Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan

By Virginia A. McConnell | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Defending Darl Shepherd

They may have been none too energetic, even a bit lazy.

—William Shepherd’s defense attorneys, commenting
on the Shepherds

As the Shepherd trial came to a close, a University of CaliforniaBerkeley student and a vacuum cleaner salesman concocted a plan to get rich by using both the Leopold-Loeb and Shepherd cases. In a plot “too good for fiction,” twenty-three-year-old Bliss Baker and C. Russell Crawford lured a society matron from her home, then called her wealthy husband to demand $50,000 for her ransom, threatening to inject the wife with disease germs if he did not comply.

The boys never had the woman and had no intentions of kidnapping her. Their hope was that the husband would pay up before she returned home, but he called the police instead and they arrested Baker at the drop site. Baker and Crawford pleaded guilty to attempted extortion and got sentences of one to two and a half years in San Quentin Prison.1

Back in the courtroom, Stewart and O’Brien got right down to business in what would be a very short defense case, entirely

-91-

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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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