Author: Diarmid

Gladys Krause, “Drunk”, 10 June 1951

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Emma Krause was twelve years old when she set herself on fire while lighting the stove. She died after two days in hospital—“a release from terrible suffering,” said the doctors. Gladys Krause was born exactly nine months later, having been conceived just before or—perhaps; such things are not uncommon—immediately after her sister’s death. When Gladys was the age Emma was when she died, her oldest sister, Norma, was dating Norman Turner, a young man with […]

Harry Scott, “Stealing Auto”, 22 June 1926

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He said his name was Harry Roberts. He said it was Harry Scott. He said it was John Roberts. He came from Greensburg, or maybe Latrobe. He was sixteen years old, or something like it. He had been living in Dave’s junk yard on South Mill street for three months, or maybe four, when he was arrested. The number written in ink on his photograph shows that he was the fourth person to be processed […]

John Tomski, “Robbery”, 29 March 1947

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John Tomski was one of nine children who grew up on a farm outside New Castle. He was sixteen when his father, Frank, died. His mother kept the farm running, with the help of her sons, except for Gene, who joined the army and spent six years in Germany, and Chester, who was in jail most of the time. When he was twenty-three, John followed Pete Baranski as he walked home from a bar on […]

William LaRue Hill, “Sec.628_E, Sec.718”, 4 May 1958

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A few days before his murder, a sixty-year-old man named Clark Rea told his brother that he had had a dream in which he was dead. They thought nothing more of it. He and his brother lived alone on their farm in the fields to the north of town, just off the Coaltown road. They were reclusive and no one knew them well. Everyone said they had huge sums of money stashed on their property, […]

Albert White, “Burglary and Receiving Stolen Goods”, 30 January 1941

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At the age of nineteen, while he was awaiting trial on charges of forgery and automobile theft, Albert White sawed through the steel bars of his cell using hacksaw blades that his mother smuggled into jail in a roll of butter. He was recaptured a week later and sent to the Ohio state reformatory for two to twenty years. A young man named Frank Hardman was sent to the reformatory around the same time, serving […]

Tony Moses, “Disorderly Conduct”, 10 February 1958

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The February of 1958 was the coldest on record, and the northern lights, visible as far south as Florida, appeared as a bright orange glow behind New Castle’s north hill the night that Tony Moses was arrested for disorderly conduct. There is no record of the details of the incident or any subsequent penalty. In 1961, Tony’s brother, Louis, and three other men were arrested as they tried to break open a safe in the […]

Joseph Pacelli, “Burglary”, 8 November 1940

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When he was sixteen, Joseph Pacelli and three of his friends from the south side worked for two weeks to construct a diving helmet. They used an old hot water tank for the head piece, to which they attached an inner tube valve and several yards of hose. They made a window in the front of the helmet and attached steel pipes to its base so it would be heavy enough to sink. They installed […]

James Owens, “Bad Checks”, 5 August 1939

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James Owens, from Boston, walked into New Castle police station on a Saturday night to report his girlfriend missing. Her name was Della Nugent. He said they’d gone different ways when they were shopping and she hadn’t shown up where they’d arranged to meet. The police told him she’d been arrested that afternoon for passing bad checks. James, who was found to be carrying fake ID in the name of James O’Conners, was arrested on […]

Hubert Lykins, “Drunk”, 6 December 1958

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Around three thousand Americans fought in the 1944 campaign against the Japanese in Burma. By the end, all but two were either dead or had been hospitalised with wounds, cerebral malaria, amoebic dysentery or scrub typhus. Hubert Lykins’ brother, Edwin, was a signalman supporting the jungle warfare unit known as Merrill’s Marauders. He died the day after the final engagement of the campaign. Hubert was never drafted. He worked as a molder in the New […]

“Mugshot”

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News! Small Town Noir is featured in the award-winning documentary “Mugshot”, to be broadcast on TVO on Wednesday September 24 (that’s tomorrow, at time of writing) at 9pm — also on Thursday, September 25 at 9pm and Sunday September 28 at 11pm. As far as I know, you have to be in Canada to watch TVO, but I could be wrong.  I expect it will be on in the US at some point… I had […]