nothing like the characters portrayed in the mythical 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. They were illiterate, unfeeling killers with vicious, cunning personalities, and, at all times, expressed the nature of poisonous snakes. These two, joined by equally brutal Buck Barrow (Clyde's brother), Ray Hamilton, and other southwestern bandits of the early 1930s, spread terror through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and other states, stealing penny ante amounts and earning a reputation as lethal killers. For a period of about two years, 1932-1934, the Barrow gang, never numbering more than five or six members, became the terror of the Southwest.

As a teenager, Clyde Barrow had already committed several thefts
As a teenager, Clyde Barrow had already committed several thefts and was a habitual criminal. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

The gang preyed upon small store owners, filling stations, and travelers driving along remote roads. They lived in the country for the most part, renting small, cheap cabins, often sleeping in the cars they stole. They were vagrant thieves with high-powered weapons. Contrary to popular belief, they were never cult heroes to the hill people and squalid farmers, who made up their heritage. Bonnie and Clyde preyed upon these poor tenant farmers as much as they attacked and robbed local middle-class shopkeepers.

Reckless and with an utter disregard for the law, they reveled in predicting their own violent ends. The Barrows were fanatically suicidal. To commemorate their death wish, Clyde and Bonnie recorded their almost every movement together, taking photographs of each other in menacing poses, writing long letters to their families in which they portrayed themselves as persecuted, misunderstood, young people and sending even longer missives (and even Bonnie's mawkish poems) to the newspapers. These letters glorified their robberies and attempted to exonerate their killings. Bonnie mooned over the image of being hunted like an animal and she profiled the vicious Clyde Barrow in her awkward poetry as a heroic outsider, who had been driven to crime, who had been forced to commit horrible murders and robberies. It was all an act for the press.

Bonnie and Clyde at a picnic area outside of Dexter, Iowa
Bonnie and Clyde at a picnic area outside of Dexter, Iowa, on the morning of July 24, 1933 (Clyde is cleaning one of the many weapons in his arsenal); only minutes after this photo was taken, a huge posse attacked the Barrow gang, wounding both Bonnie and Clyde, who escaped. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
Bandit and killer Bonnie Parker
Bandit and killer, Bonnie Parker, posing with gun on hip and cigar in mouth, looking as tough as she really was, although she did not smoke cigars. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Clyde was an expert killer, who practiced his marksmanship every day, firing all manner of weapons: submachine guns, shotguns, rifles, automatics, and revolvers. He taught Bonnie to fire all these weapons, too, and she, in turn, devised a special trick pocket for Clyde, one where his right trouser was zippered so that he could carry a sawed-off shotgun next to his leg and then, employing the break-away zipper, whip the gun out and fire in one motion. This gun-loving pair appeared in 1932 in the Joplin, Missouri, home of Herbert Farmer, who provided weapons for the bank robbers of that day, asking to look at new Browning Automatic Rifles (BARs) which Farmer had recently stolen from a U.S. Army arsenal.

Present at the time was James Henry "Blackie" Audett, who watched as Bonnie and Clyde clutched the new BARs Farmer handed them. "They sat there with gleaming eyes," Audett later told this columnist, "stroking and fondling those big guns like they were holding their own children. Spittle dripped from the side of Clyde's mouth and Bonnie was purring like a cat in heat. They were nuts, these two punks, real bad killers. Herb [Farmer] knew it, I knew it, and everybody in the business knew it."

"When I told Herb to get rid of them by quickly selling them the guns, he said: 'Sell them? Hell, if I don't give them those guns for free, they'll kill me and they'll kill you, too!' Herb gave them the guns for nothing, and when they complained that their stolen car was out of gas, we both gave them money to buy more, just to get rid of them."

Blanch Barrow (wearing sun glasses at left)
In this startling photo, taken only minutes after a posse attacked the Barrow gang outside Dexter, Iowa on July 24, 1933, Blanch Barrow (wearing sun glasses at left) is restrained and screaming for life of her fatally shot husband, Marvin "Buck" Barrow, Clyde's older brother, who is shown kneeling in his underwear at right, dying from several wounds; Bonnie and Clyde had escaped the area only minutes earlier. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

It was not their robberies that brought Bonnie and Clyde to the widespread attention of law enforcement officers. It was their murders. They killed at whim. "They liked killing people," said gang member W. D. Jones after his capture. "It was a game between the two of them, to see who could keep the top score."

Clyde killed a sheriff and his deputy at a barn dance at Atoka, Oklahoma on the night of August 5, 1932 (he intended to rob the ticket taker). In December of that year, Clyde killed Doyle Johnson in Temple, Texas, when Johnson protested at Clyde's stealing his car. A short time later, Bonnie laughed when she shot and killed a police officer in Oklahoma after he gave her some directions. On January 6, 1933, Clyde shot and killed police deputy Malcolm Davis, firing his sawed-off shotgun at point blank range. Bonnie congratulated him, saying: "Why, honey, you never miss, do you? You cut that lawman clean in half with one barrel!"

Bonnie thrilled to the murders Clyde committed and emulated them, but the couple had little or no sexual relationship. Clyde was almost indifferent to heterosexual unions. He preferred young men, admitting to Bonnie that he had become addicted to homosexual practices while in the reformatory. When they took young men into the gang, such as W.D. Jones and Henry Methvin, it was understood that both Bonnie and Clyde would have relationships with these apprentice bandits.

The car in which Bonnie and Clyde were riding
The car in which Bonnie and Clyde were riding when they were ambushed by a posse of Texas Rangers, who riddled the auto as it drove down a dirt road outside Gibsland, Louisiana on May 23, 1934; the murderous bandits were shot to pieces. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
The six Texas Rangers who shot and killed Bonnie and Clyde
The six Texas Rangers who shot and killed Bonnie and Clyde: (top row, left to right) Ted Hinton, P. Moakley, B. M. Gault (bottom row, left to right), Bob Alcorn, Henderson Jordan, and their leader, Frank Hamer; they had no regrets. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Park lying dead in a morgue
Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Park lying dead in a morgue only an hour after they were slain by a posse of Texas Rangers, their bodies pierced by dozens of submachine gun and Browning Automatic Rifle bullets. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

These killers murdered at least a dozen persons in their two-year crime spree, until ambushed by lawmen outside of Gibsland, Louisiana, on May 23, 1934, identified by Ivan Methvin, Henry's father. Both were shot as they drove along a country road. Clyde was driving in his socks and Bonnie was eating a sandwich when the lawmen opened up from the cover of some heavy woods, riddling their car and their bodies with scores of bullets.

Ray Hamilton, one of their gang members, said before going to the electric chair for murder: "Bonnie and Clyde? They loved to kill people, see blood run. That's how they got their kicks. They were dirty people. Her breath was awful and Clyde never took a bath. They smelled bad all the time. They'd steal the pennies off a dead man's eyes." Said one of the Texas Rangers at the ambush, "They were the worst killers in the Southwest. We weren't about to take any chances with those two. Others did and they died. A lot of folks can rest easy now...even Bonnie and Clyde."

Week One Column/Feature 2

Samuel Green: America's First Public Enemy Number One

by Jay Robert Nash

"He was not the type of person a traveler would want to meet in a lonely spot," wrote one early-day crime historian of Samuel Green, who became the terror of New England and one of America's first arch criminals. Heavyset and muscular, Green stood five-foot-eight-inches. He showed the world a savage-looking face and burning dark eyes. The strange fires raging inside of him were more fierce and threatening than his physical appearance. He was a product of the whip, a cherished item of discipline in early 19th Century America. To say that this inhuman burglar and killer was created by the stern-minded adults who ruled his childhood is an understatement in the annals of crime.

Born in Meredith, New Hampshire, Green was routinely thrashed by his parents, who employed switches to beat him into obedience, particularly when he was truant from school. He was apprenticed to a blacksmith at an early age and, when caught stealing, was horsewhipped. He was sent home, where he was again severely whipped. He retaliated by throwing the family dog down a well, its dead body turning the water bad and causing the family considerable expense in digging a new well. Again, Green was whipped.

Samuel Green, arch burglar, thief and murderer, who went to the hangma
Samuel Green, arch burglar, thief and murderer, who went to the hangman in 1822. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Green then stabbed farm animals and destroyed more property, his frustrated parents finally sending him to live with a stern family friend, Albert Dunne. His conduct did not improve. He killed Dunne's farm animals and destroyed his property, for which he was routinely whipped. On one occasion, Dunne whipped the boy so severely that a layer of flesh on his back was peeled back.

At one point, Green tried to kill Dunne, arranging a large ax to fall upon his guardian, but it missed its mark. For his clumsy attempt to kill his guardian, Green was tied to a barn door and whipped until his back was a welted, bloody mass of flesh. Green finally gave up his plans to murder Dunne and departed, roaming the small New Hampshire towns where he met another embittered and battered youth, William Ash.

Both traveled together to Newhampton, where they encountered a traveling salesman named Franklin Loomis, who sold household goods, but whose real livelihood came from illegal activities. Loomis took Green and Ash under his wing, becoming their criminal mentor, teaching them the techniques of forging false bank notes and, especially, how to burglarize the homes of the rich, as well as business and banking institutions.

Branching out, Green began his criminal career as a lone burglar. He was not concerned if the occupants were present or not when he broke into homes. Any person unlucky enough to awake while he was at work was quickly clubbed senseless (many were murdered) by the invader. Green looted vast amounts of silverware, jewels, cash and other valuable items, selling his stolen goods to fences his mentor had provided. He burglarized business offices in Guilford, New Hampshire and then rode to Burlington, Vermont, where he continued his burglaries, amassing a small fortune.

Green then met up once more with Loomis, who spent weeks showing him how to pick locks and duplicate keys to enhance his methods of burglary. He teamed up again with Ash and both men went on a burglarizing spree, entering and looting hundreds of homes and offices. While traveling to Bath, New Hampshire, both young men encountered a jewelry salesman, who imprudently showed them some of his gems. Green clubbed him to death and both made off with the jewels.

Green sold off the jewels and pocketed thousands of dollars. He left Ash and went off on his own. He was arrested and jailed several times on suspicion, but evidence was lacking to indict him and he was routinely released. After looting a jewelry store in Montreal, Canada, Green was pursued by a posse. He fought his way out of a trap, shooting and killing several men, but he was later apprehended and jailed. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death, but his friend Ash helped him to escape.

Returning to the remote mountains of New Hampshire, Green hid for some months. He then went on another crime spree, burglarizing stores and homes in Albany, New York and New York City. Although he was chiefly a burglar, Green did not hesitate to commit armed robbery. In Middlebury, Vermont, he robbed and shot to death a wealthy French traveler.

By this time, nothing was beyond the ambitions of Samuel Green. He left a trail of burglary, rape, horse-stealing, counterfeiting and murder from Montpelier, Vermont, to Schenectady, New York; from Saco, Maine, to Barre, Vermont. He became America's first Public Enemy Number One. Half the country was looking for him and the bounties offered for his capture were large.

The great fugitive's end began when he was arrested and convicted of burglary in Danvers, Massachusetts. Green was sent to prison in Boston to serve a four-year term. He made many attempted to escape. One of Green's escape attempts had been thwarted by another inmate, a black prisoner named Billy Williams, who had informed prison officials of Green's plans. Green cornered Williams alone in a prison shop on the morning of November 8, 1821, where he beat him to death with an iron bar.

Convicted of murdering Williams, Green was sentenced to death, mounting the gallows on April 24, 1822. Before Green dropped through the trapdoor, he told a priest, who was praying at his side, that he had no words for the hundreds of spectators gathered about the gallows to witness his execution. "They shall not know my fate," he said cryptically. "I have written out my confession in full."

"Are you penitent, my son?" asked the priest.

Samuel Green, with the rope around his neck, gave the priest a long stare and then a thin smile curled upward as he replied: "If you wish it."

Week One Column/Feature 3

The "Beautiful Blonde" Serial Killer

by Jay Robert Nash

Anna Marie Hahn (1906-1938) was a pleasant-faced woman in her early thirties and, to all who knew her, she appeared to be a giving and caring person. "Why, she wouldn't harm a fly I thought when we first met," said an elderly man, who narrowly escaped her murderous machinations. "Only the Devil would know that she would kill anyone for money—and did!"

The German-born Anna moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, Phillip Hahn, and their young son, Oscar, in 1929. The couple had married in their native Germany in 1924, and migrated to America when her husband found work as a telegrapher. With her rich contralto voice and her plump, blonde good looks, Hahn delighted the elderly German men in the immigrant community, especially when she visited the many German beer gardens in the city. She sang the old Bavarian beer ballads, moving table to table to sweetly smile and warble to her aging glass-clinking admirers.

Serial killer-for-profit Anna Marie Hahn was the first woman to be
Serial killer-for-profit Anna Marie Hahn was the first woman to be executed in Ohio. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Many of these elderly German-American men were ailing and the ever-caring Anna Marie Hahn volunteered to look after them, despite the fact that she had no formal training as a nurse. One by one, however, under Anna's "loving care," these men began to die. Relatives grateful for the unstinting care Hahn lavished upon her "patients," paid the self-appointed nurse thousands of dollars from the estates of the deceased.

In 1933, Ernest Kohler died while under Hahn's care, and left her a large boarding house. Dr. Arthur Vos, a resident, who kept an office in that house, soon found several blank prescription forms missing from his desk. He complained to the new owner, Anna Hahn, who shrugged and suggested "maybe one of your patients took them."

As the Depression deepened, Anna Hahn continued in her role of "an angel of mercy," by flitting from one house to another to nurse ailing, elderly men. Despite her indefatigable efforts, they died like flies. On June 1, 1937, 68-year-old Jacob Wagner became Hahn's patient. He died on June 2, 1937. Days later, 70-year-old George Opendorfer, seventy, died under Hahn's care. The fact that both men had died after acute stomach pains and vomiting was brought to the attention of Cincinnati Police Chief Patrick Hayes. Chief Hayes ordered an autopsy of Wagner's body, and poison was found. Several other bodies were exhumed—the cadavers of Hahn's "patients," and it was discovered that four types of poison were present in these corpses. Subsequent autopsies of Hahn's other patients, including a man named Palmer and another patient named George Gsellman, sixty-seven, revealed more evidence of arsenic and croton oil.

Hayes summoned Hahn to his office, where he questioned the woman. She appeared indignant at the suggestion that she had anything to do with the deaths of these elderly gentlemen. "I love to make old people comfy," she told Hayes. Because these grateful old men left her their worldly goods and fortunes was not a reason to think ill of her, she said. The poor old fellows died from dysentery, she said, or something like that. However, when Hayes pressured her, she admitted that the number of men dying under her care in such short order was "very peculiar, but why pick on me, chief?"

Hayes stared back at her and finally said: "We searched your place, Mrs. Hahn and we found enough poison to kill half of Cincinnati."

Anna Hahn's lips quivered and she then burst into tears, sobbing: "I have been like an angel of mercy to them. The last thing that would ever enter my head would be to harm those dear old gentlemen."

Her fate was sealed when her husband, Phillip Hahn, went to officials to inform them that not only had his wife stolen the prescription forms from Dr. Vos, but had had their 12-year-old son Oscar fetch the poisonous prescriptions from pharmacists. He went on to state that his wife had twice attempted to insure him for more than $25,000, but that he had refused. Shortly after that refusal, he said, he grew ill, having the same symptoms as the old men Anna had nursed. Somehow, he said, he miraculously survived the poison she had administered to him through meals. Anna Marie Hahn was then charged with several murders.

At her trial, Anna's history of theft, adultery, and forgery was brought out by her own defense lawyers, including Hiram Bolsinger, in an attempt to establish robbery, not murder, as her motive for her dealings with the old men. However, the defense's strange arguments only fixed more guilt upon their defendant.

Dubbed "the beautiful blonde killer" by the press, Anna played to the newspapers throughout her trial, especially the sob-sister columnists of that day. She gave interviews in her cell, explaining in detail how she patiently plumped pillows for those "dear old men," holding their quivering hands "hour after hour" while she sat at their sickbeds. "Most of their minds had faded, poor darlings," she said, "but I tried to bring some comfort and joy to them in their last moments. Sometimes I would chuck their chins or tickle their ears to get them to laugh."

Hahn was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair. The night before her execution, on December 7, 1938, Hahn refused to see her husband or son, but threw a farewell party for the news persons, who had covered her trial, treating them to punch and cakes in her cell.

"You gave me a good show at my trial," Hahn told the sheepish-looking reporters. "The least I could do was to throw a bash for you. I guess I'm not much like a 'beautiful blonde' now, huh? Well, give me a good write-up when it's all over." None of these reporters attended her execution early the next morning. They had turned back their passes to the prison warden. The 32-year-old Hahn was the first woman to die in the electric chair in Ohio. She had murdered an estimated fifteen men.

Week One Column/Feature 4

The Real Father of Organized Crime in America

by Jay Robert Nash

A dapper little man, Paul Kelly came from New York's seedy Five Points. Cunning and clever, Kelly was an inventive criminal, the first to conceive of crime as an organized business in the U.S. He became the first modern-day underworld boss, taking over the Five Points Gang at the turn of the 20th Century, a gang that spawned Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, and a host of other lethal and later celebrated gangsters.

While organizing all rackets in his area, Kelly established close political ties with the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine, which controlled with absolute power the Five Points and neighboring districts, exacting tribute on all illegal activities. Kelly gladly paid these Tammany politicians, who, in turn, protected his criminal operations.

New York underworld boss Paul Kelly, shown in 1905
New York underworld boss Paul Kelly, shown in 1905; his criminal modus operandi led to the establishment of the U.S. crime syndicate. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

The gang leader outlined his organizational plans to his lieutenant, Torrio, who would later expand Kelly's criminal concepts into the idea of a national crime syndicate. That syndicate took root at a 1929 criminal conference in Atlantic City, N. J., presided over by then Chicago crime czar Al Capone, who was a Torrio protégé.

Born on December 23, 1876, Paulo Antonio Vaccarelli became a bantam prizefighter at an early age in the 1890s, changing his name to Paul Kelly (assuming an Irish name for the ring was then the custom). With his prize money, Kelly invested in several bordellos east of the Bowery in the squalid Italian District.

From his bordello proceeds, Kelly then set up various "athletic clubs" which were fronts for youthful gangs that came under his direct control. Having this army of thugs at his disposal, Kelly approached Tammany sachem Big Tim Sullivan, offering his political services in the frantic 1901 campaign for the Second Assembly District.

This hotly contested primary race was between Paddy Divver, an old-time saloon keeper and incumbent Tammany leader, and Tom Foley, who had Sullivan's undivided support. The issue was simple. Divver's banners stretched across all the streets of his area. They read: "Don't let the Red Lights into the old Fourth Ward."

Paul Kelly knew all about the Red Lights, and they meant money. He went to Sullivan and told him that his hordes of "repeaters" could put the primary into Foley's pocket. Sullivan enlisted Kelly and his minions on the spot, thus establishing the first powerhouse connection between organized crime and politics in America.

On September 17, 1901, the primary proved to be the most savage in the history of the city, and the Second Assembly District was turned into a madhouse of mayhem and brutality. Kelly's thugs, numbering more than 1,500 men, swarmed into the area. Divver men were blackjacked openly in the street, held off from the polls by gun-wielding gangsters, driven down the streets by crowds of club-smashing Five Pointers.

Kelly's men filed into the polling places, repeating their votes time and again. Dozens of police squads stood by while the travesty went on and did nothing. Foley won the primary, three to one, and subsequently the election. The Red Lights moved into the district, and they belonged to Paul Kelly.

His fortunes rising and his position of power in the underworld mostly unchallenged, it was a wonder to everyone when Paul Kelly was suddenly arrested and briefly jailed for assaulting and robbing a man in the street. Not until years later was it learned that Kelly's act was not for self-gain. He was merely exercising his leadership in that he periodically had to perform a criminal act to prove his worthiness as gang chieftain, a ritual—"making my bones"—Kelly himself instituted.

Kelly's headquarters was his sprawling cafe and dance hall, the New Brighton, termed "a vile saloon" by authorities and squatting just west of the Bowery on Great Jones Street. Here, Kelly ruled his criminal fiefdom adorned in a tuxedo and black tie, greeting socialites, who loved to go slumming in his dive.

By 1905, this slight, well-groomed gangster practiced all the graces of good company. He spoke Italian, French, and Spanish fluently. His manners were seemingly faultless, and his conversation reflected education and sophistication. All the while, his killer legions spread throughout Manhattan and even into New Jersey, monopolizing all rackets.

Kelly's lieutenants aped their boss in dress and conduct, but they were awkward imitations. There was Richie Fitzpatrick, Maxwell "Kid Twist" Zwerbach, Johnny Spanish (Joseph Wyler), Razor Riley, and the hulking James T. "Biff" Ellison. These and hundreds of other Kelly gunmen protected Kelly's expanding criminal empire against the likes of Edward "Monk" Eastman, the boss of the Lower East Side. Many of Kelly's men had been recruited from other gangs and some of them, like Ellison and Riley, later became disenchanted with their subservient roles. While Kelly became a multi-millionaire, his lieutenants more closely eyed and coveted his success.

With the 1904 imprisonment of Eastman, however, Paul Kelly's criminal empire went unmolested for several years. Then, in November 1908, Ellison and Riley attempted to unseat their boss. The two gunmen invaded the New Brighton, firing wildly at Kelly and his bodyguards. Kelly returned fire, surviving, but two of his bodyguards were dead while Ellison and Riley fled. In the melee, dozens of slumming High Society and important politicians were injured. Kelly, with three bullet wounds, recuperated in a private hospital.

The firefight at the New Brighton spelled the end of Kelly's criminal empire in New York. His club was ordered closed by Police Commissioner William McAdoo. Kelly moved into an Italian community in Harlem and opened another night spot called Little Naples, but his power waned and he was soon reduced to operating strike-breaking squads in labor squabbles.

Kelly retired about 1910, dying in bed of natural causes on April 3, 1936. He had lived to see the national crime syndicate—a concept first conceived by Kelly—come into existence under the direction of Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, and others. A mourner at his wake nevertheless sagely remarked: "Paul Kelly was a brilliant man, but all his dreams were evil."

Week One Column/Feature 5

Black Jack Ketchum: The Jilted Outlaw

by Jay Robert Nash

Outlaw Black Jack Ketchum was so unlucky at love that he turned to crime to solve his emotional problems. Such a decision was deadly in that he brought him to a grisly death within three years. Born in San Saba County, Texas, Thomas Ketchum (1866-1901) was raised in New Mexico and became a cowboy at an early age. He had little education and was emotionally unstable. A crack shot with a short temper, Ketchum became a notorious outlaw in the late 1890s.

The outlaw's miserable love life was a source of constant vexation to him. Ketchum was jilted by a young woman named Cora who was two-timing him. She later wrote a letter to Ketchum rejecting him, a cruel missive which Ketchum read in front of a number of other cowboys at a ranch where he was working.

The hanging of western outlaw Black Jack Ketchum on April 25, 1901
The hanging of western outlaw Black Jack Ketchum on April 25, 1901, one of the most gruesome executions on record. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Ketchum reacted to this letter by taking his six-gun from its holster and beating his own head with the butt until blood ran from the scalp. In between the vicious blows he administered to himself, Ketchum shouted self-chastisement for being so foolish as to trust his emotions to another. "You will, will you?" he yelled. Then he struck himself again and again, yelling: "Take that! And that!"

The rejection of his love so unhinged Ketchum that he immediately launched into a vindictive criminal career. He went out of his way to punish anyone who even mildly disagreed with him. He organized a gang of desperadoes in 1898, hardened outlaws that included his brother Sam Ketchum, G. W. Franks, and William Ellsworth "Elza" Lay (alias Bill McGinnis), who had been one of Butch Cassidy's most trusted riders in the old Wild Bunch.

The gang robbed a number of small banks and stagecoaches in 1898. Lawmen tracking this gang soon realized that Ketchum and his men would return time and again to the same spot to stop the same stagecoach. Ketchum's predictable habits almost ended in his capture on several occasions, and he escaped hard-riding posses by only several minutes. It was as if he was daring the lawmen to apprehend him.

Black Jack also dared anyone to ridicule him as was the case on July 2, 1899, when he arrived in Cape Verde, Arizona, and immediately got drunk in a saloon. He then sat down to a poker game with several miners. When two burly miners made fun of his drunken conduct, Ketchum suddenly sobered.

Jumping to his feet, the outlaw swept back his long black coat so that his two guns showed and then ordered the miners to go for their guns. He was a fearsome sight, with dark, piercing eyes, heavy, dark eyebrows and a thick, black handlebar mustache. The miners reached for their guns and Ketchum fatally shot them both. He then fled the town.

The following year, Black Jack's brother and all of his gang members had been arrested, jailed or killed. He was now alone but, undaunted. Single-handedly, he stopped a Colorado & Southern train near Folsom, Arizona, on August 16, 1899. As Ketchum was scooping up a few hundred dollars in cash from the baggage car safe, the guard reached for a gun and Ketchum shot him in the jaw. He then leaped from the car and began to run toward his horse when conductor Frank Harrington jumped down from a passenger car, firing at him with a shotgun.

Ketchum turned and faced Harrington and both men advanced upon each other, blazing away. Ketchum shot Harrington, but not before the conductor unloaded a blast of buckshot into Ketchum. The outlaw escaped under the cover of darkness. A train crew found him the next day a short distance down the line. He was propped against a tree, painfully picking the buckshot out of his chest.

Taken to Santa Fe, Ketchum was tried and convicted of train robbery and was sentenced to death. (Train robbery was by then a capital offense in certain western states, although Ketchum seems to be the only outlaw who was ever executed for this crime.) Jailed at Clayton, N. M., Ketchum watched from his cell window as workmen erected his gallows. As carpenters finished their task, Ketchum shouted to them from the window of his cell: "You did a fine job, boys, but why not tear down the stockade so the fellows can see a man hang who never killed anyone?"

On the day of his execution, April 25, 1901, Ketchum refused to confess to a visiting priest. "I'm gonna die as I've lived," he told the clergyman, "and you ain't gonna change me in a few minutes." The warden asked Black Jack if he had any last requests. The celebrated outlaw smiled and then said: "Have someone play a fiddle when I swing off." Many newspaper men were present to record the outlaw's last moments and he played to them with great bravado.

When he was led into the courtyard, Black Jack saw the scaffold and suddenly increased his gait, almost sprinting up the steps of the gallows. Standing beneath the noose of the hangman's rope, Ketchum said loudly to the many witnesses standing at the foot of the gallows: "I'll be in hell before you start breakfast, boys!" The noose was affixed around his neck and a black hood was placed over his head and face.

A moment before the trap door was flung wide, Black Jack Ketchum's last words roared out from beneath the darkly sinister shroud: "Let her rip!" The executioner pulled the lever, the trap door shot backward and Ketchum plummeted to his death.

The outlaw's last words were gruesomely prophetic. The hangman had improperly fixed the rope around the outlaw's neck and put too much weight on his legs, such that the outlaw went through the trap with terrific force and was decapitated. The spouting gore from his headless torso soaked the front ranks of the visitors at the foot of the scaffold. It was one of the most horrific executions on record.

Releases for Week Two (Monday-Friday)

Column/Feature 1

Cagliostro: Master Magician of Fraud

by Jay Robert Nash

Cagliostro, the greatest swindler of the 18th Century
Cagliostro, the greatest swindler of the 18th Century, conning kings and queens to a great fortune. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

The most flagrant and flamboyant charlatan of the 18th Century was a self-styled magician named Cagliostro (1743-1795). Born Joseph Balsamo in Sicily of poor parents, this uneducated peasant boy rose from abject poverty to fabulous riches. Many times a millionaire, Cagliostro's obsessive pursuit of fame and fortune, however, brought him only to a final destination—a dank prison cell where he died in agony.

The boy lived in the squalor of Palermo where he learned the techniques of pickpocketing and burglary. An unaccountable curiosity led him to read. He studied mysticism, ancient cults, and supernatural powers. To make his fortune, he decided to become an alchemist. Alchemy was then a process of treating common metals with chemicals that would, it was claimed, change them into silver or gold.

By the time he was seventeen, Balsamo had, through trickery and guile, gained a considerable reputation as a successful alchemist and medium. He swindled considerable gold from a goldsmith and fled to Messina where he adopted the title of Count Alessandro di Cagliostro.

With his stolen gold, Cagliostro toured Africa and Asia. In Egypt, he studied the pyramids and became knowledgeable in the history of secret sects and their rites. From this, he organized a loose brotherhood, which he labeled Egyptian Masonry. At age twenty-three, Cagliostro sailed to the Mediterranean island of Malta where he met the powerful Pinto, grand master of the Order of the Knights of Malta, an organization that stemmed from the crusaders of 800 years earlier and was now a Masonic sect of great political influence.

Pinto was impressed with the erudite and cunning Cagliostro, providing him with considerable funds with which to travel to Italy as a sort of Masonic spy in high places, sending back information to his mentor in Malta. In southern Italy, Cagliostro established a lavish resort, which was little more than a gambling casino. He traveled for some time, meeting the hypnotist, Franz Anton Mesmer, creator of mesmerism, and learned how to hypnotize even the most sophisticated person. (Mesmer, a charlatan of sorts himself, later denounced Cagliostro as a fraud, a clear-cut case of the pot calling the kettle black.)

Cagliostro's wife, Lorenza, an inventive partner in his confidence games
Cagliostro's wife, Lorenza, an inventive partner in his confidence games; they were tried, convicted and imprisoned by the Inquisition. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

In Rome, Cagliostro met a beautiful young girl, Lorenza Feliciani. They married and she joined him in his fabulous confidence swindles. Establishing themselves in various Italian cities as nobles and renting huge villas, Cagliostro and his wife cultivated the company of aristocrats and held séances and demonstrations of his magical alchemy, where he supposedly changed stones into rare gems and rope into strands of priceless silk. These "miracles," of course, were nothing more than the magic tricks Cagliostro had perfected over the years.

Count LaMotte, who fled to England after perpetrating a scandal
Count LaMotte, who fled to England after perpetrating the notorious "Affair of the Necklace," a scandal that contributed to the French Revolution and the eventual downfall of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

All during his travels through southern Europe, Cagliostro continued to establish branches of his own sect of Egyptian Masonry and these naive groups regularly sent him money to establish new chapters. His ego vastly bloated by his own impossible claims, Cagliostro insisted that he could perform acts of astounding wizardry, such as bringing forth spirits at will. Cagliostro also claimed that he could heal all manner of illnesses by laying his hands upon sick people and by pronouncing secret oaths. Doubters were fearful of denouncing his frauds, however, since they believed he might bring upon them death-enveloping curses. "Remember," Cagliostro was fond of saying, "I can afflict as well as heal!"

Queen Marie Antoinette of France, who welcomed Cagliostro to her court
Queen Marie Antoinette of France, who welcomed Cagliostro to her court, until he was suspected of masterminding the "Affair of the Necklace." (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Enormous amounts of money began to flow into Cagliostro's coffers, gifts, donations, and outright payments from the nobility for his cures, his séances, his advice on matters of health, hygiene, and even sex. He soon became the highest-paid oracle on earth. Coupled to this princely income were great gluts of cash he received from the dozens of Masonic sects he had established in Italy, Greece, Spain, and France. He became a court favorite of King Louis XVI and his tempestuous, beautiful queen, Marie Antoinette. In 1785, however, the powerful Cagliostro was undone in the notorious Affair of the Diamond Necklace, a colossal swindle that, ironically, had nothing to do with Cagliostro.

The fabulous necklace purchased for Queen Marie Antoinette
The fabulous necklace (containing 540 diamonds) purchased for Queen Marie Antoinette in a colossal swindle first attributed to Cagliostro. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

A Count LaMotte and his scheming wife inveigled Louis de Rohan, the cardinal-archbishop of Paris, into purchasing a fabulous diamond necklace from court jewelers to secretly present to Marie Antoinette as a gift, in return for her political favors. Rohan delivered this necklace to a woman he thought was the queen when meeting her in a shadowy garden. The woman was an imposter, who took the necklace to LaMotte, who, in turn, sold off the diamonds one by one to fences. Rohan was disgraced and Cagliostro was accused of masterminding the swindle. Though later exonerated, Cagliostro was banished from the French court and moved to Rome.

The great swindler grew even richer in Rome, where he purchased a lavish villa and continued his magical rites and séances, by then claiming to be thousands of years old and that he had personally known Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba. These performances, however, were reported to members of the Inquisition and caused Cagliostro and Lorenza to be arrested on December 27, 1789, charged as heretics.

Orson Welles playing Cagliostro in the 1949 film Black Magic
Orson Welles, playing Cagliostro in the 1949 film, Black Magic. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Lorenza finally confessed to heresy (reportedly under torture) and wholly implicated her husband. She was sent to the convent of Santa Appollonia in Trastevere where she remained a prisoner and died many years later. Cagliostro was sentenced to death, but Pope Pius VI commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. In the Vatican fortress prison of San Leo, Cagliostro lived miserably in a sparsely-furnished cell, chained to the floor. He slowly went insane, and died on August 28, 1795. One account held that he was strangled to death by his wardens, who believed that followers of his Egyptian Masonic sect were planning to free him.

Cagliostro came back to chilling life in the moody 1949 film, Black Magic, starring the unpredictable genius, Orson Welles (an amateur magician), who plays the alchemist with sinister verve. "Cagliostro was a man after my own heart," Welles told this columnist in 1977, "an actor to the bone."

Week Two Column/Feature 2

Samuel J. "Nails" Morton: From War Hero to Gangster

by Jay Robert Nash

Samuel J. "Nails" Morton
Samuel J. "Nails" Morton, medal-winning soldier of WWI, who killed at least eight men in Chicago's gang wars in the early 1920s. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Samuel J. Morton was born in Chicago in 1894, and was raised in the city's oldest Jewish community near Maxwell Street. As a child, Morton was a tall, muscular youth whose neighbors included families that would see their sons rise to great prominence. From Morton's neighborhood came Arthur Goldberg, who became a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Hyman Rickover, later one of the U.S. Navy's most distinguished admirals, and Barney Ross, a championship fighter. Morton, too, would also become famous, first as a WWI hero, and then as a ruthless gangster.

By the time he reached his teens, the brawny Morton had joined a Jewish gang. He excelled as a street fighter, quick with his fists and so tough that three or four opponents at a time found it difficult to best him. He earned the name "Nails" for his tough-as-nails attitude and fighting prowess.

Morton also took it upon himself to defend the streets of the Jewish community against invading gangs of other nationalities. Since the area was neglected by the police, Morton would patrol the small streets at night with friends, carrying a baseball bat and woe to anyone who thought to break into a Jewish-owed shop.

In 1917, Morton was arrested for almost beating several members of a Polish gang to death. Found guilty of assault, Morton was given a choice: either go to prison or join the army and fight for his country, then at war with Germany. Morton opted for the army and enlisted the next day, joining the 131st Illinois Infantry, which was sent to France as part of the Rainbow Division.

Morton proved to be a good soldier and was soon promoted to sergeant. In one engagement where his company was pinned down by murderous machine gun fire, Morton led a squad of men through No-Man's-Land, wiping out an enemy machine gun nest and clearing a trench full of Germans, capturing twenty men. Wounded twice in hand-to-hand fighting, he was only survivor of his squad. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant, Morton was given the Croix de guerre by the French government. His superiors noted in his files that "in addition to possessing natural leadership qualities, and coolness under fire, Lieutenant Morton has an unusual aptitude for weapons."

Louis "Two-Gun" Alterie, Chicago gangster
Louis "Two-Gun" Alterie, Chicago gangster, who shot and killed the horse that had kicked his friend Morton to death. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Returning to Chicago as a war hero, Morton opened up some gambling parlors. He then met and befriended Charles Dion O'Banion, crime boss of the North Side. At the dawn of the Prohibition era, O'Banion appointed Morton as head of his beer and liquor distribution.

In 1920, Morton shot and killed two Chicago policemen in the Pekin Café. Police officers William Hennessey and James Mulcahey entered the saloon and began drinking at the bar. When the two officers tried to force Morton to pay their bar tab at gunpoint, the gangster shot and killed both men. Charged with murder, he claimed self-defense and was acquitted.

In 1921, Morton was present when Earl "Hymie" Weiss and George "Bugs" Moran invented the underworld's "one-way ride." The three caught rival gangster Steve Wisniewski, threw him into the back of a car, and drove him to a remote spot. Wisniewski had had the nerve to hijack an O'Banion beer truck. Weiss, Moran, and Morton shot him to death and dumped his body along a deserted roadway. The following year, Morton and Louis "Two-Gun" Alterie killed Frank Constanza, a New York killer-for-hire, who had been assigned by Johnny Torrio to murder O'Banion. Morton tossed Constanza's body into the empty boxcar of an eastbound train, remarking to Alterie: "Now the bum's headed back to New York where he belongs."

By 1923, Nails Morton was one of the most visible gangsters in Chicago. He lived high on his bootlegging proceeds, about $250,000 a year, driving large touring cars and wearing tailor-made suits with special pockets where he could secret two revolvers.

Women idolized the handsome gangster, and he was often seen in nightclubs and the better restaurants with one or two showgirls. He wore pearl grey fedoras, sported a diamond stickpin in silk ties, and carried an ivory-handled walking stick, which contained a small, razor sharp sword. Morton opened a restaurant, and he owned and operated several gambling casinos on the North Side, in partnership with O'Banion.

James Cagney and Jean Harlow in Public Enemy, 1931
James Cagney and Jean Harlow in Public Enemy, 1931, a film in which Cagney re-enacts the killing of a horse that killed "Nails" Morton. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Then Morton developed an abiding interest horseback riding. He had visited Alterie's ranch in Colorado and had ridden one of Alterie's prize horses. He made a habit of riding regularly in Chicago's Lincoln Park Bridle Path. On, May 13, 1923, his recreation turned lethal. Morton's horse was a spirited mount, and he threw the gangster, then kicked high, his hooves striking Morton in the head, killing him.

When O'Banion and Alterie heard the news, they became incensed. Alterie went to the stable a few days later and rented the horse that had killed Morton. He led the animal to a deserted spot on the bridle path and shot it.

After killing the horse, Alterie called the stable-owner and barked over the phone: "We taught that damned horse of yours a lesson! If you want the saddle, go and get it!" (This scene was re-enacted in the movie Public Enemy, in which James Cagney shoots and kills a horse that had kicked to death fellow gangster, Leslie Fenton, playing the part of "'Nails' Nathan.")

Morton's funeral was lavish. O'Banion, Weiss, Alterie, Moran, and other North Side gangsters were pallbearers. Johnny Torrio and Al Capone attended, even though they were adversaries of the North Side gang. More than 25,000 Jewish inhabitants of the old Maxwell Street area thronged the streets, following the hearse carrying Morton's body.

To many of these people, Morton was not only a WWI hero, but a champion of Jewish citizens of Chicago. The police report that closed Morton's police dossier stated he had murdered at least eight men. None of that mattered to some attending his funeral. To these naïve mourners, Samuel J. "Nails" Morton had made good. He had been a success.



Week Two Column/Feature 3

Moll Curpurse: England's First Great Female Criminal

by Jay Robert Nash

The most notorious female criminal in early British history was Moll Cutpurse, born Mary Frith on London's AlderSgate Street around 1584. Her parents were hardworking, law-abiding middle-class citizens and there is little or nothing to suggest a criminal influence in Moll's background. The little girl was, however, extremely homely and, as she aged, Cutpurse would develop a decidedly masculine-looking face. Moll's parents denied her nothing, even providing tutors for her, but from an early age she rebelled against them. One historian described her as "above breeding and instruction. She was a very tomrig, rumpscuttle, or hoyden."

Donning men's clothing, Moll became a fortuneteller, befriending the members of the lowest criminal element in London. Most of her friends belonged to the Society of Divers, a diver being one who dove into the pockets of wealthy passersby to pick wallets and purses. One of the most adept of these was Mary Jones who was later celebrated in The Beggar's Opera as Jenny Diver.

Moll learned the art of pickpocketing so well that she soon became one of the most successful thieves in London. Those purses too difficult to pluck from a pocket, Moll learned, had to be cut away, and often as not this meant cutting away an entire pocket in the coat of a victim without being detected. Pickpockets who could successfully perform this delicate act were known as "cutpurses." Such techniques required special dexterity and skill, which Moll expertly demonstrated time and again. So adept did she become at this method of pickpocketing that she quickly earned the esteemed underworld sobriquet of Moll Cutpurse.

An early-day print of Moll Cutpurse, notorious pickpocket
An early-day print of Moll Cutpurse, notorious pickpocket, robber and fence of stolen goods. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

She reveled in her legendary exploits, such as cutting away the purses of more than fifty victims in a single day, and, through her thievery, she became rich. Even law-abiding citizens looked upon Moll as a sort of cult heroine. She played the part, dressing in elegant men's apparel, wearing brocaded breeches, doublet, plumed hat, and smoking a pipe, a habit to which she was addicted until her death at age seventy-five.

So rich did Moll Cutpurse become that she bought stores and property, but she never deserted her underworld friends, fencing their stolen wares for a handsome profit. Not until she decided to blatantly publicize her wicked image did she run afoul of the law.

In 1605, she leaped upon the stage of London's Fortune Theatre, dressed, of course, as a man, and puffing heavily on a pipe. She loudly sang bawdy songs while strumming a lute. She regaled the raucous crowd with lascivious stories until watchmen arrived to place her under arrest. The charge was a minor one, that of a female wearing the garb of a man. She was fined and released.

More serious punishment came with her being branded four times on the hands after she was somehow caught with her fingers working loose the pocketbooks of unsuspecting victims. These rare arrests and subsequent brandings were badges of honor to Moll, but, as she grew older, and her fingers were less adept in picking purses, she abandoned the practice.

Moll organized a band of roughnecks and embarked on the career of highway robbery. She would ride wildly down a road in pursuit of a coach and order the driver to halt while training a brace of pistols on him. Her confederates would then order the passengers to step out and they would be robbed of their jewelry and purses. She was even bold enough to stop the coach of General Fairfax, wounding Fairfax in a struggle. She fled, but was captured.

Taken to Newgate Prison, Moll was tried and sentenced to be hanged. She asked to see General Fairfax, who was astounded to discover that a woman had robbed and shot him. When meeting Fairfax, Moll proposed a deal. She would pay him £2,000 if he would drop the charges against her and arrange for her release. Fairfax, at the time, was in need of funds, Moll knew, because he was helping to finance Cromwell and his roundheads, who were in revolt against King Charles I.

The general accepted the deal, and after the money was paid, released Moll. The experience so frightened Moll that she gave up highway robbery. With her considerable fortune, she retired to her lavish Fleet Street residence, but nevertheless kept active by opening the Globe Tavern, which became the center of all criminal activities in London, the meeting place for every pickpocket, highwayman, and cutthroat in the city.

At the Globe, Moll gave advice on planned robberies and burglaries and also established herself as the most important fence in the city, buying stolen silver and gold and other valuables and then reselling them at a considerable profit, often to the original owners. She was referred to at this time in her life by the aristocrats of London as "The Queen of Misrule."

As the decades rolled by, Moll grew more hideous with each passing year, and by her late sixties, gluttony had made her obese. She never bathed and the stench of her body became so overpowering that even her closest associates crossed the street when they saw her approaching. In the next few years, Moll's once keen mind became muddled. She lost track of her affairs and her associates bled her accounts, stole her valuables, and looted her houses.

At the age of seventy-five, afflicted by severe dropsy, Moll Cutpurse had but a few hundred pounds to her name, which she reserved for her funeral. Her last wish was that she be buried face down in her coffin "as because I am unworthy to look upwards, and that, as I have in my life been preposterous, so I may be in my death." She died on July 26, 1659, and was buried in St. Bride's Churchyard, face down, according to her request, so that God would not have to look upon her withering ugliness at Judgment Day.

Week Two Column/Feature 4

Al Jennings: The Most Inept Outlaw of the Old West

by Jay Robert Nash

One of the more comic characters of the American frontier, Al Jennings, born on November 25, 1863, was raised with his brothers Edward, Frank, and John at Kiowa Creek, Oklahoma, near the town of Woodward. The Jennings boys, sons of Judge J. D. F. Jennings, were a fun-loving lot who dreamed of becoming bandits. Al and Frank Jennings did, indeed, follow that criminal pursuit and, Al, the leader of a motley gang, proved to be the most incompetent outlaw of the Old West.

In the mid-1890s, while working as cowboys, Al and Frank Jennings decided to become outlaws. They started off by obtaining fake U.S. marshal's badges and using them to collect "tolls" from gullible trail herders moving their cattle through the Oklahoma Territory. They were later joined by several members of the Doolin Gang. Under Al's leadership, they planned to rob trains.

Their first outing was a disaster. On the night of August 16, 1897, Al and Frank Jennings, with Little Dick West and Morris and Pat O'Malley, stopped a southbound Santa Fe train at Edmond, but they were unable to shoot or blast the safe open. They rode off cursing their bad luck, which, as all their fumbling criminal acts would laughingly demonstrate, was really colossal stupidity.

Al Jennings, an Oklahoma bandit who botched every robbery
Al Jennings, an Oklahoma bandit who botched his every attempt at robbery, later claiming he had been a great bandit. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

A few nights later, Al Jennings tried to flag down another train by standing directly in the center of the railroad tracks, holding a lantern and frantically waving a red flag. The engineer, however, kept his hand on the throttle and the train roared forward. Jennings, screaming for the engineer to halt, finally leaped out of the way at the last moment. The train raced on into the night as Jennings and the rest of the outlaws stood foolishly in the darkness.

Some days later, Jennings and his brother Frank rode alongside a fast-moving Santa Fe train, near Bond Switch, firing their six-guns in the air as a signal to the engineer to stop. The engineer leaned from the window of the locomotive's cabin, waved a friendly hello, and kept going. The Jennings brothers, their horses exhausted, fell behind and then came to a panting stop as they watched their prey chug from sight.

These miserable failures were capped by a disastrous raid on a southbound Rock Island passenger train at 11 a.m. on October 1, 1897. Al and Frank Jennings, Little Dick West and the O'Malley brothers found the train stopped at a water station eight miles south of Minco. They boarded the baggage car, but again could not open the safe.

"I've been waiting for that," Al Jennings said and he produced several sticks of bound dynamite. He inserted a long fuse into one stick, lit it, and placed the dynamite next to the safe. The baggage car clerk and the outlaws leaped from the train car and ran some distance from it, waiting.

"How much dynamite did you use, Al?" Frank asked his brother.

"You got to use a lot of dynamite to dent a big safe like that," Al Jennings answered knowingly.

A few seconds later, the entire car blew up, sending a shower of wooden and iron splinters in all directions. There was no safe, let alone money, to be found. The frustrated gang members then went through the passenger coaches and robbed everyone down to their last dollar. They even stole a new pair of boots from a traveling salesman.

The gang fled into the Indian nation where, on October 29, 1897, they robbed the till of the Crozier and Nutter Store in the town of Cushing in Payne County. The robbery netted the thieves a mere $15. This was the last straw for Little Dick West and the O'Malleys. They rode in one direction, the Jennings brothers in another.

Marshal James F. "Bud" Ledbetter of Muskogee, Oklahoma, one of the toughest lawmen in the West, then received a tip that the Jennings brothers would be hiding in a covered wagon moving through the Indian Nation. He tracked down the wagon and ordered Al and Frank Jennings to come out from under some blankets where they had been hiding. The boys meekly surrendered.

This was the end of the Al Jennings gang, an outlaw band that never really got started, and one that earned its members less than $200 each from all of their ridiculous exploits. Frank Jennings was given five-year terms in Leavenworth.

Al Jennings, the preposterous mastermind of the most absurd train robbery attempts on record, was sent to the federal prison at Columbus, Ohio, to serve a life term. Here, Jennings met the writer, William Sydney Porter (imprisoned for embezzlement), who wrote under the pseudonym of O. Henry. Jennings filled Porter's ears with mythical tales about himself, which the writer later used in some of his best stories.

Al Jennings was freed within five years, given a pardon by President Theodore Roosevelt (who had known Judge Jennings, Al's father). His brother Frank had been set free earlier and returned to the family homestead in Oklahoma.

Al, however, headed for California. He settled in Hollywood, where he became a fixture, an "adviser" on motion pictures about the West. He told wild tales of his outlaw years, all of his claims being complete fabrications. Sheriff Jim Herron of Oklahoma later stated: "Old Al Jennings was around California for years, stuffing dudes with nonsense and telling them wild yarns about himself in the early days."

Jennings convinced many a film producer that he was an expert on western banditry and he earned a considerable living as a consultant. He even wrote two books about his imagined life and his story was made into a motion picture, Al Jennings of Oklahoma, 1951, starring Dan Duryea as Al. Although none of his claims were true, Jennings came to believe he had been one of the great outlaws of the Old West, right up to the time of his death in Tarzana, California, on December 26, 1961.

Week Two Column/Feature 5

Carl Panzram: Serial Killer as Monster

by Jay Robert Nash

Carl Panzram (AKA: Jeff Rhodes, John O'Leary) possessed an obsessive hatred for the human race that bordered on the maniacal. This loathing for himself and his fellow man was manifested in a lifetime of murder and mayhem. "I have no desire to reform myself," he said in his published autobiography. "My only desire is to reform people, who try to reform me. I believe that the only way to reform people is to kill them." This human monster was one of the worst criminals in American history.

Panzram was the son of immigrant Prussian farmers. He was born June 28, 1891 on a farm near Warren, Minnesota. His father deserted the family when Panzram was only a boy, leaving a tremendous burden on his over-taxed mother, who had precious little time to give her children. Without the nurturing family environment Carl fell into bad ways. In 1899, he was brought before the juvenile court on a drunk and disorderly charge. He was only eight.

This led to acts of petty thievery, which convinced the courts to send Panzram to the Minnesota State Training School in Red Wing. There, the discipline was rigid, if not sadistic. Carl toiled in workshops from dawn to dusk, and he was often beaten by cruel guards. On the night of July 7, 1905, he set fire to the school warehouse that housed winter blankets and clothing. "That night the whole place burned down at a cost of over $100,000," he later bragged. "Nice, eh?" Carl Panzram left the guilt to others.

A police photo of serial killer and thief Carl Panzram
A police photo of serial killer and thief, Carl Panzram, a bestial murderer, who admitted without regret to killing twenty-one persons. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Released in January 1906, Panzram launched into his criminal career. On March 29, 1906, he hitched a ride on a west bound freight train at East Grand Forks, North Dakota. He committed a string of robberies and assaults before winding up in the Montana State Reformatory.

After receiving a discharge in 1910, Panzram went to Mexico to join the rebel leader Pascaul Orozco, who served under Venustiano Carranza. He witnessed the wholesale slaughter of prisoners by Orozco during the Mexican revolution, mass murders that conditioned him to his own future killings.

In 1912, Panzram left Mexico and went to California and the Pacific Northwest, where he committed various robberies, assaults, and acts of sodomy. Looking back on his gory career, he would recall with perverted pride: "I have murdered twenty-one human beings. I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arson, and last but not least I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings."

Panzram was arrested in Chinook, Montana, on a burglary charge and sentenced to a year in the Montana State Prison. He escaped eight months later. Arrested a year later under the alias of "Jeff Rhoades," he was given a two-year sentence in the Montana State Prison on burglary charges, receiving his parole in 1914.

With barely any time to enjoy his freedom, Panzram was arrested in Astoria, Oregon, on a burglary charge and imprisoned in the state prison at Salem for seven years. He constructed his own tools and hacked his way to freedom in May 1918. He then went to Chile as an oil worker, committing crimes in that country before returning to the U.S.

In 1920, Panzram burgled $40,000 in jewels and liberty bonds from the private residence of former president William Howard Taft in New Haven, Connecticut. With this windfall, Panzram purchased a small yacht under the name of "John O'Leary." He used this vessel for rum-running during the early days of Prohibition, but his darkest passion was for burglary. After killing his ten crew members ("so they could never identify me as a bootlegger"), he resumed his house-breaking.

In 1923, this one-man crime wave was arrested for attempted robbery and sentenced to five years in Sing Sing. The guards at this facility were unable to keep him in line. He was transferred to Clinton Prison in Dannemora, considered to be the end of the line for criminal hard cases.

Released in 1928, Panzram hit the Baltimore-Washington, D. C., area like a tornado, committing eleven burglaries and one murder. He was arrested by Washington, D. C. police on August 16, 1928. While in jail, Panzram wrote his autobiography and gave it to a sympathetic jailer, Henry Lesser. At his trial, Panzram glared at the jurors, chiding them with a deadly threat. "If I live, I'll execute some more of you!" Judge Walter McCoy sentenced the defendant to twenty-five years in Leavenworth. "Visit me!" Panzram shot back.

To the deputy warden at Leavenworth, Fred Zerbst, Panzram issued a grim warning: "I'll kill the first man who bothers me." The following year, on June 20, 1929, Panzram crushed the skull of Robert G. Warnke, killing him with an iron bar. Warnke, a civilian employee working at the prison, had turned in a bad report on Panzram.

Convicted of the Warnke murder, Panzram was sentenced to die on the gallows. When the Society for the Abolishment of Capital Punishment tried to intervene on his behalf, Panzram told them to forget it. Hanging, he said, would be a "real pleasure and a big relief," adding: "the only thanks you or your kind will ever get from me for your efforts on my behalf is that I wish you all had one neck and I had my hands on it...I believe the only way to reform people is to kill 'em...My motto is: `Rob 'em all, rape 'em all and kill 'em all!'"

His last epitaph was signed "Copper John II" in memory of a statue he had seen outside Auburn Prison in New York. Panzram, defiant to the end, was executed in Leavenworth on September 5, 1930. He died as the most unrepentant serial killer in history, cursing the hangman for taking too much time in executing him.

Releases for Week Three (Monday-Friday)

Column/Feature 1

The Real Butch Cassidy and His Wild Bunch

by Jay Robert Nash

Butch Cassidy (George Leroy Parker), an affable robber
Butch Cassidy (George Leroy Parker), an affable robber, who, with his Wild Bunch bandits, made up the last great outlaw gang of the Old West. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
The beautiful and mysterious Etta Place, Sundance Kid's lover
The beautiful and mysterious Etta Place, Sundance Kid's lover, who went with him and Cassidy to South America, but left the outlaws after deciding they would meet violent ends. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch members were the last of the old-time western bank and train robbers, a colorful group of outlaws with distinctive personalities and a flair for the flamboyant. Cassidy was no mean- minded desperado, but a fun-loving, easy-going bandit, who preferred to use his brains rather than his six-gun. He was backed up in most of his gun play by the fast-draw gunman, Sundance Kid. Both supposedly died bloody deaths thousands of miles from the American West that spawned them. Or did they?

Cassidy's gang members included Will "News" Carver, addicted to reading press notices about the gang; Ben Kilpatrick, the towering bandit known as the Tall Texan; and the most deadly of the group, Harvey Logan, who was also known as Kid Curry. Born Robert Leroy Parker in Beaver, Utah, on April 13, 1866, Cassidy was one of ten children and had no formal education. He became a cowboy while in his teens when he met outlaw Mike Cassidy, adopting Cassidy's name after he joined him in rustling cattle in Utah and Colorado. He got the nickname "Butch" after working briefly as a butcher.

Cassidy taught Butch how to shoot so that he was able to hit a playing card dead center at fifty paces and his draw was much faster than historians later described. Mike Cassidy led a small band of robbers and rustlers but, after he shot a Wyoming rancher, he disappeared. Butch took over the gang, its hideout at Robber's Roost, located in the southwest mountainous corner of Utah.

Butch Cassidy when he worked as a cowboy while robbing banks
Butch Cassidy when he worked as a cowboy while robbing banks on the side. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

The fact that Cassidy was far from being a bloodthirsty bandit was demonstrated early in his criminal career. On November 3, 1887 Cassidy, Tom and Bill McCarty, and Matt Warner stopped the Denver and Rio Grande express near Grand Junction, Colorado. The stubborn express guard refused to open the safe in the mail car and Bill McCarty put a six-gun to his head. "Should we kill him?" he asked.

"Let's vote," Cassidy said.

Butch persuaded gang members not to kill the guard and the train moved off, leaving the bandits with nothing. Cassidy briefly abandoned robbery and went back to rustling, working as a cowboy or a miner in Colorado and Utah. This proved to be his routine over the next decade, committing robberies, then returning to jobs, chiefly as a cowboy. He learned early not to bring attention to himself by openly spending stolen loot.

Wild Bunch members posing for posterity
Wild Bunch members posing for posterity: (standing, left to right) William "News" Carver, Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan (sitting, left to right), Harry "Sundance Kid" Longbaugh (Harry Alonzo Longbaugh, or Longabaugh; 1867-1908), Ben "Tall Texan" Kilpatrick, and the inimitable Butch Cassidy. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

When he formed the Wild Bunch years later, Cassidy lectured his fellow bandits, giving what might be termed "lessons in committing successful crimes." He detailed the mistakes he and others had made which resulted in imprisonment or death. He talked about how the McCarty brothers had been shot to pieces in Delta, Colorado, on September 27, 1893, after they attempted to rob the bank there without first learning the strength of local lawmen. He described how Matt Warner had been captured and sent to prison by giving himself away to tracking sheriffs.

Cassidy warned his fellow bandits that it was no good to merely ride into a town and rob the bank unless the town was scouted ("cased") and learn whether or not a local vigilante group existed, or the strength of the local sheriff's force, and chiefly, how much money was really in the bank. Usually, he pointed out, such information could be easily learned by merely visiting the bank in advance and asking a few questions of its employees.

The outlaw's macabre humor was evidenced when he robbed the First National Bank of Denver of $20,000 on March 30, 1889. Cassidy had scouted that bank and knew how much money was in its safe at that time.

Cassidy approached the bank president and stated: "Excuse me, sir, but I just overheard a plot to rob this bank." The bank president trembled, saying: "Lord! How did you learn of this plot?" "I planned it," Cassidy said, pulling his six-gun. "Put up your hands."

An express car blown to pieces during the train robbery
An express car blown to pieces during the train robbery committed by Cassidy and other bandits at Wilcox, Wyoming, June 2, 1899; the guard, a defiant man named Woodcock, was almost killed when Butch set off the dynamite, which had been placed at the door of the car. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
The relentless posse that set out after Cassidy and the Wild Bunch
The relentless posse that set out after Cassidy and the Wild Bunch after their train robbery at Tipton, Wyoming on August 29, 1900: (identified by numbers, left to right) 1) George Hiatt; 2) T. T. Kelliher; 3) Joe Lefors, the lawman the Wild Bunch most feared; 4) H. Davis; 5) Si Funk; 6) Jeff Carr. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

When his hideouts became known to lawmen, Cassidy moved his gang to Hole-in-the-Wall, which was located in Colorado and Wyoming, more of a fortress than Cassidy's old Utah haven, Robber's Roost. Throughout the 1890s, Butch and the Wild Bunch successfully robbed banks and trains, but the railroads and banks hired the most efficient lawmen of the day to relentlessly hunt them down. Bill Carver and Ben Kilpatrick were caught and imprisoned. Harvey Logan, the notorious Kid Curry, was trapped by a posse, and, rather than be captured, killed himself by sending a bullet into his brain.

By the early 1900s, Cassidy realized that the Old West he knew was too hot to hold him. He convinced the Sundance Kid (Harry Longbaugh or Longabaugh) to depart for safer pastures. Sundance had by then taken up with Etta Place, a beautiful teacher longing for adventure. She accompanied Sundance and Cassidy when they traveled to New York and then to Bolivia where Butch and Sundance worked as miners while also robbing local banks.

Hole in the Wall, the natural fortress surrounded by mountains
Hole in the Wall, the natural fortress surrounded by mountains at the Colorado-Wyoming border where Cassidy and the Wild Bunch routinely took refuge. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
San Vicente, Bolivia, November 6, 1908
San Vicente, Bolivia, November 6, 1908: Inside the small hut at top are sprawled two bodies, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, killed after a wild shootout with Bolivian police and federal troops. Some reports claim Butch survived, escaped and returned to the U.S., living into old age. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Etta, fearful that she would eventually see her lover, Sundance, killed by Bolivian lawmen, decided to leave the outlaws and returned to the U.S., changing her name and disappearing. Butch and Sundance, however, continued their errant ways. In early 1908, they robbed a Bolivian payroll in Aramayo, which caused police and federal troops to hunt them throughout the country. They were finally trapped in the small village of San Vicente on November 6, 1908. Both were killed after a terrific gun battle.

Several reports claim that Cassidy survived and escaped, returning to his birthplace of Circleville, Utah, living under an alias and dying in 1929. Another report insists that he moved to Johnnie, Nevada, and lived there until 1937. Still, another tale claims that he survived until 1943 or 1944, dying in either California or Washington. All of these claims, mythical or real, would have delighted the capricious Butch, who once said to Sundance: "If you want to escape, you must confuse everybody!"

Week Three Column/Feature 2

Ruth Ellis Sought Attention and Got It on the Gallows

by Jay Robert Nash

The murder tragedy of Ruth Ellis was a hallmark in British homicide. Hers was what the French called a crime passionel (a crime of passion), which they understood well. The British understood such a crime not at all. Ellis shot and killed her lover out of jealousy, she later admitted, after she learned that he was seeing another woman. This sensually attractive but failed showgirl had become a nightclub shill and pub hostess. She had sought attention from dozens of men. She got the attention of the nation, however, by going to the scaffold as the last woman to be hanged in England.

Born Ruth Neilson in the small Welsh town of Rhyl on October 9, 1926, she was the daughter of poor parents, the third of six children. At fourteen, she left school and began working as a waitress in London. At seventeen, she took up with a married Canadian soldier and had an illegitimate child by him. The soldier supported the boy for about a year and then stopped payments.

Blonde pub hostess Ruth Ellis, who shot and killed her lover
Blonde pub hostess Ruth Ellis, who shot and killed her lover over jealousy and became the last woman executed in England. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Following WWII, Ellis worked as a shill in lowlife pubs, and even turned to prostitution, having another illegitimate child. In 1950, she married George Ellis, a dentist, but was divorced within a year. Three years later, she got a good job as the manager of an upscale club in London. There Ruth met the love of her life, sports car driver David Blakely.

In 1954, Ellis met a friend of Blakely's named Desmond Edward Cussen and became infatuated with him. For nearly a year she saw both men. Blakely at first accepted the situation, but there were frequent quarrels between him and Ellis, which often resulted in violence. Blakely began seeing younger women, and Ruth retaliated by drawing closer to Cussen, which angered Blakely. On Christmas Eve 1954, Blakely caught Ellis and Cussen together in Cussen's apartment. During the argument that followed, Ellis swore she would never see Blakely again.

The tortuous relationship continued, however, for a few more months until Blakely announced, on April 6, 1955, that he was going to Hampstead, a suburb of London, to see a mechanic about a race car. Suspecting him of meeting someone else, Ellis went to his apartment and knocked. There was no answer, but Ellis would later swear she heard a woman's laughter through the door. The next day she saw Blakely and a woman together. "I had a peculiar idea that I wanted to kill him," she admitted. Ellis took a taxi to the Magdala Pub in Hampstead on the evening of April 10, 1955. As she left the cab, Blakely emerged from the pub with his friend Bertram Clive Gunnell, a car salesman.

When seeing Ellis, Blakely darted to the other side of the car in an apparent attempt to hide. Ellis produced a .38-caliber pistol from her purse and began firing at him. She fired all six bullets into her lover, killing him. Staring at Gunnell, she coolly said, "Now call the police."

Taken to a police station, Ruth freely confessed her guilt. "I am guilty," she said. "I am rather confused."

Ellis' trial began at the Old Bailey on June 20, 1955. Christmas Humphreys, representing the Crown, asked Ellis directly, "When you fired that revolver at close range into the body of David Blakely, what did you intend to do?"

Without a moment's hesitation, she replied, "It was obvious that when I shot him I intended to kill him."

A jury of ten men and two women deliberated for fourteen minutes before returning a verdict of guilty. Justice Cecil Havers passed the death sentence. Ruth Ellis was to hang on July 13, 1955, at the Holloway Women's Prison in North London.

Before the execution, opponents of capital punishment collected and delivered some 50,000 signatures on appeals for clemency to the Home Office, but all were turned down. On the day of her execution, more than a thousand protestors gathered outside the prison. Many waved French newspapers that condemned the British authorities for taking the life of a woman, who had been helplessly bound up in a crime passionel, papers that branded British justice "barbaric."

At a little after 9 a.m., Ellis was brought into a room where the scaffold waited. Her executioner was Albert Pierrepont, a Lancashire pub owner, who made money on the side as England's executioner. Ruth was given a glass of brandy, which she drank down rapidly. She was led to the rope and white hood was placed about her head. Minutes later, Ruth Ellis was dead, the last woman hanged in England. She had gone to her death stoically, without a word of protest. Her last written words were to the parents of David Blakely: "I have always loved your son and I shall die still loving him."

The public uproar about this execution continued over the years and contributed to the decision to halt capital punishment in the country ten years later. The irony of Ruth Ellis' terrible demise is that she had sought widespread recognition since childhood. A habitual movie-goer in her teens, she once hoped to break into that business.

Her good friend and film actress Diana Dors had gotten Ellis a bit part in the 1951 film Lady Godiva Rides Again, but she failed to land any other film roles. Posthumously, however, she saw celluloid success, her life story told in the 1985 film, Dance with a Stranger, with Miranda Richardson portraying Ellis. She was also profiled in the 2006 film Pierrepont, portrayed by Mary Stockley.

In real life, Ruth Ellis had tried to become a showgirl and singer and failed in both attempts. In order to get attention, she had dyed her hair peroxide blonde and had become "that smashing blonde" pub hostess, finally attracting scores of young men. "Her starring role was on the gallows," one of those admirers cynically pointed out after her execution, "but it was a one-time performance."

Week Three Column/Feature 3

Bras Coupé: "Brigand of the Swamps"

by Jay Robert Nash

A legend of the ante-bellum South, Bras Coupé was a giant slave, about six-foot-six-inches, owned by General William de Buys, who also owned one of the largest plantations outside of New Orleans. First known as Squire, this giant man was a marvel to behold when he performed African tribal dances such as the bamboula and the calinda, the latter requiring incredible gyrating, leaping, and contortionist movements, all stemming from voodoo ceremonial rites. He would become the first cult hero of the black underworld, known as a hero to the slaves of the South, but, to whites, he was the feared 'Brigand of the Swamps"—a ruthless bandit and killer.

Bras Coupé would perform his wild dances with hundreds of other slaves, who were brought to New Orleans' ancient Circus Square. Here, once a week, between 4 and 6 p.m., slaves were allowed to vent their frustration and anger in wild, abandoned dancing. This custom began in 1817 and continued until the Civil War. The square itself was renamed Congo Square for obvious reasons, and Bras Coupé became the star attraction. He would whirl, toss, and throw his female partner about until she fell exhausted, but he would continue leaping and stomping until overseers called the curfew and ended the frenetic celebration.

Bras Coupé, the legendary slave turned outlaw
Bras Coupé, the legendary slave turned outlaw, dancing the bamboula in New Orleans' Congo Square. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

De Buys was tolerant of his prized possession, teaching Bras Coupé to shoot and hunt, and even loaning him his best rifles to hunt wild game in the swamps and bayous about New Orleans. He learned to fire a weapon with both hands because, he said, he had had a dream, where he lost an arm. In 1834, he was shot in a swamp by whites, who thought he was a runaway slave, the bullet shattering his arm, which had to be amputated. The loss of his arm embittered Bras Coupé. He became moody and developed an explosive temperament.

The slave then ran away, going into the swamps where he formed a band of other runaway slaves, who preyed on white travelers and made robbing forays into villages and hamlets. (Bras Coupé would later serve as the role model for Robert PennWarren's character Rau-Ru in his novel of the Old South, Band of Angels, made into a 1951 film with Sidney Poitier playing this character.)

Bras Coupé became known as The Brigand of the Swamp. So notorious did his reputation become that unruly children all over Louisiana were warned that, if they did not mind their manners, they would "be trimmed by Bras Coupé." His outlaw band swelled to several dozen cutthroats, and Bras Coupé led these men into New Orleans itself on raids, where he attacked districts of the city, looting homes, murdering helpless whites, including women and children. More than fifty deaths were attributed to his murderous gang within three years.

Bras Coupé became the most notorious black outlaw in the U.S. It was believed that if he could call enough dissident slaves and disenfranchised whites to his banner, the South would suffer another slave revolt worse than the 1831 uprising led by Nat Turner.

To the oppressed slaves, Bras Coupé became a heroic and legendary creature. He could not be shot, it was said at their campfire meetings, since Bras Coupé's skin was as hard as iron and no bullet could penetrate it. He could not be caught by the vigilantes and troops following him into the swamps since mystical fogs would envelope the pursuers and whisk them off to far countries.

To white residents, the slave-turned-bandit was a Devil on earth. They claimed in 1836 that he had turned cannibal. One eyewitness vigilante reported that, while hiding in thick brush, he watched Bras Coupé kill four pursuing soldiers with his one hand, then tear them limb from limb and make a meal of them, hideously devouring their uncooked flesh.

Such ghastly tales, along with very real accounts of the brigand's murders and robberies, caused New Orleans Mayor Dennis Prieur to place a $2,000 reward on Bras Coupé's head. The New Orleans Picayune urged the capture or killing of the outlaw, describing him in one editorial as a "semi-devil and a fiend in human shape, whose life was one of crime and depravity." The myth of this outlaw evaporated on July 18, 1837.

On that day, Francisco Garcia was shot at by Bras Coupé. Garcia attacked the giant with a club. The outlaw staggered back from the blows, weakened by a bullet wound he had received on April 6, 1837 when two white bounty hunters shot him. Garcia clubbed the outlaw to death, then put the huge body into a sack and rode with it to New Orleans in his cart.

Garcia uncovered the body as he entered the city so that thousands of slaves could see his trophy. The slaves wept to see their hero slain as it was carted to city hall. Here the fisherman jumped from the cart and ran inside to claim the $2,000 reward. After much haggling with Mayor Prieur, he was paid $250. (There was a claim that Garcia deserved no reward at all and that he should have been locked up instead; some said he had actually been a member of Bras Coupé's band and had betrayed his leader, killing the outlaw as he slept in Garcia's swamp hut.)

The brigand's badly beaten corpse was taken to the Place d'Armes and dumped next to the fountain. For days, the carcass rotted in the hot sun while thousands of slaves were forced to march past it in single file and view the remains, warning them that revolt against the white South meant death.

The bloody exhibit did nothing but anger slaves and many resolved to escape their brutal masters. The corpse could not undo the legend of Bras Coupé, which was passed on from one generation to another, until few of the real facts remained inside of what is now a traditional image of the black Robin Hood of the South.

Week Three Column/Feature 4

The Chicago "Politics" of Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John

by Jay Robert Nash

The administration of Rahm Emanuel as the newly-elected mayor of Chicago should certainly be ethically superior to those of a century earlier. [Author's note: Rahm's wonderful father, Ben Emanuel, was pediatrician to my three children and once saved the life of my eldest son.] Many of Emanuel's early-day predecessor's looked upon the job as mayor as a path to great riches, particularly Carter Harrison Sr. (1825-1893), and his son, Carter Harrison, Jr. (1860-1953). Each held five terms in the office and, during those long reigns, all manner of crime and corruption flourished in Chicago. The real bosses of the city through those Red Light decades were two utterly venal Irish aldermen, Michael "Hinky-Dink" Kenna and "Bathhouse John" Coughlin.

Chicago alderman Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna
Chicago alderman Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna, shown in old age, who protected the city rackets for decades and died a millionaire. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Kenna opened a saloon in 1882 in Chicago's First Ward, which became the center of political activity and the hub of vice in Chicago for decades to come. Many a political election was settled over its bar or in its back room, where Kenna and his friend, John "Bathhouse John" Coughlin, arbitrated Chicago's political future.

Kenna befriended the big, outgoing Coughlin in the mid-1880s and the two formed a political partnership which controlled all the rackets and vice in the city for a half century. Coughlin, who got his nickname by starting as a rubber in a bathhouse, was a tremendous vote getter and worked the wards of the city, thumping for the candidates picked by Kenna and the machine. Kenna, a quiet, taciturn type with a dour nature, quietly controlled city hall and the police department by arranging for bribes, payoffs, and protection for the various crime czars from one era to the next.

It was Kenna who aided Michael Cassius "Big Mike" McDonald in his takeover of all criminal operations in Chicago during the 1880s. In return for allowing McDonald's gambling dens and brothels to operate without any problems from the city, Kenna and, subsequently, city officials, received enormous payoffs. The Levee, or "Red Light", District, which was located in the First Ward, was utterly controlled by Kenna, who served as alderman from 1897 until 1923. When Big Mike McDonald passed from the scene, Kenna hand-picked the next crime boss of the city, James "Big Jim" Colosimo, a one-time street sweeper, who had formerly worked as Kenna's bagman, collecting the tribute each week from bordellos and gambling spas.

Kenna spent most of his time arranging for police and political protection for Colosimo's rackets and the thriving vice in his first ward. Sometimes he would actually be present to vote in the city council. The mayor had no choice but to tolerate his high-handed ways, since Hinky Dink could politically make or break any man in Chicago.

At one point, Kenna was called to the office of Mayor Carter Harrison Jr. He was asked why a certain precinct captain in the first ward refused to take orders from City Hall. Said Kenna to Harrison: "If you give him another chance you'll never need to complain. He's a good, conscientious s.o.b., even if he does run a whorehouse."

Chicago alderman "Bathhouse John" Coughlin in formal attire
Chicago alderman "Bathhouse John" Coughlin in formal attire while delivering one of his poems at the notorious First War Ball, which was always crowded by hundreds of criminals. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

It was well known at City Hall that Kenna received enormous payoffs for the gambling halls and bordellos operating around the clock in his ward, not the least of which was the lavish Everleigh Club run by Ada and Minna Everleigh, the most celebrated brothel in America. When, on another occasion, Mayor Harrison obliquely mentioned the payoffs to Kenna, the little alderman exploded, shouting: "I never took a dollar from a woman! No house ever paid me for protection!"

Harrison calmed him down and then Kenna remarked: "Of course, I'd just as soon run a poker game or a faro bank of a big kind, you know, Mr. Mayor, in a nice hotel room for high-fliers to play, no suckers. You know, men that love to play and can afford to pay. I'm strong for that."

Mayors were bullied and pacified by Kenna (and grew rich through payoffs) while he and Coughlin flexed their political muscles each year as sponsors of the notorious First Ward Ball. At these annual balls every thug, prostitute, racketeer and corrupt politician, usually no fewer than 15,000 of the most unsavory people in the city, gathered together to pay homage to Kenna and Coughlin. At such times, Coughlin, who thought of himself as a great poet, would recite some of his mawkish verse. One such inspired ditty:

"On with the dance.
Let the orgy be perfectly proper.
Don't drink, smoke, or spit on the floor.
And, say, keep your eye on the copper."

In 1911, religious leaders and civic reformers would no longer tolerate the wide-open operations of the Levee. Reformers led marches through the district by torchlight, demanding the closing of brothels and gambling halls. City Hall finally capitulated and the Red Light District was shut down. Kenna and Coughlin moaned in despair and their power waned even further when Colosimo was murdered in 1920 by Al Capone, top enforcer for the new crime boss, Johnny Torrio.

By 1923, Kenna was finished as a political power in Chicago. He stepped down from his post and let Coughlin take his place, but he continued operating his saloon throughout Prohibition. When Coughlin died in 1938, Kenna took his post the following year. He continued to attend all city council meetings, despite his advanced age. Kenna maintained a suite of rooms at the Blackstone Hotel and died there, alone, on October 9, 1946.

In contrast to Coughlin, who died broke, the frugal Kenna left an estate of well over $2 million. Hinky Dink's funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Chicago, rivaling any gangster funeral of the 1920s. Thousands of mourners attended and even some of Coughlin's ancient poetry and songs were read and sung. This would have irked Kenna no end for he hated the doggerel his friend had written over the years and could only stand to listen to such "crazy nonsense" when drunk.

Week Three Column/Feature 5

Who Was Behind the Kansas City Massacre?

by Jay Robert Nash

The carnage following the machine gun attack at Union Station K.C.
The carnage following the machine gun attack at Union Station with K.C. detectives Grooms and Hermanson lying dead between the two cars; the auto at right was the police car riddled with bullets. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

On June 16, 1933, local police and FBI agents arrested Frank "Jelly" Nash [no relation to this writer] in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Nash had escaped from Leavenworth in 1930 and, for more than three years, had robbed banks throughout the Midwest with Harvey Bailey, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, the Holden-Keating gang, and the Barker brothers. His underworld contacts were deep and wide and he had taken refuge in Hot Springs. His captors immediately boarded a train to take Nash on to Kansas City, Missouri, and then back to his cell at Leavenworth. Powerful people in the underworld, however, had different notions.

Hot Springs gambler Dick Galatas immediately contacted Johnny Lazia, telling him about the Nash pinch. Lazia, crime boss of Kansas City, who operated all rackets in that town for the powerful Pendergast political machine, quickly put in motion a plan to ostensibly free him.

The police car attacked by Vern Miller and the Denning Brothers
The police car attacked by Vern Miller and the Denning Brothers; behind the wheel, dead, is Frank Nash, the gangster they reportedly attempted to free from lawmen, but most likely killed to assure his silence. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
A contemporary sketch shows how gunmen attacked lawmen
A contemporary sketch shows how gunmen attacked the lawmen in the Kansas City Massacre of 1933. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

On the evening of June 16, 1933, Lazia learned from his Kansas City Police contacts that Nash would arrive on the 7:15 train the next morning. He, in turn, called Vern Miller, a local independent bank robber and strong-arm man. Miller and Lazia met in a restaurant that night and Lazia assigned two of his best killers, brothers Homer and Maurice Denning, to help Miller free Nash.

The following morning, Kansas City detectives Frank Hermanson and W. J. "Red" Grooms appeared at Union Station, driving an armored car in which Nash was to be taken to Leavenworth. Both detectives noticed that all the automatic weapons in the armor-plated car had been removed, leaving the detectives with only their two police revolvers. They got out of the car and met two unarmed FBI agents, Reed Vetterli and Raymond Caffrey. Earlier, Vetterli had mentioned to Caffrey that he had not seen one uniformed policeman in or around the station. Vetterli and Caffrey carried no weapons, as FBI agents were then prohibited from carrying firearms.

At that moment, a car drove into the station lot and parked. At the wheel of the car was Mary McElroy, the impetuous daughter of City Manager Henry McElroy. She took her thrills from the exploits of underworld characters such as the slick Johnny Lazia, who worked for her father and Boss Tom Pendergast. She had asked another gangster, James Henry "Blackie" Audett, to accompany her to the station that morning, telling him that "all hell is going to break loose." Somehow, she had heard that Frank Nash was going to be freed by gunmen planning to attack federal agents accompanying Nash on the 7:15 train. The two sat in the car like spectators awaiting a circus parade.

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd, shot and killed by FBI agents a year after the Kansas City Massacre; the Bureau insisted that he was one of the killers, but Floyd denied being one of the killers with his dying breath. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
Adam Richetti, Floyd's bank-robbing associate
Adam Richetti, Floyd's bank-robbing associate, who was executed for the Kansas City Massacre, but who insisted he was innocent; his claim was supported by an eye-witness to the massacre. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

A Chevrolet sedan then pulled into a parking spot a short distance from where McElroy sat with Audett. It was parked so that it faced a two-door sedan parked there earlier by agents Caffrey and Vetterli. Three men sat in the Chevrolet, the heavily armed gangsters Vern Miller and Homer and Maurice Denning.

The train carrying Nash arrived on time at Track Twelve. Nash was escorted by two FBI agents, Joseph Lackey and Frank Smith, as well as Otto Reed, Police Chief of McAlester, Oklahoma, who had officially arrested Nash. When they got into Caffrey's car, Miller and the Denning brothers alighted from their Chevrolet. They all held Thompson submachine guns and Miller shouted to the lawmen: "Up! Up! Get 'em up!" The four lawmen outside the car, Vetterli, Caffrey, Hermanson, and Grooms, stood motionless for some seconds, their eyes riveted on the three gangsters slowly approaching them, guns aimed directly at them.

Then Red Grooms' hand instinctively reached into his coat pocket and he withdrew his police revolver. He fired two shots, and although one appeared to hit a heavyset gunman in the arm, the gunman showed no signs of being wounded.

Mary McElroy, the daughter of Kansas City's city manager
Mary McElroy, the daughter of Kansas City's city manager, who knew the attack would take place and went to Union Station with gangster Blackie Audett, where both witnessed the slaughter, seeing the actual killers. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

"No! No!" Frank Nash shouted from inside the car.

Vern Miller made a split-second decision. "Let 'em have it!" he shouted to the other two gunmen.

Three submachine guns sent a torrent of bullets into Caffrey's car and sprayed the group of officers inside and outside the car. As Homer Denning stood in front of the Chevrolet, Miller and Maurice Denning ran around behind the Caffrey car, continuing to fire at it so that it was caught in a cross fire. Within seconds, the killers fled and five men were dead: FBI agent Caffrey, police chief Reed, detectives Grooms and Hermanson, and Frank Nash, the very man the attackers had intended to free. Nash was not wearing his traditional wig when found behind the wheel of the car. He had removed the wig and waved it at the machine gunners so that he could be properly identified.

It was clear to all, however, that the killers intended to murder Nash, that the raid was not intended to free Nash, but to ensure his silence about his deep association with Lazia and his underworld operations in Kansas City.

FBI agents later tracked down bank robber Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd, killing him in a gunfight in Ohio, and capturing his associate, Adam Richetti. They blamed the Kansas City Massacre on both of them, and Richetti was executed for the crime.

"Blackie" Audett, who watched the awful carnage that day and clearly saw the killers, insisted decades later to this writer that the true killers were Miller and the Denning brothers. "Floyd was nowhere near that station that day," Audett said.

"The FBI had to solve the case fast because one of their own men got killed so they pinned it on two guys who were already wanted and widely known. They ran down Floyd and killed him and then they executed little Adam Richetti for the same crime and he wasn't there either. I know. I sat in that parking lot with Mary McElroy and saw the whole thing from less than fifty yards away."

The massacre produced one immediate result: Congress quickly authorized FBI agents to carry firearms.

Releases for Week Four (Monday-Friday)

Column/Feature 1

Charles Becker: The "Crookedest" Cop in New York

by Jay Robert Nash

NYPD Lieutenant Charles Becker, the crooked cop
NYPD Lieutenant Charles Becker, the crooked cop, who ran the Tenderloin's criminal operations; he ordered a gambler killed in 1912 and went to the electric chair three years later. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Of the myriad bribe-taking cops in New York during the late 1890s and early 1900s, none was more venal and corrupt than Charles Becker. As a police lieutenant, Becker operated on both sides of the law to serve his avaricious ends. He made a fortune by protecting New York City gamblers, until he arrogantly decided that one of these sharpers should be killed, and he ordered the murder of Herman Rosenthal.

This blatant slaying by hired killers under Becker's command eventually led Becker to the electric chair, but long before that Becker ruled the gambling empire of New York City. His word was law and to break his law was to face unendurable punishment, ruination, and early death. Becker's dark career began in the heart of New York's Tenderloin, the most exciting, dramatic and vice-ridden area of America at the time.

The sixth child of ten, Becker was born on July 26, 1870 in the small hamlet of Callicoon Center, New York. By the time he was eighteen, he had developed a tall, powerful body with broad shoulders, massive arms, and enormous hands that, when doubled into fists, were like the flat sides of two stonemason hammers.

At this time, Becker traveled to New York City to make his fortune, first as a baker, then a waiter and bouncer in The Atlantic Gardens, a sprawling outdoor German beer garden. He met Big Tim Sullivan, head of the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine and Sullivan arranged for him to buy his way onto the New York Police Force. In 1893, Becker paid a $250 fee to Tammany for his appointment to the force, which was then one third of the annual salary of a New York policeman.

Becker first worked in the Fulton Street area and was later moved to the Tenderloin. This was the prime area for venal cops on the take. The Tenderloin stretched approximately between 23rd and 44th streets and between 3rd and 7th Avenues, this being the old Twenty-ninth Precinct. Here could be found the best hotels, finest theaters and restaurants, as well as hundreds of posh gambling dens, lavish bordellos, and vice dens of all sorts, a plum for grafting policemen such as the bribe-taking Becker.

Famed author Stephen Crane
Famed author Stephen Crane, who witnessed Becker assaulting a New York streetwalker in 1893 and filed a complaint against him, which only drew a reprimand. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
New York gangster Jacob "Big Jack" Zelig, Becker's enforcer
New York gangster Jacob "Big Jack" Zelig, Becker's enforcer, who commanded the murder crew that killed gambler Herman Rosenthal on Becker's order. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Most of the graft went to his superiors and Becker had to be content with beating up streetwalkers for small payoffs. He assaulted one such hapless young woman in the presence of one of America's greatest writers, Stephen Crane, who had him charged with battery. Becker got off with a reprimand. Crane went on to write a novel about the girl, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, published in 1893, two years before his classic Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage.

By 1907, Becker had been promoted to sergeant and became the bagman for Captain Max Schmittberger, the police chief who controlled the Tenderloin. Becker collected all kickbacks from the scores of bordellos and gambling dens and received ten percent of what he delivered to Schmittberger.

Gambler "Bald Jack" Rose, a Becker henchman
Gambler "Bald Jack" Rose, a Becker henchman, who helped to set up Rosenthal's murder. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

After Schmittberger was dismissed on charges of corruption, Becker was promoted to lieutenant and, by 1911, became the boss of the Tenderloin. He grew rich and so powerful that he dictated all illegal operations in the area. His squad of goons, led by gangster Jacob "Big Jack" Zelig, silenced any underworld opponents by sending them to either the hospital or the morgue.

One such truculent client was gambler Herman "Beansie" Rosenthal, who refused to kick back any of the considerable winnings from his Hesper Club, a lavish gambling den in a three-story brownstone at 104 West 45th Street, just off Sixth Avenue. Becker visited Rosenthal and slammed him into a wall, shouting: "I fix the payoffs in New York. You either pay me or die."

The shooting of Herman 'Beansie" Rosenthal
The shooting of Herman 'Beansie" Rosenthal, outside New York's Metropole Hotel on the night of July 16, 1912; four gunman boldly shot him to death before dozens of witnesses. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Rosenthal stubbornly refused to pay off and went to authorities, filing a complaint against Becker. When Becker heard of the complaint, he told Zelig: "I want Rosenthal croaked!" Becker's goons went into action. Gamblers "Bald Jack" Rose and Harry Vallon informed Zelig that Rosenthal would be at the Metropole Hotel on 43rd Street, just east of Broadway in the early hours of July 16, 1912. Four of Zelig's killers went to the hotel and waited for Rosenthal.

Harry Vallon, another Becker henchman
Harry Vallon, another Becker henchman, who tracked Rosenthal to the Metropole Hotel and then notified his killers as to their prey's whereabouts. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

When Rosenthal emerged from the hotel restaurant and stepped to the street, one of the gangsters shouted: "Over here, Herman!" Rosenthal, squinted into the darkness, unable to identify the man, who called out to him. He took a hesitant step forward, saying: "Who's that?" The killers closed in on him, just barely entering the glaring lights from the hotel marquee, and five shots rang out, striking Rosenthal at close range. The bullets struck him in the neck, the nose and two in the head. Rosenthal, spouting blood, fell dead in the street.

A rare photo of the killer crew that murdered Herman Rosenthal
A rare photo of the killer crew that murdered Herman Rosenthal, taken at a picnic the day after these four gangsters murdered him; they are (left to right, standing), Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, Louis "Lefty Louie" Rosenberg, "Dago Frank" Cirofici, and (sitting at left), Jacob "Whitey Lewis" Seidenschmer; all were executed in 1913. Their boss, Charles Becker, followed them to the chair two years later. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

The murder was blatant, dozens of citizens seeing the killers, who were quickly rounded up, tried and convicted. All four men, Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, Louis "Lefty Louie" Rosenberg, "Dago Frank Cirofici, and Jacob "Whitey Lewis" Seidenschmer, were executed in Sing Sing's electric chair on April 14, 1913. Zelig was already dead, killed by a gangster sent by Becker to silence him. It did Becker little good. After two trials, he was convicted of masterminding the Rosenthal murder and followed his henchmen to the Death House at Sing Sing on July 30, 1915.

Becker died horribly as the electric chair malfunctioned. His execution had taken nine minutes and was later considered one of the most "botched" executions in Sing Sing's history. A news reporter later wrote how he: "watched and listened to the rasping sound of the wooden switch lever being thrown backward and forward and saw the greenish-blue blaze at the victim's head and feet, and the grayish smoke curling away from the scorched flesh."

However, to phalanxes of gamblers, police officers and members of the underworld, the news that the "Crookedest Cop in the World" was dead came as a great relief.

Week Four Column/Feature 2

Leo Koretz: Colossal Swindler of Tycoons

by Jay Robert Nash

Leo Koretz, a mild-mannered Chicago stock broker
Leo Koretz, a mild-mannered Chicago stock broker, who swindled a fortune from his millionaire clients, but never served a day in prison. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Leo Koretz (1881-1925) was a successful stockbroker working in Chicago. He had a comfortable, if not luxurious, home and a wife and child. He was a respected and well-known businessman, who represented some of the wealthiest families in the Midwest. Over the years, his stock purchases on behalf of these millionaires proved to be sound and profitable, but he harbored the secret dream of becoming a multi-millionaire like his clients. A scheme slowly took shape in his conniving brain. He would swindle his own clients out of their inherited millions.

In 1916, Koretz began telling confidentially to a few intimate friends, some of his best investors, that he had taken a bit of a gamble and bought more than five million acres of land in Panama, which encompassed the Bayano River. He had followed a wild impulse, he said, and bought the land "blind" because he was able to buy it at a bargain basement price. A few months later, he informed a few people that he was leaving for Panama to inspect his holdings. With that, Leo Koretz went on a three-month vacation. He visited New York, New Orleans, and other cities where he was not known. He never went near Panama.

When Koretz returned to Chicago, his lifestyle improved dramatically. He bought a 21-room mansion, then purchased a lavish summer place on Lake Michigan. He suddenly appeared at his office in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. To inquiring friends, Koretz merely shrugged and said that he had "a bit of good luck, that's all, nothing to talk about." The more Koretz refused to talk about his Panamanian investment, the more his investors insisted knowing about it. Finally, Koretz visited his club, pretended to get a bit tipsy, and then grew uncharacteristically chatty, gushing forth the story of the Bayano lands.

"The mahogany trees are thick as wheat fields," he revealed. "I've got six hundred men cutting them down in three shifts. They work at night, even, by torchlight. We are shipping so many tons of mahogany out of the jungles there that we cannot find enough boats to take them to the major ports. And now my manager down there, Arthur Gibson, an oil expert, tells me there's black crude bubbling out of the holes left by the trees we're uprooting. He's never seen so much oil!" With that he showed a cable from Panama, signed by an Arthur Gibson, which read: "700 tons of Mahogany shipments stored along riverbank. Need more tree-cutting crews for mahogany and new rigging for oil derricks. Return on mahogany and oil easily twenty-to-one."

So this then, Koretz's friends and investors quickly concluded, was the source of his new wealth. They clamored to invest in his properties, practically fighting to have him take their money to further develop the mahogany forests and establish the Panamanian oil fields on Koretz's fabulous Bayano real estate. He permitted a few close friends to participate, then a few more, until dozens of the tycoons he brokered stock for over the years were investing in his firm, the Bayano Timber & Oil Company.

Investors were more than pleased with their returns. They did get as much as fifty percent on their money almost every year. Koretz was hailed as a financial genius. He returned huge profits to his investors by employing the old Peter-to-Paul scam, paying earlier investors with the money later investors made in his firm, while retaining enormous amounts for his own use. (Bernard Madoff would do the same thing seven decades later to glean billions.)

It was rumored that even the redoubtable William Randolph Hearst was an investor in Koretz's fabulous enterprises. This, no doubt, came about when Hearst's right-hand editorial director and fellow newspaper tycoon, Arthur Brisbane, invested heavily in the Bayano Timber & Oil Co.

Brisbane went further. He gave an enormous banquet in honor of Koretz and invited more than 500 fellow millionaires to attend in praise of Leo Koretz. The fete was held in the main ballroom of the Congress Hotel. During the festivities, a horde of newspaper boys suddenly raced into the ball room, waving extras and shouting: "Extry! Extry! Read all about it! Leo Koretz oil swindle! Con man Koretz exposed! Millions lost in swindle!"

Before anyone suffered an apoplectic attack or stroke, Brisbane quickly rose smiling, the grinning Koretz at his side. Brisbane announced that the whole thing was a party joke. "It's a lark!" announced Brisbane, guffawing. "Mr. Koretz is a great and honorable financier!" Brisbane went on to explain that he had printed the fake extras. Brisbane then, in honor of Koretz, led the gathered tycoons in a rousing rendition of For He's A Jolly Good Fellow. Koretz bowed when he was engulfed with a thunderous applause.

The party jest, however, proved all too real. It put suspicion in the minds of some of the investors who, in late 1923, sent representatives to Panama to check on Koretz's operations. They reported back that the Bayano Timber & Oil Co. simply did not exist. Neither did Arthur Gibson. No one in Panama had ever heard of Leo Koretz. The swindler fled, but was finally tracked down in Halifax, Nova Scotia, living like a rajah in the company of several women.

Koretz was extradited to Illinois, tried in Chicago, and convicted in December 1924. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for swindling more than $1,700,000 from more than 100 investors. "I'll never serve a day in Joliet State Prison," he said confidently from his cell in Cook County Jail. He did not.

One of his obliging girlfriends brought him a five-pound box of candy. On January 6, 1925, Koretz sat down on his prison bunk, ate the entire box of candy in one sitting, then keeled over dead. Leo Koretz had escaped prison through one of the most bizarre suicides on record. He was an acute diabetic and the massive ingestion of sugar killed him, as he knew it would.

Week Four Column/Feature 3

Pearl Hart: Lady Bandit of the Old West

by Jay Robert Nash

Pearl Hart was the last Western bandit to rob a stagecoach and the only woman ever recorded as having committed that crime. Unlike Belle Starr or Cattle Kate Watson, Hart was not bred into Wild West crime. She nevertheless naively believed that the exciting myths of the Old West were true and still thriving on the frontier by the mid-1890s. She stepped into that colorful past but once, only to find herself languishing in a prison cell.

Born in 1871 and raised in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada, to a middle-class and respectable family, Pearl Taylor was one of several children. She was sent to a finishing school at an early age and, in 1888, at age seventeen, was seduced by a gambler, Frederick Hart.

Pearl Hart, the lady bandit and the last person to rob a stagecoach
Pearl Hart, the lady bandit and the last person to rob a stagecoach in the Old West. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Pearl eloped with him but marriage to Hart proved to be one hardship after another. Hart was a small-time gambler and occasional bartender. Somehow he managed to scrape enough money together to take Pearl to Chicago to see the Columbian Exposition of 1893. There Hart became a barker for sideshows and Pearl worked odd jobs. She was thrilled at the Wild West shows and became enamored of the Old West.

Pearl left her ne'er-do-well husband abruptly and moved to Colorado where she gave birth to a son. She returned to her home in Lindsay briefly to leave the child in the care of her mother. She then went to Phoenix, Arizona, where she quickly discovered that the Old West was no more.

To survive, Pearl cooked in a lunch room and took in laundry. Her husband suddenly showed up in late 1895 and begged Pearl to return to him, promising that he would get a job. The couple was reunited, and Hart went to work as a bartender and hotel manager. For three years there was domestic peace and a second child, a girl, was born.

In 1898, Hart told Pearl that he was tired of supporting her and the child. During a fight, he knocked her unconscious and left, joining the army and going off to fight the Spanish in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Pearl took her second child to her home in Canada and then drifted back to the western mining camps. She worked in these hellholes as a cook until taking up with a carefree miner, Joe Boot.

In 1899, Pearl received a letter from her brother telling her that her mother was ill and needed money for medical attention. Desperate, she talked to Boot about her dilemma. Boot suddenly had an idea on how to get those funds—they would rob the stagecoach running from Globe to Florence, Arizona.

Boot said he knew all about the stagecoach, that it always carried salesmen who had hundreds of dollars. Since no one had robbed a stagecoach in years, it carried no shotgun rider, only an unarmed driver. This stage run was one of the last in the Arizona Territory, an antiquated form of transportation in 1899. By then the railroad reached into almost every town of the West.

Pearl agreed to rob the stage with Boot, and, on May 30, 1899, the two rode to a watering hole where they knew the stagecoach would stop to rest the horses. Pearl was armed with an old .44 Colt. Boot carried a .45-caliber six-gun.

When the Globe stagecoach appeared, Pearl and Boot jumped in front of it, holding their guns on the driver. They ordered him to halt. Pearl was dressed as a man, wearing a man's gray flannel shirt, jeans, and boots. She had cut her hair short and had tucked the longer strands beneath a wide white sombrero. At first the driver thought she was a boy.

Boot trained his weapon on the driver while Pearl robbed the passengers. After she took the driver's six-gun, Pearl held her gun on the passengers while collecting their money, about $450. Boot then ordered the driver to whip the horses onward, and the stagecoach resumed its journey while Pearl and Boot mounted their horses and rode into the hills.

The daring bandits had given little thought to their escape. They promptly got lost and, after wandering about in the wilds for several days, fell asleep next to a large campfire. Possemen roused them from their slumbers and put them under arrest.

Pearl Hart played her part as lady bandit to the hilt, telling the smiling lawmen that they would never have taken her alive if she had gotten to her gun. They agreed and then took her and Boot to jail. Pearl became an overnight celebrity as the last bandit to rob a stage.

The fact that Pearl was a woman made her even more of a curiosity, drawing crowds of admirers to the Globe jail to collect her autograph. She strutted behind the bars of her cell, playing the part of a desperado.

Tried twice in Florence, Pearl was convicted and given five years at the Territorial Prison at Yuma. Joe Boot, in a separate trial, was convicted of highway robbery and sent to the same prison for thirty years. The warden at Yuma Prison had to prepare a special cell for Pearl, separating her from the all-male population.

Pearl then began to spread the gospel, giving fellow prisoners long lectures on their sinful ways and how crime does not pay. "She drove us nuts," complained one inmate. "We begged the warden to get rid of this woman." Eighteen months later, on December 19, 1902, Pearl was released. Governor A.W. Brodie released her on the grounds that the state prison had no accommodations for women.

Pearl left for Kansas City where she joined her sister, who had written a play about her and Pearl starred in this dime novel production which was titled The Arizona Bandit. The play closed after a short run and Pearl disappeared. She returned to Globe, the scene of her crime, and reportedly died there on December 30, 1955.

Week Four Column/Feature 4

Patrick Crowe: The Friendly Kidnapper

by Jay Robert Nash

A disgruntled employee of the Cudahy Meatpacking Company of Omaha, Neb., Patrick Crowe decided to take revenge on his former employer by kidnapping 16-year-old Edward Cudahy, Jr. On the evening of December 18, 1900, Cudahy was returning from a doctor's office after having delivered second-hand magazines his father no longer wanted. Barring his path, wearing masks and wielding revolvers, were Crowe and accomplice James Callahan, also known as Pat Cavanaugh. "We're detectives," Crowe announced to the boy, "and you're a robber named McGee. We've been after you, McGee, and now we've got you. Come along with us."

Patrick Crowe, the kidnapper of Edward Cudahy Jr.
Patrick Crowe, the kidnapper of Edward Cudahy Jr., who made amends and capriciously sent his victim cards each year on the anniversary of the crime. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Cudahy pushed away a revolver pointed at him and shouted: "You're crazy!" Ignoring the boy's protests, the kidnappers hustled him into a buggy, tied his arms and feet, and put a hood over his head. They then drove to an old abandoned house in the area and took Cudahy inside, handcuffing him to a chair and giving him a plate of food. Crowe and Callahan then celebrated their kidnapping feat by opening a bottle of liquor.

When the boy did not return home, Edward Cudahy, Sr. phoned the doctor who told him that Eddie had delivered the magazines several hours earlier and had left for home. Cudahy then called the police, and the entire force turned out to look for the missing youth. They were joined by hundreds of Cudahy's workers, who had been ordered to help search for the meatpacking heir.

By morning, when the boy did not return home, Cudahy realized that his son had been taken and he immediately offered a sizeable reward with no questions asked if his boy was returned to him. He also called agents in the Pinkerton Detective Agency, who began searching for Eddie. Most of the town of Omaha was mobilized for the search, more than 7,000 men and boys looking for the Cudahy heir, including 2,000 of Cudahy's workers.

That morning, Cudahy received a phone call telling him to search the front lawn of his mansion. His coachman found a ransom note that demanded $25,000 in gold. If the money was paid, the boy would be returned unharmed the note read, but if Cudahy refused to pay, the kidnappers vowed that they would blind the boy with acid. To instill fear within the Cudahy family, the kidnappers made mention of the fate that befell Charley Ross, a millionaire's son who had been kidnapped in 1874, and how the boy vanished forever when the ransom for him was not paid.

Cudahy put five sacks of gold coins amounting to $25,000 into a buggy that night and delivered this money to a remote spot on the outskirts of Omaha. His son was released unharmed some hours later. Cudahy, once his son was safely back home, offered a $25,000 reward for the capture of the kidnappers, but interest in apprehending these culprits was practically nonexistent as Cudahy was not a well-liked man. He paid his employees slave wages and was a severe taskmaster, who had smashed several campaigns to unionize the suffering meatpacker workers.

Police detectives studying the case and various descriptions given of the men seen with the Cudahy boy, concluded that the kidnapping had been masterminded by a colorful character named Pat Crowe, one-time Cudahy employee, who had turned to train robbery and other criminal pursuits.

Meatpacking heir, Edward Cudahy Jr., kidnapped in 1900 in Omaha, Nebra
Meatpacking heir, Edward Cudahy Jr., kidnapped in 1900 in Omaha, Nebraska; he was returned safely after a ransom of $25,000 in gold was paid. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Crowe, born on an Iowa farm in 1864, was one of eleven children. At age seventeen, when his mother died, Crowe moved to Omaha, operating a successful butcher shop with his partner Callahan. Through pressure, he lost the shop to the Cudahy operation, or so he later claimed, and went to work for Cudahy, who personally fired him after Crowe was accused of pilfering meats and money.

Under the alias of Frank Roberts, Crowe committed a robbery in Illinois and had been sent to Joliet State Prison to serve a seven-year sentence in 1897, but was released in 1900. He blamed all his woes on Cudahy, and, when he returned to Omaha in 1900, he vowed revenge by kidnapping the Cudahy boy.

Crowe, however, was nowhere to be found. He was reported to be in China or in the South Seas, off on some adventure. The kidnapper, in February 1901, then began sending a series of letters to Cudahy, first claiming he was innocent, then offering to return $20,000 of the $25,000 in ransom money.

Callahan was caught in 1901 and identified by Eddie Cudahy as one of the men who had kidnapped him. He was tried for the Cudahy kidnapping. Oddly, Nebraska had no fixed laws governing the crime and Callahan was acquitted. The search for Crowe went on.

After reportedly serving with the Boers in South Africa in their fight against the British, Crowe returned to the U.S. in 1906. He sent Cudahy's money back to him through an Omaha attorney, he claimed. Then he publicly declared that he, indeed, had kidnapped Eddie Cudahy, and submitted himself to trial.

Crowe had picked an opportune time to surrender. Feeling against the meatpacking trusts was high and Cudahy represented workers oppressed by unyielding owner class. Unions were organized, and the meatpacking czar was under siege to change his employment procedures. Crowe's trial took place at the height of this crisis, and he was, not surprisingly, acquitted as had been Callahan some five years earlier.

Crowe went on to become a popular lecturer, railing against the trusts. He authored two autobiographies and died in New York of heart failure in 1938. His kidnapping victim, Eddie Cudahy, Jr., headed his father's famous meatpacking firm throughout the first half of the 20th Century, retiring to Arizona, where he died in 1966.

Capriciously, Crowe, until his death in 1938, sent a postcard every year to Eddie Cudahy on the anniversary of the kidnapping and signed these missives, "from your old kidnapper." His victim kept those postcards as one would store fond keepsakes. Pat Crowe had been the first kidnapper to successfully collect a ransom in America.

Week Four Column/Feature 5

Theo Durrant: The Monster in the Belfry

by Jay Robert Nash

Theo Durrant carrying the body of one of his murder victims
Theo Durrant carrying the body of one of his murder victims, Blanche Lamont, to the belfry of San Francisco's Emanuel Baptist Church where he hid the corpse. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)
William Henry Theodore "Theo" Durrant
William Henry Theodore "Theo" Durrant, San Francisco medical student, church worker and sex killer. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

On the surface, William Henry Theodore Durrant, called Theo by his friends, was a mild-mannered, pleasant youth who was the soul of propriety, a much-respected church worker, and a bright medical student. He promised to have a distinguished career as a doctor. Beneath the surface of his pleasant personality, however, lurked a sexual pervert and homicidal maniac.

Durrant, born in 1871, attended Cooper Medical College in San Francisco and was a member in good standing at the Emanuel Baptist Church, where he was also an assistant Sunday school teacher. Durrant earned money from the church as an usher at Sunday services, and was the secretary to the church's youth group, Christian Endeavor. He often worked about the church, fixing pews, plastering cracks in walls, and sealing leaky pipes.

It was rumored that Durrant had exposed his naked body to a young women in the church library, but the church elders, dismissed this tale as "idle gossip." Moreover, Durrant, as everyone knew, had just met and was enamored with an attractive high school senior, Blanche Lamont, who had plans to become a teacher.

Lamont and Durrant were seen stepping off a streetcar on April 3, 1895, at about 4 p.m., and were then seen strolling into the church. Theo took the girl into the church library, where he quickly shed his clothes. This brought a scream from Blanche Lamont.

The Emanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco
The Emanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco where Durrant murdered two women parishioners in 1895; his sister, Beulah Maud Durrant, changed her name to Maud Allen, becoming a prominent pianist, actress and dancer. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

As she continued to scream, Durrant angrily raced to the girl and placed his powerful hands about her throat, choking the life out of her. She fell limp into his arms and he carried her into an anteroom, where he dressed. He then dragged the body slowly up the stairs to the belfry.

At one point, Durrant had to climb a ladder, and as he did so, he dragged the body of his victim after him by her long, luxurious hair. Once in the belfry, Durrant sexually assaulted the corpse and then placed a wooden block beneath its head, as if it were a makeshift pillow.

Durrant then climbed down the ladder and entered the church, where an organist noticed his disheveled appearance. "I was fixing a gas jet and I inhaled some fumes by mistake," he said in explanation. He then walked calmly from the church.

When Blanche did not return home that night, her relatives notified police and officers arrived at Durrant's door the next day, telling him that the girl had last been seen alive in his company. Durrant glibly told officers that he had no idea where the girl might be. He added that there were many gangs wandering about San Francisco looking for young girls to press into their white slavery rackets (shanghaiing of young girls was then commonplace).

The hands of killer Theo Durrant, used to strangle two women
The hands of killer Theo Durrant, used to strangle two women he ostensibly loved. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

Minnie Williams, a petite, 21-year-old parishioner, was Durrant's next victim. She met Durrant many times in the library, where the two had sexual relations. Even though Williams was a willing sex partner, Durrant, moved by the dark forces within him, felt compelled to kill her. While making love to her, Durrant, as he later stated in his detailed confession, suddenly tore away a part of the woman's dress, suffocating her with it. He then mutilated the body with a knife and, like his previous victim, had sex with the corpse.

Durrant made little effort to hide Williams' body, placing it in the library closet. The next morning, a group of women entering the library discovered the horrific scene. The walls and floor of the library were blotched with Minnie Williams' blood. Some fainted at the gory sight while others went screaming for the police.

Theo Durrant is shown at his murder trial receiving a bouquet
Theo Durrant at his murder trial, receiving flowers from one of the many young females infatuated with him. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

A patrolman ran into the church from the street and quickly found Minnie's body in the closet. Detectives were called, and one of them, following "a hunch," climbed the stairs and ladder to the belfry and there found the body of Blanche Lamont, describing the corpse later as "white like a piece of marble."

Detectives then returned to Durrant's lodgings and found the youth asleep. He calmly denied having anything to do with the two bodies in the church. A search of his room soon revealed Minnie Williams' purse, which Durrant had hidden in one of his suitcases. Arrested, Durrant's trial proved spectacular.

The killer sat in court smiling and waving to scores of young women, who thought him "handsome in a dark sort of way." These women wrote him mash notes and presented him with flowers every day of the trial. More than 100 witnesses testified at the trial, but the most damning were those who insisted they had seen Durrant with the two victims just before their disappearances and deaths. He was found guilty and condemned to death.

In this bizarre sketch the Durrants are shown having lunch
In this bizarre sketch, the Durrants are shown having lunch in the warden's office at San Quentin, while their son lies in a coffin a few feet away after having been hanged for murder on July 7, 1898. (image from the Jay Robert Nash Collection)

As the youthful murderer mounted the scaffold at San Quentin to be hanged on January 7, 1898, the hangman came forward, about to drop the noose about Durrant's neck. The condemned man said: "Don't put that rope on, my boy, until I talk." He was given no chance to talk, however, and was promptly sent through the trap.

Durrant's parents watched him die, a strange pair, who sat smiling in the courtyard as their son dangled from the end of the rope. "They seemed proud of the whole thing," the prison warden later stated. The Durrants went to the warden's office to claim their son's body later. It was resting in an open wooden coffin. As a gesture of courtesy, the warden asked the Durrants if they were hungry. Yes, they answered, they had had nothing to eat all day.

The warden ordered them some dinner and, in the presence of their son's body, the Durrants sat down at a table, greedily eating roast beef and boiled potatoes. Mrs. Durrant glanced a few times to the blackened face of her murderous child, his eyes bulging and tongue protruding through clenched teeth, and showed no emotion. She merely turned back to her husband and said: "Papa, I'd like some more of that roast beef."


Week One

The Real Bonnie and Clyde

Samuel Green: America's First Public Enemy Number One

The "Beautiful Blonde" Serial Killer

The Real Father of Organized Crime in America

Black Jack Ketchum: The Jilted Outlaw

Week Two

Cagliostro: Master Magician of Fraud

Samuel J. "Nails" Morton: From War Hero to Gangster

Moll Curpurse: England's First Great Female Criminal

Al Jennings: The Most Inept Outlaw of the Old West

Carl Panzram: Serial Killer as Monster

Week Three

The Real Butch Cassidy and His Wild Bunch

Ruth Ellis Sought Attention and Got It on the Gallows

Bras Coupé: "Brigand of the Swamps"

The Chicago "Politics" of Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John

Who Was Behind the Kansas City Massacre?

Week Four

Charles Becker: The "Crookedest" Cop in New York

Leo Koretz: Colossal Swindler of Tycoons

Pearl Hart: Lady Bandit of the Old West

Patrick Crowe: The Friendly Kidnapper

Theo Durrant: The Monster in the Belfry