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Murder & Mayhem in Jefferson County, Missouri

Jefferson County, Missouri is located just a few miles south of St. Louis. Yet, beneath its sleepy rural small town history lie the stories of over 200 years of murder, mystery, and intrigue. Each Tuesday, at 5:00 pm, Central Time, the Jefferson County Library Genealogy Department will share the details of the more sinister events of the county's history.

Tracks

The Cold Case Murder: Margaret Lowery (1958)
On a hot August morning in 1958, Harry Stoll made a grisly discovery--the bludgeoned body of a woman lying on the side of a back road in Dittmer, Missouri. Did someone get away with murder?Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rssBe sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
11:25 11/15/22
The Hitchhiker Murder: Louis Otto (1954)
Crystal City High School graduate Louis Otto was celebrating his 19th birthday when he picked up a hitchhiker. That decision cost the young man his life. Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rssBe sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
10:39 11/8/22
The Christmas Murder: Jacob Ringer (1840)
Jimmie Toy and Jacob Ringer were only teens when violence broke out on Christmas Day in 1840 at N. B. Franklin's general store in Little Rock Township.  The hot-headed youths' teasing quickly turned into murder setting off a legacy of tragedy for decades in the Toy family.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rssBe sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
15:52 11/1/22
Deals and Duels: The Legend of John Smith T (1770-1836)
The Missouri Territory held the promise of untold wealth for pioneers who were as enterprising as they were fierce. Few today have heard of John Smith T; however, his legendary exploits included a mixture of Southern gentleman and savage opportunist. Discover the fascinating story of Missouri's Lead Belt rivalry.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
32:14 10/25/22
The Blues Highway Robbery: Earl Snodgrass and Opal Stacy (1931)
Highway 61 is also known as the Blues Highway. In 1931, it was also a corridor for would-be gangsters and bootleggers to make a quick buck. Young lovers, Earl Snodgrass and Opal Stacy formed a pre-Bonnie and Clyde duo which foreshadowed the more infamous couples' demise.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
13:40 10/18/22
Prohibition and Patricide: William "Big Bill" Zaruba (1929)
Petite, but scrappy, Helen Vachuda proved she could take care of herself when she shot and killed her abusive stepfather in 1929 in Barnhart, Missouri.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
12:30 10/11/22
Murder in the Family: Russell Becker (1929)
Was it murder or was it an accident? Ora and Russell Becker were having marital difficulties when her brother Clarence Cook stepped in to chase his wayward brother-in-law off the property. What happened next left behind a young widow and a fatherless child.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
11:25 10/4/22
Murder of a Sweet Young Thing: Pearl Potoskey (1928)
Successful DeSoto, Missouri businessman Sol Hohenthal had no trouble finding pretty, young ladies willing to overlook his violent temper to be seen draped on his arm at the fashionable restaurants and clubs in Prohibition-era St. Louis. When 25-year-old Pearl Potoskey was found dead on his dining room floor under mysterious circumstances, the tongues really started wagging. Was it suicide, or was it murder?Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
20:32 9/27/22
Murder of the Innocent: Louis Merrill Taylor (1872)
The aftermath of the Civil War in America left thousands of children in need of homes. By the 1870s, various societies had formed to seek families willing to take in orphans. While there were obviously successful adoptions, there were also those that ended in horror and tragedy. Such was the case of the adoption of the Taylor children.The fate of the siblings at the hands of a truly evil woman is difficult to comprehend. Even so, the resilience of the surviving sisters gives hope to the human spirit.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
29:54 9/20/22
The Great Festus Bank Heist: (1926)
Booze, broads, bootleggers, and bank robbers were all part of the "roaring twenties" in the U. S. A. and even in Jefferson County, Missouri. Before Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, or Baby Face Nelson, there was the sensational bank heist of Citizen's Bank in Festus, Missouri. The robbery was complete with a wild car chase, a shootout, and a hideout along the Big River.  Discover the surprising details about the gang who pulled off the 1926 holdup.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
25:56 9/13/22
The Mistaken Identity Murder: Virgil Romine (1929)
Season Two of Murder and Mayhem in Jefferson County, Missouri begins with the tale of the murder of Virgil Romine in 1929. As he lay dying, he identified the killers as a couple of local troublemakers, but could he have been wrong?Discover the fascinating story of how one petty crime led to very harsh punishment, and what really happened in old town Herculaneum, Missouri. Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
23:58 9/6/22
The Witch of Victoria, MO: The Story of Prudence Bevis (Queen Beavers) (1784-1858)
Prudence Marrs Bevis was not your typical witch. When Thomas Bevis, founder of Victoria, Missouri, brought his young bride home, the local residents were convinced she was a witch. Every bad thing that happened in the community was blamed on her. Did she truly practice black magic, or was she a victim of superstition and ignorance?The story of Queen Beavers concludes Season One of Murder and Mayhem in Jefferson County, Missouri. We'll return in a few weeks with more interesting stories from the county's colorful past. In the meantime, be sure to catch up on all 16 of our earlier episodes.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
22:16 4/26/22
Florence Nightingale Murders: The Bertha Gifford Story- Part Two (1872-1951)
Bertha Gifford, the attractive wife of Eugene Gifford, was born and raised in Morse Mill, Jefferson County, Missouri. After the death of her first husband, Henry Graham, she and Eugene married and moved to Catawissa, Franklin County, Missouri where Bertha earned the reputation as an "angel of mercy" tending to sick within the community. Trouble was, many of her patients died agonizing deaths under her care. She earned the reputation of one of Missouri's first female serial killers. But was she a cold-hearted killer or a a victim of her own remedy?Join us as we explore Part Two of the Bertha GIfford story.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
38:42 4/19/22
Florence Nightingale Murders: The Bertha Gifford Story- Part One (1872-1951)
Bertha Gifford is remembered as one of the first alleged female serial killers in Missouri history. Born in Morse Mill, Jefferson County, Missouri, her beauty and strong personality made her one of the most popular young women in the small community. But it was the series of mysterious deaths that followed her throughout her life that turned her into a legend.Was she really a vindictive murderess, a misguided care-giver, an unlucky scapegoat, or a victim of mental illness? Listen to her story and perhaps you can decide.Part One covers her early years. Next week's episode will continue to follow the events up to her arrest and trial.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
21:31 4/13/22
The Labor Czar Murder: Joseph "Buck" Newell (1943)
Joseph "Buck' Newell was one of St. Louis's most notorious labor bosses. He ruled the AFL Hoisters Union with an iron fist, and controversy and violence followed in his wake. In 1927, he married an exotic beauty, Juanita Jeraldine Grasswick, a widow with a young son and lavished her with all the comforts and expensive gifts money could buy. But he also kept her and her boy in line with the same violent hand he used in his labor dealings.Then in June 1943, the Sheriff was called out to the Newell home in Pevely, Missouri. Someone had pumped five bullets into Buck Newell, and everything came unraveled. Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
29:00 3/29/22
The Jaded Love Murders: Meloy & Greenhill-Uren (1901)
Mrs. Sadie Greenhill Uren was a pretty, young divorcee' whose newfound freedom also brought the attentions of several eligible young men to her door.  Her delight about this turn of events was not shared by her brothers, Will and Dan Greenhill, who would rather have seen her dead than living so scandalously. On the night of September 28, 1901, a visit from suitor John Meloy ended in a bizarre tragedy which made that wish come true.And the only man who may have known what really happened, wasn't talking.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
22:32 3/22/22
The Bootlegger Murder: Andrew Deck (1921)
When Andrew Deck decided to help Prohibition agents in Herculaneum, Missouri by informing on local bootleggers, he was gunned down in front of his young son. It is a story filled with twists and turns, and quite a few shocking surprises!Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
32:13 3/15/22
Moonshine and Mobsters: The Biltmore Club (1929-1979)
When the Prohibition law went into effect in 1920, production, sell, and transportation of alcohol went underground and the birth of the mobster era followed. Private Supper Clubs, Speakeasies, and hidden rooms in soda shops continued to supply the demand.  A mere 25 miles from St. Louis, Jefferson County, Missouri became an ideal location for producing moonshine and bootlegging.In 1929, a wealthy St. Louis politician opened an extravagant establishment between Fenton and High Ridge called the Biltmore Supper Club. It drew the wealthiest and most powerful movers and shakers of cities like St. Louis, Chicago, and Kansas City to dine and dance in roaring 20's style. And, if they so desired,  there were high stakes gambling rooms with liquor flowing behind heavily guarded reinforced doors, for their pleasure.Hear the story of the rise and fall of Jefferson County's infamous Biltmore Supper Club.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
25:43 3/8/22
The Frisco Hill Murders: Marsden and Hensley (1883)
Mack Marsden and Allen Hensley were members of  well-respected pioneer Jefferson County families, but they were also suspects in a notorious hog-stealing gang that were also responsible for arson and murder. When they met their fate on Frisco Hill in 1883, the identity of their killers left more questions than answers.Hear the story of theft, arson, murder, and vigilante justice. For more information, read The Mack Marsden Murder Mystery: Vigilantism or Justice?  by Joe Johnston. Look for photographs and additional details about the case on Jefferson County Library - Genealogy http://facebook.com/jclgenealogy/ Facebook page.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
21:50 3/1/22
The Bushwhacker Murder: Sam Hildebrand (1872)
Missouri, the Compromise State, was overrun with vigilante justice during and after the period of Civil War. Whether sympathies lay with the Union or Rebel causes, no one was safe from becoming the victim of mob rule. Sam Hildebrand, great-great-grandson of Jefferson County's original pioneer became the target of the Big River Vigilance Committee of St. Francois County. His ability to exact revenge on those he considered to be enemies against his family, and his uncanny talent of evading capture, earned him legendary status in southeastern Missouri. Was he captured and killed in 1872, or was he able to once again elude authorities?Additional information can be found on the Jefferson County LIbrary - Genealogy Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jclgenealogyBe sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
20:00 2/22/22
The Vigilante Murders: Bickford and Quick (1869)
The 1860s brought war and lawlessness to Jefferson County, Missouri.  On February 15, 1869, law abiding citizens had grown weary of waiting for justice. When two murder suspects were held in the local jail, several men from Jefferson and Washington Counties decided to take the law into their own hands.  The result was one of the most shocking events that ever occurred in the county. And it happened exactly 153 years ago today (February 15)!Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
22:39 2/15/22
The Family Affair Murders: Eoff (1862)
The small river community of Morse Mill, Missouri was caught up in the drama of unrest in 1862, when civil unrest within the country boiled over into neighborhoods and family relationships. That year claimed the lives of three members of the Samuel Eoff family. One son was claimed by war, another son was claimed by murder, and the patriarch of the family was claimed by vigilante justice.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
21:13 2/8/22
The Pioneer Murders: Hildebrand/House (circa 1800)
Missouri was the ancestral home of several native tribes, among them the Osage who were one of the most revered and feared tribes in the Midwest. The early nineteenth century brought the arrival of the European pioneers whose hunger for land and a place to raise their families created a clash of cultures, causing sorrow for both. The small town of House Springs, Missouri is one such place that began with a tragedy.  Yet traces of the lives that were lived and lost  on these grounds are preserved in the names that mark our towns and streets.  Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
20:39 2/1/22
The Love Triangle Murder: Martin Hunning (1911)
Martin Hunning was shot in the head as he answered the telephone he'd just had installed in his home in Murphy, Missouri early December 1911. His wife Annie heard the shattering glass and ran into the room to find her husband dead on the floor. Why would anyone want to kill "Jolly Martin?" Was it an act of revenge or cold-blooded murder? Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
32:42 1/25/22
Newlywed Murders - Bonackers (1884)
Newlyweds Louis Bonacker and Josephine Glatt had barely started their lives when they made the mistake of allowing someone to stay overnight in their little rented cabin. Their kindness was repaid with a brutal double murder. Who would do such a thing? And why?Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
28:08 1/18/22
Murder in the Cornfield: The Wilson/Schulz Murders
On a hot July morning in 1880, Andrew Wilson and his young, pregnant lover, Martha Schulz, were gunned down by an assassin hiding in the cornfield near Ware Church Road in Jefferson County, Missouri.  Could this act have been retaliation for the shameful way Wilson had treated his wife, Sarah, who was a descendant of several of the oldest families in the county?Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
23:34 1/11/22
Murder in the Morning- The Gasche Murder
Early in the morning of September 1, 1872, Henry Gasche of Hillsboro, Missouri, was brutally attacked in his bed by a blow from an ax. His wife, Caroline McFry Gasche was the prime suspect. Was she a cold blooded killer or a very sick woman? Decide for yourself, as the Jefferson County Library Genealogy Department  presents  the first episode of Murder and Mayhem in Jefferson County, Missouri.Be sure to visit our sister site: Old Fashioned Murder and Mayhemhttps://feeds.buzzsprout.com/2109079.rss
19:18 1/4/22