A mother-and-son ET entry

My second Executed Today entry of the month: May and Howard Carey, a mother and son hanged in Delaware on this day in 1935. They’d killed May’s brother, Robert Hitchens, for his insurance policy, worth $2,000 — the equivalent of 35k in 2017, sez this inflation calculator. One of May’s other sons, sixteen-year-old James, got life in prison for his role in the murder.

I’ve got two more entries this month, on the 17th and the 19th. (Unless I write some more. Which I might, who knows. I bet I could get some out of the books I bought at Auschwitz.)

For Kindle users

I found out the book Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer, by David Roberts, is on sale in its Kindle form for just $1.99. I’m not sure how long the deal’s going to last, though.

I had Everett on Charley years ago — he disappeared from Utah in 1934. Then there was big news cause they thought his skeletal remains had been found, and I removed him and put up a resolved notice. Then it turned out the remains weren’t his. But I’ve never put him back up.

Thought y’all would like to know about this. I’ve never read the book, but if you’ve got a Kindle and a spare two bucks, it seems worth checking out.

Arnold Sodeman

An obscure Australian serial killer was hanged seventy-seven years ago today, and I’ve profiled his life and crimes on Executed Today.

Arnold Sodeman’s murders were pretty ordinary and his crime spree not all that impressive — four victims in five years — but what I found interesting is the issue of diminished capacity. Sodeman was an alcoholic with a history of mental instability both in his family and in himself, and he had previously suffered a serious closed-head injury. The autopsy turned up evidence of fairly extensive brain damage. It turned out he also had leptomeningitis. When a person with leptomeningitis drinks — and Sodeman was drunk at the time of all four murders — their brain becomes inflamed and the resulting symptoms include irrational behavior and poor impulse control. In other words, was he responsible for his actions? One Australian forensic psychologist doesn’t think so.

I told my boyfriend about the case and asked his opinion re: leptomeningitis. Sodeman didn’t know he had the condition and they didn’t discover it till autopsy. Michael thought about it for awhile and said he didn’t think leptomeningitis was a good enough reason to cut the guy a break. He reckoned this: maybe Sodeman didn’t realize he had a degenerative brain disorder, but he knew he was a mean drunk. He knew the kind of person he turned into when he had a couple in him. And he continued to drink, consequences be damned. I had to concede that Michael had a point.

Eighty years ago today…

On April 7, 1933, the grandparents, uncle and one cousin of a Russian boy named Pavel Morozov were shot for his murder. And that’s just about the only thing we know for sure about this case, which I think is a fascinating one, particularly for those interested in Stalin’s Russia. Not so much the murder itself, but what resulted from it.

I worked really hard on this Executed Today entry. I actually started writing it eighteen months ago, back in October/November 2011. You’ll recall that in this entry I talked about a “writing project” I’d been working on:

I discovered I’d apparently tried to work on it after I took the pills: there were pages and pages of complete gibberish. I couldn’t make any sense of it and wound up having to rewrite it all.

Well, this entry was the writing project I’d been working on when I had that crisis that left me with a scar on my hand and a story. I actually completely rewrote the entry twice. The first time was because I’d messed it all up as explained above. The second time was after I read Catriona Kelly’s book (I wrote my first draft of the Morozov entry having read only Druzhnikov’s book) and realized I had to do some serious re-thinking. It’s an unbelievably complicated story and Kelly had such different conclusions than Druzhnikov.

Anyway, I think the entry turned out very well. In addition to all the work I put into it, the Headsman (the guy who runs the Executed Today blog) made some minor edits of his own, mostly making the writing clearer and cleaner. I’m proud of the results here; I think I told Pavlik’s story as thoroughly and succinctly as I could.

Yet another person executed today, chronicled by moi

This time it’s a federal case: George Barrett, who was hanged in 1936 for shooting an FBI agent. He was the first to die for that particular offense. The agent was shot in Ohio, but Barrett fired his gun from 22 feet over the Indiana state line.

Barrett’s death was society’s gain. Before he murdered Agent Klein he was a car thief and, in all probability, a three-time killer, though the jury waffled at every homicide trial.

Legions of the disappeared

My friend Sean Munger, who runs Charley’s Twitter feed, has published another blog entry — one in a series of four so far — profiling some of the Charley Project’s more puzzling and frustrating cases.

This time he wrote about:

Wojciech Fudali (22, missing from Rhode Island since 2008, I’ve blogged about him before);
Myoung “Mike” Noah (60, missing from California since 2007);
Asha Degree (9, missing from North Carolina since 2000);
Benjamin Cannon (20, missing from Nebraska since 1995);
Anna Christian Waters (5, missing from California since 1973); and
Ruth Baumgardner (22, missing from Ohio since 1937).

He’s got some intriguing info on Mike Noah that I don’t have on Charley. I wonder where he found it.