Author Archives: Sethyd


I thought it was cool that Jack Webb inspired James Ellroy to write The Black Dahlia. I feel really bad for Elizabeth Short, the victim in Webb’s story. She was so young when she was murdered, only 22 and had her whole life in front of her. She was a drifter who made some really poor decisions, and in the end it took her life. It was interesting how they were able to identify the body because there were no finger prints available, but the FBI was able to ID the body because she was picked up a while before for underaged drinking. The way Short was killed was horrific. Cut into two and her breast cut and bruises all over her body. Her torture lasted 2-3 days before she could take no more. The worse part is, the case remains unsolved. What a tough life James Ellroy had growing up. His mom was a drunken whore who he saw with strange men in bed with her all the time. His parents got divorced while he was at a young age and his mom was killed a little while after. When the police told him his mother was murdered, he didnt shed a tear and he was only about 10 years old. I kind of wonder how it would feel to go back and look at the evidence of someone who was murdered that I loved 36 years later when the crime is still unsolved and look at the files and pictures. Its got to be rough. I also wonder if this case will ever be solved sometime in the future.

What is True Crime?

I think the meaning of true crime is a difficult question to answer. But looking the definition up, it is interesting that they acknowledge that it is a mixture between facts and fiction and that is exactly how based on the readings we describe it in class.

Crime and Punishment

While reading i learned two new vocabulary words: sordid and penology. Sordid meaning morally ignoble and penology being the study of the punishment of the crime. I personally agree with Mencken 100 percent. I believe he made some extremely great point that I agree with. For instance, when he talked about Baby Face Nelson, he brought up that he was a criminal since he was a kid but society believed he was a good boy and could be rehabilitated and so he was paroled multiple times. Mencken also makes the point that society is at fault for a lot of criminals because we dont lay down the books. Instead we, as a whole, believe that rehabilitation works, when the convicted should be sentenced to death. Mencken also alludes to the point that there are so many ways for a criminal to play the system to his/her favor. I do believe we have the best criminal justice system because i feel it is a great thing that the accused has the right to representation and to be judged by his peers instead of a government official. But the criminal can play the system. He can get a sympathetic judge or the lawyer can really know what he is doing and the crook walks. Also there are problems with having visitors in jail because they can sneak weapons in which will be used against the guards and for the escape. I really liked how Mencken wrote from Baltimore because today we have a huge problem with inmates running the jail and the corruption and scandals are absolutely horrific. In the “Execution,” I thought it was really cool to get such a detailed account of the process of going to the hot seat. I do not agree with Mitchells point in that the execution is just as worthless as the murder because there needs to be accountability and what are you supposed to do with killers? I think you drop them to their knees and put two bullets in the back of their head and that will save the taxpayers a hell of a lot of money.

The Torso Killer

Reading graphic novel about a crime was an extremely fun and interesting way to do it. I really liked the illustrations because it was entertaining and also supplemented the text. That being said, I also didnt like reading a graphic novel. I felt sea sick while reading and felt like I was going to vomit! It was a very interesting story about crime in the prohibition era which I find fascinating but i dont know enough of. I thought it was a kicker at the end when the police brought the senators nephew in originally but he walked because there was not enough evidence to hold him. But finally, when the suspect knew things werent looking to good for him, he admitted himself into an insane asylum and could not be touched by the law.

Murders by the Poems

I think reading about these murders in a poem was a very different but fun way to read about them. They were extremely catchy and I thought the rhyme schemes were amazing. I find it interesting that all of the murders except Bonnie and Clyde and Stackalee were one sex killing another sex. For instance, in “Poor Naomi,” the husband drowns his wife and infant child. In that poem I also liked how in the beginning the husband and wife switches off as speakers. In “Stackalee,” Stackalee kills a guy named Billy Lyons, who had a knife and was going to get into a fight with him, but Stackalee gets him first and puts two bullets in his chest and was convicted and sentenced to death. Lyons tried to stop Stackalee by telling him that he had a wife to two kids but it didnt work. Poetically, I liked that the last line of every stanza was “That bad, that bad man Stackalee.” Then the final line, in the final stanza was “Like they did that bad man Stackalee.” In “The Murder of Grace Brown,” a man by the name of Chester Gillette, killed his girlfriend, Grace Brown on vacation. Grace wanted to marry Chester but he wasnt really on the same page so ended up killing her. I do like the stanza in the beginning of the poem where it talks about two mothers weeping and praying. Where one want justice to be done and the other praying for mercy upon her son. I think that perspective of how a murder destroys two families is interesting. I absolutely loved Belle Gunnes. I loved how the poem came out and said she was a 300lb lady, who was stronger than any man and could butcher a hog easily alone. But then it turns around and says how that was just a side show and she loved to kill men. Some say the death toll is 42 others argue for 10. Next, “The Murder At Fall River” is an interesting mystery. Andrew Borden, was a wealthy man, was butchered in his house one night by a hatchet to the head. The only suspect who was charged was his youngest daughter, but there was not enough evidence to convict her, so she walked. We have no clue who the murderer is and that is a little creepy. Finally, in “Trail’s End” the people it followed was Bonnie and Clyde, who were bandits in the 1930s. I didnt see how this poem really fit the others at all because there really had nothing to do with family like the rest. Which I found a little strange.

A Love Tradgedy

Initially while reading this story I was getting worried that there was no crime in it, and it was a mistake that we were supposed to read it. It seemed like the perfect love story. There were two girls, Fred and Allice, who met at school and started to develop a close relationship and fell in love. It was obviously very odd for two girls to love each other back in 1890 and in Tennessee, but something I find very interesting is that their families would have rather allow the girls get close as they did with each other then start to see boys and have their life ruined by them. Allice and Fred loved one another so much, they were going to run off and get married, and since Allice was the tomboy, she was going to be the one who dressed up as a man and and go out and get a job. But those plans changed when Fred’s older sister saw what was going on and uncovered the plan to the parents. To make matters worse, Fred’s family moved out of Memphis to Golddust and she started to lose contact with her lover. Allice really started to lose it and she became very depressed where she wouldnt come out of her room or eat. But one day she saw Fred in a carriage driving by with her sister and a friend, Allice got very upset when Fred didnt stop by to see her but thinks she gave her a wink. So she jumped out of the car and with a razor, slit Fred’s throat, and left the blood all over her face because it belonged to her lover. She was arrested very soon after and pleaded guilty and told the story of what had happened with no emotion. But the trial got so much attention from around the country, the judge had to have the room expanded so all the press could get in. Allice was found legally insane and sent to the Tennessee State Insane Asylum and I found it very interesting that on the ride over, she asked to stop at the cemetery to visit Fred. I find this so sad because the two girl loved one another more than anything but one just really lost her mind and killed her favorite person in the world.

Reading the newspaper article, in The Pickens Sentinal, I was kind of disappointed because I was hoping there would be more opinion, instead of news that said the same thing that the article we read said, except maybe in a little more detail. I did find it interesting that the paper said this crime was the most shocking crime in Memphis history. Also they interviewed both family parties which was cool to read. But besides the extra details, it was almost verbatim to the story.


Tonight my group and i got together and even though we were very slow and not focused on writing an award winning script at the start, we definitely could win the award for comedy. The script is done and it is really funny. I have a pretty good feeling that it can turn into a five star movie if we wanted it to!

Not a Very Good Way to Die

While reading “The Murder of a Daughter,” I couldn’t help but think about how bad those parents were and how lucky they got. The story kind of reminded me of Cinderella because of the step child was not cared for very much and it is her father who married a real witch. The girl was only fourteen years old and she died from being basically thrown outside have to deal with the hardships of the weather where she got sick and was neglected by her parents where she ultimately died. I think it is pathetic how a physician, with all of the evidence against the parents, was able to come in to the court and persuade the jury that the little girl was probably going to die around the same time that she did, due to the laborious conditions, and that the neglect that her parents inflicted upon her was basically a catalyst that sped up when she was going to die. My stomach turned when the verdict came back and the parents were only charged with manslaughter and the punishment was burning of the hand. I think that is ridiculous because they killed an innocent girl but those who steal an apple get sent to the gallows.  I just didnt understand that. My question is, is this girl at least half black? Because of the way she was treated and how the doctor said she was going to die because of laborious conditions and the fact that the parents got off extremely easily, i kind of think she was black.

I think the whole lay out of “The Confessions of Nat Turner” was very interesting. Especially the way it started out with the line in the beginning where it lets us know about the whites who were killed and the information of the slaves and their sentences. Nat Turner ran a huge revolt of slaves against whites and it frightened everyone who lived in a area with slaves across the country. Turner was a very smart slave whose parents taught him how to read and write and who was credited for being a great philosopher even by whites at a very young age. He believed that he was a prophet who had a very dark mind and was put on this world to do something. All he could think about was murdering whites off all ages, it didnt matter if you were a fifty year old salve owner or a new born infant, he was very true to his word. I find it interesting that unlike the other black criminal that we have read about, Turner was and has never been into stealing which is kind of strange for a killer like himself. He and his crew which at times reached 60 members strong, were absolutely brutal. They would go into houses at night when the family was sleeping and cut off their heads with an axe. It didnt matter how old you were, he even went back to kill a baby in its crib that he missed.

Turner believed that he had absolutely nothing to lose besides his freedom which he really didnt even have so he didnt care how brutal he was. In fact, Turner enjoyed seeing dead victims and that fueled him to go find more which is absolutely disgusting. Eventually a dog that slaves used for hunting found him and instantly had people chasing him where he was eventually caught and surrendered. I really liked the ending how the judge ends with “and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.” And it went right to the lists of the victims, it just kind of came to an abrupt end. Reading all these murders became very exhausting and in the end there were 55 victims! Finally, I think it was cool in the beginning how the author told us that he spoke with the felon and these are his words as closely as possible. So now we kind of have an idea where this narrative is coming from unlike others in the past we have read.

Early American Crime

While reading these narratives, I was and am struggling to try to make a connection between all five of these different stories. They were all really terrible people, but yet there crimes were so different in what they did or how they did them. An interesting characteristic that I believe I found is between Richard Barrick and John Sullivan is that they both complained about not being very well educated and how that may have helped lead to a life of crime as well as they both wanted more time than most before they were executed.

Richard Barrick was a great thief. He was capable of getting pretty much everything he wanted to steal and I guess he had a lot of practice considering he started at age ten. But he also really knew how to read people when they are lying and was able to really pinch everything someone had out of them. I think it is funny as we saw last week with making people swear on the bible to not tell the authorities they have been robbed is evident this week as well. You just have to stop and wonder if I get the cops on these people what are they really going to do to me? Eventually the life of crime caught up with Barrick and he was caught by a British colonel and put out on display where his victims were able to identify him and that became the end of Richy!

John Sullivan was a coward! He deserted everything he could. Whether it be the British Army to someone who he owed servitude to. To survive he started robbing people as well and he went so low to rob a young boy while he is sleeping. I mean give me a break! I understand to be a criminal you don’t really have any self respect but is it none where you are going to steal from a little kid sleeping? Eventually he got in a fight with one of his victims and hit him with some heavy blows and killed him. He was to be executed for it and had remorse for his actions.

The pirate, Alexander White was relatively respectable for his actions. He always try to better himself and learn more. He was trying to get married and was having a  baby and money was very tight. Feeling very anxious, he took an axe to his captain’s head and threw him overboard. He surrendered himself to the crew and admitted to everything waiving his right to basically keep his mouth shut because he obviously felt horrific about what he did and couldn’t live with himself. I thought that was extremely respectable and he even picked death over life in prison.

Jesse Strang grew up in a poor family and was doing hard labour his entire life. He and his wife split up and he was looking for a better way to make a living and he found the life of crime. He met Mrs Whipple and together they tried to get rich and get rid of her older husband and kind of acting like the two of them were married. Something that I found interesting is that they tried to poison Mr. Whipple by putting arsenic in his drink which made him sick. Then for a cover up, Strang was going to pay a female slave 500 bucks to poison his drink. She responded with something like I would never sell my soul for anything on this world. Strang ended up shooting the husband and was caught and sentenced to death where he and Mrs. Whipple ended up not getting along to well.

If you ask me, the story of George Swearingen is a tragedy. This was someone who had everything growing up and had a rich family who sent him to school for 12 years and he developed a great work ethic and could do a lot of professional stuff. Most of the other stories are nobodies, so it is very shocking to see someone of his stature go down the road in which he did. He married a very young girl and was nice to her but was never very loving. He started to fall in love with a prostitute and destroyed the marriage. Swearingen then staged a horse accident to kill his wife and him running around with a prostitute didn’t help his court case. George was familiar with the law and really believed that there was no way he could be convicted, there was no case he thought. But he thought wrong because he was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. When the time came to step up to the gallows he obviously didn’t want to die but was at peace. I think this is a tragedy of someone who had it all, who got caught up in stupid stuff and lost his life because of it.