Anarchist Kills Them All: A Family Massacre


A reading from America’s historic newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism.

Today I bring you the sad tale of a family massacre.

This will be the first time I’ve reported on a murder/suicide, because you rarely get to hear about the drama that led up to the tragedy, because there’s no one left to tell the story. There are still a lot of unanswered–and over-answered–questions in this one, but I like how the reporter included the details of the family history and their daily lives into the narrative, although I do think they’ve put too much emphasis on the role of the man’s politics in his decision to commit this horrible act.

The descriptions of the photographs and posters on the wall refer to Chicago’s Haymarket Riot of May 1886, a protest by radical labor organizers that went wild. Seven police and one civilian were killed by a bomb thrown that day, and seven men were given death sentences as a result, with four eventually hanged. That’s a good story in itself, and I’m adding it to the list of future episodes.

Music by Chuck Wiggins


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Hanged Three Times and Lived: Luke Brannon Thwarts a Lynching


A reading from historical newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism.

Luke Brannon Thwarts a Lynching

The Classic Village of Oxford, Ohio, got so riled up over a shooting in a local saloon, that they bust open the jails and drag the culprits to the local hanging tree. The tree had been  used once before, and if you go to my archives, you can hear about that tale in the episode two, “An Outrageous Murder in Oxford,” in which the town got so outraged over the apparent murder of one of the town matrons that they hung a dead man. A decade later, another Oxford mob attempts another lynching, but it doesn’t really go any better for them, not when brave Deputy Luke Brannon swoops in just in the nick of time.

Music by Chuck Wiggins


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The Bloody Benders


Original newspaper accounts of America’s most prolific murderers.

This episode, we’re looking at the legend of a Kansas family that killed at least 11 visitors to their roadhouse in the early 1870s. They aroused suspicion by choosing as a victim a well-known physician, whose family soon pulled out all stops in a search until they uncovered his body, along with 10 missing travelers, on the Bender property. The Bender Family was nowhere to be found, and never were. Sightings and even arrests were regular for many years, even into the next century, but the second act of this episode purports to tell the true story of what happened to the mass murdering hostelers.

Music by Chuck Wiggins.

The Murderpedia entery on the Bloody Benders has photos of the scene and drawings from newspapers.


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Quadruple Electrocution: Four Murders, Four Executions


A special edition of Yesterday’s News exploring the American criminal justice system at its most extreme, inflicting the death penalty.

Although this episode stands alone, it is something of a follow-up to “The Shocking Death of William Kemmler,” which I published about two months ago. If you remember, that execution went so badly that many thought it was a failed experiment. Indeed, it took the state of New York nearly a year to perform a second electric chair execution, but it did so with a bang, putting four men to death on the same day, July 7, 1891.

Will it work out any better this time? Listen and find out…

Music by Chuck Wiggins


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The Ten-Spot Murder Plot


A Reading of Historic Newspapers in the Golden Age of Yellow Journalism

The Fall from Grace and Tragic Murder of the Rev. Gaylord V. Saunders

This episode tells the sordid tale of a Methodist minister suffering from a midlife crisis and in losing his faith falls into the path of sin and degradation. It gets so bad, that his beleaguered wife offers a young man a $10 bill to find someone to kill her husband before he kills her. This was in 1934, so adujsted for inflation, that comes to $177.71 in 2016 dollars.

Music by Chuck Wiggins


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