True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow

Welcome to HistoricalCrimeDetective.com [Est. 2013], 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. This blog is the official website for true crime writer Jason Lucky Morrow, author of four books including the popular series: Famous Crimes the World Forgot, Volume I and Volume II. If you would like 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.

A New Book Presented by HCD – ‘Vintage True Crime Stories: An Illustrated Anthology of Forgotten Cases of Murder & Mayhem Volume I’ – will be released Sept 10.

Home | New Books | A New Book Presented by HCD – ‘Vintage True Crime Stories: An Illustrated Anthology of Forgotten Cases of Murder & Mayhem Volume I’ – will be released Sept 10.


Vintage True Crime Stories: An Illustrated Anthology of Forgotten Cases of Murder & Mayhem, Volume I, is a new book from HistoricalCrimeDetective.com that will be released Monday, September 10.

All this week leading up to the Monday launch date I will be posting more information about the book including a sample chapter or two, images, and information about free digital advance copies with a chance for reviewers to win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards.

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When it comes to committing murder, nothing has changed in the last 100 years.

One of the questions I hear the most from those who read vintage true crime stories goes like this: “Is crime worse today than it was back then?” I know it may seem like capital crimes and the deprivations of society are the worst they have ever been in American history, but the upcoming release of a new anthology series surmises that—when it comes to murderers, they haven’t changed much in the last one-hundred years. Catching them, yes. The motive, means, and opportunity, no. The cold-blooded killers of today are the same as they were long ago. 

To prove this theory, consider the cases below that appear in our new book, Vintage True Crime Stories, Volume I scheduled for release this Friday, September 7, by Historical Crime Detective Publishing.

Chapter One: Twenty years before the 1932 kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., there was the Marie Smith case of 1910. The nine-year-old went missing while walking home from school. Her killer was German, spoke with a thick German accent, and his last name was even similar to Hauptmann’s. Both men were entrapped by scientific advancements that were landmarks for future cases. And, in the end, both men were executed in the same electric chair.

Chapter Two: Like a scene in a contemporary action movie, two hitmen on a motorcycle roar down a Rhode Island road late at night. At the designated location, they come to a stop beside the chauffeur driven automobile of a wealthy doctor who was accompanied by his mistress. At point blank range, the assassins emptied their pistols into the two figures in the backseat. They ignored the driver and sped away, disappearing into the darkness. That event led to a one-of-a-kind murder trial with an outcome that reinforced the duality of American justice for the next one-hundred years.

Chapter Seven: During the late hours of January 10, 1895, two burglars break into the parsonage of Rev. William Hinshaw and his wife Thurza. A fight breaks out; Thurza is shot in the head and dies on the steps leading up to the back door. Bravely, William fights back in a desperate struggle with the man holding the gun. His partner, a smaller but ‘wirey’ man, slashes him a dozen times with a razor, forcing Hinshaw to release his hold on the taller one who then fires one round into the reverend’s left shoulder. Fearing others may have heard the shots, the robbers flee through the backdoor and disappeared down a snow-covered lane.

Neighbors, friends, and newspaper editors declared Rev. William Hinshaw a hero. One needed only to look at his many wounds to see that that he fought as hard as any man could against the two robbers—the ones who never left footprints on the snow covered lanes of Belleville, Indiana.

Chapter Eleven: On January 1, 1914, the cabin of a local photographer burns to the ground. Inside, they find his body. Three days later, it happens again to another man. Autopsies prove the men were killed before the fires were set. The evidence leads investigators to an elderly Civil War veteran with a dark past filled with dead bodies.

 

These four stories were recently discovered in one of the rarest true crime books known to exist, Enemies of the Underworld: Embracing Sixty-Eight Stories by America’s foremost Detectives, by Frank Dalton O’Sullivan.

His 700-page tome is a combination manual for new detectives, and true crime book featuring true stories co-authored by senior detectives and police chiefs from across the United States. Self-published in 1917, the book sold for five-dollars, the 2018 equivalent of $108–which might explain why it’s nearly impossible to find a copy of it today.

With this artifact, Historical Crime Detective Publishing saw it as the perfect foundation to structure a new anthology series simply titled: Vintage True Crime Stories: An Illustrated Anthology of Forgotten Cases of Murder & Mayhem.

Volume I contains fifteen stories from O’Sullivan’s book, while the remaining five chapters were selected from Fifty Years a Detective by Thomas Furlong, published in 1912.

Mixed in with these twenty stories are sixty-five images, fifty-two footnotes, a dozen epilogues, and ten annotations.

But wait, there’s more! – Volume I of this series comes with a companion webpage where readers can find more information including fifty more images, and more than 130 pages of newspaper coverage about the cases covered in this book.

Editor: Jason Lucky Morrow


The Fate of the Bender Family, 1873

Home | Feature Stories | The Fate of the Bender Family, 1873


Editor’s Note: The Bloody Benders were a family of serial killers who lived and operated in Labette County, Kansas, between 1871 and 1873. Nearly a dozen travelers who stopped at their small inn were murdered, and their bodies later found buried on the Benders’ property. The family of four disappeared before they could be arrested. Over the years, a dozen different accounts of their fate were theorized or told. The story below—that they were killed soon after they were suspected in the disappearances of eleven people—is just one of those accounts, but this one comes from one anonymous source, and two deathbed confessions by individuals who said they were involved in the interrogation and execution of all four Bender family members. It was written and published in an obscure true crime magazine in 1951.

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by Manly Wade Wellman, 1951

WHEN Osage Township began seriously to worry, about March 1, 1873, over vanishing travelers on the road from Fort Scott on the Missouri line to Independence deep toward the Indian nations, those travelers had been vanishing for about two years. One more was still to vanish, before Kansas and the world would know how these disappearances had come to pass.

In those days news did not travel fast or far, especially news about lost strangers nobody expected to meet, anyway. People were too busy settling.

First there was only a trail leading southwest into Kansas, bitten through the buffalo grass by heavy-rimmed, ox-drawn wheels. As the Civil War spent itself and a new impulse of settlement strove that way, the trail was hardened and widened by much travel into a highway. Wagonloads of settlers trundled in. Here and there on the treeless plain sprang up farmsteads, relieving a monotony hitherto broken only by occasional meager creeks, small knolls, or willow and cottonwood scrub. Osage Township in Labette County, just east of the new village of Cherryvale, was distinguished from the rest of the developing country only by the faint color and flavor of mystery.

Many of the sunburnt farmers had served in the Union Army. Their women were plain and industrious, their children shock-headed, barelegged, shrill. These people built their own houses, butchered and smoked their own meat, ground their own flour from their own grain, sewed their own clothing and cobbled their own shoes. They had no theaters, no libraries. Occasionally there was a barn-raising, a revival meeting, a spelling school. Neighbors made much of every trifle of entertainment and sociability.

Leroy Dick was Osage Township Trustee. Among his neighbors were Rudolph Brockman, bluff, jovial and Teutonic; Silas Toles, of shrewd Yankee stock; George Frye and Thomas Jeans, modest and laconic farmers; Maurice Sparks, whose quick temper sometimes fulfilled the implication of his name; and the Bender family, whose roadside home did duty as store, restaurant, and hotel.

Story Continues Here:


Student Film Maker Seeking Funds for Project based on HCD Blog Post of a Female-Female Marriage in 1913.

Home | Recent News | Student Film Maker Seeking Funds for Project based on HCD Blog Post of a Female-Female Marriage in 1913.


When researching and writing a story for this blog, I never know if  the case is going to resonate with someone on a deeper level. It often does with family members–who read about their relatives as a victim or perpetrator–but when a story connects with someone unrelated to the victims, special things can happen.

In September 2013, two months after I started this blog, I accidentally stumbled upon an interesting case in Meeker, Colorado, where a handsome bartender, and later farmhand, married one of the prettiest girls in town, but “he” was later exposed as a woman. In the blog post, Handsome Jack Hill was a Woman, 1913, I posted five newspaper articles published in 1913 that report on what was then an unusual case of a young woman dressing up like a man in order to find more lucrative employment so that she could save money to go to college.

While living and working in Meeker, Colorado, Jack Hill was given the sobriquet of “Handsome Jack” Hill by all the single women (and some who weren’t) within one week of his arrival. These women were so persistent in their “please pursue me” hints and suggestions, that it became a nuisance, and Jack Hill, aka Helen Halstead, who was really Helen Hilsher, came up with the brilliant plan of marrying German immigrant, Anna Slifka. As husband and wife, this would eliminate unwanted attention of all the available women in town, and put a stop to the town gossip that single Anna was spending too much time over at single Jack’s humble accommodations, which she was.

That’s the reason Handsome Jack gave–at first. Later, his/her story changes, the truth gets hazy, and Jack’s enjoyment with being the center of female attention, and the efforts he took to be a good husband for Anna (who knew he was a she), write a different story regarding the true nature of their relationship. By the end of my blog post, and a great story written in 2017, we realize that these two women, brave and contrarian, created a world for themselves in which their union was the first same-sex marriage in Colorado history.

Fast forward from 1913, and 2013 to August 2017 when a graduate student in cinema directing at Columbia College in Chicago discovered the HCD blog post describing this unique story of two women who lived as husband and wife in small town Colorado 100+ years ago. For her, this story connected with her own struggles in her native Russia. After reading about this unique case of a historically rare female-female marital union, Ksenia Ivanova knew she had to focus her required thesis film, a short narrative of ten to fifteen minutes, on the story of Colorado’s first same-sex marriage between “Handsome Jack” Hill, aka Helen Hilsher, and Anna Slifka.

In 2013, I accidentally discovered this story and hastily assembled five newspaper stories to create a blog post which I believe was the first retelling of this story in a century. Maybe.

In 2017, a writer named Amy Hughes found greater resources not available to me in 2013 and wrote a truly excellent piece about Jack and Anna you can read here. The Hughes article goes into greater detail and lays the foundation for why this remarkable story, buried for more than 100 years, should be awakened and cast toward the screen to be seen by a mainstream audience, an alternative one, and for all who concern themselves with LGBTQ issues.

“The story of Jack and Anna is unique because there are not many stories that show how members of the LGBTQ community have struggled,” Ksenia recently wrote on her project funding page. “Since this story happened in 1913, it makes their choice to fight for their happiness even more powerful, because at that time it wasn’t even possible.”

But great story telling on film doesn’t come cheap and the cost of Ksenia’s one-of-a-kind project is about $15,000. A pie chart on her funding page breaks it all down, but the director with a vision is determined to make it happen, and has already received some impressive grant money from some impressive organizations.

“We are winners of several grants such as the Albert P. Weisman Award, Carole Fielding Student Grant, and The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Grant,” the young filmmaker wrote. “We have raised $5,000 so far but this is not enough to bring ‘Jack and Anna to life.”

With $10,000 to go, Ksenia and her troop of eight talented associates are asking for you to make a donation. It’s not really a donation, though, because they will give you back what they can–cool stuff that only comes with being involved in the industry.

If describing yourself as a film producer sounds as good to you as it does in real life, you can donate $1,000 or $500 to this project and you got it, executive level or associate producer credits.

If you’re not that ambitious, then working downward from $100 to $5 will get you autographed scripts, copies of the film, film credits, film posters, and social media shout outs.

The stories on HCD are free, and as most of you know, I give my books away for free when I can. With all that free content flying around, I don’t have a hard time encouraging everyone to donate to a project seeking to produce content on a higher level, for a greater purpose.

Myself, I’m donating. I think it’s an awesome venture with great potential to grow naturally into a major motion picture. Or, even a minor motion picture would be outstanding, but the story does have growth potential, IMO.

Check out the IndieGoGo fundraising page for this unique project titled “Jack and Anna where you can learn more film “Jack and Anna” and are given the opportunity to donate $5 (which would be great if everyone did) to $1,000.


Famous Crimes… Vol II Wins Gold Medal for True Crime

Home | Recent News | Famous Crimes… Vol II Wins Gold Medal for True Crime


Some good news to share…

But first, let me apologize for my long absence from the blog and Fb page. I am taking a long mental health vacation. Or, creative health vacation. Something like that. When I come back, I have some great stories to present including “The Case of the Missing Chocolate Pudding!” Just kidding. I’ve been putting in a lot of Mr. Mom hours.

The good news is that I found out twenty-four hours ago that my last book, Famous Crimes the World Forgot Volume II, received the Gold Medal in the True Crime Category of the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Gold Medal. True Crime. I still can’t wrap my head around it. I did not see that coming.

Here’s how IndependentPublisher.com describes their book awards – in two sentences.

The “IPPY” Awards, also known as the “World’s Largest Book Awards Contest,” are open to English-language authors and publishers worldwide and conducted annually to recognize the year’s best independently published books. Launched in 1996, the awards have grown from 325 entries in 28 categories, to over 5,000 entries in 125 categories.

After looking at the books and authors, who won the Silver and Bronze Medals, I can say I am impressed by their work. One is a professor of law at the University of Kentucky, and the other is a former prosecutor. Yikes.

And that’s when I realized that my gold medal probably came down to a rock, paper, and scissors kind of thing.

But seriously, recognition is awkward because validation of one’s work is a tender thing. Mostly, it never happens. When it does, the words that once came so easily slip away and I can only say “from my heart, thank you very much,” and I have no better words than those.

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New Book: Bobby BlueJacket, The Tribe, The Joint, The Tulsa Underworld

Home | New Books | New Book: Bobby BlueJacket, The Tribe, The Joint, The Tulsa Underworld


From HCD: The biography of Native American Bobby BlueJacket, a safecracker & killer who redeemed himself inside and out of prison, will go on sale in February, 2018.  The book, Bobby BlueJacket: The Tribe, The  Joint, The Tulsa Underworld, is available for preorder from the publisher, First to Knock. Author Michael P. Daley, was kind enough to share with Historical Crime Detective a short story excerpt titled, “Always Take a Limousine to a Safe Burglary.” The story is just one of the fascinating episodes in the life of this forgotten criminal considered “a legend amongst Tulsans who considered themselves outsiders.”

The Book Trailer:

“…I had such a hatred inside of me
that I was as dangerous as
any son-of-a-bitch that ever lived.”

—Bobby BlueJacket

Watch this book trailer on Vimeo.

About the Book:

Bobby BlueJacket is the extraordinary true story of a career thief who first gained notoriety as a convicted teenaged killer. Based on over 5 years of research, the book draws from BlueJacket’s own memories, long-buried law enforcement and trial records, prison archives, news accounts, as well as interviews with others such as photographer Larry Clark and veteran reporters of Tulsa’s mid-century crime beat.

Born in 1930, BlueJacket came of age as a Native American in white Oklahoma—passing through teenage rumbles, scheming pool halls, and Midwest safecracker crews. While incarcerated, he remade himself as a celebrated prison journalist. By the 1970s, he would act as a political impresario, used tire salesman, and prison rodeo emcee—ultimately becoming an Eastern Shawnee activist and respected tribal elder. At each turn, BlueJacket sought out success and self-definition by any means necessary. More than just an underworld tale—Bobby BlueJacket is an in-depth exploration of one man’s experience in a brutal post-war world.

Bobby BlueJacket is illustrated with almost 90 photographs from never-before-seen personal archives, as well as images from prison publications and newspaper clippings.

Softcover / 6 x 9 / 752 pgs. (Includes 87 pgs. of b&w photography and 106 pgs. of source notes)

Always Take the Limousine to a Safe Burglary

by Michael P. Daley

The following piece is excerpted from Bobby BlueJacket: The Tribe, The Joint, The Tulsa Underworld by Michael P. Daley. Publisher: First To Knock, 2018. This piece was adapted for Historical Crime Detective.

The years following World War II are often seen as a jubilee and a time of growth. But it wasn’t all tickertape parades back home. The hard reentry into civilian life led many veterans to booze, narcotics, crime, and violence. It was a troubling time even for those, like 18-year-old Bobby BlueJacket, who hadn’t seen any traumatic fighting overseas. Tulsa’s wartime boom had come to an end and the job market shrank, leaving few openings for the newly expanded applicant pool of returning soldiers. It seemed to BlueJacket like his whole city desperately needed a paycheck. The unskilled, of course, had it the worst.

Job prospects were grim. But the bonds between BlueJacket and his buddies only cemented. All back from the War, the teenage boys joined together to form a Golden Gloves boxing team. Their manager was a Sapulpa man nicknamed “Knobby,” due to his likeness to the bald-headed manager of funny paper heavyweight Joe Palooka. Knobby and the boys toured the Midwest, going as far as New York—fighting in social halls, gymnasiums, Masonic lodges, and even at the Tulsa Coliseum. The boys were carted around in an old stretch limousine that BlueJacket and Lewis had bought, likely with stolen dough.

It would have been nice to train at the local YMCA with the rest of Tulsa’s boxers, but BlueJacket’s crew was barred from the place. “The old boy that was the head of the boxing club up there, for some reason, he didn’t like us,” BlueJacket said in a 2014 interview with the author. “I guess he thought we was a bunch of thugs.” Instead, the boys trained in the basement of the Tulsa police station. The police basement was also ground zero for professional wrestling run-throughs in the late 1940s. And police, pro wrestlers, and teenage boxers were an even more dramatic juxtaposition than it appeared, because BlueJacket’s boxing squad also doubled as a safe burglary crew in the afterhours.

The young boxers had been stealing for a few years now. Such early capers included the jacking of a Wurlitzer jukebox at Capshaw’s 24-hour restaurant. But safecracking is a technical expertise and so the boys needed a little education before moving up the ranks. Luckily Tulsa, in the mid to late 1940s, was probably the best place to get a schooling on burglary. The city was uniquely positioned, geographically, forming a bottom third of an underworld triangle that included Omaha and Chicago. These cities, according to BlueJacket, produced some of the finest safe burglars that ever lived. “Tulsa was quite a town in those days, kind of crossroads,” he remembered while driving through the city in 2013. “And it just seemed like everybody congregated around Tulsa.” Each city’s crews did jobs on their own, but the big ones required merging. Through crew mergers, tips and skills circulated. “Tulsa was a real safecracking institute,” BlueJacket continued. “Some of the biggest and best safecrackers in the country come out of Tulsa, and that’s where we all learned the business.”

Perhaps Tulsa’s most notable safecracking professors were the Wilson brothers: Ted, Paul, and Ray. Ted Wilson had come back from World War II and used his G.I. Bill opportunities to attend safe and lock school. “Before [Ted] died he showed everybody how to open them safes,” BlueJacket noted. “These guys were big time.”

Many of Tulsa’s burglars came from the neighborhood around Pine and Utica, an intersection marked by the Rightway Skating Rink and Morris Pastry. “Everybody out there went to prison, was in reformatories and things. It’s where they all come from in Tulsa. It was a real hard neighborhood. If a kid got out of the neighborhood, he could get out but he was still scarred,” BlueJacket described. “Most people didn’t come down here unless they was goin’ to go skatin’.” The area was also where out-of-town thieves and bank robbers rested their heads.

BlueJacket utilized a number of safecracking methods while apprenticing with older crews, but punching safes was most common in those days. “Most of us around this country, you know, was punch n’ hammer, you see?” BlueJacket said, “We got into peeling ’em at the end, but I started out with the old punch.”

BlueJacket, with his young boxing squad, also took part in a less technical style of safe burglary—taking the entire safe with you instead of trying to crack it on location. This was where that old stretch limousine came into play. Besides its inherent flashiness, the automobile happened to have a wide enough passenger door to fit a large safe through. “We had snatched a couple of safes around town, where you couldn’t really beat ’em open there because there’s traffic and people livin’ above ’em in apartments and things,” BlueJacket explained. “So we’d snatch ’em out of there and throw ’em in the back seat of that car and drive off.” They would take the safes out to empty fields in rural areas, “and beat ’em open.”

Targets were identified based on the potential for cash-flow. In the first months of 1948, BlueJacket’s crew hit the Osage School Gymnasium, the East Admiral Boulevard Bar, Hamburger King on West Third Street, and the Kid Cola plant at Third and Guthrie. The Cozy Theater was hit three times. The boys also got $120 from the Triple J Café, whereas a burglary of the Little Mayo Café reportedly yielded only 15 cents.

Towards the end of March, BlueJacket had a line on some gambling money. “If anybody was gambling, I usually knew about it,” he said. This job involved two different Greek diners across the street from one another on Boulder between 4th and 5th. One side of the street had a small, six-stool café called Purity Lunch. Across the street was the Boulder Café at 415 S. Boulder. Between these two places a lot of gambling was going on. Because gambling money can’t go in a bank, the Boulder Café had a mighty safe underneath the counter, stuffed full of cash and built into concrete.

On March 24th, BlueJacket, Rafael, and Chub made out for the Boulder Café. They didn’t have the limousine that night, but had access to a ’48 Plymouth four-door thanks to a boy named Griffin who would drive. The plan was to chip and pry the safe out of the concrete with bars, and then use Griffin’s Plymouth to cart the thing off. Punching or peeling on site would be too loud.

Griffin parked across the street. The others approached from the alleyway, where a big, inactive ventilation fan was. “We bent the blades on that fan and went on in,” BlueJacket described. “Took pry bars and beat that safe out of the ground. Pried it enough to where we weren’t making a lot of noise.”

Bobby BlueJacket seen here in a mugshot dated three and one-half months after the Boulder Cafe safe robbery.

When the chipping and prying was done, Rafael flashed a lighter in the window. That was the signal. Griffin pulled his Plymouth around. The boys came plowing through the front door with the safe in their arms. The plan was to throw the thing in the Plymouth’s back seat, like they usually did with the limousine. The quicker the better as it was heavy as hell. But there was a problem. The safe wouldn’t fit in the Plymouth’s backseat. BlueJacket said, “The reason the son of a bitch won’t fit is we was goin’ by that big Buick seven or nine passenger limousine we had with the big wide door.” They were confused, now stuck out on the sidewalk holding the Boulder Café’s safe. Their arms were growing real weary. A cruiser could roll by any second.

The boys decided to set the safe down in BlueJacket’s lap and figure out a backup plan. “There on the curb, I’m holding the safe in my goddamn lap and I’m pinned to the ground, can’t move,” he said. “It pinned me to the ground.”

After further consternation, they dropped the safe into the trunk, bringing the back of the car down low, nearly scraping the pavement. Now it was time to move. The boys jumped in. Griffin hit the gas. The Plymouth peeled out, porpoising like a speeding motorboat through the empty streets.

In 2014, BlueJacket revisited the location of the Boulder Café, which is now a parking garage. Thinking back on his times as a safe burglar, BlueJacket said there was a lesson to be learned:  “The moral of the story is don’t try to put a goddamn safe in the back seat of your car ’til you measure the door.”

415 South Boulder, Tulsa, OK, former site of the Boulder Cafe which was burglarized on March 24, 1948 by Bobby BlueJacket and associates. Click to open larger image in new window.

About the Author:

Michael P. Daley writes about crime and cultural history. His previous books include Enjoy The Experience: Homemade Records 1958–1992, which was featured in BBC, NPR, Vice, Book Forum, Rolling Stone, and was called the greatest music book of the year by Los Angeles Magazine. He was founder/Editor of Parallax News, a digital news service for the 2016 U.S. Election. Michael was also a founding member of Boo-Hooray and Sinecure Books. He has worked on productions for Rizzoli, Four Corners, Zero Books, Brookings, and Warner Brothers.

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