The Lodi Haystack Murder

The True Crime of Alexander Kels

I started following this case because it bears a remarkable resemblance to the crazy case of Dr. Richard Brumfield, the subject of A Two-Dollar Terror #7, Man Beheaded; Dentist Sought.

Brumfield and Kels were both highly-regarded men in their respective towns. Both killed an innocent man as a body double in an attempt to fake his own death. Both employed the burning car motif. Both got caught, and both were hanged, albeit Brumfield escaped the official hangman by doing the job himself.

The similarities did not go unnoticed by the nation’s press:

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Herald, October 18, 1924
New Castle (Pennsylvania) Herald, October 18, 1924

Brumfield’s caper happened a year before, you have to wonder if Kels had studied the case and thought he could do it one better. Everyone saw through Brumfield’s thin ruse right away, Kels fooled them for a few days, but he overlooked one thing: He should’ve had his mark eat the other can of sardines….

From the pages of the Oakland (California) Tribune:

Oakland Tribune, September 13, 1923
Oakland Tribune, September 13, 1923

Two weeks later, there is still some question, but Kels’s plot begins to unravel…

Oakland Tribune, September 30
Oakland Tribune, September 30

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1923 1002 Oakland_Tribune_pix02
Oakland Tribune, October 2, 1923

1923 1002 Oakland_Tribune_pix01

1923 1003 Oakland_Tribune_a 1923 1003 Oakland_Tribune_b 1923 1003 Oakland_Tribune_c01 1923 1003 Oakland_Tribune_c02 1923 1003 Oakland_Tribune_pix01

Oakland Tribune, October 3, 1923
Oakland Tribune, October 3, 1923
Oakland Tribune, October 4, 1923
Oakland Tribune, October 4, 1923
New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, October 4, 1923
New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, October 4, 1923
Oakland Tribune, December 13, 1923
Oakland Tribune, December 13, 1923

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Oakland Tribune, January 4, 1924
Oakland Tribune, January 4, 1924

 

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