“I was blown away” while researching True Crime Chronicles. I was researching an incident involving Wyatt Earp in the newspaper archives when I discovered hundreds of remarkable true crime stories from the 1800s. Frankly, I never thought of the possibility there were “traditional” serial killers as we know them in the 1800s. Indeed, there were massacres of Native American’s by the US military, but those have always been viewed as the “Indian Wars” and considered at the time as “necessary” to protect whites and civilize the country. Some will agree, others will not. Although those were not labeled as serial killings, that is what they were.
The first real serial killer I located in the archives was Belle Gunness, a truly despicable person. In simple terms, she ran a B & B and welcomed all men whom she believed had a fair amount of cash with him. In most cases, she killed the man as he slept, and with the help of her farmhand during the night, she would bury the body in her garden or feed it to her hogs. Eventually, her murder scheme was uncovered, many bodies were discovered buried on her farm, and one morning a hog wallowing in the mud, produced a human arm bone.
When her home burned, they found the body of the headless woman and three children burned beyond recognition in the basement. Was it Belle and her children? Or did she kill a woman of the same approximate size, decapitate the body, and kill her children to aid in her escape? No one is one hundred percent sure. She was ruthless and lacked compassion for human life. So, killing her children cannot be ruled out.
As a cop, I interrogated cold-blooded murderers. They all lacked compassion, and none viewed their murderous action as wrong. When I read Belle’s story, my detective’s brain kicked in. It drew me in, and the more research I did, I found hundreds of amazing stories covering all manner of vicious crime and heartless criminals. And in some cases, such as Wyatt Earp, his criminal conduct was brought to life. He and his brothers were not the brave, incorruptible lawmen portrayed in movies and legend. They were also killers and criminals.
Frankly, I look forward to uncovering more of these fascinating stories.