Category Archives: Interesting Cases

Billy The Kid: Amazing New Photo Found

Only one photo of William H. Bonney, AKA Billy The Kid, was known to exist. But now a new photo has been found. Purchased a few years ago for $2 in a Fresno, CA shop, the photo has been authenticated and its value estimated at $5 million. Pretty good find.

And an amazing slice of American History. Below are two photos—one of Billy and friends playing croquet before a home in New Mexico in 1878 and a close up of Billy from the same photo. He was 17 at the time.

The photo and Billy will be the subject of a NatGeo special this Sunday 10-18-15. Can’t wait to see it.

Tin Type Full 9Kx12K b, 12/20/13, 12:37 PM,  8C, 9000x12000 (0+0), 150%, Custom,  1/40 s, R106.2, G84.2, B103.2

Billy the Kid NM 1887-2 copy


Suicide By Text

You can’t think about it.

You just have to do it. 

You said you were gonna do it. 

Like I don’t get why you aren’t.

Michelle Carter

So texted Michelle Carter to Conrad Roy, her 18-year-old boyfriend. And there were many other texts to follow. She goaded him to commit suicide, or at least that’s what prosecutors are alleging. And now she faces trial on an involuntary manslaughter charge. This will be an interesting trial particularly in regards to who is responsible for Conrad Roy’s death. There’s no doubt it was by his own hand, but is Michelle Carter culpable because she encouraged him to commit the act?

But this isn’t exactly new. In 1816, long before there was texting, George Bowen was charged with “murder by counseling.” It seems he was an inmate and convinced Jonathan Jewett, a convicted murderer who occupied the adjacent cell adjacent, to hang himself. Apparently Jewett did and Bowen was charged with encouraging his suicide.

So it seems there is nothing new after all.


Why Did Two girls Want to Kill For Slender Man?

Slender Man copy

I previously posted about the Slender Man hoax and how it went viral on the internet and led to the attempted murder of a young girl by two of her friends. The post centered around a Psychology Today article titled “Murder By Meme: Slender Man and the Wakefield Anti-Vax Hoax” by Travis Langley, PhD. An interesting article.

Thankfully, Bella, the victim of the murder attempt, survived the attack but now the Slender Man case is moving along. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, the two young girls charged with the crime, have apparently plead not guilty so a trial will likely be forthcoming. It will be an interesting ride as there are so many aspects to this story that just make you shake your head.

More details of the bizarre, yet sad, case are revealed in an article in New York Magazine by Lisa Miller. Chilling and then some.


Francis Craig: Another Jack The Ripper Candidate?


Perhaps the most famous serial killer of all time is Jack the Ripper. Part of his popularity resides in the fact that he has never been positively identified. Many folks, including best-selling author Patricia Cornwell, have made claims that they have uncovered Jack’s identify, but each theory remains controversial. Cornell, among others, named Walter Sickert as the likely Ripper. Other candidates have been John Pizer, George Chapman, and Aaron Kosminski, to name a few.

3 Jacks

Now a new candidate has entered the picture—Francis Craig.

Dr. Wynne Weston-Davies, in his book THE REAL MARY KELLY, postulates that Francis Craig, the estranged husband of Mary Kelly, is the mysterious Jack. Mary was apparently Jack’s fifth and final victim. Weston-Davies suggests that Craig killed all the women when in fact Mary was his intended victim—-the others were to provide cover for the killing of his wife. Well, that has indeed happened before.

Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly

For those who study Jack, Mary Kelly’s murder has always been problematic. She was the only victim killed indoors, in her home, and she was mutilated much more so than were others. It has been suggested that Jack was able to “do more” since he was indoors and less likely to be interrupted in his work. Maybe. It might also mean that the killing of Marry was indeed very personal. More so than his other victims. Such as a spouse might do. So, yes, all the killings could have been done to cover the real target—-Mary Kelly.

Or, perhaps, Craig knew of the other murders—-how could he not if he lived in London at that time?—and seized an opportunity. He could kill his estranged wife and make it look like Jack did it. It’s not like that’s never happened before either.

The overkill of Mary could fit either of these scenarios since her killing seems more personal than the other four. Plans are to exhume her corpse for examination. I doubt much useful will come from this but I hope I’m wrong. Regardless, it will interesting to watch.


Preacher Killed By Poisonous Snake—-Again.


Mark 16:17-18 (King James Version)

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Luke 10:19 (King James Version)

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Biblical passages such as these serve as the justification for some church congregations to take up the serpent. This is not a relic of the past; the practice is alive and well in the US. Maybe not well, but alive none the less. Though most such churches are along the Appalachian chain, they can be found literally from coast to coast.

From time to time, stories of snake-handling deaths pop up in various media sources. Witness John David Brock of Bell County, KY. He took a hit to the arm, and as is often the case, refused medical help. He didn’t make it. I do wonder if he treated his bite with sips of strychnine as this is the treatment in many such communities.

OS 200X300

My third Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN deals with such a church and its followers. During my research I stumbled on an National Book Award nominee and many useful sites. Such as:

National Book Award Finalist SALVATION ON SAND MOUNTAIN by Dennis Covington:

Holiness Serpent Handling Website:

Rev. John Wayne “Punkin” Brown Jr’s Death:



Plants, Poisons, and Political Murder

Russian millionaire businessman Alexander Perepilichnyy and Chinese billionaire Long Liyuan might have something in common. A pretty but deadly plant. The plant in question is Gelsemium. Long used as a homeopathic treatment, it is in fact a deadly poison.

Alexander Perepilichnyy

In 2012, Perepilichnyy collapsed and died at his home, his death was sudden and unexpected. These things do happen, but when they happen to someone who was scheduled to testify in a fraud case against a Russian tax official and who had apparently been receiving death threats after his whistle-blowing, it gives one pause.

Traces of the toxins found in the Gelsemium plant, also called woodbine, were revealed in Mr. Perepilichnyy’s stomach contents and even though the death was officially attributed to natural causes—-and indeed it might have been—the possibility of this being a murder by way of plant poison exists.

I mean, it’s not like the Russian’s haven’t done this before. Remember Alexander Litvinenko? Polonium did him in.


And then there is Mr. Long Liyuan. Seems he was involved in a case where a local Guangdong province official, Huang Guang, was accused of embezzling from Mr. Long. On the day of his death, Long dined on a local delicacy—-cat meat stew. He then became dizzy, nauseated, collapsed, and died. His dinner companion apparently ate only a little of the stew because it tasted “more bitter” than usual and he survived. Gelsemium is the suspect poison in this case.

Long Liyuan

Gelsemium is a flowering plant in the family Gelsemiaceae and its major toxin is the alkaloid Gelsemine. It’s effects are primarily neurological and cardiovascular with headache, blurred vision, swallowing difficulty, dizziness, shortness of breath, slow heart rate, seizures, and ultimately death. Pleasant, huh?



700 Year-old Murder Solved?: Did Foxglove Do In Cangrande della Scala?

You might find Foxglove in your garden. It’s a beautiful plant with clusters of trumpet-like flowers. It’s also a deadly poison. It’s the source of the cardiac medication digitalis that is commonly used for certain cardiac arrhythmias and a few other medical conditions.


Foxglove has been around for thousands or years and has long been known for its poisonous properties. In 1329, at the ripe old age of 38, Cangrande della Scala, the ruler of Verona, Italy, and patron of Dante Alighieri, died after complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms are common in cases of digitalis toxicity.


Now his exhumed body has been subjected to a more modern analysis and it seems that digitalis spores were detected in his colon. Was he poisoned with this deadly drug? Maybe, maybe not. But it is intriguing.


Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Interesting Cases, Poisons & Drugs


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