Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan

By Virginia A. McConnell | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Hippodrome

They talk about me not being on the legitimate. Why, lady, nobody’s
on the legit when it comes down to cases; you know that
.

—Al Capone to reporter Genevieve Forbes Herrick, 1929

The year 1925 started out ominously for the nation. In January, sixteen-year-old San Francisco girl Dorothy Ellingson was told by her mother that she could not go to a jazz party that night. So Dorothy shot her mother, stepped over the body, and went to the party as planned. When she was arrested, the young girl showed no remorse over what she had done. Her attorneys used the unique defense of insanity by jazz: the music had taken over her mind and made her crazy. The jury didn’t buy it.1

In that same month a Kentucky cave explorer, Floyd Collins, was trapped for nearly three weeks under a seventy-five-pound rock while the nation followed the progress of the rescue. A young, preSpirit-of-St.-Louis Charles Lindbergh was hired to fly photographs of the death struggle to Chicago newspapers. People brought their families from all over the country to camp out at the site and watch the proceedings, while ambitious entrepreneurs took advantage of this to set up food and souvenir stands. As the various rescue groups bickered on the top over who had prior rights and what recovery method to use, Collins starved to death down below.2

-59-

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Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Fatal Fortune 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Grifters 17
  • Chapter 3 - The Avenging Fury and the Confidence Man 35
  • Chapter 4 - Hippodrome 59
  • Chapter 5 - The State of Illinois V. William Darling Shepherd 73
  • Chapter 6 - Defending Darl Shepherd 91
  • Chapter 7 - Was It Oysters or Murder? 105
  • Chapter 8 - The Will Contest 125
  • Chapter 9 - Epilogue 133
  • Notes 143
  • Selected Bibliography 167
  • Index 169
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