The True Crime of Clara Phillips
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:
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:
Two weeks later, there is still some question, but Kels’s plot begins to unravel…