THE SLEUTH: Ellis Parker, Chief of Detectives in Burlington County, NJ. Parker’s professional reputation was such that detectives from other jurisdictions often sought help from him.
TAGLINE: “The county detective with an international reputation.”
THE CRIME: On October 5th of 1920 bank employee David Paul, known to his friends and loved ones as a quiet, prim and devoted family man, disappeared with a courier pouch containing more than $70,000 in cash and $30,000 in negotiable securities. Eleven days later Mr Paul’s corpse was found in a shallow grave.
THE SCENE: David Paul’s clothing was soaking wet but his grave and the surrounding soil were bone dry. Authorities determined that Paul had only been dead for about 2-3 days despite the 11 day absence. The cause of death was a bullet through the head.
SOLVING THE CRIME: Ellis Parker learned that the seemingly quiet David Paul was known for participating in wild orgies at a cottage far outside of town. None of the other participants in the cottage’s wild sex parties admitted to seeing David during the days after the theft but before his dead body was found.
Chief Detective Parker had the water from the stream closest to David Paul’s shallow grave tested. The water had a high tannic acid count from upstream tanning factories. The tannic acid had preserved Paul’s body, making it SEEM like he had only been dead for 2 or 3 days. In reality he had been killed shortly after his disappearance.
Ellis Parker now delved back into the alibis of those suspects who had taken part in the cottage orgies. Out of the suspects who did NOT have alibis for the period immediately following David Paul’s disappearance, Parker narrowed his investigation down to two: Frank James (no relation to Jesse’s brother) and Raymond Schuck (no relation to John Schuck).
When Chief Detective Parker learned that the married Schuck had given an expensive fur coat to a cottage orgy girlfriend shortly after Paul’s disappearance he relentlessly interrogated the man and his closest friend Frank James. Playing a one-man version of “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” Ellis pretended to be raptly believing their alibis before harshly picking those alibis to pieces.
Eventually the men confessed but each blamed the other for doing the actual killing. They had buried the rest of the stolen loot for which they had killed their stooge David Paul. The location: In the grave of Raymond Schuck’s mother. Schuck and James were both executed.
EPILOGUE: Sadly, years later Ellis Parker’s career and life ended in disgrace. After the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping the detective was angry that he wasn’t sought out for help on the case. When Bruno Hauptmann was arrested for the crime Parker fixated on a suspect of his own.
The now-unstable Parker held that suspect against his will in various locations in a series of attempts to browbeat a confession out of him. Instead, the man had Ellis Parker charged for his illegal actions. The former great detective died in prison less than 3 years into a 6 year sentence on federal abduction charges.
THE SLEUTH: Edward O Heinrich, a Private Detective and handwriting expert who lectured at the University of California at Berkeley on scientific methods of crime-solving.
TAGLINES: “The Edison of crime detection” and “A one-man CSI team.”
THE CRIME: On October 11th of 1923 a trio of masked men with shotguns attempted to rob a Southern Pacific Mail Train traveling through the Siskiyous Mountains in Oregon. When the would-be robbers overestimated the explosive force they would need to open the mail car they wound up turning that car into a blazing inferno, destroying the cargo and broiling alive the clerk inside the car. The furious trio used their weapons to shoot dead three more of the train employees and fled.
THE SCENE: Investigators found the criminals’ discarded, battery-powered detonator, greasy overalls and shoe coverings soaked in creosote. Creosote gives off a strong scent and was presumably meant to throw bloodhounds off the scent once the crooks were fleeing with their loot in tow. A mechanic who worked in a garage vaguely near the crime scene was fixated on simply because of the fact that he was wearing greasy overalls when the authorities came across him … at his job.
SOLVING THE CRIME: Luckily, though the police investigators were getting tunnel vision regarding the hapless mechanic just because his job meant that he often wore greasy overalls, he did not get railroaded. The investigators, more honest than some others, called in Edward O Heinrich to consult on the case when the mechanic stuck by his claims of innocence.
Heinrich did his own chemical tests on the greasy overalls found at the crime scene. He also subjected lint in the pockets of the overalls to a series of tests. At length, Heinrich – obviously a fan of the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels – told the investigators that the overalls belonged to “A left-handed lumberjack who works or worked in the logging camps of the Pacific Northwest. He’s thin, has light brown hair, rolls his own cigarettes and is fussy about his appearance. He’s 5 feet 10 inches tall and is in his early 20’s.”
Edward’s lab tests on the overalls had revealed that what seemed to be grease was really pitch from fir trees. Tiny fragments of Douglas Fir needles were found in the lint of the pockets. The left-side pockets were more worn out than the right side pockets and wear indicated that the overalls were regularly buttoned from the left side.
In the hem of a pocket Heinrich found a few fingernail trimmings, finely cut, indicating a certain attention to the wearer’s personal appearance. A light brown hair was found pressed under one of the buttons. Edward O Heinrich used his own – at the time – revolutionary methods for determining age and height from that single hair.
Most importantly, Heinrich’s microscopic investigation of a small, faded slip of paper jammed deep into the recesses of one of the pockets revealed lettering which was not fully visible to the naked eye because of the way the fragment of paper had been washed with the overalls, over and over again.
After treating the paper with iodine our master detective discovered it to be a registered mail receipt issued in Eugene, OR. (Imagine what this guy could have done with DNA evidence!)
As it turned out, the receipt was traced to Roy D’Autremont, a resident of Eugene. Roy, his twin brother Ray plus their brother Hugh hadn’t been seen by family and friends since the day of the attempted train robbery. Roy matched Edward Heinrich’s description of the man he said wore the overalls.
After an exhaustive manhunt the three D’Autremont Brothers were captured – Roy and Ray in Ohio and Hugh in the Philippines. Once informed of Edward Heinrich’s evidence the brothers confessed to the four murders and the attempted robbery. All three were sentenced to life in prison.
EPILOGUE: Edward O Heinrich continued his career of scientific detective work, solving roughly 2,000 cases before his death in 1953.
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