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.

Sources and Clips:

The_Evening_Independent_Thu__Apr_19__1934_ (1)






The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Mon__Feb_26__1934_ (1)





Fitchburg_Sentinel_Mon__Jun_25__1934_ Fitchburg_Sentinel_Tue__Jun_26__1934_

The_North_Adams_Transcript_Thu__Jun_28__1934_ The_Racine_Journal_Times_Wed__Aug_21__1935_ The_Palm_Beach_Post_Wed__Jun_27__1934_

The_Evening_Times_Tue__Mar_6__1934_ The_Evening_Times_Tue__Mar_6__1934_ (1) The_Evening_Times_Sat__Mar_3__1934_ The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Mon__Feb_26__1934_ The_Daily_Capital_News_Tue__May_1__1934_ The_Daily_Mail_Tue__Aug_18__1936_ St__Louis_Post_Dispatch_Sat__Mar_3__1934_ Pottstown_Mercury_Wed__Feb_28__1934_ Pottstown_Mercury_Sat__Mar_3__1934_ New_Castle_News_Tue__May_1__1934_ (1) New_Castle_News_Tue__May_1__1934_ Corsicana_Semi_Weekly_Light_Fri__Feb_16__1934_


The Chemical Christmas Murder


A Reading from America’s Historic Newspapers

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, Christmas Day, 1937
The press said that Charles Mobley had been drinking some whiskey during the day and he went berserk after drinking two glasses of beer. Mobley didn’t seem drunk to the patrons of Doc’s Place when he stopped in for a Christmas day nightcap, and he only had the two glasses of beer before he started shooting up the place. Was he drunker than he seemed? Or was he under the influence of something else?

Music by Jason Shaw at

1937 victim
The victim: Leonard “Doc” Frownfelter

1937 model

2937 exterior

2015 pete's
The building today, via Google maps

1937 bandage

1938 family 1938 trial 1941 sarah