The term ‘Public Enemy Number One’ is often thought to be a 1930’s phenomenon, a product of America’s Crime Wave and applied to the likes of John Dillinger or ‘Baby Face’ Nelson. It isn’t, in fact it was applied to Gerald Chapman in the mid-1920’s making him America’s first felon to wear the label. … Continue reading On This Day in 1925: Gerald Chapman, the beginning of the end.
Hello there. It's been some time since I last posted, but I've been hard at work on the new book. Sixteen of New York's most interesting crimes and criminals are featured. Some are famous, some are not, but each one has its own particular importance. New York's criminal history is rich, varied, tragic and … Continue reading Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in New York, out on November 25.
August 6, 1890 saw the dawn of a new age for criminal history. At Auburn Prison in upstate New York there was the execution.of one William Kemmler, condemned for murdering girlfriend Matilda Ziegler with a hatchet. There was nothing remarkable about Kemmler (an alcoholic vegetable hawker with a vicious temper) or about his crime. There … Continue reading On This Day in 1890; William Kemmler – The World’s First Legal Electrocution.
When heroin-loving gangsters Morris 'Whitey' Diamond and his brother Joey teamed up with John Farina for an armed robbery and murder, they surely knew they had a fair chance of joining him in Sing Sing's Death House and Old Sparky as well. The 1920's and 30's were halcyon days for New York's 'State Electrician' and … Continue reading On this Day in 1925; The Biter (nearly) Bitten at Sing Sing.
For my 100th post, I'm going to offer you something special, something a little different from the usual fare. The story of this 'unidentified man' at the moment of his death. True crime buffs and historians will have seen this particular image many, many times. Taken by photographer William van der Weyde, it's invariably captioned … Continue reading IDENTIFIED: ‘An unidentified man is strapped into Sing Sing’s electric chair.’