Author: Diarmid

Daisy Gray, “Material Witness”, 14 May 1951

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When Daisy Gray was a young girl—Daisy Watkins, then—she lived with her family on Preston avenue, close to the tin mills. One night in 1934, Daniel Laws, who lived a few doors away, entered her home and beat her with an iron poker because she wouldn’t have sex with him. She was able to stop him only by stabbing him with a butcher knife. Both were so badly hurt that they ended up in hospital. […]

Anna Mae McNeil, “Murder”, 5 February 1933

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On the day Anna Mae McNeil shot her husband dead, heavy snow fell across New Castle. The three young men who always practised basketball shots behind the wool warehouse on Moravia street had built a bonfire so they could keep playing through the snowstorm. Four other boys had been seen roller skating on North Cedar street around the same time, as though it were summer. A family in the south of the city had stopped […]

Henry Bell, “Intox driver”, 28 June 1947

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On the twenty-seventh of May, 1939, four police officers went to Henry Bell’s home above the meeting hall of the Pentecostal Apostolic Faith church on Moravia street. Henry was later taken to the hospital to have stitches in his head before spending a night in jail on a drunk charge. The next morning, after Henry was released, the mayor was visited by several colored men who complained that Henry had been assaulted. They were sent […]

George Wheale, “Susp. Breaking”, 9 July 1937

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George Wheale was innocent. He was picked up on Long avenue after a report that the window of the state liquor store had been smashed, and was released after police discovered that the damage had been done by a wheel that had somehow come off a car. The possibility of the arrest resulting from a police officer mishearing “a wheel” as “George Wheale” is entertaining, but unlikely. George worked for Standard Steel Spring, part of […]

Joe Ritter, “Viol Fire Arm”, 2 January 1949

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Joe Ritter’s brother, Otto, was twelve when Joe was arrested in January, 1949. He’s in his late seventies now and lives just outside New Castle, the only one of Joe’s family who’s still alive. We’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times. It took a while to convince him that I really was writing a book about people like his brother—ordinary people in a collection of faded photographs that just happen to have been taken by […]

Longhair Noir

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Most of the New Castle mug shots that were saved from the trash and later found their way into index card boxes in my house were taken in the middle years of the 20th century. But a few date from a little later, like the one above, of a guy called Earl (second name withheld; he’s still alive) who was arrested in 1973 for breaking into Castle Distributing and stealing five cases of beer, and the one below, of Ralph, […]

Lou Miskinis, “Fighting”, 21 July 1949

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Lou Miskinis got drunk and started fighting with Harry Hetrick and his wife on West Long avenue. Harry’s leg was in a cast. He broke a crutch over Lou’s head. Lou struggled with the police but was taken to the hospital for a deep cut to his scalp. He spent the night in jail and was released the next day. There is no further record of his life, until his death, in 1979, at the age […]

Redacted

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Last week, after I published a mug shot story about a New Castle businessman who ran a beach resort on a stretch of the Neshannock behind the paper mill’s dam, a long-time reader of the site who happens to be a film maker in Hollywood met an actor with family connections to the area. The actor has a career stretching back decades, with roles in Starsky and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, L.A. Law and ER, and his […]

“A Goldmine”

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Hear what a former New Castle chief of police thinks about the Small Town Noir mug shots. Find out more at: unbound.co.uk/small-town-noir More than a hundred stories of small-time true crime from New Castle PA will be featured in the Small Town Noir book. To support the book, and receive a copy when it’s published, go to the publisher’s website. Please do! And spread the word!

“I’d never seen a picture of my dad that young.”

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Find out more at: unbound.co.uk/small-town-noir I was amazed by Ross Paswell’s life when I first researched his mug shot. He was arrested for highway robbery in 1945 and spent most of the next 10 years in jail, much of the time in solitary. By the 60s, he was something of a local political radical and, in the 70s, he became an inspirational penal reform campaigner whose work was recognised by the state. I met Ross’s son, […]