On This Day in 1958: Virgil Richardson, cop killer and Sing Sing’s 600th electrocution.


The chances are that former clerk Virgil Richardson isn’t a familiar name today. To NYPD officers in 1956 (and especially the family of Patrolman William Long) his name was all too familiar. Virgil Richardson was Patrolman Long’s murderer and later the 600th convict to sit in Sing Sing’s electric chair. Only fourteen more would follow …

On This Day in 1944, Helen Ray Fowler and George Knight.


Neither is likely to be familiar, especially murderer George Knight. Had Knight alone been condemned for the murder and robbery of William Fowler on 30 October 1943 neither would have been even a footnote in history. Helen Fowler would have disappeared into New York State’s penal system and obscurity. George Knight would probably have vanished …

On This Day in 1941, Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles does the Half-Moon Hop.


On the night of November 12, 1941. Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, once a senior member of Murder Inc. and now one of the most important canaries in American history, prepared a makeshift ladder from the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, New York. He was in protective custody preparing to turn …

On This Day in 1918; Privates Ernest Jackson and Louis Harris, Shot Four Days Before The Armistice.


Considering the time of year, it seemed appropriate to remember those who went to war but never came back. That and this isn't yet another extended plug for my new book. During the First World War the British Army passed over 3000 death sentences and carried out over 300 executions by firing squad. Around 10% …

On This Day in 1980: Willie ‘The Actor’ Sutton, Master Bank Robber, Dies.


Sutton, one of America’s most successful bank robbers, also ranked as one of its most remarkable. The robber of over 100 banks and taking at least a million dollars, Sutton did it without ever firing a shot. While robbers like John Dillinger would kill whenever they thought necessary and ‘Baby Face’ Nelson killed for the …

On This Day in 1952, Edward Kelly and Wallace Ford, Jr.


Crime Scribe

1952 was a quiet year for the Sing Sing death house. Only three prisoners walked their last mile, Edward Kelly and Wallace Ford, Jr on October 30 and before them Bernard Stein on March 6. That was pretty quiet considering 1951 saw eight inmates die including Lonely Hearts Killers Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck on March 8 of that year.

True to notoriety’s pecking order in which the most notorious inmates drew most attention, few people remember John King and Joseph Powers, killers of Detective Joseph Miccio and who died on the same night as Beck and Fernandez. When Julius and Ethel Rosenberg died on June 19, 1953 few people remembered that they were only two of six to die that year, although he Rosenbergs alone more than kept Sing Sing in the news.

Neither Ford or Kelly’s crimes were especially unusual which probably leaves you wondering why they appear…

View original post 1,267 more words

Lewis E. Lawes, Sing Sing’s longest-serving, most controversial (and perhaps most conflicted) Warden.


“The only law in Sing Sing is Lawes.” – Lawes on his tough-but-fair prison regime. Lewis Lawes occupies a contradictory place in American penal history. His detractors often accused him of coddling prisoners, of being too soft when a hard-line approach was considered the best (and often only) way to handle New York State’s toughest …