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Litigator and author Cecil Kuhne shares a mostly-true story about Rudolph Ivanovich Abel, the subject of his book KGB Man: The Cold War's Most Notorious Soviet Agent and the First to be Exchanged at the Bridge of Spies. Abel was captured by the FBI in 1957 after an inept colleague betrayed him to the US. Abel's trial, his conviction, and his eventu…
 
Today’s guest, Connie Yen, is the author of Sinner and Savior: Emma Molloy and the Graham Murder, the true story of an 1886 murder in Greene County known as “The Graham Tragedy.” In 1886, the nude body of Sarah Graham was found in a well on the Molloy property. Subsequent investigations uncovered a bigamous marriage and other allegedly scandalous h…
 
H. H. Holmes is one of the most infamous killers in the history of Chicago and the United States. In late 1894, when authorities arrested Holmes on a warrant for horse theft in Texas, they learned Holmes, the architect and former owner of the “murder castle” in Chicago not only looked like the villain from a melodrama but acted the part, too. Altho…
 
In this episode of Fact or Fiction: Author Series, Bryan Johnston, author of Deep in the Woods shares the story of the 1935 kidnapping of George Weyerhaeuser, but he adds one fictional detail. Will I guess it? Will you? Play along with me and then order a copy of Deep in the Woods to learn all the stranger-than-fiction details about the kidnapping,…
 
This is the first episode in what I’m calling the Fact or Fiction: Author Series. Owen Pataki, co-author of Where the Light Falls and author of Searchers in Winter is my guest. Searchers in Winter brings events of the Napoleonic Wars to life with its compelling plot, engaging characters, and exciting action sequences. In this show I have a brief ch…
 
This episode focuses on the tragic murder of railroad clerk Clarence D. Hiller; the man accused of committing the crime, Thomas Jennings; and the advanced forensic technique of fingerprint identification used successfully for the first time in a murder trial in the United States. Please note that, while I've researched this entire story, I have inc…
 
In late December of 1903, the beautiful new Iroquois Theater in Chicago performed a matinee of the family-friendly musical Mr. Bluebeard to a sold-out audience. Midway through the performance, an overloaded stage light caught fire, and what happened is stranger than fiction. Listen carefully because it's tricky to know what's Fact or Fiction!…
 
In April of 1924, Beulah Annan shot her lover in the bedroom she shared with her husband Al. She rested next to the dead man and played one song over and over on her phonograph until Al arrived home. What followed is such a sensational story, that reporter Maureen Watkins used it as the basis for her successful play, Chicago. That play was the basi…
 
Bluebeard is a French folk-tale about a villainous man who married and then killed multiple wives. The American version of this story isn't a folk tale--it's real. Today's episode of Fact or Fiction examines the story of Johann Hoch, a man accused of marrying scores of women, absconding with their fortunes, and even murdering a few. Listen carefull…
 
In the early 1920's, Chicago reporters Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht encountered and sensationalized the highly unusual murder of a young mother-to-be, Ruth Wanderer. These two reporters, who went on to become decorated Hollywood screenwriters, called Ruth Wanderer's tragic story, The Case of the Ragged Stranger! Listen carefully because it's tri…
 
Amos J. Snell, a wealthy real estate owner in Chicago, was murdered in his home in 1888. The identity of the murderer remains unknown to this day. Listen to learn what we do know about Amos J. Snell, his murder, and the aftershocks of his death that affected his family for generations. Is it Fact or Fiction? You be the judge!…
 
Fiblett 2.5 contains three actual articles from newspapers of the past about crimes with a connection to the prestigious Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. I've written one myself. Can you identify which one is my creation? Listen carefully because it's tough to know if what you hear is Fact or Fiction! Note: If you're interested in learning more about…
 
Dr. Alice Wynekoop was a respected physician and social reformer in Chicago in 1933 when her daughter-in-law's nearly nude body was found shot to death in Dr. Wynekoop's basement operating room. Was it possible that the highly esteemed doctor had cruelly killed her beautiful, young daughter-in-law? You be the judge. Is it Fact or Fiction?…
 
Belle Gunness purportedly killed scores of victims for financial gain. After her Indiana farm burned to the ground with the bodies of the Gunness family huddled together in the basement, investigators discovered a number of disfigured and dismembered bodies buried in shallow graves on her property. Many suspect Belle staged her death and lived out …
 
In 1856, a young woman entered the Pinkerton Detective Agency's offices at 80 Washington Street in Chicago, Illinois, looking for employment. According to his own accounts, Pinkerton politely told her he didn’t need a cleaner or a secretary, but she insisted she wasn’t interested in a traditional woman’s role. She believed the detective service nee…
 
The first episode of Fact or Fiction’s second season features Tillie Klimek, the black widow of Little Poland. In 1922, Tillie was arrested for poisoning her husband with a steady diet of arsenic-laced stew. Investigators soon discovered there was more to the story of the woman renowned in her community for cooking a killer stew and predicting impe…
 
In the early hours of December 30, 1888, Mrs. Amos Stillwell ran from the mansion she shared with her husband and young children to request help from her neighbors. Startled to see the respectable Mrs. Stillwell in her nightclothes and even more startled by her story, the neighbors returned with her to her home to find a grizzly scene—the dead body…
 
Fiblett #4 is another minisode of four stories, one of which is my writing. Here are the answers: Choice #1 about the attempted elopement of nineteen year old Cleo Broadhurst and his married lover Mrs. C. J. Ware appeared under the title of “Eloping Boy Slept on the Job” in The Kansas City Times on 22 September, 1910, p. 1. Choice #2 was the story …
 
During the 1930’s kidnappings were a common occurrence, and wealthy St. Louisans were prime targets for criminals interested in collecting ransom. One dark and stormy night in 1931, a wealthy and respected St. Louis doctor was abducted and held for over a week. Although no request was made for ransom, he was released unharmed and returned to his fa…
 
Fibletts are minisodes of Fact or Fiction that allow you to test your own skills at finding the fiction within the facts! Today's episode includes four stories, three of which are from an article or related articles and one that is my own creative writing based loosely on another case. It's up to you to decide which one is the fiction and which one…
 
On a cold December evening in 1902, two good-looking young men robbed a Union, Missouri Bank and escaped with an estimated $15,000 worth of loot. When Pinkerton detective Charles Schumacher tracked them down, the young thieves brutally murdered him and became two of the most hunted and most celebrated criminals of the time. Follow along as I tell t…
 
Fibletts are minisodes of Fact or Fiction that allow you to test your own skills at finding the fiction within the facts! Today's episode includes four stories, three of which are from an article or related articles and one that is my own invention. It's up to you to decide which one is the fiction and which ones are the facts! I'll come clean in t…
 
On November 20, 1885, former East St. Louis mayor John B. Bowman was gunned down as he crossed the street to his home. Neighbors soon discovered his body. The shooter had disappeared, and the crime remains unsolved to this day. In this episode of Fact or Fiction, I identify potential suspects and motives. Who and why would someone want to kill the …
 
Fibletts are mini-episodes of Fact or Fiction that allow you to test your own skills at finding the fiction within the facts! I'll read four paragraphs, three of which are from an article or related articles and one that is my own invention. It's up to you to decide which one is the fiction and which ones are the facts! I'll come clean in two weeks…
 
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more commonly referred to as the St. Louis World’s Fair, opened its gates on May 1, 1904 and throughout its seven months of life, entertained approximately 20 million visitors. It was a remarkable event, and its impact on St. Louis and the world is felt to this day. Cotton candy, private automobiles, x-ray machine…
 
In May 1903, a shabbily dressed old man checked himself into a St. Louis hospital claiming “the only poor thing about me is my health.” Doctors weren’t sure what to make of this unusual patient who soon died with no mourners at his bedside. Francis J. Tumblety was indeed a wealthy man, a well-known “herb doctor” who had traveled extensively, been a…
 
In the early 1920's a group of inmates from the Jefferson City State Penitentiary, the prison's Peaceful Village Band, used their musical talents to rise to national fame. Some of the members leveraged this notoriety to shorten their sentences. Today's episode of Fact or Fiction looks at this group of inmates who’d been incarcerated in Missouri’s o…
 
On the evening of January 31, 1912, a St. Louis police officer noted the business of The Cowperthwait Loan Company uncharacteristically had its lights on at 7:00 p.m., well after its usual closing time. The officer entered to find a disturbing scene that would launch an investigation to find a criminal whose exploits are truly stranger than fiction…
 
Bloody Island was a sandbar located in the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois. During the 1800’s, it technically didn’t belong to either state, so men traveled there to settle disputes without the interference of the law. Believe it or not, many of these duels were between the movers and shakers and great po…
 
In late June of 1887, a young wife died under mysterious circumstances. Her husband left shortly after her burial with a cryptic note indicating he couldn’t live without her. What the authorities discovered when his employer contacted them to try to save the grieving husband’s life is almost unbelievable.…
 
In my very first podcast episode ever (yeah, it's going to be a little raw), please join me, Laura, on my journey to learn more about St. Louis's seedy past and unbelievable true crime. While you are at it, use your own detective skills to see if you have what it takes to determine what is fact and what is fiction. One of the most infamous stories …
 
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