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The Case of the Make Believe Orphan, 1953

Home | Feature Stories | The Case of the Make Believe Orphan, 1953


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Story Credit: “The Case of the Make-Believe Orphan,” by Gerry Smart, Front Page Detective, November 1955.

Texas, March 1953

The boy’s words over the phone were simple, but it was the way he spoke that brought tears to the woman’s eyes. She kept thinking of her own son, Paul, now serving his time in the Air Force. Maybe Paul had known the despair she heard now in the stranger’s boyish voice.

“I don’t want to bother you, Mrs. Winterbauer. I wasn’t going to call. I put it off as long as I could. But Paul said if I was ever in Dallas. . . .”

She interrupted him, blinking her eyes and talking fast to push out of her mind any thought of her son ever sounding this lonely.

“You’re not bothering me one bit, young man. Of course I remember you. I’m mighty glad you called, and I know Paul would want you to come out and see his home.”

She didn’t remember him, but that didn’t matter. There were so many airmen in her son’s barracks when she last visited him at Lackland Base near San Antonio, that the names and introductions had been scrambled and lost in her joy at seeing Paul.

“I’d sure like to come out,” the boy said, shyly. “You see, I got transferred to Perrin Base at Sherman, Texas and then I got this leave. I didn’t know anybody, and didn’t have anywhere to go.”

“Is your home far away?” Mahala Winterbauer asked.

“My folks are dead,” he said.

That clinched it. Mrs. Winterbauer felt the tears filling her eyes again as she told him, “What you need is to meet some young folks, friends of Paul’s, and make a real vacation out of your leave. You check out of that hotel right now, and I’ll pick you up in my car. It’s a two tone Chevrolet. Now stand by the hotel door and wait for me. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

She was like a little girl who finds a lost kitten at her door. She knew a lot of it was her own loneliness. Paul’s enlistment and recent transfer to Korea had made her house empty. It’s hard to quit mothering somebody when you’ve done it so long. The death of her husband, retired police officer Edward Winterbauer, had added to her longing for someone to talk to and wait on, so that this call from her son’s friend was a little like having Paul home again.

She drove toward the Whitmore Hotel, making a mental list of Paul’s young friends to introduce to this young airman. She’d give him her son’s room, and maybe the young man could wear some of Paul’s civilian clothes. She decided to give him a real leave, the kind his own parents would give him, if they were alive.

That was March 3, 1953. . . .

ELEVEN days later, her brother-in-law, C. H. Winterbauer, became worried about her. The hotel where Mrs. Winterbauer worked as relief switchboard operator called him because they hadn’t been able to locate her for a full week. Mr. Winterbauer dialed his sister-in-law’s number, but got no answer. He hurried to her house and found the doors locked. That’s when he called police. It was a Saturday afternoon, March 14, 1953.

The officers met him at the front door, and they tried a series of passkeys before finding one that would fit. They saw her as soon as they pushed the door open. She was sprawled, fully clothed, like a huge swollen balloon, on the living room floor. The blood on her face had been caked for days. The smell of death filled the room. Her glasses, one lens streaked with black, dried blood, lay three feet away from her. A denture, knocked from her mouth, lay across the room. What had once been a puddle of blood was now a hard stain congealed in the carpet. She had been beaten to death.

Her brother-in-law froze in horror, and an officer led him back onto the porch and helped him sit down. Winterbauer mumbled, “Paul, I’ve got to get word to Paul. How do you tell a boy in Korea that he’s an orphan?”

Homicide officers moved into the house with fingerprinting equipment and made an inch-by-inch search for clues to the killer of the police officer’s widow. The homicide men knew she’d been dead at least a week. The killer had a big head start.

They visited neighbors. A woman next door to Mrs. Winterbauer remembered that she hadn’t seen the dead woman’s car since Sunday, six days before.

“That boy drove it out of the doorway about 4:30 Sunday.”

“What boy?”

“That airman who was staying at her house. Just a kid, really. Skinny and fuzzy cheeked. She told me about him. He was a friend of her son’s, but I can’t remember his name. She couldn’t seem to do enough for him. She even invited her son’s friends over to the house to meet him. I saw him back the car out Sunday, and I haven’t noticed anyone over there since. I figured she must have driven him back to his air base later, because the car has been gone and the house locked up.”

They found receipts in the house from the service station where Mrs. Winterbauer always traded. They called the station to find out if her car had been seen there.

“No,” the attendant said. “Mrs. Winterbauer hasn’t been in to the station for a week.”

“Would you have noticed her car if it was driven by someone else?”

“Like I’d notice if the sun didn’t come up one morning. That woman was bugs on one thing. She didn’t want anybody behind the wheel of her car, except herself. When she had to leave her car for a wash or grease job, she’d walk where she wanted to go before she’d let any of us drive her there in her car or pick her up in it. I never saw anybody but her driving that Chevy, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I’d seen it.”

Other officers began calling the young friends of Paul Winterbauer. One girl told of being invited to the Winterbauer house about ten days before, to meet a service friend of Paul.

“He seemed awfully young,” she said. “Skinny in the face, and short. Kind of shy. His name was Carmichael, and he had a funny first name, but I can’t remember what it was Basil, or something.”

“Do you remember where he was stationed?”

“Sure,” she said. “He talked about that. When Paul was sent to Korea, Carmichael transferred to Perrin Base at Sherman. He didn’t like it there because he didn’t have his old friends with him. But he didn’t seem to me like the kind that would be a big buddy of Paul’s. Paul’s always doing things and talking a lot. This kid was so bashful and young, I couldn’t imagine them as buddies. He may have known Paul, but I bet they weren’t the bosom pals he said they were.”

Dallas police asked officers at Perrin Base to check their records on the name Carmichael, recently transferred there from Lackland. Perrin Base sent them a file on Brasil Dail Carmichael. His records also spelled his name Brasel Dail Carmichael, Brazil Doyle Carmichael and Brasel Doil Carmichael. His scrawled signatures made the spelling difficult to make out. He was 18, five-feet eight-inches tall, weighing 136 pounds, black hair and brown eyes. He had gone AWOL from the base on March 1, and was still missing. His home was listed as Steinhatchee, Fla., a small fishing village near the Everglades. His parents lived there and in Tampa.

Had Mrs. Winterbauer given her sympathy to a man who was not the orphan he claimed to be, only to make an orphan of her own son?

Her neighbors and her son’s friends looked at the photograph from Perrin—a, skinny-faced, dark young man with solemn eyes looking out from under an airman’s cap that appeared too big for him. They were positive he was the boy who’d stayed in Mrs. Winterbauer’s home. Fingerprint experts clinched the identification when they reported prints in the house matched Carmichael’s.

On March 20, six days after the body was found, Dallas officials filed murder charges against Carmichael. The FBI wanted him for the AWOL charge. But he had vanished, taking with him Mrs. Winterbauer’s Chevy.

Police could find no certain motive for the murder. Mrs. Winterbauer had been generous with her house guest, treating him as though he were her own son. One of Paul’s friends remembered that the young stranger had asked the woman to let him use the car for a date, and Mrs. Winterbauer had refused. But that hardly seemed a motive for murder.

Police could find no evidence of robbery. Mrs. Winterbauer’s purse was in the living room when her body was found. It contained some small change, and appeared untouched. They checked with the hotel where she worked.

She’d been paid a $30 check on Friday—two days before her death. A hotel official went to the bank and thumbed through the canceled checks of employees who had cashed their checks for March 6. He slipped Mrs. Winterbauer’s from the stack and handed it to officers.

The check was cashed at a service station in the neighboring town of Terrell, Tex. Mrs. Winterbauer’s endorsement was on the back, and under it, the scrawled signature of Brasil Dail Carmichael. It was cashed the day of the woman’s death.

Police hurried to the service station and talked to the attendant. He remembered cashing the check. There were two men in the car, and the driver was an airman. It was a two-tone green Chevy. The airman bought $2 worth of gas and then pulled out that check.

The attendant identified the picture of Carmichael as the airman who had cashed the check.

With a detailed description of the car in hands of police all over the country, it seemed impossible for it to remain missing, especially since the car license tags were a year old, and due to expire on April 1. But neither the man nor the car was found.

Paul Winterbauer came home from Korea on special leave to attend his mother’s funeral. He told officers that he knew very little about Carmichael, and had no idea where the suspect would hide out.

He remembered Carmichael as a thin, shy boy who had bunked next to him at Lackland Base. They knew each other casually, and were certainly not buddies.

Florida police watched for Carmichael to show up at his parents’. They screened the elder Carmichaels’ mail and watched their home. But the suspect failed to communicate with them.

Three months after the murder, on June 7, Detroit police embarrassedly contacted Dallas.

A Detroit officer had seen a two-tone green Chevrolet parked and empty on a city street. The car had an expired Texas tag on the front and a Michigan plate on the rear. The officer noticed the car in the same place for two months before he reported it to the Auto Recovery Bureau. Detroit police could give no excuse for this delay.

The Michigan plate was stolen and the Texas plate bore the number of Mrs. Mahala Winterbauer’s missing car.

On the day the Auto Bureau checked the license number, the car mysteriously disappeared from the space where it had been for two months.

Three days later, it was again found in Detroit. There was no trace of the missing driver and murder suspect, and the lead was too old to be of any use. Police said they were positive it was not Carmichael who moved the car the second time. He’d probably left Detroit two months earlier when he abandoned the car, and he might be anywhere by this time.

The months and years passed without further word of Carmichael.


IN JUNE, 1955, three members of the McPherson family of Dickenson, Tex., were murdered in their beds. The case paralleled the Winterbauer case so closely that many officers were certain Brasil Carmichael had added these murders to the first one.

Mrs. McPherson was seen with an airman whom she introduced as a service friend of her eldest son. She invited the stranger to her home. That night while Mrs. McPherson, her elderly mother, and her youngest son were asleep, the airman got up and shot all three of them to death. Then he robbed Mrs. McPherson’s purse.

He escaped in Mrs. McPherson’s two-tone Ford, and for days no trace could be found of him or the car.

The dusty Carmichael folders came out of police files, and once again the hunt for the missing suspect was in full swing. But he had vanished, and there was not the slightest lead.

Police captured the man suspected of the McPherson murders, a few weeks later. It was not Carmichael. The two-year-old folders went back into the files.

In Washington, D.C., fingerprint experts check their voluminous files on hundreds of fingerprints every day. If you get picked up by police anywhere in the country, and if they book you, no matter how small the charge, they’ll take your fingerprints. Then they’ll ask the FBI to check the prints and make sure you’re who say you are.

In two years, of all the prints the FBI was asked to trace, Carmichael’s prints never turned up.

In mid-July, 1955 a fingerprint expert was making a routine check on identification of a prisoner serving a 15-day sentence in Mayville, N.Y., for peddling magazines without a license. The man gave his name as Glenn David Whitmore.

His fingerprints led the experts to the file on Brasil Dail Carmichael.


Brasel Dail Carmichael

It had been a routine check, unhurried. If the Mayville authorities had delayed six more days in sending in the prints, Carmichael would have served his 15 days and been released before the report went through.

FBI agents rushed to Mayville to take custody. Dallas police were notified.

Homicide Captain Will Fritz read the alias of his suspect. “Booked as Glenn David Whitmore.” The name Whitmore was familiar. He glanced through his file on the crime. The Whitmore was the hotel where Carmichael was staying when he first telephoned his victim.

On Monday, July 25, Carmichael was arraigned in Jamestown, N.Y., on the federal charges of transporting a stolen car. He was held under $10,000 bond. Authorities started the paper work to take him back to Texas.

“Suppose I don’t want to go back to Dallas?” he asked United States Commissioner E. R. Bootey.

“You’re going back anyway,” Bootey replied. On August 1, he was returned to Dallas to face murder charges.

At first, he claimed innocence. But later he broke down and told officers about the murder. “The last day I was at the house,” he began, remembering his stay with Mrs. Winterbauer, “she was getting ready to visit relatives and I asked her to let me drive her there so I could use the car. She refused, and said I’d been drinking. I grabbed a Coke bottle and hit her on the head. The next thing I knew she was lying on the floor and there was blood all around her head on the floor.”

Dallas authorities intend to ask the death penalty, but Carmichael said, “I’m going to do my best to beat the chair, and maybe someday I’ll get out of prison.”

Once he’d made his statement he seemed to relax. “I’ve moved around the country a lot, mostly selling magazines, and I’m very tired of ducking and dodging. I’ve slept much better since my arrest than I have in two years.”

Note: On October 6, 1955 Brasel Dail Carmichael accepted a plea deal of 99 years in prison in exchange for escaping the electric chair.


Savage Killer Timothy McCorquodale, 1974

Home | Feature Stories | Savage Killer Timothy McCorquodale, 1974


By Jason Lucky Morrow

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January 17, 1974, Clayton County, Georgia, outskirts of Atlanta

To the Clayton County police officer on routine patrol, the white object near the shoulder of Slate Road and Highway 42[1] looked like a bag of trash. Illegal dumping was a fairly common occurrence in his line of work and he stopped to check it out. What most people forget when they throw trash by the side of the road is that there is often an address printed on a discarded envelope or an old electric bill that leads back to the illegal dumpers. When the officer walked around to the side of the road and shined his flashlight, the large pale object had legs, arms, breasts and a head. Unsure if whether the nude female was alive or not, the senior officer stood closer.

Sometimes, flashlight beams reveal things we don’t want to see and this time was no exception. Looking down at her, the lawman was appalled to see that the young, shapely girl had been tortured to death.

The officer radio backed to headquarters for assistance and immediately began securing the scene. It was truly a horrific sight. The girl’s face looked like a distorted mass of barely recognizable features. Her nose was flattened and she was covered in purplish bruises with severe swelling that pushed everything out of position.

It got worse as he shined his flashlight down her heavy-set body. Long, thin welts on her thighs indicated she had been whipped. Small round scorch marks over her torso and breasts indicated the tell-tale signs of cigarette burns. Hot red candle wax had been poured on her stomach, inner thighs and between her legs. When thrown out of the car, the body fell on its side with its arms and legs protruding out in abnormal directions –an indication they had been smashed and broken either before or after death.

Whoever murdered this poor girl was no master criminal. Before his colleagues even arrived, the officer found a good tire track by the road just waiting for a plaster-of-paris cast. Next to the girl was a blood-stained portion of a cardboard box with black tape wrapped around it and what looked like fibers, possibly carpet fibers, adhered to the tape.

Despite their mistakes, her killer or killers had done one thing right; removed her clothes and stole her identification. But there was more than one way to identify a corpse and an ambulance carried the girl’s broken body to the Fulton County medical examiner’s office in nearby Atlanta where her fingerprints may indicate who she was. In a worst case scenario, the M.E. could make a dental impression.

Although Atlanta and the suburbs which surround it have grown exponentially since 1974, it was much smaller then. But to those who lived there at the time, the city had grown fast in the few decades leading up to 1974. As part of that rapid growth, hippies, motorcycle gangs, runaways and hustlers were all attracted to a mid-town Atlanta district known as the “The Peachtree Strip.”

The Strip, as it was more commonly called, was a sleazy area of run-down motels, darkened strip-clubs, dangerous bars, and cheap apartment houses. Since there were no local missing person reports of a five-foot four-inch girl with brunette hair weighing close to 140 pounds, Clayton County investigators worked off the assumption that she was one of Atlanta’s many runaways.

“Literally, thousands of runaway teenagers find a home among the dubious denizens of ‘The Strip.’ It was the thinking of detectives that the female victim might have come from among their number,” a crime magazine reported the following year. “It is nearly impossible to walk in the streets for the clusters of the unwashed and non-working, most of them young, and most of them looking for a victim or a handout.”

On Saturday, two days after the gruesome discovery, a confidential informant working for Sheriff Earl Lee of nearby Douglas County provided investigators with two names possibly tied to the woman’s death. One was a young woman in her twenties known as “Bonnie,” while the other was a man known as “Wes” or “West,” also in his twenties. Both subjects were known to frequent ‘The Strip.’ For Sheriff Lee, his informant was as solid as they come and had always provided them with good tips in the past. If he said to look for a “Bonnie” and “West,” that’s what they needed to do.

With a solid lead pointing to the rundown Strip, a special squad of Atlanta homicide investigators was formed to probe possible connections to an area they knew well. The began a slow, building by building, person by person canvas of the Strip and it didn’t take long for them to find people who knew the victim. The Strip may have had its share of low-level thieves, drug-dealers, pimps and hustlers, but when it came to murder, detectives knew someone would eventually talk.

And that’s exactly what happened. Talking to a young couple inside a bar one afternoon, a teenage girl told detectives the victim was a friend of hers who had hitchhiked to Atlanta after running away from her parent’s home in Newport News, Virginia. Her name was Donna Marie Dixon and she was just seventeen years-old.

The young girl was asked to identify her friend at the morgue but she was unable to recognize her friend’s battered face. The girl’s parents were then contacted in Newport News and the sad information was passed on to her step-father who broke the news to her mother. When they came to retrieve their daughter’s body later that next week, Donna’s parents made a positive identification. By then, however, police would already know for certain it was young Donna Marie Dixon.

As it turns out, there were a lot of “Bonnies” associated with the Strip, but the two-bit criminals, who often knew more than police and the media, could associate the name “Bonnie” with the name “West” who turned out to be Wes McCorquodale, a tall, baby-faced twenty-one year-old from Alma, Georgia who had a slight-build and a full head of stringy blond hair that covered his ears. During the colder months, McCorquodale would often wear the same coat which was described to detectives. The two subjects lived in an apartment on Moreland Avenue in southeast Atlanta, the same direction from The Strip which led to the spot where the victim was dumped.

As the two Atlanta detectives left the bar where they had learned their suspects’ names, they got in their car and were about to start for the apartment complex when they noticed a slightly-built young man with blonde, stringy-hair wearing the same color coat they were told to look for. After they slowly got out of the car and approached the him, they identified themselves and demanded to know his name.

It was Timothy Wesley McCorquodale.


During his interrogation at headquarters, McCorquodale told detectives “Bonnie” was his girlfriend, Bonnie Succraw Johnson. He gave police her address and place of work where she was picked up and brought in for questioning.

Although McCorquodale quickly waived his right to counsel and gave a full confession, the statement from his girlfriend, Bonnie, was the one used during his trial. The two lived together in an apartment in the 700 block for Moreland Avenue which they shared with her three-year old daughter, and another woman named Linda Dearing who was eight months pregnant. Both Linda and Bonnie were given immunity in exchange for their statements which were some of the most sickening, cold-blooded and shockingly horrific documents ever presented in a Georgia courtroom.

During the early morning hours of Jan. 17, Bonnie said she left the bar where she worked and met up with her boyfriend at another nightspot. Inside, McCorquodale was with Donna Marie Dixon where he was accusing her of stealing $50 from his acquaintance, “Leroy.” Despite her repeated and steadfast denials, her boyfriend couldn’t seem to let it go and she tried to calm him down. Bonnie then took Donna into the ladies room where she did a full search of the plump girl which turned up nothing. Undeterred, McCorquodale then insisted Donna gave the money to a black man he saw her talking with and assumed was her pimp.

Outside the nightclub, McCorquodale let loose a barrage of racist insults over her assumed association with a black man. Then, McCorquodale, Donna Dixon, “Leroy,” and Bonnie caught a taxi which they took back to Bonnie’s apartment. Inside, McCorquodale’s obsession over the girl’s supposed theft of $50 intensified with heavy-handed questions that implied her guilt.

As the girl sat their sobbing, issuing quiet denials, McCorquodale changed tactics and pretended to soothe her feelings. As his left hand gently stroked the back of her head, Bonnie said she saw her boyfriend’s face change and she knew what was going to happen next; McCorquodale drew back his fist and smashed Donna in the face. After that, McCorquodale and Leroy began to slap, punch and hit the girl as they got her down to the floor.

Because of all the noise, the young couple’s roommate, Linda, woke from the back bedroom where she was sleeping with Bonnie’s three year-old daughter. Together, Bonnie and Linda watched and did nothing as McCorquodale and “Leroy” tortured the poor girl over the next couple of hours. First, they tied her wrists with Bonnie’s nylons, and then they started slapping and punching her all while denigrating her for associating with a black man and not “staying with her own kind.”

To keep her screams from reaching the neighbors, they put a washcloth in her mouth and secured it with electrical tape. McCorquodale then pulled off his leather belt which hard a large, Western style buckle, and began whipping the girl with it.

Then, they ripped off her clothes.

Now that the young victim was nude, gagged and bound, the torture began to escalate with cigarette burns, and hot wax from a red candle that was dropped on her stomach and female parts. The two men then took turns raping her orally, vaginally and anally. Afterward, the girl’s genitals were mutilated with chemicals and scissors.

As Bonnie told her story in a calm manner, the detectives were sickened by what they heard. After the rape and mutilation, Donna’s torturers took a break and released the girl to go wash up in the bathroom. By now, the three year-old awakened and was put back to bed with a story that Timothy and Bonnie were helping a kitten who had a broken-leg. Linda would later claim she remained in the bedroom with the little girl and didn’t see what happened next.

In the living room, McCorquodale and Leroy discussed killing Donna Dixon. Timothy told his girlfriend to get him a rope and she gave him a thin length of clothesline she recently purchased to hang in the bathroom.

After being coaxed out of the bathroom, and then a closet where she hid, McCorquodale pounced on her from behind and began to strangle her. At this point, Bonnie said, she told Leroy to get her boyfriend off of the victim or else he was going to kill her. It took both of them to pull McCorquodale off the dying girl.

As they looked down at her, the unconscious girl began to go into convulsions and her eyelids fluttered open and shut –indicating to her torturers she was still alive, but barely. It would have been the perfect time to call an ambulance but Bonnie, Linda and Leroy submitted to Wesley who was intent on destroying Donna’s innocent life. “Still tense with maniacal cruelty, the wiry McCorquodale threw himself upon her again, straddled her body, and choked her to death.” As he did so, he apparently slammed her head up and down which broke her neck.

Now the foursome had a real problem, getting rid of the body. To get Donna’s battered corpse out of the apartment, they found a cardboard trunk which once contained the toys and clothes of Bonnie’s little daughter To get his victim inside the smallbox, McCorquodale had to stomp down on her arms and legs to break her bones. When witness Linda Dearing later told police what it sounded like, she said “it was like you had taken a big stick and jumped on it, a cracking sound.”

McCorquodale voluntarily gave a written statement to police that was similar to Bonnie’s, but included information on how he had gotten rid of the body and some of the evidence. The day after the murder, McCorquodale and his girlfriend took a bus back to The Strip where he found a friend with a van who agreed to help him dump a box of trash by the side of the road. McCorquodale fiercely claimed his friend did not know what was in the box until they dumped it and refused to give police the man’s name. Because he was the decent type, McCorquodale claimed he got rid of it by the side of the road “so that it could found.”

As hard as they tried, police could not learn the identity of “Leroy” who was new to The Strip and whose last name was unknown. Bonnie and Linda did not know his last name and police could find no one on the street who even knew who he was. It was assumed that after the murder, “Leroy” left town and he was never caught.

Back at the apartment on Moreland Avenue, police found the victim’s blood in the carpet and on the tiles in the closet where she tried to hide. In the dumpsters, they found two white trash bags that contained her clothing, jewelry, purse and an address book with her parents Newport News address written inside.

On February 6 McCorquodale was indicted for first-degree murder and his trial took place in April in an Atlanta courtroom. His defense attorney eagerly tried to plead his client guilty, but Judge Osgood William would not accept saying he “could not, under any circumstances, sentence someone to death.”

To relieve himself of this burden, Judge Williams said he was rejecting McCorquodale’s guilty plea and forced the case to a jury trial where his punishment would be twelve men and women. Despite of his unwillingness to sentence a man to death, Williams noted that if McCorquodale was sentenced to death, it would be more beneficial for the higher court to have trial transcripts, as well as a decision that came from a jury.

In his opening arguments, McCorquodale’s defense attorneys told the jurors, “We’ve been trying to plead guilty for two days. Ladies and gentleman, we’re guilty. It’s that simple. We don’t deny what the witnesses are going to say.”

And what the witnesses, investigators, and experts had to say was revolting.

“The jury of six men and six women grew paler and paler as they listened to the medical man testify,” Richard Devon wrote for his article in Official Detective Stories magazine. “In truth, the evidence was enough to turn the stomach of any normal person, and numerous spectators, sickened, left the court room. Much of the evidence is unprintable.”

During the trial, both his girlfriend Bonnie, and roommate Linda Dearing testified against him. When he was questioning Bonnie about the victim’s strangulation with the clothesline cord, assistant district attorney Melvin England stopped the flow of sickening testimony to ask her a simple question.

“Back up, just a minute, let me ask you –at the time the defendant put the cord around Donna’s neck, did she say anything?” England inquired.

Just as calmly as she had testified all day, Bonnie told the court: “She said, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to kill me.’”

For a good part of the two day trial, the jurors were sickened by not just what the women said, but how they said it. They were calm and unemotional on the witness stand with no affect in their voice or body language. Later on, Bonnie told the jury of a cold blooded telephone call she received at work from Linda.

Dearing called Bonnie and informed her, “That the victim’s body was smelling up the apartment and to tell McCorquodale to come and get it.”

Dearing also had the unusual task of keeping Bonnie’s three year-old daughter away from the cardboard box that was shoved into a closet which had a cloth curtain instead of a door. It was the same closet Donna Dixon had tried to hide in.

After a ninety-seven minute deliberation, Timothy Wesley McCorquodale was convicted on April 12 and sentenced to death. In December of 1974, the Georgia Supreme Court denied his appeal. However, McCorquodale, along with all other death row inmates, were granted an indefinite stay of execution by Governor and Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter as the death penalty issue was revisited by the United States Supreme Court in 1976.

By sheer luck or miracle, McCorquodale’s execution date was continually put off until the 1980s. In May of 1980, McCorquodale and three other Georgia death row inmates wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter with an offer to go on a military mission to rescue the fifty-two American hostages held by Iran at that time.

“All four of us have discussed this proposition and we would rather go to our graves fighting for our country than sitting here and rotting in this hell,” wrote famed mass-murder Carl Isaacs. Isaacs killed six members of the Ned Alday family in 1973.

Although their letter made news in the papers, President Jimmy Carter never wrote back. For Isaacs, it was another one of his many publicity stunts. The three other prisoners that were to accompany him on their secret mission were Timothy McCorquodale, Troy Gregg, and Johnnie L. Johnson.

Two and one-half months later, on July 28, 1980 McCorquodale, Gregg, Johnson and David A. Jarrell escaped from a maximum security prison at Reidsville, GA. Using hack saw blades smuggled into prison with the approval of a corrupt guard, the four death row inmates sawed through the bottom bars of their cell doors. Then, at 6 a.m., they just walked out of the prison wearing retailored pajamas dyed black and made to look like guard uniforms. Although they were scrutinized at the main gate of the 2,100 inmate prison, the fake uniforms were enough for them to bluff their way through. The accessories and patches sewn into the phony uniforms came from the corrupt guard who had been selling drugs to prisoners.

One hour later, Greggs telephoned Albany Herald newspaperman Charles Postell and told him of their escape and said they were in Jacksonville, Florida. When Postell called deputy commissioner Col. William Lowe to inform him of the escape, Lowe later told reporters it was the first time he had heard about it.

“Their flight from fourth floor cells was so well executed that more than hour after Postell informed prison officials of the ‘news tip,’ the escape had not been confirmed,” the Associated Press reported.

Three of the prisoners were captured two days later inside of a rundown red house near a lake in North Carolina following a six hour stand-off with police that included a helicopter hovering overhead. The house was owned by William “Chains” Flamont, a member of the motorcycle gang the ‘Outlaws.’ Flamont said he was friends with escapee Jarrell, and news reports at that time indicated McCorquodale may have been a member of the Outlaws when he murdered Donna Dixon.

Although police wouldn’t say what tipped them off, before the stand-off they retrieved Gregg’s body from a nearby reservoir. Flamont told police a fight erupted between the prisoners and Gregg was beaten to death. Later reports indicated McCorquodale was the key individual behind Gregg’s death.

After the prisoners were returned, eleven individuals were indicted with helping the four death row inmates escape. This included McCorquodale’s mother and aunt who investigators said sent him the hack saw blades concealed inside the handle of a portable radio. Investigators also reported McCorquodale’s mother, Toni Jo Hooper, and Aunt, Minnie Hunter visited the prison the day before the escape and left a car with the keys inside waiting in the parking lot for the four to drive away in after their escape.

Besides a prison guard, authorities also indicted Charles Postell and his wife who they said purchased the hacksaw blades. Postell vigorously denied these charges with the declaration that Georgia authorities were trying to get revenge on him for publicly embarrassing him. The hardware store attendant whom Georgia investigators claimed sold the hacksaw blades to Postell’s wife could not remember the purchase.

“We are inclined to view it all as harassment and revenge,” Postell’s boss at the Albany-Herald told reporters on Aug. 28 after his employee was released on $5,000 bond. “Certain law enforcement agencies got egg on their faces.”

The outcome of the eleven indictments is unclear from available newspaper archives. If the hacksaw blades were smuggled in a portable radio purchased by members of McCorquodale’s family, it would be completely unnecessary to have someone else purchase the hacksaw blades.

One month after the escape, Mecklenburg District Court Judge William Scarborough ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge James Cecil “Butch” Horne with the murder of escapee Troy Gregg. During a preliminary hearing for the pal of William “Chains” Flamont, another witness testified: “That McCorquodale knocked Gregg down and began stomping him. He said McCorquodale, who is six-foot three-inches tall and weighs about 300 pounds picked up his right foot and stomped down with all his weight several times on Gregg’s upper chest, throat and head.”

Butch Horne then pushed McCorquodale off and stomped on Gregg himself, the witness said in court. In spite of this testimony, officials chose not to charge McCorquodale with the murder of Gregg.

McCorquodale’s appeals dragged on for seven more years with the help of an attorney from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Besides alleged errors made during the trial, McCorquodale’s various appeals claimed that he told a state psychiatrist in 1976, who believed him, that he could not remember murdering Donna Dixon.

”I cannot believe that I would do them things,” he claimed during a session. ”I just don’t believe I could do it.”

In the year leading up to his execution, those who knew him said that Donna Dixon’s killer, now in his mid-thirties, underwent a religious transformation. In a last bid to stay alive, McCorquodale wrote a letter to the state pardon and parole board. The board chairman told reporters“he does show considerable remorse for what he’s done.”

But it was too little, too late and Monday, Sept. 21, 1987 McCorquodale’s legal luck ran out and at 7 p.m. he was strapped into the state’s electric chair. In a 1990 article, newspaper reporter Amy Wallace recalled the time she witnessed McCorquodale’s execution.

“Placing both his hands on the armrests, the six-foot-one-inch, 270-pound inmate hoisted himself into the electric chair that inmates had built out of sturdy Georgia pine,” Wallace wrote.

“As usual, there would be no single executioner. To spare any individual the job of killing, the state had divided each electrocution into dozens of tasks, and prison employees were asked to volunteer for just one. On this day, dozens of people would perform the many rituals that, altogether, would lead to McCorquodale’s death.

“Earlier that afternoon, one guard had served him his last meal: boiled shrimp, crab legs, tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing and apple pie a la mode. Another prison official had tape-recorded a private statement that would be stored in the prison archives, and the prison barber had shaved McCorquodale’s head.

“Now, six guards surrounded him. In a carefully choreographed procedure, they fastened ten leather straps around McCorquodale’s body, cinching them tight. The guards exited and a prison electrician attached two electrodes to wet sponges at the top of the inmate’s head and on his right ankle.”

Before the leather hood was placed over his head, McCorquodale was asked if he had any last words. With a thumbs-up to his father, cousin, and two other family members, McCorquodale said, “Yes, I would like to tell my dad, and everybody with him, that I love them very much. – Stay strong in Christ.”

At 7:23 p.m. Eastern time, thirty-five year-old Timothy Wesley McCorquodale was pronounced dead. Donna Marie Dixon would have been thirty-one years old.

 Here is a link to an audio recording of his execution.



“State Murder Trial Continued Despite Plea,” United Press International via Pulaski Southwest Times, Pulaski, VA, April 12, 1974, page two.

“Incredible Torture-Murder by a Southern Sex Sadist!” by Richard Devon, Official Detective Stories, August, 1975.

“Condemned Await Supreme Court: Re-evaluating the Death Penalty,” United Press International via The Argus, Fremont-Newark, CA, Dec. 1, 1975, page two.

“3rd Man’s Execution Date Set,” Associated Press reporting from Moultrie, GA, via Thomasville Times Enterprise, Thomasville, GA, Oct. 26, 1976, page ten.

“Gilmore Wins Plea for Execution; Pardons Board Orders Date Set,” John Nordheimer, Special to The New York Times, Dec. 1, 1976,page forty-nine.

“Inmates Volunteer for Hostage Rescue,” Associated Press via Logansport Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, LA, May 11, 1980, page two.

“Killers Flee GA. Prison,” Associated Press via Winchester Star, Winchester, VA, July 29, 1980, page one.

“4 Killers Flee,” Associated Press via The Daily Globe, Ironwood, MI, July 30, 1980, page twenty-two.

“Fugitives Holed Up for Six Hours before Surrender,” Associated Press via Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH, July 31, 1980, page one.

“Jury Indicts Three after Jail Escape,” Indiana Evening-Gazette, Indiana, PA, Aug. 14, 1980, page three.

“Evidence Lacking For Murder Trial in Escapee’s Death,” Associated Press via The Sumter Daily-Item, Sumter SC, Aug. 26, 1980, page one.

“Editor Indicated on Escapes,” United Press International via Marshall Evening-Chronicle, Marshall, MI. Aug. 28, 1980, page eight.

“Appeal Challenges Death Jury,” Associated Press via The Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, VA, August 31, 1982, page nine.

“Slayer Executed in Georgia; High Court Rejects Appeals,” Associated Press via The New York Times, Sept. 22, 1987, page A24.

“Commentary : States Using Death Penalty Must Not Look Away,” Amy Wallace, Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1990. Retrieved from internet on Aug. 25, 2014.

[1] State Route 42 and Highway 23 now run concurrent with each other near Slate Road, Clayton County, GA.


Mug Shot Monday! WJ Edwards 1938

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! WJ Edwards 1938



WJ Edwards 2-15-39, Convicted of Murder

Story 1: “Two Are Held in City Death, Shots Blamed on Robbery Fear”

Two men were held in the city jail Monday and funeral arrangements completed for a third as the aftermath of a shooting Sunday night in a one-room house at 129 West Chickasaw Avenue,

Services for Wayman Y Stallcup, 33 years old, 735 Southeast Eleventh Street, will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Hahn Funeral Home, with burial in Sunny Lane Cemetery.

W.J. Edwards, 39 years old, at whose home Stallcup was shot, admitted firing the two fatal shots, police said, and was being held in the city jail, pending action Tuesday morning by the county attorney, Leo Nichols, 49, 17 ½ East Reno Avenue, visiting Edwards when the shooting occurred was held as a witness. Edwards told police he shot Stallcup, his wife’s nephew, because he thought Stallcup was going to rob him.

Stallcup, a WPA worker, is survived by his wife and two small daughters, Betty and Nancy; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Stallcup, and five brothers and one sister.

Daily Oklahoman, Dec. 20, 1938, page 19.

Story 2: “Rattlesnake Eater Has Brief Murder Trial Role: Apache Joe Says That is his Only Name”

A man who eats rattlesnakes and cactus Monday was a surprise witness in the trial for murder of WJ Edwards, charged In connection with the death, December 18, of W. F. Stallcup, WPA worker.

He is Apache Joe, former medicine show operator, former Wild West star, a worker in leather, as much at home on the desert as in the city and spry for his 73 years.

That is the only name he knows, he said on the stand, when called as a state witness. In 1866 his parents were killed by Apache Indians who took him into the tribe. He was a baby, not yet able to walk, so he thinks he must be about 74 years old by now.

Apache Joe, who has lived In Oklahoma City, all in trailers, hotels, and rooming houses for five years, thinks he carries his years so lightly because of the rattlesnake diet.

Once a year, in September, he goes to Arizona to participate in tribal rites of the Apaches. That’s when he gorges himself with rattlesnake meat. And he always brings several cans of it home. His annual supply was exhausted New Year’s day.

Apache Joe testified he was living in a trailer close to the Edwards’ house, 129 West Chickasaw Avenue, in which the argument and fatal shooting occurred.

Apache Joe said he heard shots and saw a body fall out the door of the Edwards house and that somebody then pulled the body back into the house.

One defense witness will he heard Tuesday morning before the ease goes to a district court jury. Edwards, a large swarthy man, testified in his own defense Monday and claimed that he shot Stallcup in self-defense.

Daily Oklahoman, Feb. 14, 1939, page 10.

Story 3: “Murder Term Set At Life: Surprise Witness Helps to Convict Edwards”

W. J. Edwards was found guilty of murder and his sentence set at life imprisonment by a district court jury Tuesday, principally upon testimony of a surprise witness known as “Apache Joe.”

Edwards was tried for the fatal shooting of W. Y. Stallcup, WPA worker, killed December 18.

Judge Clarence Mills will pass sentence Saturday morning. Sid White, defense attorney, indicated he planned to appeal the verdict.

That Apache Joe’s testimony was the turning, point in the case seemed apparent Tuesday when the Jury walked to the 100 block West Chickasaw avenue, where the shooting occurred, to see if the leather worker could, have seen a body fall out the door of the Edwards house from his trailer, about 75 yards away.

Defense witnesses had maintained this was impossible. The jury apparently decided Apache Joe had told the truth.

Photo Credit: [Photograph 2012.201.B0320.0219], Photograph, February 15, 1939; digital image, (http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc206407/ : accessed August 25, 2014), Oklahoma Historical Society, The Gateway to Oklahoma History, http://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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The Marian Baker Murder of 1950

Home | Feature Stories | The Marian Baker Murder of 1950


Originally Published: “I Had To Kill,” by George Beltz, Front Page Detective, May, 1950.

Editor’s Note: Articles written for detective magazines during the 1940s, 50s and 60s often incorporated “recreated dialogue” in order to both tell the story and to advance the storyline. For readers today, this dialogue will feel contrived and trite. In spite of this, these writers made every effort to present a factual story. In nearly all cases, they were newspaper reporters with close knowledge of the case who wrote these stories to earn extra money. Most of them wrote under a pseudonym, but not all.

Want to Read this Story Later on Your Tablet?
Download PDF File of “The Marian Baker Murder of 1950″

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, January, 1950

What is in a murderer’s mind when his fingers close around the windpipe of his victim and the pressure is increased until he feels the crunching of cartilage? Does he look down at what he has done, and then, like a child with a broken toy, try to set the sagging head straight-again? Does he brush back the wisps of hair that have fallen out of place, and, as he feels the skin grow first cool, then cold, is there a feeling of panic and revulsion?

Somewhere in Lancaster, Pa., the night of January 10, 1950, a man knew the answers to these questions, and, buried under a sheet of corrugated roofing, in an abandoned summer bungalow, was a dead girl who had for one fleeting second before she died seen the look in a killer’s eyes that told the story.

But Marian Baker, 21 years old, engaged to be married, was dead and the dead don’t talk.

Victim Marian Baker

Victim Marian Baker

Nothing was left of a girl who had pounded a typewriter in the office of Franklin and Marshall College, listened to a softly playing car radio; parked on a lonely hill; learned to cook and to sew so that when she married in June she would make a good housewife. Nothing was left of a girl who looked for an apartment, clipped recipes from women’s magazines, fed a horse a lump of sugar or kissed her fiancé out in front of everybody Christmas Eve when she announced her engagement.

Back in her room was a narrow shelf with a few hats and hanging on a rack, a few dresses; a few trinkets, half a shelf of books, a photograph of a boy, a car and a girl; some letters and a hairbrush. That was all that was left to say there had ever been a Marian Baker.

In another room, a boy sat smoking, looking out of the window. Closing his eyes he felt the throat under his hands. Then he threw the cigarette down, stamped it out, and walked through the door. There was no turning back now. Marian Baker was dead and in all Lancaster only her murderer knew it.

But four days later the whole town knew; the whole state, the whole nation knew. Marian Baker’s body was found under a wooden saw horse, covered by a piece of rusty, corrugated roofing, beneath the porch of a summer cottage on Mill Creek; a cottage the owners visited almost by accident; a discovery made only because two peculiar marks, like those of dragged heels, roused the curiosity of Mrs. Francis Harnish.

The victim's body as it was discovered.

The victim’s body as it was discovered.

In the failing light of day the yard was roped off and the girl’s broken body was removed from its makeshift grave for Dr. Charles Stahr to make his preliminary examination. State, county and city police made casts of the footprints found in half frozen mud and studied the crooked path left by the killer as he pulled the victim under the house.

Like a wind-fanned flame, word spread over the campus that Marian Baker, whose disappearance four days before had become the main topic of talk, was found; that she was dead and that her killer was not known.

The report had snaked its way across town without missing an ear by the time the sad procession that followed the ambulance was back in town.


Marian Baker’s body is removed from underneath the porch of a deserted summer cabin.

“We have to crack this and crack it fast,” Commissioner Fred McCartney said. “This case is front page throughout the East. Up until now it was a missing person we wanted—today it’s a killer. Where are the records on the girl’s disappearance?”

The file on the week long search for Marian Baker was voluminous, but unrevealing. At the time the body was found, a 13-state alarm was in effect and state police, city and county officers were making every effort to locate the missing girl.

Marian had left the college shortly after 1 P.M. on Tuesday, January 10. She went first to the Farmer’s Bank & Trust Company and deposited canteen funds in the amount of $75.

“We traced her from the bank to the post office,” Lancaster Police Captain John Kirchner said. “She mailed a registered letter, then picked up her engagement ring which had been left at a jewelry store for repairs. At 2:15 George Crudden, a newspaperman, saw her downtown. Judging by the time her wrist watch stopped, she was killed exactly 20 minutes later. But that’s as much as we know.”

Marian had been reared by an aunt and uncle who lived a few miles from Lancaster. After getting a job at the college she boarded with friends.

“Nothing there for a clue,” Captain Kirchner said. “She had a 5:30 appointment at a beauty parlor on Tuesday—which was never kept. Fellow workers closed her desk when she failed to come back from her noon errand at the bank.”

“No motive and no suspects,” McCartney said. “What about her fiancé? We have to start some place.”


“I Can’t Believe It!”

Edgar R. Rankin, the 21-year-old youth to whom Marian Baker was engaged, had already spent four sleepless nights aiding in the search for his sweetheart. News of her death had nearly shaken him loose from his reasoning.

“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “I just can’t believe it.” But the lifeless body with the crushed skull that lay on the morgue slab was not to be refuted.

Rankin repeated his original story that he had not seen his fiancée since the previous Sunday when he left her at her rooming house following a date.

“There’s a lover’s lane near the cottage where the body was found,” Sergeant John Auman pointed out. “Do you think she might have gone there with someone else? A college student, maybe?”

“NO SIR!” Rankin’s temper flared at the suggestion. “Marian wasn’t dating anyone but me.”

Rankin was sure of this, but the troopers weren’t. The girl had vanished from the crowded streets of a comparatively large city. No one could have forced her into an automobile without attracting attention.

“My guess is she went out with someone else,” one of the troopers said after Rankin left. “A last date with some suitor after she announced her engagement. But the guy was jealous and refused to call it quits. It’s happened before and it will happen again.”

Following this theory, a visit was paid to the Weaver home where Marian had resided. The girl had been considered a guest rather than a boarder. She and Mrs. Weaver went to grade school together and werelifelong friends.

“Then you should know something of her social life,” Aumon said.

“Marian and Edgar went together for nearly two years,” Mrs. Weaver said. “In all that time she dated another boy on only one occasion. That was about a year ago when she and Edgar had a quarrel. It was just a silly little spat and they made up quickly.”

“You’re sure Rankin didn’t brood about it?”

“I should say not. He forgot the, whole thing. Since then the two of them have spent all their time apartment hunting and Marian has been learning to cook and sew.”

Sergeant Aumon was shrewd enough to see the line of questioning was leading nowhere. Marian probably accepted a lift in the car of a person she thought was a friend, but she certainly hadn’t gone off on an afternoon date with someone other than her boyfriend.

“Marian fully intended to return to the college or she would have locked up her desk for the day,” Aumon theorized. “But on the way back she met someone—a student, a professor, or just an acquaintance who happened to be going her way. Whoever it was, he took the girl out to Mill Creek and killed her. Our job is to find that man!”

It was easy to say, hard to do. F. & M. was a coeducational school with several thousand students on its roster. In addition, the slain girl had many friends and acquaintances off the campus.

On Sunday, Dr. Stahr definitely set the time of death as Tuesday afternoon, January 10. His post-mortem report stated that the victim had been strangled and beaten to death but she had not been sexually assaulted. Intent to do so, however, still remained as a possible motive for the crime.

“We’re slicing things pretty thin,” Aumon said thoughtfully, when he heard this. “If Marian Baker’s watch was correct, she was picked up, driven three miles into the country and murdered—all in the space of 20 minutes after George Cudden saw her on a downtown street. Her watch was broken at 2:35.”


Who Drove The Coupe?

Captain Kirchner and Commissioner McCartney enlisted the aid of college president Theodore Distler in the herculean task of identifying every F. & M. student who had been absent from class on the afternoon of the slaying. A probe of all known sex offenders also got underway.

“We know this girl was dragged to the cottage,” Aumon told the troopers. “That means she was slain elsewhere perhaps in a car. I want all garage and car cleaning establishments posted. Watch for bloodstains on the upholstery or floor of every car that comes in.”

Identification men were also doing a job with the killer’s footprints found in the mud at the Harnish cottage. The moulages (plaster casting) were too rough for identification, but temperature readings for the murder date were obtained and experts accurately estimated the consistency of the half frozen soil. By measuring the size and depth of the’ footprints they were able to state with a fair degree of accuracy that the murderer was tall, heavily built and probably a young and active man.

Meanwhile, outraged citizens, anxious to lend every support to the killer hunt, were pouring tips into headquarters: The first definite lead came from a neighbor who lived several doors beyond the Weaver home.

“This may not help much,” she said. “But on Tuesday, about 5 o’clock, my 8-year-old daughter told me she saw Marian come out of the house carrying a suitcase. She said she got into a car with a man who wasn’t Ed.”

“Could she describe the car at all?”

“Only that it was a coupe.”

Aumon questioned the youngster at length but his slowly rising hopes plunged like a lead weight in water as he discussed this latest development with Sergeants James Haggerty and V. E. Simpson.

“She must be mistaken,” Haggerty argued. “Unless the killer was shrewd enough to reset his victim’s wristwatch and then deliberately break it, Marian Baker had been dead for several hours when this child thought she saw her.”

“And don’t overlook the medical report,” Simpson remarked. “Analysis of her stomach contents indicate the victim died within three hours after eating her last meal at noon.”

“We can’t get around that,” Aumon admitted. “But I do have a hunch about the watch.”

A phone call to Mrs. Weaver established that Marian customarily wound her wrist watch at approximately 7 A.M. before leaving for work. Aumon then phoned officials or the Hamilton Watch Company in Lancaster.

“Would it be possible,” he asked, “to check the spring tension of a watch and find out how long it has run since last being wound?”

Assured that such a procedure was entirely feasible, the sergeant sent in the broken watch for testing. If it had run seven and a half hours, the time of death would be confirmed. If longer, then the killer was cagier than was thought.

By Monday morning none of the lines out had brought in a nibble. Edgar Rankin described his fiancée’s missing engagement ring as a small diamond in a gold setting with baguettes on either side. This information was passed on to pawnbrokers in Lancaster and nearby towns on the off chance that the killer would attempt to cash it in.

Friends and acquaintances of the victim were brought in for questioning and then released. Anyone without an alibi for the time of death was under suspicion and suspects were a dime a dozen. Captain Kirchner and President Distler swelled this number when they reported 175 students were absent from their classrooms on the previous Tuesday.

“Talk to those who had girl trouble first,” Aumon ordered. ‘We’ll get to the rest later, if necessary.”

The absentee students were processed quickly, but out of the welter of statements, one fact stood out from all others. Marian Baker had eyes only for Ed Rankin. Donald Mylin, treasurer of the college, recalled that she had gone out with a pre-med student who was graduated in June, but it was nothing serious. Many students frankly admitted an interest in the pretty girl, but all declared their advances had been firmly declined.

A phone call from the Hamilton Watch Company verified the time element. The watch still had 35 hours running time left which meant, if it was wound at 7 A.M., it was broken at 2:35 P.M.

But Aumon was far from satisfied with the progress the case was making. “Here’s a girl who doesn’t date,” he said. “Engaged to be married, learning to cook everything. So she’s given a ride by someone she knows. But why did she go out to Mill Creek? That’s an off-trail spot where only young lovers go.”

“I think I’ve got the answer to that,” Captain Kirchner said. “I’ve been given a tip that might be worth looking into. Marian Baker was learning to drive a car. She’d been taking lessons secretly, planning to surprise her friends.”

“Of course, of course!” Aumon was amazed by the simplicity of the solution. “A back road, away from traffic, where she could practice. Nothing better than Mill Creek for that. Who was the instructor?”

“I wish I knew,” Kirchner said. “Someone not connected with the college, I understand, but no one can give me his name. If only the girl hadn’t been so secretive . .”

“We’ll find him,” Aumon said confidently “Someone knew about those driving lessons or you couldn’t have been tipped off. It’s simply a matter of time.”

The questioning of absentee students was abandoned as investigators concentrated on finding the man who had been teaching Marian Baker to drive.

In the midst of this flurry of activity a man who introduced himself, as a local mortician requested an interview with Aumon.


Question Alerts Mortician

“It’s about a student,” the undertaker said nervously. “The boy asked me how long it takes a body to decompose. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but since this murder, well, I thought I’d better get in touch with you.”

“Good Lord!” Aumon said. “Who was he?”

“His name is Alvin Edwards.”

Captain Kirchner went through the student list to learn whether Edwards was in the clear. “No dice,” he said, after a moment. “Edwards has an air tight alibi. On the afternoon of the murder he went to a movie with some friends.”

“Morbid curiosity, I suppose,” Aumon agreed. “What else have we got?”

“Not much,” the captain admitted. “Right now we’re looking for Jim Withers, the chap who dated Marian last June. Someone saw him in town a week ago and I thought he might have looked her up again.”

“Might as well forget Withers,” Aumon said. “The man I want is the fellow who was teaching Marian Baker to . . .”

He was interrupted by a sergeant who hustled a total stranger into the office. “Here’s someone you’ll want to see, John,” the sergeant said.

Aumon studied the tall, thin man who twisted his hat nervously and looked at him with an uncertain smile. “I’m Ben Williams,” he said quickly. “Drive a bread truck here in town.”

“Sit down, Ben. What’s on your mind?”

“Well, I . . you see, I knew Marian Baker pretty well. In fact, I’m the one who was teaching Marian Baker to drive.”

The sergeant kept his face blank.

“I intended to keep out of this.” Williams said. “Then I heard you were looking for the man Marian was taking lessons from. So I thought I’d better let you know I didn’t do it.”

“Right now you’re an A-I suspect,” Aumon said gravely. “If you are innocent, I hope for your sake you have an alibi.”

“I think I have,” he said. “Last Tuesday delivered bread all day.”

“Marian Baker was picked up, driven to Mill Creek and murdered all within 20 minutes,” the sergeant pointed out. “Your alibi isn’t tight, mister! Suppose you were driving around in a bread truck. There was nothing to keep you from taking this girl out to Mill Creek.”

“I covered a rural route that day,” Williams explained. “At the time of the murder I was at least 15 miles from town in the northern part of the county. What’s more, I can take you to every stop I made.”

Aumon felt his best lead slowly collapsing from under him. “We’ll give you a chance to prove that,” he said, but mentally he crossed Ben Williams from his list. The man’s alibi was too good to be faked, and in a matter of time the driver was given back his freedom, and cleared unconditionally of any complicity in the slaying.

“That leaves us with Jim Withers,” Aumon said bleakly. “Perhaps Kirchner isn’t so far wrong as I thought.”

That evening, Major William Hoffman, commander of the Philadelphia state police barracks, arrived in Lancaster to assist with the investigation. Hoffman had been watching the case closely and was much concerned over the last lead that had blown up in their faces.

“We simply must get results,” the major insisted. “Everything indicates a local man—someone known to the victim. Find him!”

“Jim Withers seems to be our best bet,” Aumon assured him. “We’re cooperating with Captain Kirchner and his men. So far we’ve learned that Withers left Philadelphia, heading west. He stopped in Lancaster to visit friends and was here until last Tuesday evening. He left then, intending to drive at night and avoid traffic. But no one seems to know his destination.”

“Did you get the make and license number of ‘his car?”

“Not the license,” Aumon admitted. “We have a description on the teletype now, and the number will go out as soon as the license bureau opens in the morning.”

“What about students?”

“All but 20 checked out okay. The remainder are being questioned.”

No one wanted to admit it, but the Withers’ lead was actually a forlorn hope. True, he had dated the girl six months previously, prior to his graduation. But there was no record of his ever having tried to get in touch with her again—and no reason for him to have returned to town with murder in his heart.

“We’re going to find him,” Aumon predicted. “But he’ll have an alibi. What then?”

The pawn shop alert had netted nothing; no one had attempted to dispose of the diamond engagement ring. Nor did any bloodstained cars show up in local garages. And one by one the 20 students were being alibied and released.

On Wednesday morning, Corporal James Kane sought out Alvin Edwards, the student who had asked about decomposing bodies. Sensing that the murder of Marian Baker was fast heading into the limbo of unsolved crimes, Kane was determined to crack it.


“Not My Idea”

“I’m curious about that remark son,” he said mildly. “Why did you ask how long it takes a body to decompose?”

Edwards, a clean cut youth and excellent student, smiled sheepishly. “Actually, it wasn’t my idea,” he admitted. “One of the seniors asked me and I was curious enough to try to find out.”

Corporal Kane almost swallowed his tongue. Here, it seemed, might be one of those almost unbelievable breaks of which every investigator dreams but rarely encounters. “What,” he asked, “is this senior’s name?”

“Gibbs,” the boy told him. “Edward L. Gibbs. He and his wife live at the college dormitory. I believe she works for the Armstrong Cork Company.”

Sergeant Aumon was alone when Kane entered his office. He pointed to a teletype message lying on the desk. “There it is, Jim Withers was picked up in Pittsburgh. Says he spent Tuesday afternoon with a Lancaster girl. The boys went to see her a few minutes ago. When she backs up his story . . . well, we’re washed up.”

Kane smiled briefly. “Not quite,” he said. “Listen to this . . .

His report was like a shot of adrenalin to the weary Aumon. Gibbs was among the students already questioned. Attention was centered on him early in the investigation because of a long scratch on one cheek. But he was dismissed when a fellow student admitted having inflicted it during basketball practice. Gibbs, however, had not yet cleared himself completely and was scheduled for a complete cross-examination in the morning.

College records identified him as a 25-year-old veteran who served with the Army Air Force in Europe; an excellent student, supposedly happily married. But he did know Marian Baker, and on several occasions had driven her to the bank when she placed canteen funds on deposit.

“Gibbs could be our man,” Kane declared.

But Edward Gibbs was not to be found in any of his usual haunts—and for a very good reason. At that moment he had walked into President Distler’s office and demanded an audience. Distler, in conference with Max Hannum, publicity director of the college, looked up in amazement when the disheveled youth brushed by the secretary who sought to restrain him and forced his way.

“Sure, Ed, we know you,” Hannum assured him. “Come in and sit down.”

Gibbs shook his head. “You don’t know me. You only think you do.”

It was the kind of statement the men ordinarily would have ignored, but these were not ordinary times for the harassed college officials. Simultaneously the same thought flashed into the minds of the two men. “This is it, yet it can’t be. Things like this just don’t happen.”


“I Did It”

But all doubt was dispelled when Gibbs, haggard and wild eyed, said, “I’m your man. I did it.”

Stalling for time, Distler countered with a question. “What did you do, Ed?”

“Killed Marian.”

Two Baltimore reporters entered the outer office just then, wanting an interview. But Distler and Hannum were holding a stick of dynamite with the fuse lit. They dared not let the press in on what was transpiring until definite proof of guilt had been established. The truth was, both men were hoping against hope that the student’s confession was untrue, perhaps brought on by nervous tension and overwork.

But the reporters were suspicious. They lingered for ten minutes while Gibbs sobbed in a corner and Distler and Hannum engaged in a loud discussion on irrelevant subjects trying to throw the reporters off. Eventually the newsmen departed in disgust.

With one hand on the telephone, Dr. Distler said. “Are you sure, Ed, that this is not hysteria or hallucinations?”

“It’s hard for me to believe, too,” the youth answered. “But I can describe the whole thing, show you where I hid some of the stuff.”

Convinced at last, President Distler lifted the phone . . .

Edward Gibbs made a full confession to the brutal crime. “It wasn’t a date,” he insisted, after explaining how he met Marian Baker on a downtown street and offered to drive her back to the college. “We just went the long way around.”

At the Harnish cottage, Gibbs had a sudden impulse to choke his lovely companion. But she fought free and fled from the car.

“I followed her,” the student murmured in an almost inaudible voice. “When I caught her I choked her again and again. But when I saw her lying so still I knew if she wasn’t dead, then I had to kill her. So I went back to the car and got a lug wrench out of the trunk. I hit her with that until I was sure she was dead. I—I guess I was out of my mind.”

Returned With Shovel

Suddenly overcome by the enormity of his crime, Gibbs fled the scene. But he returned within an hour, bringing a shovel to dig a grave. The frozen ground prevented this and after removing his victim’s ring and taking her purse, he dragged the body under the cottage and covered it with the sheets of metal roofing.

Edward L Gibbs confessed to the murder.

Edward L Gibbs confessed to the murder.

“I was sure nobody would be able to find it for a long, long time,” he went on. “I had an idea that when spring came and the ground softened up a little, I might come back and bury her. I didn’t figure anyone would come around the cottage in the winter.”

“What did you do with her purse?” Aumon asked.

“I threw it away. There was $14 in it. I took the money and spent it.”

“And the ring?”

“That I flushed down a filling station toilet.”

The ring was recovered from the drain trap. Other officers, searching Gibbs’ dormitory home, found a jacket stained with the blood of his victim. At the same time, an electric magnet located the lug wrench in Conestoga Creek where it had been thrown by the killer.

Proof of guilt was now established, but officers scoffed at the “impulse” motive for the crime. In their opinion, Marian Baker was slain when she resisted the sexual advances of her supposed friend.

After reenacting the slaying on two different occasions, Gibbs was given a hearing in the office of Alderman J. Edward Wetzel on January 19. He listened in silence as District Attorney John M. Ranck read a warrant which charged him with “wilfully, feloniously, maliciously and premeditatively” choking the pretty secretary to death.

With no change of expression, Gibbs then heard himself ordered held without benefit of bail for trial in the Lancaster County court on March 13. At that time the final curtain will be rung down on the campus drama of life and passion and sudden death.

-End of Story.

Conclusion to Story:

At his trial, Edward L. Gibbs was found guilty of first degree murder and he was executed on April 23, 1951.

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Mug Shot Monday! William Hutton Coble, 1964

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! William Hutton Coble, 1964


William Hutton Coble was an escaped fugitive who got into a running gun battle with police after robbing a bank in Charleston, North Carolina. While fleeing police, he dropped the stolen loot, shot a woman in the leg to steal her car, then turned down a dead end street where he surrendered after a shoot-out with a police officer.


Story 1: Comedy of Errors: Polite Bank Robber Departs Unlocked Cell

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Freshly-sentenced bank robber William Hutton Coble broke out of the Nashville metropolitan jail yesterday [May 15, 1964] in a comedy of errors. A dragnet is out for him and police officers here say they are investigating possible negligence.

Chief Deputy Fate Thomas said the 41-year-old Coble, with a recent record of one escape and three attempted escapes, was not locked in his cell as he should have been when two U.S. marshals left him at the jail for safekeeping until he could be taken to federal prison. He escaped less than an hour later in broad daylight.

Thomas said the well-dressed prisoner apparently sauntered down a jail, corridor, borrowed a blanket from another federal prisoner, used it to muffle the sound as he broke out a window, then politely returned the blanket to the prisoner, climbed out the window, crossed a roof and climbed to the street. The other prisoner, Jack Gordon, said he loaned Coble the blanket because he thought from his well-dressed appearance that he was a detective. Gordon said he later shouted for 15 or 20 minutes, trying to tell jail officials of the escape. He said no one paid any attention to him. Six hours later the same two federal marshals that had guarded Coble came to the jail to confine two other federal prisoners.

“Where’s my boy Coble?” asked one jail employee, thinking that Coble was still in federal custody.

“He should be in his cell,” answered one of the surprised marshals. It was then that the escape was discovered.

Deputy Thomas said a jail turnkey, Donald Eli, has been suspended pending an investigation and other suspensions may be forthcoming.

Coble was sentenced Thursday to 17 years after he pleaded guilty to the $34,623 robbery of a bank in Pulaski, TN last September.

Associated Press via Tucson Daily Citizen, May 16, 1964, page 1.

Story 2: Bank Robber Nabbed After Two Wounded

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — William Hutton Coble, 41, one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted criminals, was captured Monday after he robbed a branch bank and terrorized a residential area after a running gun battle with police.

Mrs. E. B. Vosbough, a 37-year-old housewife and model, and 7-year-old Ken Ewing, were wounded, neither seriously, by gunfire.

Police said they cornered Coble, a fugitive from a Nashville, TN jail, on a dead end street less than a mile from the bank where he took $8,869. He had dropped the bag containing the money as he fled.

The FBI described Coble as an escape artist. A heavy guard was placed around his cell. The Ewing boy was struck in the right forearm by a bullet as police pursued Coble along a street. Coble tried to break into two homes but was unsuccessful.

He then spotted Mrs. Vosbough parked with two of her children and two of her neighbor’s in a late model station wagon. He fired at the car, the bullet going through Mrs. Vosbough’s right thigh and into her left thigh. After forcing her and the children out, he raced away in the car.

Associated Press via The Robesonian, Lumberton, NC March 2, 1965, page 1.

Story 3: Bandit Loses Gunfight with North Carolina Police

CHARLOTTE. N C. Police prevented a daring bank robbery attempt Monday and captured William Hutton Coble, one of the FBI’s 10 most: wanted fugitives. A woman and a child were wounded by gunfire.

Coble, 41, from Pulaski, TN was arraigned Monday night before US Commissioner Winfred Ervin and taken by federal marshals to a detention center at Asheville, about 115 miles west of here, to stand trial. He was already convicted of a previous bank robbery at Frankewing, Tenn.

Smashed Glass Door

Coble used a 38-caliber pistol to smash a glass door at a bank in a shopping center. He terrorized two woman tellers and fled with $8,000 after shooting it out with patrolman J. G. Bruce.

He dropped the money as he fled however, and it was all recovered. Coble then commandeered a car from a passing motorist, Mrs. Edwin B. Vosbough, and shot her in the leg.

A police cruiser driven by Sg.t T. W Williams chased Coble down a dead-end, residential street and captured him during another burst of gunfire.

United Press International via Port Arthur News March 3, 1965, Page 39.

Story 4: Coble Receives 25 Year Term

William Hutton Coble got 25 years in prison for robbing two Charlotte branch banks.

He also received a Bible and a letter of sympathy from a woman he shot in the leg as he commandeered her station wagon following the second robbery March 1. Coble, an escapee from a Tennessee jail and listed among the FBI’s 10 most wanted criminals when captured, burst into tears.

Mrs. E. B. Vosburgh Jr., mother of three girls, gave Coble the Bible and letter Tuesday after sentencing in federal court. Her letter read in part: “There have been many prayers and thought’s running through my mind these past days. I have thought of all the many people involved and how much worse this episode could have been. You certainly showed compassion for us by letting the children and me out of the car.

Associated Press via Rocky Mount Evening Telegram April 8, 1965, page 1

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Mug Shot Monday! Opium Smuggler John Gavin

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Opium Smuggler John Gavin


1902 Opium Smuggler, John Gavin, 39 years old. Irish Immigrant.

1902 Opium Smuggler, John Gavin, 39 years old. Sentenced to two years in federal prison.

“Police Officers Capture Opium Smugglers and All their Plunder,” The San Francisco Call, April 9, 1902.

Police Officers A. 0. Juel and E. C. Gould captured two opium smugglers yesterday and secured their plunder. The officers will very likely receive a substantial reward from the Government. The men arrested were John Gavin, alias Murphy, and Joseph Kirk, alias Duffy. Both men are known to the Federal authorities as being dangerous men. They were taken to the Hall of Justice and held until the proper papers could be drawn up so as to hold them in the County Jail.


This image accompanied the story presented here from The San Francisco Call, 1902.

The capture of these men is due to the observing qualities possessed by Officer Juel. The latter and Officer Gould were on their way home at 6 o’clock yesterday morning and were waiting at Lotta’s fountain for an outgoing Market-street car. Juel happened to notice two rough-looking men on a northbound Third-street car that was on its way out Kearny Street. He saw that the men were covered with mud, and that they had three telescope baskets in their possession. The early hour, coupled with the dilapidated appearance of the men and baskets, led Juel to investigate. He called to Gould and both sprinted after the moving car. They boarded the back platform and walked through the car to the front portion, where the men were seated. The officers were in citizens’ clothes. Juel questioned the men, and their answers were evasive.

No Clams in Basket.

“What have you got there?” asked the officer. “Clams?”

“No,” said one of the fellows, sullenly.

“Do they belong to you?” asked Juel, indicating the baskets.

“No. They belong to a friend of mine,” answered the spokesman.

During the conversation Gould made a closer investigation. He poked his finger through the aperture and came in contact with a tin. It dawned on him that it was opium and he so informed his brother officer.

When the car was in front of the Hall of Justice, Juel pulled out his star end told Kirk and Gavin he was an officer and ordered them to come with him. Gavin made slight resistance but Gould hauled him off the [trolley] car in a hurry. The officers brought their men and plunder to the Chiefs office, and a closer examination of the basket revealed Z30 five-tae; cans of opium. The men were taken to the City Prison on the top floor of the Hall of Justice, and were booked. They gave their names as John Duffy and Joseph Murphy. Collector of the Port Stratton was notified of the capture and he detailed his clerk. Ellis A. Holmes. to place the opium under seizure. The District Attorney’s office was notified, and a complaint was drawn up and sworn to by Officer Gould. Late in the afternoon the men were taken to the County Jail where they will he held on three counts.

Supposed to Be Members of Ring

It developed during the day that Kirk is employed as fireman on hoard the City of Puebla, which arrived at this port on Monday. Gavin was formerly employed on the same boat. The theory of the Federal officers is that Kirk and Gavin are members of a gang of smugglers who have been operating on this coast for the last six months. Their plan is to secure the opium at Victoria. The stuff is brought from China by one of the gang and transferred to Kirk when his vessel stops at Victoria.

John Gavin's mug shot after he was processed at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary.

John Gavin’s mug shot after he was processed at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary.

Both men bear unsavory reputations. Gavin was badly wounded by a customs officer while trying to smuggle opium at Honolulu. Kirk is believed to have been a member of the Romula gang of opium smugglers who operated some years ago. He is recognized by the local inspectors as the man who avoided capture at the hands of Inspector Sprague by jumping overboard and swimming under the dock. His pal was “Hoodlum Harry.” who was captured.

The prisoners were loath to talk. They refused to make a statement when brought before Customs Surveyor Spear and Special Agents Channing and West. To a Call representative [San Francisco newspaper from which the story is taken] Gavin, alias Murphy, stated he was paid $2 to deliver the baskets to the Golden Eagle Hotel and he was on his way there when taken into custody. He swore he received the opium from a stranger whom he met in a saloon on the corner of Third and Harrison streets.

The 230 five-tael[1] cans weigh 115 pounds. The duty on opium Is $6 per pound. The opium Is valued at 312 to $14 per pound.

An effort is being made to locate the other members of the ring.

Follow-up: John Gavin was sentenced to two years in federal prison and was released after serving 20 months for good behavior. When he was arrested, he was rumored to have already amassed a fortune worth $20,000 from opium smuggling.

[1] Tael is a Chinese unit of weight that is approximately1.6 ounces according to the figures provided by the story.

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The Evil Dr. Hyde of Kansas City

Home | Feature Stories | The Evil Dr. Hyde of Kansas City


Originally Published: “The Diabolical Plot Concocted by Dr. B. C. Hyde of Kansas City to Gain Control of Col. Swope’s Millions,” by Thomas Samuel Duke, Celebrated Criminal Cases of America, The James H. Barry Company, 1910. Note: This is very famous case in Kansas City.

Kansas City, Missouri, 1909-1910

Thomas Hunton Swope, afterward known as Colonel Swope, was born in Kentucky in 1829. After accumulating a few thousand dollars in his native state, he proceeded to Kansas City, Mo., in 1860, where he invested a large portion of his savings in suburban lands which were practically worthless then but which subsequently enhanced in value until Swope became a multi-millionaire.

He conceived a plan of devoting to public benefactions a large part of his wealth and as a part of this philanthropic plan he gave to Kansas City a magnificent tract of territory embracing 1354 acres, which is now known as Swope Park, the second largest park in America. In his later years Swope became extremely eccentric and seldom appeared in public.

He had two sisters and two brothers. One brother, Logan Swope, died in February, 1900, leaving a widow and seven children, named Chrisman, Frances, Thomas, Lucy, Margaret, Stella and Sarah. In 1909, Chrisman, the eldest, was 31 years of age, and Sarah, the youngest, was 14 years of age. Mrs. Logan Swope resided with her family in a large mansion near Independence, Mo., which is a short distance from Kansas City. Colonel Swope, who never married, and his cousin, J. Moss Hunton, resided in the same house.

Colonel Swope’s property was valued at $3,600,000 and he made a will which provided that Mrs. Logan Swope’s children should each receive about $200,000, with the exception of Francis, who was to receive but $135,000. There was also a residuary fund amounting to $1,405,595 which was to be equally divided among these seven children, but Swope had about decided to change his will and leave the residuary to charity. The entire Swope family knew the contents of this will and also knew of Swope’s determination to change it. The executors of this will were J. Moss Hunton, Attorney John Paxton and Steward Fleming, Colonel Swope’s nephew.

Dr-Bennett-HydeBennett Clarke Hyde was born in Cowper County, Missouri, in 1872, but spent his boyhood days in Lexington, Mo., where his father was a Baptist preacher. Young Hyde received a college education and afterward graduated from the University Medical College in Kansas City, Mo.

In 1898-99 Dr. Hyde was demonstrator of anatomy at this college and during this time several graves were robbed. Finally two African-Americans named Sam McClain and Charley Perry were arrested for robbing the grave of Michael Kelly at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Independence, Mo. They subsequently confessed to this crime and several others of a similar nature, and swore that they sold the bodies to Dr. Hyde. The doctor was arrested but the case never came to trial and was dropped from the calendar on March 4, 1899.

Continue reading this story by clicking on the link below.

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Mug Shot Monday! ‘Fighting Frederick Hansen’ 1920

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! ‘Fighting Frederick Hansen’ 1920



Fighting Frederick Hansen

“Fighting” Frederick Hansen, first mate on the SS ROLPH,  picked up a crew at Vancouver to haul lumber to Melbourne in 1920. The vessel was owned by James Rolph Jr., the mayor of San Franciso and future governor of California.

Hansen had been convicted of killing a seaman in 1917 and investigated for the murder of a second.  Once the ROLPH reached Australia, most of the crew, intimidated by the mate, was discharged. The vessel then headed to Newcastle to pick up a cargo of English coal for Chile. By this time the crew included only two Americans. According to later testimony, Hansen hit a German sailor with a belaying pin and when the man went overboard, made no attempt to rescue him. Hansen also assaulted other seamen with the apparent connivance if not the direct orders of the captain. Charged under the 1915 Seaman Act, he was indicted in 1922 for assaulting A.R. Arnesen, a naturalized U.S. citizen.  Hansen was found guilty and sentenced to five years in federal penitentiary.  The four seamen who were libellants were awarded a total of $14,500 in damages – paid by the ship’s owner. One sailor had been virtually blinded by Hansen’s beatings.

Mr. Hansen is partially the subject of a book, Brutality on Trial: Hellfire Pedersen, Fighting Hansen, and the Seamen’s Act of 1915

Source: http://www.lawcourts.org/LPBR/reviews/gibson0107.htm

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The Mad Butcher of O’Farrell Street, 1955

Home | Feature Stories | The Mad Butcher of O’Farrell Street, 1955


Originally published: “The Mad Butcher of O’Farrell Street,” by Mitchell Chaindown, Front Page Detective, April, 1956.

San Francisco, December 25-28, 1955

The sound was a shriek that started high and piercing and ended in a gurgle that was scarcely audible. The man leaped from his bed and ran out into the hallway of the Eddy Street rooming house.

He saw his neighbor in Room 13, pretty 19-year-old Georgia Anne Barrett, standing nude except for her slip, and that was pulled halfway down her body. She was clutching her throat, staring ahead with eyes glazed by terror. Before he could reach her, he saw four separate rivulets of blood shoot out from between her clasped fingers and gush in dark streams down over her breasts. He reached out and caught her just as she collapsed.

“My God, my God,” he mumbled as he half-dragged half-carried her into her room and placed her on the bed. “Can you talk, Georgia? Can you tell me what happened?” he begged even as he reached for the telephone to call police. But the girl only rolled in a slow, agonizing rhythm on the bed and moaned intermittently. . . .

Inspector Bruce Jones, on general detail from the night bureau of inspectors, was the first to respond. He used the few minutes before the ambulance arrived .to ask as many questions as he could.

“Who is she?”

“Georgia Anne Barrett, a waitress, lives here in Room 13.”

“Any boyfriends you know of?”

“Yeah. Fellow named Dido.”

“Last name?”

The informant shrugged and Jones, hearing the final whirr of a siren, turned from the knot of roomers to help superintend the girl’s removal. He rode with her to the hospital, hoping she would come out of her coma long enough to describe her attacker.

With the first signs of life in her pain-wracked body, Jones asked, “Was it Dido?” Georgia’s answer was a negative roll of her head.

“Who was it then?”

Another shake of the head; an agonized, “Don’t . . . know. .”


“Yes . .”

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Victim Elizabeth Simpson, Age 13.

Victim Elizabeth Simpson, Age 13.


Mug Shot Monday! Kenneth “Screwdriver” Cindle

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Kenneth “Screwdriver” Cindle



Kenneth Eugene Cindle, 48, aka “Screwdriver,” was named to the FBI’s Most Wanted List on Dec. 23, 1960 after the shotgun hold-up of a Wichita, Kansas restaurant that got him and a partner, $236. The partner was quickly captured in Amarillo, Texas.

The FBI circular said he was an avid gambler, heavy smoker, and heavy drinker. The name of an ex-wife, “Opal,” was tattooed on the outside of his left forearm. He was also missing two fingers. He had a long prison history for armed robberies, assaults, and other offenses. He was picked up by police several times in Oklahoma but was let loose before they could learn his identity. [Not uncommon before AFIS].

He was caught on April 1, 1961 in Cochran County, Texas after a local farmer saw his photograph on television, and recognized him as a hitchhiker he had picked up earlier that day. Cindle had been hitchhiking across the county and working odd jobs to avoid apprehension.

It’s unclear from my archival sources but I believe he was sentenced to 15 years in a Kansas prison as a habitual offender.

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Photo Credit:  [Photograph 2012.201.B0226.0200], Photograph, December 27, 1960; digital image, (http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc201952/ : accessed June 24, 2014), Oklahoma Historical Society, The Gateway to Oklahoma History, http://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.