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Index
 
Central New York
High School Prank Leads to Death
An annual Auburn High School night of fun and games came to a tragic end in 1915 when the mayor's son crashed his father's car into a tree and killed a friend.
Did Capone Send Them?
Four would-be gangsters driving from Chicago to New York City made a stupid mistake that led to a wild chase from Fairmount Four Corners to the woods of Wolf Hollow, where they were captured.
Welcome to America
Life wasn't easy for many Italian immigrants in the 19th century, but one Syracuse family endured in a fashion that would make an entertaining mini-series.
It could have been much worse
It's a miracle only one Marcellus student was killed at the Kirkville train crossing.
Tragedy at Putnam's Crossing
Two lives were lost as the result of a spectacular, but perhaps inevitable train-car collision in Jordan, NY, in 1917.
Fatal mistake
That's what Joseph Carlucci made when he married his brother's 15-year-old stepdaughter.
Exasperating landlords
The McCarthy brothers waged frustrating legal battles with Solvay and the city of Syracuse over condemned properties.
 
All in the Family
God Struck Out
In 1913, Mickey Major and 17 others were arrested. Their crime? Playing baseball on Sunday.
Tony Kane's last voyage
Tony Kane could have been a character in "Boardwalk Empire."
Christmas tragedy
In December, 1929, Leo Major and six other teenagers crammed into a car to buy holiday decorations in Skaneateles for their school. Minutes later tragedy struck.
Missing brother found in Pennsylvania after 19 years
William McLaughlin, who disappeared from Skaneateles, NY, in 1891, was found in 1910 by his brother, James, in a hamlet in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania.
Adventurous job
Andrew Carrigan discovered that being a motorman on the electric railroad had its hazards.
Have teasels, will travel
Skaneateles farmers once grew weeds on purpose. And no one had more success with them than the McLaughlins who marketed them overseas.
 
Interesting and Unusual People
A first lady like no other
Many people didn't know quite what to make of Eleanor Roosevelt when she became the first lady of the land in 1933.
The American Princess and her pampered little boy
When multi-millionaire William Bateman Leeds died in 1908, he could not have imagined what kind of lives his money would buy for his widow and their son, William B. Leeds Jr.
Before Trump, there was W.E.D. Stokes
Millionaire William Earl Dodge Stokes Sr. had two trophy wives, two ugly divorces, and hundreds of lawsuits. He also built what at the time was considered the fanciest hotel in New York City.
Empress of the Galopagos
Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bousquet left Europe in 1932 and settled on an island in the Galapagos, where she tried to set herself up as an empress.
Zion City's Wacky Wizard
Wilbur Glenn Voliva was an evangelist who for several years ruled an Illinois town with the power of a dictator. He also was convinced the world was flat.
Those marrying Mdivanis
They passed themselves off as princes, and had little trouble marrying and fleecing rich American women. Along the way, one of the Mdivani brothers married heiress Barbara Hutton.
Wall Street finally exhausted him
Jesse Livermore knew how to make a fortune in a hurry, but there came a time — after a series of up and downs  — that he couldn't take play the game any longer.

No wonder this lady sang the blues
Libby Holman had a promising career as a singer and actress when she married a young tobacco heir. After his mysterious death, Ms. Holman's life became a long, often tragic melodrama

She was the hottest thing at the World's Fair
The biggest thing in Chicago in 1933 was the World's Fair, called Century of Progress. And the hottest attraction was fan dancer Sally Rand, who appeared to perform in the nude.
What is it about jewel thieves?
"Boston Billy" Sullivan and Arthur Barry robbed people, but, as jewel thieves, their exploits were often fantasized in newspapers and magazines.
Quit the comparisons
Important as Fleet Walker may have been in the history of black players in professional baseball, he was no Jackie Robinson. If he were, then there would not have been a Jackie Robinson.
On Safari in Missouri
Earning a place in the Hall of Shame was Denver M. Wright, who bought two rather docile lions and set them loose on an island as the prey in a ridiculous "safari" he organized in Missouri in 1933.
 
Outlaws of the 1930s
Bonnie & Clyde
Buck Barrow and his brother, Clyde, had built up a bit of a following before Bonnie Parker attracted a following, but she wasn't anywhere near as famous in life as she became in death.

John Dillinger
He wasn't the first gangster to be listed as America's most wanted, but John Dillinger remains our most famous twentieth century bank robber.

Frank Nash
Forgotten today, Frank Nash was a central figure in one of the most infamous events in American crime history — the Union Station Massacre in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1933.
Harvey Bailey
America's most-wanted man in the summer of 1933. Harvey Bailey began and ended the year in prison. Unlike most robbers of the 1920s and '30s, but Bailey managed to reach old age.

"Machine Gun" Kelly
George Francis Barnes Jr. probably doesn't register with anyone, but as "Machine Gun" Kelly, Barnes became famous, though he wasn't fond of the weapon that gave him such a colorful nickname.

Verne Sankey
No clever nickname was ever found the first criminal to be listed as America's most-wanted, in 1933. Sankey was a prime suspect whenever a clever or efficient kidnapping or robbery was reported.
Leonard Scarnici
You name the crime, New York City-based Prohbition-era hitman Leonard Scarnici probably committed it at least once.

Harry Sitamore
The man sometimes called the greatest jewel thief of his day had a different alias for every day of the week, and then some.

Wilbur Underhill
If John Dillinger had a rival for the title of most-feared outlaw, he would have been Wilbur Underhill, known as "The Tri-State Terror."

Verne Miller
Formerly a soldier and a policeman, Vernon Clate Miller was blamed for crimes he didn't commit, while those he did commit were sometimes blamed on others.

Waxey Gordon
A bootlegger who thrived in the 1920s, he's remembered today as the man who gave Gypsy Rose Lee a boost by sending her to a dentist to do something about her worst feature — her teeth.
Gus Winkler
He supposedly began his short life of crime in Detroit with the legendary "Purple Gang", then moved to Chicago and found a spot in the Al Capone organization.
 
Kidnappers Were Often Inept
They could have pleaded temporary stupidity
The kidnapping of John J. O'Connell Jr. may be a perfect example of how not to commit the kind of crime that was all too common in the early 1930s.
The tragedy of Mary McElroy
Among our kidnappings, one stands out as unbelievably bizarre. The ultrasensitive victim was returned, ostensibly unharmed, but ultimately she was destroyed by her empathy for her abductors.
Peggy McMath was merely dazed and confused
Fortunately, another kidnap victim, ten-year-old Peggy McMath, was relatively unaffected by her experience at the hands of an inept abductor who briefly had police running in circles.
"Come here, Charles, and stick up your hands!"
Those were the words that let wealthy Denver banker Charles Boettcher II know that he was in trouble as he went to his car late at night to put it in the garage.
This case went from bad to worse to horrendous
The kidnapping of 22-year-old Brooke Hart, son of a wealthy San Jose, CA, department store owner led to one of one of the most tragic and infamous incidents in the state's history.
Amazingly, he survived his ordeal
On July 10, 1933, August Luer, 77, wealthy retired meat packer and banker on Alton, Illinois, was abducted from his home by two men who didn't know Luer had a heart condition.

There was something fishy about these two
Police weren't sure what to make of it when John "Jake the Barber" Factor, a Chicago con man, was kidnapped not long after reporting his son, Jerome, also had been abducted.

Big man off campus
Theodore "Handsome Jack" Klutas put in one year at the University of Illinois before he gathered a few associates for a gang known as "The College Kidnappers."
He was taken by celebrity kidnappers
This 1933 kidnapping of oilman Charles F. Urschel is remembered for the men who staged it — "Machine Gun" Kelly and Harvey Bailey.
Brewers, beware!
More than one kidnap victim in the 1930s had a beer connection. Most famous among this group was William Hamm Jr., the 39-year-old millionaire who was head of the Hamm Brewing Company.
 
Where's Columbo When You Need Him?
Weird man, weird murder
To call Edward Albert Ridley an eccentric is a vast understatement; it was fitting that circumstances surrounding his murder were among the strangest in New York City history.
Widow dazzled jurors
Jessie Costello, accused of poisoning her husband wrapped an all-male jury around her finger during a much-ballyhooed Massachusetts trial in 1933.
"Sphinx Murder" remains unsolved
It didn't happen in Chinatown, but the 1933 Pasadena, CA, murder of Dr. Leonard Siever and its cast of characters suggested a case for Los Angeles private detective J. J. "Jake" Gittes.
He became his fifth victim
In 1933, once successful Akron attorney Mark H. Shank carried out an unspeakable plan, intending to murder a client, his wife and three children.

Accident or murder?
The death of Mrs. Allene Thorpe Lamson while taking a bath in Palo Alto, CA, foreshadowed Ohio's Sam Sheppard case and the more recent death of Kathleen Peterson.
No candidate for mother-in-law of the year
Dr. Alice Lindsay Wynekoop was a respected Chicago doctor who seemed to feel her son, Earle, was somehow being held back by his wife.
They try to tell us they're too young
Three of 1933's most shocking murders were committed by teenager — Mary Kavala, Harry Murch and Balfe MacDonald.
 
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