True Crime Historian

True Crime Historian

United States

Stories of America's scandals, scoundrels and scourges from historic newspapers in the golden era of yellow journalism.


Married Then Murdered  

AN EYE FOR AN EYE -- A special edition of Yesterday’s News exploring the criminal justice system at its most extreme: Inflicting the Death Penalty -- What Happened in the Guttenberg Woods This episode is another story of a honeymoon trip gone awry, but it was likely doomed from the start. For one thing, Mina Muller and Martin Kettler -- if that’s his real name -- were both already married. With children. But they still visit the minister and, well, you know it’s not gonna end well. ___ Theme Music by Dave Sams Incidental music by Richard Wagner, performed by the Unites States Marine Band ___

The Body in Big Moose Lake  

AN EYE FOR AN EYE -- A special edition of Yesterday’s News exploring the criminal justice system at its most extreme: Inflicting the Death Penalty -- 'Billy' Brown's Tragic Affair -- Today’s episode is a tragic story of young love gone bad. Real bad. So bad, in fact, that ended up with the body of a young girl found floating in an up-state New York lake one summer day in 1906. The man she came there went missing, but not for long. Was it a simple accident as Chester Gillette would claim, or a brutal, cold-blooded murder on a honeymoon trip? The answer may be in the tear-stained letters she wrote to him. -- Theme music by Dave Sams. Incidental music by Chuck Wiggins,

The Haunted Hangman  

AN EYE FOR AN EYE -- Exploring the criminal justice system at its most extreme: Inflicting the death penalty -- San Quentin Executioner Amos Lunt -- In this episode we explore a different point of view of capital punishment, a behind the scenes look at the gallows of San Quentin Prison from the hangman. One of the minor characters in the episode “The Belle in the Belfry” was the hangman, Amos Lunt, who seemed quite shaken by the event and was reported as “seeing spooks”. That was enough to get me to look a little deeper into Amos Lunt and his descent into madness. - Theme Music by Dave Sams

Red Lilac and the White Witch of Buffalo  

YESTERDAY'S NEWS -- tales of classic scandals, scoundrels and scourges told from historic newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism. -- In 1930, the famed diorama artist Henri Marchand created a set of spectacular dioramas for a Buffalo New York Museum, had an affair with one of his models, Lila Jameson, called Red Lilac by her Cayuga tribe. She so fell in love with him, that he tricked a superstitious elderly woman into committing a horrible crime so she and her artist could be together. --- Black Bird Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License _ Theme music by Dave Sams -

Something Horrible Happened in Hawaii  

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A Family of Outlaws: The Reckless Reno Gang  

PULP NONFICTION__ A tribute to the pioneers of True Crime__ From "The Pinkertons: A Detective Dynasty" by Richard Wilmer Rowan __ After the Civil War, the Reno Brothers explored a new way to rob trains that inspired the James and Younger gangs. But even the wild and wily Reno brothers were no match for Allen Pinkerton and his detectives. Although it takes place in Indiana, this story has the trappings of a tale of the Old West: Daring robberies, fugitives from justice, clever arrests, and a final showdown in the New Albany jail. __ Music by Dave Sams

The Powwow Hex Murder  

YESTERDAY'S NEWS__ Classic tales of the most notorius scandals, scoundrels and scourges told from historic newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism__ The York Witch Trial __ This episode of True Crime Historian gives us a little lesson in the Pennsylvania Dutch Powwow mysticism traditions. Although it sounds like the Native American word for an intertribal gathering of dancing and feasting, the origins of the term in this context are obscure but refer to more European form of healing and the casting of spells-- and hexes. In this story, a simple minded fellow named John Blymyer tries to rid himself and his friends of an evil curse. Yeah. Not gonna end well. -- Music by Dave Sams

The Blonde Butcher Trunk Murder  

YESTERDAY’S NEWS, tales of classic scandals, scoundrels and scourges told from historic newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism. The Escapes and Escapades of Winnie Ruth Judd In the fall of 1931, Phoenix resident shows up in a Los Angeles train depot trying to claim three trunks that she had shipped there. The clerks wouldn’t let her take the trunks because of the foul odor emanating from them. Winnie Ruth Judd said she’d go get the key so they could see there was nothing nefarious in her luggage. She was eventually sentenced to death for the murder of her two best friends, though she would claim insanity. And self defense. Theme music by Dave Sams

Lizzie Gillespie Killed by Twin Brother  

YESTERDAY'S NEWS __Classic tales of scandals, scoundrels, and scourges from historic newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalilsm... __Family Tragedy in Rising Sun __In a lot of these stories from the old newspapers, the press coverage often takes on the attributes of another character in the drama. In this case, the town of Rising Sun, Indiana, seems to evolve as the story progresses. When one of the town matrons, the spinster Lizzie Gillespie is found assassinated in her parlor, townfolk tell reporters she had no enemy in the world and there could be no logical reason for the murder. Then they start thinking of things, but they don’t want to name names. And when Lizzie’s twin brother Jim goes to trial, he and his co-defendants fear lynching, but the town only wants to be entertained by the scandal. While I recognize the tragedy of a life lost, I find a subtle comedy in this tale of intrigue, betrayal and murder. Theme music by Dave Sams Incidental music by Chuck Wiggins

Chasing the Fox of Gangsterdom  

Crane Neck Nugent, Prohibition Trigger The Gangster Chronicles Book Two, Chapter Six __Crane Neck gets arrested in a Florida speakeasy, then is quickly in the wind again. Meanwhile, the hunt for his former partner and archenemy Bob Zwick continues. When Zwick’s reign of terror finally ends, details of their worst exploits are revealed in court. __ Music by Dave Sams

The Shaw Smile Slashing (A Quick Shot of Murder)  

EXTRA! Edition ___When I'm researching a story, I always keep my eye out for interesting headlines to see if they lead me to interesting murder cases. __One of the most frustrating things is when I find a good headline and a compelling story, but I can't find any follow-up or back story and there's just not enough information available to make a good episode. __Still, some of them are too good not to share, so I've decided to start putting out occasional "EXTRA!" Editions of some of these orphan newspaper clippings. __This one has all the makings for a really sleazy tale of adultery, betrayal, and of course MURDER! __But alas, this is the only article I could find on it. __It certainly left me wanting to know more about this drama. ___________________________________________________________________ Music by Dave Sams

The Purcell Nicotine Poison Puzzle  

Or, Death of a Composer - UNSOLVED - A special edition of Yesterday’s News examining some of history’s most perplexing mysteries. - This episode involves the body of a songwriter and real estate speculator found tied to a chair with an expression of surprise frozen on his dead face and suspicions of suicide. - Wait. What? - Suicide tied to a chair? - The evidence is so jumbled, police are at a loss to explain, but the backstory to the incident and a foray into the worlds of traveling musicians and actors, hints at motives deeply hidden, and possibly scandalous. - This is one that will keep you guessing. - Theme Music by Dave Sams - Incidental music, "The Old Bachelor" by Henry Purcell, Creative Commons via - Sound effects via

The Hit at Symmes Corner  

Crane Neck Nugent, Prohibition Assassin The Gangster Chronicles 2.5 Crane Neck returns to Cincinnati to do a favor for his old boss, Fat Wrassman: Even the score for the hit on George Murphy. But it means going after his partner, Bob “The Fox” Zwick. You don’t want to miss the showdown in the streets of Cincinnati between Fat Wrassman and Detective Dutch Schafer. - Music by Dave Sams

The Belle in the Belfry  

AN EYE FOR AN EYE - A reading of Yesterday's News exploring the criminal justice system at its most extreme: Inflicting the death penalty. - - Although this episode begins with the disappearance of young Blanche Lamont, it is the body of her friend and confidante Minnie Williams that is first found in a storage room in a San Francisco Baptist Church. - But in searching for clues, police find Blanche’s brutalized corpse far up in the church’s bell tower. - The Sunday School Superintendent, a dapper but depraved medical student is charged with both murders, tried for the death of Blanche Lamont. --I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but you’ll want to stick around for the bizarre execution feast at the end. - Music by Dave Sams -

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre  

Crane Neck Nugent, Prohibition Trigger The Gangster Chronicles 2.4 - Crane Neck Nugent’s career included work with the gang of Fred “Killer” Burke of St. Louis, whom he got to know when they served together as machine gunners in World War I. While no one was ever charged with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, it is generally agreed that Al Capone hired the Burke gang, whom he called his “American Boys,” to take down his rival Bugs Moran. In this episode, we’ll also hear about Burke’s murder of a policeman in Michigan a few months after the massacre, his capture two years later when some of this information came to light.

The Cyanide Widow  

PULP NONFICTION -- A reading from the pioneers of true crime. The sensational trial of Jessie Costello captured the public’s attention in the spring and summer of 1933, after her husband, a fire department captain, died of an apparent heart attack after attending the wake of a friend’s father. But when officials get wind of his wife’s indiscretions, they snatch the body from the funeral to run a complete autopsy and find enough cyanide in his body to kill 20 men and his wife, Jessie, stands accused of his murder. The case garnered a lot of attention, and this episode will explore four varied reports of the trial and its aftermath. The first report comes from a popular novelist of the day, Katharine Brush, whose “Red Headed Woman” was made into a major motion picture starring Jean Harlowe in 1931. I’ve again enlisted the aid of my colleague Emily Simer Braun to read Ms. Brush’s take on Jessie’s testimony in her own defense. The second section and fourth sections are Sunday Magazine style reports, one written just before she went to trail and the finale written a year after. Between those, we’ll hear from Pulp Nonfiction favorite, the cheeky Edmund Pearson, who was truly a pioneer of true crime. - Music by Dave Sams -

The Assassination of Robert Andres  

Crane Neck Nugent: Prohibition Trigger - The Gangster Chronicles 2.3 - With the heat turned up high in Ohio, Crane Neck retreats to Kansas City to join the gang of his Army mentor Fred “Killer” Burke, the leader of his own gang there. A Toledo job goes south on the Burke gang, and a patrolman ends up dead from machine gun fire. Meanwhile Jack Parker, Todd Messner, Breck Lutes, Rodney Ford, and Bob Zwick hold up a craps game at the Pelican Club in North College Hill, killing the town marshal who stopped in to chew the fat. Later, Jack Parker is found dead outside Lebanon, Ohio. When the state’s chief witness in the first trial for the marshal’s murder turns up charred in an abandoned barbecue shack, police enhance their search for Crane Neck and Bob the Fox, while the surviving Dumele killers face the music. - Chapter 4: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre - Music by Dave Sames

Poison in the Pepper Box  

SERIAL KILLER CLIPS - A reading of Yesterday’s News exploring some of History’s most prolific murderers. - Although Louise Vermilya of Chicago was never convicted of a crime, history lays around 10 deaths at her door, mostly family members and suitors. She did go to trial once, and we’ll take a pretty close look at the drama, including a suicide attempt, that led up to her acquittal as we look at the wake of mysterious deaths throughout her life. This story allows me to bring back Emily Simer Braun, who did such a remarkable job giving us the confession of Anna Hahn a couple of months ago, to read the quotes attributed to Louise Vermilya in the Chicago newspapers. - Music by Dave Sams -

The Gangster Called "Fat"  

The Gangster Chronicles 2.2.2 - George "Fat" Wrassman figures heavily (so to speak) in the saga of Crane Neck Nugent. While this case doesn't bear directly on Nugent's story, it tells you the kind of man that Fat was, and will help inform some of the action in a later episode, so I offer this as a bonus to The Gangster Chronicles Book Two at no extra charge.

Cincinnati Gangster War (Crane Neck's Early Hits)  

Crane Neck Nugent: Prohibition Trigger - The Gangster Chronicles 2.2.1 - YESTERDAY'S NEWS - The murders of Gus Fitch, Bob Sollick, Glenn Hiatt, Martin Dailey and Buddy Ryan. Crane Neck Nugent was involved in four of these, and will soon avenge a fifth.

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