Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Angels in Black

Cue "Evil Woman" by ELO...

It never fails to amuse me when I encounter obvious gender stereotyping. Hollywood has been at it for over a century now. Beautiful people are faultless, and ugly people usually do ugly things. This is why society generally gives gorgeous females a free pass, so-to-speak, for just about everything. Trouble parking a car? How cute. Can't do math? Isn't that adorable... here, let me help. Singing voice that of feuding vultures? Who cares; look at that body! Murders 100 people? But...that's impossible.

Originally published May 24th, 1988 in the Gainesville Times, Professor Alex Taylor swan dives into the murky, turbulent sea of contact mines that is the world of killer women. Okay, being that this is a rather prickly subject, maybe I should just let the column speak for itself. I mean, most women know the level of treachery their gender is capable of perpetrating. Why would anyone be shocked?

The animal pictured above is Jane Toppan. Cute as a newborn snow leopard. You'll read about her below. One thing not detailed though, is that her "excitement" was sexual.I happened to catch my father on the phone just before drafting today's preface. He added that some form of sexual gratification was typical among serial murderers, particularly women.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


A little levity is a good thing in times like these. One thing, though...
If you were truly paying attention, yes, he does this quite often. Storyteller's McGuffin?

Originally published May 17, 1988 in the Gainesville Times.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Not Forgettinaboutit II

Perhaps the best trailing nugget from this week's column is Joseph Petrosino. Here, we have an Oscar-worthy narrative replete with a tragic to unlikely and fortuitous embryosis, followed by a plucky and eccentric career at the infancy of modern law enforcement. Although parts of Joe's undertakings have been featured long ago in typical Hollywood fashion, a full accounting of his story might not have been presented due to its dreadful ending. Still, no pantheon of American law enforcement could exist without his name near the top. 

Alex Taylor's crime history column originally appeared in the Gainesville Times, Tuesday, May 10, 1988.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Not Forgettinaboutit

My father's memory of his days scrapping with elements of Tampa's mafia remain a frequent topic at family dinner conversations and other moments when something or someone suddenly prompts him. Lately, this occurs when either one of "those people" from that era, or perhaps a colleague from the police department, is featured in the Tampa obits. Always an earful.

We'd hear about Santo Trafficante, Frank ("Ten and Two") Diecidue and Anthony Antone, The Cracker Mob, the lounge wars, arsons, dynamiting, drive-bys, the cold, calculated homicide of Det. Sgt. Richard Cloud, corruption at TPD' top levels, as well as the distant ties to our own Tampa family and the truced dichotomy created by them. Naturally, these stories lead to the creation of my novel Bolita. (Hey, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least reference it twice)

But Professor Taylor's knowledge of the Cosa Nostra didn't end with his Tampa experiences, or, as he regularly reminds, the hit placed on him during an investigative visit to New Orleans a sanctioned contract purported by his FBI contacts when the List of Five was thought to be in play (this is also paralleled in Bolita, with Cloud being first). Because of this, Det. Taylor became a mob scholar of sorts, which included an uncanny photographic recollection of their history, and of those who fought them.  Maybe more about all this in future posts. For now, let's start ...at the beginning.

Originally published May 5, 1988 in the Gainesville Times, Det. Sgt. Alex Taylor (ret) gives us the etymology of the Sicilian mob, and notes on its forefathers. Suggested accompanying aperitivo? Onion rings, and order some for the whole tabl...

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Ivan the What?

Welcome Back!

This week, Prof. Alex Taylor lobs a Hail Mary at the never-ending elucidation of Jack the Ripper's identity. I suppose no detective can resist taking a crack at it. Unfortunately, there's only so much postulation the general public can withstand before the entire matter becomes a convoluted, trivial eye-roller.
"Not this, again..."

Yes, THIS. 

Originally published in the Gainesville Times, April 26, 1988. 

For additional reading on Crazy Ivan, go HERE.

Rather excited to be moving on to the mafia next week. This is a subject former Tampa PD Det. Sgt. Alex Taylor knows quite well, having purportedly survived a contract hit himself.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Dash of Rose, Part II

Continuing last week's story about Rose of Cimarron.
(additional commentary follows)

Rose was under 15 during the battle.
Those little princesses of ours...
The shootout, as described over Prof. Alex Taylor's two columns, came to be known as the Battle of Ingalls. Unfortunately for Rose, her older Dunn brothers had become strict opportunists, known for bounty hunting, cattle rustling, and outright robbery. The reward offered for Bitter Creek and Charlie Pierce was actually $5,000 each, for a grand total of $10,000. That would make for a $300,000 sum in today's currency. Boyfriend or not, that's enough grub to get someone shot. If you read the Dunn brothers link, you'll discover "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would  have said it. As for heartbroken Rose, she disappeared into the same black hole of unremarkable domestic life as the rest of us. Okay, well most of us. 

This Alex Taylor column originally appeared April 19, 1988 in the Gainesville Times of Gainesville, Georgia, Page 3A "North Georgia" section.

Map Curiosity: Interesting that Rose's final destination of Salkum, WA is geographically similar to her childhood home of Yale / Ingalls, Oklahoma. Both feature gently rolling, nearly flat terrain, and are located near northern bends of large rivers.  

Want a little more on Rose? I found THIS ENTRY interesting.
Photos generally associated with Rose Dunn, but not verified. Original sources unknown.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Dash of Rose, Part I

This is actually *not* Rose, but a
model prisoner portraying her.
The things we do for spite.
This week, Alex Taylor begins the wild west tale of female tenacity.
You know what they say about a woman scorned.

Of course, the nicknames back then were indeed the stuff of legend. Dynamite Dick, Dick Speed (not so fast as it turns out), Bitter Creek... these stories pretty much wrote themselves. But we are talking about the folks running in the circles of the Doolin-Dalton Gang AKA the Wild Bunch. You might have heard of them, or watched a film or two.

For those into geotourism, you'll find Yale, Oklahoma HERE, in the bend of the Cimarron River where Professor Taylor spots it. Also interesting are its ties with the legendary sportsman, Jim Thorpe.

Originally published in the Gainesville Times, April 12, 1988.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Another Book of Secrets?

All one has to do is mention "conspiracy theory" and modern audiences run away faster than Sir Robin at the Cave of Caerbannog, or so his minstrels tell me. Yet, because of continued inquiries regarding certain truths after publication of his Lincoln article from two weeks prior (see Bad Actors), former detective, Prof. Alex Taylor, springboards a perfect swan dive into the President Lincoln's assassination pool. Without spoiling, you should read his article first. Additional commentary will follow.

Originally published in the Gainesville Times, April 5, 1988, Taylor Tuesday explores several mysteries surrounding Lincoln's murder, Booth's escape, and some of the mysteries that allowed both of those events to occur.

Lincoln's murder has been the subject of innumerable books, documentaries, and movies. One central and recurring factor with so many high-profile assassinations' conspiracy theories seems to be political bias, business dealings, and oppositional sympathy. The Kennedy's and MLK, Julius Caesar, Mohandas Gandhi, Malcolm X... just Google it if you really want a full rundown. 

Many of the those outlying, unsolved mysteries are largely unexplored because, inevitably, many of their inquisitors come to a conclusion that the truth either serves no purpose in a modern context, or that the truth may yield far more sinister consequences.

"Best leave it alone."

Oh, but we can't, can we... 

As a purely academic exercise, let's try a couple and see how you feel about it.

1) Our POTUS suddenly announced that 9/11 was executed by named governments, royal, and multinational corporate concerns via leveraged Saudi nationals (patriotism and legacy are easy motivators) under contract with Bin Laden, and not a unilateral jihadist terrorist action — all for the control of oil, other natural resources critical for upcoming tech, and of course, arms sales. 

Is this a truth you'd really want to know? Too large of a conspiracy?
Okay, let try another wild one.

2) A national news outlet breaks a story regarding a lost tape recording of highest-level elected government officials discussing details that indicates MLK's assassination was in fact a planned suicide so that he'd become an unstoppable martyr — a symbol — for equal rights, justice and hope.

I know, bonkers... but what do you think would happen if something even remotely as ridiculous as this hit the air?

At times, the truth and its pursuit can be tiring, ineffectual, and frankly boring — a monumental waste of time and resources. I wonder what Robert Todd would say today.

Now, about those missing 18 pages...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dumping Mary

Same old story. Beauty meets the Beast. Beast Wins.
That's what happens outside of Hollywood, anyway.
Stinging, cold truth.

Alex Taylor presents Mary Rogers' case below, as published in the Gainesville Times, Tuesday, March 29th, 1988.

In a way, this one reminds of the O.J. Simpson circus. Maybe the truth of it is obviated, yet obscured by wild media speculation and the lack of solid, irrefutable forensic evidence. The truth narrative becomes further muddled when celebrities orbit the case, providing their own influence. Worse, while it was fresh, Mary's story was in essence retold and "solved" by a popular macabre scribe, Edgar Allen Poe. Takes one to know one?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bad Actors

Uh oh. Lincoln conspiracy post. Well, one can't be much of a crime history professor without mention of one of the most widely publicized, theorized, dramatized, and scrutinized assassinations in antiquity, save John F. Kennedy and Julius Caesar.

Spoiler Alert.  It was Booth.

This Alex Taylor column originally appeared in the Gainesville Times March 22, 1988, and it echoes some of the "darkness" surrounding our current president. Context being, at the time, Lincoln wasn't exactly popular.


Of course, my reaction was the same. Not popular? How'd he get elected? As it turns out, my father's context wasn't far off. Popular now does not mean popular then. Ask any oil painter. I won't stray from the objective center of neutral presenter by commenting on Trump the man, or Trump the President. While popular media sensationalizes certain narratives and agendas, he, like Lincoln, will ultimately be revered and reviled by actions and fact. "He had, time and again, ignored Congress with strange executive orders that infuriated even members of his own party." Sound familiar? But let's not detract from the questions at issue below. Mary Surratt's case is indeed fascinating from a legal standpoint, as is John Frederick Parker's.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Silence of Seamen

You know as children we sometimes revel in the mistakes of our parents. They are, of course, faultless and will remind you of such until something happens that simply cannot be explained away—not even in the very best examples of parental misdirection. Alas, we were all subject to comparatively scant official references compared to today's info overloads, and urban (in this case suburban) myths regularly graced the pages of "trusted" periodicals, including the hometown newspaper. Tisk!
Glad this one was harmless.

Published Tuesday, March 15, 1988 in the Gainesville Times, Alex Taylor Tuesday begins with his recollections of a vacation once taken to Bermuda and the superstitions of the sea. He cites the case of the HMS Friday—a ship that never existed outside of persistent recirculation. Oops. (Fake News!) Ah, but Dad recovers nicely with the tale of the Mary Celeste, a bona fide nautical mystery if there was one. In the Victorian Era, a man could say anything if the obvious evidence matched, as this was well before the maturation of forensic science. The Mary Celeste would also fall prey to fake news. Some things never change. If you recall, the same nonsense happened to Flight 19, a training flight of torpedo planes that disappeared within the Bermuda Triangle in December 1945. The pilot-less planes showed up in the Sonoran Desert some 32 years later. ;)

T. Nelson Taylor | Official Site | DusT | Bolita