It's been quite some time since I last posted ere, but I have been extremely busy with paid work and earning a living. Part of that has been writing my first book. Criminal Curiosities is a collection of crooks, all with something about their crime, trial or punishment that is singular to them. The … Continue reading I wrote a book.
It's been a while since I last posted due to work and other commitments, so I'll be offering a series of shorter posts dedicated to the etyomology of crime in general, interspersed with the occasional longer post about other things. It's always been curious to me how many words and phrases have crept into common … Continue reading The Etymology Of Crime – Tyburn.
“I am glad to die for my country.” – The last words of Edith Cavell. Edith Cavell was shot by a German firing squad at the Tir National rifle range near Brussels on October 12, 1915, having been convicted by a German military court of aiding the enemy by helping Allied soldiers and escaped prisoners … Continue reading Edith Cavell – Hand-wringing propaganda is not enough. Nor does it do her any service.
‘The policy of the Administration is to kill, not to better or reclaim.’ – Rene Belbenoit. It is 1852. In France, Emperor Napoleon III, increasingly worried by rising crime and insufficient colonists to consolidate France’s empire, devises a new, dreadful solution. Napoleon isn’t interested in social reform, he’s interested in social cleansing where criminals can … Continue reading Devil’s Island – Colony of the condemned.
Execution has long been part of criminal history. Its more hawkish supporters consider it society’s ultimate sanction for the very worst offenders. Less enthusiastic supporters regard it as a necessary evil and a deterrent to other criminals even while acknowledging its distasteful nature. Opponents believe it’s no deterrent at all, is applied on an arbitrary … Continue reading Death on Wheels – Mississippi’s Travelling Executioner.
The Tower of London, nowadys a popular tourist destination. Once also a prison, defensive fortress, a crime scene (if you believe, as I do, that the 'Princes in the Tower' were murdered here) and also the site of a number of execution. Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey (who was the shortest-reigning Queen in British history, … Continue reading Josef Jakobs – the Last Execution At The Tower Of London.
Crime, it’s a part of human existence. It’s in our culture, our art, our literature, our entertainment. For some of us it’s in our blood. It’s also crossed over into our language. Seemingly normal everyday phrases, the kind most people use without even thinking about their origin, can often have the darkest, most disturbing meanings. … Continue reading On Crime And Conversation – Criminal Slang In Everyday Use.
We're back in Pennsylvania for our latest criminal curiosity. Irene Schroeder, AKA 'Triiger Woman', 'The Blonde Bandit', 'Tiger Woman' and 'Iron Irene', was the first woman to be electrocuted in Pennsylvania. Executioner Robert Elliott said that, of all the 387 convicts he executed, that she was the most composed and fearless inmate he ever executed.She … Continue reading Irene Schroeder – Pennsylvania ‘Trigger Woman.’
William Huddle Ledbetter. AKA ‘Lead Belly’, was one of the archetypal blues icons of the Deep South. He wasn’t from Mississippi or Chicago, unlike so many contemporaries, but he still had a prodigious appetite for music and the talent to match. His fondness for life’s many rich pleasures (mainly involving boozing, brawling and bumping monkeys) … Continue reading Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter – Bluesman, Convict and Murderer.
Meet Paul Poluszynski, alias 'Paul Jawarski', known throughout Pennsylvania as 'The Phantom.' Before the end of his extremely violent (and, some might say, mercifully brief) criminal career he claimed to have killed twenty-six people including four police officers and a payroll security guard. His gang, the 'Flatheads', also committed the first-ever robbery using a landmine. … Continue reading Paul Jawarski – Pennsylvania’s Phantom Dynamiter.