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04/24/2015 Crime Book Lottery Ends

Home | Crime Book Lottery | 04/24/2015 Crime Book Lottery Ends


Congratulations go to Richard, Stacey Matchen, Irene Dunbar, and Bast, whose guesses of 402, 386, 386, and 374 make them the winners of our 4/24/2015 Crime Book Lottery. They came closest to the winning number of 408 selected by Random.org.

I would like to thank everyone for playing and their subscription to HistoricalCrimeDetective.com. If you didn’t win, the kindle version of Famous Crimes the World Forgot is available this weekend for $1.99.


Mug Shot Monday! Mark Maxwell, 1919

Home | Mug Shot Monday | Mug Shot Monday! Mark Maxwell, 1919


In August 1919, Mark Maxwell worked for the railway division of the US Postal Service when he embezzled $9,000 from registered banking deposits bound for the Federal Reserve. Stationed in Mansfield, Washington, Maxwell tried to evade capture by traveling across the country to New York City. Distancing himself from the crime didn’t help and the twenty-two-year-old was identified, captured, and extradited back to Washington where he stood trial and was sentenced to serve four years in prison.


Serial Killer Anna Marie Hahn, 1906-1938

Home | Short Feature Story | Serial Killer Anna Marie Hahn, 1906-1938

Anna Marie Hahn was a female serial killer who became the first woman ever to be executed in Ohio after it was confirmed that she poisoned five old men to death in order to gain their estates through fraudulently produced wills or by raiding their bank accounts.

Hahn1In 1927, Anna emigrated from Germany and settled in Cincinnati where she married Philip Hahn, a telegraph operator. A few years into their marriage, Philip came down with a mysterious illness and over the loud protestations of Anna, his mother had him transported to the hospital where she looked after her son’s care.

In 1932, Anna gave up her small bakery she owned and took up a new profession as a home nursemaid to single, elderly men. Between 1933 and 1938, Anna cared for five men who all died while in her care—five men that we know about. Authorities, at the time, stopped exhuming bodies after five of them were found to have traces of arsenic.

Her victims and the profits she gained included:

  • Erich Koch, 72, May 6, 1933, house.
  • Albert Parker, 72, date unpublished, a $1,000 loan given to Anna before he died. The IOU she signed disappeared after his death.
  • Jacob Wagner, 78, June 3, 1937, $17,000 left to his “beloved niece” Anna.
  • George Gsellman, July 6, 1937, $15,000.
  • George Obendoerfer, August 1, 1937, $5,000.

One man who escaped her fatal care was George Heiss who became suspicious when flies sipping the beer she brought him keeled over and died in front of him. He ordered her to take a big swallow from his beer stein, and when she refused, he fired her.

Obendoerfer’s death, which occurred out of state, raised suspicions and authorities began their investigation which led to Anna’s arrested and a four week trial in November 1937, in which she was found guilty and sentenced to death. The motive for the murders, it came out, was to cover losses incurred by her addiction to gambling.

All the way up until the very end of her execution, slated for December 7, 1938, Anna believed the state of Ohio would not put a woman to death and her sentenced would be commuted. She was wrong. As they were strapping her into the electric chair, it dawned on her that she was going to die and in her last words, she pleaded with the warden to save her life. “No, no, no! Mr. Woodward, Mr. Woodward, don’t do this to me. Won’t someone help me?”

Another report states that her last words were: “Please don’t. Oh, my boy. Think of my boy. Won’t someone, won’t anyone, come and do something for me? Isn’t there anybody to help me? Anyone? Anyone? Is nobody going to help me?”

She was also, apparently, in the middle of saying the Lord’s Prayer when the switch was thrown.

Read More:




Mug Shot Monday! Murderer Paul Clein, 1909

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Murderer Paul Clein, 1909


Paul Clein

On March 1, 1909, thirty-six-year-old German immigrant, Paul Clein, and Polish immigrant John Saudawski, also in his late thirties, were seen together eating supper at a German bakery in Spokane, Washington. Three weeks later, Saudawski’s partially burned body was found on the Fort George Wright military reservation[1] on the outskirts of Spokane. When city coroners performed an autopsy on Saudawski, they found partially undigested beans in his stomach, and estimated he had eaten two to four hours before his death. They also discovered and removed two .32 caliber bullets from the victim’s neck, and one from his skull.

Investigators quickly determined that Clein was the last known man seen with Saudawski. They also discovered he had recently traded off a .32 caliber pistol—the same caliber used to kill Saudawski. When confronted with this fact, Clein denied it, and said he gave the weapon to his fiancé, Mrs. Ida Douglas, one month earlier, and that she had since parted with it. Douglas declined to speak with police or reporters, but would not alibi her lover, either.

Clein had arrived in Spokane by way of British Columbia where he served as a mounted police officer. Before immigrating to Canada, Clein was a soldier in the German army. From his military and law enforcement experience, Clein was a tough customer during his interrogation, which may have included violence. He was smart enough to know that any confession on his part would be fatal, but to wiggle his way out of the murder charge, he gave multiple statements that conflicted with each other.

After three days of questioning, Clein eventually placed himself with Saudawski on March 1, when he admitted having dinner with the Polish immigrant. As the last known person with Saudawski before he disappeared, Clein was formally charged with his friend’s murder.

“He has explained things in a way that did not explain them, as subsequent investigation revealed,” the Spokane Press newspaper reported on March 25. “He has become entangled in his statements, has told conflicting stories, yet through it all, denies any responsibility for the unoffending Pole, Saudawski.”

As soon as Clein was named the chief suspect, both the Spokane police and newspaper reporters began digging into his background and discovered more forensic and circumstantial evidence against him, as well as unsavory facts about his character.

Wagon tracks leading to the area where the body was found matched the rubber padded wheels of a rented buggy that was traced back to a downtown Spokane stable where the owner identified Clein as one who hired the rig. That particular buggy had distinctive yellow running gears which several witnesses identified as being in the vicinity of Fort George Wright military reservation on the Tuesday morning of March 2. Clein’s time card at his place of employment revealed that he arrived for work two hours late that same morning.

When investigators searched Clein’s hotel room, the found a hidden compartment in his trunk that revealed his true name was Paul Krasnensky, and that he was once married with twins, but that his wife and one of the children had died while they were living in Canada. His remaining child was then placed in someone else’s care before Clein set off on his own.

They also found love letters from “a woman of ill repute” back in Kalso, British Columbia. Mae Randall was later described by reporters as a beautiful, young blond woman who wore the latest fashions. Just prior to Saudawski’s murder, Clein had written to her asking for money. When he was arrested, police found him in possession of $30, money which he said he always carried with him. However, his coworkers stated he was “crying poverty” in the days before March 1.

As if his carrying on with two women, one of them a fancy prostitute, wasn’t bad enough, Spokane detectives found several tools belonging to his employer in Clein’s hotel room.

When the coroners determined Saudawski had been murdered two to four hours after he last ate, the assumption was made, by local prosecutors, that he was murdered on state land. This belief led to state charges and a May trial in a Spokane courtroom where Clein was found guilty and sentenced to death.

After he was convicted, Clein continued to profess his innocence and begged to be turned loose so he could catch the real killer.

“I can find the fellow who did it if they will turn me loose,” Clein self-righteously declared to a Spokane Press reporter. “And I will secure his conviction with stronger testimony than circumstantial evidence at that. What can a man do when he is cooped up here?”

However, when the reporter repeated Clein’s fanciful proposition to the prosecutor’s office, it got a good laugh. During Clein’s trial, while Ida Douglass sobbed for her fiancé in the courtroom, Clein’s former lover, Mae Randall, dropped a stack of love letters on the prosecutor’s desk one night after jury selection. In them, he had written to her of his heartfelt desire for their impending marriage and at the same time, made emotionally manipulative demands for Mae to send him money. To the city of Spokane, Clein’s ability to seduce two women at the same time destroyed his credibility—which only made his latest proposal to track down the real killer seem ludicrous to everyone but him.

“At the prosecutor’s office Clein is regarded as the most persistent liar prosecuted in Spokane County in years,” the Spokane Press writer continued. “No stock is taken in his insinuations that someone else killed Saudawski. Clein, after his arrest, tried to cast suspicion on Paul Fuchs, causing him to be detained for a day or two. Then later, Clein insinuated things against his former roommate, Joe Schultz, which the officers found had no basis.”

The only person to believe in Paul Clein’s honesty was Paul Clein. Even the woman who cried for him at his trial refused to perjure herself regarding his claim of turning over his revolver to her one month before the murder.

But what he lacked in honesty he made up for with dumb luck and on January 4, 1910, Clein was granted a new trial that would take place in federal court. The motion came from his attorney, who argued that since Saudawski’s body was discovered on federal land, the state could not prove that he wasn’t killed on federal land. The judge in his first trial agreed and Clein’s case was moved to federal court.

Due to internal matters at the federal courthouse, Clein’s case was continually postponed but on May 22, 1911, approximately two years after his first trial, he was found guilty a second time and sentenced to life in prison. His life had been spared—but not for long. According to the McNeil Island Federal Prison records, Paul Clein, inmate number 2024, died on May 20, 1914, at 11:20 a.m. He was buried in the prison cemetery the following day. His cause of death was not listed.

[1] Most of the land from this former military base is now home to Spokane Falls Community College.


4/3/2015 Lottery Ends, Winner Announced

Home | Crime Book Lottery | 4/3/2015 Lottery Ends, Winner Announced

Congratulations go to Jessica Zastoupil who is the winner of our 4/3/2015 Crime Book Lottery. Her guess of 177 was closest to the number selected by Random.org which was 180. A screenshot of this number is posted below.

I would like to thank everyone for playing and for their subscription to HistoricalCrimeDetective.com


Mug Shot Monday! Joe Crowe, 1938

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


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.


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.



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


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 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.


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

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


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.