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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, or subscribe to our Email Alerts for new story updates and receive FIVE TRUE CRIME eBOOKSs for FREE!

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Mug Shot Monday! Joe Crowe, 1938

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Joe Crowe, 1938

Joe-Crowe

Joe Crowe’s Prison Mug Shot

Oklahoma State Penitentiary convict Joe Crowe is a great example of the laxness with which prisons once guarded their inmates. In 1938, Crowe was a prison trustee on a dam project near Fort Towson, Oklahoma, where state convicts provided a large portion of the labor force. That November, Crowe left his post, gained access to a car, and drove to Paris, Texas, where he robbed a gas company office of $20. He then returned to dam site and resumed his trustee position as a supervisor over the other inmates.

Authorities later discovered his unauthorized field trip, and gas company employees identified him as the man who robbed them. He was already serving a five-year sentence for armed robbery of a loan office. The legal outcome of the gas company robbery is unclear.

The X on his forehead was done by a newspaper editor who used this photograph in 1938 to publicize his field trip. It signals to the staff who lays out the newspaper he only wants to use the photo on the left.

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Little Demon in the City of Light
by Steven Levingston

Home | New Books | Little Demon in the City of Light
by Steven Levingston

This gem of a true crime story, which takes place in Paris 1889, is now out in paperback—making it affordable to everyone with a price range of $7.87-$11.36 on Amazon. Author Steven Levingston is the non-fiction editor for the Washington Post.

Book Description:

A delicious account of a murder most gallic—think CSI Paris meets Georges Simenon—whose lurid combination of sex, brutality, forensics, and hypnotism riveted first a nation and then the world.

Little-Demon-in-the-City-of-LightLittle Demon in the City of Light is the thrilling—and so wonderfully French—story of a gruesome 1889 murder of a lascivious court official at the hands of a ruthless con man and his pliant mistress and the international manhunt, sensational trial, and an inquiry into the limits of hypnotic power that ensued.

In France at the end of the nineteenth century a great debate raged over the question of whether someone could be hypnotically compelled to commit a crime in violation of his or her moral convictions. When Toussaint-Augustin Gouffé entered 3, rue Tronson du Coudray, he expected nothing but a delightful assignation with the comely young Gabrielle Bompard. Instead, he was murdered—hanged!—by her and her companion Michel Eyraud. The body was then stuffed in a trunk and dumped on a riverbank near Lyon.

As the inquiry into the guilt or innocence of the woman the French tabloids dubbed the “Little Demon” escalated, the most respected minds in France debated whether Gabrielle Bompard was the pawn of her mesmerizing lover or simply a coldly calculating murderess. And, at the burning center of it all: Could hypnosis force people to commit crimes against their will?

From The New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Levingston has unearthed a whopper of a story, and lovingly crafted a dense, lyrical yarn that hits the true-crime trifecta of setting, story and so-what. Such books remind us that times may change, but the human animal does not. Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City” hit that mark so profitably that the reader can be forgiven for assuming Levingston has created a mere echo in “Little Demon in the City of Light.” But this is no copycat crime book. First, this isn’t Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, but Paris’s 1889 International Exposition, where we are introduced to Eiffel’s iron monstrosity, and our main characters: a randy dandy, a femme fatale (the “Little Demon” of the title) with a weakness for being hypnotized, her manipulative con man lover and a soulful chief detective who packs a magnifying glass rather than a gun. Boxing kangaroos and a vaudevillian who sings “Au Claire de la Lune” through his anus add to the riotous circus.

Available from Amazon in Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover and Audible.

 

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The Acid Doctor: The Most Horrendous Murder in American History, 1962

Home | Short Feature Story | The Acid Doctor: The Most Horrendous Murder in American History, 1962

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On the left, Hungarian born Dr. Geza de Kaplany during his trial in January 1963

One of the most painful and horrific murders in American history was committed by Hungarian born Dr. Geza de Kaplany, whose jealousy and insecurities led him to torture his young wife to death by pouring acid on her as she was bound to the bed in their San Jose, California, home on August 27, 1962. Beautiful Hajna de Kaplany, a twenty-five-year-old model, did not die right away. Police were alerted to the home when neighbors complained of loud music and wailing of someone in pain. When the ambulance attendants arrived, their hands were burned when they tried to handle the body.

Hajna, unfortunately, lived for thirty-three more days in a hospital where her mother prayed for her death and the attending nurses were barely able to look upon the damage de Kaplany had caused. One observer, wrote veteran crime writer Carl Sifakis, said it was “the most horrendous single murder in American history.”

During his trial, de Kaplany pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorney argued he was driven to insanity because of frustration over his own impotence, and an unfounded rumor that his wife was having an affair. During the trial, he claimed he never meant to kill her, but only wanted to “destroy her beauty.”

The jury found him guilty and when they considered his punishment, they were assured that if they sentenced him to life in prison, he would be classified a special interest prisoner and would never be released. But this turned out not to be true and the country was surprised to discover that Dr. de Kaplany was quietly paroled in 1975. Forced to defend their actions to an angry public, the California Adult Authority (the state parole board) reported that a missionary hospital in Taiwan desperately needed a cardiologist with Dr. de Kaplany’s skills.

Prior to coming to the United States, de Kaplany worked in Hungary, as a heart specialist. When he came to America, he was forced to repeat his medical education and chose to specialize in anesthesiology. His parole was contingent on leaving the United States and that he serve in the missionary hospital, which he did, but only for a few years.

In 1980, Dr. de Kaplany was fired from a Munich hospital he was working at when a magazine article recounting his crimes was made known to administrators.

In 2002, reporters for the San Jose Mercury News tracked de Kaplany down to a home in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, where he lived with his second wife who he met in Taiwan. When the reporter interviewed de Kaplany, the doctor claimed he had suffered enough for his crime.

“I have done one mistake in my life,” de Kaplany stated. “I paid enough for it.”

He then begged the reporter not to publish his story. “It would ruin my life.” He said before adding “I was insane.”

As it turned out, de Kaplany had found the Taiwan missionary himself by reading news accounts, then told the parole board, “[I will] devote the rest of my life—however long or short it may be—to serving the poor in underdeveloped countries, whose pain and suffering I would alleviate.”

That pledge only last four years and in 1979, de Kaplany jumped bail and flew to Germany where he found work using his Hungarian credentials.

As the Mercury reporters revealed in their 2002 article, de Kaplany’s parole was a fiasco from beginning to end. The wife-killer had secured the support of several Catholic priests and one archbishop who lobbied the parole board, in secret, on the doctor’s behalf.

Two years before he was tracked down, de Kaplany became a German citizen in 2000, which placed him permanently out of the reach of California authorities, who could have returned him to prison for violating his parole.

The hypocritical audacity of de Kaplany continued in that interview when he insisted on being called “Doctor, Doctor Geza de Kaplany, because he had both medical and philosophical doctorate degrees. The seventy-six-year-old then blamed the parole board for why he left the country.

“If I stayed in California, I would be on parole. But they gave up the authority with kicking me out of the country. You can’t eat your chicken and have it too.”

It is unclear of Dr. de Kaplany still is alive or not. If so, he would be eight-eight-years-old.

Read More:

San Jose Mercury News archived article from 2002

Dr. Geza de Kaplany – Wikipedia

Photographs from CRIA Images

Mug Shot Monday! George Darnell, Captured 1931

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! George Darnell, Captured 1931
George-Darnell2

George Darnell in 1951.

When railroad section George Darnell was fired from his job on August 17, 1929, he set his mind on revenge. The following day, Darnell tampered with a track switch near Henryetta, Oklahoma, which later caused a passenger train to jump the track. Thirteen people, eleven of them passengers, were killed and ten more were injured.

Darnell stayed in Henryetta but when suspicion began to center on him, he went on the run. He was hunted down by railroad detectives and captured nearly two years later near Parsons, Kansas, on April 5, 1931. He was brought back to Henryetta and quickly pleaded guilty to murder charges and was sentenced to life in prison.

When he was confronted with pictures of the wreck he caused, he broke down and wept. He explained to the court that when he was fired the day before, he thought if he wrecked a freight train it would lead to the dismissal of the railroad foreman who had fired him.

Darnell came up for parole in 1947 but he was denied after railroad employees showed up at his hearing to protest his release.

The photograph above was taken in 1951. It is unclear if he was eventually paroled.

I apologize for not posting the last two weeks but I have been hard pressed to finish my latest book: “Deadly Hero: The High Society Murder that Created Hysteria in the Heartland.”

Photo Credit: Oklahoma Historical Society: [Photograph 2012.201.B0292.0088], Photograph, n.d.; (http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc223890/ : accessed January 05, 2015), Oklahoma Historical Society, The Gateway to Oklahoma History, http://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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Mug Shot Monday! William T. Horton, 1946-2011

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! William T. Horton, 1946-2011

William-Tyson-Horton-Collage

William Tyson Horton was a serial rapist and child molester from Oklahoma City who operated between 1970 and 2010. The unique aspects of his life of crime is that between 1970 and 1983, Horton repeatedly was able to wiggle out of many serious rape and molestation charges against him by lenient judges and high priced attorneys. Born in 1946, Horton was the only son of wealthy father who owned the local Ford dealership, as well as an amateur baseball team in Texas. Between 1963 and 1969, Horton stacked up dozens of very serious traffic violations for which he was never punished because his father, one observer speculated, was on the city’s Safety Board which promoted safe driving practices. By 1970, however, his license is suspended for 90 days. During that time, Horton discovers his real passion for sex crimes when he burglarizes a neighbor’s apartment, makes an obscene phone call to another woman, then chloroforms and rapes another woman.

Between 1970 and 1983, Horton solicits prostitutes, commits more rapes, assaults, and molestations. In one incident, he cuts a prostitutes throat with a knife, who, fortunately, survives her wounds. For that crime, he is arrested, charged, and held accountable in court in 1983. Before he can be sentenced, however, Horton flees with the bail bondswoman who posted his bond. He is captured a few months later in Kansas City, Missouri, where police found a pair of boy’s underwear in his room. He also fits the description, Kansas City police reported, of the man responsible for committing numerous rapes in the area. While Horton was on the run, the judge in his trial sentenced him in absentia to sixty years in prison.

He serves 27 and gets out in 2010. He moves into what is called a “safe community” for registered sex offenders and quickly resumes his practices of picking up and assaulting prostitutes. A famous OKC video vigilante who records local men picking up prostitutes and posts the videos on his website, JohnTV.com, posted video stills of Horton cruising for prostitutes and one of them getting into his car. The “Video Vigilante” also reported that several girls informed him that Horton had picked up several prostitutes, duct taped them, and raped them at knife point.

But things had changed since Horton was able to wiggle out of punishment in the 1960s and 70s and he was arrested a few days later on four complaints of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, two complaints of kidnapping and two complaints of forcible sodomy.

According to JohnTV, Horton was looking for young children to have sex with before he was arrested. “…several Oklahoma City street prostitutes were claiming that Horton was violently attacking women and offering others cash if they could introduce him to drug addicts with young children he could then pay to have sex with.”

Horton died in 2011 while in custody awaiting court action in his case.

A summary of his life of crime can be read here: “To Best Meet The Needs of Justice” : : William Tyson Horton (1946-2011)

You can read about his 2010 arrest here: Man arrested in kidnappings, sexual assaults in Oklahoma City,

And a very interesting article from JohnTV.com here: Man suspected of attacking and raping several OKC prostitutes arrested; Previously identified by JohnTV

His death reported here: OKC street prostitute rapist dies in jail awaiting trial

Estimated Reading Time: 45 to 60 minutes.

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Mug Shot Monday! James Carhart, 1975

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! James Carhart, 1975

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James-Carhart

On the night of March 28, 1975, James Carhart, a former Army Sharpshooter from the 101st Airborne Division, “went berserk” and used his rifle to pick-off two police officers from the window of his third floor duplex in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Officers William Wurst and Donald Aleshire, died as they exited their patrol car. A third officer, John Holmes, was paralyzed by wounds he received that night and died in 1992 from complications caused by his injuries.

After he shot the three officers, Carhart was able to keep 300 policemen at bay for three hours until he was finally taken into custody. Inside his parent’s third-floor apartment, officers found twenty guns and plenty of ammunition.

During his trial held in 1977, Carhart said he was Jesus Christ and he killed the officers because they had persecuted him in his former life. Carhart is still alive and serving his time at the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow Township.

Carhart’s crime is not forgotten in Mount Holly where it is still a painful memory for many who live there.

Additional Reading:

“State Moving 1975 Sniper To Ancora, 1989

“25th Anniversary Of A Tragedy A Vietnam Vet-turned-sniper Left 2 Dead, 1 Disabled, Many Reeling, 2000″

“Mount Holly cop killer from 1975 to remain institutionalized, 2014″

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Lottery Ends, Winner Announced, 02/07/2015

Home | Crime Book Lottery | Lottery Ends, Winner Announced, 02/07/2015

Congratulations go to Deborah Schmaltz, and Colleen Myers, who came the closest to the random.org selected number of 531. Their guesses of 527 and 501 were the closest without going over. See the screenshot below for the winning number.

They both win one paperback copy of “Famous Crimes the World Forgot.”

There will be another Crime Book Lottery later this month. Thank you to everyone who played and better luck next time.

random-org-02-06-2015

 

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Mug Shot Monday! Frank Shaffer, Anti-War Protester, 1918

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Frank Shaffer, Anti-War Protester, 1918

Frank-Shaffer - Anti War Protester, 1918,

Frank Shaffer

In 1918, while US forces were fighting in Europe, Frank Shaffer, 42, was arrested for mailing the anti-war book, The Final Mystery, through the United States postal service. For this, he was charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. He was first sentenced to two and one-half years in federal prison but this was later reduced to one year. He began serving his time in 1920 and was released after nine months.

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Sword and Scale True Crime Podcast Episode 36

Home | Podcast Interview | Sword and Scale True Crime Podcast Episode 36

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36-Med

The Sword and Scale True Crime Podcast is the most professionally produced true crime podcast out there. Sword and Scale founder and presenter, Mike Boudet, has long been a friend to HCD.

This week, Episode 36, Mike and I explore the case of Savage Killer Timothy McCorquodale, 1974, which I wrote and posted on the HCD blog last August.

“Timothy Wesley McCorquodale had a rage in him that was uncontrollable. Like a loose cannon he could go off at any minute, unleashing mayhem an any poor unsuspecting soul that happened to cross him. The horror he would subject 17-year-old Donna Marie Dixon to in 1974, is unfathomable to this day.” – SwordAndScale

You can listen to this story by clicking on the link. After you are done, you can browse and check out his many other excellent stories and podcasts.

http://swordandscale.com/

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Mug Shot Monday! Serial Killer James Turner

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Serial Killer James Turner

 

James-Turner

Serial Killer James Turner

James Turner is a previously unrecognized serial killer linked to the murders and accidental deaths of ten friends, coworkers, and family members in which he was the beneficiary of their life insurance policies. He was active for a twenty-one year period between 1954 and 1975, when he was arrested on January 22 for the machete murder of his twenty-year-old brother-in-law, Dwight Dees, near Rochester, New York. He was indicted on February 27 in Monroe County Court and pleaded not guilty on March 3.

After he pleaded not guilty, the James Turner story disappears from the newspapers. After March 3, 1975, it just stops. A search of Google Books and several crime encyclopedias also turned up nothing.

It is possible, and this is conjecture, that he accepted a plea deal to avoid taking his chances with a trial. Or, he committed suicide while in custody. I am only presenting possibilities and not asserting anything as factual.

The surprising aspect to me is that James Turner appears to be a serial killer who has slipped through the cracks of contemporary writers who specialize and compile information about serial killers. However, I haven’t read every serial killer book. There is a serial killer database for academic types, but it is off limits to non-members. I only found out about him while reading a 1975 crime magazine, which also did not provide any information past his March 1975 arraignment.

Victims

Sometime in June 1964, a coworker of Turner’s from the Nabisco plant in Rochester disappeared and was never found. John Louis Brown’s $5,000 life insurance policy named Turner as the beneficiary. It is unclear if Turner collected on this policy since Brown’s body was never found.

On November 19, 1968, Frank Scialdone, eighteen-year-old coworker of Turner’s at the General Motors plant in Rochester, was found murdered. The boy’s family members reported that James Turner was going to co-sign a car loan for Scialdone, who was set to buy a life insurance policy to cover the loan in case he died. However, Scialdone was found with a bullet hole in the back of his head before he could take out the policy. On the day he was killed, relatives say he had $400 on him which he was going to use towards the purchase of the car.

In May 1969, the partially decapitated body of William Bradwell was found bobbing in the Genesse River. Shortly before his death, the twenty-three-year-old GM employee named Turner as the beneficiary of his $5,000 life insurance policy. In that case, it was confirmed that Turner actually collected on the policy.

On December 2, 1969, Lewis McDowell, 29, was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage. He was listed as a suicide. Shortly before his death, he changed the beneficiary on a company life insurance to coworker, Jim Turner.

In July of 1971, GM employee Horace Everett changed the beneficiary on his $9,000 life insurance policy from his wife’s name to James Turner. Mrs. Everett would later tell newspaper reporters that during those summer months, her husband and Turner held many secret meetings at their home. She didn’t know what he was up to, but realized it must be bad and begged her husband to back of whatever plan he and Turner had concocted.

“I told Horace that whatever they were up to, it was wrong,” his wife said. “I told him it was wrong because of the children. But he said that’s why he was in it, whatever it was. He said he loved the children and wanted to make life easier for them.”

Everett refused to back down and told his wife that he would be meeting with Turner the following day and they would soon be rich. He never came home that night and his body was found the next day behind an abandoned factory.

“A terrycloth towel was wrapped around his head, and, when it was removed, police discovered that the right half of his skull had been blown apart with a shotgun,” wrote Joseph Koenig in a June 1975 issue of Inside Detective. He left behind three small children and a fourth who was born two months after he died.

With their suspicions raised, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company refused to pay James Turner after their investigation revealed that the change in beneficiary was “improperly and fraudulently procured.” Everett’s wife received $6,750 as the co-beneficiary as well as an additional $4,500 from an accidental death clause.

Although insurance investigators and police looked upon him with suspicion, Turner had the audacity to sue the life insurance company and fight with Everett’s widow in court. However, by 1973, he dropped the lawsuit when too many uncomfortable questions were being raised about the death of Horace Everett and his possible motive and connection in the case.

One month before Everett’s murder, Turner moved his family into a two-story, three bedroom Colonial house that was built to his specifications in a new subdivision. He and his wife decorated the $40,000 home ($233,000 in 2014) with new furniture.

During his court battle with the insurance company, Turner’s brother-in-law, Dwight Dees, moved into the home and attended community college. During the fall of 1974, Dwight mysteriously resumed the premium payments on a $50,000 life insurance policy he had previously dropped when his education expenses became too great.

On January 21, 1975, a borrowed car Dwight was driving that night was found nose-down at the bottom of a twenty-foot embankment. Inside, lawmen found Dwight’s body with his head nearly decapitated. While searching the area, investigators located a blood trail which led to several large pools of blood behind an old barn several hundred feet away. It was obvious to them that someone nearly cut off the boy’s head behind the barn and then dragged the body back to the car in order to make it look like an accident.

The investigation quickly led police to James Turner who was arrested on suspicion of murder the following day. Following his arrest, an insurance agent saw the news on television and called police to report that their suspect had 50,000 reasons to kill his wife’s youngest brother. A few days later, police located a machete which Turner had used to hack away at the young man’s neck.

An all-out investigation by police soon uncovered the insurance connections between Turner and the deaths of Brown, Scialdone, Bradwell, and McDowell. When it came to Horace Everett, Turner was already the number one suspect, although police couldn’t prove it.

When authorities dug a little deeper, they learned that Turner collected $2,500 on two life insurance policies after his sister suffocated to death during a tragic fire in her apartment on April 14, 1963. At the time, her brother James lived with her, but was not at home when the fire started. He filed to collect her benefits the day after she died. The files from that death showed Turner had called the insurance agent several days before the fire to cancel his own polices, and to double check that his sister’s policies were still active. Also, at that time, Turner worked in a hospital where police speculated he may have stolen pills that he used to drug his sister before he set the fire and left.

Turner and his family were originally from Florida and when police looked into his time there, they learned from family members that another sister of his was murdered near Plant City in 1954. When Rochester investigators asked Florida police to check their records, however, they could no files on the twenty-year-old murder.

Family members also told police about two other Florida relatives who died in what were then believed to be accidents. But now, they weren’t so sure.

When police interviewed neighbors and coworkers, they learned Jim Turner was an extremely hard working man who was friendly and considerate with everyone who lived on his street. He would use his snow blower to clear the sidewalks for neighbors, who were unable to clear it themselves. They also recalled he was a strict father who cared deeply about the welfare of his children and never drank heavily or chased other women. He usually went to bed early so he could wake up early to work long hours.

After Turner pleaded not guilty, the judge ordered him held without bail. No further information on his case exists. I imagine more could be found by searching the microfilm of local newspapers at the Rochester Public Library, but with no dates to search under, it would be a tedious process that would require the researcher to read every single newspaper for the remainder of 1975. Further information might be obtained from police or prison records, and possibly, FBI records.

Here is a link to one of the few articles available about James Turner.

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