The Naked City Jul 25 2016
That centerfielder can really run! Look at her go! It’s almost like she hasn’t noticed the game is over.

Robert Baker and Trudy Jo Baker had just been married, aged twenty-six and seventeen, and were driving across the U.S.'s rolling midwestern states. They were embarked on their honeymoon, but when they saw a soldier named Larry Kirk hitchhiking outside St. Louis, trying to get home for Christmas, they gave him a ride. They later shot him in the back while he was sleeping in the car, robbed him of $12 and his watch, then dumped his body in a weed-choked field near Xenia, Illinois. When the couple was finally caught and tried, Robert Baker was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and Trudy Jo got 30 years at the Illinois Reformatory for Women.

That’s the backstory. This cover of Inside Detective published this month in 1957 uses a model to reenact Trudy Jo’s subsequent escape from prison. As center fielder of the prison softball team, she quickly realized the seven-foot outfield fence would be easy to scale. She soon did exactly that, made her way to Chicago, but realized she had no way to survive except through prostitution. Though new to the practice, she took to it like a duck to water and procured customers, mostly men in town for conventions, via the aid of local cab drivers, as well as what would grow into a collection of seven bellhops at a few of the city’s best hotels.

Living this way, she managed to evade capture for four months, and earned $6,000—more than $50,000 in today's money—all but $60 of which she spent on caviar, wine, expensive shoes, and a mink stole. She was finally recognized by a beat cop and captured, and the cabbies and bellhops that helped her were later charged with various crimes thanks to Trudy Jo turning state’s evidence against them. Thus the wheels of justice turn.

When asked how her time on the lam went, Trudy Jo, who you see at right during one of her many court appearances, replied, “I like wine and caviar and horses. In fact, I like anything that’s a gamble. I’ve been in all the best hotels and in the finest nightclubs. I've had the time of my life.” Her one regret? The prison permanently revoked her softball privileges.


The Naked City | Vintage Pulp Feb 16 2012
Albert Nussbaum was good at almost everything—but what he really enjoyed was crime.

Above is an Inside Detective published February 1963, containing a feature on Albert Nussbaum and Bobby Wilcoxson, a pair of armed robbers who were among the most sought after fugitives of their time. Nussbaum was the brains of the operation, and was adept at chess and photography, and was a locksmith, gunsmith, pilot, airplane mechanic, welder, and draftsman. With his spatial and mechanical aptitude, many careers would have been available to him, but he chose instead to become a bank robber. Predictably, he was good at that too.  

Nussbaum and Wilcoxson knocked over eight banks between 1960 and 1962, taking in more than $250,000, which back then was the equivalent of more than two million. During a December 1961 Brooklyn robbery, Wilcoxson got an itchy trigger finger and machine-gunned a bank guard. The killing landed him on the FBI’s most wanted list. But even after the Feds distributed more than a million wanted posters and involved upwards of 600 agents in the case, they could locate neither him nor the elusive Nussbaum. The pair were just too smart.

But brains are not the same as intuition. Nussbaum was clever enough to arrange a meeting with his estranged wife right under the authorities’ noses, but apparently had no clue his mother-in-law was capable of dropping a dime on him. What followed was a 100 mph chase through the streets of Buffalo that ended only after a civilian rammed Nussbaum’s car.Wilcoxson was arrested soon afterward in Maryland, and both robbers were convicted of murder. But where Wilcoxson got the chair (a sentence which was commuted to life upon appeal), Nussbaum got forty years, which made him eligible for parole.

Before being arrested Nussbaum had begun corresponding with mystery author Dan Marlowe, who encouraged him to put his experiences into fiction. He suddenly had plenty of time on his hands, so he wrote some short stories, and of course, he had an aptitude for that, too. With Marlowe’s help, he scored a gig writing film reviews for the Montreal magazine Take One, and after being paroled years later, wrote fiction that appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchock’s Mystery Magazine, and other places. He and Marlowe eventually lived together, with Nussbaum acting as a sort of caretaker for his mentor, who was in failing health and suffering from amnesia. Marlowe died in 1987 and Nussbaum continued to write, as well as host workshops, and get himself elected president of the Southern California chapter of the Mystery Writer’s Association.

Truly, Albert Nussbaum’s story is one of the most interesting you’ll ever run across, and there’s much more to it than we covered here. Perhaps a suitable summation would be to say that before there was such a term as “street cred” Nussbaum had it in spades. His crimes resulted in a man’s death, and his later fame traded on the very experiences that led to that tragic event—unforgivable, on some level. But still, he proved that, given a second chance, some people are capable of making the most of it. Albert Nussbaum died in 1996, aged 62.


Vintage Pulp Dec 26 2010
Unleashing the beast within.

Above is an Inside Detective published December 1966 with a story on the murder of Patricia Woolard. Woolard, during a train ride between Bognor Regis and Gatwick, England, had the misfortune of crossing paths with a young man named Michael Gills, who stabbed her to death in a fit of rage. Gills’ motive? “She snubbed me,” he said. “Women treated me like a leper. All the hate and resentment I had for women came into my head. I stabbed her.” Gills was convicted of manslaughter and served eleven years in prison. His incarceration perhaps taught him not to harm other humans, but sometimes an itch simply must be scratched. In 1998, while working as a beastman for a British circus, Gills was arrested for animal cruelty. Undercover investigators had filmed him beating elephants with iron bars, chains, shovels, and pitchforks. In one incident he flew into a rage and bludgeoned a restrained elephant across the face more than thirty times. He also hit tigers, a bear, and beat a chicken to death against a wall. If human life is cheap, animal life is almost valueless—for all of this, Gills spent a total of four months in jail. 


Intl. Notebook | Vintage Pulp Aug 9 2009
Bye bye Miss American Pie.

Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger and Steven Parent were murdered forty years ago today in Los Angeles, California. The killings took place just after midnight, and the bodies were discovered in the morning. Popular wisdom tells us this event brought a bloody end to the Summer of Love. As a rule, we don’t buy such easy labeling, but there’s no argument Tate was unusually lovely and her slaying while eight months pregnant was shocking, cruel and almost cosmically unfair. Her death also marked the beginning of the Sharon Tate and Charles Manson celebrity cults. The Tate cult consists of internet sites that rhapsodize over her beauty and talent, along with real-world victim advocacy groups determined to see that the Manson killers, and murderers in general, remain behind bars. And at the opposite end of the spectrum are the Manson fetishists, who mainly think he was innocent and who operate at least a few well-trafficked websites where crime scene photos are picked apart for supposed inconsistencies, and assorted straw man arguments are constructed and torn down. We were particularly fascinated by one forum dominated by a person who kept urging others to read up on the facts of “rigamortis.” Our view: if you posture as an expert on a subject, at least learn to spell it correctly. Below we offer up a selection of Manson/Tate images, a couple of which we borrowed from here.


The Naked City | Vintage Pulp Jun 25 2009
A strange kind of love.

Here’s another piece of evidence that humanity isn’t becoming more depraved—we’ve always been that way. This Inside Detective from June 1966 tells the story of Candy and Mel. You’ve probably never heard of them, but there was a time when everybody in America knew their names. Candy Mossler was a Houston, Texas socialite married to a millionaire named Jacques Mossler. Unfortunately, the marriage wasn’t going well, so she turned to her live-in nephew Melvin Powers for a little lovin’. Though she was twice his age, she was also beautiful, so Melvin was happy to oblige his aunt, and the two of them embarked on a full-blown incestuous affair that was obvious to every servant in the family mansion but not to the oblivious Jacques.

When Mossler did finally discover the truth he went to a lawyer for advice and was told the scandal would destroy his status, so he stewed and the affair went on under his roof. Jacques finally moved to his Key Biscayne vacation flat, but not long afterward turned up dead. Candy told police she suspected a burglar of the crime, but the police weren’t buying because Jacques had been stabbed thirty times then brained with a heavy glass bowl, acts not likely to be committed by a home invader. So Candy changed her story, and said she suspected Jacques was having an affair with a male lover who had knifed and glassed him. Police were willing to believe this, but as they collected more and more evidence the finger of suspicion began to shift inexorably toward Candy. Knowledge of her incestuous affair with Mel, along with a good look at what she stood to inherit now that Jacques was on a slab helped satisfy cops that they had their killers.

Candy, of course, could afford the very best legal representation, though because of frozen bank accounts it meant hocking her diamonds and furs. But she was able to retain Percy Foreman, a well-known defense attorney of the day who later unsuccessfully defended James Earl Ray from charges that he assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. In the end, it may have been Candy’s charm that carried the day more than Foreman’s defense. She made herself endlessly available to the press, always wearing a glamorous smile, and public opinion turned in her favor. She and Melvin Powers were both found not guilty of murder charges. No killer was ever found, nor even sought, because the police knew they had their perps and didn’t bother looking elsewhere, acquittal notwithstanding. It was the trial of the century in South Florida and Houston, at least until the next one came along. As for the love affair, Candy and Mel drifted apart over the years and she died in 1976 of an accidental overdose of migraine medication. But for a time she was a legitimate one-name celebrity—just Candy, the society dame who killed and got away with it.


Vintage Pulp Apr 9 2009

Assorted Inside Detective magazines, with cover stars displaying an array of emotions, none of them particularly pleasant, circa 1950s.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 28
1919—Volstead Act Passed
The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for alcohol Prohibition to begin the following January. The Act, named for Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Andrew Volstead, was supposed to create a better society but instead helped lead to the rise of violent organized crime gangs. The law wouldn't be repealed until 1933.
1922—Mussolini Comes Into Power
During the second day of the event known as the March on Rome, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini officially takes control of the Italian government when King Victor Emmanuel III cedes power. Supported by a coalition of military, business, and right-wing leaders, Mussolini remains in power until 1943, when defeat in World War II begins to look inevitable.
October 27
1994—U.S. Prison Population Reaches Milestone
The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history. By 2008 the U.S. Justice Department pegs the number of imprisoned at 2.3 million, and the overall U.S. correctional population, i.e. those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole, at 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.
October 26
1951—Churchill Becomes Prime Minster Again
The Conservative Party wins the British general election, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time. Churchill is nearly 76 at the time, making him the second oldest prime minister in history after William Gladstone. Churchill remains PM until 1955, when he steps down at 81 due to ill health.
1964—The Night Caller Is Executed
In Australia, Eric Edgar Cooke, who had earned the nickname Night Caller, is hanged after being convicted of murder. He had terrorized Perth for four years, committing 22 violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. He becomes the last person to be executed in Western Australia.

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