Burbon Street Blood Bath

Preface
When I first learned of this case, it had been transmogrified. I already knew that legends change from telling to telling, but this story is an excellent example of how the stories we hear aren’t always as they seem. What I had heard about a “vampire murder” was, in fact, a much greater tragedy. I briefly talk about my quest for truth in a previous blog article called “New Orleans Vampire Murder: A Lesson in Truth“. This article approaches the story from a different angle– it contains further details of the crime and investigation as described in the television broadcast of the Investigation Discovery network’s show “Dead of Night”. Tuesday, March 26, 2013 was when they first broadcast the episode titled “Bourbon Street Bloodbath” which regards this phantasmagorical murder. Because of the interest in this story, I’ve decided to summarize the details presented in the episode of Dead of Night.

Once again, please note that comments to this article have been CLOSED. This blog is NOT a memorial. It’s NOT meant to berate or glorify those involved in the murder. This is NOT a place to grieve for those who have lost their lives in conjunction with this event. This article was written for the purpose of conveying information about the event and also to correct misinformation being spread throughout the paranormal community. Continue reading

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Murderous May: Dating Game Killer

In 1968, a 25 year old Rodney Alcala was convicted of the rape and attempted murder of an 8 year old girl in California. He had taken her off the street, brought her back to his apartment and sexually assaulted her.  Then he hit her over the head with a metal pipe, intending to kill her.  Luckily, before he could make sure the gruesome job was finished, the police came knocking at his door.  A concerned citizen had seen the young girl getting into a car with unmarked tags and had followed them to the apartment building and called the authorities.  Police found the child in a pool of blood. Continue reading

The Infant Murder that Rocked America

The year was 1927, in a decade that history would later dub the Roaring Twenties, but would come crashing down a mere two years later. It seems fitting that America’s greatest pilot – after the Wright Brothers of course – would step into the spotlight in such a period of history. His name is one familiar to any American today: Charles A. Lindbergh. He is most famous for his prize-winning trans-Atlantic flight in May of 1927 from New York City to Paris, France. However, there is another infamous story to which he is linked that fewer people are aware of: the kidnapping and murder of his 20 month old son.

Charles Lindbergh Sr. beside his world famous plane Spirit of St Louis

Charles Lindbergh Sr. beside his world famous plane Spirit of St Louis

The “Crime of the Century,” as the press of the day referred to it, occurred on the evening of March 1, 1932 when 20 month old Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was discovered missing from the family home outside the tiny hamlet of Hopewell, New Jersey. The kidnapping was discovered by the child’s nurse, Betty Gow, around 10 PM that evening and immediately reported to his parents – Charles and Anne Lindbergh. A search of the room and land immediately surrounding the house yielded only a ransom note discovered on Charles Jr.’s bedroom window sill, demanding a $50,000 ransom. The local police were called and the New Jersey State Police soon took over the case.

Unfortunately no credible evidence was discovered at the house. Police – and for a short time reporters – were allowed to wander freely around the property and there was no real adherence to any procedure we might be familiar with today. The foot prints finally noticed just beneath the bedroom window were indistinguishable and therefore ignored. There were no fingerprints found in the room nor was any blood discovered anywhere – inside or out.

On March 6th, a second ransom note was received by the Lindberghs increasing the ransom amount to $70,000. Police and other officials met to discuss procedure and the Lindbergh’s lawyer, Colonel Henry Breckenridge, hired private investigators to help.

A third ransom note was delivered two days later indicating that whoever had been chosen as mediators between the kidnappers and the Lindberghs was not acceptable. Shortly thereafter, a retired school principal, Dr John F. Condon, took an ad out in the local paper offering to act as a go-between and would add an additional $1,000 to the ransom monies. This the kidnappers apparently found acceptable. Charles Sr. also approved the use of Dr Condon in the role as go between.

The fifth and sixth ransom notes were delivered to “Jafsie” (the code name created for Dr Condon) himself directing him first to a vacant stand near a subway entrance where a new note would give him further instructions. His final destination would be Woodlawn Cemetery where he would meet and ultimately speak to a man simply known as “John”.

A total of twelve ransom notes – some merely directing Jafsie to another location – were received before the child’s body was discovered on May 12, 1932.

…the body of the kidnapped baby was accidentally found, partly buried, and badly decomposed, about four and a half miles southeast of the Lindbergh home, 45 feet from the highway, near Mount Rose, New Jersey, in Mercer County. The discovery was made by William Allen, an assistant on a truck driven by Orville Wilson. The head was crushed, there was a hole in the skull and some of the body members were missing. The body was positively identified and cremated at Trenton, New Jersey, on May 13, 1932. The Coroner’s examination showed that the child had been dead for about two months and that death was caused by a blow on the head.

Charles Lindbergh Jr. 1930_1932, son of American pilot Charles Lindbergh, celebrating his birthday prior to his kidnapping.

Charles Lindbergh Jr. 1930_1932, son of American pilot Charles Lindbergh, celebrating his birthday prior to his kidnapping.

With the determination that the body found was indeed that of Charles Lindbergh Jr, the investigation quickly moved into high gear. Banks and retailers in New Jersey and New York were instructed to keep an eye out for any money encountered with the serial numbers from the ransom money. The New Jersey State Police would head the investigation with support from the Bureau of Investigation (now the FBI) and cooperation on the part of the New York Police. A reward of $25,000 was offered to anyone who could provide the investigation direction. This naturally brought out all sorts of people, interested in the money, but not the truth. A lot of police and BI manpower was wasted following every tidbit of information given, because nothing could be left to speculation. Other people linked to the Lindberghs were also victims of con artists wanting to make a few bucks. Not difficult to believe since the world was in the iron grip of the Great Depression.

On May 2, 1933, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York discovered 296 ten-dollar gold certificates, and one $20 gold certificate, all Lindbergh ransom notes. These bills were included among the currency received at the Federal Reserve Bank on May 1, 1933, and apparently had been made in one deposit. Immediately upon the discovery of these bills, deposit tickets at the Federal Reserve Bank for May 1, 1933, were examined. One was found bearing the name and address of “J.J. Faulkner, 537 West 149th Street,” and had marked thereon “gold certificates,” “$10 and $20” in the amount of $2,980. Despite extensive investigation, this depositor was never located.

Two years after the kidnap and discovery of the infant’s body, investigators were able to zero in on one man: Bruno Richard Hauptmann. The use of various gold certificates known to be part of the ransom monies were reportedly used by Mr Hauptmann and he was summarily arrested. Samples of his handwriting were taken to compare with the writings of the numerous ransom notes. Mr Hauptmann was identified by two individuals as using gold certificates which were part of the ransom money. The first “witness” was a gas station attendant who identified Mr Hauptmann as the individual who paid for gas using a $10 gold certificate. The attendant was suspicious of the use of the gold certificate so he noted the license plate number of the car the man drove. The second “witness” was a young woman working at a Greenwich Village movie house who claimed Hauptmann handed her a folded bill from the ransom money to pay for a movie ticket on his birthday.**

On the morning of September 19, 1934, after a night of surveillance, police arrested Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the crime of kidnapping and murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. Mr Hauptmann was a German immigrant who had been living in the United States for 11 years. He was married with one child, a son. His primary means of employ was as a carpenter, though he had partnered with other immigrants in an illegal fur trade. Despite his claims of innocence, a $20 gold certificate was found on his person at the time of arrest. A search of his home yielded a further $13,000 which had been hidden in various compartments in his garage. Hauptmann claimed that the money was being held for an old business partner who had returned to Germany, ill, and subsequently died there. Money was owed to Hauptmann by this man and when Hauptmann discovered the stash of money, he felt entitled to it.

Hauptmann was indicted in the Supreme Court in Bronx County, New York for the crime of extortion, as that’s where the money was exchanged between Jafsie and “John” and where it was later discovered to be in Hauptmann’s possession. Days later he was indicted for murder in Herndon County, New Jersey. The murder trial for Bruno Richard Hauptmann began on January 3, 1935 and lasted five weeks. The case against him was based solely on circumstantial evidence, yet he was found guilty of murder in the first degree on February 13, 1935. While his defense team appealed, it was to no avail.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann was electrocuted on April 3, 1936 at 8:47 PM.

Sources:

Charles Lindbergh ~ Wikipedia
The Lindbergh Kidnapping ~ FBI Files
Charles Lindbergh: An American Aviator

** This information is not provided by any of the internet sources relied on for this story, but was learned while reading Noel Behn’s Lindbergh: The Crime

The Trunk Murderess

In the summer of 2011, I was watching an episode of Investigation Discovery’s show Deadly Women (Season 3, Episode 6: “Hearts of Darkness”) on the television. I was surprised (and I admit a little excited) to discover that a horrible and macabre incident had occurred practically under my nose. Shortly after watching this episode, I started to poke around gathering information– it was a task all too easy for a murder over 80 years old. After years of getting side-tracked, I’m finally putting this story to paper for The Witching Hour’s 2013 “Murderous May”.

Be forewarned, this story is of a gruesome nature and contains one photograph which may be disturbing to some readers.

The Trunks

The trunks in which the bodies of the two murder victims were stuffed. (Photo from Arizona Memory Library Archive)

DISCOVERY AT THE TRAIN DEPOT

Two heavy black and silver trunks lay in baggage claim at Los Angeles Union Station. The first trunk, a large packer trunk (40″x24″x38″), and its contents had weighed an exceptional 235 pounds. The second trunk, a steam trunk (15″x18″x36″) weighed under 200 pounds. The unusual heaviness of the trunks was what first aroused suspicions of baggage agent George Brooker as he checked baggage from the Golden State Limited from Phoenix, Arizona. It was October 19, 1931 and, at the height of prohibition, the railroads had been instructed to keep an eye out for contraband such as Thompson submachine guns and bootleg liquor. But baggage agent Brooker knew something was different about these particular suitcases because they had the nauseating smell of putrefaction and were leaking a dark liquid that a baggage handler in Phoenix had mistaken as medicine.

Brooker told his boss, baggage agent Jim Anderson, about the suspicious baggage. When the owner of the luggage arrived just before noon that day and made latent claim to the seeping trunks, the claim agents refused to release the trunks unless the owner opened them. When Winnie Ruth Judd declined to open the suitcases and quickly left the scene and her baggage behind, Anderson rang up the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Lieutenant Frank Ryan responded to the call and, upon arrival, he picked the lock on the larger of the two trunks.

The smell of rot washed over Ryan as he opened the lid of the trunk. Probing deeper, lifting a layer of rags and clothing, he was soon staring into the vacant eyes of a dead woman.
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New Orleans Vampire Murder: The Real Story Televised

Those of you who follow this blog might be interested to know that one of the stories we mentioned here at The Witching Hour blog is part of a TV series on Investigation Discovery (ID). The story was about Shawn Johnson. Here on the blog it’s titled New Orleans Vampire Murder: A Lesson in Truth. (Please note: This episode has nothing to do with our blog entry other than a shared topic.)

The Investigation Discovery (ID) network has a show called “Dead of Night”. They aired an episode titled “Bourbon Street Bloodbath” regarding this phantasmagorical murder on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
A clip from the show titled “He Heard Screaming” is/was available here:
http://investigation.discovery.com/tv-shows/dead-of-night

If you have the ID channel, you can see when the “Bourbon Street Bloodbath” episode airs by going to this website:
http://investigation.discovery.com/tv-shows/dead-of-night/tv-schedule.htm

If you aren’t able to watch it, I finally posted a recap of “Burbon Street Bloodbath” after watching the show– granted, the show was still worth watching.

Haunted Ireland: Dublin’s Haunted History Tour

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Dublin Street at Night

Dublin Street at Night

I am happy to report that I visited Ireland for the first time in November 2012.  I took a very short, action packed trip to Dublin, and of course, I had to hit up the local ghost tour.  Hidden Dublin Walks is the company that I patronized for my tour.  Their company offers a smorgasborg of historical and paranormal tours.  I was hoping to get two under my belt while I was there, but sadly only got to enjoy one.  Let me tell you a little about a couple of the tours that I missed before I highlight the tour that I did take, the Haunted History Tour.

Hidden Dublin is the only tour group that takes tour groups to the site of Dublin’s Hellfire Club annex.  In the 1700’s the Hellfire Club used to meet in a hunting lodge located a short jaunt out of Dublin in the Dublin Mountains.  (As mountains go, I don’t think they actually qualify, but they are still lovely.) As is common in the Hellfire Clubs that were once located throughout the UK, this branch is said to have participated in orgies, rapes, animal sacrifice and satanic rituals to name but a few of their “entertainments”. The building was mysteriously destroyed by fire whist the Hellfire Club still leased it.  Since then there have been all manners of disturbing paranormal occurrences that have taken place there.  I would tell you about them, but alas, the tour seems only to be offered on Thursdays and I was not in Ireland on a Thursday.  Otherwise I would have been “in like Flynn”, because of all the tours that Hidden Dublin offers, THIS one was the one I wanted to go on the most!

The Northside Ghost Walk takes you on a tour north of the River Liffey in the oldest part of Dublin, which was built on the site of the former Viking settlement. This tour seems to be pretty incredible. It tells you the tale of St. Michan’s church and its crypts filled with mummified corpses…now on display for the macabre-minded tourists.  (Funny side note here…when I was in Dublin, I was heading to the Jameson Distillery and St. Michan’s is a literal stone’s throw away from the Distillery.  I was very excited to get the chance to tour the famous crypts, but sadly the site was closed when we arrived. The mysteriously vague sign posted on the gate said “Closed due to unforeseen circumstances”…which of course had me envisioning the mummified corpses all rising up from their coffins to protest their post-mortem careers as tourist fodder.) During the Northside tour you also visit Croppie’s acre, the site of a mass grave filled with the bodies of hundreds of rebels who were put to death after trying unsuccessfully to fight for Irish independence during the 1798 Rebellion. Hanging judges, haunted hospitals, tales of murders and murderers all round out this walking tour, which is said to be the scariest tour in Dublin.  I still plan on taking this tour (and the Hellfire tour) when I go back to Dublin again!

The tour that I did take was the Haunted History tour, and it began just around the corner from Dublin Castle, which was the seat ofDublin Castle English rule in Ireland for almost eight hundred years.  As Americans, we recognize the name ‘Lord Cornwallis’ as the English General who surrendered to our General Washington in Yorktown, VA.  But some time after the American Revolution he was made Viceroy of Ireland, where he was King George’s regent during the aforementioned 1798 Rebellion.  Cornwallis had no sympathies with the rebels and oversaw the execution of so many of them, it is reported that the first floor windows of Dublin Castle had the light blocked out of them by the piles of corpses in the Castle’s courtyard. The amount of history in Dublin Castle is phenomenal…it was built upon the even older site of a Viking fortification, the remains of which can still be viewed in the lower regions of the Castle.  The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is held by Ireland at the moment, as of January 2013 and Dublin Castle continues to be used for official state affairs, adding to its already extensive historical dossier.

The tour guide wove us through the winding streets and alleys of Dublin, sharing tales of the Hellfire Club (which used to meet in town before they got wise and moved to the privacy of their mountainside hunting lodge), Jonathan Swift who, in addition to being a famous author, was the dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the infamous fish monger Molly Malone who sold seafood by day…and perhaps something else by night.

I can’t retell all of the stories here, but I will light on two of my favorites. The first one had to do with a cryptkeeper of Christchurch Cathedral who was not so enamored of his job; he felt he didn’t make enough of a salary. During that time, Dublin had strict drinking laws, the pubs had to close around midnight and apparently there were a fair amount of Dubliners who wanted to keep carousing after the Witching Hour had passed. So the cryptkeeper got the ingenious idea to open a drinking club in the crypt. It worked great all summer….the authorities never suspected a thing and the subterranean club stayed nice and cool.  The inhabitants of the crypt didn’t complain about the after hours visitors and everyone was happy.  When the weather got colder though, the crypt wasn’t an enjoyable place to throw back a brew or two, and business was dead (pun intended).  The next year, the cryptkeeper got smart; he operated the afterhours bar all summer and closed up shop once the autumn started turning towards winter.  The last night of operations for the year he locked everything up nice and tight and left the crypt until the following spring (not a very attentive cryptkeeper, but as I said, he didn’t like his job very much). Come the spring, he opened the crypt to get place spruced back up for business and he was horrified to find a skeleton lying against the door.  Around the skeleton were the smaller skeletons of dozens of rats. The remains of a soldier’s uniform, lay chewed into bits among the man’s bones.  Apparently, the man had been a soldier at nearby Dublin Castle and had abandoned his post the last night of the bar’s operations the previous autumn to go tie one on amongst the coffins. He must have gotten dead drunk and passed out in the recesses of the crypt and didn’t hear the last call, or the bar being emptied for the season.  When he came to, he was in the pitch black, locked in with no way out.  His regiment at the Castle put out a warrant for his arrest, as he was considered AWOL, but he never turned up…until the next spring.  He had died during the winter either due to exposure or starvation and his corpse had been consumed by the hungry rats, thus leaving only the skeleton to greet the cryptkeeper at his return. The rats had in turn died from cold or starvation. To this day, there are reports of passerbys hearing desperate pounding and muffled calls coming from the crypt’s entrance in the wee hours of the morning. Poor man…in a roundabout way, he drank himself to death.

My second favorite story is not my favorite because of the tale.  Indeed, the tale is pretty gruesome and lacking the element of dark humor present in the cryptkeeper’s tale.  The story is about “Darky Kelly”, a beautiful prostitute turned madam who ran a highly successful bordello just a block or two up from the river.  The madam, who was after all the boss, didn’t need to turn tricks anymore, but she did have one regular client who was the sheriff, or at least some type of respected official.  She became pregnant with his child and he began to fear what would happen to his reputation and his career if it was discovered that he had a lovechild with a common prostitute.  So he started a rumor that Kelly was a witch, and that was how she was getting the good men of Dublin to leave their wives and patronize her scandalous bordello.  The rumor was spread with such virulence and hatred that it ultimately inflamed a group of church going women to raid the bordello, grab Kelly by her hair and drag her down the street to St. Audoen’s where they had an impromptu trial there in the churchyard.   Unsurprisingly, they found her guilty and burned her alive right there and then.  This is really a very tragic story and is only one of my favorites because as the guide was telling us the tale, I took a photograph from up on the churchyard steps, looking down towards the entrance gate through which they had dragged Darky Kelly.  There was an orb in the right corner next to the gate.  Not being a big believer in orbs, I disregarded it for the moment.  Very shortly after I took the picture, the tour guide went on to say that the apparition of Kelly was often spotted just inside the gate. One of the other participants of the tour remarked to the tour guide that he kept looking towards the corner on the right side of the gate, expecting to see someone there and the tour guide revealed that it was that specific corner to which the apparition was often seen retreating. Sooo, the orb picture has a little more meaning for me now.  I’m not saying that the orb I caught was poor Darky Kelly…but it sure is one of the coolest souvenirs I brought back from Ireland.Orb at St. Audoen's

Ireland is a land that is dripping with the paranormal.  My ancestry is there, so I love the country no matter what…but with all of its banshees, little people, faeries, elementals, ghosts and other spirit beings, I would love the country even if there wasn’t a drop of green blood running through my veins.  If you’re ever planning a trip to Dublin, check out the Hidden Dublin website and choose the tour that would most interest you!

American Murder Houses: The Gardette-Laprete* House

At the corner of Orleans Street and Dauphine Street in the heart of the French Quarter sits a rather unassuming four story Greek Revival house  of an indistinct shade of pale pink. Black wrought iron elegantly compliments the simplicity of the pale wall colouring. Walking past it, no one would guess that it was once the site of a pretty gruesome murder that happened in the 19th century. Local paranormal enthusiasts probably know the house better as The Sultan’s Palace, so if you’re ever in town and want to have a gander, ask for that rather than The Gardette-Laprete House.
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