The Man With the Twisted Foot: The Murder of Edith May Thompson Woodill

PULP NONFICTION

A reading from the pioneers of True Crime

True crime history is not just about reviving the stories of America’s scandals, scoundrels and scourges, but also about exploring the history of true crime as a genre.

coverApart from the lurid newspaper accounts of crimes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some of the earliest writers of true crime grew out of the pulp magazine tradition. To be sure, many of these stories had a firmer grasp on the lurid details of the case than on the facts, but that’s what makes them fun.

This story revolves around the friendship between a pretty socialite and an erudite, seemingly scholarly man who came to live in her hometown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The residents of Talbot County were shocked beyond belief when a pair of crab trappers pulled the body the newly-married young woman from the Chesapeake Bay and the newcomer disappears.

The following story is adapted from the April, 1930 edition of True Detective Mysteries Magazine, a first-person account from the Sheriff on the case, told twenty years after the fact.

This episode runs a little longer than usual, but I promise you it is worth the time to follow the winding trail of deceit and the exciting manhunt in the shallow Maryland waters.

Musical direction and theme music by Chuck Wiggins.

Here’s the map that the sheriff refers to in his narrative:

map

The title spread from the original publication:

left

Photos from the original reporting:

Los_Angeles_Herald_Sat__Jun_26__1909_
The Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1909
The_Hutchinson_News_Tue__Jun_29__1909_ (1)
The Hutchison (Kansas) News, June 29, 1909
The_Hutchinson_News_Tue__Jun_29__1909_
The Hutchison (Kansas) News, June 29, 1909
The_Pittsburgh_Press_Sun__Jun_27__1909_ (1)
The Pittsburgh Press, June 27, 1909
The_Pittsburgh_Press_Sun__Jun_27__1909_
The Pittsburgh Press, June 27, 1909
The_Washington_Post_Sat__Jun_26__1909_
The Washington Post, June 26, 1909

Their Secret Died in the Chair

TRUE CRIME STORY TIME

A Short Story by Richard O Jones

In the spring of 1918, Three men burst into a business meeting and steals a pocketful of cash, leaving three men, including one of their own, dead in a fusillade of bullets.

Here’s an exciting story that has many of the elements of classic noir: A deadly robbery, an exhaustive manhunt, a daring escape from the county jail and a tense showdown ending with a clever police ploy.

Music by Chuck Wiggins

Photos and Headlines

Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 28, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 28, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 21, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 21, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 7, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 7, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 7, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 7, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 22, 1919
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 22, 1919
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 27, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 27, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 27, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 27, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 20, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 20, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 1918
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 1918

Sources

The Cincinnati Enquirer: Bandits Fatally Shoot Two, March 6, 1918; Last of Bandit Trio Identified by Chauffeur, March 7, 1918; Justice Looms Before Bandits, March 8, 1918; Lynching Is Feared By Prisoner, March 9, 1918; Transfer of Lawler to Be Sought, March 10, 1918; Formal Exoneration, March 12, 1918; Trail of $1,108 Bandit Loot, March 14, 1918; Courtroom Thronged, March 20, 1918; Kearney Trial Set, March 22, 1918; Kluemper Identifies Kearny, April 13, 1918; Jury views premises, April 14, 1918; Fight to Halt Death Penalty, April 15, 1918; Relate Incidents of Raid, April 25, 1918; Fails to Return Verdict, April 26, 1918; Death is Penalty in Verdict, April 27, 1918; Singing of Prisoners in Jail, May 20, 1918; Conspirator Passed Saws to the Bandits, May 21, 1918; Governor Offers Reward, May 24, 1918; Circular Describes Lawler, May 26, 1918; Gassed! Lawler Gives Up, May 27, 1918; Bandits are Removed to Prison, May 28, 1918; Verner Corbin Freed, December 25, 1918; Calmness is displayed by bandits, February 20, 1919; Bandits Are To Die “Game”, February 21, 1919; Silence Maintained by Bandits, February 22, 1919.