The Man With the Twisted Foot: The Murder of Edith May Thompson Woodill

PULP NONFICTION

A reading from the pioneers of True Crime

True crime history is not just about reviving the stories of America’s scandals, scoundrels and scourges, but also about exploring the history of true crime as a genre.

coverApart from the lurid newspaper accounts of crimes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some of the earliest writers of true crime grew out of the pulp magazine tradition. To be sure, many of these stories had a firmer grasp on the lurid details of the case than on the facts, but that’s what makes them fun.

This story revolves around the friendship between a pretty socialite and an erudite, seemingly scholarly man who came to live in her hometown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The residents of Talbot County were shocked beyond belief when a pair of crab trappers pulled the body the newly-married young woman from the Chesapeake Bay and the newcomer disappears.

The following story is adapted from the April, 1930 edition of True Detective Mysteries Magazine, a first-person account from the Sheriff on the case, told twenty years after the fact.

This episode runs a little longer than usual, but I promise you it is worth the time to follow the winding trail of deceit and the exciting manhunt in the shallow Maryland waters.

Musical direction and theme music by Chuck Wiggins.

Clips:

Here’s the map that the sheriff refers to in his narrative:

map

The title spread from the original publication:

left

Photos from the original reporting:

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The Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1909
The_Hutchinson_News_Tue__Jun_29__1909_ (1)
The Hutchison (Kansas) News, June 29, 1909
The_Hutchinson_News_Tue__Jun_29__1909_
The Hutchison (Kansas) News, June 29, 1909
The_Pittsburgh_Press_Sun__Jun_27__1909_ (1)
The Pittsburgh Press, June 27, 1909
The_Pittsburgh_Press_Sun__Jun_27__1909_
The Pittsburgh Press, June 27, 1909
The_Washington_Post_Sat__Jun_26__1909_
The Washington Post, June 26, 1909