The Slain Baby

_____An Account of the Scoundrel Edgar Foster

Here’s a sad, strange tale I stumbled upon while researching a Chicago case. The Daily Tribune gave it pretty good play when the story broke, Sunday A1 above the fold, July 30, 1916 …








July 31:

07 July 31

August 1:


Sadly, I haven’t yet found how this case resolved. There was a small notice a few weeks later that Foster had been assigned to a grand jury, but I haven’t found where there was even an indictment issued. The following summer, there was another notice that a court had granted Jennie Foster a divorce.

I will update if I find more.


The Avondale Horror

Belt Magazine: Dispatches from the Rust Belt

The Ohio Medical College had over 300 students in 1884 and a considerable demand for cadavers for its dissecting room. A law passed by the Ohio legislature in 1880 allowed colleges to accept unclaimed bodies of persons dying at public institutions or whose funeral was paid for by the government. The penalty for body snatching was severe, and those who received stolen stiffs were liable for the same charges as someone who accepted stolen goods. Since there were no restrictions on bringing a body to the medical school, the doctors on staff did not dig deeply into the source of cadavers.

The doctors and “resurrectionists” who provided the bodies called them “points”.

The Ohio Medical College charged each student $5 at the beginning of the term for the privilege of dissecting, with one body divided among five students. Paying $15 for a cadaver off the street gave the college a profit of $10 per body, so it was also a source of revenue for the school.

Dr. Jonathan Longfellow Cilley said he did not know the men who brought in the bodies. They always used fake names so he knew them only as “Jack” and “Harrison.”

According to the man he knew as Harrison, Cilley told them, “Get points if you have to hit someone over the head.

Maybe he was kidding around. “Jack” and “Harrison” thought it was a good idea….

Read the True Crime Historian’s full account of  “THE AVONDALE HORROR” in Belt Magazine….

Coming June 1 from History Press

The First Celebrity Serial Killer in Southwest Ohio: Confessions of the Strangler Alfred Knapp

“But I think my wife is dead and
I suppose I shall go to the chair for it.”
– Alfred Knapp while in jail

knapp front cover

knapp back coverJust before Christmas of 1902 Alfred Knapp strangled his wife in her sleep. He put her body in a box and sent the box floating down the Great Miami River, telling everyone that Hannah had left him. When the truth came out, Knapp confessed to four other murders. Newspapers across the Midwest sent reporters to interview the handsome strangler. Despite spending most of his adulthood in prison, he had a charming, boyish manner that made him an instant celebrity serial killer. True Crime Historian Richard O Jones examines the strangler’s alleged crimes, the family drama of covering up Knapp’s atrocities, and how a brain-damaged drifter became a media darling.



When Alfred Knapp signed a confession to the murder of five women and girls, Hamilton officials found themselves in the center of a media storm. They did not seem too sure how to handle it. Here Chief of Police Gus Kuemmerling and Mayor Charles Bosch posing for a photo with their hands on the strangler’s shoulder. Bosch lived next door to the strangler when his wife went missing, and was the only one able to get Knapp to confess. The guy reading over his shoulder is Director of Police Charles Mason. Behind the mayor is Sheriff Peter Bisdorf, and in the back row Deputy Luke Brannon and Detective Thomas Lenehan, the man who arrested Knapp in Indianapolis in the middle of the night. Seems like the only person missing was Warren Gard, the boy prosecutor (he was 29 at the time).



The story of the Hamilton Strangler also features a soap opera of family drama, pitting two sisters against each other. Sadie Wenzel (above, although she looks about 15 in that picture, was in her mid-30s in 1903) stuck by her bother’s side and got into a public squabble with sister Mamie and her husband Edward King, who had told Hamilton police that Alfred had probably murdered his wife.