The Dreams That Uncovered a Murder

In May 1827, Maria Marten left home to elope to Ipswich with a man named William Corder. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, the elopement was not quite the scene of love and companionship that Maria expected. Her sorry fate was so famous it has since earned its own name: The Red Barn Murder. Perhaps oddest of all was that the whole thing was uncovered because of a dream.

William and Maria

Maria and William’s decision to marry seems to have come of necessity. They had an illegitimate child together, and though the child died William still seemed committed to the marriage. Their town of Polstead, England, had a building landmark known as the Red Barn where William and Maria planned to meet for their elopement. At William’s suggestion she left her house dressed in men’s clothes to evade prosecution for her illegitimate child, and was last seen on the way to the Red Barn to meet her love.

Dreams of the Barn

Her family didn’t see or hear from her for months. William offered a slew of excuses when asked about her lack of letters or visits home. Over the nearly year-long absence of Maria, concerns became suspicions, and suspicions became dreams:

Discovered Maria's death after a dreamDiscovered Maria’s death after a dream Sat, Jan 25, 1862 – 6 · The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Western Countries and South Wales Advertiser (Bristol, Bristol, England) ·

Against all odds, the dreams were not just the nighttime illusions of a worried mind. They’d led straight to Maria’s body and had brought a murder to light.

William’s Trial and Conviction

All signs pointed to William as the primary suspect, of course. He’d met her at the Red Barn, and there she’d stayed.

William Corder's arrest, claimed he did not know Maria MartenWilliam Corder’s arrest, claimed he did not know Maria Marten Sat, Aug 16, 1828 – 4 · Sheffield and Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England) ·

Despite his insistence that he was not the murderer, and that Maria had in fact died by her own hand, he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Many papers printed the detailed description of his execution and the confession of guilt that came with it. As a gruesome footnote to the whole terrible situation, William’s body was afterward cut open and put on public display before being transferred to a hospital for dissection.

As strange as it may seem, the dreams of Maria’s step-mother brought justice to her murderer, and resolution to her loved ones. Were they the result of logical conclusions coming together in the woman’s sleep? Or were they proof of something a bit more mystical?

Find more on the Red Barn Murder with a search on

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

Fun with English

Those who appreciate the complexities (and absurdities) of the English language will enjoy this little article from 1879. Ever heard the word “Ghoughphtheightteau?”

“Fun-etics: Ghoughphtheightteau” Sat, Feb 8, 1879 – 1 · The Democratic Advocate (Westminster, Maryland, United States of America) ·

For more like this, try a search or browse on

Like this post? Try one of these next:

Share using:

Make Money as a “Walker”

Can you imagine making money by simply walking down the street in the newest fashions? Some ladies in 1869 did just that, according to this snippet from the Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet:

“Walker” Ladies can get five dollars a day Thu, Jun 10, 1869 – 2 · Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet (Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States of America) ·

Sounds like a pretty good gig—assuming hopeful ladies were able to meet the qualifications, of course. The five dollar pay, however, might not make the cut today.

Find more like this with a search or browse on

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

Unsolved Mysteries: George Hodel and the “Black Dahlia”

In January of 1947, the mutilated body of a woman, drained of blood and severed at the waist, was found in an empty lot in Los Angeles, California. Though the victim known as the “Black Dahlia” was eventually identified as 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, her killer was never brought to justice. The Black Dahlia case has since become one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in America.

Black Dahlia Murder Unsolved After 4 YearsBlack Dahlia Murder Unsolved After 4 Years Sun, Jan 14, 1951 – Page 32 · The Times (Shreveport, Caddo, Louisiana, United States of America) · Black Dahlia Murder Unsolved After 13 YearsBlack Dahlia Murder Unsolved After 13 Years Fri, Jan 15, 1960 – 22 · The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, Middlesex, New Jersey, United States of America) · Black Dahlia Murder Unsolved After 22 YearsBlack Dahlia Murder Unsolved After 22 Years Sun, May 4, 1969 – Page 17 · Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, Los Angeles, California) ·

George Hodel, Murder Suspect

The case was notable for the brutal details of the murder, and for the resulting decades-long investigation that yielded hundreds of suspects but no firm answers. The disturbing history of the LA doctor often linked with this case, George Hodel, makes him a grimly compelling suspect. His is a name well-associated with the case thanks mostly to his son, ex-detective Steve Hodel.

Steve Hodel, Son of George Hodel, Accuses Father of Black Dahlia MurderSteve Hodel, Son of George Hodel, Accuses Father of Black Dahlia Murder Sun, May 11, 2003 – 21 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States of America) ·

Hodel’s Suspicious History

George Hodel may have been a successful doctor, but he was not a good man. In 1945, he came under suspicion as the potential murderer of his secretary Ruth Spaulding, though her death was listed as an accidental overdose. He became a prime suspect in the 1947 Black Dahlia case when Short’s injuries revealed the murderer probably had surgical expertise. In 1949, two years after the Dahlia murder, Hodel’s daughter, Tamar Hodel, accused her father of incest. He was tried and acquitted of those charges, but the whole situation strengthened the case against him as a suspect in the Black Dahlia murder.

There were a few other peculiarities that seem to point at Hodel’s guilt. His black 1936 Packard resembled descriptions of a black car seen near the empty lot the same day Short’s body was found. He had a delivery of cement bags sent to his house for remodeling the day Short disappeared, and similar bags were found near her body. And only three years after Short’s death, Hodel conveniently left the country to live in the Philippines, where he would remain until 1990.

Steve Hodel’s Investigation

After George died in 1999, Steve Hodel followed the trail of evidence that he felt proved his father’s guilt. Among his discoveries were photos that looked like Elizabeth Short, though it was never confirmed they were actually her. Perhaps most suspect of all, transcripts were found in old police files from surveillance conducted on George Hodel’s home in 1950:

Transcripts found of electronic surveillance of George Hodel's homeTranscripts found of electronic surveillance of George Hodel’s home Tue, May 13, 2003 – Page 1-10 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States of America) ·

The tapes also indicate that George had deals with the police. Steve theorizes that his father evaded arrest and prosecution through his high-status connections and bribery.

Tamar Hodel Quote on George Hodel's guiltTamar Hodel Quote on George Hodel’s guilt Sun, May 11, 2003 – 15 · The Record (Hackensack, Bergen, New Jersey, United States of America) ·

As with all unsolved cases, there’s so much more to this story. There are more theorized connections between Hodel and Short, other suspects who might be responsible, and of course, a whole slew of facts and links lost to time that we will simply never know. For now, George Hodel is still only a suspect, and the Black Dahlia case remains unsolved.

Find hundreds of articles on the Black Dahlia murder and connected suspects, including George Hodel, with a search on

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

Clever Cons: Princess Caraboo

In early 1817, a mystery woman showed up in the town of Almondsbury in Gloucester, England. She seemed disoriented, and when she spoke her words were incomprehensible babble. The only thing anyone could discern was that she called herself “Caraboo.”

Spoiler alert:

Princess Caraboo IllustrationPrincess Caraboo Illustration Sat, Jul 10, 1926 – 25 · The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) ·

The Hoax

The young lady was taken in by a Mr. and Mrs. Worrall, who tried to make sense of her. Several days after her arrival, a man named Manuel Eynesso (conveniently) appeared and said he could understand Princess Caraboo’s strange language. Her remarkable story, which he “translated,” was a sensational one, complete with pirates, death, and daring escape.

Caraboo's story, as translated by Manuel EynessoCaraboo’s story, as translated by Manuel Eynesso Sat, Jul 10, 1926 – 25 · The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) ·

The Reveal

The story certainly caught eyes; the princess Caraboo’s story gained her national attention and she became a favorite with local dignitaries. She enjoyed her fame for several months, but the very celebrity that gave her such a comfortable life proved to be her undoing. A woman named Mrs. Neale recognized “Princess Caraboo” as none other than her old serving maid, Mary Willcocks (sometimes called Mary Baker in contemporary reports). A (likely embellished) account of the shocking reveal is recounted in this 1924 article:

Mrs. Neale reveals Caraboo's true identityMrs. Neale reveals Caraboo’s true identity Sat, May 17, 1924 – Page 4 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) ·

Caraboo's true history as reported by the Exeter Flying PostCaraboo’s true history as reported by the Exeter Flying Post Thu, Jun 19, 1817 – 4 · The Exeter Flying Post or, Trewman’s Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser (Exeter, Devon, England) ·

And so the jig was up. Caraboo’s inscrutable language had been an invention, cobbled together nonsense mixed with real words she’d learned on the road before her arrival in Almondsbury. Her convincingly foreign behaviors had been picked up here and there from sailors and travelers. The man who had “translated” her story had been in on the ruse all along.

The papers had a hey-day repeating the truth of the matter and having a laugh at the gullible Gloucester town. One article, with a bit more sympathy, even joked that Mary Willcocks’ beauty may have had something to do with it:

A jab at the susceptibility of Dr. Wilkinson to the pretty Princess CarabooA jab at the susceptibility of Dr. Wilkinson to the pretty Princess Caraboo Sat, Jun 21, 1817 – 4 · The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser (Truro, Cornwall, England) ·

Life After “Caraboo”

A surprisingly soft-hearted Mrs. Worrall funded her travel to America, where Mary Willcocks seems to have used her fame to garner further attention with some small success. She also supposedly met and became a favorite of Napoleon Bonaparte, but that story has never been confirmed.

Mary eventually returned to Europe and married Richard Baker, with whom she had a daughter. She also took up a career selling leeches to a hospital—a job that some found ironic:

Princess Caraboo after the hoaxPrincess Caraboo after the hoax Thu, Jun 21, 1866 – Page 4 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, Kings, New York) ·

All in all, the one-time sensation “Princess Caraboo” seems to have settled down to live out the rest of her fairly normal life—under her real name, this time.

Find more about Princess Caraboo with a search on

Like this post? Try one of these: 

Share using:

How to Add “Zest” to Your Housework

Are you making every minute worthwhile? Or are you losing time and strength with inefficient housework methods? This 1919 article advises housewives on the best way to “work like a whirlwind” and add some “zest” to typical chores.

Add Add “zest” to your housework by studying time, methods, and motions Fri, Jul 4, 1919 – 2 · The Powder River County Examiner and the Broadus Independent (Broadus, Montana, United States of America) ·

Find more like this with a search on

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

Unsolved Mysteries: The Disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh

Suzy LamplughSuzy Lamplugh Fri, Dec 5, 1986 – 6 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) ·


On July 28, 1986, real estate agent Suzy Lamplugh went to show property on Shorrolds Road in Fulham, England, to a client she called “Mr. Kipper.” Witnesses report seeing a woman of her description arguing with a man and then getting into a car. Her own vehicle, a white Ford Fiesta, was found apparently abandoned the night of July 28, with the keys gone and her purse still inside. That night Suzy was declared missing.

Suzy Lamplugh DisappearanceSuzy Lamplugh Disappearance Thu, Jul 31, 1986 – 28 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) ·

In the thirty years since, her disappearance has remained a mystery. No evidence exists to link her disappearance to foul play (though it is assumed), and her remains have never been found. There are, however, a couple of theories as to who is responsible.


The first involves a man name Steve Wright, who worked on the same cruise ship as Suzy when she was a beautician prior to her real estate job. In 2008, decades after Suzy’s disappearance, Wright was convicted of five murders. People began to suspect that Suzy might have been an earlier victim of his, but there have been no strong connections made between him and Suzy’s murder.

The second theory is a bit stronger. This one involves John Cannan, a convicted killer who was released from a prison hostel days before Suzy disappeared. He was known by fellow inmates as “Kipper,” the same name used by the client Suzy met the day she vanished. He bore some resemblance to the police sketch of the mysterious Mr. Kipper. But again, all evidence was too circumstantial to bring Cannan to court, and he denied any involvement.

The search for clues to Suzy’s fate has been ongoing, but evidence continues to elude investigators. For now, Suzy’s disappearance remains an unsolved mystery.

Find more on this highly publicized story with a search on

Like this post? You might enjoy these:

Share using:

A Bald Head Shines Like a Good Deed in a Naughty World

From the pages of a 1906 issue of The Checotah Times comes this peculiar defense of “bald-headed bridegrooms.”

A Bald Head Shines Like a Good Deed in a Naughty WorldA Bald Head Shines Like a Good Deed in a Naughty World Fri, Jun 1, 1906 – Page 2 · The Checotah Times (Checotah, McIntosh, Oklahoma) ·

Find more like this with a browse through

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

Did Atlanteans Build the Bimini Wall?

In 1968, a diving expedition discovered a series of large stone formations, so square and neatly arranged that they seemed to form an intentional structure. It was called the Bimini Wall (or Road) after the nearby Bimini Island, and since the discovery there has been speculation galore about how it came to exist.

Most believe the stones to be naturally formed beach rock that sunk beneath the surface. But there is another popular and rather more imaginative theory, as evidenced by the many articles printed on the topic in the 60s and 70s. And that theory is that the Bimini Wall was once part of Atlantis.

Atlantis Found?Atlantis Found? Sun, Jan 9, 1972 – Page 17 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, United States of America) ·

These articles say it all.

Bimini Wall manmade?Bimini Wall manmade? Sun, Oct 27, 1974 – Page 206 · The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Orange, Florida, United States of America) ·

Bimini's mystifying formationsBimini’s mystifying formations Sun, Sep 25, 1988 – Page 106 · Fort Lauderdale News (Fort Lauderdale, Broward, Florida, United States of America) ·

Bimini Wall was constructed by ancient advanced societyBimini Wall was constructed by ancient advanced society Thu, Mar 28, 1974 – Page 28 · Courier-Post (Camden, Camden, New Jersey, United States of America) ·

From pillars to pyramids to the legendary Fountain of Youth, this little stretch of sea supposedly has it all. And to top it off, Bimini sits right at the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. With so much mystery to be found here, it’s easy to see why the Atlantis explanation might not seem so far-fetched.

What do you think—is the Bimini Wall potential proof of a mythical missing city? Or is it just naturally formed rock that got a little too much attention?

Find more on the Bimini Wall and its ties to Atlantis with a search on

Like this post? Try one of these: 

Share using:

Florida Secedes from the Union: Today in Headlines

On January 9, 1861, “Florida Secedes” appears in newspaper headlines.

January 9 in Headlines: Florida SecedesJanuary 9 in Headlines Wed, Jan 9, 1861 – 1 · The Daily Exchange (Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) ·

The secession became official the following day, making Florida the third state to leave the Union after South Carolina and Mississippi. Nine more states would join them in the months that followed, and it would be seven years before Florida officially rejoined the Union again.

Find more like this with a search on, or browse through January 9th headlines in the papers.

Like this post? Try one of these next:

Share using: