The Story of...
The Birdman of Alcatraz
was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1890, the first son of Elizabeth and Ben
Elizabeth was a caring, dedicated ans supportive mother who took good care of her four children, trying her best to protect them from their
abusive alcoholic father. But, it was impossible to shield the children from Ben all the time, the result being the children being
physically abused and harmed deeply psychologically. Although in many cases of murderers, this would be the beginning of a life of
sadistic crime, fueled by hate, abandonment and coldness, all lessons learned from their father. However, instead, Robert
decided to take this opportunity to keep a distance from his family for a while, and, at the age of thirteen,in 1903, decided to travel
accross America, living independantly, working odd jobs to sustain himself, which was hard to do because he had only a third-grade education to back him up.
home briefly at the age of seventeen.Robert stayed only a short while, then
he decided to partake in yet another journey, this time to Alaska.
That summer, Robert, now 18, found work as part of a railroad gang in Katalla, Alaska. The work was hard, but the pay was worthwhile. The gang was relocated to Cordova,
Alaska, where Robert began to court a dance-hall entertainer and Irish prostitute, Kitty O'Brien. While in Cordova, he re-acquainted with an old friend, F.K. Von Dahmer,
(nicknamed Charlie) who was 28 at the time, a Russian bartender on his way to begin work at the Alaskan capital, Juneau.
It was Charlie's praise of the ever-expanding city which sparked the idea in Robert to move there with Kitty. This is where the story begins:
Robert Stroud and his 36- year old girlfriend, Kitty O'Brien, moved from their
home in Cordova, Alaska and settled in Alaska's capital, Juneau. They were not wealthy and were looking
forward to a better life there. Kitty found a job at a cabaret, but Robert had more trouble seeking employment.
His fate would be met one early evening in 1909, when Stroud went fishing for his and Kitty's dinner,
and left Kitty with his friend Charlie, who brutally beat Kitty in his absence.
Robert came back a while after Charlie had left Kitty, and after learning what had happened to her, became
infuriated. Robert rushed to Charlie's house and confronted him with a gun. The two men got into a fight,
ending up in Charlie being fatally shot. Shortly after Robert had killed Charlie, realizing what he'd done,
he escorted himself to the Juneau City Marshal, where he turned himself in. He was incarcerated and awaited
trial for murder.
His mother immediately
sent Robert a lawyer when she heard of the charges, and prayed for the best.
However, the new judge, E.E. Cushman, was determined to hit a strong
point with the Alaskan residents, revealing to them the full power of the judicial system, and setting an example for others who had committed similar crimes.
He used his power to the fullest extent, sentencing Robert to the maximum sentence in the judicial system at that time- 12 years. He was promptly put aboard a boat set for Mc Neil penitentiary,
a small island near Seattle. He grew to become an angry, repressed, cold man, once letting out his aggression on another inmate who accused him of stealing his food, wounding him with a knife,
but not causing severe damage, adding an additional six months to his sentence. He then moved to anther prison in 1912, a newly- constructed prison in Kansas, Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
Robert left Mc Neil penitentiary, he also left all his coldness, depression
and hostility behind. he decided to use his prison time as much to his advantage
deciding to continue with his education, studying subjects such as astronomy, physical science and structural engineering. Through these courses he realized his passion for knowledge and education.
However, all his accomplishments were quickly depleted when he became ill with Bright's disease, a disease involving kidney inflammation, caueing high blood pressure, fever and facial swelling. His
mother moved to Kansas to be nearer to him and offer reassurance. Robert eventually showed signs of improvement but was still weakended by the disease. He also became detached and isolated,
returning to being cold and hostile.
His inner tensions caused him to kill a guard whom he had had other altercations with in the past. He was placed in solitary confinement, temporarily.
became famous for all the research and medical treatments he invented for birds.
It all started in the summer of 1920, when, after a thunderstorm, he found the
remains of a nest with three live baby sparrows
in the exercise yard. He took them in and made a makeshift nest, and fed them. He grew to love the birds and started to do research about birds. He took out all bird books the prison library had to offer and dedicated his time to breeding canaries.
The visitors who went on tours of the isolation ward, including Robert's cell, were able to buy one of Robert;s birds, if they wished. He recieved a fair amount of income from this "business" sending money to his mother and using the rest to buy more
equipment. As time went by and he continued to focus his time on the birds, he wrote notes and observations of experiments he made, such as various diet and breeding methods. He eventuallt began to become more advanced in his studies, using materials
from the prison laboratories to study diseased bird cultures, and when, in 1927, his birds became sick and started to die off, he came up with the cure to the disease, and found out, by studying the diseased cultures, that there were three different variations of the disease.
Robert earned much note-worthy notoriety from his break-throughs.
In 1928, he made
up a petition and had it reach the current president at that time, Calvin Coolidge,
requesting he be released from jail, as he felt he had paid his debt to society,
and had done his time. The president adamantly refused.
He also found
the cure for a typhiod-esque disease found in canaries, and proceeded to market
his new product with the financial aid of Della Jones, a fellow bird lover.
His business was almost hut down by the government, but he managed to put up
a good fight and petition, his please were heard
and he was allowed to continue.
In 1937 he transferred
to Alcatraz. He spent 26 years at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, although
his original sentence was only twelve.
As he entered old age, he desperately pleaded with the Supreme Court to let him go free.
He said his punishment was "cruel and unusual." He was granted a small break by being transferred to a minimum- security prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
Robert ended up spending 54 years of his life behind bars, dying in prison at the age of 73 by natural causes. He only escaped by means of death.
This woman is probably THE MOT FAMOUS VILLAINESS OF ALL TIME! Her famous story is world-renowned, making her truly infamous. At the trial she fended off claims of matricide and patricide (killing one's mother and father) and the jury found her not guilty of these charges.
No one actually knows whether or not she killed her parents.
There are many different stories- some believe that it was Bridget, the young Isrish house maid, who killed both Abby and Andrew Borden, (Lizzie's parents) in a fit of rage when asked to clean the windows because he had pent in her rage of Lizzie's ill treatment at the hands of her parents and was secretly Lizzie's lover
(which, in my opinion, is not very plausible). Then, there's the the version which many people believe, which is that Lizzie did infact kill her parents. Some say that Lizzie stripped naked before she killed her victims, and then washed off all the bloody evidence at the water tap in the cellar, dressing herself in her unchanged clothes afterwards.
(It's possible she did this, but I mean, c'mon, what murderer in the history of the world ever did that?) There are many variations of this belief, one being that Lizzie plotted the murder of Abby Borden (her stepmother) and killed her father because she simply would not have him testify against her, as she upected he would.
Another theory is that Lizzie was epileptic, and murdered her stepmother during on of her "spells." She then proceeded to kill off her father for the same afore mentioned reason. Some say that Lizzie was in the barn around ten or eleven in the morning, as she claimed to have been, becuase there was a water pump there where he could wash off
her stepmother's blood and clean the hatchet as well. The hatchet was found with its handle broken off. The barn theory also works becuase there was a large vise in the barn, allowing her to break the handle in two, burn it on the kitchen stove and hide the blade.
Then there are those who believe that Lizzie was innocent, at least of first-degree manslaughter.
Some believe that Bridget, the maid, was the killer. They believe that Bridget went mad when she was asked to wash the windows on the hottest day of the year, and went postal on Mrs. Borden, who asked her to do the job, and hacked the living daylight out of her, then killed Mr. Borden, again, so he would not testify against her.
Others say that it was Emma, Lizzie's older sisiter, who committed the murder, for the same reason Lizzie might have had- to inherit the family fortune from their father, (he was one of the wealthiest men around) and also fueled by the jealousy of seeing him set aside money for his second wife, their step mother, as opposed to the girls' biological mother.
This would have led Emma to kill Mr. Borden for the inheritance, and Mr. Borden out of spite, resentment and jealousy. Lizzie was merely a by-stander. When Lizzie was accused of the murder, the sisters helped one another out of the sticky situation.
Lastly, the relatively unknown suspicion that William Borden murdered the pair is, by far, the strangest, I think. Apparently, William Borden was the mentally challenged, illegitimate son of Mr. Borden, and wanted some of his wealth for himself, and, after asking his father to give him some of his property in his will, (which he was in the process of writing)
became enraged and was allowed and encouraged to kill first Abby Borden, then Andrew Borden, by Lizzie and Emma. He was then discretly either paid or threatened off, and the conspiritors, Lizzie, Emma, their Uncle John, Dr. Bowen (the doctor who arrived at the scene) and Mr. Jennings, the family's lawyer, planned that Lizzie would allow herself to be accused and tried,
revealing the real murderer to the jury if the charges became serious enough. I do not believe this account because #1, William Borden is not even known to have existed, and #2, why would a doctor want to help keep a crime involving on of his patients a secret?
Why would he take on such a burden, and,#3, who in their right mind would allow themselves to be tried,
under various very serious charges, for a murder they did not commit?
Well, here are the real facts put together from eye witness accounts, as well as what Emma and Lizzie Borden recounted. I'll let you decide for yourself who the real murderer was...
Mrs. Borden goes
to Dr.Bowen complaining of nausea and vomitting, and feeling in a somewhat poor
and ill state. He dissmisses her by saying that her symptoms do not appear to
be suspicious or threatening. Dr. Bowen checks on Andrew, who say he is not
feeling ill in the least.
Bridget also felt poorly. However, there was no evidence of poison in the bodies, the autopsy concluded.
Eli Bence, a clerk at "Smith's Drug Store" claimed that Lizzie had tried to buy some prussic acid, and when asked why she needed some, said that she wished to rid the bugs in her sealskin cape. Patrons of the store recalled her being there at around 10:00 or 11:30 am. The clerk refused to allow her to buy any because she did not have a prescription.
Uncle John Morse arrived, without luggage, at the house at around noon, planning to stay overnight and to visit relatives accross town the next day.
In the evening, Lizzie visits her friend, Miss Alice Russell, and is on-edge and worried about a "threat to her father." She came back home at about 9:00 in the evening, and, disregarding hearing her uncle and her parents speaking loudly, goes to bed.
Bridget got up
to do her morning chores at about 6:15 am. Mrs. Borden went down for breakfast
at about 7:00, Mr. Borden dining shortly thereafter. Uncle John left at about
8:45, Lizzie came down a few minutes after his departure. Mr. Borden left for
work at about 9:00, and started home at roughly 10:40. (Mr. Borden's activite
were obtained by questioning various workers, associates of his and a neighbour.)
A little before 9:00, Mrs. Borden asked Bridget to clean the windows, and proceeded to straighten up the guest bedroom where Uncle John had slept. At some period of time between 9 and 10 o'clock, Abby was killed. Mr. Borden returned shortly after 10:40, Bridget let him in and he went upstairs to his bedroom, Lizzie began ironing handkerchiefs. Bridget continued washing windows until 10:55, when she retired to her room for a nap.
Lizzie left the house, either going to the barn, the barn loft or the yard for 20 or 30 minutes. At 11:10, she returned to find her father dead. (At least, that's what SHE said.) At 11:15, the police were informed of the murder of Andrew Borden, at 11:30 Dr. Bowen arrived, and at 11:45 Charles Sawyer, the family's lawyer, seven police officers and Medical Examiner William Dolan entered the Borden household. One officer, Officer Mullay, asked
Lizzie if there were any hatchets in the house, and if there were, where are they kept? Bridget escorted the officers to the basement, where 4 hatchets were found -one with dried cow's blood and hair, one with a broken and missing handle, (the break appeared recent) covered in ashes, and two dusty, usused hatchets. One of the officers, Sargeant Harrington, and another officer, questuioned Lizzie what her morning had been like- what she had done, where she had went, etc.
An examination of the barn loft, where Lizzie had said she was that morning, (looking for fishing hooks) was found to be covered with thick dust, lying undisturbed. (Nobody had been up there.) At 3:00, autopsies were performed on the bodies by Dr. Dolan. Lizzie was further questioned by the deputy. She said she had no clue who could have had the motive to kill her parents. At 7:00 that evening, Emma Borden came home and the corpses were awaiting the arrival of the undertaker.
Bridget was put in the care of a neighbour, Emma and Lizzie slept in their private bedrooms and Alice Russell slept in Mr. and Mrs. Borden's room. Uncle John slept in the guest bedroom where Mrs. Borden was killed.
The funerals of Mr. and Mrs. Borden were held. The corpses were not buried as Dr.Wood wished to perform another autopsy, making plaster casts of the skulls, prepping the skulls by decapitating the bodies and skinning them.
caught Lizzie burning a dress on the kitchen stove, and warned her "If
I were you I wouldn't let anybody see me do that, lizzie."
Lizzie claimed the dress was stained with paint. It was this tale which inspired Judge Blaisdell of the Second District Court to charge Lizzie with the murders of Abby and Andrew Borden.
Lizzie was charged
for murdering her father, Andrew Borden. She was taken into custody, and testified
at a secret inquest presided by Judge Blaisdell. Lizzie was officially charged
August 12th, and was kept in custody at Taunton Jail, which
had a special facility for women.
hearing was conducted by Judge Blaisdell, at which Lizzie did not testify, but
Lizzie's story at the secret inquest held a few weeks prior to the hearing was
used as her alibi by her lawyer, Andrew Jennings. The judge decided that her
guilt was very plausible, and
handed her over to the Grand Jury, who would make the final judgement.
November 7th-December 2nd:
The case was presented to the Grand jury during the last week before they would break for the Christmas holidays. the prosecutor, Hosea Knowlton, finished presenting his case and invited the Borden's defence attorney, Mr. Andrew J. Jennings, to present his case. (This was completely unheard of
at those times.) The charges of murder against Lizzie Borden were appearing to likely be dismissed promptly after the trial, but Lizzie didn't get out of the law's firm grasp quite that easily. When Miss Alice Russell was called to the stand and began to speak of the strange encounter she had with Lizzie
as she attempted to burn one of her dresses on the stove convinced the Grand juy that indeed, something quite strange was going on with this Lizzie Borden. The next day she was charged on three counts of murder. (One for killing her stepmother, one for killing her father, and, idiotically enough, one count of killing both her parents.)
The trial was planned for June 5th of the new year, 1893.
All in all, Lizzie
Borden was found not guilty of all three charges by the jury. She proceeded
to live with her sister, Emma Borden, in a thirteen-room victorian house at
306 French Street, in a fashionable neighbourhood in the area of "Fall
River" where they lived a quiet life together. Lizzie named the place "Maplecroft."
Lizzie began to refer
to herself as "Lizbet," likely to escape the ostracism that surrouned her everywhere, even though she had not been found guilty of the charges. In 1904, Lizzie met a young actress by the name of "Nance O'Neil" and the two were inseperable for two years. Emma moved out at around that time, supposedly hurt by her close relationship with the actress.
Emma Borden moved into a house in Newmarket, New Hampshire in 1915, until her tragic death (caused by a fatal fall down the back stairs of her house) on June 10th, 1927, just nine days after Lizzie's death due to a gall bladder surgery gone bad. They were buried together with their father, stepmother, mother and a sister who had died very young, in their family plot.
Was she guilty or not? You decide.
Edgar Allen Poe.
Edgar Allen Poe
is an infamous writer of detective and mystery books, master of the whodunnits.
When Edgar had alledgedley drunk himself quite near to the point of death at
Ryan's Tavern in Baltimore, a polling station, he was rescued by a man named
Joseph Walker, who, unlike the numerous other guests who had come and gone from
the polling station and saloon that night, stopped to check on the seemingly
man in the corner of the building. He asked Edgar was he allright, could he do anything for him, was there anything he needed, was there someone he could notify to help him? Edgar, in his drunken stupor, spewed out names of various people he had acquaintances with, and finally mentioned one individual, Dr. Joseph Snodgrass. he sent him a note at once informing him of this poor man's state, who said he knew him and that he certainly
needed medical attention. He wrote "There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan's Fourth Ward Polls - and who appears in great distress and he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance." the doctor went and had Edgar taken to the (fortunately) nearby Washington College Hospital, where he was tended upon by Dr. Moran. The doctor determined that indeed, his symptoms were the result of alcohol.
Edgar gained and lost consciousness, like being in a coma for short periods of time and waking up delirious every time. On the fourth day of his stay at the hospital, he took a turn for the worst, and as Dr. Moran kneeled down beside the bed to hear his last words and be with him on his dying breath, (his cousin, who had heard of his ill state through gossip, had come to visit him but was turned away, told that Mr. Poe was in no state
to recieve visitors, so he was not there) alledgedly repeated the name "Reynolds" repeatedly in his confused and delirious state. He died early the next moring, on October 7th, 1849. His sudden death was shocking, and many remembered him and his works fondly. Infact, the morning Mr. Poe was declared dead, the "Baltimore Sun"wrote of him, expressing their regrets and how he will be missed by many. He died at the age of forty, after a long life of personal
tradgedy which would have matched the somberness and despair of his many dark-themed books. Everyone excepted the fact that he had died of consuming far too much alcohol than his body could take. However, some began to believe that maybe he had not tempted death on his own...
Edgar Allen Poe
was born in Boston to a pair of nomad actors on January 19th, 1809. He was the
second of three children, and didn't have a very stable early childhood due
to the nomadic lifestyle of his parents. Tragically, his parent split up and
died, just days apart. He was left orphaned before he turned three. He was fortunately
adopted by John and Frances Allen, a barren couple who wanted a child. (Frances
did not bear John any children
becuase her health was very fragile.) His brother lived with his grandparents in Baltimore and his sister adopted by a family in Virginia. He grew up in their loving care, taking on the middle name of "Allen" when he was baptized. Little is known about his home life and especially about his relationship with his adoptive father. The small things he had written about his earlier years with his adoptive parents can be confusing to understand, as some of the things he writes
are contradictory to other things he wrote down. It does appear as though he was close with Mrs. Allen, but that the relationship he had with fis foster-father was not intimate and warm, rather it was stiff and formal. He did not disrespect his father, however, but loved him on common grounds. And as John's financial prosperity grew, well, that couldn't hurt to make him appreciate him, could it?
was jilted when John refused to hepl Edgar pay gambling debts he had acquired
at the University of Virginia where he was studying. He joined the army and
received the postion of "Sergeant-Major". In 1829 he was notified
of the news- his foster mother, Frances, had died, and he would be able to attend
her funeral. He returned to Richmond, Virginia, to pay his last respects. This
was the second time a woman he loved had met with ill fate, leaving him alone.
Mr. Allen remarried the next year, and this wife gave him three sons. His joy did not last long, for in March of 1834, he received news that his foster father was dying. He rushed to his father's bedside immediatley, and John's new wife tried to stop him from entering to see him. John himself told Edgar to be gone, and after his father's passing, he learned that his father had modified his will to exclude any mention of Edgar.
After a long period of grief, rue, sourness and foul moods, he mananged to get a learning experience out of his bad experience. In 1827, he published his first book of poetry, "Tamerlane and Other Poems." He continued to write poems for the next couple of years, before expanding his writing capapbilities to short stories in 1831. His short stories earned him, by far, the most fame and money than poems ever had. He eventuall got promoted to the editor of the magazine he published his work in,
and spent much of his time dedicated to trying to create and publish his own magazine.
In 1836, Poe married his cousin, Virginia Clemms, who was in her early teens. Hia aunt, Maria Clemm, became his mother-in-law. Many may be wondering what a grown man could possibly want with a young teenager, and it is believed that by marrying his cousin, he filled in the void of a missing mother-figure and Virginia may have symbolized the young woman he pictured his mother had been.
In 1840, Edgar's "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque," which did well. In 1842, the body of a young girl pulled out of the Hudson River. He created a story from this. In 1847, his wife died of tuberculosis. Edgar became deeply depressed, this was the third time a woman he had grown to love had left his life forever.
Edgar began to see Elmira Shelton, a rich widow, who helped him publish his books. In the fall of 1849, he was happy again-he was engaged to Elmira, he was sober and Poe left in DSeptember 1849, his work calling him to Philadelphia, where he was to attend a business appointment, and he was also going to pay a visit to Maria Clemm. Edgar didn't show up for his meating in Philadelphia, Maria Clemms and his future wife never saw him again. No one knows what he was doing while he was there, the records only know of when Joseph Walkerhelped him on that fateful day...
Was he murdered? Who knows?
Mary Bell was a malevolant eleven-year-old who killed
other children without guilt or remorse.
The authorities believed she had a partner in crime- Norma Bell. (No relation.) The pair murdered two young boys,
Brian Howe and Martin Brown,
the first Martin brown, a young boy, who was found by a few boys gathering firewood. He was slumped against the wall of a boarded-up house, his back to the window, with blood and saliva dripping down his cheeks.
There were no strangulation marks or other signs of foul play, but a bottle of aspirin was found nearby, and the police suspected he had eaten the contents
and died of poisoning. The cause of death was unknown and left open.
Her second victim was strangled to death outside his house when he was playing.
He had been violated by a pair of broken scissors- puncture marks on his thighs, parts of his hair cut off, and a big "M" slashed on his chest with a razor knife,
which was later believed to be an "N," parhaps for "Norma," which was changed into an "M," possibly for "Mary."
She did not feel rueful of her actions, she felt no guilt, and, apparently didn't care about his death very much. She and her playmate and accomplice, Norma Bell, were prime suspects.
She displayed suspicious behaviour- when notified of his death, she merely laughed. When the authorities eventually caught up with her and Norma, Mary Bell lied
to cover herself in a voluntary statement she made. Some areas of her account were correct, like the murder weapon, the area where Brian's body had been found and other evidence.
However, the police did not totally believe her statement, and found it a vain attempt to blame the murder on Norma. They were formally charged with the murder and were incarcerated.
Mary exhibited strange behaviour. She thought death and murder to be a game, and frequently tried to kill living things by means of strangulation. An example of this is on her eleventh birthday, shortly
after Martin Brown's tragic death. She tried to throttle Norma's smaller sister, but was thankfully caught by the girl's father, who pried Mary off. Mary Bell also attempted the murders of a few girls
near a nursery, choking three girls. She wrapped her hands around the necks of each girl, squeezing hard, but not killing them. Norma said that Mary asked "what happens if you choke someone, do they die?"
It sounds like she was experimenting how to starngle her victims. The police were called and the girls were warned. Ten days later, Martin Brown was killed.
Mary was found guilty of the murders of Martin Brown
and Brian Howe. She was incarcerated at Red Bank Special Unit, an all- boys
facility, from February 1969 to November 1973. She was then transfered to an
all-womens' facility at Styal.
She was then transferred to a less secure facility in 1977, where she escaped with a couple of young men. This brought even more attention to her from the press, which was her worst nightmare. All through her incarceration, her mother,
Betty Bell, used Mary's fame to get profit, selling her story to the press and encouraging Mary to write statements, poems and letters which she could give to the tabloids to keep the fire that was Mary's notoriety burning.
She was transferred to a hostel shortly before her parole in 1980. The strange thing about Mary Bell's case is that instead of continuing her murderous ways, she proceeded to live a normal life after she was officially released at the age of
twenty-three, and even has a daughter. She has not re-offended since.