31 Murders

Following the Trail of Serial Sex Killer Earle Nelson


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SKU: 9781476694801 Category:

About the Book

Many decades before Ted Bundy roamed the country there was serial killer Earle Nelson. During the 1920s, this geographically mobile killer went from city to city. His modus operandi involved getting into a house by pretending to be a person looking for a room to rent or inspecting a house that was for sale, and then strangling the landlady, often followed by having sex with the dead body. Robbery was frequently a secondary motive.
After Nelson was captured in Canada in 1927, it was commonly reported that he had killed 21 women and a baby during the 1926-27 period. But were these the only cases linked to him? The author examines an additional nine unsolved murders of landladies, two of which have never been dealt with in previous literature. Based on decades of archival research, the author examines all 31 murders, relying on primary sources when available and a wide variety of secondary sources. For each murder, the book provides biographical sketches of the victim, outlines the police investigation and the various suspects, and covers any subsequent attempts to link Nelson to the crime by identification evidence of witnesses or by fingerprints.

About the Author(s)

Alvin A.J. Esau, a graduate of the University of Alberta and Harvard Law School, is a retired law professor living in British Columbia.

Bibliographic Details

Alvin A.J. Esau
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 258
Bibliographic Info: 44 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9480-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5268-9
Imprint: Exposit

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Part I—Background

 1. Two Manitoba Murders and the Capture, Trial and Execution of Earle Nelson 9

 2. Biographical Sketch of Earle Nelson and Possible First Murders 18

Part II—Five Landladies Murdered in 1925

 3. Elizabeth Jones and Daisy Anderson in San Francisco 35

 4. Olla McCoy, Mary Murray and Lena Weiner in Philadelphia 42

Part III—1926: The Dark Strangler

 5. Clara Newman in San Francisco 55

 6. Laura Beal in San Jose 61

 7. Lillian St. Mary in San Francisco 67

 8. Ollie Russell in Santa Barbara 74

 9. Mary Nisbet in Oakland 83

10. Isabelle Gallegos in Stockton 87

11. Elma Wells in San Francisco 93

12. Beata Withers in Portland 100

13. Mabel Fluke in Portland 109

14. Virginia Grant in Portland 113

15. Marion Corcoran in Los Angeles 119

16. Attempted Murders of Landladies? 123

17. Anna Edmonds in San Francisco 127

18. Florence Monks in Seattle 133

19. Blanche Myers in Portland 140

20. The Link Between the Murders of Monks and Myers, and “Adrian Harris” as the Dark Strangler 146

21. Almira Berard in Council Bluffs 154

22. Bonnie Pace and Germaine Harpin (and Infant Harpin) in Kansas City 160

Part IV—1927: The Gorilla Man Strangler

23. The Gorilla Sleeps? 169

24. Mary McConnell in Philadelphia 172

25. Jennie Randolph in Buffalo 179

26. Fannie May and Maureen Oswald Atorthy in Detroit 187

27. Mary Sietsema in Chicago 195

28. Lena Johannes in Kansas City 202

Concluding Reflections 205

Chapter Notes 211

Bibliography 241

Index 245