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Criminal Class: Surprisingly cool Aussie mugshots
07.01.2016
11:24 am

Topics:
Crime
History

Tags:
Australia
mug shots
Sydney Police

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Herbert Ellis sits with his arms folded waiting for his photograph to be taken. He’s perched on a chair, back against a wall, legs apart, wearing a three-piece suit, a white shirt with stud collar, a knitted tie and a slick Fedora. Ellis could be a guest at a dinner party, the groom’s best man at a wedding, an actor on a film set, or a model showing off the latest cut for a fashion spread. He looks cool, almost smiling at some private joke, seemingly at ease with what’s going on all around him.

But looks can be deceptive. Ellis has just been yanked off the street by two cops. They arrested him in connection with a burglary. Ellis is a “suspected person.” He has a reputation as a housebreaker, a shop breaker, a safe breaker, and receiver of stolen goods. Herbert Ellis is a criminal. He’s having his mugshot taken at the Central Police Station, Sydney sometime around 1920. As soon as the cops pulled in a suspect they took their prints and flashed their photo against a wall. Most of the time, the arrestees did not pose according to the positions of the latest standardized mugshot. Instead they sat or stood, wore what they liked, kept their coats and hats on and even smiled at the camera. As Peter Doyle curator of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney, Australia notes these men and women “recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension.”

Ellis had a string of petty convictions to his name including “goods in custody, indecent language, stealing, receiving and throwing a missile.” His MO was noted as:

...seldom engages in crime in company, but possessing a most villainous character, he influences associates to commit robberies, and he arranges for the disposal of the proceeds.

He was nicknamed “Curly” down to his thinning hair and “Deafy” as by the time this picture was taken he was stone deaf.

Most of the criminals photographed by the New South Wales Police Department between 1910 and 1930 were taken in the cells of the Central Police Station, Sydney. The mugshots documented the various men and women arrested on charges as diverse as theft, larceny, violence, or procuring an abortion. The photos look unlike most other standard mugshots and could easily be portraits of family, friends or actors on a set.
 
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B. Smith, Gertrude Thompson and Vera McDonald, Central Police Station, Sydney, 25 January 1928.

Special Photograph no. 1608. This photograph was apparently taken in the aftermath of a raid led by CIB Chief Bill Mackay - later to be Commissioner of Police - on a house at 74 Riley Street, ‘lower Darlinghurst’. Numerous charges were heard against the 15 men and women arrested. Lessee Joe Bezzina was charged with ‘being the keeper of a house frequented by reputed thieves’, and some of the others were charged with assault, and with ‘being found in a house frequented by reputed thieves’.

The prosecution cast the raid in heroic terms - the Chief of the CIB, desperately outnumbered, had struggled hand to hand in ‘a sweltering melee in one of the most notorious thieves’ kitchens in Sydney’. The defence, on the other hand, described ‘a quiet party, a few drinks, some singing ... violently interrupted by a squad of hostile, brawling police’ (Truth, 29 January 1928).

 
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Hampton Hirscham, Cornellius Joseph Keevil, William Thomas O’Brien and James O’Brien, 20 July 1921, Central Police Station, Sydney.

Special Photograph no. 446. The quartet pictured were arrested over a robbery at the home of bookmaker Reginald Catton, of Todman avenue, Kensington, on 21 April 1921. The Crown did not proceed against Thomas O’Brien but the other three were convicted, and received sentences of fifteen months each.

 
More Antipodean mugshots and arrest details, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Oh great, now they’ve got porn-sniffing dogs!
06.23.2016
03:05 pm

Topics:
Animals
Crime

Tags:
pornography
police
dogs


 
On April 19, the state of Utah resolved that “pornography is creating a public health crisis.” There’s definitely a hinky stank to that resolution, as Jamie Peck explained after the resolution’s passage: “The resolution is based partly on pseudoscience and takes for granted that the only ‘healthy’ channel for sexuality is a non-kinky, heterosexual, child-producing marriage.” So if you are queer or trans or pansexual the state of Utah just might pass a resolution stating that your private sex life is “creating a public health crisis.” Utah. Land of Republicans, Mormons and… more Republican Mormons.

Either way, some law enforcement officers in the state have taken the hint. Abutting the state’s famous Great Salt Lake, the municipality of Weber County, which contains the city of Ogden, has acquired a dog to help with the struggle against demon porn.

You might think that sniffing for porn is an impossibility, because you might as well be sniffing for old copies of Newsweek or the L.L. Bean catalog, right? But you’d be wrong! It’s 2016, when was the last time you held a copy of Penthouse in your hands? Nowadays, porn = internet = computer technology, nobody’s looking for printed smut anymore.

The dog’s name, URL, is a hint as to the skills that are being brought to the task. From the same trainer that produced the doggie that helped snare vile pedophile and TV fast food spokesman Jared Fogle, URL is “trained to sniff out electronic storage devices such as thumb drives, cell phones, SIM cards, SD cards, external hard drives, tablets and iPads.”

So URL is also sort of an “office work product”-sniffing agent as well.

Weber County introduced the dog to the public on its Facebook feed on Tuesday. Here’s the text that went along with the post:
 

A NEW DOG IN TOWN

Say hello to “URL!” Utah’s first Electronic Detection K-9, or what some may jokingly refer to as Utah’s first “porn dog.” URL is a 16-month old, Black Lab, recently acquired from Jordan Detection K-9 in Greenfield, Indiana. He is only one of nine certified ED K-9s in the country, and the only one in the western states region. URL comes from the same trainer as Bear, the ED K-9 who played a key role in the arrest of Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle.

Specially trained to sniff out electronic storage devices such as thumb drives, cellphones, SIM cards, SD cards, external hard drives, tablets and iPads, URL offers a unique set of skills to aid investigators in fighting crime. Whether it’s child porn, terrorism intelligence, narcotics or financial crimes information, URL has the ability to find evidence hidden on basically any electronic memory device. He will assist our investigators on these specific types of cases, and he will also be used in our correctional facility to seek out contraband such as cell phones.

Now we realize some of you may be skeptical and wonder how is this possible? URL does not actually search for illegal materials, but rather his highly sensitive nose has been trained to detect the unique chemical compounds found in the certain electronic components.

Rescued from a shelter when he was a puppy, URL went through six months of training in Indiana before becoming certified. His handler, Detective Cam Hartman, also received nine days of expert training and the pair will have to be re-certified on an annual basis.

URL’s purchase was made possible through funding from the Weber Metro Narcotics Strike Force, and his acquisition has been strongly supported by the Weber County Attorney’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office will be responsible for his care and deployment as he serves the Northern Utah area.

 
As the good people of Weber County admit, URL may be known as a porn-sniffing K-9 officer, but he can also be used to detect “terrorism intelligence, narcotics or financial crimes information” because we all know that Utah is a hotbed of that shit.
 
via Death & Taxes

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Original CSI: Crime scene photos from the early 1900s

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The French detective and biometrics researcher Alphonse Bertillon was the father of modern crime scene investigation. Among his major contributions were the mugshot and the crime scene photograph.

Before Bertillon pioneered the use of the mugshot criminals were identified by verbal description and artist sketches—which were not always reliable as eyewitness often gave confusing and contradictory descriptions. The mugshot obviously made it easier for police to identify and apprehend criminals and to disseminate posters of the most wanted across country.

Bertillon was the first to recognize the importance of using photography to document a crime scene—the position of the body, the murder weapon, the footprints or personal artefacts left behind, the disarray of the scene. While some at first doubted the relevance of photographing murder victims—considering it ghoulish and highly disrespectful to the deceased—it became quickly apparent how such photographs helped solve innumerable murders.

Bertillon also devised a system of anthropometry by which criminals could be identified. The system, called “Bertillonage,” classified criminals by identifiable physical characteristics–eyes, length of nose, shape of ear, measurements of head, etc. From the late 1800s until around the end of the First World War Bertillonage was the main system for identifying criminals as used across Europe and America. It was eventually replaced by fingerprinting.
 
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His success as a detective led Bertillon to be described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the greatest detective in Europe—rivalling his very own creation Sherlock Holmes who was only the “second highest expert in Europe.”

There is an oft-quoted story that Bertillonage was discredited by the strange case of two men Will West and William West in 1903. The story goes that when Will West was arrested and sentenced to Leavenworth prison, his anthropometric measurements matched another prisoner who was also (quite unbelievably) called William West. Yet, according to Bertillon’s methodology both men were the very same person—which was of course impossible. 

Though it was claimed their measurements were identical—it is probably more correct to say these figures conformed within certain ratios which were similar but not exactly the same. The two men were later identified by fingerprinting—and it was this that gave lie to the claim that the confusion over Will West and William West led to the abandonment of the Bertillonage system. However, it should be pointed out that Bertillonage was used up as late as 1918 in America and Canada and around the time in Europe. What probably discredited this system of anthropometry more than anything else was its adoption by the Nazis prior to the Second World War as a means to identify non-Aryans.

The following photographs were taken by Alphonse Bertillon (or are credited to him) and depict some of the murder scenes he encountered during his work as a detective. They are among the very earliest crime scene photographs ever taken.
 
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More of the earliest crime scene photographs ever taken, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Infamous serial killers do portraits of Charles Manson


Charles Manson portrait by John Wayne Gacy
 
“Murderabilia” is a term used to describe collectibles related to murders or murderers. During the 1990s, which seemed to be the “golden age” of public obsession with serial killers, a cottage industry formed around the sale of artworks created by infamous death-row killers—that is until May of 2001, when eBay banned the sale of such items, forcing the industry underground.

The most well-known serial killer artists were John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Glen Edward Rogers, Henry Lee Lucas, and Ottis Toole. Though the argument could be made that Charles Manson is not technically a “serial killer,” he is nonetheless one of the most infamous criminals of our time, and murderabilia items related to Manson still fetch high dollars among collectors.

Perhaps playing to their audience, some serial killer artists have done portraits of Manson, proving there are no limits to bad taste.

Here we have a portrait of Manson painted by rapist and murderer of 33 boys and young men, John Wayne Gacy:
 

 
Next, we have this portrait of Manson drawn by convicted killer of 11 (though he has confessed to hundreds of unsolved murders), Henry Lee Lucas:
 

 
More Manson after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Peep Shows, Pimps and Prostitutes: A Walk on the Wild Side of New York in the 1970s

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Leland Bobbé started his career as a photographer in the mid-1970s shooting street scenes around Times Square and the Bowery in New York City. Bobbé was living downtown near the Brooklyn Bridge. He played drums with a band on the CBGBs/Max’s Kansas City scene.

Because I didn’t write music, I eventually realized through taking pictures I was able to make more of a personal statement than playing rock n’ roll written by others.

At night Bobbé drove a taxi. He scouted the streets in different neighborhoods. During the day, he returned to these neighborhoods to take photographs of the people who hung around the sidewalks, peep shows, bars, and flop houses.

Hard as it is to remember now, at that moment New York was kind of on its ass. Crime was at a high. Destitution and poverty were spreading like plague. Drugs and vice seemed to be the only booming enterprises. The Son of Sam slayings terrorized New Yorkers. The city was virtually bankrupt—President Gerald Ford told New York to “drop dead,” as the New York Daily News famously had it. He eventually relented and stumped up a loan to save the Big Apple. Bobbé‘s photos captured the city long before its gentrification as a rich hipster’s playground.

Bobbé often shot from the hip using a 28mm to avoid detection. Others were shot with a telephoto lens. The resulting photographs are stunning, gritty and powerful—filled with character and atmosphere that captured the city at an unforgettable point in its history.
 
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More of Leland Bobbé‘s gritty photographs of New York in the 1970s, after the jump…..
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
What kind of person is dumb enough to become a Scientologist?
05.20.2016
11:39 am

Topics:
Belief
Crime
Kooks

Tags:
Scientology
L. Ron Hubbard


 
If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, depending on where you live or what you’ve “liked,” lately you may have seen several promoted tweets and sponsored posts put out by the Church of Scientology disparaging the reputation of Scientology leader David Miscavige’s father, Ron Miscavige, himself a longtime Scientologist who left the Church in 2012. The senior Miscavige has recently published a rather damning tell-all memoir, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, about his sociopathic seed and the authoritarian sci-fi religion of which he is the “ecclesiastical leader.” The Co$ social media alerts wanted to make sure that you’re aware of some things in his past to discredit him as his book climbs up with NY Times bestseller list. Miscavige Sr.‘s story was featured on a riveting recent segment of ABC’s 20/20 newsmagazine as well, something I think it’s pretty safe to say that his thin-skinned, used-to-getting-his-own-way, nasty-little-man son didn’t like very much.
 

 
Much much (maybe too much) more after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The Nasty Terrible T-KID 170’: New doc on one of NYC’s greatest and most legendary graffiti writers
05.16.2016
09:32 am

Topics:
Art
Crime

Tags:
graffitti
T-KID 170


 
World-renowned graffiti artist, Julius Cavero aka T-KID 170,  began his “career” in the mid ‘70s tagging under the name “King 13” for gangs The Bronx Enchanters and The Renegades of Harlem, where he learned how to paint trains. After a gang-related shootout, Cavero suffered three shots to the leg, nearly killing him.

In three weeks of hospitalization following the shoot-out, Cavero sketched endlessly, recreating himself as T-KID 170. At that time, Julius Cavero gave up gang life for street art. That’s not to say he went “straight,” mind you—he was still committing criminal acts of trespassing and vandalism, but those acts made a name for him as one of the most important NYC graffiti artists of the ‘70’s and ‘80s.

T-KID 170 became famous for his unique lettering, illustration style, and extremely prolific train-bombing. In addition to his notable artistic ability, T-KID gained a reputation in the early to mid 1980s as being one of the most feared writers. T-KID’s crew, The Vamp Squad, allegedly robbed and beat many writers attempted to tag trains on their “ghost yard” turf. These guys didn’t fuck around.
 
More T-KID 170 after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Someone is stabbing trees with meat-wrapped knives
05.12.2016
11:07 am

Topics:
Crime

Tags:
trees


 
It all started about a year and a half ago, a person or persons stabbing trees with meat-wrapped knives in Leavenworth Park. The park is located in Omaha, Nebraska and residents of the area are totally freaked out as to why this keeps happening.

“It is very strange,” said John Costanzo with the Leavenworth Neighborhood Association. “Probably for about the last year, year and a half, neighbors have been finding steaks or other various pieces of meat pinned to the tree with knives.” 

Via KETV:

Costanzo said neighbors have called in dozens of these incidents. Police reports have been filed and the crime lab has visited the scene. But the mystery of the meat-wrapped knives continues.


 
Apparently, people in the area not only find it fucking weird, but worrisome as well. Police have confirmed the meat is not human (whew!).

If you know anything about this mysterious “knife stabbing meat tree person,” you’re encouraged to call the police.

 
via Arbroath

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
All About the (counterfeit) Benjamins: Play drug-dealer with fake drugs & fake money from Amazon
05.09.2016
05:11 pm

Topics:
Crime
Drugs
Movies

Tags:
movie props


 
We’re not going to ask what you want to use them for, but in case you do want optically convincing fake drugs and fake money for your own amusement, Amazon’s got you covered.

Amazon has several products that are intended for use as movie props to substitute for illegal drugs (and illegally obtained cash). Up top you will what Amazon calls “PROP MONEY Combo 4,” with two bricks of marijuana, a few plausibly schwaggy dime bags, and some fake moolah.

If Combo 4 doesn’t grab you, you might prefer “Combo 3,” which is another variation on the pot dealer set of props, but with a higher class of weed.
 

 
Then there’s the “XMAS SPECIAL,” which may or may not be a reference to “snow”:
 

 
Fake drugs don’t endanger one of being convicted of drug dealing felonies, but the same can’t be said of fake money and counterfeiting charges, where the distinction is a bit more subtle. That’s the reason the money is comically wrong when you get a closer look (also why the bundles don’t persist past the first bill):
 

 
All of the above products cost around $50, and they are all purely props. There’s nothing preventing you from supplementing them with useful and legal items that actual drug dealers would use. For instance, a gun. OR there’s Amazon’s #1 rated money counter, the “G-Star Technology Money Counter With UV/MG W/Counterfeit Bill Detection.” It costs $99.99:
 

 
By comparison, the American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale is a steal at $8.84.
 

 
That scale is purportedly so popular among drug dealers that the “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Bought” section on its Amazon page has become a kind of informal Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs, with links to various, erm, “spice” grinders, a scientific spatula, a digital caliper, and so on.

We hope you have fun fooling your buddies into thinking you’ve become some kind of Tuco Salamanca, but be careful—it’s impossible to list all the ways flaunting items like this could get you into trouble. Don’t blame us if you land in hot water!
 
via Boing Boing

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Murder, Madness and Miss Marple: The Secret Life of Dame Margaret Rutherford

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Sunday afternoon matinees on television first introduced me to the utter delight of watching Margaret Rutherford’s acting on screen. Her appearance as the much loved Miss Marple in a series of 1960s whodunnits loosely based on the novels by Agatha Christie left such an indelible impression that for all of those great actresses who have since played the inquisitive spinster from St. Mary Mead not one has eclipsed her unforgettable performance.

There was always something special about Margaret Rutherford. No matter what she did, she was always likeable. Over a thirty-year career on stage and screen she consistently delivered performances of quality and distinction, of grace and beauty, of comedy and excellence that made her sparkle in even the most second rate production.

Nowadays she is best remembered for her scene-stealing turn as Madame Arcati in David Lean’s movie adaptation of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit in 1945. Or her fighting the battle of the sexes as headmistress of a girls school in The Happiest Days of Your Life from 1950. Or her 1963 Oscar-winning role as the Duchess of Brighton in the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor movie The V.I.P.s.

As the actor Robert Morley once said, Margaret Rutherford was “everyone’s Maiden Aunt—a woman of enormous integrity who acted naturally…and was always frightfully funny.” Yet behind all this talent to amuse was a terrible secret worthy of a Miss Marple mystery—a story of madness, suicide and murder that haunted the great actress throughout her life.

To unlock this family secret we have to go back to the decade before Margaret Rutherford’s birth—to the marriage of her parents William Rutherford Benn and Florence Nicholson at All Saints Church, Wandsworth in December of 1882.

William was the son of the Reverend Julius Benn, an eminent social reformer and church figure and the grandfather of politician Tony Benn. Florence was of similar middle class stock but her parents were dead and one sister had committed suicide a few years before—which was an intimation of things to come.

Not long after their honeymoon, William had a serious psychotic breakdown. It has been suggested this was caused by his failure to consummate the marriage. Exactly a month after their wedding, William was admitted to Bethnal House Lunatic Asylum, where he was described as suffering from:

...depression alternating with unusual excitement and irritability.

William was detained at the asylum for several weeks until his condition improved. On release, his parents decided it best that William should not return immediately to Florence but instead take “a rest cure in the country.” William’s father the Rev. Julius decided to take his son to the spa town of Matlock in Derbyshire.

On February 27th, 1883, the two men checked into their room at a boarding house run by a Mrs Marchant in Chesterfield Road. Father and son appeared “on the most affectionate of terms” and were “very attached to each other.” They were described as “abstemious” and were seen taking long walks to various local sites.

But on Sunday March 4th something terrible happened.
 
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The first indications of there being wrong was the strange ghastly noises coming from their room. When neither men appeared for breakfast:

Mrs Marchant, accompanied by her husband, entered the Benns’ room to find William Benn, his night shirt covered in blood, pointing to his father, who lay on the bed quite dead.

William had killed his father with a single blow to the head with an earthenware chamber pot. William had then attempted suicide by cutting his own throat. He stood in the room making feral noises blood bubbling from the gash in his throat.

This self-inflicted was not fatal. William was arrested and treated at the local infirmary. A few days later he attempted suicide again this time by jumping out of a second story window. He suffered injuries to his back and cuts to his body but was not seriously hurt. He was recaptured and held at the hospital.

At the inquest, the jury unanimously decided William had “wilfully murdered” his father. He was committed to the mercy of the Derbyshire Assizes for sentencing. William’s condition deteriorated drastically. He was declared “insane” and admitted to Broadmoor hospital. All charges against him were dropped on grounds of insanity.

What caused this tragic psychotic episode is unknown. William was treated at Broadmoor for seven years, after which he was released into the care of his wife Florence.

In a bid to escape the association with his murderous past, William changed his name from Benn to Rutherford by deed poll. This time the marriage was consummated and Margaret Taylor Rutherford was born on May 11th, 1892.
 
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William moved his family to India, where he worked as a merchant or “shipping clerk” and sometime journalist. Little is known of what happened during these years other than the suggestion (from Tony Benn) that William was deeply moved by the poverty he encountered and dedicated his time to helping those in direst need.

During their time together in India, Florence became pregnant. At some point during her pregnancy, Florence fell into a deep depression and exhibited signs of severe mental illness. Aware of his wife’s deteriorating condition, William made plans to move back to England. It came too late. Florence committed suicide. Her body was discovered one morning hanging from a tree in the garden.

In 1895, William and Margaret returned to England. He handed his daughter over to his wife’s remaining sister Bessie to raise. William then suffered a series of severe mental breakdowns that led to his incarceration at the Northumberland House Asylum, Finsbury Park, London in 1903.

Bessie took full charge of raising her niece. She told Margaret her parents were dead. All went well until one day a tramp approached Margaret as she played in the garden. This disheveled man told the young girl her father was very much alive and sent her his love. Margaret was terrified by the man and deeply troubled by what he had said.

She asked her aunt about her father. Bessie eventually told the truth. Margaret was devastated. She became depressed, withdrawn and non-communicative. Rutherford was terrified that she had inherited her parents’ insanity. She suffered the first of many mental breakdowns that she endured throughout her life, in later years going as far as undertaking electric shock therapy as a hopeful cure for her depression.

Margaret Rutherford never spoke publicly of her family’s history. In her autobiography, she made no reference to her father’s illness instead describing him as a:

...complicated romantic who changed his name to Rutherford as it was more aesthetic for a writer. My father died in tragic circumstances soon after my mother and so I became an orphan.

William had in fact been re-admitted to Broadmoor where he was incarcerated until his death in 1921. It is not known whether Margaret ever visited her father. However, he did write many letters to his daughter that caused her family considerable concern.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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