Preacher’s Baby Girl / Gangster’s Wife


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

The Trial and Travails of Norma Brighton Millen

On Sunday, I will be presenting the final chapter of the Dillinger saga, which I recorded from the main stage of the Biograph Theater, where the scoundrel John Dillinger watched his last gangster picture.

Today’s episode takes place around the same time that the Dillinger story began reaching its climax in the first half of 1934.

It’s the story of a young girl, the daughter of a prominent minister and graduate of a fine finishing school, who fell into the wrong crowd and married a man who would be executed for the crime of the gang he was trying to build.

The papers never said, but I can’t help but think the Millen-Faber Gang fancied themselves to be the Dillingers of the East Coast.

The story grabbed my attention because of the way Norma Brighton Millen presented herself after her capture.

Is she the innocent dupe as she proclaimed? Or was she using her pretty face and sophisticated air to disguise her inner bad girl and get off easy? I’d like to hear your thoughts, so leave me some comments on my Facebook page after you listen.


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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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