Identities assumed by virtuoso impostor Stanley Clifford Weyman (1890-1960):
- U.S. consul representative to Morocco. Arrested for fraud.
- Military attaché from Serbia and U.S. Navy lieutenant (so the two could use each other as references).
- “Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Allen Weinberg, consul general for Romania.” He inspected the U.S.S. Wyoming and invited its officers to a dinner at the Astor Hotel. On being arrested, he was heard to complain that they should have waited until dessert.
- “Royal St. Cyr,” a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Arrested on an inspection tour of the Brooklyn armory.
- Company doctor in Lima, Peru. Threw parties until arrested.
- State Department naval liaison officer. Introduced himself to Princess Fatima of Afghanistan and promised to arrange a meeting with the president. She gave him $10,000 for “presents” to State Department officials. Weyman got appointments with Secretary of State Evans Hughes and with Warren G. Harding. Indicted for impersonating a naval officer.
- U.S. secretary of state. Interviewed Queen Marie of Romania for the Evening Graphic newspaper.
- Personal physician to Pola Negri, Rudolph Valentino’s grieving lover. Established a faith-healing clinic and issued regular press releases.
- Arrested during World War II for telling draft dodgers how to feign various medical conditions.
- Journalist for the United Nations. Caught when he asked the State Department whether he could remain a U.S. citizen if he became the Thai delegation’s press officer.
Ironically, Weyman’s most honest act may have been his last: He was shot trying to stop a robbery in a New York hotel. “One man’s life is a boring thing,” he once said. “I lived many lives. I’m never bored.”
“The accompanying picture is no imaginary instance, but is actually taken from an official document. The figure is supposed to represent one of these Deal boatmen, and the numerals will explain the methods of secreting the tea. (1) Indicates a cotton bag which was made to fit the crown of his hat, and herein could be carried 2 lbs. of tea. He would, of course, have his hat on as he came ashore, and probably it would be a sou’wester, so there would be nothing suspicious in that. (2) Cotton stays or a waistcoat tied round the body. This waistcoat was fitted with plenty of pockets to hold as much as possible. (3) This was a bustle for the lower part of the body and tied on with strings. (4) These were thigh-pieces also tied round and worn underneath the trousers. When all these concealments were filled the man had on his person as much as 30 lbs. of tea, so that he came ashore and smuggled with impunity. And if you multiply these 30 lbs. by several crews of these Deal boats you can guess how much loss to the Revenue the arrival of an East Indiamen in the Downs meant to the Revenue.”
– East Indian smugglers’ scheme to evade English customs officers, circa 1810. From E. Keble Chatterton, King’s Cutters and Smugglers, 1700-1855, 1912
In January 2005, Canadian police officer Chris Legere pulled over an 18-year-old woman for driving 96 mph.
That afternoon he pulled over the same car doing 92 mph in the opposite direction. At first he thought it was driven by the same driver, but he was mistaken.
It was her identical twin sister.
A letter to the Seattle Bureau of Prohibition, Sept. 12, 1931:
My husband is in the habit of buying a quart of wiskey every other day from a Chinese bootlegger named Chin Waugh living at 317-16th near Alder street.
We need this money for household expenses. Will you please have his place raided? He keeps a supply planted in the garden and a smaller quantity under the back steps for quick delivery. If you make the raid at 9:30 any morning you will be sure to get the goods and Chin also as he leaves the house at 10 o’clock and may clean up before he goes.
Thanking you in advance, I remain yours truly,
In 1803, Australian Joseph Samuel was sentenced to hang for murder. The first attempt failed when the rope broke. A replacement rope stretched, letting Samuel’s feet touched the ground. And the third rope broke.
So they let him go.
From Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle, 1896:
A convict at Brest put up his rectum a box of tools. Symptoms of vomiting, meteorism, etc., began, and became more violent until the seventh day, when he died.
After death, there was found in the transverse colon, a cylindric or conic box, made of sheet iron, covered with skin to protect the rectum and, doubtless, to aid expulsion. It was six inches long and five inches broad and weighed 22 ounces.
It contained a piece of gunbarrel four inches long, a mother-screw steel, a screw-driver, a saw of steel for cutting wood four inches long, another saw for cutting metal, a boring syringe, a prismatic file, a half-franc piece and four one-franc pieces tied together with thread, a piece of thread, and a piece of tallow, the latter presumably for greasing the instruments.
“On investigation it was found that these conic cases were of common use, and were always thrust up the rectum base first,” the authors explain. “In excitement this prisoner had pushed the conic end up first, thus rendering expulsion almost impossible.”
In 1911, three murderers were hanged on Greenberry Hill, London.
Their names were Green, Berry, and Hill.
n. one who steals dogs
In 1898, Columbus prison inmate Charles Justice helped build and install Ohio’s only electric chair.
Justice finished his sentence and returned to society, but irony caught up with him. Thirteen years later he was back in prison, and on Nov. 9, 1911, he was executed in the same electric chair he had helped to build.
Looks pretty innocuous, right? This is part of a letter composed by New York doll shop owner Velvalee Dickinson in May 1942. The FBI decoded it as follows:
I just secured information on an aircraft carrier warship. It had been damaged, that is, torpedoed in the middle. But it is now repaired. … They could not get a mate for this, so a plain ordinary warship is being converted into a second aircraft carrier. …
Probably she was referring to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga. Apparently Dickinson had been operating as a Japanese spy throughout the war — her letters to Buenos Aires, ostensibly about doll collecting, had actually contained detailed information about U.S. warships, coastal defenses, and repair operations.
She protested her innocence but got the maximum sentence, 10 years and a $10,000 fine. She died in 1980.
The Mad Gasser of Mattoon was a mysterious figure who haunted Mattoon, Ill., in the summer of 1944.
Typically, homeowners would report awakening to a sweet odor, then feeling nausea, dizziness, headaches, breathing difficulty, or a feeling of paralysis. Some saw a tall figure dressed in black fleeing their property after the attack.
Police and citizens patrolled the streets, and the newspapers printed several sensational accounts, but the police never found a suspect. The attacks stopped after Sept. 13, as mysteriously as they had begun.
Wander too far away from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and you might disappear forever.
Herman Mudgett, an enterprising serial killer, built a row of three-story buildings near the Chicago fair and opened it as a hotel. Guests discovered — too late — that it was a maze of more than 100 windowless rooms, where Mudgett would trap them, torture them in a soundproof chamber, and then asphyxiate them with a custom-fitted gas line.
Then he’d send the bodies by chute to the basement, where he’d cremate them or sell them to a medical school.
This went on for three years, until a fire broke out and police and firemen discovered the trap. No one knows how many people Mudgett killed; he confessed to 27, but estimates go as high as 230.
He was hanged in Philadelphia in 1896.
In 1963, Peter Reyn-Bardt killed his wife and buried her in a peat bog in Cheshire County, England. Twenty years later, when a body was discovered, he assumed he’d been caught and turned himself in.
He should have waited. An investigation showed that the body was not his wife’s, but that of an Iron Age man who had died two thousand years earlier and been eerily preserved in the cold acid bog.
They convicted Reyn-Bardt anyway.
Vatican City has the highest per capita crime rate of any nation on earth.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Former Argentine president Juan Perón is buried in Buenos Aires. In 1987, someone broke into his tomb and stole his hands.
No one knows why.
“I don’t even know what street Canada is on.” — Al Capone
On New Year’s Day, 1963, two bodies were found in a lovers’ lane in Sydney, Australia. They belonged to Gilbert Bogle, a top research physicist, and his mistress. Both were partially undressed and covered with clothes and cardboard. Police could find no trace of poison; their hearts had simply stopped beating.
To this day, no one has determined whether they were murdered, and if so, how or why. It is a perfect mystery.
“When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things: One part of me wants to take her home, be real nice and treat her right; the other part wonders what her head would look like on a stick.” — Serial killer Edmund Kemper
In 1955, the merchant vessel Joyita disappeared en route from Samoa to the Tokelau Islands, about 270 miles away.
A search and rescue mission found nothing, but five weeks later she was sighted more than 600 miles from her scheduled route. The ship was partially submerged and there was no trace of her 16 crewmembers or 9 passengers, including two children.
An inquiry found that the disappearance of the passengers and crew was “inexplicable on the evidence submitted.” But the Fiji Times and Herald quoted an “impeccable source” saying that the Joyita had passed through a fleet of Japanese fishing boats and “had observed something the Japanese did not want them to see.”
What was it? No one knows.
Rumored whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa’s body:
- Buried in northern Michigan
- Buried under the New Jersey Turnpike
- Buried in an abandoned coal mine near Pittston, Pa.
- Buried in Fresh Kills landfill, Staten Island, New York
- Buried under the end zone at Giants Stadium in New Jersey
- Buried in PJP Landfill in Jersey City, underneath the Pulaski Skyway
- Mechanically converted to cement
- Dissolved in an acid tank used to rechrome car bumpers
- Rendered into fat at a rendering plant
His body has never been found, and in 1982 he was declared legally dead.
Ironically, his middle name was Riddle.
The world’s oldest active bank robber was 91-year-old J.L. Hunter, who robbed the First American Bank in Abilene, Texas, of $2,000 in 2003. It was his third robbery in five years.
When asked why he did it, he said he hadn’t liked banks since they forced him into bankruptcy.
Willie Sutton did not rob banks “because that’s where the money is.”
He never said that–he credits it to “some enterprising reporter who apparently felt a need to fill out his copy.”
Why did he rob banks? “Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.”
In any case, Sutton certainly knew what he was doing. Between the late 1920s and his final arrest in 1952, he robbed 100 banks of $2 million.
He would bring a gun, but he prided himself on never using it. “You can’t rob a bank on charm and personality,” he said.
Excerpt from a letter sent by serial killer Albert Fish to a victim’s mother, November 1934:
On Sunday June the 3 –1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese — strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her.
On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them.
When all was ready I went to the window and Called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma.
First I stripped her naked. How she did kick — bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body.
The police traced the letter to Fish, and they found Grace’s skull buried in his garden.