San Quentin, Doil Miller and Alfred Dusseldorf – Justice? Or just law?


At San Quentin 7 March 1952 dawned grey and cold, not unusual for the area. The prison’s inmates, then nearly two thousand strong, knew that day was unusual. Two of their number, Miller and Dusseldorf, were to die at 10am that morning for a robbery and murder committed in Alameda in 1949. As they sat … Continue reading San Quentin, Doil Miller and Alfred Dusseldorf – Justice? Or just law?

Martha Place – The first woman in the electric chair.


A free chapter from my book 'Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in New York,' available now. Like many countries the US has an at times contradictory attitude to its death penalty, no more so than when a woman faces execution. Women account for fewer than 5% of death sentences in the US and less than 1% … Continue reading Martha Place – The first woman in the electric chair.

Justice denied in Colorado; Joe Arridy visits ‘Roy’s Penthouse.’


“Yes, they are killing me.” – Joe Arridy, when asked by Warden Roy Best if he understood why he was about to step into Colorado’s gas chamber. It’s rarer than it used to be that a case affects me as much as this one. If you cover true crime for a living then you learn … Continue reading Justice denied in Colorado; Joe Arridy visits ‘Roy’s Penthouse.’

On This Day in 1932, Michael Malloy – The Man Who Would Not Die


They had started with the obvious: alcohol. That should have been a simple, effective means of their victim destroying himself rather than the Trust taking the additional risk of actually murdering him. Insurance fraud was not a capital offence then or now; first-degree murder no longer is in New York State, but in 1932, it certainly was. The 1920s and 1930s was the busiest period for New York’s electric chair, averaging around twenty executions every year. If choosing Malloy was a bad idea, then actually murdering him was even worse.

On This Day in 1927 – Paul Hilton, Antonio Paretti and the finale of the Mafia-Camorra War.


Double executions were no rarity at Sing Sing, especially in the 1920’s. The Jazz Age saw an unprecedented number of men (and a few women), 125, walk their last mile in the Empire State. That trend would peak in the 1930’s (153) before decreasing in the 1940’s (114), continuing to drop in the 1950’s (55). … Continue reading On This Day in 1927 – Paul Hilton, Antonio Paretti and the finale of the Mafia-Camorra War.

On This Day in 1932, Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll is finally put to sleep.


Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll was the archetypal wild, reckless, violent young gangster of the Prohibition era. Even at a time when crooks like Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger and Al Capone inflicted violence and death on a regular basis, Coll managed to stand out as being especially vicious. An aura of complete recklessness, seeming unconcern … Continue reading On This Day in 1932, Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll is finally put to sleep.

On This Day in 1920 – Gordon Hamby’s Last Goodbye and Nellie Bly’s First Execution.


Bandit  and burglar Gordon Fawcett Hamby was a strange bird by any standards. His death was a rarity at Sing Sing, the first time a female reporter had witnessed an execution there since 1899. That reporter had been Kate Starr working for one of the Hearst newspapers. Since then female reporters had never been allowed … Continue reading On This Day in 1920 – Gordon Hamby’s Last Goodbye and Nellie Bly’s First Execution.