Thursday, December 20, 2012

Revisiting the Walker Case: Old Posts Never Die

Richard Hickock & Perry Smith
In the comments of this post from 2008, "Lonnie" reminds me I never followed through on this.  Now it seems investigators are giving this case another, another look.  Now I have to admit, I haven't followed this case very carefully due to lack of information coming out.  The last I heard, two of the original suspects were cleared by the DNA evidence.  The primary suspect was a cousin of Mr. Walker's who was believed to have been having an affair at one time with Christine Walker.  The affair likely didn't happen and the DNA cleared the suspect.  The other man who was cleared was Cliff Walker's friend, Don McLeod  the man who discovered the crime.  The investigators still had about 20 suspects to test.  With this latest news of the exhumation of Hickock and Smith for testing, I can only assume the other twenty people have been cleared as well.  In all, 30 suspects have been ruled out.  Now they are exhuming the bodies of the Hickock and Smith and personally, I think this is a high profile waste of time. Update: I was right; no match.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Post #100! Catching up with the Jordans

As the title says this is post number 100 for the old Inspector.  Remember all the way back in 2008?  I wrote my first post about the assault of Mrs. Bell Jordan, which occurred on the morning of October 31st, 1911, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.  This was just a day later then the two-week "schedule" the killer seemed to be keeping starting in Colorado Springs.  I noted in that article that there had been a prowler along the tracks a day before and a few days after the assault on Mrs. Jordan.  This prowler tried to enter a grocery store and was heard tapping on windows of other houses in the neighborhood around the railroad tracks.  Whether or or not this was all the work of the same person is not known.  At the time I was writing that post, I believed this was a botched attempt at murder by the Midwest Axeman.  Today I do not.  But first, a little bit more about the Jordans...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Descending from Evil: The Story of Herman Webster Mudgett

Descending from Evil: The Story of Herman Webster Mudgett:
I found this article and interview very interesting.  This is the kind of story I'm after with regard to the Midwest Axeman.  To date I have found only a handful of descendants/relatives of victims and unfortunately, very few of them really know anything about the crimes.  I'm still convinced, that somewhere in the U.S. is a person, or persons, with a family story of a kind of strange uncle or cousin who collected odd nick-knacks like old keys or earrings.  Maybe a hair pin or broken key chain.  A guy who was shy around women and restless at night, possibly pacing around the house.  Anybody have a family story like that, from around the 1920's?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Other Axe Murders – The Axeman of New Orleans

I have received a few emails asking about other, possibly related crimes.  The two most spoken about are the Louisiana-Texas Axe murders and the Axeman of New Orleans.  Now I have some thoughts on both of these subjects but I’m going to address the New Orleans case for now.  For those of you who might be unfamiliar with it, during the years of 1918 and 1919 an unknown assailant was breaking into peoples houses in New Orleans and assaulting them. Usually the weapon, an hatchet or axe, belonged to the victim.  This case is made colorful by the inclusion of a strange letter sent to the Times-Picayune for publication.  The header is an obvious reference to the Whitechapel ripper murders of 1888 and the notorious “Lusk Letter” which was addressed “From Hell.”  The Axeman letter starts out “Hell, March 13, 1919.”  As if the Axeman was some kind of toe-tapping "Angel of Death" on Passover (which was a month away FWIW) the letter demanded the citizens of New Orleans to play jazz music in their homes on the night of March 19th in order to avoid a visit from the Axeman.  This letter lead to the writing of the song “Axeman’s Jazz.”  The majority of questions about the Axeman of New Orleans naturally are of the “Do you think they are related” variety.  So, do I think they are related?  No, I do not.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monmouth 101: Inside

I've posted SketchUp models of the crime scenes before.  I have a couple of different layouts for the Dawson's house in Monmouth, IL.  This one is incomplete, intended to be a top down model of the house.  I say it's incomplete because I haven't added most of the interior doors nor are there any windows.  There are other things "wrong" with it, likely, so if you have knowledge let me know.

The back door is in the kitchen, where the stove is sitting.  William and Charity Dawson's room was the small room in the north.  Georgia Dawson was in the larger room to the south.  The front door was found locked but the back door was unlocked.  According to reports, those who discovered the bodies walked through the kitchen into the parlor and discovered Georgia in her bedroom first.  I post this on the 101st anniversary of the murders in Monmouth.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Unjustified: George Wilson Part 2 or If the Boot Don’t Fit, You Must Acquit

Archie & Nettie Coble Slept Here

Part 1 can be found here - I could go into a lengthy discussion about the events leading up to George Wilson’s arrest but I would be distracted from the meat of the post and the awesome title I came up with for it.  So to save you all the suspense, George Wilson was jailed, “confessed,” and arrested, in that order.  In fact Wilson was held in a jail cell without a warrant or access to council for five days before the alleged confession.  Found in the Wilson’s tent was a piece of paper, believed to be soaked with blood.  The Thurston County Sheriff, George Gaston also took measurements of Wilson’s boots.  This was in order to match up to the boot prints found outside the Coble’s cottage window.  Another bit of “evidence” was an alleged conversation between Mrs. Coble and a neighbor about George Wilson’s behavior toward Mrs. Coble.  But the most damning evidence the prosecution would produce, indeed the entire case hinged on it, was the alleged confession of George Wilson.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Colorado Springs – 101

Henry and Blanche Wayne

Four years ago I wrote a brief summary of the murders of two families in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  These crimes are now one-hundred-one years old this week and as far as I know, no one is any closer to naming a possible suspect then they were over a century ago.  I certainly haven’t got any answers but I still dig.  I have corresponded with relatives of the victims as well as other researchers.  I have had promising leads disintegrate into nothing, pleasant surprises from vague guesswork and countless dead ends.  By focusing on then entirety of the series of crimes I have created a lot of work for myself.  The number of facts and fantasies I can delve into on just one of these crimes is enough to bore people (or scare) people over conversations at parties.  Yet, I feel like I am missing something.  Just one more bit of evidence that can snap everything into focus.  Allow me to give a brief update of some things I now know.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Smithsonian...Wow! Has the Inspector arrived!?

Look what I found completely by accident today! linked to my (as well as the excellent Villisca Ax Murders Blog) little ol' blog.  It would have been nice if they'd let me know but I'm quite happy anyway.  Ahh...the internet.  This makes me wish I'd stuck with journalism.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Sinister Left Hand or Damn Lies and Statistics

Analysis at the crime scene in Villisca by special agent and "fingerprint expert" M. W. McClaughry of Leavenworth Prison indicated the killer was left handed.  Later, upon observing George Kelly chop wood, it was found that the reverend was left handed as well.  I bring this up because the investigators on both the Ardenwald and Rainier crimes scenes came to the conclusion the killer (or killers) was left handed.  There are many things you have to worry about as a lefty.  Manual can openers are an affront to your existence, golf clubs cost double and you're only allowed to play 1st base or pitcher in baseball.  But those are minor complaints really.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unjustified: George Wilson, Part 1

Not "Mother of the Year"
In the pursuit of justice, sometimes our courts get it wrong.  Most outside observers would say defendants such as OJ and Casey Anthony got away with murder.  In the case of Anthony, justice prevailed.  There is a reason why there are so many layers and technical specs when it comes to evidence presented in a court of law.  Like the verdict or not, the judge in the Anthony case would not allow certain facts, such as Ms. Anthony's partying ways in the wake of her daughter's disappearance, to be admitted as evidence since it had no bearing on the ultimate question in the case: Did Casey Anthony murder her daughter?  And so the case came down to the jury's opinion about new, untested science in order to make a decision and the result is Ms. Anthony will now live in an undisclosed location for the rest of her life (maybe).  A Criminology professor of mine put it this way (paraphrasing): "In the United States, justice is for accused, truth is for the victims."  When the court system seeks justice for the victim, many  times, not only is the accused run over but the truth is often made victim as well.  Case in point:  Mr. George Wilson, Rainier, Washington, 1911.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Suspect Roundup: William Riggin

William Riggin - 1917
I have previously discussed William Riggin with regard to the murders of the Hill family in Ardenwald, near Portland, Oregon.  However that was written a long time ago and I would like to revisit Mr. Riggin in a little more depth and perhaps discover a little more about what made him tick.  William Riggin was born in 1883, in Yamhill county, Oregon, to George and Susan Riggin.  For George, William was his third child and for Susan it was her first.  Susan was George's second wife and was about 10 years younger than him.  Not much can be said for William's younger days except to say that his mother died sometime between 1883 and 1885.  William wouldn't grow up with any full siblings and his only mother figure would be a step mother.  George married his second wife, America Thomas, in 1885 and had six more children with her.  There are a couple of things to note at this time in William's young life.  The new "mother" of the family was just seventeen years of age when she married George, literally young enough to be George's daughter.  She would have married into the responsibility of caring for a a teenage girl of fourteen, a boy just entering adolescence at eleven and a just barely two-year-old boy, none of whom where her children.  By the age of five, two new babies would have come into the family and it would have been easy for a rambunctious young boy to get lost in the chaos.  And lost he was.  At the age of eleven he stole a horse, a major crime in 1894.  Because of his age he was sent to Salem and the Oregon State Reform School, with occasional visits home, until he was eighteen.