"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, November 30, 2020

Why Senator Brown Should Have Left the Ladies Alone

Arthur Brown, via Wikipedia

As all regular readers of this blog know, I am a sunny optimist who likes to showcase the bright side of life and human nature at its inspiring best.  So you can imagine how thrilled I am at the opportunity to introduce you to Utah Senator Arthur Brown, a worthy whose personal life can be most charitably described as “lively.”

So, buckle up: his story is a very bumpy ride.

Arthur Brown first made his name as a successful attorney in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  His marriage, unfortunately, was less rewarding.  When his wife found out that he had a mistress, Isabel Cameron, (who was enjoying a fine house provided by Brown,) Mrs. Brown cornered Mr. Brown in his office and made a nearly-successful attempt to shoot him.  (Spoiler: this is the first time, but far from the last, that Brown’s lady loves used him for target practice.)  After this event, Brown thought it best to get out of town.  In 1876, he moved to Salt Lake City.  Cameron soon joined him there.  After a few months, Brown divorced his wife, and he and Isabel wed.  They had one son.

Isabel Cameron, via Wikipedia

Brown’s scandalous personal life had surprisingly little effect on his professional success.  He became one of the city’s top lawyers, and soon entered the political world.  He served as a Utah senator from 1896-97.  At the 1896 Republican National Convention, which was held in St. Louis, Isabel introduced her husband to a friend of hers, Anna Bradley, a married mother of two children.

Isabel obviously never heard the truism, “If he cheated on her, he’ll cheat on you.”  Before too long, Mrs. Bradley was Brown’s new mistress.  In 1900, Anna gave birth to a son, whom she named “Arthur Brown Bradley.”

She made no direct announcement who the child’s father was, but with that name, I suppose she thought it wasn’t necessary.

"Washington Times," July 12, 1907, via Newspapers.com

Not long after the boy’s birth, Brown and Mrs. Bradley eloped to Los Angeles.  Believe it or not, this seems to have been Isabel’s first clue that her husband might not be a model of fidelity.  At the same time, she learned that Brown had secretly been keeping an apartment which he used as a love nest.  Isabel broke into the apartment to do a bit of sleuthing.  There, she found a large stack of love letters written to Brown from Mrs. Bradley.  They were in code, but Brown had helpfully left a paper containing the key.  Isabel got to work deciphering the letters.  And the more she read, the more she seethed.

Isabel sent Brown a collect wire message, one so long it cost him ten dollars.  For connoisseurs of vituperation, it was worth every penny, although I doubt the recipient saw it that way.  According to news reports, she called her husband every name in the book, a few that the book would have blushed to include, and vowed revenge.  As an exquisite touch, Isabel wrote the message in Brown’s secret code.  Then, she had Brown and Mrs. Bradley arrested for adultery.  These charges were eventually dropped, but Isabel successfully sued Arthur for $150 a month spousal support.  (He refused to pay, which led him to be imprisoned for contempt of court until he gave in.)

This lawsuit also included the agreement that Brown would part from Mrs. Bradley.  However, the adulterous pair soon violated these terms by running off together to Pocatello, Idaho.  When Isabel heard of this, she went to Pocatello--accompanied by her lawyer--to confront them.  

This meeting went as well as you would expect with this crowd.  Arthur haughtily told Isabel that as she had broken up his first marriage, she was hardly in a position to cast stones at Anna.  Isabel responded by trying to kill Mrs. Bradley, and might well have succeeded if her lawyer hadn’t intervened.  The melee ended with Isabel announcing she never wanted to see either Arthur or Anna again (a sentiment they surely heartily endorsed) and stomped back to Salt Lake City.

A few months later, for whatever inexplicable reason, Brown and Anna also returned to Salt Lake, taking up residence at the Independence Hotel.  Isabel immediately sicced detectives on them, and when the pair were caught together in Brown’s hotel suite, had them charged with adultery.  Mrs. Bradley pled guilty, but she was released on her own recognizance.  Brown, who pled not guilty, was acquitted.  The jury’s verdict looked even quainter when some weeks later, Anna gave birth to their second son.  Isabel celebrated this happy event by following Anna to Brown’s office, where she beat Mrs. Bradley with a lasso.  (Arthur himself was present, but apparently did not get involved with the fight.  Perhaps he was hiding under the desk.)  After this incident, Brown gave Anna a gun to protect herself from his wife.  He would eventually greatly regret this act.

Isabel still wanted this exemplary spouse back, thus proving that people are weird.  She blackmailed Arthur by threatening to publish Anna’s letters if he didn’t return to the marital home.  Arthur moved back in with his wife, but the marriage was soon ended for good when Isabel died of cancer in August 1905.

After Isabel’s death, Arthur proposed to Mrs. Bradley, although she was still legally married.  After she got a divorce, she naturally assumed that Brown would follow through with his promise to finally make her an “honest woman.”  But, as usually happens with men of Arthur Brown’s type, matrimony was more appealing to him in theory than in reality.  Whenever Anna brought up marriage, he dithered and tried to change the subject.

Arthur’s history had an odd way of repeating itself.  Mrs. Bradley did a secret search of Brown’s hotel room in Washington D.C.’s Raleigh Hotel, where she found a cache of love letters written by one Anna C. Adams.  (A side note: she was the mother of popular actress Maude Adams.)  And they weren’t written in code.

We do not know the precise contents of these letters, but they were enough to make Mrs. Bradley get out her gun.  On December 8, 1906, she went to Brown’s room and, without much ado, shot him through the abdomen.  When she was arrested, Anna dismissed the matter as just another lover’s tiff.  “Everything will come out all right,” she blithely told reporters.  “Senator Brown will recover and I will never be placed on trial.”  She added, “I abhor acts of this character, but in this case it was fully justified.”  Her hospitalized victim showed an equal disinclination to take the matter seriously.  He flatly refused to give a statement on what had happened.  (To be fair, the situation demanded a lot of explaining.)  Brown died two days later, refusing to the last to say a word about why he had been shot.

It soon became evident that he really didn’t need to.  The newspapers soon happily revealed every sordid detail.  Brown and his paramour provided material that most reporters just dream about covering.  The press coverage of the pair’s many peccadillos had a positively ecstatic tone.

Journalists were even happier when they learned that Brown had left this world true to form.  His will, dated August 24, 1906, was a masterpiece of--in the words of one reporter--”post-mortem revenge.”  He asserted that neither of Anna’s illegitimate children were his, and even if they were, they would not get a dime of his $70,000 estate.  He added that he never had any intention of marrying Anna, and if she tried to say otherwise, his executors were to fight those claims.  All of his money was left to his two legitimate children by his two wives.

Anna stood trial in November 1907.  If you’re going to be accused of murder, it helps enormously if your victim has been publicly revealed to be a consummate stinker.  And then, of course, there was the “unwritten law.”  In those pre-feminism days, when a woman reacted to her lover’s betrayal by pumping him full of lead, many saw this as simply taking a stand in favor of Noble Womanhood.  Despite the open-and-shut nature of the case, the prosecution had good reason to be nervous.

Anna’s attorneys gave a plea of temporary insanity.  In short, they argued that being involved with the likes of Arthur Brown would drive any woman crazy.  Anna herself gave tearful testimony about the cruelty, the neglect, the emotional abuse Brown had heaped upon her.  She had sacrificed so much for him, only to be repaid with heartbreak and broken promises.  (The defense also hinted that Brown had performed an abortion on her.)

The jurors were wowed by her performance.  Some of them wept.

"Washington Post," November 20, 1907. This is typical of the sort of prose inspired by the trial.

An attorney friend of Brown’s, Maurice Kaighn, testified that Brown had, in writing, admitted to being the father of Anna’s children.  He added that he believed Brown’s refusal to marry Mrs. Bradley had indeed left her mentally unbalanced.  The defense read some of Brown’s many letters to the court.  In them, he repeatedly assured her that they would wed...one of these days.  A parade of Anna’s friends and relatives gave testimony about her delicate mental state in the days leading up to the murder, adding that “eccentricity” ran in her family.  An “expert on nervous diseases” stated that Anna had been suffering from “puerperal insanity” at the time of the shooting.  

The prosecution’s case was much less baroque.  They stated that Anna was not insane when she shot Brown, just angry as hell.  It was, they said, a premeditated murder.  She had followed Brown to Washington to spy on him, and when she discovered proof of his infidelity, she decided he had to die.  They produced a witness who said that a few months before the murder, Anna had said that if Brown didn’t marry her, she would kill him.  (During a previous fight, it was revealed, our damsel in distress had knocked her lover’s teeth out.)  The prosecution also argued that just because Brown was a louse, that didn’t give Anna the right to send him to his grave.

Essentially, the trial was a contest between rational argument and melodramatic sentiment.  Guess which side won.  Yes, on December 2, the jury voted for acquittal.

Anna returned to Salt Lake City, only to find that old friends were leery of being around a woman who got away with murder.  She and her children attempted to have Brown’s will overturned, without success.  Anna lived in poverty and obscurity until her death in 1950.

The last public footnote to this case was in 1915, when Arthur Brown Bradley murdered Anna’s legitimate son Matt. He stabbed his half-brother to death over an argument over who would have to wash the dishes. (The coroner's jury--perhaps influenced by Bradley's youth--ruled that the killing was accidental.)

One is tempted to call him a chip off the old block.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Weekend Link Dump


"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

This week's Link Dump is hosted by Edwardian actress Nina Sevening and her even more beautiful friend.

What the hell were the Oakville Blobs?

What the hell is this Utah monolith?

Who the hell murdered Dr. Cronin?

The Dark Ages were brighter than we thought.

The long and difficult journey of the Mayflower.

"Gilligan's Island" is playing a major role in a California lawsuit.

Chemistry's role in the birth of public hygiene.

Bill, renowned Post Office cat.

The world's largest bed.

America's first national Thanksgiving holiday.

Alaska has an entire town living under the same roof.

A benevolent furrier.

When astrology went to war.

The complicated life of an 18th century courtesan.

A family fight turns to murder in 13th century England.

This seems...careless.

So, who's up for paying nearly 3K for a bar of soap?

More on the Black Loyalists.

A skeptical look at Rosslyn Chapel.

One of those times when the words "unintended consequences" come to mind.

How a major-league book thief was caught.

...And, personally, I think she looks fantastic.

Shorter version: Scrabble tournaments are weird.  

The singer who was supposed to be bigger than Bowie.  (Spoiler: he wasn't.)

An Arctic survival story.

The man who wrestled a leopard.

Stalin and the psychic wizard.

The man who kept the mummified head of a king in his attic.

Pretty much the only job I'm suited for.

The day after Thanksgiving seems like a good time to talk ghostly turkeys.

An archaeologist thinks he's found the childhood home of Jesus.

How to plan for the execution of a queen.

The last days of Elizabeth I.

A Mars megaflood.

The poetic dentist.

How not to get rid of ants.

The Nazi Indiana Jones.

Photos of mid-20th century London.

A rock hunter's strange disappearance.

London's most famous body-snatchers.

Little-known scientific geniuses.

Nothing says "Let the good times roll" like the three words, "Temperance Tea Party."

Giving thanks 200 years ago.

People swallow the damnedest things.

A 16th century pirate queen.

A London man's...unusual memorial.  And so 18th century.

The little old lady who was one of the worst people in American history.

The Walworth tragedy.

And that's all for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll look at a womanizer's comeuppance.  In the meantime, here's a Bob Seger song from back in the day.  I hadn't heard this song for years until a day or two ago.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Newspaper Clippings of the Thanksgiving Day

"York Dispatch," November 28, 1905.  (All clippings via Newspapers.com)


When normal people think of Thanksgiving, they picture large family dinners, a relaxing day watching football in front of the TV, a general atmosphere of comfort and contentment.

Me, I picture turkeys being used as lethal weapons and guided missiles.  The "Passaic Herald-News," November 23, 1956:

This inventive lady celebrated the holiday by weaponizing a turkey and a Scrabble board!

"Tampa Bay Times," January 26, 1997.  Sadly, history does not record why she threw the turkey.

This wife managed to include the whole damn dinner in her assault.  William was wise to file for divorce before Christmas.  Heaven only knows what plans his spouse had for the tree.

"Dayton Herald," December 16, 1913

More proof that Thanksgiving turkeys and divorce go together like potatoes and gravy:

"Hackensack Record," September 2, 1926

"Dad, what was your most memorable Thanksgiving ever?"

"Newark Advocate," November 26, 1982

Some holiday dinners really escalate quickly.

"Kansas City Times," November 24, 1972

If this headline doesn't turn all of you into vegetarians, I don't know what will.

"Santa Cruz Sentinel," November 24, 1964

And, finally, an obviously much-needed reminder that Thanksgiving dishes are meant for eating, not cold-cocking your loved ones.   May all my American readers have a happy, calorie-filled holiday!

"Louisville Courier-Journal," November 28, 1935

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Thrilling Apparition at Newnan

"Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing," William Blake

I have discovered many, many strange stories in the old newspapers--some reasonably trustworthy, others not. However, I don’t believe I have found anything more bizarre than a column which on July 15, 1886, appeared without any fanfare in the “Newnan (Georgia) Advertiser.”

The story revealed that “a gentleman living about two miles north of town” witnessed a “strange and thrilling apparition” several days before.  This unnamed man was a skeptic who had never given any credence to tales of ghosts or spiritualism.  (Although he admitted that his mother was a self-professed medium who correctly predicted her sister’s death, he had always regarded her “foolishness” as a huge joke.)  He was still reluctant to believe in the supernatural, although what he had seen made him “now ready to believe in anything.”

On the previous Wednesday morning, this man was out on Wahoo Creek, about three miles from Newnan.  In a very dense section of bushes and trees, he noticed “five strange looking creatures, one of whom was very tall and slender, wearing a thin garment of white and black, with a hat neither ancient nor modern, but similar to those worn by a Texas cowboy, and arms long and tapering, with fair and lily-white hands; another not quite so tall but large and broad shouldered, with a voice similar to those birds that fly up and down the Cumberland river in Tennessee, whose dress was similar to the other, only much longer in the train and more difficult to carry through the weeds and briars; another wore a peculiar and thin wrapper, antique in appearance yet artistic in design, revealed a lithe-like form that would have done for a model for an Angelo or worthy the facile pencil of a Raphael, glided about the rocks and cliffs with perfect ease.  This creature, human or spirit, he could not divine which, had for companions two little mermaids, habited like the nereids and graces, all of whom were eating blackberries, not plucking them with their hands as people generally do, but gathering them with their bills like birds.  Whenever they wanted to go from one bank of the stream to the other they flitted across the water like wrens jumping from log to log in a wood pile.  Finally, having satiated their appetites, they suddenly disappeared in the water like young ducks diving for insects in a shallow stream.  After regaling themselves for some time they then returned through the woods, flying up into the trees and hanging to the limbs like sapsuckers to a dead pine and leaping the railroad cut above the bridge without the slightest effort.”

This man went on to say that as night came on, the creatures slowly traveled up to the east side of the local cemetery.  Although the cemetery was surrounded by a high fence, the beings leaped over it effortlessly.  As he went by, he saw them sitting on a tombstone.  When they saw him approach, the creatures “raised their arms, gave a hideous shrill and vanished like mist before the sunlight.”

The man, who knew “full well that he was in his right mind,” had no explanation for what he had seen.  He could only say “that if there are such things as ghosts, or that the spirits of the dead can return to earth, then what he saw was certainly of that character.”

So, what are we to make of this extraordinary tale?  The obvious explanation, of course, is that it is merely one of the very many hoax stories so beloved of the newspapers of the era.  (Particularly since the article includes that classic red flag of describing our witness as “noted for his truthfulness.”)  However, those fictitious news items generally included some details aimed at giving the story an air of verisimilitude--after all, the whole point was for the account to be believed by their readers.  This baby, on the other hand, is just plain freaking nuts.

In short, I make no claims of authenticity for the above story, but it’s such a beguiling slice of The Weird, I couldn’t resist passing it along.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Weekend Link Dump


"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

The WLD is here!

Let the show begin!

Where the hell were modern humans born?

Who the hell painted "Salvator Mundi?"

Connecticut is really booming!

America's first modern supermarket.

It's not always a good thing to find buried treasure.

31 visions of Hell.  Surprisingly, I'm not talking about a 2020 calendar.

A Neolithic construction boom.

Recently uncovered ancient Egyptian inscriptions.

A very unusual tree.

17th century construction rules.

The unsolved--and unsolvable--mystery of Poe's death.  (Note: the reason it's impossible to know how Poe died is that we have so few reliable details about his last days.  The main source about his final illness is Dr. Moran, and he was, to say the least, untrustworthy.)

A man who had molten metal spurted into his eye--and it turned out to be no biggie.  I still wouldn't try that at home, though.

The sad end of a heartbroken prison cat.

The meaning behind Celtic knots.

The 19th century man who invented flight.

Britain's most haunted road.

America's loneliest road.

A Stone Age campsite.

Five legends of Portsmouth.

The "mother" of the American Thanksgiving Day.

Ghosts and America's first pharmacy.

The chapbooks of John Fairburn.

The paranormal Prime Minister.  (I've read some of King's diaries--they're available online--and I can confirm that he swam in some really weird waters.)

That time Earl Stanley Gardner became a real Perry Mason.

A strange disappearance in Yosemite.

Scientists want us to be able to smell ancient Europe, thus proving some researchers have way too much spare time on their hands.

The adventures of a female Victorian explorer.

The history behind a George Romney portrait.

A record of ancient Roman bribery.

Manet and alternative medicine.

The story of the fatal drops.

The time the Bronx had a panther hunt.

The theory that life on our planet was started by asteroids.

Pigeons: you love 'em, you need 'em, you've gotta have them.

The most important intellectual nobody's ever heard of.  Uh, except for the writer of this article, of course.

The first Englishman in Japan.

A brief history of dolls' houses.

A haunted wedding dress.

A seal turns tourist.

A poisoner gets a theatrical execution.

Considering how the year is going, this wouldn't surprise me a bit.

A little-known battle's importance to the Revolutionary War.

The unsolved murder of a hitchhiker.

A cat's gonna cat.

The search for cinnamon.

A psychic predicts her own death.

Unearthing the secrets of Saqqara.

A sinister disappearance at sea.

Why it's never a good idea to store arsenic in the kitchen.

1943's Dambusters Raid.

A brief history of gout.

The diary of a body-snatcher.

The most famous speech in history.

Excavating a Viking ship.

The Great Blizzard of 1888.

The "Princess Alice" disaster.

That's it for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll look at what just might be the weirdest story I've posted on this blog.  In the meantime, here's some Dowland.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

The nature of my blog has forced me to come up with a lot of weird labels for my posts.  However, I never thought that "alligator rain" would be among them.  From the "Newbern Spectator," August 15, 1829, (via Newspapers.com):

Whilst the philosophic world is absorbed by the attempt to unravel the mystery connected with the frequent visits to the earth of those incomprehensible strangers, termed Meteorites, and to assign some probable cause of their origin and descent--we beg leave to present naturalists with another nut to crack--which if not quite so great a draw upon credulity as some events that have happened, may safely be classed among those denominated “wonderful!”   We are sorry that the circumstances detailed are not of a more recent date, since we are aware much of the wonderment usually excited by such phenomena, depends upon their proximity to present time.  It is, however, but a few days since we were placed in possession of the facts, and they are presented to our readers as we received them, with every particular of name, place, and date, that each may believe, according to the light of his understanding, and the strength of his faith.

In the summer of 1811, an unusually black, turbid-looking cloud passed down the western edge of Emanuel County, in this State, from which fell torrents of rain, and an uncommon quantity of electric fluid--its duration was short.  Immediately after the storm had subsided, our informant, Col. Stephen Swain, (Senator from Emanuel) went into a field about one mile distant from his house, containing an area of about fifteen or twenty acres, and in passing through it, discovered a trail as if some animal had been dragged along the ground.  Following it to a short distance, he discovered the dead body of a huge Alligator, measuring between eight and nine feet in length!  Desirous to ascertain where and how it had entered the field, which was enclosed by an excellent fence, as well as to discover the cause of its death, Col. Swain retraced the track made by the Alligator, until he arrived at the centre of the field, where it stopped; at this point the earth was much torn up, exhibiting the appearance of having been crushed by the fall of a large limb of a tree, or some other body of great weight, having fallen with violence upon it.  There was not the slightest sign discovered of its having been beyond this spot.  The part of the Alligator which in the species is black, in this instance was uncommonly so, and together with the protuberances upon his back and sides, was perfectly smooth and polished, as if caused by constant friction--The same was remarked of the belly of the animal, which was unusually white and shining.  Our informant adds, that the appearance of the animal was such as indicated him to be an inhabitant of another region--and that there existed not a reason to doubt its having been ejected from the cloud just passed over.  Mortally wounded by the violence of the fall, it had been unable to crawl beyond the distance of about one hundred yards, where it was found dead.  The belief of its having been thrown from the cloud, is strengthened by the fact that on the same day, and during the same fall of rain, several small Alligators, about 16 or 18 inches in length, fell in the neighborhood; one of them falling down the chimney of a house distant two or three miles from the field wherein the larger one was discovered.

We have lately read of “a shower of eels” having fallen to the northward of us, and small fish have frequently been found after rain in places to which they had no way of access, but by descent with the rain.  Meteoric stones, too, weighing considerably more than the heaviest alligator, have been cast upon us from higher regions.  Why then should the lip of incredulity be curled with the smile of derision, when it is stated that a family of alligators had taken it into their heads to visit, by this mode of conveyance, the good people of Emanuel County?

Monday, November 16, 2020

The 3-X Murders

"Brooklyn Standard Union," June 18, 1930, via Newspapers.com

A major reason serial killers such as Jack the Ripper, “Son of Sam,” and “Zodiac” have gained legendary fame is the fact that they (allegedly, in the Ripper’s case) wrote cryptic, taunting letters to the public, thus adding an element of mystery and intrigue to their evil acts.  Curiously enough, however, the murderer who wrote arguably the weirdest messages of all soon became almost forgotten.

The night of June 11, 1930, kicked off an eerie reign of terror in New York City.  19-year-old Catherine May and a grocer named Joseph Mozynski were sitting in Mozynski’s parked car on a street in Queens.  Then a man suddenly walked up to them and shot Mozynski dead through the open window.  The assassin then calmly pulled May out of the car and walked her to a bus stop.  Before leaving her there, he gave the girl a sheet of paper, warning her not to read it until the following day.

"New York Daily News," June 20, 1930

The paper had the name “Joseph Mozynski” rubber-stamped in red ink.  Under it was stamped “3X” and “3-X-097.”  Unintelligible as this message was, it did make it obvious that this was no random crime; the grocer had, for whatever reason, been targeted in advance.  The paper’s watermark failed to provide any clues to who might have bought it.

Shortly after this, the murderer began sending the “New York Evening Journal” letters signed “3-X” that were as verbose as they were bizarre.  He claimed to be “the agent of a secret international order” who had shot Mozynski in order to obtain “international papers” the grocer supposedly had in his possession, but, alas, his victim was not carrying them at the time.  Most alarmingly, “3-X” asserted that he would soon kill again in Queens.  His intention was to murder thirteen men and one woman.

If 26-year-old salesman Noel Sowley and 20-year-old Elizabeth Ring were aware of this ominous warning, they seem to have ignored it.  This was unwise.  On the night of June 17, the couple was sitting in Sowley’s car on a deserted back street in Queens, not very far from where Mozynski had been murdered.  (Although Ring had recently married, she and Sowley--an old flame--continued to see each other.)  A stranger walked up to the car, pointed a gun at Sowley, and ordered him to produce his driver’s license.  After studying it, the man announced, “You’re going to get what Joe got,” and fired two instantly fatal blasts into Sowley’s head.

As had been the case in the previous murder, “3-X” treated the female witness with a curious sort of gallantry.  After depositing a newspaper clipping about the Mozynski murder into the dead man’s pocket, the killer shepherded Ring to a bus stop and gave her yet another paper.  It was stamped in almost identical fashion as the paper he had given Catherine May.

"Brooklyn Times Union," June 18, 1930

Tests proved what everyone already suspected: that the two men had been killed with the same gun.  May and Ring described the murderer as about 5’6”, with a strong accent--Ring thought he was German.  He was in his thirties, with a thin face and “peculiar teeth.”

"New York Daily News," June 19, 1930

The day after Sowley’s murder, “3-X” sent the “Evening Journal” a note announcing that he was about to murder a man in College Point, Queens.  Naturally, that entire area quickly became what the “New York Times” described as “an armed camp.”  The streets of the Queens were packed with over 400 plainclothes detectives, two thousand patrolmen, and bands of motorcycle, auto, and gun squads.  It was the largest manhunt the NYPD had seen up to that point.

The police presence backfired by being just too obvious.  The murderer may have been insane, but he was obviously not stupid.  “3-X” was nowhere to be seen.  The police could only throw up their hands and warn couples to avoid parking in isolated streets--advice which was, at this point, probably superfluous.

On June 18, John Gallagher, the chief detective in Queens, received a 3-X letter:

For your information, one more of J. Mozynski’s friends was sent to meet him.

V-5 Solwey was shot near Floral Park and not very far away from police signal station.

I enclose the two empty shells--some of our money was found on his person and the N.Y. document.

The girl was, as in the case of Miss May, put aboard a bus and sent home--but no clues were left for you this time.  Thirteen more men and one woman will go if they do not make peace with us and stop bleeding us to death.

P.S. These facts have been disclosed to the New York Evening Journal.

The letter also mocked the police for failing to capture him.  As indicated in the note, the killer sent a similar letter to the “Evening Journal,” as well as Catherine May.  “3-X” told the “Journal” that “The young lady involved in this case is a victim of unfortunate circumstances.  Her story is clean.  I happen to know something of what happened Wednesday night.  Mozynsky was a rascal.  He had important papers belonging to us.  We feel sorry for his wife and children, but is for the best that they shall not know what he was.”

This remarkably wordy killer sent yet another letter to the police advising them that he had revised downward his projected death toll; he would murder only seven people instead of fourteen.  The maniac also warned that Mozynski’s brother would be killed if “the secret papers” were not returned.  The understandably terrified Mozynksi family insisted to detectives that they had no idea what the killer was talking about.

“3-X” then sent the “Evening Journal” his longest and nuttiest letter:

Dear Sir: "V. R. V8 of C. P. has returned the Philadelphia XV346 to me tonight after reading your paper--also 37,000 dollars of the black mail money--thanks to God--if I may use his name.

This means the following persons will be spared:

W. R. VS College Point.

S 12 College Point.

K 2 Brooklyn.

Z 3 (the woman in question, the tall blonde).

M 6 N.Y.C.

XX V (NYC Police Dept. Detective).

The following document still is missing--NJ 4-3-44--and 39,000 dollars for this document, the following people still are marked for death:








All initials withheld--too much of a clew for the super detectives of Bayside.

Mozinsky's number was R-9.

Sowley's number was X-4.

Please print this final message to the seven men left on the death list:

N. J. CCK-2-33-VV 3-K-RQS-4MLT-R. P. 49-6.

As in the Mozinski case, the girl with Sowley was sent home. She, also, proved to be an iron woman. I had to put the gun close to her breast to quiet her. She even tried to start the car.

But when I told her I would fire she then, to my surprise, began to say her prayers, and to prepare herself for death.

This saved her, as God is the only one I fear, and I could not shoot a woman showing such courage.

Both Miss Catherine May and this young lady are splendid women--I never thought there were such women in this life.

Well, I have told you that J. Moissett was innocent. Who was right? I repeat it again. Miss Catherine May is innocent. I have written to her mother about it. Here is something to prove it. On the night Mozynsky was shot I told Miss May that I was after some important papers.

I told her Mozynski had them, but I could not find them. I told her that Mozynski 'was a blackmailer and a drug peddler. I also asked her if she knew Mozynski and she told me no, that he just picked her up for a ride.

So I thought the girl would be o.k. and I burned some papers near the car, they were envelopes addressed to Miss Catherine May, but stained with blood so as not to leave any clews against the girl as I did not want her to suffer on account of me.

But it seems she forgot her coat and that's what lost her. Well, the poor girl is in a terrible mess now but I will do all I can to prove her innocent.

The shooting of Sowley should show it by now, and also a second warning to the rest. I know who the other girl is, and where she lives, and, as she happens to be of good family, she has nothing to fear, I never will reveal who she is. I have never seen women act like that before.

As for the detectives, and their commanding officer, to my estimate well, what's the use?

Sorry for them that's a black mark against them. But they never will find out who I am. One word from any one means death or a long term to state or federal penitentiary. Again thank you for your kindness.

I told Sowley's lady friend that we knew who we were after. No one needs fear me, only those marked for death, and I hope they heed the warning. I will not shoot any until they decide their own fate. I am only too glad to give them a chance.

I have been in the war. in the very thick of it, but to kill like this is terrible, but it had to be done.

We trailed Sowley as we knew he was in the habit of taking his girls there. I was on the highway waiting for him with A2 and M2 with M5 were trailing in our car behind. Sowley must have recognized me as he tried to run me over.

His business--you would like to know--well, here it is, everything--there is money, easy money, in it.

Does it not seem funny that both Mozinski, R9, and Sowley, X4, were very mysterious? Both are ladies’ men--and it takes a lot of money these days to keep ladies going.

There is a dead account in a Flushing bank, the money belongs to Mozinski. but it is not under his right name. We know where they got the money from. I did not like to shoot.

But, I sent a code signal for mercy.  Unfortunately the answer came back from the car “No--fire.” I had to obey, or get it myself. You see. I have turned up the king of diamonds.

A V 3 X)

P.S.S. Later I will explain the meaning of the triangle and the V.

This masterpiece of Crazy certainly drew a great deal of attention to the killer, but--even though his letters indicated he must have genuinely been somehow acquainted with his victims--they were of no help in establishing his identity.

On the night of June 19, hundreds of police again patrolled the streets of Queens in search of “3-X.”  At around 10:30, Morris Horwitz, president of the Municipal Underwriters insurance firm, sat in his car outside his Brooklyn home, talking to his wife, Rose, who was sitting on the porch.  Suddenly, a short, blond, “crazy-looking man” forced his way into the car.  He ordered Horwitz to move over to the steering wheel, “start the car and keep going.  If you don’t, I’ll shoot you.”  Before Horwitz could comply, the man shot him in the shoulder and fled.  Thankfully, Horwitz survived his injuries.  It was unknown if this was yet another attack by “3-X” or just a random robbery attempt.

“3-X” informed the “Evening Journal” that he had murdered one Harold Bridenbach (code name “X8W-9”) and that the body could be found on the Boston Road in the Bronx.  No body was found on the Boston Road, and, as far as the police could tell, no such person named Harold Bridenbach even existed.  The handwriting on the letter differed from the previous “3-X” letters, so it is possible this message was just an example of the sick hoaxes that surround all notorious crimes.  This was followed by a letter in the now all-too-familiar “3-X” writing threatening to kill actress Margalo Gillmore.  Fortunately, this plan was never carried out.

On June 21, the prolific “3-X” wrote the “Journal” that they would hear no more of him.  His work for the “Russian Red Diamond Society” was complete, and he was about to fly back to Europe in a secretly chartered airplane.  “Three X is no more,” he proclaimed.  “My mission is ended.”

In his farewell message, the killer claimed to be an ex-German army officer who during WWI, served in the Wilhelm St. office, Berlin.  He explained his coded signature.  “The first sign means A, the supreme tribunal of the order.  The second V it’s secret agent.  The two combined form the Red Diamond of Russia, a secret order all over the world.  Anyone breaking its rules is marked for death.”

He went on to say that the men he murdered had been dismissed from the order for treason.  One of his victims stole certain documents and tried to use them to blackmail certain of the Red Diamond agents in America.  “3-X” had been chosen by the order to punish, and, if necessary, kill the traitors.

On June 19, he explained, he recovered the documents he wanted, making it unnecessary to commit the third murder he had planned.  He added, “I am deeply sorry for having stained your country with blood...Quiet your people and tell them 3 X is no more.  If any more letters come they are fakes.  I am leaving today on my way back to Russia.  Please note I do not write U.S.S.R.  We do not recognize them.”

The murderer again paid tribute to the courage of Catherine May and Elizabeth Ring, and expressed how wounded he had been when one of the women described him as having “fish eyes.”  “I have no fish eyes--the police have fish eyes.”  He “signed” the letter “H.P. 12. W.A.”

Despite receiving this entirely rational and believable explanation for his actions, the police continued their hunt for “3-X.”  Who knew who might be designated next as a traitor to the Red Diamond.  For some time, they pursued increasingly weak leads.  Several days after the killer’s swan song, a drifter named Dewey Ede told police that at a restaurant outside of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, he met an oddly talkative stranger.  The man’s wallet contained a bunch of papers written in code.  According to Ede, his new friend confided that he had murdered two men in Queens and tried to kill a third.  He claimed to be “3-X,” chosen assassin of the Red Diamond of Russia.  He was on his way to Harrisburg, and then to New Orleans, where he would take a boat back to his homeland.  Ede’s description of the man matched those provided by other witnesses.  Was this “3-X,” or had Ede invented a nifty way to get his name in the newspapers?  No one could say.  It’s a very odd story, but then, we are dealing with one very odd killer.  Several men who, for various reasons, aroused the suspicions of the police were taken in for questioning, but May and Ring did not think any of them could be “3-X.”

On June 23, it briefly looked as if the murderer had broken his promise to leave the country and kill no more.  The police received a letter, purportedly from “3-X,” threatening to kill a Brooklyn man named Meyer Newmark if Newmark did not turn over document “U.J. 4-3-44.”  The coded signature differed slightly from earlier letters, but the handwriting seemed similar.  Fortunately, Newmark--who professed to have no idea why he was being targeted--remained unharmed.

The case faded from the newspapers until October 1931, when the police received a note warning “I am back.  I will pay every cop a visit.”  Handwriting experts believed it was a genuine “3-X” message.  If such was the case, the killer again failed to go through with his threat.

This proved to be the last anyone heard from “3-X.”  No one ever managed to even find a plausible suspect for these extraordinarily strange murders, and at this late date, it is virtually certain that no one ever will.