The Queen of True Crime is Dead. Ann Rule, 1930-2015.
Thank you, Ann, for all that you have given us.
Rest in Peace.
Welcome to HistoricalCrimeDetective.com where you will discover forgotten crimes and forgotten criminals lost to history. You will not find high profile cases that have been rehashed and retold ad infinitum to ad nauseam. If you want to send me a comment, old crime tip, submit a story, or exchange links with a related website, please Contact Me Here. - Please follow this historical true crime blog on Facebook.
The Queen of True Crime is Dead. Ann Rule, 1930-2015.
Thank you, Ann, for all that you have given us.
Rest in Peace.
Richard Lee Tingler Jr was a six time murderer who was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List on December 20, 1968. He was arrested in Dill City, Oklahoma, on May 19, 1969. The following article is from the FBI’s booklet, Ten Most Wanted 60th Anniversary, 1950-2010.
On the night of October 20, 1968, a Columbus, Ohio, dairy store was held up and two teenaged store employees were murdered execution style. The victims, a 15-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl, were bound hand and foot, gagged, brutally beaten about the head, and then shot in the back of the head with an automatic pistol. The manager of the store was also viciously beaten. However, she survived the assault, despite efforts to strangle her with a wire coat hanger.
Through investigation, it was determined that Richard Lee Tingler, Jr., a native of Portsmouth, Ohio, was allegedly responsible for the six brutal murders.
On October 24, 1968, a federal arrest warrant was issued and Tingler was charged with unlawful interstate flight to avoid prosecution for murder and armed robbery was issued in Columbus, Ohio. In December of 1968, the FBI added him to its “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list.
Tingler had sought to conceal his location and identity by gaining employment on a farm near Dill City and using the alias of Don Williams. But his attempt to avoid apprehension came to an end on May 19, 1969, when his employer visited the Washita County Sheriff’s Office. There, he observed a Wanted Poster for Tingler and noticed how the photo and description of Tingler strongly resembled his hired hand, Don Williams.
The employer, wanting to be sure of his identification of Tingler before telling the sheriff about his fears, contacted a neighbor. He requested that the neighbor visit the sheriff’s office and view the wanted notices of Tingler. The neighbor did so and agreed with his friend’s observations. They notified the sheriff of Tingler’s location.
On the afternoon of May 19, 1969, an FBI Agent and members of the Washita County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tingler at the farmhouse. At the time of his arrest, Tingler was armed with a .25 calibre automatic pistol.
Noted as a “cold, calculating, and deliberate killer,” Tingler was sentenced to die in the electric chair in 1969, but this was later commuted to life in prison. He died on March 18, 1995, of organ failure in a Columbus, Ohio hospital.
Does anyone remember how a trip to the grocery or book store would inevitably lead you to peruse a crime magazine? And then one day, they were extinct. Well, now they’re back. One is, anyway. British magazine publisher Imagine Publishing announced Thursday the release of their new “Real Crime” magazine.
The first issue is a special on serial killers, and in May they invited me to write an article. I chose to write about the unsolved I-70 Killer case from the 90s. Anyone remember that guy?
During the early part of April, 1942, Donald Fearn, a twenty-three-year-old railway mechanic living in Pueblo, Colorado, sat in his tan colored Ford Sedan and watch night after night as a bevy of pretty young girls departed from a nursing class. Beautiful sixteen-year-old Alice Porter, a high school student taking night classes, caught his attention and he spent the next week following the girl around and spying on her as she went about her normal routine.
On the night of Wednesday, April 22, a few hours after his wife had given birth to his daughter, Fearn caught up with Porter as she was walking home from class and forced her into his car at gunpoint. He then drove twenty-five miles outside of Pueblo to an abandoned ranch house where he took her inside and beat as he tried to rip off her clothes. To get him to stop, Porter agreed to strip naked for him.
Fearn then bound her ankles, wrists, and mouth with tape. As she lay there, afraid of being raped, afraid of dying, she watched as this normal looking man with spectacles and a receding hairline make a fire in the fireplace. If she thought he was trying to make their accommodations more comfortable, and to heat the cabin while a cold rain fell, she soon realized this was not his intentions.
When it was blazing, he took a long wire, stuck it in the fire until it was red hot, and used it to burn her skin on her abdomen and back in about two dozen places. When he was done torturing her, he raped the frightened young girl. Still not finished, he crushed her skull with a hammer, then shot her twice in the head with a .32 pistol to end her suffering.
When it was time to go, he burned some of her clothes in the fireplace and threw her body into a nearby cistern.
But he had taken too long. By the time he left sometime after midnight, the cold, steady rain had turned the dirt roads into a soupy mud. A short distance from the cabin, he got stuck and was forced to walk several miles to find a garage with a tow truck that could pull him out. The owner had to be roused out of bed at 4 a.m.
When Alice was abducted from a Pueblo street, her screams attracted the attention of a neighbor who spotted a light colored Ford driving away. On April 26, four days after she disappeared, news reached the tow truck driver that police were looking for a light colored Ford in connection with the abduction of a young girl on the same night he had towed a light colored Ford out of the mud. The driver then contacted police and led them to the desolate road where he pulled the car out. Locals then directed their attention to the abandoned ranch house.
Inside, lawmen found remnants of a young woman’s clothes in the fireplace, and blood stains. They also found Fearn’s torture kit which included scissors, pliers, bailing wire, and a shoemaker’s awl—similar in appearance to an ice pick—from which they were able to collect a partial fingerprint. When the searched the property for more clues, they spotted the cistern that concealed Alice Porter’s tortured remains with its disfigured skull.
Later that same day, Fearn’s car was located in a Pueblo car wash where it was waiting to be washed. Fearn was identified, approached, and asked to come to the police station.
There, detectives took his fingerprints and quickly matched them with the print lifted from the handle of the shoemaker’s awl. When the matching prints were shown to him, he quickly confessed, stating, “I just went wild, I guess.” To protect him from an angry mob outside the jailhouse, Fearn had to be transferred immediately to the state prison in Canon City.
Although Fearn confessed in written statement, he pled not guilty by reason of insanity, and cited “sadism” as his mental illness. During his trial held in June, less than two months after the murder, Fearn revealed that since he was six years-old, he had fantasized about torturing people.
“Fearn told the court that he had “uncontrolled impulses” since before he was six years-old, and that they consisted of a desire to inflict injury on others,” the Associated Press reported on June 11. “The impulses, he said, grew more intense as years passed and became frequent when he was twelve or thirteen years-old. Later, they became continuous causing him worry, depressed attitudes, and dreams from which he awoke at night from perspiration. Always, he said, he dreamed he had tortured someone.”
The jury found Fearn sane and he was sentenced to death. He rejected any effort to appeal his death sentence, and made it clear he wished to die.
As the day of his execution approached, Fearn welcomed his fate in statements made to guards, which were later written down.
“I’m ready, and they can hurry up if they want to. I ask no mercy. I deserve to die. I am better out-of-the-way because I am a nuisance when that urge comes,” he stated.
Fearn’s wish was granted and he was executed in the Colorado gas chamber at 8:05 p.m. on October 23—just six months and one day after he brutally murdered Alice Porter. He left behind a wife and two children.
The 1977 murders of three girl scouts at Camp Scott near Locust Grove, Oklahoma, is, in my opinion, the most horrific and fear inducing unsolved cases in American history.
There have been three books written about the case, a documentary has been made, and there is a website just for this case.
The story of what happened on the night of June 12, 1977, is what fiction horror movies are made of — if a horror movie ever dared to depict female victims between the ages of 8 and 10.
In 2011, an ex-convict announced he was making a movie about the case, and that the real killer was a child molester on death row. His movie was to make a “big reveal” about who the real killer was. This project seems to have stalled out. A trailer exists on youtube and, well, hmmmmmm. Yeah. It’s called “Candles,” and it might explain why the movie has never been released.
One of the books, The Girl Scout Murders, written by respected author Charles W. Sasser, sells for $200, used, on Amazon. The documentary, Someone Cry for the Children, is available for viewing on Youtube as six parts.
But before you get into all that, and scour the internet for a cheaper copy of Sasser’s book, I encourage you to read this excellent article by Roxann Perkins. It gives a detailed overview of the entire case.
John Cooper 1912
During the winter of 1910, Walter Wimbish and John Cooper were working a gold mine claim near Pedro Creek, Alaska, when Wimbish suddenly disappeared in November. This did not raise any immediate alarms since miners during this era often moved about the frontier filing and exploring new claims. But after six months with no sign or word of Wimbish, fellow miners who knew him grew concerned and cast their suspicions towards his mining partner, John Cooper.
Either because the victim was black, or because miners were known to cover a wide area in their search for gold, authorities declined to get involved and did not pursue the matter. By August 1911, several of Wimbish’s acquaintances began looking into his disappearance and explored the mine shaft he was last known to be working near Pedro Creek. There, at the bottom of the shaft, they found a bloody straight razor which confirmed their suspicion Wimbish had been murdered and his body was somewhere nearby.
When the bloody razor was discovered, federal officials, on orders of the US Attorney General, began an all-out search for the miner’s body. A further search of the Cooper and Wimbish abandoned mining camp revealed charred bones believed to be human.
A Fairbanks newspaper reported on the grisly discovery in their August 16, 1911, edition.
More startling than any previous developments in the Wimbish mystery was the discovery on Monday by Deputy Marshal Cunningham of charred bones, and the remnants of burned clothes and buttons in the remains of a woodpile above the shaft of the Wimbish mine on Pedro. The bones lie within a length of six feet at one end of the burned woodpile. At one end of the six-foot space the eyelets of shoes were picked up, and in the same ashes were found what are believed to be knuckle bones.
The following day, a search party found another burn site one-quarter of a mile away, where more charred bones, human teeth, and buttons were discovered. Authorities believed that when Wimbish’s friends began calling for an investigation, Cooper returned to the camp site, gathered up the remaining charred bones and burned them a second time sometime within the last thirty-days of when they found the second burn site.
John Cooper never left the Fairbanks area and was located and arrested on a new claim he was working. His partner on that site, a German by the name of Crecey, reported to federal officers that Cooper had recently tried to poison him.
For reasons that are unclear, Cooper’s trial was scheduled and delayed more than one dozen times before he went on trial in September 1912. By then, the Fairbanks newspaper had lost interest in his case and did not send a reporter to cover his trial. According to his prison records, Cooper was convicted on September 25, 1912, and sentenced to life in prison. An appeal delayed his commitment to federal prison until November. He died on February 21, 1920, following an unsuccessful operation [unspecified] by prison doctors.
Here is a nice little profile on my book, Deadly Hero, and the Phil Kennamer case in the Sunday edition [July 12, 2015] of the Tulsa World by writer Jimmie Tramel.
A warm and special thank you to Jimmie for this write-up.
The following story was written and provided by the History Section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A link to a photo gallery of high quality black and white images from the Chicago Tribune taken during Martin Durkin’s trial can be found at the end of this article. These images are amazing to view and historical true crime readers won’t want to miss them. This is an incredible story of a man who shot and wounded four police officers in two separate incidents before killing Agent Ed Shanahan in Chicago in 1925.
During his trial, Durkin was noted to have the ability to charm both a wife and mistress, and keep them both at the same time. He may have been a dynamic and interesting criminal in his day, but he was also a cold blooded murderer. His story is below.
On October 11, 1925, FBI Special Agent Edwin C. Shanahan, sought to apprehend Martin James Durkin, a professional automobile thief, for violation of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act. Durkin had a long record. He had previously shot and wounded three policemen in Chicago and also had shot and wounded a fourth police officer in California. He had already attained a reputation as a desperate gunman who would shoot to kill upon meeting the slightest interference in his activities.
Special Agent Shanahan had received confidential information to the effect that a man thought to be Durkin was due to arrive at a certain garage in Chicago with a stolen automobile that he had transported to that city from New Mexico. Special Agent Shanahan procured proper assistance and proceeded to the garage in question. After an all day wait, it appeared that the information was inaccurate and that Durkin would not come into the garage as had been expected.
While the police officers with Special Agent Shanahan had momentarily left the garage for the purpose of seeking another detail of officers to relieve them, Durkin drove in with the stolen car. Special Agent Shanahan attempted to take him into custody but, through a ruse, Durkin swept an automatic pistol from the front seat of the stolen automobile and shot Shanahan through the breast. Special Agent Shanahan was the first FBI agent to be killed in the line of duty.
As a result of this atrocious murder, all the forces of the FBI throughout the country were concentrated in an effort to effect Durkin’s capture.
A few weeks after the murder of Shanahan, information was received that Durkin and a woman with whom he had been living would appear in Chicago at the home of a relative of the woman. Police officers of the Chicago Police Department attempted to arrest Durkin when he arrived at the house late at night. In the gun fight which followed, a police officer was killed and another wounded. Durkin again escaped.
Durkin successfully evaded capture until January 20, 1926, when he was arrested near St. Louis, Missouri as the result of an alarm spread throughout the United States and a last minute chase across the continent conducted entirely by special agents of the FBI.
Durkin’s “racket” was the stealing and interstate transportation of high powered automobiles which he sold after all the numbers thereon had been changed. The cars which he was particularly fond of stealing were Pierce Arrows, Cadillacs, and Packards. His favorite system in stealing such automobiles was to present himself as a prospective buyer at dealerships which handled these expensive cars. There he would dicker for the purchase of a high priced automobile and would agree to buy the same, arranging to have the car serviced and filled with gasoline and oil, ready for delivery to him the following day. He would agree to return the following day and pay cash for the car. That night he would burglarize the garage of the dealership in question and drive the expensive car away. He would then change the motor, serial number, and all other assembly numbers by means of which the car could be identified. Next, he would procure license plates under assumed names giving fictitious addresses. He would then drive the car to another state where he would dispose of it for several thousand dollars.
Sunday, October 22, 1933, 8:30 p.m.
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Herbert Grice was in the middle of untying his shoes when he was stopped by the frantic barking of his dogs. They often barked at everything and anything they didn’t approve of, and Grice quickly dismissed their clamor as insignificant. But before he could get his shoes off, their yapping turned into a threatening growl and Grice knew their warning was to be taken serious. As he had done many times before in such instances, the machine shop foreman turned on the outside light, walked out onto his front porch, and called out to the darkness.
The reply to his inquiry was a shotgun blast that sent lead buckshot tearing through him, ripping holes into the screen door, and biting into the walls of the living room. A cloud of plaster dust and wood splinters showered down on his wife, Ruby. The shot missed hitting her and his three children who were in their beds in a nearby room. With a puzzled look on his face, Herbert sank down to the porch floor and died seconds later.
Ten feet in front of the house, Wayne County Sheriff Paul Garrison and other lawmen, found a flattened spot where the killer had sat or knelt as he waited to ambush Grice when he walked outside. Scattered on the ground in that same spot, lawmen found several wooden matchsticks that had been chewed down by the killer—still moist from his saliva.
Using the headlights from their cars to illuminate the area, lawmen discovered the path the killer had used to approach the house.
“The trail led to a ditch, turned right, then crossed through a pine thicket and merged with a dirt road called Linwood Avenue,” crime writer Sam Cohen would later report. At the end of the trail, Garrison’s deputies could make out tire tracks in the soft grass. The killer had parked his car in that spot, and then made his way to the Grice house where he probably counted on the dogs to bark and draw out his victim.
As deputies explored the tracks further, they noticed that the killer walked pigeon-toed, with the toes pointed inward. In one footprint made into the damp soil, they could make out the word “Cushion” on a heel mark.
Among the many friends and neighbors who were brought in for questioning that night and the following day was Herbert Grice’s close friend and Sunday school teacher, Rufus Satterfield. While Satterfield waited patiently at the sheriff’s department to be questioned, he began to chew on wooden match sticks which he disposed in a nearby ash tray. After he was grilled for one hour and recounted his movements that day, he was released as Sheriff Garrison and his men investigated his alibi.
During a two-week investigation, authorities were able to tear down Satterfield’s alibi, link him to a borrowed shotgun, and had an eye witness who saw a man, matching Satterfield’s description, exit a car parked in the same spot the night of the murder. That man, the female witness reported, carried a shotgun and walked along the same path found in the tall grass and soil that investigators discovered.
During his trial held in late February 1934, Satterfield claimed he was innocent and directed all the blame toward Herbert’s wife, Ruby, and her younger brother, Donald Sasser, 21. Satterfield claimed Ruby was his lover, and she and her brother wanted Herbert killed so she could collect on his $5,000 insurance. The prosecutor introduced witnesses who gave testimony that loosely supported Satterfield’s claims. Despite his denials that he was ever involved, Satterfield was found guilty on March 1 and sentenced to death.
Just prior to his trial, Ruby and her brother, Donald, were arrested for complicity to murder. Their trial was held in December and Ruby’s alleged lover, Rufus, was the star witness. Satterfield admitted to the packed courtroom of 1,200 people that he shot Herbert Grice to death but that Donald Sasser was the one who drove him that night. He also toward authorities that Ruby told him “to get Don and go and kill Herbert Grice.” He further alleged that he killed Herbert because he had beaten Ruby on several occasions.
On December 12, 1934, Ruby and Donald were found not guilty. The following day, Rufus Satterfield was strapped into the electric chair and executed. Authorities were never able to conclusively determine who else was in the car that night.
Article by Thomas S. Duke, Celebrated Criminal Cases of America
Alexander Crittenden was born in Lexington, Ky., on, January 14, 1816. Andrew Jackson was a close friend of his family, and it was through Jackson’s influence that Alexander was sent to West Point. He graduated from this military college with Sherman and remained in the army about one year. At the age of twenty-two he married and went to Texas, where he was admitted to the bar. In 1852 he came to San Francisco and associated himself with S. M. Wilson. Under the firm name of Crittenden & Wilson, they became one of the most prominent law firms in San Francisco.
Laura D. Fair was a native of Mississippi, and at the age of sixteen she married a man named Stone, who died about one year afterward. She then married a Thomas Gracien of New Orleans, but a divorce was obtained six months afterward. In 1859 she married Colonel W. B. Fair, who was at that time Sheriff of Shasta County, California, but who subsequently moved to San Francisco with his wife. Owing to family troubles he committed suicide in December, 1861. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Fair conducted the Tahoe House in Virginia City.
During the war her sympathies were with the South to such an extent that she took a shot at a Northern soldier, but as her aim was very bad she was never punished for her action. On another occasion she shot a man at the Russ House in San Francisco, whom she claimed had made a disparaging remark concerning her, but again her aim was bad and again she escaped prosecution.
Mrs. Fair had some ability as an actress and appeared at the Metropolitan Theatre in Sacramento on March 5, 1863, as Lady Teazle in the “School for Scandal.” In August, 1870, a young man named Jesse Snyder married her, but on October 8 of the same year they were divorced.
In September, 1870, Crittenden sent his wife and seven children East for a pleasure trip, and on the afternoon of November 3 he went to Oakland to greet them on their return. He met his family at the Oakland pier and accompanied them aboard the ferry El Capitan. From the time of the family reunion, Mr. Crittenden’s son, Parker, noticed a woman dressed in black and heavily veiled, who seemed to be watching their actions very closely, and when the family were seated on the boat she hurried toward them and suddenly whipping out a pistol, shot Crittenden Senior in the chest. The wounded man fell unconscious and the woman hurried away and took a seat, but Captain Kentzel of the Harbor Police, who was on the boat at the time, disarmed her and placed her under arrest. It was subsequently learned that she was Mrs. Laura D. Fair. Immediately after being arrested she began to act in a peculiar manner, and when a stimulant was handed to her in a glass of water, she bit a piece out of the glass.
At 6 p. m., November 5, Crittenden died, and on the day of his funeral the Federal, State and municipal courts adjourned. His funeral was one of the largest ever held in San Francisco up to that time.
Mrs. Fair was charged with murder, and during the trial, which occurred in San Francisco, she testified that she and Crittenden had been intimate for seven years past. The defense offered was that Crittenden’s perfidities had wrought havoc with Mrs. Fair’s mind and that she was in a blind frenzy when she shot him.
On April 26, 1871, the jury after a short deliberation brought in a verdict of guilty of murder, and on June 3, 1871, Mrs. Fair was sentenced to be hanged on July 28.
On July 11 the Supreme Court granted her a stay of execution and finally granted her a new trial, at which she was acquitted, because of her attorney’s plea to the jury that the defendant was a victim of emotional insanity.
For many years after her acquittal Mrs. Fair made a living as a book agent in San Francisco.