“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 … Continue reading Lewis E. Lawes, Sing Sing’s longest-serving, most controversial (and perhaps most conflicted) Warden.
Robert Greene Elliott, State Electrician for New York and five other states, is often listed as making his official debut in January 1926 when he executed Emil Klatt and Luigi Rapito. They’re often said to be the first of the 387 state and Federal prisoners Elliott executed during his thirteen-year tenure as executioner. They were … Continue reading A Deadly Debut, Robert Elliott’s First Execution.
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.
Born on April 6, 1937 in Oildale, California, Merle Haggard’s troubles started early. His father died which in 1945 affected him greatly. From then until 1960, he was in and out of trouble. Mostly in it. School truancy, theft, burglary, robbery, passing bad checks, escapes, attempted robbery and attempted escape saw him mired firmly in … Continue reading On This Day in 1961; James ‘Rabbit’ Kendrick, friend of Merle Haggard.
"This is Orson Welles speaking from London. The Black Museum, repository of death... Here, in this grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard, is a warehouse of homicide where everyday objects, a piece of wire, a chemist's flask, a silver shilling, all are touched by murder..." In today's internet age … Continue reading Orson Welles and the Black Museum.