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.
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 … Continue reading On This Day in 1952, Edward Kelly and Wallace Ford, Jr.
If you're a fan of Clint Eastwood then 1974's 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' distributed by United Artists, is probably in your DVD collection. Not one of his better-known movies and perhaps not one of his best, but well worth watching all the same. The movie, made largely because Eastwood felt like doing a road movie, … Continue reading Joel Singer and Jack Franck, the original Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
August 15, 1963 was an historic day in New York's penal history, although nobody involved knew it at the time. New York's lawmakers didn't know it. the Warden of New York's infamous Sing Sing Prison (now the Ossining Correctional Facility) didn't know. Dow Hover, New York's last 'State Electrician', didn't know it. Eddie Lee Mays … Continue reading On This Day in 1963: New York State’s Last Execution, Eddie Lee Mays.
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.
Today it's Friday July 13, 2018. July 13, 1928 was also a Friday, a Friday delivering the ultimate in bad luck to 11 men in three different States... In Mississippi's Yazoo County murderer Will Burdo nervously awaited his date with the hangman. While Burdo pondered his fate in Yazoo County Jail, over in Smith … Continue reading On This Day in 1928: Very unlucky for some…
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.’
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.