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True Crime History

Send proposals via mail or e-mail to:
Will Underwood
The Kent State University Press
1118 Library
Kent, OH 44242-0001 USA
wunderwo@kent.edu
The True Crime History Series, aimed at both a general readership and a scholarly audience, features effectively written, well-documented studies of notable criminal cases from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, primarily American. Books in the series will often focus on once-sensational crimes that, at the time of their occurrence, captivated the public and will explore the social and cultural factors that help explain their significance. The series also includes studies of real-life crimes that served as the inspiration for important works of American fiction.

The Potato Masher Murder

| Filed under: Forthcoming, True Crime, True Crime History
The Potato Masher Murder by Gary Sosniecki. Kent State University Press.

Albin Ludwig was furious. He had caught his wife, Cecilia, with other men before; now, after secretly following Cecilia one evening in 1906, Albin was overcome with suspicion. Albin and Cecilia quarreled that night and again the next day. Prosecutors later claimed that the final quarrel ended when Albin knocked Cecilia unconscious with a wooden potato masher, doused her with a flammable liquid, lit her on fire, and left her to burn to death.

 


The Beauty Defense

| Filed under: Forthcoming, True Crime, True Crime History
The Beauty Defense by Laura James. Kent State University Press

Justice is blind, they say, but perhaps not to beauty. In supposedly dispassionate courts of law, attractive women have long avoided punish­ment, based largely on their looks, for cold-blooded crimes. The Beauty Defense: Femmes Fatales on Trial gathers the true stories of some of the most infamous femmes fatales in criminal history, collected by attorney and true crime historian Laura James. With cases from 1850 to 1997, these 32 examples span more than a century and cross cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. But all were so beautiful, as James demonstrates, that they got away with murder.

 


Bigamy and Bloodshed

| Filed under: Recent Releases, True Crime, True Crime History
Bigamy and Bloodshed by Larry E. Wood. Kent State University Press.

In the summer of 1885, ex-convict George Graham bigamously married Cora Lee, foster daughter of nationally known temperance revivalist Emma Molloy, and the three took up residence together on the Molloy farm near Springfield, Missouri. When the body of Graham’s first wife, Sarah, was found at the bottom of an abandoned well on the farm early the next year, Graham was charged with murder, and Cora and Emma were implicated as accessories. As Larry E. Wood notes, this sensational story made headlines across the country and threatened Mrs. Molloy’s career as a prominent evangelist and temperance revivalist.

 


A Woman Condemned

| Filed under: Recent Releases, True Crime, True Crime History
A Woman Condemned by James M. Greiner. Kent State University Press

At first glance, the 1932 Easter morning murder of Salvatore “Sam” Antonio had all the trademarks of a gang-related murder. Shot five times, stabbed a dozen more, Antonio was left for dead. His body was rolled into a culvert south of Albany, New York. It was only by chance that the mortally wounded Antonio was discovered and brought to the hospital. He died in the emergency room without ever naming his assailant.

 


Six Capsules

| Filed under: Recent Releases, True Crime, True Crime History
Six Capsules by George R. Dekle Sr. Kent State University Press

As Ted Bundy was to the 20th century, so Carlyle Harris was to the 19th. Harris was a charismatic, handsome young medical student with an insatiable appetite for sex. His trail of debauched women ended with Helen Potts, a beautiful young woman of wealth and privilege who was determined to keep herself pure for marriage. Unable to conquer her by other means, Harris talked her into a secret marriage under assumed names, and when threatened with exposure, he poisoned her.

 


The Belle of Bedford Avenue

| Filed under: Recent Releases, True Crime, True Crime History
The Bell of Bedford Avenue by Virginia A. McConnell. Kent State University Press

At the turn of the 20th century, many affluent Brooklyn teens and young adults were bucking the constraints of their immigrant parents and behaving badly: drinking, having sex, staying out all night, stealing, scamming local businesses—and even more serious activities. The culmination for twenty-year-old Walter Brooks was being murdered in a seedy Manhattan hotel in 1902.

 


The Insanity Defense and the Mad Murderess of Shaker Heights

| Filed under: Award Winners, History, Recent Releases, Regional Interest, True Crime, True Crime History
The Insanity Defense and the Mad Murderess of Shaker Heights by William L. Tabac. Kent State University Press

They have no witnesses. They have no case. With this blunt observation, Mariann Colby—an attractive, church-going Shaker Heights, Ohio, mother and housewife—bet a defense psychiatrist that she would not be convicted of murder. A lack of witnesses was not the only problem that would confront the State of Ohio in 1966, which would seek to prosecute her for shooting to death Cremer Young Jr., her son’s nine-year-old playmate: Colby had deftly cleaned up after herself by hiding the child’s body miles from her home and concealing the weapon.

 


Death of an Assassin

| Filed under: Award Winners, Books, Military History, True Crime, True Crime History
Ackerman cover

From the depths of German and American archives comes a story one soldier never wanted told. The first volunteer killed defending Robert E. Lee’s position in battle was really a German assassin. After fleeing to the United States to escape prosecution for murder, the assassin enlisted in a German company of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Mexican-American War and died defending Lee’s battery at the Siege of Veracruz in 1847. Lee wrote a letter home, praising this unnamed fallen volunteer defender. Military records identify him, but none of the Americans knew about his past life of crime.

 


The Killing of Julia Wallace

| Filed under: Books, True Crime, True Crime History
Goodman Cover

The brutal murder of Julia Wallace in 1931 became one of Britain’s great unsolved murders. People began arguing about the case almost immediately and continue to do so to this day. Julia was the middle-aged wife of a mildmannered Liverpool insurance agent, William Herbert Wallace. By all accounts they were a quiet, unassuming, devoted couple. In January 1931 William Wallace received a telephone message to come to an address in Liverpool the following evening to discuss an insurance policy. Unable to find the house after searching for hours, Wallace determined there was no such address and returned home. There he found Julia bludgeoned to death on the parlor floor. In addition to the terrible shock and his unbearable loss, Wallace was accused of the crime and ultimately convicted.

 


The Lincoln Assassination Riddle

and | Filed under: American History, History, True Crime, True Crime History
Williams cover

Most Americans are aware that their sixteenth president was mortally wounded by a man named Booth at a Washington theater in April 1865. These are facts that nobody can dispute. However, a closer look at this history-changing catastrophe raises questions that have still not been fully answered. The passing of the 150th anniversary of the United States’ first presidential assassination is an ideal time for students and scholars to consider these questions.