Forgotten Darkness

Strange things are lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper.

February 12th, 2021    

83 - The Periphery of the Canon

In the midst of the furor in the press, British and otherwise, circulating around the notorious Jack The Ripper murders in Whitechapel, references are made to a number of murders attributed to the same killer. Several of these cases are discussed here, and the particulars of them examined to determine whether the notion of their being Ripper murders is a theory with any merit.


“A Jack the Ripper in Holland.” Wilkes-Barre (PA) Record, November 25, 1898.

“Another Jack the Ripper.” Mound Valley (KS) Herald, September 8, 1893.

“Brutal Murder in St. Catherine.” Kingston Daily Gleaner, January 1, 1889.

“De drievoudige moord te Marolleput.” Nieuwsblad van het Noorden. November 17, 1893.

“De moord te Marolleput.” Dagblad van Zuidholland en 's Gravenhage, September 1, 1893.

De moord te Marolleput.” Opregte Haarlemsche Courant, September 11, 1893.

“El Destripador Asturiano.” El Imparcial, April 6, 1895.

“Fiendish Murder of a Young Woman Near Gateshead.” Hull Daily Mail, September 24, 1888.

“Jack At Work Again.” Mitchell (SD) Daily Republican, January 23, 1889.

“Jack el Destripador en España.” El Imparcial, April 5, 1895.

“Jack The Ripper.” Atchison (KS) Daily Globe, February 7, 1889.

“Moord te Marolleput.” De Telegraaf, September 1, 1893.

“Moord te Marolleput.” De Telegraaf, September 6, 1893.

“Moord te Marolleput.” De Telegraaf, September 12, 1893.

“Murder At Birtley.” Illustrated Police News, September 29, 1888.

“Spanish Town.” Kingston Daily Gleaner, January 11, 1889.

Spanish Town.” Kingston Daily Gleaner, January 14, 1889.

The Gateshead Murder.” Eastern Morning News, September 26, 1888.

The Murder of Estina Crawford.” Kingston Daily Gleaner, January 16, 1889.

The Tragedy Near Gateshead.” Hull Daily Mail, September 25, 1888.

Begg, Paul and John Bennett. Jack the Ripper: The Forgotten Victims. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.

Machiel Lampier (1858 - 1931) - Genealogy (

Maria Theresia Banckaart (c.1819 - 1893) - Genealogy (

Rosalia Bert (c.1853 - 1893) - Genealogy (

Melanie Octavie Bert (c.1852 - 1893) - Genealogy (

Casebook: Jack the Ripper - A Ripper Victim That Wasn't: The Capture of Jane Beadmore's Killer

El blog de "Acebedo": Francisco Martínez Incógnito ,"el Botas"

November 19th, 2020    

82 - The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser

In 1828, a young man wandered into the city of Nuremberg. No older than fifteen or sixteen, he told a strange story, of how he had been kept in a dungeon for years, ignorant of where he was or who was keeping him there. And one day, he was pulled from his prison and sent to the city. For the next several years, controversy raged as to who this young man was. And in 1833 he would die, his death, like his life, a mystery. Was he a noble plucked from death and hidden away? Was he a foundling exiled from his home? Or was he simply a trickster?


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Bondeson, Jan. The Great Pretenders. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.

Lang, Andrew. Historic Mysteries. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1905.

Stanhope, Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina. The True Story of Kaspar Hauser, from Official Documents. London: Macmillan and Co., 1893.

Stanhope, Philip Henry. Tracts Relating to Caspar Hauser. London: James S. Hodson, 1836.

Valbert, M.G. “The History of a Delusion.” Popular Science Monthly 30 (April 1887).

von Feuerbach, Paul Johann Anselm Ritter. Caspar Hauser: An Account of an Individual Kept in a Dungeon, Separated From All Communication With the World, From Early Childhood to About the Age of Seventeen. Boston: Allen and Ticknor, 1832.

October 28th, 2020    

81 - The Demon of the Belfry

San Francisco, 1895. One of the more notorious trials of the 19th Century was that of Theo Durrant, "the Demon of the Belfry," for the murders of two young ladies in Emmanuel Baptist Church.

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A Bloody Shoe is Found in the Church.” San Francisco Call, April 21, 1895.

A Dreadful Affair!” Boston Globe, May 24, 1875.

A Horrible Tragedy in a Church.” San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 1895.

A Murderer Hanged.” Morrisville (VT) News and Citizen, June 1, 1876.

Alleged Expose of Theo. Durrant.” Spokane Spokesman-Review, August 21, 1895.

Blacker Grows the Cloud Over Emmanuel Baptist Church.” San Francisco Call, April 15, 1895.

Blanche Lamont's Ring.” Downs (KS) Times, September 26, 1895.

Blood Stained Coat Found in Berkeley.” San Francisco Call, April 23, 1895.

Durrant and His Girl Companion Traced Beyond Church Gate.” San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 1895.

Durrant Rode With A Bundle.” San Francisco Examiner, April 21, 1895.

Durrant Will Hang.” Fort Wayne Gazette, May 16, 1897.

Durrant's Story Ended.” Topeka Daily Capital, October 12, 1895.

Five Years of Undetected Crimes.” San Francisco Call, August 7, 1898.

Flimsy Yarn.” Xenia (OH) Daily Gazette, October 28, 1895.

Fluegel is in a Fix.” San Francisco Chronicle, January 3, 1895.

Forging the Chain.” Vancouver Daily World, April 17, 1895.

George King to Testify To-day.” San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 1895.

Her Aim Was Bad.” San Francisco Call, June 9, 1891.

Martin Quinlan's Victim.” San Francisco Examiner, September 16, 1891.

Missing From Home.” San Francisco Chronicle, April 10, 1895.

Planning Alibis for Durrant.” San Francisco Examiner, October 29, 1895.

Press Privileges.” Champaign (IL) Daily Gazette, October 4, 1895.

Quinlan Pugilistically Inclined.” San Francisco Call, August 5, 1891.

Rev. J. George Gibson Pays His Respects to Eugene Deuprey.” San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 1895.

Secretary McCoy of the Y.M.C.A. Is a New Figure in the Durrant Trial.” San Francisco Chronicle, October 2, 1895.

She Tried To Keep Her Secret.” San Francisco Examiner, September 14, 1895.

Slayer of M.D. Foley Becomes a Bride.” San Francisco Examiner, January 5, 1899.

Still After Gibson.” San Francisco Call, April 26, 1895.

Taken Into the Mission.” San Francisco Examiner, September 17, 1895.

The Durrant Trial.” Chilliwack (BC) Progress, October 2, 1895.

The Missing Lady.” Anaconda (MT) Standard, April 11, 1895.

The New Witness Against Durrant.” San Francisco Examiner, August 17, 1895.

Theo. Durrant's Double.” Saint Paul Globe, August 3, 1895.

Think He is Insane.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 1895.

Adams, Samuel Hopkins. The Great American Fraud: Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quacks. New York: P.F. Collier & Sons, 1905.

Jackson, Joseph Henry and Lenore Glen Offord. The Girl in the Belfry. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1957.

Peixotto, Edgar D. Report of the Trial of William Henry Theodore Durrant. Detroit: Collector Publishing, 1899.,Gibson%2C%20resigned%20his%20parish%20in%20Scotland%20in%201887.

October 10th, 2020    

80 - The Smallest of the Small

Caroline Crachami, "The Sicilian Fairy," was one of the earliest identified cases of primordial dwarfism known.  She was barely a foot and a half feet tall.  The Mexican Lucia Zarate had a similar condition.

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Little People Make Mark On History.” Binghamton (NY) Press and Sun-Bulletin, February 5, 1978.

Two Human Wonders.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 10, 1876.

Bondeson, Jan. A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999.

Wood, Gaby. “The Smallest of All Persons Mentioned in the Records of Littleness.” London Review of Books 19:24 (December 11, 1997).

September 26th, 2020    

79 - Helen Eiker

The story of Helen Eiker, a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania woman who was the first woman convicted of homicide in Adams County.  At only 18, she was one of the youngest people convicted, as well.  There was a loose connection with the Pennsylvania Dutch magical tradition known as pow-wow.

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Accuses Daughter-in-Law of Faith in Pow-wowism; Girl Adds to Revelations.” Gettysburg Times, December 10, 1928.

Bar Reporters from Talking To Mrs. Eiker.” Gettysburg Times, March 18, 1929.

Court Reserves His Decision in Motion for New Eiker Trial.” Gettysburg Times, October 16, 1928.

Eiker Estate Valued At $300.” Gettysburg Times, July 18, 1928.

Eiker Killed Himself in Struggle to Wrest Gun from Girl-wife, is Defense Plea in Trial of Widow.” Gettysburg Times, August 29, 1928.

Fatal Shot An Accident, She Says.” Carlisle Sentinel, August 30, 1928.

Mrs. Eiker Blamed For Husband's Death By Coroner's Jury.” Gettysburg Times, July 18, 1928.

Mrs. Helen Eiker is Buried Today.” Gettysburg Times, November 21, 1932.

Mrs. Helen Eiker Denies Faith in 'Pow-wowism'; Reveals Fake Treatments.” Gettysburg Times, December 8, 1928.

Mrs. Helen Eiker Dies This Morning After Long Illness.” Gettysburg Times, November 18, 1932.

Mrs. Helen Eiker Sentenced to 5-10 Years in Prison.” Gettysburg Times, March 4, 1929.

Mrs. Helen Eiker Starts Sentence.” Hanover Evening Sun, March 22, 1929.

Percy Eiker, Killed by Wife, Tries to Shield Her With Story of Suicide Attempt.” Gettysburg Times, July 10, 1928.

Shoots Husband.” East Berlin News-Comet, July 13, 1928.

Slain Man Buried; Widow Views Body.” East Berlin News-Comet, July 20, 1928.

Slayer of Spouse is Critical in Hospital in Philadelphia.” Gettysburg Times, June 18, 1930.

Slayer Sinks Lower, Report At Hospital.” Gettysburg Times, June 19, 1930.

Swope Claims Court Biased in His Charge.” Gettysburg Times, September 1, 1928.

Young Convicted Widowed-Mother Was 'Pow-wowed'.” Gettysburg Times, December 7, 1928.

Young Mother is Convicted of Second Degree Murder; Jury is Out Only 4 Hours.” Gettysburg Times, August 30, 1928.

Young Mother is Indifferent About Verdict.” Gettysburg Times, August 31, 1928.

Young Wife Charged With Husband's Murder.” Adams County Independent, July 12, 1928.

September 11th, 2020    

78 - The Phantom of O’Donnell Heights

In the summer of 1951, a housing project in southeastern Baltimore claims to be the haunt of a hunchbacked, black-clad phantom which leaps extraordinary distances a la Spring-Heeled Jack.

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400 Pupils Out in 'Strike' For School Bus.” Baltimore Evening Sun, January 3, 1946.

8,170 Children Get Only Part-Time Schooling Here.” Baltimore Evening Sun, December 8, 1950.

City Inaction on Unsanitary Drains Scored.” Baltimore Sun, June 24, 1948.

O'Donnell Heights Greets Roof-Climbing Phantom.” Baltimore Evening Sun, July 25, 1951.

O'Donnell Heights Pupils in School.” Baltimore Evening Sun, January 8, 1946.

'Phantom' Hunters Fined $10 Each.” Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1951.

'Phantom' Looms Atop School; Police Find Ventilation Pipe.” Baltimore Sun, July 27, 1951.

Phantom Makes Himself Scarce.” Baltimore Sun, August 6, 1951.

Phantom Prowler Terrorizes O'Donnell Heights Residents.” Baltimore Sun, July 25, 1951.

Sherbow Imposes $25 Fines For Betting On Horses.” Baltimore Evening Sun, September 25, 1951.

Third Turnover is On At O'Donnell Heights.” Baltimore Evening Sun, December 10, 1948.

When the Phantom Roamed.” Baltimore Evening Sun, February 28, 1962.

Schneck, Robert Damon. The President's Vampire. San Antonio: Anomalist Books, 2005.

August 26th, 2020    

77 - The Death of Ocey Snead

1909. 24-year-old Oceana Wardlaw Martin Snead is found in a bathtub in a nearly-vacant house in East Orange, New Jersey. The only other inhabitant, her aunt, claims she committed suicide. Was it suicide, murder, or a weird hybrid of the two?

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Alienists Declare Mrs. Martin Insane.” New York Times, September 21, 1910.

Back to Jail for Xmas.” Baltimore Sun, December 25, 1909.

Bathtub Mystery No Murder, She Says,” New York Times, December 2, 1909.

Chief Justice To Try Women.” New York Times, January 23, 1910.

Claims Dead Girl Wrote Those Notes.” Buffalo Commercial, December 17, 1909.

Dead in Bathtub.” Asbury Park Press, November 30, 1909.

'Death Welcome,' Says Mrs. Martin.” Knoxville (TN) Sentinel, December 16, 1909.

Declared A Foundling.” Baltimore Sun, December 18, 1909.

Finds Mrs. Martin Insane.” New York Times, November 19, 1910.

Fletcher Snead Found.” Baltimore Sun, December 17, 1909.

Fletcher Snead's Son Will Claim Wardlaw Jewels.” Murfreesboro (TN) News-Journal, January 31, 1930.

Grand Jury Has Snead Case.” New York Times, December 15, 1909.

Jesse James' Lawyer Accused.” Kansas City Star, March 6, 1911.

Jesse James' Lawyer Asks For Freedom.” Wilkes-Barre (PA) Evening News, December 10, 1929.

Let Me Die, Mother Asks.” Kansas City Star, December 16, 1909.

May Hold Bathtub Suspects Here.” New York Times, December 5, 1909.

Miss Wardlaw Dies; Starved Herself.” New York Times, August 12, 1909.

Miss Wardlaw Near Nervous Collapse.” New York Times, August 6, 1910.

Mrs. Martin Charged With Snead Murder.” Lancaster (PA) Examiner, December 18, 1909.

Mrs. Martin in Court.” Baltimore Sun, December 17, 1909.

Mrs. Martin Fights.” Washington Evening Star, December 23, 1909.

“Mrs. Martin Pleads to Manslaughter.” New York Times, January 10, 1911.

“Mrs. Martin Raves As She is Sentenced.” New York Times, January 24, 1911.

Mrs. Martin Snead May Be in Virginia.” New York Times, December 10, 1909.

Mrs. Mary Snead Set Free.” New York Times, February 8, 1911.

Mrs. Ocey Snead's Mother Dies in N.J. Madhouse.” York (PA) Daily, June 21, 1913.

Mrs. Snead's Family Full of Fatalities.” New York Times, December 9, 1909.

Mystery is Deep About the Murder of Ocey Snead.” Washington Times, December 12, 1909.

Mystery Murder Case Revived By Jewel Discovery.” Chattanooga News, January 31, 1930.

No Delay in Snead Case.” New York Times, August 13, 1910.
Ocey Snead Murder Case.” Sioux Falls (SD) Argus-Leader, December 16, 1909.

Ocey Snead Trial April 11.” New York Times, January 30, 1910.

Ocey Snead Was Drugged.” New York Times, January 21, 1910.

Physician Finds Mrs. Martin Sane.” New York Times, November 24, 1910.

Poison Mother Gave Killed Ocey Snead.” New York Times, January 22, 1911.

Snead Case to Grand Jury To-day.” Wilkes-Barre (PA) Record, December 21, 1909.

Snead Death Baffles.” Washington Post, December 12, 1909.

Snead Mystery Complex Tangle.” Indianapolis Star, December 19, 1909.

Snead's Brother Found.” New York Times, December 10, 1909.

Starved Herself to Evade Prosecution.” St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, August 12, 1910.

Stolen Gems Found, Revive Old Mystery.” Oakland Tribune, February 4, 1930.

Talks of Suicide.” Topeka State Journal, December 16, 1909.

Thief's Cold Comfort.” York (PA) Dispatch, June 24, 1911.

Think Snead A Suicide.” Indiana (PA) Evening Gazette, January 10, 1910.

Third Arrest in Snead Mystery.” Wilmington (NC) Morning Star, December 17, 1909.

To Pass on Snead Note.” New York Times, December 10, 1909.

Two Fletcher Sneads Mystify N.Y. Police.” New Castle (PA) Herald, December 17, 1909.

Two More Arrests in Snead Murder.” New York Times, December 17, 1909.

Wardlaw Sisters Will Stand Trial.” Owensboro (KY) Messenger, May 8, 1910.

Ziebold, Norman. Three Sisters in Black. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1968.

August 11th, 2020    

76 - The Devil’s Footprints

In 1855, in new-fallen snow in Devonshire, a trail of small hooflike footprints led for miles. Similar footprints have been found on several occasions, most notably during the 1909 Jersey Devil sightings. But what are these mysterious footprints?

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Footprints in the Snow.” Barrow’s Worcester Journal, March 21, 1891.

Mysterious Footmarks.” Nottinghamshire Guardian, March 1, 1855.

Singular Animal.” London Times, March 14, 1840.

Busk, R.H. “Phenomenal Footprints in Snow, S. Devon.” Notes and Queries 7:8 (December 28, 1889).

. “Phenomenal Footprints in the Snow, S. Devon.” Notes and Queries 7:9 (January 25, 1890).

Dash, Mike. “The Devil’s Hoofmarks: Source Material on the Great Devon Mystery of 1855.” Fortean Studies 1:1 (1994).

Freeman, Richard. “Other Historical Accounts of the Devil’s Footprints.”

Gould, Rupert T. Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts. University Books: New Hyde Park, NY, 1965 ed.



July 21st, 2020    

75 - Earle Leonard Nelson, Part Three

The Canadian authorities put Earle Leonard Nelson on trial for the two Winnipeg murders, and he meets his eventual fate. There’s also discussion of his bizarre past, and some other crimes that may or may not be his handiwork.


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“Apron-String Murder Gives Police Puzzle.” Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1926.

“Buffalo to Move for Trial of Strangler.” Windsor (Ont.) Star, June 21, 1927.

“Chain of Evidence Against Nelson Welded.” Regina Leader-Press, November 3, 1927.

“Detectives Get New Clews To Carlson Slayer.” Oakland Tribune, March 27, 1920.

“Earle Nelson Sentenced to Hang Jan. 13.” Montreal Gazette, November 7, 1927.

“Girl Routs Stranger in Battle.” Oakland Tribune, March 30, 1920.

“Girl Slain Is Theory of Becker.” Oakland Tribune, March 19, 1920.

“’Gorilla Man’ Believed Bay Girl’s Slayer.” San Francisco Examiner, September 13, 1927.

“Insanity Trump Card in Nelson’s Defence.” Regina Leader-Press, November 4, 1927.

“Knife a Clue in 2 Murders.” Detroit Free Press, June 24, 1927.

“’Murder or Pneumonia?’ Ask Probers.” San Francisco Examiner, September 17, 1925.

“Nelson Guilty; Dies on Gallows on January 13th.” Calgary Herald, November 5, 1927.

“Nelson’s Trial Tragic, Swift Moving Drama.” Regina Leader-Press, November 4, 1927.

“New Mystery Stirs Probe in S.F. Murder.” San Francisco Examiner, October 3, 1926.

“Newark Murderer Left Cigarettes.” Brooklyn Standard-Union, August 10, 1926.

“Photo Proof of Beating By Slayer.” Oakland Tribune, March 23, 1920.

“Police Seek Friend of Slain Widow.” Oakland Tribune, October 2, 1926.

“Seek Clues in Murder of Apartment House Manager.” Colton (CA) Daily Courier, September 17, 1925.

“Slayer of Girl Is Still At Liberty.” Sacramento Bee, March 16, 1920.

“Thug Winds Gems Around Victim’s Neck.” San Francisco Examiner, August 24, 1925.

“Warrant Issued For ‘Gorilla Man’ At Philadelphia.” Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, June 23, 1927.

“Wealthy Widow Found Killed in Apartment.” Camden Courier-Post, May 11, 1926.

“Wealthy Woman Beaten to Death; Curtain Rod Used.” New York Daily News, May 12, 1926.

“Woman Slain By Strangler in Her Home.” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 11, 1925.

“Woman, Victim of Strangling, Now Declared to Have Committed Suicide.” Los Angeles Evening Express, November 12, 1926.

“Woman’s Death From Natural Causes.” San Francisco Examiner, August 25, 1925.

“Young Woman Fought Assailant Until Her Breath Stopped.” Oakland Tribune, Match 15, 1920.

Schechter, Harold. Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

Tredgold, A.F. “The Definition and Diagnosis of Moral Imbecility.” British Journal of Medical Psychology 6:1 (1926).

July 3rd, 2020    

74 - Earle Leonard Nelson, Part Two

The police are on the trail of “Adrian Harris,” even as Earle Leonard Nelson leaves the West Coast behind for a cross-country killing spree at a considerably quickened pace. But his spree comes to an end in June, 1927...

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“Assailant Uses Telephone Cord.” Owensboro (KY) Messenger, June 3, 1927.

“Buffalo Murderer Eludes Detectives in All-day Search.” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, June 1, 1927.

“Buffalo Police Cannot Find the Murderer.” Dunkirk (NY) Evening Observer, May 31, 1927.

“Butcher’s Helper Quizzed in Slaying.” Washington Evening Star, June 3, 1927.

“Clues Lacking in Dual Killing.” Detroit Free Press, June 7, 1927.

“Crime Puzzles Police.” York (PA) Dispatch, April 28, 1927.

“Detroit Police and a Double Murder.” Greenfield (IN) Daily Reporter, June 7, 1927.

“Dragnet Out For Strangler of Philadelphia Woman.” Scranton Times-Tribune, April 28, 1927.

“Fiend Suspect Tries to Enter W. Phila. Home.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 29, 1927.

“Find Strangler Placed Another Woman in Terror.” Davenport (IA) Daily Times, December 25, 1926.

“Find Woman Dead Behind Furnace.” Lincoln (NB) Journal Star, December 24, 1926.

“Finds Wife Slain in Home.” Kansas City Times, December 28, 1926.

“Funeral Rites For Mrs. Ida Ann Clements Held Friday Afternoon.” Hennessey (OK) Clipper, July 1, 1948.

“’Gorilla’ Kills Woman.” Arizona Republic, June 3, 1927.

“Housewives Murdered By ‘Phantom Strangler’.” New Castle (PA) News, January 3, 1927.

“Mrs. John Berard, Former Hennessey Woman, Murdered.” Hennessey (OK) Clipper, December 30, 1926.

“Murder in Chicago is Not Solved.” Sioux City Journal, June 5, 1927.

“No Sign of Fight Found By Police.” Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, April 29, 1927.

“Police on Strangler’s Trail.” Winnipeg Tribune, June 13, 1927.

“Shirt Murder Still Baffles Bluffs Police.” Des Moines Register, December 26, 1926.

“Take Up Murder Theories.” Kansas City Star, December 29, 1926.

“Which Will Be Next City to Harbor Death Fiend Now Crossing Country?” Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, January 6, 1927.

“Woman Thwarts Attempted Attack.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 20, 1927.

“Young Girl Seized By Phila. Strangler.” Camden Courier-Post, April 29, 1927.

Atlas of Kansas City, Missouri and Environs. Tuttle-Ayers-Woodward Co., 1925.

Schechter, Harold. Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

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