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‘Shame on You’: Spade Cooley and his criminal career
08.08.2016
11:17 am

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Crime
Music

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Shame on You
 
Spade Cooley, a seemingly genial man, was a prominent country western musician, an actor, and a convicted murderer. When you know the story behind the smile, Spade Cooley seems like one twisted soul. He was born in Oklahoma and raised in Oregon in an impoverished family. From an early age, he was a skilled violinist. In the 1930’s and 40’s as his music career was taking off he also had an acting career in Hollywood westerns such as Chatterbox, The Singing Sheriff, Outlaws of the Rockies and Texas Panhandle. His popular music career began in the early 1940s featuring Tex Williams’s vocals. The band’s biggest hit was “Shame on You.” Pretty ironic for the future murderer.
 
Spade and Ella Mae
 
Spade Cooley married Ella Mae Evans, one of his backup singers, in 1945. In 1947 as TV became a thing he hosted his own entertainment variety show called The Hoffman Hayride with his western swing band. Cooley proclaimed himself the “King of Western Swing.”
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
Mugshots of grinning miscreants, murderers and malefactors from the late 19th century
08.01.2016
12:01 pm

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Crime
History

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The cheerful mugshot of murderer George H. Ray, 1890s.
 
Of all the places to be back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Nebraska was not one of them. I recently came across some “interesting” looking mugshots from that era that struck me as a little odd. What’s odd about them—as the title of the post touts—is that some of criminals, from an unfortunate chicken thief to a couple of murderers, appeared to be smiling in them. Yikes.

Photography was a very scarce occurrence during those early decades and due to that having one’s photo taken was a very serious affair. It was also less expensive than traditional oil portraiture so that even people of lesser financial stature could have own a “portrait” of themselves or their family. In the case of the Nebraska mug shots it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that of all the the occasions to have your photo taken your first mugshot wasn’t really a time to smile for the camera. 

Of the bad guys and girls in this post the one I find most unnerving is the flat-out smiling mugshot of George H. Ray (pictured at the top of this post) who must have been pleased that he was about to do ten years in the Nebraska State Penitentiary for manslaughter. Another oddball among these various ne’er–do–wells is the curious case of Bert Martin (below) a convicted horse thief. As it turns out Bert Martin was actually “Lena” Martin—a woman masquerading as a man so she could work as a cowboy.
 

Bert Martin aka, ‘Lena” Martin, 1901
 

Murderer Frank L. Dinsmore, 1899
 
More mugshots after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Marxism: Highlights from Groucho’s FBI file
07.27.2016
12:06 pm

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Crime
Movies
Politics
Television

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The other day I was refreshing my memory on Groucho’s LSD escapade with Paul Krassner, when it occurred to me that it might be beneficial to see if the FBI ever had a file on Groucho.

Of course they did, and it’s available for anyone to look at, heavily redacted of course. The Xerox machines at the FBI a few decades ago were super shitty (a feature not a bug?) so a lot of the pages you can’t make out a damn thing, but other sections are perfectly legible.

If you know anything about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, the contents here aren’t too surprising—they were mainly worried that Groucho might be a Commie (if not a Marxist) in the early to mid-1950s. There are countless (redacted) reports to the effect that Groucho had a lot of pro-Communist sympathies but was almost certainly not an actual party member. (I guess the G-men already knew that he’d refuse to join any club that would have him as a member?)  There are some interesting references to a quotation of Groucho’s that appeared in the Daily Worker in 1934 that went “The battle of the Communists for the lives of these boys is one that will be taught in Soviet America as the most inspiring and courageous battle ever fought.”

Keep in mind that in 1934 Hitler was running Germany but not yet regarded as an obvious scourge to be eliminated. Still his anti-Jewish sentiments were clear enough. As a well-informed Jewish American it would be weird if Groucho hadn’t gotten interested in Communism around then. Plus for similar reasons the mid-1930s was a high-water mark for leftist and/or pro-Soviet feeling, especially once the Spanish Civil War got going in 1936. A lot of people who weren’t all that political got into trouble later for things they did (and thought) before WWII.

There’s also some business about Groucho and Chico being found guilty in a copyright infringement case in 1937 and having to pay a $1,000 fine.

For some reason Groucho (né Julius) is invariably referred to as “GRAUCHO MARX.” Once we reach the 1960s he is referred to as “Groucho.” I don’t know what’s up with that. In the summary sections of the file there is some background about how musically talented Groucho and his brothers are—the musical talents of Harpo and Chico are well known, but the file also, intriguingly, says this: “GRAUCHO MARX is rated as one of the best guitar players in the country.”

Did any of you know that?? So Groucho Marx, was, in a sense (at least according to his FBI file) a peer of Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen? Well, maybe, maybe not.

There’s some business I don’t understand from 1957 about someone trying to “extort” Groucho. I can’t tell if it’s just a weird piece of fan mail that was referred to the FBI that they were obliged to look into or something more serious. On that page there is this chilling passage:
 

The death threat letter sent to GROUCHO MARX from ELVIS PRESLEY fanatics from Brooklyn stating that GROUCHO wouldn’t live through the holidays, might seem ridiculous if it weren’t such a serious offense to send such a threat through the mails.


 
Much more from the Groucho file, after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Take the money and run: Photos of the real life Bonnie & Clyde
07.26.2016
11:14 am

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Crime

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Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
 
There are few names that have more instant recognition when it comes to the history of the American criminal than the duo of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow—otherwise known as “Bonnie & Clyde.” The pair’s horrific crime wave took the lives of thirteen people including two members of law enforcement, but their illegal exploits (which included kidnapping and robbing banks) really didn’t make them very rich because as it turns out Bonnie and Clyde weren’t that good at breaking the law.
 

An early mugshot of Clyde Barrow, age sixteen. 1925.
 
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker met Clyde Chestnut Barrow sometime in early 1930 and for Parker it was love at first sight. The two shared a mutual love of music and as a young girl Parker performed in talent shows and dreamed of one day hitting it big in Hollywood. During her short time as a part of Barrow’s gang Bonnie would write poetry and just before their crime spree ended on a dirt road in the country in Bienville Parish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934 Parker would pen an eerie poem she called The End of the Line that accurately foretold the couple’s eminent fate: 

They don’t think they’re too smart or desperate, They know the law always wins; They’ve been shot at before, But they do not ignore That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they’ll go down together; And they’ll bury them side by side, To a few it’ll be grief— To the law a relief— But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

I’ve included an assortment of old photos of Bonnie and Clyde taken in the early 1930s—some that come from a roll of undeveloped film found inside of the bullet-riddled car where Bonnie and Clyde met their violent end—seventeen bullets for Clyde and 26 for Bonnie to be precise, as you can see in a graphic newsreel from 1934 that includes footage of the deceased duo inside their “death car” just after they were ambushed by the police.
 

A portrait of a young Bonnie Parker.
 

 
More Bonnie & Clyde after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Criminal Class: Surprisingly cool Aussie mugshots
07.01.2016
11:24 am

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Crime
History

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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

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Animals
Crime

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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
06.09.2016
09:52 am

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Crime
History

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0_1_bertmurd01.jpg
 
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.
 
0_1bertmurd40.jpg
 
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
05.31.2016
08:34 am

Topics:
Art
Crime
Stupid or Evil?

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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
05.27.2016
10:19 am

Topics:
Crime
Drugs
History

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01_lelbob09.jpg
 
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

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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
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