Historical True Crime Blog - HistoricalCrimeDetective.com

True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow

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, or exchange links with a related website, Contact Me Here. - Please follow this historical true crime blog on FACEBOOK.

Sitemap to All
125-Plus Crime Stories
on this blog

Main Menu

Recent Posts



Related Websites


Friends of HCD


Jack McCullough asks Court for Certificate of Innocence

Home | Recent News | Jack McCullough asks Court for Certificate of Innocence

When Jack McCullough was arrested in 2012 for the 1957 murder of Maria Ridulph, Sycamore, Illinois authorities boasted they had solved the nation’s oldest cold case. Following McCullough’s trial and conviction, the long-running television series 48 Hours profiled the case in an episode, CNN produced a special web feature on it, and author Charles Lachman wrote a book about it called “Footsteps in the Snow.” His 2014 book was then used as the basis for Lifetime Network documentary.
jack-mcculloughAll four of those works presumed McCullough was guilty. A second book about the case, “Piggyback,” by self-published author Jeffrey Dean Doty was also released in 2014, and theorized that McCollough was innocent. In 2015, a new state prosecutor for DeKalb County reviewed the case and determined that evidence that would have exonerated McCullough was suppressed during his original trial.
In a March 2016 hearing, that new prosecutor asked the court to dismiss the charges. A judge vacated the sentence and McCullough was released in April 2016. The charges were dropped one week later. Now, McCullough is back in the news asking the court for a certificate of innocence.
According to the original FBI investigation, they reasoned she was abducted and killed between 6:45 and 7:00 o’clock on the night of Dec. 3, 1957, near her Sycamore home. At approximately that same time, Illinois Bell Telephone records indicate McCullough was in Rockford, Illinois, 40 miles northwest of Sycamore, and had placed a collect call to his mother.
Maria Ridulph, – Wikipedia

Mug Shot Monday! Henry Martinez Porter, 1975, Executed 1985

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Henry Martinez Porter, 1975, Executed 1985


During the month of November 1975, three armed robberies in the Fort Worth area eventually produced a description of the suspect’s vehicle. On the morning of November 29, a car driven by Henry Martinez Porter was pulled over by Fort Worth Police Officer Henry Paul Mailoux. A confrontation between the two men led to a struggle in which Porter was shot in the left side of his abdomen, and Mailoux was shot and killed. Porter then fled the area to San Antonio (270 miles south) where he hid out on the city’s northwest side.


Officer Henry Paul Mailoux, courtesy of Officer Down Memorial Page

By 1975, thirty-three-year-old Porter was a hardcore heroin addict with a long-history of mental problems, (diagnosed psychopathic personality with indications of paranoid-schizophrenic behavior), who had served terms in a mental institution, reform school, and then prison—dating back to when he was fifteen-years-old. Past charges included car theft, burglary-robbery, assault, and forgery.

Three days later, a tip led San Antonio police to an apartment building in the 1300 block of Donaldson Street. Fifteen police officers surrounded the building, entered the apartment, and found Porter in the bathroom, unarmed and nursing his bullet-wound. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released back into police custody.

During his 1976 trial, Porter’s defense argued the shooting was an accident, rather than intentional. The jury didn’t buy it. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Porter’s case was appealed in state court 1979 and 1981, and again in 1983 in federal court followed by a 1984 effort before the United States Supreme Court. All efforts failed and by July 6, 1985, the Los Angeles Times reported Martinez had asked his lawyer not to intervene or prevent his execution scheduled in three days, July 9.

During the last hours of his life, Porter, forty-three-years-old then, visited with relatives in his holding cell and asked for steak, refried beans, flour-tortillas, salad, ice-cream, and chocolate cake for his last meal.

After he was strapped down, the prisoner, with the words “Love” and “Hate” tattooed across his fingers, was asked if he had any last words. It was from this moment, more than any other moment in his life, that he is most remembered today.

I want to thank Father Walsh for his spiritual help. I want to thank Bob Ray (Sanders) and Steve Blow for their friendship.

What I want people to know is that they call me a cold-blooded killer when I shot a man that shot me first. [This differed from his first trial when he claimed it was an accidental shooting]. The only thing that convicted me was that I am a Mexican and that he was a police officer.

People hollered for my life, and they are to have my life tonight. The people never hollered for the life of the policeman that killed a thirteen-year-old boy who was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. The people never hollered for the life of a Houston police officer who beat up and drowned Jose Campo Torres and threw his body in the river.

You call that equal justice. This is your equal justice. This is America’s equal justice. A Mexican’s life is worth nothing.

When a policeman kills someone he gets a suspended sentence or probation. When a Mexican kills a police officer this is what you get. From there you call me a cold-blooded murderer. I didn’t tie anyone to a stretcher. I didn’t pump any poison into anybody’s veins from behind a locked door. You call this justice. I call this and your society a bunch of cold-blooded murderers.

I don’t say this with any bitterness or anger. I just say this with truthfulness. I hope God forgives me for all my sins. I hope that God will be as merciful to society as he has been to me. I’m ready, Warden.

Officer Henry Mailloux is remembered on the Officer Down Memorial Page database. He would be sixty-nine-years-old if he were alive today.





A Crime Convention for True Crime Fans, 2017

Home | Recent News | A Crime Convention for True Crime Fans, 2017

CrimeCon 2017, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 9-11, 2017, at the JW Marriott Hotel. There are lots of different “immersive” programs planned, but from what I can glean, the guest/expert speakers, presenters, and VIP attendees are yet to be announced.

See more at: http://www.crimecon.com/

crime-conPrice for admission, Standard to VIP packages, range from $199 to $575, depending on when you register. HistoricalCrimeDetective fans and blog readers get a 10 percent registration discount by using the coupon code, HCD10. The $199 “early bird” registration price ends today, which is unfortunate because I just found out about it recently. Military and law enforcement personnel qualify for registration discounts, as well as groups of five or more people.

“A celebration of all things true crime, CrimeCon brings the cases you love to life through immersive experiences, incredible guests, and a ton of mystery and intrigue. It was created for those of us who binged on Making a Murderer or who spend more hours watching ID and Dateline than we’d like to admit. Made by fans, for fans, CrimeCon’s mission is to bring together thousands of creators and consumers for a weekend they’ll never forget.

“CrimeCon transports fans from the couch to the crime scene and into courtroom. If your idea of the perfect night involves alibis, motives, and a bottle of wine, then this is the event you’ve been waiting for. Grab a few true crime-obsessed friends and join us in Indy for a weekend you won’t forget.”

Specific Detail:
“When many people hear “convention” they think about tens of thousands of people walking around gigantic exhibit halls, but that’s not really what CrimeCon is. This is a far more immersive and individualized program that is much more about creating an authentic experience than it is about walking through miles of exhibit halls.”


The Wrath of George Geschwendt and the Abt Family Ambush, Trevose, Pennsylvania, 1976.

Home | Short Feature Story | The Wrath of George Geschwendt and the Abt Family Ambush, Trevose, Pennsylvania, 1976.


John Abt, with his daughter Margie.

When Michael Abt arrived at his family home in Trevose, Pennsylvania, he knew something was wrong. For a family of seven, the two-story house in the suburbs of Philadelphia (in Bensalem Township) had its own current of energy flowing through the walls, the floors, the ceiling and everything in between. But on Friday, March 12, 1976, the twenty-one-year-old couldn’t feel that energy, and as he looked around, he saw why.

“He saw blood stains and bloody rags and ran out of the house,” a United Press International report stated a few days later.

In the basement, Bensalem police found the bodies of six people, all shot once in the side of the head. Five of them were Michael’s family members; the sixth was the boyfriend of his sister. Alongside them lay the family dog, a friendly St. Bernard, also shot and killed.

The Abt family of Trevose was now reduced to two people: Michael, and his wayward brother Clifford, who was in jail on a forgery charge.

Three days into the investigation, the local police gave the standard “were tracking several leads” line, but before the interview was over, even they had to admit that “they did not know who shot the victims, and above all, they did not know why.”

But they did know one thing about the shooter; he was a very patient and determined man. This was no ‘burglary gone wrong scenario,’ it was a cold-blooded ambush. He had sat in the Abt family house for hours, calmly waiting for each family member to walk through the door so he could shoot them in the head. As he sat there, alone, he had hours to think about what he was going to do. He could have easily changed his mind and left.

But he never did.

The first two to die were Cathy, 15, and John Jr., 13, who arrived home from middle school just after three o’clock. He shot the two kids dead and carried them down to the basement, carefully laying their bodies next to the dog he had shot and killed after he broke into the house through the back door.

Two more hours went by until he shot his next victim, Margaret Abt, 46, an employee with the Internal Revenue Service. She arrived home from work about 5:15 p.m. A few minutes after she was killed, her daughter, nineteen-year-old Margie, arrived home from her job, walked through the front door, and was immediately shot in the head. Like the others.

Now, things were happening fast. The father would be home soon and the killer didn’t have time to carry the women downstairs. Instead, he dragged them to the top of the stairs by the back kitchen door and threw them down the steps.

Then, he wiped up the blood trails and waited.

Between 5:30 and 5:45, John, the devoted father and scoutmaster, arrived home from his job with the telephone company. He was shot as soon as he closed the front door.

Margie’s fiancé, Gary Engle, was the sixth and final victim. He was killed around six o’clock when he entered the house. He was there to celebrate the third anniversary of the first date they ever


Michael Abt pictured here during his 1991 interview.

went on.

Then, around 6:30 that night, the killer got up and left. He knew about Michael and Clifford, and wanted to kill them most of all, but the telephone kept ringing and ringing and ringing. It made him nervous.

What if a neighbor heard the shots and was calling to check on the family? he thought to himself.

Ten days later, police arrested Michael’s former childhood friend and neighbor, George Geschwendt. During their pre-teen and teen years, brothers Michael and Clifford were friends with George. Together, the three played pool, rode their bikes around town, and discovered the mischievous kind of trouble that boys their age, growing up in that era, could get into.

“We were real pains in the ass,” Michael said during a 1991 interview. “We were the best of friends.”

Maybe they were, maybe not.

The friendship broke apart after George was sent to juvenile court for vandalism. At the time, he was living with his mother, brother and abusive father who had tried to kill him on several occasions.

According to Michael’s 1991 interview, his mother forbade him from playing with George—fearing he would bring Michael down with him. Michael then claimed that for the next eight years, he and his brother, Clifford, never paid much attention to George, despite living diagonally across the street from each other.

Other reports of the friendship separation declare that Clifford and Michael bullied George by shooting BB guns at him and his house, sent unwanted flowers and taxicabs to his house, and for making fun of his mother who had a foreign accent. Of the two brothers, Clifford, the oldest, was reported to have bullied George the most.

Whether he felt bullied or betrayed by the Abt family in general, and Michael and Clifford in particular, George Geschwendt felt humiliated. His humiliation transformed to anger and a desire to set things right; to get revenge, and in his twenty-four-year-old mind, it was a justified revenge.

So George bought a pistol. He practiced with it. He set his mind to do it and on the morning of March 12, 1976, he put on rubber gloves, broke in through the back kitchen door of the Abt house, sat on the piano stool and waited.

He waited for six hours for the youngest of the family to come home from school.

By some twisted irony of life, the two he wanted to kill the most, were the two who got away.



George’s high school graduation photo.

On March 22, ten days after the murder, George was brought in for questioning by Bensalem Township police. Children fishing in a nearby creek found the murder weapon, which was traced back to George. That night, he confessed to killing the Abt family, calling it a “personal vendetta.”

He would later proclaim his ambush on the Abt family his “only achievement in life.”

When brothers Michael and Clifford found out it was their neighbor, who lived ninety-feet away, they got into fist-fight with each other in front of a newspaper reporter. The cause of the fight between them wasn’t reported on, but the implied message that comes through is—blame.

Breaking it off, Michael then tried to storm the Geschwendt house but was tackled by a police officer just inside the yard.

“I’m gonna kill him when I get him,” Michael Abt said through a swollen mouth. “I haven’t talked to him in eight years. It was senseless.”

Michael described his former friend as “a loner,” and said he couldn’t think of a reason why George would want to kill his family. If he and Clifford bullied George, he never mentioned it. Instead, he only had negative things to say about his neighbor.

“He always stayed at home,” Michael told a reporter after he had calmed down from the fight. “He’s strange…a very strange dude. Very quiet and withdrawn. He never left the house, never dated girls.”

During his confession, George shared his feelings of Michael and Clifford. “I would have stayed until midnight to get the other two,” but the phone kept ringing. He feared someone might have heard the shots.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Tried in July on six counts of murder, a Bucks County jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to die in the electric chair. When Pennsylvania’s old death penalty laws were ruled unconstitutional in 1977, his death sentence was commuted to six consecutive life sentences.

By 1983, he had exhausted all of his appeals. However, in February 1991, one of his old appeal arguments took root with a new federal judge who ruled the trial judge erred when he refused to instruct the jurors that “they could find the unemployed landscaper not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Had the jurors known of that option, “there is at least a reasonable possibility . . . they would have returned a different verdict,” the federal judge wrote. On November 8 of that same year, a three-judge panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Geschwendt “should get a new trial or be released from prison.”


George Geschwendt, circa early 1990s.

Disappointed county prosecutors appealed the three-judge panel decision to the full panel of judges. Following a second round of arguments in May 1992, the Third Circuit ruled against Geschwendt, reporting that the trial judge’s instructions for a third-degree murder conviction did in fact give sufficient allowance for his insanity claim.

After their family was murdered, brothers Michael and Clifford lost complete control over their lives. Clifford was in and out of jail over the next thirteen years. He died in August 1989 after suffering a bad reaction to an unspecified narcotic.

By 1991, Michael had lost his license, his job, any home he had, and during his Inquirer interview, was living in a motel with his pregnant girlfriend. For a ten-year period, he sold methamphetamines to make a living. During the interview, he claimed he was out of that business. In March of 1990, around the time of the fourteenth anniversary his family was murdered, Michael got drunk and crashed his 1972 Toyota in the back of two cars at an intersection. He was put on probation and ordered to pay $4,000 restitution.

They may not have been killed, but George’s actions led to their wrecked and wasted lives.


I could find no further information on Michael. According to a Topix internet discussion of the case, Clifford and Michael harassed and bullied George because they thought he was strange. It turns out George was a sensitive young boy whose father physically abused him (by 1950s and 60s standards) and tried to kill him on two occasions.

George, 64, is alive and serving out his life sentence at State Correctional Institution—Mahony, a medium security prison in Schuylkill County.

This is still a very sensitive case for many people from Bucks County, and evokes strong, emotional reactions from those who knew or were familiar with George Geschwendt, or the Abt family. Naturally, those connections produce a lot of thoughts and opinions about this case, which I am never going to go into. Every murder story I’ve ever written comes with an encyclopedia volume set of rumors and gossip and opinions. It’s normal. However, HCD is not a message board for rumors and gossip and opinions about old cases. Please don’t write to me about this tragic mass murder unless you have documented information. I’ve outlined the case above and believe it is a short but adequate report.



Mug Shot Monday! Sgt. Frank Martz, 1943, Vampire Slayer

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Sgt. Frank Martz, 1943, Vampire Slayer



On December 6, 1943, twenty-seven-year-old Ann Geist took her three-year-old daughter, Kathleen Ann, to a tavern near Fort Logan, Colorado, where she met up with friends. At the time, Fort Logan was a small, Army-Air Force installation west of Englewood, and eight miles southwest of Denver.

Soon after she arrived, Geist and her friends became preoccupied with playing a pinball machine[1] (new at that time) and she forgot about her daughter. Also inside the tavern was Staff-Sergeant Frank Martz, 33, a cook in the army who had recently returned from South Dakota where he visited his wife on furlough.

When Martz realized the mother had forgotten about her daughter, he went to Kathleen and promised her soft drinks and “a fluffy, stuffed toy rabbit” if she would come with him to his apartment. The girl agreed and she and Martz left the tavern unnoticed. As they were walking home, the happened to pass by a patrolman George Fritsinger who thought they were father and daughter.

According to a statement later given to reporters, once he had her inside his apartment, “Martz struck Kathleen on her head with a blunt instrument…Sometime thereafter, he took a stout cord…wrapped it around the little girl’s neck, choking her. He thereafter ravished and raped the little girl, evidenced by many teeth marks and wounds on the body.”

victim Kathleen Ann Geist 1943By the time she was dead, Ann Geist reported her daughter’s disappearance to Patrolman Fritsinger, who remembered seeing Martz and the girl walking on the street earlier. Fritsinger then got two military policemen to go with him to Martz’s apartment where he answered the door drunk and partially clothed. He was taken to the Englewood jail and questioned by detectives. Fritsinger and the military policemen then returned to Martz’s apartment to search for Kathleen “and found her torn body under the sink,” the Associated Press reported.

Martz, who had been a carnival and circus cook before joining the army, said he was drunk on beer and wine and didn’t remember anything about the little dead girl in his apartment. Two days later, he blamed the murder on vampire stories he had read earlier that day in pulp magazines.

“Martz told District Attorney Richard Simon (in an oral statement) he had been confused by reading several detective stories Monday afternoon, including one which described how a vampire sucked the blood from a living body. Then he got so drunk, he said, that there were long intervals during which he could not remember what happened,” the AP reported. “Coroner Ivan J. Foss said the child’s body was nude and bore numerous scratches and teeth marks.”

However, in his written statement, Martz did recall part of his attack.


A July issue of the fiction magazine Detective Tales. This is the type of pulp fiction magazine Martz was reading while drinking beer and wine, and which he claims influenced him to attack young Kathleen. This is just a sample.

“Since I have had time to think over events of Monday night, I cannot state positively that I remember taking the girl into my room and closing the door. . . . I remember striking her, choking and beating her, and tearing off her clothes.”

In another part of the statement, Martz was quoted as saying: “I was scared to death. I undressed. Took all my clothes off. And I got into bed and pulled the covers over my head and I was scared. Then the police came.”

His claim of being under the influence of alcohol and vampire stories did not help his case. During his February 1944 trial, he was convicted and sentenced to death by a Littleton jury.

Because of World War II’s dominance of over other types of news coverage, there are only a handful of newspaper reports still available about this case. His case was appealed, but the Colorado high court upheld his conviction and death sentence, which did not take place until November 23, 1945 at 8:00 p.m. To make sure the state was NOT executing a crazy man, possibly because he was under the influence vampire stories at the time, a sanity hearing was held for Martz on the day of his execution.

frank-martzWhen Canon City Prison Warden Roy Best appeared at his cell, Martz’s face lit up with hope that his stay of execution was granted. But when Best started reading the death warrant, Martz’s face quickly dropped. The would-be vampire then recovered, and smiled at Father Justin McKernan, his spiritual advisor while on death row.

Martz was then escorted out of his cell and led on the quarter-mile walk up to Woodpecker Hill where the state’s gas chamber was located. Martz, who was calm and steady in his march, received a helping but unwanted hand from one of the guards.

“I don’t need any help. I can walk by myself. He then told Father McKernan, “Pray for me. If anybody needs prayer, I do.”

During the last two weeks, Martz spent most of his time talking quietly with Father McKernan, and reading a bible given to him by death row inmate Charles Ford Stillman who was executed two weeks earlier.

Wearing nothing but his shorts and socks, Martz took his seat on a chair inside the gas chamber.

“As guards strapped Martz into the death chair he held a crucifix in one hand, a St. Christopher medal in the other. The slayer raised the medal—symbolic of a safe Journey—to his heart and said: ‘God forgive me for I have sinned. I’m sorry.’”

At 7:59, the sodium cyanide pellets were dropped into the Sulphur acid and Martz breathed deeply as he was instructed to do. At 8:02, he was pronounced dead. After the chamber was flushed and purged, his corpse was cleaned with chlorine solution. Prison officials waited twenty-hours for someone to claim the body. When no one did, he was buried in the prison cemetery on Woodpecker Hill.

[1] Pinball machines were fairly new at that time. Marble machines preceded the invention of Pinball machines.

Woodpecker Hill Photo Gallery, courtesy of Cemeteries of Colorado.   Frank Martz is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in this cemetery.

Rusted aluminum markers on steel posts identify the grave sites of prisoners executed long ago at the Colorado State Prison in Canon City.
"CSP Inmate" is how most of the markers are labeled. The man buried here is nameless and forgotten.
A barren landscape is the final resting place for executed prisoners, and those who died while serving out their sentences.
The prison can be seen from the cemetery.
A pitiful reminder of a life wasted.


Guest Feature Story: Murder and Masonry, 1890, by Dr. Barry Morton

Home | Feature Stories | Guest Feature Story: Murder and Masonry, 1890, by Dr. Barry Morton

Special Guest Feature Story by: Dr. Barry Morton:

rev-wf-pettitAt few times in its history has the small town of Crawfordsville, Indiana ever been more regularly in the spotlight than it was between the autumn of 1889 through November 1890. The Pettit murder trial, “the most publicized case in this period,” began with published rumors of the Reverend William F Pettit’s suspicious conduct around the time of his wife’s death in August 1889, continuing through grand jury deliberations and his arrest in early 1890. His lengthy and dramatic trial, held in Crawfordsville between October and November 1890, “attracted attention throughout the Midwest because of the prominence of the families involved in it.”

The Pettit murder attracted widespread attention for two good reasons. On the one hand it was the lurid nature of the case: “the murder for which Pettit stands convicted was one of the most deliberate, cruel, and cold-blooded crimes ever committed in the state of Indiana.” The courtroom was packed daily and local spectators lined up every morning with their own chairs. Even Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur and the town’s most famous resident, was in regular attendance (and said to be writing a novel based on the case), as were journalists from Indianapolis and Lafayette—whose stories were reprinted widely.

In addition, the prominent social position of the murderer and his accomplice made it equally dramatic. Not only was Pettit the minister of one of Indiana’s wealthiest Methodist congregations, but he was also one of the highest-ranking Freemasons in the state. His accomplice, the widowed Clemmie Whitehead, came from an upstanding family—the Meharrys—that was easily the wealthiest in the Montgomery and Tippecanoe County area that its landholdings straddled.

The entire Pettit affair also illustrates the tension that existed in America’s evolving justice system. As the legal scholar Elizabeth Dale has so deftly shown, America’s justice system was an evolving, contested arena well into the twentieth century. Even late into the nineteenth century, local notions of popular justice coexisted with the distant, bureaucratic arm of the state. For instance, in western Indiana, the vigilante Horse Thief Detective Agency had a far greater presence than the various county sheriffs and local police. While the vigilantes did not get involved in the Pettit affair, the actions of ordinary citizens were decisive in first obtaining official prosecution and then conviction. Gossip and shaming were central to the affair, and these were classic forms of popular justice. The people of Shawnee Mound were convinced of Pettit’s guilt, but believed his station would enable him to get away scot-free. Their actions, which he sought to counter, led to his demise.

Continue Reading…




Mug Shot Monday! Lemuel Hawkins, veteran, baseball player, federal prisoner, & accidental gunshot victim, 1895-1934

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Lemuel Hawkins, veteran, baseball player, federal prisoner, & accidental gunshot victim, 1895-1934



Lemuel Hawkins, Auto Theft (Federal), 1931

Lemuel Hawkins (October 2, 1895 – August 10, 1934) was an American first baseman in Negro league baseball. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago Giants and Chicago American Giants from 1921 to 1928. He was 5’10” and weighed 185 pounds. In 1931 he was arrested for stealing a car (which was a federal crime at that time) and sentenced to serve two  years in prison


Hawkins was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1895. He served in World War I and was also the first baseman for the successful 25th Infantry Regiment baseball team posted at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. He, along with teammates Oscar Johnson, Dobie Moore, Bullet Rogan, and Bob Fagin, joined the Kansas City Monarchs in the early 1920s.

Hawkins during the 1924 "Colored World Series."

Hawkins during the 1924 “Colored World Series.”

Hawkins was the Monarchs’ everyday first baseman from 1921 to 1927 and played for the Monarchs team which won the 1924 Colored World Series.

According to George Sweatt, Hawkins and teammate Bill “Plunk” Drake were good friends. “[They] were the craziest guys,” Sweatt recalled. “When we’d go to a different town, they’d just walk through the halls all night, fooling around. That’s all they did!”

Hawkins played for the Chicago American Giants in 1928. He finished his career in the Negro National League with a .265 batting average, three home runs, and 268 runs scored in 2,126 plate appearances.

Between the 1923 and 1924 baseball seasons, it was reported that Hawkins spent the Winter driving a taxicab.

In July 1931, Hawkins was with three other men in a car when they were searched by police in connection with a holdup. One of the other men pulled a gun and was shot to death by the officers, and Hawkins was held on an automobile theft charge. He was sentenced to serve two years in Fort Leavenworth Federal Prison. The mugshot photo above is from his time in Leavenworth.

On the night of August 10, 1934, Hawkins and a partner attempted to hold up a beer truck in Chicago. A scuffle took place, and Hawkins was accidentally shot to death by his partner. The bullet that killed him entered his left ear and pierced his brain. Hawkins’ body was taken to the morgue where it went unidentified for approximately one month.

“Identity of Hawkins was made through his war record and finger prints sent to Washington,” reported the September 15, 1934, edition of The Afro American, a national weekly newspaper for African Americans. “It was disclosed that he had served in the Twenty-Fourth 25th U. S. Infantry (Regiment) and in the World War. The body was shipped to Macon, Ga., at the request of his mother, Mrs. Carrie Hawkins, of that city.”


New Book: Suburban Nightmares: Australian True Crime Stories, by Emily Webb

Home | New Books | New Book: Suburban Nightmares: Australian True Crime Stories, by Emily Webb

Australian journalist and true crime author, Emily Webb, has recently released her third true crime book with Suburban Nightmares: Australian True Crime Stories, which features 28 incredible true crime stories most Americans have never heard about. And, of course, the very first chapter is about an American who killed a girl with a crossbow.

Yes, a crossbow. More about him in a moment.

Author Emily Webb

Emily-WebbYou might remember Webb from her last book I reviewed, Murder in Suburbia, which had 20 great stories about some of Australia’s most horrific, gruesome, and terrifying crimes. (There were some in there I will never forget. Really, really, messed up killers.)

Besides being a true crime author and journalist, Webb is also a busy mum of two, and runs the highly respected blog — TrueCrimeReader.com True Crime Book Reviews, News & Views — which is where I go when I’m looking for a good, contemporary TC read.

You should follow her on Facebook. Seriously. She posts reviews on books I didn’t even know were out yet. If you’re an avid TC reader, click on that link and press like to get info on new books, as well as info about crimes happening a half-a-world away.

Here’s the short but tantalizing description of Suburban Nightmares.

Book Description:

Suburban-NightmaresThink nothing ever happens where you live?

Suburban Nightmare is a collection of stories that are hard to believe, except they really happened – and all in the streets and homes of the Australia many of us know and live. The suburbs.

These cases range from recent murders to some historical stories that will shock and surprise.

One of Australia’s best young true crime writers, Emily Webb probes the black underbelly of our towns and suburbs, and exposes the darkness at the heart of Australian life.

  • An afternoon of random violence by a nursing student armed with a shovel
  • 18-year-old Annette Morgan, murdered in the grounds of Sydney University and still unsolved
  • The sad tale of 60 animals slaughtered at the Adelaide Zoo by two 18-year-olds on a murderous rampage
  • A series of cases about men who kill their families – sadly, there was no shortage of cases
  • The main suspect for the Tynong North and Frankston murders is now in his 80s – will there be justice for the victims of these 1980-81 murders?

Kurt “Crossbow” Dumas

Now, back to that American in Australia. His name is Kurt Dumas and he is doing time in California right now thanks to lenient sentencing laws down under. We had them here, too, up until the mid 1980s when Americans finally got fed up with it.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on Kurt Dumas.


Kurt “Crossbow” Dumas

Kurt Michael Dumas and Lyndell Martin were friends. The pair, aged 20 and 19 respectively had met each other around three years before when they were both patients at the Parkville Adolescent Unit in Melbourne in 1982 and kept in sporadic contact.

On 18 November 1985 Dumas popped around to Lyndell’s flat in inner-city Melbourne and arrangements were made for her to come to his place that night for dinner.  It had been several months since they had seen each other.

What went on in the flat that evening is not known for sure but Lyndell never made it home.

She was found dead in the bathroom of Dumas’s flat four days later. It was Dumas’s mother Gail who found her body. There was a 14cm steel-tipped arrow embedded in the victim’s abdomen.

From court records and newspaper archives the picture emerged of Dumas as an extremely dangerous young man. Mrs Dumas told the coroner’s court that her son had suffered severe head injuries after falling from a table at the age of three months. She said that since that accident Dumas had several brain operations.

Mrs. Dumas said he became violent, unpredictable and had been asked to leave three schools because of this behavior.  He also spent some years as an inpatient in mental hospitals including the one where he met Lyndell.

Dumas was born in Michigan, USA, on 12 December 1965. The family emigrated to Australia in 1972. He returned to the United States for short time in 1978 and came back to Australia in 1979.

On 19 December 1986 Dumas was sentenced to life imprisonment but Justice Hampel fixed a minimum term of 18 years before the young killer could be considered for parole.

Justice Hampel said: “The evidence and all the surrounding circumstances, in my view, plainly demonstrate that there is a real likelihood that a crime of the kind committed on Lyndell Martin may be again committed by you”.

Dumas’s sentence was lengthy but he was released after his minimum term, which would have been around 2003.

Dumas ended up back in America, renting a room from a woman called Denise Ann Howes in Redford, Wayne County.

She had no idea how dangerous he was.

When Denise’s partner Todd could not get in contact with her on December 7, 2004 he held grave concerns for her safety. He’d spotted her car – a 2000 Jeep Cherokee – but it was Dumas who was in the driver’s seat.

When police attended the address they found Denise dead in her bedroom. She’d been shot. There was duct tape over her mouth.  At that point The Redford Police didn’t know of the arrestee’s violent past and how he’d committed an almost identical crime almost 20 years ago.

Dumas was arrested and he told police he’d served time in an Australian jail for killing a woman in “similar circumstances”.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree homicide and felony firearms. He was sentenced on 8 April 2005 to a minimum of 43 years (maximum 80 years) for the homicide charge and two years for firearms offense.



Rediscovered News: Grandpa’s Hammer, 1955

Home | Rediscovered Crime News | Rediscovered News: Grandpa’s Hammer, 1955

A sad, stupid, senseless crime.  Horrible.


Child is Slain by her Grandfather: Singing Kept him Awake

August 25, 1955, TEXAS CITY , United Press— A preliminary hearing was scheduled Thursday for Robert J. Wallace, 78, who is charged with beating his blonde, nine-year-old granddaughter to death with a ball-peen hammer because her singing kept him from taking a nap.

Wallace, charged with murder with malice aforethought, was being held in the Texas City jail.

The victim, Frances Jean Wallace, died in her home Wednesday from numerous blows on the head with the heavy hammer.

Her father, G. W. Wallace, was at work at a Texas City refinery and her mother was working at a supermarket when Frances was killed. Wallace, who had lived with his son and his family for 14 years, was calmly rocking in a chair three or four feet from the body when police arrived.

Child Was Coloring

Wallace told Assistant District Attorney Archie Alexander he was trying to take a nap but Frances’ singing kept him from going to sleep. Police said she was sitting at a table coloring a paint book when she was attacked. The book was open and her colors were scattered about it.

In a statement made to police, Wallace said he went into the kitchen, drank a glass of milk, and got the three-quarter pound hammer from a tool box. He said he returned to the living room and started hitting Frances on the head. She fell to the floor after several blows and Wallace said he dragged her body to the center of the room “so I could get a full swing.”

Sister Heard Noise

“I hit her in the head with a hammer about 20 times,” Wallace said.

Frances’ sister, Linda Faye Wallace, 13, was outside the house playing when she heard the commotion and ran into the house. She saw her little sister lying on the floor, her head covered with blood.

Linda Faye ran screaming from the house and across the street to the home of a neighbor. Mrs. Gay Archer, and told her: “Grandpa has hurt Frances.”

Mrs. Archer ran across to the house and found the grandfather rocking in his chair near the body. She asked him what happened and he replied:

“Nothing, I just killed her.”

The little girl’s mother had to be hospitalized for shock when she learned of the slaying.


The story below is the last one I could find about Wallace. A sanity hearing before a trial was his next step and if the story thread drops off here, he was either committed to a mental hospital, or, less likely, he accepted a plea deal.


Waives Hearing On Charge of Murder

TEXAS CITY, Aug. 30 (UP)

Robert J. Wallace, 78-year-old hammer-slayer of his nine-year-old granddaughter, has waived preliminary hearing on a charge of murder.

Examining trial for the aged man who has been kept. in a padded cell in Galveston county jail since the slaying last week was to have been held before Justice of the Peace O. P. Redell Monday. Assistant Dist. Attorney Andrew Baker asked Wallace if he was willing to waive the hearing to send the case directly to the grand jury. Wallace agreed with a nod of his head.

District Attorney Marsene Johnson. Jr., said Wallace will be given a sanity hearing before October, in time for the murder easy to go to the October term grand jury if Wallace is found sane.

Wallace has admitted killing the child because her singing and childish pratter irritated him while he was trying to take a nap.


Mug Shot Monday! Woodrow Wilson Clark, 1944

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Woodrow Wilson Clark, 1944


Woodrow Wilson “Whitey” Clark

On the morning of Jan. 15, 1944, in a small shack at the back of the Dillon Sign Shop at E1806 Sprague, police inspected a gruesome murder scene.

Four people hacked and mutilated by a hatchet. Two victims, T.P. Dillon and Jane Staples, were dead. Flora Dillon died a few days later. Despite horrible head wounds, Frank Winnett survived, but could never recall what happened.


The Victims. Opens larger in new window. Photo Credit: The Spokane Chronicle, 1944


At first, authorities focused their attention on Staples’ husband, Charles. There was evidence she frequently had been unfaithful to him. He was identified by County Prosecuting Attorney Leslie Carroll as “the coldest-blooded man I have ever met in my years in the prosecutor’s office.”

Carroll also said Charles Staples was known to authorities as a communist. And when police picked up Staples to question him, the county attorney said he had blood on his shoes.

Carroll said it was the opinion of everyone investigating the case that “this was the crime of an outraged husband.”

But all other suspects were forgotten after Whitey Clark was arrested and signed a confession. Clark later said he had signed the confession only after a grueling all-night interrogation session in which the prosecutor and police threatened him.

The prosecution’s account was that Clark met the Dillons and Jane Staples at a tavern the evening before the murders. The Dillons and Staples had been drinking heavily, and T P. Dillion invited everyone in the place to his house for a party.

Clark was among the crowd who went along.

The party broke up a little before 4 a.m., with everyone leaving except the Dillons, Staples, Winnett, and Clark. Earlier in the evening, angered by advances made toward his wife, Dillon had threatened Clark with a pistol.

So, the prosecution said, Clark turned his attentions to Jane Staples who had passed out on a bed next to Mr. and Mrs. Dillon. When Dillon objected, the prosecution said Clark picked up a hatchet and attacked his four companions.


Death Scene of the Spokane Hatchet Slayer, Photo Credit: The Spokane Chronicle, 1944


1943-Mugshot-Woodrow-ClarkBefore the trial, Clark’s defense attorneys pointed out that even if the prosecution’s scenario was true, it was a crime of passion, not premeditation, and was not a capital offense.

But in 1944, the law prescribed that anyone who compiled murder during a rape could be sentenced to death. Although no medical evidence of rape was introduced, the prosecution sought the death penalty saying Clark a advances toward the unconscious Jane Staples constituted a rape attempt.

Clark’s story was that when he left the party at 9 30 a.m., everyone was sleeping. He said the assault must have taken place after he left.

Two newspaper boys testified they saw Clark near the Dillon home at about 4 30 a.m., and said he asked them directions downtown. They said Clark had blood on the white shirt he was wearing.

When police found Clark, there was only a small spot of blood on the pants he had been wearing that night and none on his shirt. His roommate said Clark had borrowed the pants from him, and the blood stain was caused by his own nosebleed {the roommate’s] days earlier.

Police found a bloody white shirt on a chair at the murder scene, and the prosecution said Clark, after seeing the news boys, must have realized he had to get rid of the bloody shirt, so he returned to the shack and left it there.

Jurors later admitted they had doubts about the prosecution’s case, but they said Clark’s own testimony and demeanor finally swayed them.

“It was the little things that convinced the jury of the guilt of the defendant. The members all agreed,” a newspaper account said. “Actions of the defendant in the courtroom, his demeanor and many meaningless denials upon the stand convinced the jurors of the verity of the state’s charge that Clark committed the murders in a rage because Dillon thwarted his attempt to rape Mrs. Staples, one juror said.

“The jury noticed Clark’s roving eye when a pretty woman entered the courtroom, (the juror) said.”


Above, Woodrow Clark is escorted to one of his trial appearances. Photo Credit: The Spokesman Review

Clark was sentenced to die on Oct. 5, 1945.

At 4 p.m. on Oct. 4, he was taken from his cell on death row and placed in the single cell in the execution chamber. There were guards present to “observe him constantly,” and a chaplain, who would remain throughout the night.

But seven hours before the hanging was scheduled. Lt. Gov. Victor A. Meyers, acting as governor, called the warden on the line which was kept open between the governor’s office and the prison in the eight hours prior to any execution. Whitey was granted a 90-day stay of execution.

Meyers said he granted the stay as the result of a “deluge” of petitions, letters and phone calls from Spokane objecting to the hanging and from his own review of the record, which left ‘”some question in his mind because the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence.”


While awaiting execution in Walla Walla in January 1946, Clark enjoys one of his last meals. Photo Credit: The Spokesman Review


Governor Monrad Wallgren appointed a man to look into the case, and a citizens’ committee in Spokane led by L. Lore Wartes, was formed to convince the governor to commute Clark’s sentence to life imprisonment.

But they could only prolong Clark’s life. They could not save him.

On Feb. 4, 1946, at 4 p.m., Clark, the chaplain and the guards reconvened.

He was fed a meal of his choice.

At 11:30 p m., the warden read the death warrant to Clark. At 12:05 a.m., Feb. 5, his arms were strapped to his sides, and he mounted the gallows. As he stood over the trap door, his legs were strapped tightly together. The noose was placed over his head and “adjusted by an individual expert in such matters who is kept on a retainer by the state for this purpose, and who has become thoroughly familiar with the physical attributes of the condemned to ensure a quick and painless death.”

There is no record of whether Whitey Clark requested a hood.

In an adjacent room, three volunteers pressed three buttons, one of which sprung the trap door.

About fifteen minutes later, a physician and a coroner pronounced Clark dead, and his body was cut down.