murder mystery, crime, & detective fiction

Crime Cavalcade


by Vincent H. Gaddis

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Manhunt | Dec. 1954 | Vol. 2 | No. 10

Est. Read Time: 6 mins

A collection of strange but true crimes from around the country.


In Los Angeles recently, Vernon Bronson Twitchell had the unique opportunity of studying his own book behind bars. The author of Living Without Liquor, Twitchell began a 6o-day sentence for drunken driving. Police said it was the 32nd time he had been arrested for drunkenness.

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Washington, D. C. police, tracking a $650 robbery, visited the home of James Morgan to question him. Vehemently he denied all knowledge of the money. The police were just leaving when the tea kettle began to whistle. An alert officer lifted the lid — and found the stolen money floating on the boiling water.

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In Pittsburgh, Pa., Morris Lebovitz, lost a 1953 Cadillac by theft. Eventually, tired of being car-less, he bought a 1954 model. Several days later the new car was stolen, and the old, in excellent condition, was left in its place.

This time police found the culprit, Clarence Bailey, 26, who had stolen both cars.

He was sentenced to two to six years in the penitentiary.

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In Los Angeles a man arrested for marrying four separate females in less than twelve months declared aggrievedly: “I had to have something to do on my days off!”

In Knoxville, Tenn., a husband sued for divorce on the grounds that his wife wrote a song entitled Thirty Months in Hell just to describe their marriage.

While in Hartford, Conn., police entered a restaurant to arrest for non-support a part-time piano player, Paul H. Scott, 34, and found him playing his heart out. The song he was beating out on the ivories was I Wish I Was Single Again!

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Harvey Thompson, waiter at The Barbecue Pit in Dallas, Tex., knows a good offer when he gets it. Threatened by a holdup man who gave him a note reading, “Give me forty dollars. If you don’t have forty, give me ten,” Thompson handed over $10 and kept the change.

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A Nashville, Tenn. newspaper printed a letter from a convict aged 21, serving five years for robbery, who declared that he was anxious to marry “any widow, regardless of age, so long as she has enough money to educate me and knows the governor well enough to get me a pardon.”

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Atlanta, Ga. burglars, escaping with a safe containing $5000 from a supermarket, successfully loaded it onto their truck. But as they drove off, the safe slid down onto the pavement where it remained for the police.

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A suicide using a gun may unintentionally mimic rigor mortis in the fingers only — provided he keeps a tight hold on the revolver. For some unknown reason a cadaveric spasm may occur which makes the hand stiffen tenaciously onto the weapon, while the rest of his body remains limp. Normal rigor mortis, affecting the entire body, will not reach the hands for at least two hours after death.

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A grocer in Yuma, Ariz. is being forced to close his store on Sundays against his will. Twice a masked robber has taken $6,000 from store owner George Spurling. Each time the bandit, operating on week days only, tells Spurling the robberies will continue “as long as you stay open Sundays.”

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Another grocery store in the Southwest, this time in Dallas, Tex., was found by several squad cars answering an alarm to have its back door wide open. After a fruitless search of the place, officers were about to leave when Police Sgt. Ted Cain and Detective T. T. Lord lifted the lid of a garbage can. Crouched moistly inside was the 19-year-old burglar.

* * * * *


Police in Knoxville, Tenn., were instructed by Mayor George Dempster never to swear when making arrests.

“A man,” the mayor told them, “ought to reserve profanity for his friends and not just spread it around.”

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In Seattle, Wash., a frustrated citizen trying to guard against burglars reported to police that he locked and bolted his door, hid $40 in his sock, and wore the sock to bed. In the morning the sock was still on his foot, but the $40 was gone.

Gerald Blanchard, of Marinette, Wis., confessed to police in Marquette, Mich, a unique method of picking his hotel robbery victims. Blanchard, a beauty shop supply salesman, listens for snores. There’s a certain rhythm, he insists, that makes it safe to enter for an overhaul of billfolds and purses.

And in Inverness, Calif., Vadim Turkan fastened the doors of his grocery with heavy chains and went to bed in the back room. Neighbors were awakened when burglars took off the chains and fled with 19 cases of beer before the police arrived. Turkan slept on.

* * * * *


Officers Johnny Coles and Jim Harp of Tulsa, Okla., arrested M. L. Sharp for illegal possession of whiskey, then couldn’t find the liquor in the house. But a search of the back yard revealed a pet monkey in an old chicken coop, playing with a full half pint. Near him were 16 more pints.

“That damned monkey,” Sharp groaned, “Last week he broke 12 bottles.”

* * * * *


An odd “crime” occurred in Liege, Belgium, one afternoon in January, 1911, when Auguste Clemond, wealthy widower, summoned police after the death of his only daughter, Marie. She had been engaged to a law clerk, Raymond Hamelle, but was fiercely jealous of his affection for her more attractive cousin, Jeanne.

Several nights before her death, Hamelle had promised to come to discuss wedding details, but when he failed to arrive by 9 p.m., Marie dashed furiously out into the storm. Two hours later she returned soaked and shivering. Pneumonia set in, and as the end drew near, her father sent for Hamelle. Until three in the morning the young man watched beside her bed, then told M. Clemond that Marie had sent him away, asking her father to come instead. Alone with her parent, Marie, barely able to whisper, told him just before she died that Hamelle had opened her jewel case and stolen a diamond.

Investigation revealed that Hamelle had courted Jeanne until won over by Marie’s money and her vigorous pursuit. Jeanne swore that although Hamelle had not seen her since the engagement, Marie was mad with jealousy and constantly spied on her. It was also revealed that Jeanne was next of kin since her cousin’s death, and under the will of Marie’s grandfather would inherit the family property. Marie had died suddenly. Was it possible, police wondered, that Hamelle was guilty of murder as well as theft?

An autopsy gave the answer. Contents of the viscera revealed not a trace of poison — but within Marie’s stomach was the missing 7- carat diamond, swallowed in a deathbed revenge by the jealous girl.

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In Dallas, Tex., arresting a man who had slugged his wife with a sledge hammer, police learned from him that she “always got cranky” when the weather was bad. So, fearing another twister because of a threatening sky, he told them he had forestalled a scene by bopping her over the head and sending her to the hospital.