Billy the Kid was a legend in the Wild West as a cattle rustler and murderer. Slim and fair, Billy was born in New York but soon moved to New Mexico. He was apprenticed to a blacksmith but. found this boring, so he shot the smith and became a cowboy. At first he worked for John Chisholm, who was fighting a range war in the Pecos Valley. He quarrelled with Chisholm and joined a band of cattle rustlers, killing as many of Chisholm's men as he could in the process. Pat Garrett was elected sheriff to capture Billy the Kid He did this, but Billy shot two deputies and escaped from his cell just before he was due to be hanged. He was caught by Garrett
Reader, Part III 353
two months and five murders later and shot dead in a gunfight. He was said to have shot twenty-one men, but in fact he probably only killed three.
Jack the Ripper
"Jack the Ripper" was a mysterious killer who terrorised the East End of London in the autumn of 1888. His victims, all women, were killed by having their throats cut, and in many cases the bodies were savagely mutilated as well. The number of victims is said to be between four and fourteen, though police authorities generally thought that only five murders were definitely the work of the Ripper. The Ripper was never caught, and his identity remains a mystery. All kinds of people have been suggested as possible Rippers, including the Duke of Clarence and even a barrister.
Koy Bean, d. 1903
In the days when the western part of the USA was known as Wild West law was upheld by very rough and ready men. 'Judge1 Bean, as he called himself, was one of the most colourful of the lawmen. As a young man he had been a slaver, driven an ammunition truck in the war against Mexico, smuggled cotton and been tried. He became famous as Justice of the Peace in a town called Vinegarroon Here, in a saloon called the Jersey Lilly — so named after the actress Lily Langtree of whom he was a fan — he held the court His justice was as rough as the people he tried and he built up an enormous reputation, so that many tales were told about him. One is that he decided on one occasion that a man accused of murdering a Chinaman might call on his tough friends to make trouble for the judge. Looking through his law books he announced that he could not find anywhere that it said that you must not kill a Chinaman!
Butch Cassidy, 1866—1910 and the Sundance Kid,
Butch Cassidy, whose real name was Robert Leroy Parker, was the leader of a gang of American outlaws called the Wild Bunch who operated mainly from a secure hideout in Wyoming Territory called Hole in the Wall. Other members of the gang were the Sundance Kid (real name Harry Longbaugh), Bill 'News7 Carver, Ben Kilpatrick and Harvey Logan. The Wild Bunch rustled cattle,
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held up banks and robbed trains, all with varied success. On one occasion they stole $40,000 in. notes that were so new that they had not been signed, and their clumsy attempts to forge the signatures failed miserably. Having made things too hot for themselves by robbing the Union Pacific railway rather too frequently, in 1902 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid moved to South America accompanied by pretty schoolteacher Etta Place. This combination carried out a number of robberies, before the two outlaws were ambushed and killed in a gunfight with the Bolivian army in 1910, However, rumours persist that either one or both men returned to the USA and lived on peacefully to die of old aga The film of their life and death, Butch Cassidy and the. Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, managed to catch the flavour of criminal exploits almost perfectly.
IVIata Hari (born Gertruda Margarete Zelle)>
Mata Hari, who was executed by a firing squad in France in October 1917, is probably the most famous spy of all time. She is renown for her beauty, her numerous military lovers, her provocative oriental dancing, and, above all, her espionage. Yet in fact, she was not oriental, or even a spy. Mata Hari was a stage name adopted by a plump middle-aged Dutch divorcee, named Mrs. Margaretha MacLeod, who had left her alcoholic Scottish husband and opted to become a dancer in Europe. The evidence of her alleged espionage on behalf of the German Kaiser is based merely on her being mistaken for a well-known German agent Clara Benedix, by the British in November 1916. In that month Mrs. MacLeod was arrested in Falmouth, Cornwall, on board of the ship Hollandia while she was on her way to Holland. The police released her when they realised the mistake. Later she was arrested in France and charged with having been in contact with German intelligence officers in Madrid (though she had never even been
Reader, Part III
there). At her trial in Paris her lurid life-style was used to damning effect It was only in 1963, when the secret files relating to her case were released, that the legend was reassessed. Most historians now think that, far from being a spy, Mata Hari was simply an innocent scapegoat — shot because the French government wanted to cover up its military ineptitude by fabricating an all-powerful ring of German agents,
Captain Alfred Dreyfus, 1859—1935
The name of Dreyfus is one of the most famous in the history of espionage. He was a French army officer of Jewish ancestry who in 1894 was sentenced to life imprisonment for selling military secrets to the Germans. The high command of the French army was strongly anti-Jewish and Dreyfus was a convenient scapegoat. His court martial was carried out as if he had already been found guilty. To serve his sentence he was sent to Devil's Island, the French prison colony off the coast of Guiana. In 1896 an army intelligence officer found proof that Dreyfus was innocent, but the army chief of staff refused to accept it. Support for Dreyfus grew and in 1898 the writer Emile Zola published a famous open letter, *\Faccuse"> calling for his case to be reopened At last, the army brought Dreyfus back from Devil's Island and retried him in 1899. To the amazement of everyone, this second court martial again found him guilty. Such was the public fury that the President pardoned Dreyfus immediately, but it was not until 1906 that his name was fully cleared, and the real traitor exposed.
Lizzie Borden, 1860—1927
Lizzie Borden is known worldwide through a poem which was written about her. It goes:
Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her father forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her mother forty-one.
This cruel verse refers to the fact that Lizzie Borden was accused of having killed her father and stepmother by chopping them to pieces with an axe at their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892. She was tried for the two murders and acquitted, but the trial has become a legend, and many books have been written about it
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Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, 1882—1910
Crippen is famous as a murderer mainly because he was the first one to be caught by the use of wireless telegraphy. He was an American-born doctor who settled in London in 1900 with his wife Cora who had theatrical ambitions and used the stage name Belle Elmore. In 1910 Crippen's wife vanished in suspicious circumstances and when the house was searched her dismembered body was discovered buried in a cellar. She had been poisoned. Meanwhile Crippen had fled with his girlfriend Ethel Le Neve, who was disguised as a hoy. They thought that they were safe once they boarded the liner Montrose for America, but the authorities used the newly invented wireless to pass on a warning to the ship's captain Shortly afterwards 'Mr. Robinson' and his 'son' were recognised and Crippen and Le Neve were arrested in New York and returned to Britain. Largely due to Crippen's insistence that she knew nothing of the crime, Ethel Le Neve was freed, but the mild, inoffensive looking little man was hanged at Pentonville prison on 23^ November 1910.
Bonnie and Clyde (Bonnie Parker andClyde Barrow), d. 1934
In the days of the Depression in America after 1929, these two young people made a great name for themselves robbing stores and committing murders quite casually and often for the sheer fun of it, Bonnie Parker was a waitress when she met Clyde Barrow, and she ended up a legendary figure known for her love of red dresses, cigars and firearms- Working in the southern states of the USA they left behind a trail of destruction. On several occasions they were trapped by the police, but seemed to bear a charmed life and escaped even through a hail of bulleis. On one occasion they held up a prison farm killing a guard and helping a friend to escape. Huge rewards were by then offered for their capture Following a tip-off, the police finally ambushed Bonnie and Clyde at a crossroads and killed them in the gunfight that followed. In 1967 a film was made of their exploits, which resulted in the two becoming almost cult figures, and a pop song was written about them, which became a best-selling record
'Ma' Barker, d- 1935
'Ma1 Barker's gang was mostly composed of her own four sons, and she led them to criminal fame. She was never arrested, but
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her sons often were. Ma would appear in court and protest tht-ir
innocence or raise bail. By the time the gang was cleared up by
the FBI it had been responsible for the deaths uf four policemen, a
civilian and one of
their own number
who talked too much.
The Barkers hit the
big time when they
rich men. for ransom,
but this increased the
pressure by police and
the FBI on the gang
and its members had
to split up. When Arthur Barker was captured, Ma's hideout in
Florida was revealed. The FBI's G-men surrounded the house and
called on Ma Barker and her son Fred to surrender. "To hell with
all of you", she replied and opened fire. The FBI used tear gas, but
the gunfight continued until both Ma Barker and her son were dead.
Bruno Hauptmann, d.1936
Kidnapping, which means the taking of a person.—-sometimes a child — by force and asking the family, friends or even employers of the person lor ransom in return for his or her release, has always been regarded as a serious crime. One of the best known kidnappings of modern times took place in America in March 1932, when the ninetcen-months old son of American aviator Colonel Charles Lindbergh was taken from his New Jersey home while he was asleep in the nursery. Charles Lindbergh was the first man to fly the Atlantic non-stop single-handed in 1927 and a great American hero. A large sum of money — $50,000 — was demanded by the kidnapper and this was eventually paid over by Lindbergh in April. However, the boy had already been murdered and his body buried under leaves and twigs in a wood only four miles from the Lindbergh home. As a result of the Lindbergh case the crime of kidnapping was made a Federal instead of just a State offence with the passing of the "Lindbergh Act" (Federal Kidnapping Act) in 1933. This allowed the FBI to become involved in the search for kidnappers and their victims, making an arrest so much more likely, The kidnapper of Lindbergh's child, Bruno Hauptmann, a carpenter from New York, was finally arrested in September 1934 after a massive search, and executed in 1936- The publicity which followed
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the kidnapping was so great that the Lindberghs eventually left America to live in England and continued to do so until 1939,
Hans Van Meegeren, 1889—1947
Van Meogeren wiil go down in history as one of the greatest of all art forgers. His work fooled all the experts. Before the Second World War Van Meegeren was a struggling artist in Holland who gradually became embittered by the fact that his own painting was not appreciated. He therefore painted a number of works in the style of Vermeer, which were accepted as the real thing. The six 'Vermeers' he painted were sold for huge sums of money: five to Dutch museums and the sixth to Hermann Goering, the German Nazi leader, for l6fr,000 pounds during the war. When the war was over, the sale of the picture to Goering was traced to Van Meegeren, who was accused of collaborating with the Germans. To save himself, Van Meegeren confessed to having forged the painting, but had to paint another 'Vermeer' while the experts watched, before anyone would believe him. He was tried in 1947 on a charge of forgery and sentenced to one year in prison. Six weeks later he died, having finally achieved tame as a painter.
Alphonse Capone, 1899—1947
'ÀÃ Capone is possibly the best-known of all American gangsters, though by no means the most important His home ground was Chicago. He was brought into the rackets by Johnny Torrio and Torrio's uncle 'Big Jim' Colosimo. Capone seized his chance when Prohibition was declared in 1920, which made the manufacture and sale of alcohol illegal in America. He soon rose to control a large part of the illegal liquor market in Chicago and the Middle West A fierce and vicious man, he was responsible for many gangland killings, including the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre, in which seven rival "bootleggers" (men selling illicit liquor) were trapped by gunmen dressed as police and machine-gunned to death, He was imprisoned in 1931 on income tax charges, became a model prisoner and was released in 1939.
'Lucky Luciano', 1897—1962
'Lucky' Luciano, so called because he led a charmed life and avoided assassination, was one of the most powerful leaders of the Mafia in the USA, Having risen to be a trusted lieutenant of Joe
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Masseria ('Joe the Boss'), he had him killed in 1931. This was the first step Luciano was to make in getting rid of the old guard of the Mafia, to make way for younger men like himself. In the reorganisation that followed Luciano became capo or head of one of the five New York Mafia 'Families', He became the most powerful
chieftain in the Mafia, and formed alliances with gangsters of other national groups such as the Jews and Irish «Americans. In 1936 he was sent to prison but paroled in 1945 because of his and the Mafia's secret work for the U.S. government during the Second World War. Afterwards he was deported to Italy, from where he ran the European end of the Mafia's drugs operation-Frank Costeilo, 1891—1973
Known by American newspapers as 'the Prime Minister of Crime', Costeilo was born in Italy and came to America in 1896. Though not well educated, he had a very good brain, and rosy steadily through the ranks of the Mafia until in 1936 he took over 'Lucky' Luciano's position as capo di capore, or head of all the Family heads. He avoided violence whenever possible, but was not afraid to use it where necessary. By 1943 he virtually owned New York, appointing city officials, judges and even mayors. He was jailed in 1954 on income tax charges and the resulting publicity made him less valuable to Meyer Lansky's National Crime Syndicate, and he lost much of his power. An attempt was made on his life in 1957, but he was then allowed to retire in peace.
George Blake, b. 1922
Born in Holland, he was a famous traitor and Russian spy, During the Second World War, he was a member of the Dutch resistance until he escaped to England, joined the Navy and changed his name to Blake. He joined the intelligence services and was captured in Korea while serving in the British Embassy in Seoul. Blake was released in 1953 but had been secretly converted to communism while a prisoner. He then served as an agent for MI6 and as a double agent for the Russians, first in Berlin and later in
prison and was smuggled out to Moscow by the Ru
Lee Harvey Oswald, 1940—1963
In 1963 the world was shaken by the news t Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas, whil airport. The man arrested for this terrible crime w Oswald. After service in the U.S. Marine Corps, O the Soviet Union for a time and married a Russian gir to the United States he was for a time involved revolutionary elements. On 22r,d November 19G3 he taken a rifle into the Texas Book Depository in Da worked, and shot President Kennedy and Governor C as they drove past. Conaily survived, but the Presid afterwards. Oswald tried to escape, shooting a police to stop him. He was caught, but was later shot dead b be brought to trial by the night-club owner Jack R got into the police station. The Warren Comm investigated the assassination, stated that Oswald ha but many people do not agree, and there are still questions concerning the killing left unanswered.
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PART IV. FAMOUS DETECTIVES
One of the great figures of detective fiction is Father Brown, created by UK.Chesterton (1874—1936) and largely based on his friend Father John O'Connor. Father Brown is a plump, moon-faced Roman Catholic priest from Essex, apparently vague and harmless, never separated from his largt= black umbrella and several brown paper parcels tied up with a string. In fact Father Brown is a master of detection as Chesterton showed in forty-nine stories published between 1911 and 1935. He finds himself involved, more or less by chance, in a crime, which he solves by using common sense and his vast knowledge of human nature. Father Brown appeared on film in 1954, with Alec Guinness in the title role, and later in a television series, starring Kenneth More
The famous fictional detective of Victorian times was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859—1930) who based the brilliant deductive method and personality of his character on Dr. Joseph Bell, under whom he had worked as a surgeon. Holmes with his incredible powers of deduction, his mastery of disguise and his scientific brilliance, first appeared in The Strand Magazine in 1882 in a story called A Study in Scarlet together with his faithful chronicler Dr. John Watson Longer novels, collections of short stories continued to appear up until The Casv of Sherlock Holmes (1927). But Conan Doyle had already been tired of his creation and had once tried to kill him off with his rival Professor Moriarty, but public pressure had secured his return. The stories remain hugely popular and have provided material for countless films and TV series. But the phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" was never uttered by Holmes and is a later invention^
This was at the same time the name of a fictional detective and also the pen-name of the two authors, Frederick Dannay (1905— 1971) and Manfred Lee (b. 1905). The books written by 'Ellery Quee$J are about Ellery Queen, an American playboy writer of
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detective stories, who keeps getting involved in mysteries himself. He first appeared in The Roman Hat Mysttzry in 1929, and in many later books. He was also the hero of several films made between 1935 and 1943, and Peter Lawford starred in a television series based on the books in 197L Ellery Queen (the author) also founded a Mystery Magazine, which was a popular outlet for detective stories by other writers.
The famous fictional detective, the Belgian Hercules Poirot, made his first appearance in 1920 in The Mysterious Affair at Styles written by the best selling novelist Agatha Christie (1891—1976), and he appeared in many of her stories after that. The heyday of Poirot's popularity was the period between the two World Wars, but he is undergoing a revival in films, especially Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Plump, vain and dapper, Poirot has moustaches of which he is very proud and a weakness for exhorting people to use their 'little grey cells' (their brains).