Show cover of Fact or Fiction: A Mostly-True Crime History Podcast

Fact or Fiction: A Mostly-True Crime History Podcast

Welcome to Fact or Fiction, the podcast about historical crimes with one fictional detail added. Listen carefully because it's not easy to know if something is Fact or Fiction. Ready to play?

Tracks

Author Series present Jeffrey D. Simon and "The Bulldog Detective"
Today’s guest is author Jeffrey D. Simon, author of several books about terrorism and a former RAND analyst who also taught at UCLA. As a guest on Fact or Fiction, Jeff has agreed to share some of the highlights from his most recent book, The Bulldog Detective: William J. Flynn and America’s First War Against the Mafia, Spies, and Terrorists. Flynn’s career provides a fascinating glimpse into early 20th century crimes and detective methods, and his character is one of the most interesting of the era. As always, Jeff will infuse one fictional detail into this unbelievable but factual story. Will I guess the fiction? Will you? Listen carefully, because it's tricky to know if something is fact or fiction. Ready to play?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
57:53 2/6/24
Fact or Fiction Author Series presents Christopher Allen Gorden
St. Louis was a rapidly growing frontier town in 1849. That year, the city experienced a great fire that destroyed the city's business district, an epidemic of cholera that decimated the population, and a steady influx of would-be miners on their way to the California hills. Also, there was a sensational murder and an equally sensational trial.Christopher Allen Gorden, author of Fire, Pestilence, and Death: St. Louis 1849, is this episode's special guest. Listen and learn more about St. Louis in the pivotal year of 1849. Of course, since the show is called Fact or Fiction, Christopher will include one fictional detail in the story. Will I guess the fiction? Will you?Listen carefully because it's tricky to know if something is fact or fiction. Ready to play?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
61:29 12/5/23
Fact or Fiction Author Series presents Amy Kasuga Folk
Nicknamed "Liquor Island," Long Island was a center for bootlegging and rumrunning for the New York metropolitan area during Prohibition. Amy Kasuga Folk's book Rumrunners of Suffolk County: Tales from Liquor Island shares highlights from her book and inserts a fictional detail in her four choices at the end of the episode. Will you identify the fiction? Will I?Listeners will be astonished by what they learn, and it's mostly true!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
47:50 5/24/23
The Goat Gland "Doctor"
In the first half of the twentieth century, John R. Brinkley was a celebrated and successful "doctor" renowned for his ability to use goat organs to help humans with infertility. In addition to his "medical" success, Brinkley was also an early adopter of radio technology, which he used to advertise his hospital and his other medicines.In this first episode of season 3, which focuses loosely on the KC area, Fact or Fiction welcomes podcasters Cam and Jen of Our True Crime Podcast. They will attempt to distinguish between fact and fiction. Listen carefully because it's tricky to know if what you hear is Fact or Fiction. Ready to play?Belle Toffee Belle Toffee is a family candy company built on generations of love for gourmet toffee. Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
60:25 5/1/23
Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Joe Johnston
In the late nineteenth century, the West was wild all the way back to the Mississippi River. Only a day's walk from the progressive big city of St. Louis, rural Jefferson County citizens were struggling with an outbreak of thefts, arson, and more. Mack Marsden, successful livestock trader and family man, was accused of being involved. After Mack was shot and killed, there remained lingering doubts. Was he a criminal, or was he wrongly accused? Author Joe Johnston tells the fascinating story he uncovered while researching The Mack Marsden Murder Mystery. Of course, he inserts one fiction into this unbelievable but true story. Will I recognize the fiction within the facts? Will you?Images and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
63:34 4/18/23
Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Susan Wels
From 1848 to 1881, a small Utopian colony in upstate New York—the Oneida Community—was known for its shocking sexual practices, from open marriage and free love to the sexual training of young boys by older women. And in 1881, a one-time member of the Oneida Community—Charles Julius Guiteau—assassinated President James Garfield in a brutal crime that shook America to its core.Susan Wels, author of An Assassin in Utopia, shares this interwoven tale. Of course, she inserts one fiction into this unbelievable but true story. Will I recognize the fiction within the facts? Will you?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
45:10 4/2/23
Forrest E. Mars: The Candy Man
For this special episode Tracy Marak, member of the Belle Toffee family, is my guest. She shares the Belle Toffee story, and then tries to identify the fiction in the mostly-true story about another candy maker, Forrest E. Mars.Although this story doesn't fit neatly into the true crime category, Forrest Mars' road to ownership of Mars, Inc. wasn’t a smooth one and it certainly wasn’t sweet. Today,  Mars, Inc. is one of the largest privately held companies in the world, and Forrest's descendent are among the world's richest citizens.Listen to learn how Forrest Mars achieved his success, but remember that one fiction has been inserted into the story. Will Tracy guess the fiction? Will you? It's tricky to know if something is Fact or Fiction? Ready to play?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
52:40 3/22/23
Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Mike Vance
James Brockman rose from shady character to preeminent defense attorney in Houston, Texas by representing gang leaders, jilted spouses, wealthy storekeepers, drunken on-duty policemen, and more. His career gained national recognition, including his involvement in the most famous American murder case of the young twentieth century, when he himself was murdered leaving a dubious legacy.Houston historian Mike Vance's book Getting Away with Bloody Murder examines Brockman, the criminals he defended, and the crimes they allegedly committed. In this episode, Vance shares several riveting stories from his book. As always on the show, he inserts one fictional detail. Try to identify what he made up, but be warned: it's not easy to know if something is fact or fiction.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
49:55 3/9/23
Fact or Fiction Author Series presents Murderous Matrons
In this episode, authors Victoria Cosner and Lorelie Shannon share a mostly-true story from their book Missouri's Murderous Matrons.  Emma Heppermann, a black widow killer, and Bertha Gifford, an angel of mercy, used arsenic to murder unsuspecting family and friends for decades. The story of how they managed to evade discovery is unbelievable. As always, these authors insert one fiction into our discussion. Try to identify what they made up, but be warned: it's not easy to know if something is fact or fiction.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
41:51 2/23/23
Fact or Fiction Author Series presents Kimberly Tilley
On Christmas Eve of 1900, someone got away with murder. Frank Richardson, wealthy business owner and family man, was shot as he entered his home. Although many people may have wanted him dead, the crime has remained unsolved to this day. Kimberly Tilley, author of Has it Come to This? The Mysterious, Unsolved Murder of Frank Richardson tells us the mostly-true story about Frank Richardson and his murder. She inserts one fiction into this unbelievable story. Try to identify what she made up, but be warned: it's not easy to know if something is fact or fiction.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
66:38 2/8/23
Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Cecil Kuhne
Litigator and author Cecil Kuhne shares a mostly-true story about Rudolph Ivanovich Abel, the subject of his book KGB Man: The Cold War's Most Notorious Soviet Agent and the First to be Exchanged at the Bridge of Spies. Abel was captured by the FBI in 1957 after an inept colleague betrayed him to the US.  Abel's trial, his conviction, and his eventual exchange across the Glienicker Brücke (the "Bridge of Spies") for US pilot Frances Gary Powers is a riveting story that will leave listeners questioning what is fact and what is fiction.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
40:58 1/12/23
Fact or Fiction Author Series Presents Connie Yen
Today’s guest, Connie Yen, is the author of Sinner and Savior: Emma Molloy and the Graham Murder, the true story of an 1886 murder in Greene County known as “The Graham Tragedy.” In 1886, the nude body of Sarah Graham was found in a well on the Molloy property. Subsequent investigations uncovered a bigamous marriage and other allegedly scandalous happenings in the home of temperance advocate Emma Molloy.  Listen carefully because it’s not easy to know what’s fact and what’s fiction in this unbelievable story!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
44:38 6/7/22
H. H. Holmes: A Fact or Fiction Nightmare!
H. H. Holmes is one of the most infamous killers in the history of Chicago and the United States.  In late 1894, when authorities arrested Holmes on a warrant for horse theft in Texas, they learned Holmes, the architect and former owner of the “murder castle” in Chicago not only looked like the villain from a melodrama but acted the part, too.  Although he confessed to killing 27 people in April 1896, historians still find it nearly impossible to distinguish between fact and fiction.Join me and my guest Nancy as we discuss the facts and fictions about Holmes.  Listen carefully because this is most definitely a case where it's tough to know if something is fact or fiction.  You be the judge!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
44:42 4/1/22
Fact or Fiction : Author Series presents Bryan Johnston
In this episode of Fact or Fiction: Author Series, Bryan Johnston, author of Deep in the Woods shares the story of the 1935 kidnapping of George Weyerhaeuser, but he adds one fictional detail.  Will I guess it?  Will you?Play along with me and then order a copy of Deep in the Woods to learn all the stranger-than-fiction details about the kidnapping, the kidnappers, and the rest of the story.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
51:47 11/23/21
Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Owen Pataki
This is the first episode in what I’m calling the Fact or Fiction: Author Series.  Owen Pataki, co-author of Where the Light Falls and author of Searchers in Winter is my guest.  Searchers in Winter brings events of the Napoleonic Wars to life with its compelling plot, engaging characters, and exciting action sequences.  In this show I have a brief chat with Owen about his book, and then he tells me a mostly-true story related to one of the novel’s subplots.  It’s my job to guess the fiction.  Play along with me.  Listen carefully because it’s not easy to know if something is Fact or Fiction!Host:  Laura ShimelGuest: Owen PatakiFact or Fiction is a MaxMinLabs production.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
50:32 9/6/21
How Fingerprints Convicted Thomas Jennings
This episode focuses on the tragic murder of railroad clerk Clarence D. Hiller; the man accused of committing the crime, Thomas Jennings; and the advanced forensic technique of fingerprint identification used successfully for the first time in a murder trial in the United States. Please note that, while I've researched this entire story, I have included one fictional element. That element will be revealed at the end of the episode.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
26:48 8/24/21
Eddie Foy and the Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903
In late December of 1903, the beautiful new Iroquois Theater in Chicago performed a matinee of the family-friendly musical Mr. Bluebeard to a sold-out audience.  Midway through the performance, an overloaded stage light caught fire, and what happened is stranger than fiction.  Listen carefully because it's tricky to know what's Fact or Fiction!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
49:37 6/14/21
Beulah May Annan: The Real Roxie Hart
In April of 1924, Beulah Annan shot her lover in the bedroom she shared with her husband Al.  She rested next to the dead man and played one song over and over on her phonograph until Al arrived home.  What followed is such a sensational story, that reporter Maureen Watkins used it as the basis for her successful play, Chicago.  That play was the basis for the hit musical and later Oscar-winning movie of the same name.  Listen carefully because not everything you hear is true, and it's not easy to decide if it's Fact or Fiction!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
45:45 6/1/21
Fiblett 2.8
In this week's Fiblett episode, Laura shares a story of Western criminals in the big city, a train robbery, a bank robbery, and butter heist.  Three are published stories, but one is fictional.  Listen carefully because it's tough to know if what you hear is Fact or Fiction!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
10:19 5/24/21
Johann Hoch: America's Bluebeard
Bluebeard is a French folk-tale about a villainous man who married and then killed multiple wives.  The American version of this story isn't a folk tale--it's real.  Today's episode of Fact or Fiction examines the story of Johann Hoch, a man accused of marrying scores of women, absconding with their fortunes, and even murdering a few.  Listen carefully because it's never easy to tell which parts of the story are Fact or Fiction.  Ready to play?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
34:35 5/17/21
Fiblett 2.7
Today's minisode focuses on cases involving insurance scams--three of them are real and one is my invention.  Can you identify which stories are Fact or Fiction?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
17:33 5/10/21
The Case of the Ragged Stranger
In the early 1920's, Chicago reporters Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht encountered and sensationalized the highly unusual murder of a young mother-to-be, Ruth Wanderer.  These two reporters, who  went on to become decorated Hollywood screenwriters, called Ruth Wanderer's tragic story, The Case of the Ragged Stranger!  Listen carefully because it's tricky to know which parts of the story are Fact or Fiction.  Ready to play?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
39:07 5/3/21
Fiblett 2.6
Fiblett 2.6 is a random assortment of entertaining articles about an honorable thief, three girls wrongly imprisoned, a disgruntled husband, and two courageous little boys. Three of them are from published newspaper accounts, but one is my own creation.  Listen closely.  Is it Fact or Fiction?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
09:23 4/26/21
The Murder of Amos Snell and the Tragic Decline of His Family
Amos J. Snell, a wealthy real estate owner in Chicago, was murdered in his home in 1888.  The identity of the murderer remains unknown to this day.  Listen to learn what we do know about Amos J. Snell, his murder, and the aftershocks of his death that affected his family for generations.  Is it Fact or Fiction?  You be the judge!Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
43:34 4/19/21
Fiblett 2.5
Fiblett 2.5 contains three actual articles from newspapers of the past about crimes with a connection to the prestigious Palmer House Hotel in Chicago.  I've written one myself.  Can you identify which one is my creation?  Listen carefully because it's tough to know if what you hear is Fact or Fiction!Note:  If you're interested in learning more about Stuart's Dyspepsia Tablets, the product from the past that is featured in today's Fiblett, I encourage you to check out this article by Teresa Lou Trupiano (https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2470&context=masters_theses).Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
14:38 3/30/21
Dr. Alice Lois Lindsay Wynekoop: Physician, Social Reformer, Cold-Blooded Killer?
Dr. Alice Wynekoop was a respected physician and social reformer in Chicago in 1933 when her daughter-in-law's nearly nude body was found shot to death in Dr. Wynekoop's basement operating room.  Was it possible that the highly esteemed doctor had cruelly killed her beautiful, young daughter-in-law?  You be the judge.  Is it Fact or Fiction?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
48:50 3/25/21
Fiblett 2.4
Today's Fiblett is filled with more Pinkerton adventures!  Three of them are from published newspaper accounts, but one is my own creation.  Listen closely.  Is it Fact or Fiction?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
18:24 3/15/21
Belle Gunness: Female Serial Killer of La Porte
Belle Gunness purportedly killed scores of victims for financial gain.  After her Indiana farm burned to the ground with the bodies of the Gunness family huddled together in the basement, investigators discovered a number of disfigured and dismembered bodies buried in shallow graves on her property.  Many suspect Belle staged her death and lived out her life as a wealthy woman.  Listen closely because it's difficult to know if what I say is Fact or Fiction.  Ready to play?Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
41:24 3/8/21
Fiblett 2.3
This week's minisode features Pinkerton detectives!  As always three of the stories are from printed newspaper articles and one is a fictional account of my own creation.  Listen closely.  Can you tell if it's Fact or Fiction?  Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
16:15 3/1/21
Kate Warne: Adventures of a Female Pinkerton Detective
In 1856, a young woman entered the Pinkerton Detective Agency's offices at 80 Washington Street in Chicago, Illinois, looking for employment.  According to his own accounts, Pinkerton politely told her he didn’t need a cleaner or a secretary, but she insisted she wasn’t interested in a traditional woman’s role.  She believed the detective service needed her as an agent.  After considering her compelling arguments, Allan Pinkerton hired her as his first female operative.  This is the story of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective.  Listen carefully, because this story is full of hard to believe details.Support the showImages and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
47:37 2/22/21

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