Tuesday, April 28, 2015

True Crime Roundup VII

(1) "Our New Rum-Running Treaty" (1924) (1 page):
It's been four years since Prohibition has gone into effect, but the sheer impossibility of trying to keep America "dry" doesn't seem to have dawned on the responsible parties:
RUM ROW, OFF THE JERSEY COAST, will have to row farther out to sea now that Ambassador Geddes for Great Britain and Secretary of State Hughes for the United States have signed a joint treaty calculated to curtail if not entirely suppress rum smuggling. The so-called rumrunning treaty, which must still run the gantlet of ratification in the Senate, permits American Government vessels to search and seize British ships, suspected of carrying contraband liquors, within "one hour's steaming distance of the American shore."
In return for this privilege, the Government permits British ships to bring legitimate alcoholic liquors under seal into American ports, altho several editors remind us that this apparently conflicts with the Supreme Court decision which was supposed to make British and other ships entering our ports absolutely dry.
For brevity, the new treaty is one of the most remarkable international docu-ments on record . . . .
(2) "Washington's Prohibition Tragedy" (1924) (1 page):
Although the movies overdid it, occasionally gun battles between bootleggers and Volstead Act enforcers would happen—and sometimes innocent bystanders would suffer:
THE VICTIM of Washington's recent Prohibition tragedy, Senator Frank L. Greene, of Vermont, struck by a stray bullet in an exchange of shots between Prohibition enforcement agents and bootleggers.  . . .
From Wikipedia:
. . . On the evening of February 15, 1924, Greene was walking with his wife near an alley on Capitol Hill when Prohibition agents were about to arrest several men unloading a still from their car. The bootleggers ran, the agents fired their guns, and Greene was struck in the head by a stray bullet. Greene was in critical condition for several weeks, and never fully recovered. His right arm was para-lyzed, and his legs were severely weakened.  . . .
(3) "Our Share in the Murderer's Guilt" (1924) (2 pages):
Juvenile delinquency isn't a new thing in America, but how to deal with it has always been a subject of controversy:
. . . "The difficulty is that the moment you begin to talk about using scientific methods with criminals [especially those under twenty-five], people who have never looked into the subject at once say it is all nonsense. They say we are coddling the criminal, treating him as diseased, covering him with flowers and encouraging crime. But this is strictly not so.
"What those who believe in those things are advocating is simply that we shall anticipate the crime as far as possible. And, on the other hand, when they have committed crime, this army of predatory cavemen and women shall be kept for the safety of the public under present methods for as long terms of imprison-ment and confinement as possible."  . . .
(4) "Chemistry As a Crime-Detector" (1924) (2 pages):
Speaking of "scientific methods":
. . . This branch of science [chemistry], he [Dr. Henry Leffmann] tells us, early gained recognition as an aid to the detection of many forms of crime, but especially in the identification of poisons. While this is still one of the main objects of the chemist engaged in aiding the police and the courts, other questions of importance have arisen, among which is the detection of blood and the determination of the animal from which it is derived.  . . .
. . . "The modern control of foods and beverages has multiplied greatly the applications of chemistry, and compelled much research and investigation. Crime of all kinds, from murder to petty theft, manifests a good deal of ingenuity and resource, and the work of the public chemist is a sort of a game of hide and seek. A process for detection of a certain poison or adulterant becomes known; those who have criminal intent can frequently find either a substitute which is satisfactory for their purposes, but does not respond to the tests for the original substance, or they can mask the original substance so that the standard test fails. The chemist is constantly discarding processes either because better ones are available or because the ingenuity of law-breakers has changed conditions."  . . .
. . . "The detection of inferior materials is often very important, and chemical and microscopical methods are employed. The several fibers used in paper-making have distinct characteristics and, in addition, ground wood gives distinct colors with certain solutions. The detection of ground wood might serve to show a fraudulent document, since if a deed or other legal document purported to have been drawn at a date previous to the use of such wood was found to contain such material, the fraud would be evident."  . . .
(5) "New Traps for Picture-Fakers" (1924) (2 pages):
The influence of Locard seems to have served as an inspiration to other French forensics scientists:
SHERLOCK HOLMES HIMSELF could hardly surpass in resourcefulness the brilliant French chemist and physicist, Mr. Bayle, who is at the head of the Bureau of Judicial Identity in Paris, and recently addrest the French Academy of Sciences on his new and ingenious methods of detecting fraudulent works of art. He uses not only the microscope and both X-rays and ultra-violet rays, but also an invention of his own, the chromoscope.  . . .
. . . In a case recently tried in which a portrait of a woman painted by Renoir was the subject of litigation, he was able to show the very form of the brush-mark which had been altered from the normal by reason of a stroke of paralysis which the painter had suffered.  . . .
- Our latest True Crime entry can be found HERE.

Category: True crime

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