Showing posts with label true crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label true crime. Show all posts

Nov 19, 2020

THE IRISHMAN (2019)

“I heard you paint houses.”

“Yes, I do. I also do my own carpentry.”

A friend of mine once said that Martin Scorsese makes the same movie over and over, and I had to do everything in my power to avoid picking up a nice-looking pen off a bar and kick-stabbing him in the throat until he was a bloody mess on the ground. (I’m kidding.) (Or am I?) In a really superficial way, one could believe this was a sound observation: it’s not just because the most well-known portion of Scorsese’s filmography has taken place in the world of the Italian mafia (though relegated to only four films, including The Irishman), with a single detour into the world of Irish crime in The Departed, but also because Scorsese’s own style and techniques carry over from film to film, giving them an almost brand-like feeling. There’s the first-person narration, the “crime is awesome” montages, the Rolling Stones soundtrack, the gorgeous spot-lighting, the frenzied smash-cut editing, and an ensemble of familiar faces like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, the somewhat obscure Frank Vincent, and pretty much the entire supporting cast of The Sopranos. “I liked it the first time I saw it…when it was called Goodfellas,” a mid-90s SNL oddity known as David Spade once said about Casino. Gestating since at least 2008, The Irishman was predictably lobbed from the start with the same kind of shallow proclamations that Scorsese and De Niro were going to make yet another version of Goodfellas, even before a single frame had been shot. Once the film finally made its long-awaited debut on Netflix, twelve years after it was first announced, the camp was still split on what kind of film The Irishman was vying to be. Was it just another Goodfellas riff, or was it something decidedly different?

In case you haven’t deduced it for yourself during one of my typically elongated lead-ins, The Irishman is, indeed, something decidedly different. Is it about the mafia? Yes, it is. Does it involve a fair number of Goodfellas et al. cast members? Yes, it does. But where Goodfellas was a Scarface-ish allegory about opulence, power, and the eventual fall from grace, The Irishman is an Unforgiven-like examination of a misspent life immersed in dirty tasks for dirty people at the expense of one man’s family. That the film is headlined by an aging De Niro wasn’t just the result of the film being in pre-production for a very, very long time, but it’s also the point of The Irishman entirely. It’s about sin, regret, mortality, and legacy. And yes, De Niro, as one tends to do, has aged. For lack of a more respectful word, De Niro is now an old man. His elderliness has crept into his take on Frank Sheeran that both benefits and handicaps his performance, guiding him in his role of a soft-spoken, somewhat slowwitted boob eager to please his masters like a loyal dog, but which is also occasionally at odds with the visual technology being employed to shave decades off his real age. In a way, De Niro’s appearance and performance sum up the experience of The Irishman as a whole – still engaging, still artfully made by one of cinema’s remaining old-school masters, but maybe, perhaps, a couple decades too late.

Based on prosecutor Charles Brandt’s “non-fiction” book I Heard You Paint Houses (I say “non-fiction” because it was based entirely on Sheeran’s version of events, which many have claimed to be dubious), The Irishman is a sprawling epic where genuine history and possible artifice intermingle in ways that, regardless of the film’s ultimate dance with reality, is still a compelling story. The Irishman weaves a complex narrative of many characters, many conflicts, and many intersecting timelines. With a running time of three and a half hours, that’s not surprising. What is surprising is how quickly those three and a half hours go by. Surrounding the main cast of De Niro’s hired hitman Frank Sheeran, Joe Pesci’s mob boss Russell Bufalino, and Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa is an extensive ensemble cast who bring to life many of Philadelphia’s crime figures, including infamous mob boss Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel), Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio (Bobby Canavale, sporting a “rescinding” hairline), and an unexpectedly excellent Ray Romano as attorney Bill Bufalino. (In a weird bit of my family’s history, The Irishman makes brief mention of crime figure Frank Sindone, who helped plan the hit on Bruno and was later found dead in an alley with three bullets in his head. My Philadelphia-born father once unknowingly shared a car ride with Sindone and others from the neighborhood and later described him as “pretty fuckin’ intense.” My father also had a cousin [for whom things didn’t end well] who worked at the Latin Casino, which is featured during Sheeran’s “Appreciation Night” after he becomes President of the teamsters’ local union 326. I keep telling him he needs to write his own book about 1970s Philly because he’s seen some shit.)

In a way, even though any film should consider a comparison to Goodfellas extremely flattering, The Irishman works much better as its own beast. The gliding cameras, the eclectic oldies soundtrack, the voiceover: sure, those things are all present and accounted for – but The Irishman is measured, calm, patient, and mature. It’s a film that stands on its own, of course, but it’s also an acknowledgement of the long and very successful careers of those who made it. It’s Scorsese touching base with audiences and gently reminding them that his on-screen mafia tales are what’s attracted the most eyes, garnered his best critical notices, and punctured pop culture in ways that many of his other films didn't. And let’s face it: Scorsese wouldn’t have gone back to this same well so many times if he, himself, wasn’t so fascinated with a life of crime. What began on a small scale in something like 1973’s Mean Streets, made with a guerilla-style, low-budget scrappiness, has culminated forty-five years later with The Irishman, a two hundred-million-dollar epic that likely hit more eyeballs in its first day on Netflix than did his 2016 Jesuit priest drama Silence during its entire theatrical run. Indeed, Scorsese trots out many of his trademarks, though the occasionally abrupt editing by longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker is much more restrained, in keeping with The Irishman’s slower pace. Though Scorsese still falls back on voice-over from a few characters, now they directly address the camera like they’re confessing their sins to us, the audience. As for his new bag of tricks? Yes, the controversial de-aging technology, which landed with audiences in extremely polarizing ways. “It looked great!” versus “It looked terrible!” flooded reviews and talk-backs. Snotty backseat drivers uploaded their own “deep fake” videos to Youtube to show how it could’ve been done cheaper and with better results. But here’s the thing: the de-aging technology itself actually looks fantastic, removing the deep creases and weathered appearances of our charming older men. The problem, however, is that those brand-new youthful faces are then pasted over their still-old dumpy bodies, and the additional decision to have De Niro wear blue contact lenses to “look Irish” (even though he played an Irishman in Goodfellas and wore no such thing) only does a disservice to the millions of dollars spent on those faces. Despite what the actors and choreographers tried, old men can only move like old men, and when it comes time for De Niro to knock down and kick-stomp the local grocery store owner, he kicks like an old man, and it’s hard not to notice.

Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran is an atypical performance for the De Niro we’ve come to anticipate from a Scorsese film, but perfectly appropriate and in line with not only the real Frank Sheeran, but the work De Niro has been doing as an actor since the early 2000s. Throughout his collaborations with Scorsese, or during the “nod” roles he’d play after the fact that painted him as a mob boss of sorts, De Niro was always in a position where he wielded power and influence (or in the case of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, baseball bats). Audiences have spent the last several decades affiliating themselves with De Niro the boss, from Goodfellas’ Jimmy Conway to Casino’s Sam Rothstein. This time, however, he’s the bag man, the hired gun, the administrative assistant who just so happens to steal and kill. Hell, he’s not even comfortable pulling the car over unless someone else says it's okay. “I was a working guy,” Sheeran says early on before he made his way into the crime world, but even after that, he was still a working guy – it’s just that the things he did are what changed. Sheeran, as presented, is a pathetic figure, only finding worth in the eyes of the crime figures who want him around while barely making time for his own family. One gets the impression that De Niro, for the first time in his life, is actually wanted around, and it renders him a purposely toothless presence, putting him into certain situations to perform acts he doesn’t have the guts to refuse. When Sheeran retreats to an empty bedroom to make a private phone call he’s been dreading, it’s the most pathetic De Niro has made one of his characters look in his fifty years of acting – even more than his famous scene in Taxi Driver where he’s being consistently rebuffed over the phone by Cybil Shephard’s Betsy, whom, after a disastrous date, wants nothing to do with him. “What kind of man makes a phone call like that?” Sheeran later muses during one of the film’s final scenes. De Niro, the boss who stomped on Billy Bats’ skull, who tore through the pimp underworld to save a young girl, who refused to be knocked down by Sugar Ray Robinson, has become a spineless, subservient slave, and he was the one who let it happen.

Sharing the screen with De Niro for the first time since 1995’s Casino is Joe Pesci, who makes a welcome return to Scorsese and co.’s world, his last high-profile project being his good friend De Niro’s 2006 directorial project, The Good Shepherd. Let me just say this: he was incredibly missed, and he offers up the film’s best performance. Gone are the days of the volatile Tommy DeVito and Nicky Santoro. Though his Russell Bufalino is “the boss,” he exacts that title almost manipulatively in soft-spoken but firm tones. He never, once, goes big, mirroring De Niro’s more neutered approach, and it’s quite honestly one of the best performances in his career. But don’t worry! Al Pacino is definitely ready to take on everyone’s yelling for them. Speaking of, though Pacino offers a fine performance as Jimmy Hoffa, he seems to be playing just another version of Pacino instead of the real man; if we must compare, it doesn’t come close to Jack Nicholson’s take from 1992’s Hoffa, directed by Danny Devito.

Though The Irishman is about ugly things, it doesn’t glamourize them in the same ways as Goodfellas and Casino. In some respects, The Irishman feels like the thematic third part of a trilogy that includes those two titles. It’s the end result of long lives spent creating and depicting stories of crime, but also of the real lives that inspired those stories, the toll taken from living on the wrong side of the law, and that no matter what one’s calling in life may be, eventually, everything comes to an end. And if, at the end of your life, you’re haggling with the salesman over the price of your own coffin – when you’re the one making the arrangements for your funeral because your family won’t do it – you know that’s a life that was lived selfishly, cruelly, and deeply alone.

As much as I loved to see the likes of De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, and Keitel sharing the screen together again, it pains me to say that The Irishman could’ve been a flawless endeavor if our primary trio of actors had been relegated to playing the last two time periods depicted in the film, while falling back on younger actors for the previous two. (Hey! Like they did in Goodfellas!) Having said that, The Irishman is still top-tier filmmaking for everyone involved and showcases a director who, despite his age, has no intent on slowing down. 


[Reprinted from Daily Grindhouse.]

Jun 12, 2020

THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES (2007)


You know how many found footage flicks are based on tapes or film cans being discovered and exhibited, reflecting footage that had been shot during an abstract past? There’s a tangible irony in that, being that’s not only the same deal for The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ concept, but because The Poughkeepsie Tapes is probably more famous for how long it sat on the shelf waiting to see release than anything else. The Poughkeepsie Tape was actually shot and completed alllll the way back in 2007 at the height of the found footage rebirth. Produced by MGM, who began going through a series of financial woes and lacked the means to properly market and exhibit their films during that period (which is how the MGM-produced Cabin in the Woods eventually ended up with Lionsgate), Shout! Factory stepped up to acquire the distribution rights so that horror fans everywhere without the inclination to use a torrent program could finally see the long-mooted film for themselves.

So after ten-plus years, was the wait worth it?

Not…really.


Before you let the term “found footage” steer you toward a certain expectation, know that there aren’t any paranormal/supernatural/metaphysical aspects in The Poughkeepsie Tapes. Refreshingly, it’s a straightforward and (mostly) realistic look at a serial killer, his victims, and the law enforcement angle that surrounds the investigation. And again, “found footage” doesn’t just mean that The Poughkeepsie Tapes is 90 minutes of raw serial killer home movies, but instead features sit-down interviews with law enforcement officials, family and friends, and more — along with serial killer home movies. From a reality point of view, this is the ideal way to present this kind of story while still maintaining the ultimate suspense question: how is this going to end? The problem is nearly half of the interviewees in The Poughkeepsie Tapes are clearly actors who are clearly focusing on trying to look natural and casual and end up giving a performance. For something billed as “reality,” it busts the illusion consistently throughout.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ content is disturbing at times, and during others, surprisingly violent. This is far less about titillation and more about disturbing viewers and making them uncomfortable. To its credit, The Poughkeepsie Tapes concocts some eerie images (the corpse being yanked out of the coffin via rope is especially eerie and it belongs in a far better film), but it also concocts some that are incredibly dopey. One interviewee preempts a coming sequence known as “the balloon footage” that one expects is going to be super disturbing, but instead shows a prostitute blowing up a large balloon, tying it off, and then bouncing on it. “Like this?” she keeps asking the off-screen perpetrator (which conjured images from The Greasy Strangler*, causing me to laugh), and the whole notion of it is just bizarre. If this is supposed to be funny…why? Because other than this, The Poughkeepsie Tapes doesn’t try to be. And if it’s not supposed to be funny, who on earth thought this was disturbing?


Ten years ago. That’s when The Poughkeepsie Tapes was completed and ready for release before Shout! Factory rescued it for a video release. A lot has changed in the horror genre since then, including the most important thing: found footage fatigue. But even if The Poughkeepsie Tapes had been released during a time when found footage was still considered a novelty, that still wouldn’t help its overall presentation — as an unconvincing, alternately silly and disturbing, but forgettable low budget horror flick that happens to feature the logo of a major film studio.

Very few films could be worth waiting ten years to see, and that very long delay has to be taken into account when determining its overall value. By now the more tenacious horror fans have already seen The Poughkeepsie Tapes, whether it was on a torrent, Youtube, or a bootleg DVD-r from a horror convention. MGM’s financial woes may have been a good scapegoat for the company to avoid otherwise releasing an almost unmarketable and disturbing film to the masses.



"Like this? Like this, Janet? I don't know if I'm doing it right, Janet. I don't know if I'm doing it right, Janet. Like this? Is this right? Janet? I don't know if I'm doing it right, Janet. Like this?"

Apr 9, 2015

PAJAMA GIRL

On 1 September, 1934, the badly burnt body of a young woman, viciously battered about the head and wearing only pajamas, was found in a road culvert in the township of Albury on the New South Wales-Victoria border in rural Australia. Although Sydney police reconstructed the dead woman’s features and made composite drawings of what she may have looked like in life, they also took the extraordinary step of preserving the body in a formalin bath. 

During the next decade, tens of thousands of people viewed the ghastly remains at the University of Sydney, and later Sydney police headquarters, before it was positively identified in 1944. When the body was examined, the victim, dressed in canary yellow and white pajamas, was determined to be between 25 and 30 years old. Her head had been protected from fire damage because it was wrapped in a towel, and she had a large laceration on the forehead and a puncture mark - most likely from a small-caliber bullet  - under her right eye. Her skull was fractured on the left side, but it was not until later that a local GP located the bullet with the use of an X-ray. The fact that the woman had been shot was not revealed to the public until the inquest in 1938. 

The dead woman was identified as Linda Agostini and it was her husband, Tony Agostini, who confessed to murdering her by accident. He was found guilty of manslaughter and served three years and nine months in prison.



Story and image source.

Mar 28, 2015

THE KINDLY KILLER

Dennis Nilsen was born on 23 November 1945 in Scotland to an alcoholic, Norwegian father and a strict Catholic mother. His parents divorced when he was four years old and he was sent to live with his grandparents. It was at this time that the first traumatic event occurred which shaped Dennis’ life. Due to his strict Catholic upbringing he was forced to view his grandfather’s body when he died.

A lot of children are forced to look at their dead relatives, and not all of them turn out to be necrophiliac murderers, but obviously this triggered something in Dennis Nilsen’s head, because that is exactly what he became.

As a teenager Dennis joined the Army Catering Corp and became a cook in the British Army. He served in the army for 11 years before becoming a police officer, and then a civil servant. During his time in the army he developed a fascination with seeing himself as a corpse. He would cover himself in talcum powder, paint his lips blue and masturbate over his image in a mirror.

It is not his background that is the reason for this article though…

Dennis Nilsen murdered and had sex with at least 15 boys and men between the years 1978 and 1983. Yes, he did it in that order. One of the ‘nicknames’ he was given was the “Kindly Killer” due to the (and this is his word) ‘humane’ way in which he murdered, raped, butchered, burned and discarded the men he decided needed to die.

Twelve of the murders occurred while Dennis was living at 195 Melrose Avenue North London with three more happening when he moved to 23 Cranley Gardens, North London.

The first person he killed was 14-year-old Stephen Dean Holmes. Dennis claims he met Stephen at a gay bar on 29 December 1978 and invited him back to his house. The following morning Dennis strangled Stephen with a necktie and then when he was unconscious, drowned him. He did not dispose of his remains until 11 August 1979, when he burned them and buried them in his garden.

Next he murdered one of the few victims who were actually reported as missing, 23-year-old Canadian student Kenneth Ockendon. After meeting in a pub, Dennis took him for a tour of Central London, and then invited him back to his apartment. He then strangled him with the cord of some headphones and drowned him.

Martyn Duffey was the third victim he murdered, a runaway. At only 16 years of age Martyn accepted an invitation to go to Dennis’ house, were he was strangled and drowned.

Billy Sutherland was a 26 year old male prostitute. Unlike the previous three victims Billy was strangled with Dennis’ hands.

And so on the list goes… many of his victims are still, to this day, unidentified. A few of them were male prostitutes, others were labourers, and Dennis only remembers small pieces of information about them.

What is very sad is that due to the era these attacks occurred, there were victims who got away and did not go to the police. The reason they didn’t report the attack was their concern about what would happen if their sexual predilections came to the attention of the public.

Once Dennis had killed his victims, he would generally bath and dress them before dismembering them. Using his training as a cook to butcher the bodies, he would store the dismembered parts around his apartment, under the floorboards etc. Eventually he would retrieve the remains and generally burn them or flush them down the toilet.

Dennis Nilsen’s murders were discovered two weeks after the last murder was committed, when a company specialising in cleaning drains were called out to his unit block to look at a blocked drain. The company found that the drain was blocked by a flesh-like substance. Suspicious, they reported it to the police. A more thorough search was conducted and small bones and “what looked like chicken flesh” was discovered in a pipe leading from the drain. Pathologist Professor David Bowen confirmed the remains were human.

When the police first confronted Dennis he showed disbelief, asking where the remains came from. The police explained that they could only have come from his apartment, at which point he agreed to go with them to the police station. Once there, he started talking. His confession was shocking! He explained in sickening detail all that he had done. A search of his closet turned up several bags which contained the remains of men, in varying stages of decomposition. Dennis told the police where to look, in the tea chest, under a drawer in the bathroom, etc. While confessing, he also told of the seven men he had attacked and tried to kill, but wasn’t able to. In a statement Dennis told the police that “the victim is the dirty platter after the feat, and the washing up is an ordinary, clinical task.”

His questioning with the police lasted over 30 hours all up, over a week long interview. Although being cautioned about what he said, he spilled the beans as though he had wanted to tell his story for a long time. During his questioning he answered clearly and concisely, as his army training would have taught him to, and showed absolutely no remorse for his actions.

Three of the seven attempted victims testified against Dennis at his court case in which he was charged with six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He pleaded “Not Guilty” to all the charges and cited ‘diminished responsibility due to mental defect’.

The jury could not unanimously come to a decision, so the Judge agreed to accept a majority verdict, and therefore the jury delivered a verdict of “Guilty” to all charges. Dennis Nilsen was sentenced to life in prison and is incarcerated at HM Prison Full Sutton. He is named on a list of prisoners who are never to be released.


Story source.

Mar 20, 2015

THE RED RIPPER

Warning: Graphic.
Andrei Chikatilo, a.k.a Butcher of Rostov and Red Ripper, was a Soviet serial killer who sexually assaulted and mutilated a minimum of 52 women from the late 70s to 1990. As you have probably guessed, the majority of his murders were committed in the Rostov Oblas of the Russian SFSR.

Chikatilo was a very awkward kid especially around women. He was impotent and once ejaculated while wrestling with his crush. That’s when he says his hatred for women started as they all laughed at him. He went on to become a teacher and had multiple reported sexual assaults on young girls. This only got worse. Sexual assaults then turned into murders as his 1st victim was a 9 year old girl named Yelena.

Chikatilo was finally arrested when Soviet cops found evidence linking him to murders, but according to their law could only hold him for 10 days before they had to either charge him or release him. He gave a full confession of every murder he ever committed. One of the things he confessed to was ripping the victim’s genitals, lips, nipples, and tongues with his TEETH.

He was convicted of 52 of the 53 murder charges. Sentenced to death for each of them. The bottom picture is of a severed head of one of his victims used in his trial. He was executed with a single gunshot behind the right ear on February 14.

Mar 7, 2015

CONFESSION

Warning: Graphic.
In 1923, Marianna Dolinska, a Polish native, walked into the police station and said that she hung her four kids (ranging from six months to seven years) so that they would no longer starve. Her husband had been murdered, which left her family without any support. The police checked in on her claim and found the bodies of her four kids on a tree. They arrested her and she died five years later in a psychiatric hospital.


Mar 2, 2015

IN NO WAY PENITENT


1/7/1947 - Newark, OH.

Mrs. Laura Bell Devlin, 72, who murdered her 75-year-old husband, Thomas, then dismembered his body with a hacksaw and scattered the parts in the backyard, today professed her dislike for jail. She protested vehemently when officials tried to fingerprint her, saying, "that ink will make my hands dirty," and again when she was placed before the camera. "No," she asserted. She kept repeating "Can I go home now?," unmoved and in no way penitent for the alleged crime.

Feb 9, 2015

GRIN

Jeff Franklin, 17, grins from the backseat of a police car after using a hatchet and sledgehammer to murder his parents and critically wound three of his siblings. March 10, 1998.

Jan 5, 2015

FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE

After stabbing a woman to death in 1945, serial killer William Heirens carved this message onto the wall: 


“For heavens sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.” 

This earned him the nickname The Lipstick Killer. He was the longest serving US prison inmate (65 years) and was imprisoned until his death in 2012. He confessed to three murders.

Sep 8, 2014

THE SOFA CORPSE

Samantha Clairmont, 11, was a girl with Muscular Dystrophy who was beaten to death with a kettle and hammer by her grandmother and a nun in 1974, then stuffed into a sofa, because she would not eat her chocolate pudding. The body was found when they dropped it off at a garage sale to be auctioned and a man's dog sniffed it out.

Jul 15, 2014

CLOSE CALL

On the night of March 22, 1970, Kathleen Johns was driving from San Bernardino to Petaluma to visit her mother. She was seven months pregnant and had her 10-month-old daughter beside her. While heading west on Highway 132 near Modesto, a car behind her began honking its horn and flashing its headlights. She pulled off the road and stopped. The man in the car parked behind her, approached her car, stated that he observed that her right rear wheel was wobbling, and offered to tighten the lug nuts. After finishing his work, the man drove off; yet when Johns pulled forward to re-enter the highway the wheel almost immediately came off the car. The man returned, offering to drive her to the nearest gas station for help. She and her daughter climbed into his car. During the ride the car passed several service stations but the man did not stop. For about 90 minutes he drove back and forth around the backroads near Tracy. When Johns asked why he was not stopping, he would change the subject. When the driver finally stopped at an intersection, Johns jumped out with her daughter and hid in a field. The driver searched for her using his flashlight telling her that he would not hurt her, before eventually giving up. Unable to find her, he got back into the car and drove off. Johns hitched a ride to the police station in Patterson.

When Johns gave her statement to the sergeant on duty, she noticed the police composite sketch of Paul Stine's killer and recognized him as the man who abducted her and her child. Fearing he might come back and kill them all, the sergeant had Johns wait, in the dark, at the nearby Mil's Restaurant. When her car was found, it had been gutted and torched.

Most accounts claim he threatened to kill her and her daughter while driving them around, but at least one police report disputes that. Johns' account to Paul Avery of the Chronicle indicates her abductor left his car and searched for her in the dark with a flashlight; however, in one report she made to the police, she stated he did not leave the vehicle

 

Jun 26, 2014

TEOS RECOMMENDS: THE IMPOSTER

 

A good documentary can competently present relevant information in a non-biased manner. A great documentary can do all that, but also challenge your preconceived notions on the topic being discussed. A fantastic documentary can present the info, challenge you, but also thrill you and affect you on an emotional level, presenting you with a story so unbelievable that you would bet your life that it was all completely made up on the spot.

The Imposter, which revisits the surreal 1994 case of a missing Austin child who suddenly shows back up three years later and is embraced by the family, but who is also a completely different person, is a fantastic documentary. To use a completely cliched expression, The Imposter is a roller-coaster ride of emotions. When first presented with the family of missing thirteen-year-old Nicholas Barclay, how do you not immediately sympathize for each member as they tearfully recall the events in which the boy went missing? And how, when you're first introduced to "the imposter" Frédéric Bourdin,  who talks about his background of physical abuse and his feelings of helplessness and his longing to reboot his life and start over and who longs for a real shot at happiness, are you not supposed to feel tempted to forgive him before you've heard about how he carried out his plan, or what effect it had on the Barclay family...or what kind of person he really is?

The Imposter is an immensely frustrating experience, and it has nothing to do with how it was executed, but rather everything to do with the complexity of the human brain, and how so easily it can be overridden by our rampant-running emotions. How can you be a mother or a sister or a brother to someone for thirteen years, mourn their loss and probable death when they go missing, celebrate at the news that "he" was found in fucking Spain of all places, be reunited with him, and believe that he is your missing loved one? How do you not know? How do you listen to claims that he was kidnapped by the military and experimented upon (a side-effect being the changing color of his eyes) and buy that? How do you not realize that the boy who claims to be sixteen years old is actually approaching his mid-twenties? It is so very easy for you and me to judge this family and assume they must have been completely empty-minded to have fallen for it...but then again, I have never been in their shoes. I've never had a loved one go missing, and even if I did, I can't even imagine how tempted I would be to believe they've returned to me all those years later, even if they do seem to be an entirely different person. Feelings of mourning and regret and guilt are normal following what is essentially death, but are they powerful enough to cloud everything in your mind?

 

And your imposter, Frédéric Bourdin, adds to the frustration. His first few interview segments are full-on confessional moments delivered right to the camera. And you silently judge him at the same time you delude yourself into thinking that he seems like such a haunted and genuine "character" that you stupidly believe you'll eventually be served a typical Hollywood happy ending, where the family realizes he is a fake but welcomes him, anyway. But this version of Bourdin soon fades and is replaced by the proud sociopathic habitual liar who cannot help himself. Watch him grin as he recounts what he feels are the more especially clever moments of his ruse. Watch him have the audacity to judge the family that took him in, asking the audience the question, "How could they not know?"

And try to stomach the claim he makes against the family, attempting to explain why they embraced him as easily as they did.

The Imposter ends with questions both answered and unanswered. It ends with revelations, but also ambiguity. It ends with emotions running untempered and a disgusting amount of pride. But one thing is for sure: it hasn't, nor will it ever end, for the Barclay family, and for Frédéric Bourdin. One will continue to mourn, and the other will continue to boast. The Imposter is beyond thrilling and beyond upsetting, and it's entirely, 100% true.

Feb 10, 2014

TEOS RECOMMENDS: THE CANNIBAL: THE CASE OF ALBERT FISH


My unintended marathon reading of true crime books continues with The Cannibal: The Case of Albert Fish. This non-fiction account of Albert Fish's cannibal crimes against his adolescent victims was written by Mel Heimer, a former reporter. The book itself is quite slim 150 pages or so and a breeze to read, technically. However, it does delve into some pretty graphic descriptions of Fish's crimes, using both his own words and those of the author, so it can be difficult to traverse, depending on your own icky scale.

Neighbors, friends, and families of serial killers more often than not describe them as quiet, friendly, unassumingly, and nice. Ed Gein was looked at as a harmless old hermit. John Wayne Gacy was a clown at children's parties. But Albert Fish has the distinction of being among the oldest serial killers ever caught. It was his elderly and distinguished appearance that led so many people to instantly trust him. Though he claimed responsibility for at least a hundred murders, police work and his own confessions totaled a solid number of five lives taken. He was given many nicknames once news of his crimes hit the media, chief among them being the "Werewolf of Wysteria" and "The Grey Man."

The most infamous of Fish's murders was that of Grace Budd, nine-year-old sister of Ed Budd Jr., who had placed an ad in the paper that he was looking for work outside of the city, and to whom Fish was responding when he contacted the Budd family to explain that he owned a farm and was looking for a farmhand to help out with everyday work. He used the pseudonym of Frank Howard, and to further sell his lie regarding his farm, he had brought with him a small jar of cottage cheese, which he claimed derived directly from his farm's resources. (He had in actuality stopped off at a market before arriving at the Budds.) Once there, Budd made nice with the family, sitting down with them and making polite conversation. His original target being Edward Jr., Fish changed his mind upon arriving, deeming the boy "unattractive" for Fish's purposes. Instead he set his sight on young Grace and managed to convince her parents that he knew of a nearby party that he was considering attending and that Grace should accompany him. The Budds instantly trusted Fish due to his almost statesman-like appearance and agreed to let Grace attend the party with him.

Fish then left with Grace. The Budds never saw her again.

The book then recounts Fish's plan, beginning with taking her to an abandoned cottage, and ending with his method for disposing of her body.

Grace was reported missing, and for six long years, the police turned up many clues and followed up on many suspects, none of which or whom proved to be helpful. Soon the case became stagnant, though not altogether dead, and it was a simple piece of stationary that led the police to finally capture the Werewolf of Wysteria.

The poor family had been deluged over the years with all sorts of crank letters and claims, and it got to the point that they stopped reading them and simply delivered them directly to the police. It was on a piece of unique stationary that Fish had anonymously sent the below letter to Grace Budd's mother.
Dear Mrs. Budd:

In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the Steamer Tacoma, Capt. John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco for Hong Kong, China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1–3 per pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak—chops—or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girl's behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys, one 7 and one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet. Then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 year old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except the head—bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven (all of his ass), boiled, broiled, fried and stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way.

At that time, I was living at 409 E 100 St. near—right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3, 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese—strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her. On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said yes she could go.

I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her tho I could of had I wished.

She died a virgin.


In my previous recommendation of Edward Gein: America's Most Bizarre Murderer, I explained I prefer a true-crime account to be comprised majorly of the subject's own words. In that regard, The Cannibal is equally fascinating, though likely more so. To directly compare, while Gein never seemed quite to know why it was he killed those he did, as well as cannibalized them and even lived with dug-up corpses, it's made quite clear that Fish simply enjoyed everything he did, though he sometimes suggested that he didn't know why he did the things he did. He referred to himself as "queer" (referring to the mid-20th century meaning of the word), and in letters to the few of his children that continued to correspond with him, he often wondered what compelled him to kill and devour.

Once captured for his crimes against Grace Budd, a physical examination of him revealed over 20 needles purposely inserted in his pelvis. His reasons for having done so varied greatly, and soon there were five very distinct explanations he offered, each conflicting with the other.

And it's actually this very random factoid where my only real criticism of the book comes into play: the more unusual facts about the peculiar Albert Fish will stick immediately in your mind, so when this information is repeated later in the text, you'll definitely notice. Several accounts, such as the strange needle story, or the manner in which Fish was finally caught by authorities, appear at least twice  and these are just to examples. It certainly doesn't diminish the reading experience in any way, as you could likely read about a man sticking needles into his pelvis a hundred different ways and never become bored, simply because, god damn, that's fucking weird, but perhaps a more discerning editor would have cut out these reuses so as not to harp on some weird anecdotes in a book already full of them.

Of all the true crime books I've read so far, The Cannibal might so far be the most vicious, and this has to do not only with the age of Fish's victims, but the brutality committed against them. Though he tried to feign confusion and even alarm about himself, he never made it a secret that he enjoyed killing and maiming. "I have had kids in every state," he even once bragged, though it was unknown whether that represented murders or rapes (or both). Still, The Cannibal is terribly interesting in the way true crime is meant to be. The accounts of Fish's crimes are presented objectively, leaving no stones unturned. His own words are especially powerful, and the letter presented above is just one example.

Jan 21, 2014

READ: ED GEIN: AMERICA'S MOST BIZARRE MURDERER


As I’ve said before, there’s been no better friend to the horror genre than Edward Gein. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He killed two women (that we know of), dug up the graves of a dozen more, and kept parts of them in his home for various purposes. Which parts? I’ll let the author of this book tell you in his own words:
“What follows is probably the most unusual case in modern times. It is the story of Edward Gein, America's most bizarre murderer, grave robber, maker of exotic household items, wearing apparel, and possessor of undoubtedly the finest private collection of female heads, vagina, vulvas and unquestionably the most notorious character ever to stand before me in court.” 
Without Gein, Robert Bloch would not have written the book that became the ultimate slasher film Psycho; same goes for Thomas Harris, who would not have written The Silence of the Lambs. And perhaps the most “accurate” account of Gein’s crimes, never would we have met Leatherface, Grandpa, and the whole Sawyer clan with Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. (As far as films go, I’m only naming the good ones. There are far far more titles, and boy, do they plummet that ladder of quality.) Gein even enjoyed a brief appearance in the recent Anthony Hopkins film Hitchcock, in which he was played by character actor Michael Wincott.

Being that I am a true crime obsessee, Edward Gein, America's Most Bizarre Murderer  seemed an obvious choice for me. I find Ed Gein to be nearly as fascinating as I do Carl Panzram—in fact, it was through reading Killer: A Journal of Murder that I realized reading horrific accounts that befall humanity when crossing paths with the inhumane, while morbidly interesting, can be that much more interesting when the text utilizes the subject’s own voice. It was after reading this that I decided any further reading on a particular true crime would hinge on that one requirement. After reading something as powerful as Killer:  A Journal of Murder—a tome comprised largely of Panzram’s own words—other true crime accounts I’d read by people unconnected to the cases they were examining utterly paled by comparison.

Though I’m sure true crime authors who have written about all kinds of serial killers/mass murderers have done their homework, I’d rather read about it from the point of view directly connected to the case. That, to me, makes the book seem more legitimate. Very rare can such a book be made up of the subject’s own words, as, by law, a killer cannot profit off the sharing of his or her crimes. The next best thing is to get the story of someone who was there.

Enter Judge Robert H. Gollmar, who presided over the murder trials of Ed Gein.

Wiki crash course:
Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein (August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984) was an American murderer and body snatcher. His crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Gein confessed to killing two women – tavern owner Mary Hogan on December 8, 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, on November 16, 1957. Initially found unfit for trial, after confinement in a mental health facility he was tried in 1968 for the murder of Worden and sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in a mental hospital.
I’m not sure that I would call Edward Gein, America's Most Bizarre Murderer, the definitive account on Ed Gein the man, but as for the crimes that rocked Plainview, Wisconsin, in the late 1950s, as well as the trial that would follow a decade later, it does provide a pretty complete overview of the case. Interviews with psychologists, law enforcement, and transcripts directly from the trial are provided—sometimes with mixed results. When the subject of discussion is of Ed Gein, or his crimes, then the book is incredibly interesting and compulsively readable, but in the interest of providing detailed accounts of how evidence was removed from the scene to satisfy the reader who might, perhaps, doubt that Gein was responsible for the crimes of which he was charged, pages upon pages of explanations on which guns were removed from the scene, and which bullets were found, and which bullets fit which gun, and could you describe how these bullets were loaded into this gun?, and on and on, it can read monotonously after a while. Ditto for the fingerprinting techniques, which also went on for too long.  Again, this was crucial testimony for the prosecution, and I understand its inclusion in the text; it just doesn’t make for compelling reading. For the legally minded, however, I’m sure this particular material reads just as interestingly as the others.

Because why not?

The book really pulls no punches with the sharing of very graphic details, even going as far as including crime scene photographs taken of one of Gein’s victims—flayed and mutilated like a hunter would a deer.

Oddly enough (and perhaps for padding purposes), following a trend the judge noted occurring at the time, also included are examples of “Gein humor”—more specifically, jokes that began circulating following the news of his arrest, and for which type of crimes. These are as bad as you might suspect, but were probably hilarious to Wisconsin farmers in the late 1950s.

Q: Why did Ed Gein's girlfriend stop going out with him?
A: Because he was such a cut-up.

Q: Why did they keep the heat on in Ed Gein's house?
A: So the furniture wouldn't get goose bumps.


And, you know—other jokes just as stupid.

The book ends with one final interview, performed between Judge Gollmar and Ed Gein, with the latter being forever confined to a mental asylum for the criminally insane. This is the only point in the book in which Gein comes off as aloof—even lighthearted—and it makes you wonder if this man had played the entire court system in order to get away with murder. Yes, his sentence was still life behind bars, though they were not prison bars, but those of a hospital, where some of his rights and comforts would still be maintained. To summarize the defense’s entire strategy, a tactic combining claims of an accidental shooting and “I don’t remember what happened” allowed Gein to skate having to plead guilty to murder. And this was perhaps the most interesting part of the book. Yes, women being killed and mutilated, and bodies being unearthed from graveyards, all makes for cheap shocks and creepy thrills, but the most eye-opening was the spotlight on the American justice system. The prosecution and the judge knew Ed Gein was guilty of murdering at least two women, and likely responsible for dozens of other disappearances from surrounding areas. They simply knew it. The dissected body of one of his victims was found strung up in his shed, decapitated, and shackled with ropes as if she were a trophy deer shot during a hunt. But despite this, coupled with the fact that his confession was later thrown out, as it was determined to have been delivered under duress and persuasion, certain evidence obtained during the investigation was deemed inadmissible because preliminary investigating law enforcement did not obtain the proper search warrants to enter his property. That and Gein simply had no motive.

That loopholes like that exist in our justice system is actually scarier than any old murder.

Edward Gein, America's Most Bizarre Murderer is essential reading for anyone interested in the murderous exploits of Ed Gein, or those interested in true crime, but it may perhaps be invaluable to those considering entering law as a career. And if you'd also like to know the silent partner behind some of your favorite horror films, he's been waiting for you.  


Now Available:
The world’s oldest celebration comes to life in The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween, an anthology that honors the darkest and strangest night of the year. Each story is designed to be intrinsically and intimately about Halloween—its traditions, its myths, and its effects—and they run the gamut from horrifying to heartbreaking. Halloween night is the tapestry through which a haunted house, a monstrous child, a late-night drive to a mysterious destination, and other tales are weaved. Demons are faced, death is defied, and love is tested. And not everyone makes it out alive. The End of Summer has arrived.

Nov 11, 2013

MURDER HOUSE

The Murder House: Is site of decades-old murder haunted?
June 30, 1987 marks the 25-year-old gruesome murder of a Boise man. Some say the victim's home still serves as a haunting reminder of his violent death.

It happened off Broadway Avenue in a house that stands out, both for its size and architectural styling, but some say it's what happened inside those walls that makes it infamous.

Neighbors woke up to a trail of blood splattered on the porch, sidewalk, and their front door. Investigators traced the blood to the basement where Preston Murr was shot and hacked into 13 pieces.

A week later, parts of his body surfaced more than 100 miles away in Brownlee Reservoir. Now the rumor is that this 21-year-old man will forever haunt this home, but even non-believers agree it's created one of Boise's most infamous urban legends.

"Living there, I really don't feel that I was ever afraid or felt it was haunted, but there are so many stories that everyone is convinced that it is," said Deann Davis, who lived in the so called "Murder House" with her two daughters, Kerra and Searra.

"Every once in a while, you get that one person that's, 'It's this house? No, I am not going. No I am not going,' " Kerra said.

"It looks like a feral animal. Something really pretty, but no one wants to go near it," Searra said.

For Davis and her daughters living at this home was for the most part normal.

"I am not uneasy in the house. I am not afraid at any time. I don't feel somebody there is watching me. I have never experienced doors open when I shut them and I never heard people walking on the stairs when there was nobody," Deann said.

However, they said something wasn't quite right.

"I feel there is something kind of there kind of not. When I went into the basement it was dark and I was scared and when I go in there was like 'Get me out! Get me out!' cause I felt there was something there and I don't want to go near it," Hale said.

Court documents only tell us that Murr was at his home basement with Daniel Rogers and Daron Cox when, for an unknown reason, an argument broke out and Murr was shot in the shoulder.

Bleeding profusely, Murr ran outside to a neighbor's home, pounding and smearing blood on the front door while telling his attackers to let him go. A neighbor called 911 and witnessed a man being dragged back to the home.

"OK, what's the problem there?" asked the dispatcher with Ada County.

"Uh, I don't know. A couple of guys came up and beat on the door and uh I went out and looked and there's some blood on the door it looks like," said the neighbor.

"OK. Can you see them down the street at all?" asked the dispatcher.

"Uh there looks like something is going on in the house across the street," the neighbor said.

Police said Murr was forced back into the basement and shot in the head by Daniel Rogers. Court documents also reveal Daron Cox helped Rogers in the dismemberment of Murr's body.

So, how does it feel to be in the home knowing what you know about the house?

"It feels like it is someone else's place. You have got this uneasy feeling about it," Deanne said.

Murr's death created a haunted legend.

The two-story structure is now known as "The Murder House" drawing attention and visitors from all over. It's something Deann and her daughters are familiar with.

"A lot of people are very afraid of that house and some swear it is haunted and I have had so many people come by and want tours of that house, " she said.

A jury convicted Rogers of first degree murder. He's now at the Idaho Correctional Center serving a life sentence. His parole was last denied back in 2005.

Daron Cox was convicted of being an accomplice to murder and spent six years behind bars.

As for the house, the current owner, who is related to Daniel Rogers by a past marriage, wouldn't let KBOI 2News inside the home, nor local paranormal experts. He says his house is not haunted and at this point we may never know.
 
 

Feb 10, 2013

MUGSHOTS


The Historic Houses Trust opens special exhibitions at different venues in its native Sydney, Australia. The below is a sample of one of their current exhibitions. The below photographs are:
"...a series of around 2500 'special photographs' taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These 'special photographs' were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of 'men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension.' Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, 'the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves [for their photographs]...' "

 

 

Title: Mug shot of Alfred Ladewig. possibly Central Police Station, Sydney.
Creator: New South Wales. Police Dept.
Date: [192?]
Format: [Picture] Glass plate negative
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots
Description: An entry in the Police Gazette, 15 September, 1920 reads "Alfred Ladewig, alias Wallace, and John Walker, alias Atkins, charged on provisional warrant with stealing by trick the sum of $204 AUD, at Brisbane (Q), the property of Alfred Walter Thomlinson have been arrested by Detective-constables Matthews and Jones, and Special-constable Bladen, Sydney Police. Both remanded to Brisbane." 


 


Title: Mug shot of De Gracy (sic) and Edward Dalton. Central Police Station, Sydney.
Creator: New South Wales. Police Dept.
Date: [c1920]
Format: [Picture] Glass plate negative
Place: Central Police Station (Sydney, N.S.W.)
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; fedoras (hats)
Description: A cropped print of this photograph appears in a police photo book from the 1920s, annotated in pencil "magsmen," with no further information offered.




Title: Clara Randall. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW.
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 12 November 1923
Format: [Photograph] glass plate negative
Place: State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; prisoners
Description: Clara Randall worked as a travelling saleswoman for a jewelry company. She reported to police that her Bondi flat had been broken into and a quantity of jewelry stolen. It was later discovered she had pawned the jewelry for cash. A career criminal, Randall was sentenced to 18 months with light labour. DOB: 1884.


 


Title: Kate Ellick. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay.
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 17 February 1919
Format: [Photograph] glass plate negative
Place: State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; prisoners
Description: Kate Ellick had no family to support her and no fixed address. In the early 20th century employment options were limited for women of her age and there was no aged pension. Ellick was homeless when arrested in Newcastle and was sentenced under the Vagrancy Act to three months in prison. DOB: 1860, Murrurundi.


 


Title: Dorothy Mort. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 16 October 1929
Format: [Photograph] glass plate negative
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; prisoners
Description: Mrs Dorothy Mort was having an affair with dashing young doctor Claude Tozer. On 21 December 1920 Tozer visited Mort's home intending to break off the relationship. Mort shot him dead and then attempted to commit suicide. She was released from jail shortly after this photograph was taken and disappeared from the public eye.


 


Title: Janet Wright. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 16 February 1922
Format: [Photograph] glass plate negative
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; prisoners
Description: Convicted of using an instrument to procure a miscarriage. Janet Wright was a former nurse who performed illegal abortions from her house in Kippax Street, Surry Hills. One of her teenage patients almost died after a procedure and Wright was prosecuted and sentenced to 12 months hard labour. Aged 68.


 


Title: Emily Gertrude Hemsworth. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 14 May 1925
Format: [Photograph] glass plate negative
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; prisoners
Description: Emily Hemsworth killed her three-week-old son but could not remember any details of the murder. She was found not guilty due to insanity. Hemsworth was to be detained in custody until judged fit to return to society - it is unknown if she was ever released. Aged 24.


 


Title: Phyllis Carmier, alias Hume. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW.
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 1 April 1921
Format: [Photograph] glass plate negative
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; prisoners
Description: British-born Carmier was known as 'Yankee' Phyllis because of her peculiar accent. She stabbed her 'bludger', or pimp, to death during a violent altercation in Crazy Cottage, a sly-grog shop in Surry Hills. Carmier attracted much sympathy in the media, who labelled her crime a justifiable homicide. Aged 32.


 


Title: Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 16 August 1928
Format: [Photograph] Glass plate negative
Place: State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay
Subject: police detainees and suspects; mug shots; male impersonators; prisoners
Description: Convicted of murder. Eugenia Falleni spent most of her life masquerading as a man. In 1913 Falleni married a widow, Annie Birkett, whom she later murdered. The case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamoured for details of the 'man-woman' murderer. Aged approximately 43. Part of an archive of forensic photography created by the NSW Police between 1912 and 1964. 


 


Title: Ruby Furlong. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW
Creator: New South Wales. Dept. of Prisons
Date: 15 November 1920
Format: [Photograph] Glass plate negative
Place: State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay
Subject: mug shots; prisoners; prisoners of war
Description: Petty thief Ruby Furlong was involved in an altercation with a drunk musician at Newtown. She pulled out a razor and slashed his face, leaving an ugly scar. Furlong was a feared criminal who had a string of convictions in the early 1920s. Ruby, aged 34, was serving time for malicious wounding when this photograph was taken. Part of an archive of forensic photography created by the NSW Police between 1912 and 1964.



Links and text stolen with love from the Historic Houses Trust. So many more.

Feb 9, 2013

FROM THE DESK OF ALBERT FISH

Dear Mrs. Budd: 
In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the Steamer Tacoma, Capt. John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco for Hong Kong, China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1–3 per pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak—chops—or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girl's behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys, one 7 and one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet. Then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 year old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except the head—bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven (all of his ass), boiled, broiled, fried and stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. 
At that time, I was living at 409 E 100 St. near—right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3, 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese—strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her. On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said yes she could go. 
I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her tho I could of had I wished. 
She died a virgin.

Jan 23, 2013

THE PANZRAM FILES


I have kind of a thing for Carl Panzram. I've covered him previously here, here, and here.

I've long thought and will continue to think he might be one of the most fascinating figures in the 20th century. (If you don't know the man, catch up.)

Which is why it is beyond awesome that San Diego State University, to whom former prison guard/Panzram confidant Henry Lesser donated all the original writings by Panzram himself, has digitized and made available for free download the entire hand-written manuscript that went on to become A Journal of Murder we all know and love today.

Panzram's words are still as powerful as ever, but to see them in his own hand is pretty remarkable. 

The page below will lead to so much more. Click if you dare.